Chromanticores, Chain Veils, and Graveyards, Oh My!

Posted in Reconstructed on August 19, 2014

By Gavin Verhey

When Gavin Verhey was eleven, he dreamt of a job making Magic cards—and now as a Magic designer, he's living his dream! Gavin has been writing about Magic since 2005.

Interested in some The Chain Veil shenanigans? Some graveyard tricks? Or how about attacking with a Chromanticore!? If any of that sounds like it's up your alley, read on.

The Chain Veil | Art by Volkan Baga

I asked for Standard decks and you delivered plenty of cool and unique options! Even at the tail end of Standard season, it shows there's still plenty of room for innovation.

Because of the deluge of interesting decks, why stop at just one? A few weeks back, I did a look at several Modern decks and the feedback was that you all wanted more articles like that, with multiple decks featured.

What you think matters a lot to me…and this seemed like a great place to do it again! The clock is ticking on this Standard format, after all. Let's take a top-level look at three different decks that are in pretty good shape, and see what tweaks could be made to clean them up around the edges and help make them as strong as they could be.

Ready? All right, let's dive right on in!

Veilwalkers

One of the most intriguing cards in Magic 2015—a set is already chock full of off-the-wall cards—has to be The Chain Veil.

Now, there are plenty of dreams to be lived with this card. Simply doubling up on the activations of an array of Planeswalkers would be good enough for most players seeking to use this card.

But why stop at doubling up your Planeswalkers when you can infinitize your Planeswalkers?

Let's have a look:

RUG Veil

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Some games, you'll just smoosh them under the heel of your Planeswalker army. But others, there's a bit of a combo you can pull off.

Start with The Chain Veil, Ral Zarek, and either Nissa or Xenagos. Use The Chain Veil. That gives you two untaps with Ral. Untap The Chain Veil. Use him again to untap a land. Then, use Nissa to untap four lands or Xenagos to make mana.

 

If you succeed in having four targets for Nissa or four creatures for Xenagos, you can The Chain Veil endlessly. I recommend putting all of your Planeswalkers at one billion loyalty, then ultimating all of them. (Including Ral's, which should give you extra turns!) Even if you can't do it for four mana and only get three, that should give you a couple more crushing uses.

Talk about an endgame!

Of course, lots of times you'll be just fine taking advantage of the two Planeswalkers you already have on the battlefield. But every now and then, your opponent will just die out of nowhere.

There are just a few screws I want to tighten up with this deck. While I appreciate what the Divinations and Lightning Strikes are trying to do—give you something to do early, and dig to the cards you want, and additional removal to compliment Mortars—I would rather just play more cards that accelerate you into your Planeswalker action.

Kiora's Follower is a great choice for this deck. And often better than Elvish Mystic, considering the only thing the Mystic really accelerates into is Courser of Kruphix. Kiora's Follower can also untap The Chain Veil on its own to help get double uses!

Otherwise, I like the core of the deck. I think the Planeswalker suite is about right: if you wanted to go more in on the combo, you could play four Xenagoses, but I'm alright with just three. The only thing I really want to tweak slightly is to get a Kiora in there: you would often rather draw a split of Kiora and Jace than two Jaces, so I'm going to split them: 2 Jace, 1 Kiora.

The final change is to tweak the mana base slightly: one more Forest to help make sure Nissa has enough untaps.

I'll note that I think it's tempting to fit Ajani Steadfast into this deck because of his Planeswalker interaction, but I don't think that's as needed here. The mana base is already precarious, and I'd rather make sure all of the Planeswalkers I accelerate into are individually awesome, rather than looking at an Ajani and sheepishly (catishly?) casting him.

Go ahead and give it a try!

Gavin Verhey's Temur (GUR) Planeswalkers

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Grave Enchantments

We've seen all manners of graveyard decks in the past. But Jonathan Berg brings us a take on it we haven't really looked at before: Strength from the Fallen!

The trick to making this card work, of course, is including enough enchantments and graveyard interactions to make everything run well together. That way, you don't draw just one half and run into trouble when it doesn't work at all.

Let's take a look:

Jonathan Berg's Strength From the Fallen

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Sure, you can do the more typical Standard graveyard thing of casting Commune with the Gods and Nighthowlering your opponents…but you can also just give your Elvish Mystic +10/+10 with the Strength and kill an unsuspecting opponent!

Unlike other graveyard decks, this one is looking for a different set of cards. Whip of Erebos and Soul of Innistrad, while incredible in those decks, aren't really what this deck wants as much. It's trying to set up for a Strength kill.

There aren't a ton of cards that can shift around because of how crucial each element is…but there are a few places around the edges that I could see tightening up.

Since it's fairly crucial your opponent can't mess with your plans, Brain Maggot is one of the strongest cards here (and an enchantment creature as well). I definitely want to bump that up to four.

Deathrite Shaman versus Voyaging Satyr is an interesting debate. While the Shaman isn't always on, its other abilities are quite powerful and it also costs one less mana, which leaves you with room to do something else on the second turn. I'd rather have the Shaman.

 

Courser of Kruphix is too good and on-theme to not include here, especially considering you have plenty of ways to manipulate the top card of your library. While I do like Nyx Weaver in these kind of decks, I'm going to favor Courser here.

Pharika, while typically interesting in a graveyard deck, doesn't excite me that much here because you really want your graveyard to be well stocked.

To make sure Strength is as powerful as possible, I want to trim noncreatures where I can. There really isn't a ton of room to do that, since so many of them are powerful or important, but the one thing I can see doing is cutting a Kruphix's Insight. While I'll admit it sounds odd at first, since it will usually draw you three cards, you want cards to fill up your graveyard—you really don't want a hand full of them.

With all those changes made, the deck looks like:

Gavin Verhey's Deadchantments

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Chromanticore!

Chromanticore is such a marvelous card to daydream about.

Five colors can be tricky—but Chromanticore is a huge threat. And, in the final leg of this Standard format, the mana to cast him actually isn't too shabby. There are so many good dual lands available right now!

Let's comb through a pretty interesting, enchantment-centric version sent in by Philippe Boulanger.

Philippe Boulanger's Chromenchantress

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This deck uses some of the enchantment synergies featured in the last deck…but in an entirely different way! This deck goes big, using enchantments to pave the path there. And hey, if you happen to draw a card off your Chromanticore, that's some value right there!

Mana Bloom is a hidden gem here, both accelerating you (giving you the color of mana you need), and triggering your constellation turn after turn! While Doomwake Giant may be no Chromanticore, giving all of your opponent's creatures -2/-2 every turn with a pair of Mana Blooms, (plus anything else you might have!) is brutal. The Bloom is a card I would look to have four of here. I even like it more than Elvish Mystic in this deck.

 

As with the last deck, I'd play the full boat of Brain Maggots: you really want to keep your plan intact. (Although now that I wrote that, do yourself a favor and don't picture what a full boat of Brain Maggots looks like. Ew.)

I always like having plenty of lands in these kinds of decks. You want to hit all five colors, plus you have Courser and plenty of scry lands. I'm going to move up one on the land count.

With all of those tweaks made, that brings us to:

Gavin Verhey's Five-Color Enchantments

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One Last Ravni-Hurrah!

That does it for this article on three different Standard decks. I hope you found at least one of them interesting enough to go out and try playing! If you're concerned about the impending rotation, it's worth noting that the Strength from the Fallen deck is still mostly legal after Khans of Tarkir releases, so that's a pretty safe pick.

And speaking of Khans of Tarkir, it's difficult to believe, but in a paltry two weeks previews will be kicking off! (And oh boy, do I have a card to show you that I'm excited about.) But that also means something a little sad: it's the end of time for Ravnica in Standard. Next week will be one last look at Return to Ravnica block in Standard before it fades away into Modern.

Since two weeks from now is a preview week for a set that will cause rotation, there is no deck-building challenge to feature for this week. But if you have any questions or comments at all, feel free to send me a tweet or ask a question on my Tumblr and I'll be sure to take a look!

Talk to you all next week—and have fun with the last bits of summer Standard!

Gavin

@Gavinverhey
GavInsight

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