Decks to Expect in Hawaii

Posted in Reconstructed on October 7, 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.

It's time to define a brand-new Standard format.

This weekend, Magic's greatest players from around the world will convene in Hawaii as Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir kicks off! It's a showcase of the fresh face of Standard on a major stage, and pros everywhere will show off their take on the format.

I'm sure the format is going to have plenty of brand-new curveballs thrown into it once the Pro Tour kicks off. But this week, I want to take a look at a few decks you likely can expect to see on the coverage this weekend. Over the past few weeks I've looked at a couple of decks that could fit right in (a version of the Jeskai Burn deck in particular likely has some real legs), but today I want to open our attention a little wider. Let's take a look at a smorgasbord of decks that were sent in to me!

We'll look at them in categories: beatdown, midrange, and control. I'll show off each deck and then make a few comments on how I might tweak it before moving onto the next one. It's time for the lightning round: ReConstructed style!

Ready? Well, here we go!

Beatdown

Aggro. Rush. "The attack decks." These are the decks that will punish you if you stumble—and often enough will still beat you even if you don't. What kind of decks might fall into this category this time around? Well, let's take a look at our first deck for today:

Keisuke Kimura's Mono-Red Prowess Hero

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There are plenty of aggressive decks you could choose from in the new Standard—and Keisuke goes for a super-low-curve red deck. He is looking to hit hard and kill off opponents while they're still messing around with their mana in the first few turns. By the time the opponent casts a Polukranos, there's a Hammerhand at the ready to send your creatures right through and finish your opponent.

One major card missing here seems to be Goblin Rabblemaster. Although it does cost three mana, it's an excellent card to sit at the top of your curve and serve as a strong attacker. I'd also look into a few burn spells outside of just Ordeal of Purphoros—I could see playing a few Lightning Strikes to help land the finishing blow. One last thing I'd look into is Hall of Triumph, which both triggers prowess and pumps up your entire team. I wouldn't want more than one or two maybe, but it could be a good fit.

All right, onto the next one!

Derek Rafols's Black Legion Attack

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Speaking of monocolored beatdown decks, here's a take on mono-black beatdown! Mono-black doesn't quite need to be as brutally fast as mono-red because it has the disruption to help it out. With a surplus of 2-power one-drops, this deck can hit hard, provided nothing gets in its way.

The biggest threats with all of these cheap, small guys running around are cards like Polukranos or Courser or Kruphix. As a result, having enough removal is crucial. Bile Blight doesn't actually deal with those big threats very effectively, so I'd consider running a couple Murderous Cuts and upping to eight fetch lands to help fuel them. Otherwise, this is more or less what to expect out of this kind of deck.

Lucas Lenard - Abzan Aggro

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Ah, now here's a two-color beatdown deck for you. Abzan has some pretty burly creatures, and they can hit hard early. Turn-one Sunblade Elf or Soldier of the Pantheon (which, by the way, is pretty awesome against all of the wedge-colored cards in Khans), into Fleecemane Lion, into Anafenza, into Siege Rhino makes for a pretty wicked curve that is going to be hard to fight against.

The creature base to this deck is pretty solid and allows you to punch through plenty of damage. The one missing card I would definitely play is Brimaz, King of Oreskos—he hits very hard and is excellent in this sort of strategy. That also lets you shake up your mana to play another Plains or two...which you want for your Sunblade Elf anyway.

I would consider mixing up the spells a bit, though. Four Banishing Lights and four Suppression Fields is probably a bit overkill. You can cut the Fields for Brimaz, and then I would also try to work in a couple Murderous Cuts to help fight off Stormbreath Dragon. That also gives you a cheap interactive spell you can cast on your opponent's turn.

Midrange

What kind of midrange decks might we be seeing in this new format? Well, I'll start with one of the most obvious ones:

Alessandro Pogorzhelsky's Temur Monsters

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Temur is full of some of the most powerhouse cards in the format. There are plenty of ways to build it, but they all lean on Sylvan Caryatid (and often Rattleclaw Mystic) to help turbo you into huge threats early on. Cards like Savage Knuckleblade lead the charge, with plenty of strong backup like Polukranos and Planeswalkers to help you out.

The most out-of-place card to me in this decklist is Goblin Rabblemaster—it doesn't quite do enough in this strategy for me to be excited about. I would cut those and help fill out some of the holes like the fourth Courser and the fourth Polukranos. I'd also want to get some Rattleclaw Mystics in there over Elvish Mystic, and Temur Charm as a spell that can both serve as removal and some countermagic—or a way to just punch through at the end. This list has enough five-drops that you don't need all of those one-ofs—those can go for Temur Charm.

Qoarl's Golgari Devotion

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Doomwake Giant has been one of the breakout cards of the past few weeks, and it can really put a crimp on any kind of aggressive game plan. (Especially in multiples.) This kind of slower, constellation-focused midrange deck has been picking up steam as a deck to look at. It can accelerate into some pretty major plays quickly and take over the game.

There's enough acceleration here that my one major complaint is that the deck doesn't have enough to play that puts the opponent under pressure quickly. I'd look into playing Nissa as well—there are eight Forests, and turning your lands into creatures over and over is something an opponent will be hard pressed to beat early on. I'd rather have them than Fated Intervention and a Pharika, as synergistic as those enchantment tokens are.

Jeff Tang's Mardu Aristocrats

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If Sam Black sleeved up a deck like this one for the Pro Tour, I wouldn't be surprised one bit.

Like last year's Aristocrats deck, which got maximum use out of cards like Cartel Aristocrat, this one uses Tymaret as a major engine. Using Tymaret or Butcher of the Horde along with tokens, Purphoros, Grim Haruspex, and Bloodsoaked Champion; this deck can do quite a few nice, small tricks to slowly whittle away its opponent's life and accrue its own advantage.

Hordeling Outburst seems a bit weak here, and those could be used to round out some of the other numbers like Grim Haruspex and Hero's Downfall. I would also probably want to use Thoughtseize over Despise. All in all, this deck has a good core that needs some playtesting and refinement around the edges to figure out which parts of the strategy are worth keeping and which one- or two-ofs just aren't worth playing.

Control

With Sphinx's Revelation, Detention Sphere, Supreme Verdict, and all of those other powerful Azorius options out of the picture, it's time for some newer takes on control to shine.

But before straying too far away from what we all know, let's take a look at something that's an update on those white-blue-based control decks:

Shao Middle's Sinister Puddle

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It may not receive any wedge cards, but Esper Control is still on the radar (as well as Jeskai Control and perhaps even Sultai Control) as reasonable takes on blue control decks. Note the Empty the Pits—that card can just completely end control games. Expect to see control games on camera that end at the flash of a single card. And that card is a single Empty the Pits.

A card I like a lot in decks like this is Dig Through Time. It is instant speed and gives you card selection, which helps you find the appropriate answers—or threats, if it is time to move in for the kill. I don't really think this deck needs the Rams or Impersonators to buy time—your removal and Planeswalkers will be plenty good enough. I'd use those to fill out some of the numbers and add in Dig. I'd also look into Divination over Weave Fate—I'd rather have the sorcery version for one less mana in this deck.

Kevin McLane's Boros Control

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It might surprise you, but Red-White Control is actually shaping up to be a pretty reasonable option. It has two good sweepers in Anger of the Gods and End Hostilities, a fantastic removal spell in Chained to the Rocks, and even some card advantage in Chandra.

I don't think the Rams are really that crucial here. I'd have them in the sideboard, but not the main deck. Instead, I'd look at playing Brimaz. That card blocks and survives Anger similarly well, but also serves as an incredible win condition and threat. I'd also likely play a third Chandra and another Elspeth over two Magma Jets, since this deck has a good amount of early-game interaction already and dealing 2 damage is only okay in the new Standard world of huge multicolored creatures.

It's also worth noting that there are plenty of Mardu permutations of that deck as well, with more Temples and cards like Butcher of the Horde and Utter End. Those decks tend to look a little more like:

Britten Santiago's Mardu Control

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As you can see, the deck has a similar core but takes advantage of some of the Mardu cards. In a situation like this, it's worth trying both and seeing if the cards you add in are worth the change to the mana base.

Onto the Pro Tour!

Hopefully, this gave you some fun decks to think about in advance of the Pro Tour. I know I'm certainly excited to see which decks float to the top—and which brand-new ones come into being! Be sure to tune in starting on Friday as the Pro Tour kicks off and we all find out who is right, and who is dead. It'll be a fun journey!

There's no deck building challenge for this week, because I have a special article lined up two weeks from now. If you have any comments at all on this article, please let me know! I'd love to hear if you enjoyed this style of article (which is more of a quick take on several decklists), or if you prefer the deep dive on a single deck. You can always contact me by sending me a tweet, or by asking me a question on my Tumblr.

I'll be back next week with something in the complete opposite direction from this week: a look at multiplayer for Multiplayer Week!

Have fun watching the Pro Tour, I'll talk to you again next week. Have fun!

Gavin
@GavinVerhey
GavInsight

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