The Ephara Side

Posted in Reconstructed on January 28, 2014

Born of the Gods is finally here! Or at least, it will be this weekend at Prerelease events across the globe. But for those Constructed deck builders out there, the entire card list is up and it's time to usher in a new season of Standard decks. What does the new set have in store for us this time?

I had a blast looking through a lot of the new decks you sent in—there are quite a few in there that looked strong, quite a few that looked interesting, and even a few that really made me smile at the uniqueness of what they were doing. If you're looking for a ton of new angles to look at Standard from, be sure to check out the honorable mentions section at the end of this article.

But before we get to all of those, there's a deck to work on! This one features one of the brand-new multicolored Gods from Born of the Gods—and considering the set is called Born of the Gods it only seems appropriate to start with one. In addition, this deck also has some cool new cards and uses some old ones in exciting new ways.

Here's reader Yuta Suzuki's first crack at the new format:

Yuta Suzuki's Flickering Freak

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The Battle Plan

This deck does a lot of things—and while none of them are too complex on their own, it's easy to miss something in its swimming pool of synergy. Let's run through some of what's going on here.

First and foremost, this deck can just bury you under a cadre of powerful cards. Cards like newcomer Brimaz, King of Oreskos just present a huge threat to your opponent on their own. They demand answers.

And not only do they demand answers—they demand answers fast. With a fairly fast and hard-hitting curve, your creatures have to be dealt with quickly. If your opponent has a slow draw, you have some aggressive tools to punish him or her.

But amid all of the traditional attacking, this deck also takes pretty nice advantage of Ephara, God of the Polis, the white-blue entry into Theros's pantheon. Not only can she certainly turn on and become an attacker once you've stocked up the board, this deck also maximizes her ability.

By having a deck full of creatures, Ephara lets you double up on the number of cards you're drawing pretty effortlessly. That's powerful on its own—a four-mana personal Howling Mine is something you'd already consider playing. But what's really awesome is that Ephara looks at each turn.

What does that mean? Well, by using token makers and flash creatures, you can draw on both your turn and your opponent's turn. A card like Deputy of Acquittals, which hasn't seen a ton of play in the past, becomes a pretty nice way to draw extra cards. If you draw a pair of them, you can even have them bounce each other to ensure you'll always have a flash creature to cast!

The key elements to work on in this deck's refinement is further emphasizing its strengths. How can we make it even more aggressive to put pressure on the opponent? What are some other baseline strong cards we can play? How can we ensure Ephara is as strong as possible? Well, let's move on and take a deeper dive!

Deck Breakdown

Some pieces of the deck work well, while others don't quite as much. What has earned the right to stay in Ephara's good graces and what hasn't? Let's run through the deck card by card and take a look!

One of the elements this deck was partially built around was being able to cast creatures on both players' turns to trigger Ephara twice. The green in this deck is partially to push toward that ideal, giving you access to Boon Satyr and token makers you can use alongside Ephara.

However, while these tools are nice, they aren't that much better than things you can find in both white and blue already. Cutting a color would help a bit with the mana base, swapping a bunch of Temples for lands that don't need to enter the battlefield tapped and helping to keep the deck aggressive in the process. I tried building several takes on this deck and, as long as the deck tried to stay aggressive, I kept cutting green cards. Eventually, it just became a natural extension to drop green entirely.

Now, I definitely think there's a build out there featuring green. There are a few cards that weren't even in the original decklist that interact pretty well with Ephara—for example, Prophet of Kruphix. But to keep to the aggressive feel of the original decklist, I want to shed the green skin and use some other great tools already in white and blue.

Like what? Well, how about a new Born of the Gods card: Fated Infatuation.

Now, at Blue ManaBlue ManaBlue Mana, this isn't exactly a card you're going to slam on turn three most of the time—but that's okay, because you want to cast it a little later on anyway. And it's quite a doozy, doubling up on a creature of your choice out of nowhere. And, like the green token makers, it will still let you double trigger Ephara if you cast it on your opponent's turn. (Which means you don't get to scry 2, but I'd rather draw a card most of the time anyway.)

What card goes well with Fated Infatuation? Well, how about Constructed all-star Master of Waves?

The Master and the Infatuation are particularly good friends. Copying a Master to create more tokens and pumping up all of the existing tokens—especially in the middle of combat—is a very powerful avenue. And to add some icing on the cake, unlike the green token makers the tokens created by Fated Infatuation have mana symbols—meaning that they help turn on Ephara and that Master of Waves makes another token.

Now, Master of Waves might look odd alongside so many white mana symbols—but we can make it work. In this deck, he's more of a value card that can make 4–8 power most of the time than the ridiculousness you might find in Mono-blue Devotion... but he's still plenty good. Let's try four of each.

It's Ephara! One of the cards we've been building to maximize, Ephara is really strong when you build around her properly. In addition to drawing you plenty of cards, she even hits hard once you finally hit the devotion threshold!

I've said a lot on Ephara's role in this deck already, so the only question is how many copies. While we are building around her in many ways, we also don't need her to win the game—our deck is full of plenty of powerful cards without her. Considering that she's legendary and difficult to remove, let's play three. If you still wanted a fourth God, Heliod is a pretty good bet (plus, he works well with Ephara)—but this deck has enough four-drops already.

Brimaz may be new, but he doesn't need a ton of explanation. The king is here. As a 3/4 vigilance for 1 ManaWhite ManaWhite Mana he may have already been on some people's radars—and his token-making ability is a crazy bonus. It's worth noting that the token-making ability triggers Ephara, meaning that when you cast Brimaz on turn three and Ephara on turn four you can attack with Brimaz, make a token, and then draw a card the next turn off Ephara.

Brimaz is legendary, so you could talk about fewer than four copies—but the card is just so powerful that I want all four. If you have one in play generally you're in good shape anyway, and it's what I want to cast on turn three every game: both signs that four is the right number.

This one-man army serves several roles in the deck. First, he's a solid early attacker to apply pressure. Second, like Brimaz, he makes tokens while attacking (although, with the Captain you have to hit your opponent) meaning he can help Ephara draw you a card immediately. And third, but not to be forgotten, is that he helps you with your devotion by costing White ManaWhite Mana. I'm happy with all four of these.

This oddball card hasn't seen a lot of play—but here it finally has a home. It helps you protect your creatures from removal spells, giving you longevity. It supports Ephara well, drawing you a card for playing a creature on your opponent's turn and also providing you with White ManaBlue Mana devotion. And, with the addition of Master of Waves, it can help you take over the late game.

For example, imagine playing a Master, then next turn flashing in a Deputy of Acquittals end step, targeting Master, and then casting Fated Infatuation on the Master to keep your Master presence—and your tokens—alive. Then you untap, recast the Master, and batter your opponent for a ton of damage from 3/2 Elemental tokens.

There're numerous tricks this card can pull in this deck—and you can always just cast it straight up on turn two if absolutely necessary. I'll keep all four.

The Sovereign is an all right two-drop, but it doesn't have a ton of synergy with what the deck is trying to do. It's a perfectly fine aggressive two-drop, but I think we can do better to support a lot of the changes just made.

I'd love to have something to do on the first turn, and also something to support my Master of Waves even further—and that makes the card I'm most interested in here Judge's Familiar. It helps disrupt my opponent while also plinking for a few points of damage, churning out an extra Elemental, and also being a one-mana creature to cast to trigger Ephara. Great!

However, I do still want another aggressive creature—although it doesn't need to cast two. The card that fills a nice role for this deck is Lyev Skyknight. Daxos of Meletis is better in some matchups since he can't be killed by Chandra, Pyromaster, but the ability to detain something for a turn helps you both push through a bit of damage (and conveniently comes right after Precinct Captain, ensuring that gets through).

While I definitely have a soft spot for Elspeth, this newer, more aggressive build isn't really looking for a six-drop. That isn't to say that six mana will go to waste—there are plenty of places you can spend more mana with the cards Ephara gives you and the Deputy of Acquittals tricks—but I don't want to play a card that requires six mana here.

Sphere is a premier removal spell in the format and completely perfect for this deck. Not only does it take out whatever threat your opponent presented, but it also sits around on the table adding two devotion to Ephara. While normally I would talk about maybe spreading your removal around a bit and diversifying costs, Sphere is so perfect for what this deck is doing that I'll stick with the full set.

The one-of Azorius Charm is cute, serving as a card you can always cycle away if you don't need it, or use it if it has the effect you're looking for. However, the strongest mode on this Charm is going to be putting an attacker or blocker on top of its owner's library, and this deck is going to be tapping out a lot. This singleton Charm can go.

With all of those changes in mind, that brings the deck to:

Gavin Verhey's The God Complex

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Our final result is a deck that's both aggressive and full of tricks to boot.

Some games, you'll race and quickly beat down your opponent with Precinct Captain into Brimaz or Lyev Skyknight, others you'll win on the back of clever Deputy-using or a grip full of cards. And although it looks so very odd to be casting Master of Waves alongside Precinct Captain, there are enough blue mana symbols and tricks to pull with the Master to make it work out plenty well.

Powerful cards and synergies abound—welcome to Born of the Gods Standard! If you're looking for some new cards to get a hold of at your Prerelease this weekend for a deck, the ones in this deck are certainly some you should consider.

Honorable Mentions

What are some of the first attempts at post-Born of the Gods Standard? Have a look for yourself!

James Bannan's Az-horse-ious Control

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AJ Owenss's Bant Control

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Ezra's Pillowfog

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Mark Ian Alloso's Barely Rakdos Humans

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Brian Geddes's NeoMachinehead

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Aske's Followers of the Bracers

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Hayden's Pyxis of Possibly Planeswalker-Pertaining Pandemonium

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Ben Mitchell's RG Monsters

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Bryce Stonehouse's Devotion to Rakdos

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Qoarl's Standardized Wolf Pack

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M. Fischer's Selesnya of the Gods

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Erick Lavandier's Fateful Auras

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Hiroya Kobayashi's Inspired Ral

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Jacob Milicic's Heliod and Ephara's Pillow Fort

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True Inspiration

There's your first look at Standard after Born of the Gods—but there's still plenty more Standard to come. And in just two weeks, we'll be having Inspired Week here on—send me decklists featuring your favorite inspired card!

Format: Standard
Restrictions: Your deck must contain at least one card with the inspired mechanic
Deadline: February 3rd, at 6 p.m. Pacific Time
Submit all decklists by clicking on "respond via email" below. Please submit decklists using the following template. (The specific numbers below are arbitrary, so please don't feel a need to use them—it's just how an example of how a decklist should look when laid out.)

Yourname's Deckname

20 Land
20 Land
4 Creature
4 Creature
4 Other Spell
4 Other Spell
4 Planeswalker

I look forward to seeing which inspired cards inspire you! There are plenty of cool things out there you can do with them. Let's see what you can come up with.

Until then, if you have any comments on this article, I'd love to hear from you. Feel free to post in the forums or send me a tweet and I'll be sure to take a look.

Talk to you again next week. Have fun at your Prerelease!


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