Gods Willing (Theros Standard Guide)

Posted in Top Decks on October 10, 2013

By Jacob Van Lunen

Jacob Van Lunen began playing Magic in 1995. He has participated in organized play at every level of competition and was a member of the winning team at Pro Tour San Diego in 2007, thanks to an innovative draft strategy. As a writer, Van Lunen has had more than three hundred Magic strategy pieces published

Welcome back to Perilous Research, DailyMTG.com's exclusive Magic Online column. Theros Release Events are in full swing on Magic Online and we're beginning to see the first results from Constructed Daily Events with Theros. This weekend, the best Magic players in the world will descend upon Dublin, Ireland, to battle it out for the title of Pro Tour Theros champion. I'm particularly excited about this Pro Tour. Why? Well, a few months ago I took a weekend off from coverage and my wife was out of town for work. I tested hard and made the trip down to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to play in a Pro Tour Theros Qualifier. After going 11–0–1 on the day with a Blasphemous Act combo deck, I found myself with a free plane ticket to Ireland and the amazing opportunity to play on the Pro Tour for the first time since 2010.

Today, we'll be looking at the decks that went undefeated in the first Standard Daily Event on Magic Online since Theros was in the mix. Learning about these decks should give us a more solid understanding of the upcoming Standard format. I'm sure there will be a lot of new Standard tech after this weekend. Be sure to tune-in to all the coverage of Pro Tour Theros. Marshall Sutcliffe, Brian David-Marshall, Richard Hagon, Nate Price, Mike Rosenberg, and many others will be hard at work bringing you the best Magic coverage the game has ever seen. Coverage starts tomorrow morning and you can catch all the action here.

Let's take a look at these undefeated decks!

Eken.'s Gruul Midrange

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Midrange Red-Green strategies are sure to be a factor at the upcoming Pro Tour. Polukranos, World Eater; Stormbreath Dragon; Ember Swallower; and Sylvan Caryatid have all done a great deal for the deck's viability and Chandra, Pyromaster is, without any doubt, one of the strongest cards in the new Standard format. Domri Rade is one of the best cards against other midrange strategies and the ability to cast it on the second turn with the help of Elvish Mystic means it's going to be one of the best cards against control decks, too.

Chandra, Pyromaster
Domri Rade

This deck may struggle with decks that play a ton of removal alongside Read the Bones and efficient creatures, but those decks will find themselves unequipped to deal with the power of aggressive Red decks that can use Read the Bones against them by closing the game with a Fanatic of Mogis. Ruric Thar, the Unbowed is quickly finding its place as a staple in post-Theros Standard sideboards. It's hard to kill Ruric Thar, the Unbowed without taking 6 damage, and this deck does an incredible job closing games with burn spells, Stormbreath Dragons, and bloodrushed Ghor-Clan Rampagers. Expect this to be one of the decks to watch at the upcoming Pro Tour.

Ruric Thar, the Unbowed
Ghor-Clan Rampager

strong sad's Selesnya Aggro

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Strong Sad, or Todd Anderson, is one of the better players who isn't on the Pro Tour this time around. That being said, this means that Mr. Anderson has nothing to hide; he can play with his best list and not have to worry about giving anything away before the Pro Tour. Aggressive green-white decks were some of the most obviously strong strategies coming into Theros Standard. Boon Satyr is an incredible tool for both midrange and control matchups that helps the deck survive Firefist Striker/Burning-Tree Emissary draws from the Red decks. Fleecemane Lion gives the deck a lot of extra early aggression, a good long-game plan against control, and a great ability to wall up against the aggressive decks that don't have access to Ghor-Clan Rampager.

Boon Satyr
Call of the Conclave

Todd wants to maximize the value he gets out of his Rootborn Defenses; Trostani, Selesnya's Voice; post-board Druid's Deliverance; and post-board Sundering Growth. His deck is great at applying a lot of early pressure and the deck's access to a play set of Unflinching Courage in post-sideboarded games makes it a nightmare for decks like Red-Green or Mono-Red. This deck is very weak to Soldier of the Pantheon, Theros's premier one-drop creature. Soldier of the Pantheon stops this deck's ability to be aggressive beautifully and allows the decks that play it to construct a game state that goes over the top of the straightforward green-white strategy.

Trostani, Selesnya's Voice
Unflinching Courage

WraithHunter's Naya Midrange

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Naya Midrange is the best of green-white and red-green jammed together into one beautiful creature. The deck has access to a lot of powerful effects, but it's less consistent than its brothers and more susceptible to Burning Earth. I wouldn't be surprised if we saw a lot of this deck at the Pro Tour this weekend, but the deck is quite weak to Unflinching Courage. The deck can struggle in control matchups if it's unable to stick one of its Planeswalkers, but a resolved Stormbreath Dragon to follow up the opponent's Supreme Verdict is still strong enough to close most games.

Stormbreath Dragon

One copy of Angel of Serenity may seem out of place, but the deck can afford to play a ton of land thanks to mana sinks like Stormbreath Dragon, Scavenging Ooze, Polis Crusher, Fleecemane Lion, and Mizzium Mortars. Angel of Serenity allows the deck to go over the top of virtually any opposing strategy and affords the Naya player a big enough effect that the game will almost always be won if the card resolves.

Angel of Serenity
Scavenging Ooze

intherain's Red-White-Blue Nykthos

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Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx didn't seem like something I was interested in playing when I first saw it. I tried the card in decks with Boros Reckoner and Precinct Captain, but it always seemed like I was breaking even or already winning when it produced more than three mana on activation. This deck is able to take full advantage of Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx by playing a lot of white permanents that are harder to get off the table than a simple creature might be. Once this deck starts producing a lot of mana with Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, it can use all of that mana to cast a massive Sphinx's Revelation that will almost assuredly win the game.

Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
Sphinx's Revelation

Heliod, God of the Sun makes an appearance here as a great thing to dump white mana into and a nice closer once devotion gets high enough. The deck does, however, have issues with Thoughtseize. Most draws here will strongly hinge on a single card in hand. It's going to be difficult to beat opponents who follow up a Thoughtseize with something like Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver or Obzedat, Ghost Council. That being said, there aren't many decks that are doing that right now and I strongly suspect that most players at Pro Tour Theros will not be on a Thoughtseize plan.

Heliod, God of the Sun

Inglish's Mono-Red

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Mono-Red isn't going anywhere. The deck is incredibly strong against any opponent who stumbles and it has the ability to power its way through even strong draws with the constant pressure offered up by Chandra's Phoenix. This version of Mono-Red chooses to avoid Fanatic of Mogis and Boros Reckoner (in the main) in favor of more aggressive one-mana creatures. It makes sense, the Red deck really wants all of its cards to do the same thing if it's going to operate consistently over the course of a full tournament. If all you have are one-drops, two-drops, Chandra's Phoenix, and burn spells, then you'll often find opponents at 0 life before they have an opportunity to overpower you with bigger spells.

Chandra's Phoenix
Lightning Strike

The highly expected presence of Supreme Verdict is likely to make Fanatic of Mogis a "win more" card against the control decks and the other creature decks need to be outnumbered in the early turns if you want to squeak through enough damage to end the game. Expect to see a lot of this deck at the Pro Tour. It's easy to beat this if we want to, but it's hard to beat this and the control decks without making a deck lose some number of matches to inconsistencies.

Fanatic of Mogis

R4C's Mono-Green

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Mono-Green Aggro may seem like a novelty, but I'm gaining a lot of respect for the deck after its incredible performance at last weekend's Standard Open event and its 4–0 record in the first Theros Standard Daily Event. The deck brings a lot of beef to the table and, while it may be weak to Supreme Verdict, it's quite strong against other decks that play a lot of creatures. This deck takes full advantage of Nylea, God of the Hunt. In post-boarded games against control, the deck should try to engineer a turn where the opponent is forced to cast Supreme Verdict the turn before this deck can resolve Garruk, Caller of Beasts. Against other creature decks, the deck simply goes bigger faster. Against the most aggressive strategies, Nylea's Disciple allows this deck to gain about a billion life and remain safely out of burn range.

Nylea, God of the Hunt
Garruk, Caller of Beasts

There's a lot still unknown about the new Standard format. Will these creature-based strategies continue to dominate the new Standard landscape at Pro Tour Theros? Or will white-blue and white-blue-black control decks come in and snatch victory from their combative enemies? Tune in to coverage of Pro Tour Theros to find out! Most importantly, be sure to cheer me on as I try my best to bring home another Pro Tour trophy!

City Friday Saturday Sunday
Dublin 9 a.m. 9 a.m. 11 a.m.
Los Angeles 1 a.m. 1 a.m. 3 a.m.
Chicago 3 a.m 3 a.m 5 a.m.
New York 4 a.m. 4 a.m. 6 a.m.
Rio de Janeiro 5 a.m. 5 a.m. 7 a.m.
London 9 a.m. 9 a.m. 11 a.m.
Paris 10 a.m. 10 a.m. Noon
Berlin 10 a.m. 10 a.m. Noon
Moscow Noon Noon 2 p.m.
Tokyo 5 p.m. 5 p.m. 7 p.m.
Sydney 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 9 p.m.
Find other corresponding start times around the world here.

Knowledge is power!

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