Evolving Four-Color Rites (Four-Color Rites with Josh Utter-Leyton)

Posted in Event Coverage on May 29, 2016

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

Last month, at Grand Prix Toronto, an innovative Collected Company/Cryptolith Rites deck that aimed to use Eldrazi Displacer to its fullest potential took Standard by surprise. The deck dominated ground creature decks like Bant Company, Green-White Tokens, and all varieties of humans. A powerful late game including an infinite loop with Eldrazi Displacer and Brood Monitor, which is lethal with Zulaport Cutthroat or provides perfect library manipulation with Catacomb Sifter, made the deck better at breaking ground stalemates than any of its peers. The deck became wildly popular and started to put up great numbers on Magic Online.

Since then, the Standard landscape has undergone some drastic changes. Decks like White-Black Control and Grixis have become significantly more popular; these decks absolutely dominate the Four-Color Rites strategy and have pushed it from being the near-consensus best deck in the format to relative obscurity.

Josh Utter-Leyton was looking at the deck before Grand Prix New York, when the deck was still quite well-positioned. Pat Cox suggested that Utter-Leyton try playing Dragonlord Atarka in the deck's sideboard. It seemed like such a good fit in the strategy that Utter-Leyton decided that it probably belonged in the main deck.

Josh Utter-Leyton

Instead of playing with lackluster cards like Brood Monitor and Zulaport Cutthroat, Utter-Leyton could simply slam Dragonlord Atarka on the table, a card capable of winning the game by itself. Combining Eldrazi Displacer with Brood Monitor may have created an infinite combo, but it's pretty easy to win when we combine Eldrazi Displacer with Dragonlord Atarka too.

Utter-Leyton has continued to work on the deck since Grand Prix New York, where he and (8) Luis Scott-Vargas managed a 75% win rate with it. I sat down with him to talk about the deck's current configuration and its place in the Standard metagame this weekend.

So what changes has the deck undergone since three weeks ago in New York?

“The biggest innovation since Grand Prix New York is the inclusion of Matter Reshaper over Catacomb Sifter or Eldrazi Skyspawner. Sifter and Skyspawner were very good against the decks that we're already favored against while Matter Reshaper is a very big upgrade against the decks that we've struggled with in the past.”

Utter-Leyton explained why the deck is good right now, “We're very favored against ground creature decks. Bant Company, Humans, and Green-White Tokens are still the deck's bread and butter. This version of the deck is much better against White-Black Control than its predecessors; Matter Reshaper helps give us more inevitability and we're now capable of winning a long and drawn out game. I rarely lose when I'm able to cast my spells.”

Utter-Leyton is worried about one deck in particular, though, “Grixis decks with Goblin Dark-Dwellers, Radiant Flames, and Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet can be a big problem. The White-Black decks usually need to kill all of their own creatures when they wipe my board. The Grixis decks have the ability to use Radiant Flames and be left with a living Kalitas or Dark-Dwellers that makes it a lot harder to recover.”

Four-Color Rites hasn't enjoyed much success this weekend, but Utter-Leyton continues to do well with his own unique version of the deck. This may be the future of Eldrazi Displacer/Cryptolith Rite decks and those paying attention could reap some big rewards.

Will Utter-Leyton and his exciting brew make it to the Top 8 of Grand Prix Minneapolis? Stay tuned to continuing coverage to find out!

Josh Utter-Leyton's Five-Color Rites

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