A Trip Down Brewer’s Lane

Michael Martin is back in the wake of last week’s great article to bring you even more great new deck ideas to work with for #SCGDAL! Whether you want Standard or Modern, Michael has you covered!

So the last time we met up, I wrote about some of the off-the-wall deck ideas that
have been popping in my head since the M15 spoilers started coming out. Most of them would have been unceremoniously discarded as “not good enough” before,
but as I stated last time, I tend to see a lot of these ideas showing up in successful lists that people have spent the time to refine, so perhaps I
discard them too quickly.

This week will be another trip down Brewer’s Lane; there were many ideas I simply didn’t have the real estate for in my last article to include as well as
others I hadn’t quite gotten around to fleshing out. This time around, I’m going to go through more of those ideas, some of which are more refined than
others, none of which I’m suggesting as a finished product ready to take to a competitive tournament. That isn’t to say that these lists couldn’t reach
that point, but I haven’t gotten to play with them enough to truly endorse them.

Garruk Smash!

While gaming at the release festivities, my son Chris and I both received our promo In Garruk’s Wake; since I was holding all of his stuff, I put them both
together and thought “huh, I wonder if I could ever cast this card… actually, I want to cast this card. That would feel sweet!

So I set about looking into a build that might be able to not only cast the card, but survive long enough for it to be relevant.

In this deck, you can cast Garruk, Apex Predator and Hero’s Downfall together as early as turn 3. All it takes is a Voyaging Satyr and a Crypt
Ghast, preferably with an Urborg thrown in.

The more I dove into this idea, the more synergistic it seemed. Liliana of the Dark Realms started out as a one-of (while I had three Nissa, Worldwaker as
a way to untap lands as well) before I slowly started realizing how insane she is with both Crypt Ghast and Urborg. That’s why there’s three (count ’em, three) legendary lands in here. I want one that badly…

The original idea was to take advantage of an “untap land” strategy; in other words, between Voyaging Satyr and Nissa, Worldwaker, we could get a ton of
mileage out of Underworld Connections, Crypt Ghast, and Verdant Haven, which was in the original version of the list. In fact, I kept in Verdant Haven for
a long time, even after I moved the deck away from being Forest-centric for Nissa towards being Swamp-centric for Liliana and Crypt Ghast. Once I removed
the Nissas, the Verdant Havens were mostly just bad Sylvan Caryatids, so I eventually made the swap.

I thought about cutting back on Voyaging Satyrs as well, but they’re still sweet with Connections and Ghast, so I just split the Caryatids and Satyrs down
the middle.

Basically, this is The Rock with explosive draw potential and some super powerful late game threats. I wanted to possibly include at least one Silence the
Believers as a way to interact early if need be but also take advantage of some of the extreme mana draws this deck is capable of (i.e with Crypt Ghast or
Liliana ultimate). Perhaps the first Silence is better than the second In Garruk’s Wake and should be swapped accordingly.

You’ll notice that, for The Rock, it seems that we don’t have a ton of removal, but you have to think about everything that could be removal in
this deck:

4 Polukranos, World Eater

4 Liliana of the Dark Realms

4 Thoughtseize

2 Hero’s Downfall

2 In Garruk’s Wake

2 Garruk, Apex Predator

1 Abrupt Decay

That’s close to one third of our deck that can interact with our opponent’s threats. Polukranos also acts as virtual card advantage even when not being
activated by virtue of being the largest threat on the board. Liliana, like Polukranos, can morph to either be a threat or a solution to a threat depending
on the situation. People tend to forget she can pump a creature just as easily as she can kill one, and with Urborg on the table…

Three Mutavaults may seem odd, but there’s no rule requiring four being run, and the colorless mana isn’t great in this deck. I’m comfortable with three
(especially when you consider the ability to get boosted by Liliana for a sudden kill), but the fourth makes me feel queasy, mana-wise.

Everyone’s all excited about Liliana Vess, but the Dark Realms version has to be the best card in this deck. If you think about Magic lore, about how
Liliana corrupted Garruk (into his current form), it seems fitting that she helps set up casting him in this deck and sets up the carnage that’s
left in his wake.

Getting Aggressive

This section is two parts: a “known” deck and a new deck I was working on.

The known deck here is the one I’ll be playing for the very near future: Mono Black Aggro. With Ulcerate and Sign in Blood being printed in M15, I honestly
feel like this deck has what it takes to be very good. I’ve played on the Mono-Black Devotion side of this matchup, and it doesn’t feel very good when
you’re trying to kill Tormented Hero and Rakdos Cackler with Hero’s Downfall.

Sure, you get Dark Betrayal after sideboard…

…but so do they.

Ulcerate is really the reason I started considering this as a deck to play, so I went about putting it together. After thinking about it though, I started
realizing that Ulcerate is a good rate on a poorly positioned card right now.

Let’s take a look at the top Standard decks right now:

Mono-Black Devotion

G/W Aggro

Mono-Blue Devotion

Jund Monsters

U/W/x Control

With some Burn and Sligh thrown in for flavoring.

Let’s look at the threats these decks present that Mono Black Aggro is concerned with:

Pack Rat Fleecemane Lion Frostburn Weird Loxodon Smiter Courser of Kruphix

Thassa, God of the Sea Polukranos, World Eater Desecration Demon Advent of the Wurm Master of Waves

Obviously there are more threats, but these are the primary ones I’m concerned with as a Mono-Black Aggro player. Now, let’s take a look at the
top removal options in Standard:

Ulcerate Bile Blight Doom Blade Ultimate Price Hero's Downfall

Obviously, there’s Devour Flesh, but unless I know I’ll be seeing a lot of Hexproof, I don’t see myself including that in aggro. Looking over those two
lists, it becomes apparent that Hero’s Downfall is the best if we have the mana and spare time to cast it; at three mana though, I doubt I want a lot of
that effect. Our best bet, otherwise, is Ultimate Price; in fact, if not for G/W Aggro, Ultimate Price would be an amazing removal spell right now. Next is
Doom Blade followed by Ulcerate and Bile Blight, neither of which is well positioned right now at all.

But when perusing lists online, I came across this little number:

<div align=”center”><a href=”http://sales.starcitygames.com/carddisplay.php?product=695037″><img
src=”http://static.starcitygames.com/sales/cardscans/MTG/M15/en/nonfoil/CripplingBlight.jpg” width=”223″ height=”310″ border=”0″ style=”padding: 1px”

This card answers everything… even the cards that we need to actually kill (not just prevent from blocking, like Master of Waves and Pack Rat) get
answered by Crippling Blight. In fact, in Mono-Black Aggro, I would argue that you should be running all four Crippling Blights before you touch the first
Ulcerate. The only card that prevents me from truly going all in on Blight is Polukranos, which still wrecks our day despite not being able to block, so I
won’t run four, but I’m still putting at least three in my deck.

What I really like is how well Sign in Blood fits in with the deck; I can either cast it on turn 3 (then cast a one-drop) to refill my hand or save it to
finish my opponent off. It gives the deck both reach and card advantage, which I think it really needed. Also: with Sign in Blood, I don’t feel the need to
include any Pain Seers, even with the synergy with Mogis’s Marauders, as Sign In Blood takes care of that issue altogether. If I got two cards out of Pain
Seer ever I’d be ecstatic, but that almost never happens.

You’ll also notice three Thoughtseizes as well; this deck doesn’t want to cast a Thoughtseize on turn 1, and feasibly not on turn 2 either. However, it does want to fit a one-mana card that disrupts the opponent’s gameplan into its curve around turn 3 since that’s really what we’re trying to do
here: get ahead and keep the opponent on the back foot until they’re dead. Thoughtseize helps that plan, but it’s not mandatory for that plan to work. The
fourth is in the sideboard for post-match games where U/W/x decks bring in even more problematic cards, but again, it’s not necessary to have in the
maindeck. I could be wrong, but based on my games with the deck this feels right.

The next deck is a revamp of a strategy we saw last year, Jund Aggro:

Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch is actually incredibly synergistic with this deck; look at how many effects/cards involve +1/+1 counters. Exava also makes it so
that your Fanatic of Xenagos is always a 4/4 haste when it comes into play (and since most people don’t realize that interaction, you get a permanent 4/4
haste the first time. No more after that, though…). Additionally, your Rakdos Cacklers and Gore-House Chainwalkers come down with haste, and your
Scavenging Oozes and Experiment Ones can easily gain haste. Dreg Manger scavenges in the really late game to give something haste as well (namely
a drawn Mutavault when both decks are getting to that late game and topdecking).

The issue with this deck is Polukranos and anything with more than four toughness; the sideboarded Dreadbores help, but I can’t advocate playing this deck
as long as a 5/5 is coming down on turn 3 as often as it is. It feels sweet but just not well positioned.

Fear the Reaper

If you read my last article, you saw a decklist that used the Grand Architect + Pili-Pala infinite mana combo in addition to the Tron manabase to build a
slightly different take on Mono-Blue Tron. The story behind that deck though, was much more storied than I led on in the article itself.

The initial idea for the deck was actually a scarecrow-based Reaper King deck!

Yeah, I know, Reaper King in Modern… only people who’ve never played Modern before would try that, amirite?

Well… I’m not so sure.

You see, once I realized that Pili-Pala and Painter’s Servant were both scarecrows, and that Scarecrone is a pretty good card in the right deck, I started
thinking that there might just be enough there to make a Reaper King deck work. Unfortunately, I did a Gatherer check for scarecrows in Modern. The list of
playable ones is… well, a bit bare.

Heap Doll Pili-Pala Painter's Servant Scuttlemutt Scarecrone Grim Poppet Reaper King

That’s if you include Scuttlemutt and Grim Poppet in the playable section too…

So before my last article, I scrapped the idea altogether well before I continued brewing… and came to my Changeling deck ideas. It wasn’t until a comment
on that article brought my attention to the fact that Changelings are also Scarecrows that my head started churning all over again.

I decided to take the deck either one of two directions, though unfortunately, these are far from playable in a competitive setting. I do find it
awesome that there’s enough cheap (and blue) scarecrows now that work with Reaper King, Scarecrone, and Grand Architect to almost get
something going though.

This is the red version that splashes for Jaya Ballard, Task Mage in the main deck (that goes with the Painter’s Servant to turn every card in your deck
into a one mana Vindicate) and can play Blood Moon out of the sideboard.

If we swap to Mono Blue, we get:

This version, we don’t get Jaya Ballard, but we do get Vedalkan Shackles, which is a pretty decent tradeoff. We also have a pain-free manabase, which is
also nice.

Sometimes though, you just draw a couple of Mothdust Changelings and Heap Dolls and do nothing, so while this deck can be fun, it’s not going to
be taking down any large events any time soon. Perhaps if your local shop runs some Modern events, this might be a fun one to surprise people with!

Other Decklists to End the Article

Just like last week, I’m going to include some of the other decklists I’ve cooked up without going in-depth into each card or the catalyst for the lists.
They’re just lists! Everyone likes lists!

Nothing new, as people have tried to make Domri Rade + Phyrexian Obliterator work for a while. I like how this one ended up, so I wanted to include it.

Convoke and Daring Thief go together like peas and carrots. Remember: you can convoke to cast Ornithopter with your Daring Thief if you need to as
well. This deck has some draws that’ll surprise you with their effectiveness.

Path of Bravery and Vizkopa Guildmage combine to provide a Hellrider-esque punch that this deck puts to great use. Path of Bravery and Archangel are great
together, and everything’s great with Ajani’s Pridemate. Underworld Coinsmith triggers your lifegain abilities and gives you a way to end the game
with all the life you’ve gained.

There has to be more cool ideas out there that people haven’t discussed for fear of being told “that’s not good”… well, there’s no judgment here!
How can your idea come to fruition if you’re too afraid to ask for help? Perhaps a fresh set of eyes can identify a problem with the list that you couldn’t
see before; I know that I post these lists hoping someone takes them and runs with it, gaining success because they saw something I couldn’t quite see.

It happened all the time when I played Chess; people watching my match could see lines I never saw and moves I never considered because they weren’t locked
into the same train of thought as I was. The same goes for deckbuilding.

So what are you waiting for? Post what you got, let’s see your great ideas.