With both the top aggressive deck (Humans) and the best midrange deck (Bant Company) playing plenty of small creatures as, Languish is well-positioned in the current Standard format. For the most part, the decks that play it are B/W or B/G “Good Stuff” decks, with the latter often having a small delirium theme and both sometimes splashing powerful Eldrazi cards. But today I have a much spicier way to punish everyone overloading on creatures, a control deck built around enchantments, specifically Demonic Pact and Starfield of Nyx.
Over the course of a long game, the raw resource advantage accrued by these enchantments will bury your opponent, so the rest of the deck is built to force that long game. There are plenty of great enchantments for removing creatures, and this deck sports all of them, from the well-known white options Silkwrap and Stasis Snare to the unheralded black options Dead Weight and Sinister Concoction. The exact numbers of these cards to run are up for debate, but the important part is that there is such a high number of them that the deck does not have to rely on something like Declaration in Stone and can instead keep its enchantment density high.
Oath of Jace does some nice work here as a velocity spell, allowing us to hit land drops early and avoid flood late, as well as digging us to Demonic Pact or an answer to it. Note that Oath plays well with Starfield here, letting you stash more expensive enchantments in your graveyard to return later so they do not clog your hand in the early-game.
With all the exile effects in the deck, mostly from the white enchantments, Wasteland Strangler is a nice addition that can provide a needed tempo boost, letting you kill a creature and block another for the low price of three mana. The extra card gained in this exchange is significant, as is the fact that getting a creature out from under an enchantment insulates you from Dromoka’s Command, which might otherwise be too strong against this deck to let it compete, given the Command’s ubiquity in the format.
Of course, with Demonic Pact we must have a sizable number of ways to answer it, and without Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy serving as additional copies of our spells, we need even more answers than you may expect. Between Angelic Purge, Anguished Unmaking, Disperse, and Silumgar’s Command, this list has eight ways to remove a Demonic Pact, and that number is artificially raised when you realize that Starfield of Nyx can potentially animate a Pact, letting many of your creature removal spells take it out.
I’m happy to see all these bases covered, but what worries me about this list is the propensity for it to fall behind. Many of the enchantments have no immediate impact on the battlefield and the removal suite is heavy on three-mana spells. Languish helps a lot when trying to catch up, which is why it fits so well into the deck, but there is more to be done. The first change is to add a 26th land. The deck’s late-game engine is so powerful that you should not be worried about flooding, whereas making your first four or five land drops every game is crucial.
I know it seems strange for me to be bringing you the Demonic Pact deck and not Michael Majors, but I have been looking for a better home for Languish than the bland ones that exist now, and this may be it. Being able to maintain parity for long enough to set up an overwhelmingly powerful engine is how U/R Goggles operates, so this deck could follow that model to success with some more work put into it.