Fighting The Best

Two-time SCG Open winner Ali Aintrazi tries out a few brews for Theros Standard. Building a Chimera, mastering battle with Kalonian Hydra, and whipping BBD are all inside…

So in our last article we knew that aggro decks would be the best decks in an unknown metagame, and the StarCityGames.com Standard Open in Worcester proved that. I also thought control was going to play a big part, but I didn’t think it would be that big from the start. We had a total of four control decks in the Top 8. While control was half the Top 8, there were many more aggressive decks in the Top Sixteen. So now that we know what we are up against, we have a better understanding on how to attack the format. It’s hard to find a deck that is going to beat both control and aggro, but it can be done. I believe we either need a midrange deck with a lot of instants or a control deck with a lot of instants. I also personally think a Maze’s End deck can work, with or without planeswalkers.

Some Cards That Are Good Against These Strategies…

Advent of the Wurm is a very solid card against both aggressive and controlling decks. It’s nothing amazing against them, but it is still a very solid spell. Against the aggressive strategies, it’s like a Shriekmaw in that it eats any attacking creature, with the added bonus that it gets around Firefist Striker and Chandra’s +1 ability (then hopefully kills Chandra too). Against control, the uses of Advent are obvious, you can make a 5/5 anytime you want. The one drawback is that it dies to Azorious Charm, but control decks really need to… Think Twice before charming it, since they need to hit all their land drops.

This card isn’t getting much attention, but maybe it’s for good reason? Maybe it’s because people are scared to try new things or maybe this little Chimera just doesn’t have a home yet. Its obvious inclusion would be in a Bant shell of some sort, or even a RUG shell, but a BUG shell could support it as well. Divination sounds so much better when it also gains you two life. Or when your Revelations send the aggro decks back to the Stone Age. It obviously has some serious drawbacks, as paying four mana for a creature that dies to a Shock is pretty gross. If this guy sticks around though, he’ll do some work. He’ll gain you life, pressure planeswalkers, and fly over everything to deal three damage. Three damage is a lot when you’re also gaining life every turn. I like him but that could be the Simic in me talking.

Now I’m not a huge aggro player, but I believe this card is underrated. I would hate to see this come into play after a wrath effect and kill my planeswalker or just put the pressure right back on. Heaven forbid a Kalonian Hydra follows it after. That’s just… disgusting. So wretched in fact, that it makes me want to build a deck with her in it.

A more bulky and aggressive take on the Jund decks we are so used to seeing. This deck is untested, but I believe it’s a very good starting place. I know that’s not saying much and everyone wants a refined list handed to them. Well, for one, this is a new format. Two, I haven’t been able to test online yet. And three, imagine you taking this list, making it the best it can be, then winning a tournament with it. That’s a really great feeling!

I encourage you to play this deck if it’s your style of deck. Just looking at this list, as a control player I can tell it’s going to be an uphill battle. A planeswalker that is extremely hard for control to deal with and creatures that keep asking me if I can kill them… and if I can’t, they are gonna kill me. And casting Kalonian Hydra with an Exava or Ogre Battledriver in play has to be priceless.

I think Junk is a very strong and fun deck to play. Who doesn’t like playing Obzedat, Elspeth Sun’s Champion, and Orzhov Guildgate? Let’s channel our BBD for a moment.

We’re Duin it! We can attack the control decks with Smiters, Voices, planeswalkers, wurms, and multiple ghosts! Attacking the control player from multiple angles is where you want to be, and that’s just what we’re doing. We can keep the pressure on them and force them to answer our threats or die trying. I wanted to play Thoughtseize in the maindeck, but the popularity of aggressive strategies keeps pushing me away. I’d rather just play more threats and move the discard spell to the board at least until the aggro decks simmer down. My thought process behind Rescue from the Underworld is to let us cash in on a Mystic or a Voice of Resurgence later in the game. The card is probably not needed, but I do want to test it out and see how it plays.

After game one, we can fully focus on tuning our deck against our opponent’s deck. Against agro, bringing in a set of four Unflinching Courages and three Fiendslayer Paladins will make sure that we can start gaining life while putting pressure on them quickly. I just take out the slower cards like Obzedat, Read the Bones, Rescue from the Underworld, an Elspeth, Vraska, and shave a Hero’s Downfall.

Against control I bring in 3 Thoughtseize and 2 Undweworld Connections for Doom Blade, Selesnya Charms, a Blood Baron, and an Abrupt Decay. This allows us to cut some of the do-nothing cards in favor of cards that will help push through our game-ending spells like Obzedat and Elspeth, or strip them of their key cards like Revelation, Aetherlings, and Elspeths.

Against BBD we just board in the Orzhov Guildgate and he’ll concede on the spot!

Let’s look at a deck with the Chimera in it. I believe the other two decks have more potential but I enjoy trying new things!

After all is said and done, I’m not sure how I fully feel about this deck. Again, I just wanted to try out Horizon Chimera, but it may be better suited in a different deck. RUG hasn’t been explored yet either, so I wanted to give it a go. The reason I opted not to run Anger of the Gods is because I wanted to protect our planeswalkers and accelerate our mana. I feel like the Caryatid is the card for the job. The idea behind this deck is to just one-for-one your opponent until you can get a planeswalker going or you get to your draw spells. I thought about playing Urban Evolution, but it really doesn’t fit this deck since our curve just stops at six and we only have one six-drop. I also feel like Aetherling is just better than Niv-Mizzet. Drawing cards is nice, but winning the game is nicer.

I’m excited to play these decks online and hopefully I’ll be able to soon. The first deck I’ll be testing out is Maze’s End, I really think the deck can work. It can just answer anything it wants to and you get to play all five colors. All. Five. Colors. Rainbow magic baby!

If you’re interested in seeing these decks in action, follow me on Twitch!


Thanks for reading and may the God(s) be with you!

Ali, the Unbowed