Looking For A Decklist For The Weekend?

Standard? Modern? Legacy? GerryT wants to tell you your deck for the weekend! Come for the Sultai Midrange updates in Standard, stay for the Ninja deck in Legacy!

If you’re playing Magic this weekend, I have you covered.


I didn’t get to play a single game in the week leading up to Mythic Championship Cleveland. There were the Magic Pro League articles to write, Twitch Rivals to stream, and podcasts to record. Those things take precedence over my own personal tournament success and I’m happy with that arrangement. That said, I failed to figure out the puzzle of which deck to play in time, and while that outcome should’ve been expected, I’m disappointed in myself.

If I got to test more, I probably would have ended up on a deck with Rekindling Phoenix. If I were locked into Sultai, my decklist would have looked much different in hindsight. There were some cards I should have leaned on more for MC Cleveland.

Thankfully, I actually figured out that I should be leaning into this one more than I was and added a second copy over a Negate. There was a time when Negate was stronger because you wanted to force your spells through against Esper Control. but the format came full circle.

Biogenic Ooze was a potentially scary card out of Simic Nexus sideboards, especially after people cut spot removal for Duress and Negate during sideboarding. Disdainful Stroke was the perfect answer because it handled their scary noncreatures as well as their supposed trump in the matchup. Disdainful Stroke pulled similar duty against bigger red decks with Rekindling Phoenix and Siege-Gang Commander.

More copies wouldn’t have helped me in the games I did play, but if I didn’t blow everything else, they would have been necessary to get through everyone else.

Although I was having success with Merfolk Branchwalker and Wildgrowth Walker, I should have looked for stronger options. Realistically, there are very few decks in Standard that are beating you by inches. Sometimes Mono-White and Mono-Blue win the game that way, but they are usually relying on their pump effects or Curious Obsessions to create an unwinnable position for their opponents.

Having a higher threat density for grindy matchups was important at one point, but that’s a smaller issue compared to just having your cards be able to interact with aggro decks. I talked about how aggro was crushing the format multiple times leading up to the Mythic Championship, and then just played stock Sultai without thinking too much about the macro level.


Wildgrowth Walker and Merfolk Branchwalker step aside for Growth-Chamber Guardian and Kraul Harpooner. I’m not sure there was enough reason to pull the trigger on maindeck Kraul Harpooners at the MC, but after Mono-Blue Aggro continues to dominate, we now live in that world.

This probably needs some more tweaking, but this is where Sultai needs to be. You have more cards that matter against Mono-Blue Aggro and are much stronger against Esper Control. The downside is you’re not as prepared for the mirror, but not in the traditional way you might expect. Your cards are more impactful overall, but you’re really lacking a way to go over the top of them. I played a pair of Carnage Tyrants maindeck in Cleveland that did give me an edge in the mirror because it’s not difficult to clear the way for it between Hostage Taker and Finality, but it’s a much worse card against the field. Since your deck is lower to the ground, you must take an aggressive stance.

Sultai is a good color combination to be in, but we can do better. This is what I should have played.

Shota Takao’s deck was a huge inspiration and a similar deck took me all the way through Diamond and into Mythic in a few hours. This deck claims Mono-Blue, Esper, and Izzet as good matchups, while Mono-White, Sultai, and the various Wilderness Reclamation decks are close, but winnable. Mono-Red is basically the only “real” deck you don’t want to face.

For future Standard tournaments, I would either continue tuning Sultai or, assuming I didn’t get to the perfect spot, Gruul is where I’d be.


Izzet Phoenix, Grixis Death’s Shadow, Burn, and Dredge are the biggest concerns at the moment. Red is basically dominating Modern at the moment, even if red decks are doing it in different ways. Those differences make it difficult to attack the metagame directly, especially considering those four decks combined are something like 30% of the total metagame. Each of those decks is excellent, but when people start maindecking Surgical Extraction, I don’t think it’s a particularly good time to play Dredge.

So, as always, we need to be proactive, and I like Humans for that.

The maindeck is what I’ve been advocating for a while. You don’t want multiple Phantasmal Images because flooding on them is devastating (even if they do lead to some of your strongest draws) and Militia Bugler gives you enough gas to enable playing twenty land.

As always, the Humans sideboard is in flux. You need some spot removal for Thing in the Ice; Damping Sphere for Amulet, Tron, and Storm; and Knight of Autumn for Burn and Ensnaring Bridge. Past that, I have Dire Fleet Daredevil for grindy matchups, but Dire Fleet Daredevil can do some other cool things like exile a Conflagrate. The rest of the field is basically covered by Izzet Staticaster.

Auriok Champion wasn’t very impactful before, but the metagame is completely different now. Decks like Dredge, Grixis Death’s Shadow, Arclight Phoenix, and Burn are a huge portion of the format. Red is a dominant color, Auriok Champion gives you a huge leg up against those decks, and Humans gives you a reason to play that card.

If you want to get fancy, you could always try this.

Maindeck Auriok Champion might actually be a thing, to the point where I’m tempted to try Orzhov Tokens again.

Anyway, this deck ditches the five-color manabase for a strictly Bant shell, which means you lose Mantis Rider and Kitesail Freebooter. Assuming Auriok Champion is stronger in the metagame than Freebooter, that could be a huge win. Then again, losing Mantis Rider’s flying and quick clock will matter. Maybe some Spell Quellers to slow down your opponent will help.

By ditching the Ancient Ziggurats for a fetchland manabase, you get access to real sideboard cards like Rest in Peace and Path to Exile (which may or may not be worse than Dismember). The other weird thing I want to try is sideboarding Chalice of the Void, but it’s somewhat narrow, so I didn’t want most of my sideboard taken up by those and Auriok Champions. You could try Chalice in the normal Humans list, but Ancient Ziggurat makes that an awkward proposition.

Why not just play the “best” deck, though?

I fully support the Snapcaster Mage addition to Izzet Phoenix, but it does make the deck even weaker to graveyard hate like Rest in Peace. Crackling Drakes (and Jace, the Mind Sculptor) out of the sideboard help with that, but Rest in Peace and a pile of removal make for a bad matchup.

Being removal-heavy myself is something I’ll typically lean toward in decks like these. Against decks where removal is less than optimal, you’re not giving up much. Your bad matchups tend to improve by a wide margin post-sideboard, whereas your pre-sideboard matchups tend to be medium and there’s very little you can do about it.

Splashing a lifegain spell isn’t ideal (especially since you’ll probably have to take three damage to cast it), but Burn is very difficult and very prevalent. It would be nice if green gave me something else I wanted, but Ancient Grudge isn’t necessary at the moment.

Since the most frequent question I get asked is for an updated Mardu Pyromancer list, I’d be remiss if I talked about Modern and didn’t mention this.

Look, if we’re all going to agree that maindeck Surgical Extraction is necessary for Izzet Phoenix to fight Dredge, then there’s no reason why Mardu Pyromancer shouldn’t be doing the same thing, even if it doesn’t have Arclight Phoenix. Of course, having a good out to your opponent’s Arclight Phoenixes is a good idea no matter which way you look at it. Maybe they should be something more versatile like Nihil Spellbomb instead, but Surgical Extraction can punish combo decks alongside a discard spell and works better with Bedlam Reveler.

Other than random narrow graveyard hate, the maindeck is fairly standard. The sideboard is where it gets interesting, as cards like Bitterblossom and Experimental Frenzy show up to dominate midrange and control decks. Bitterblossom also gives you a clock against combo decks, which this deck sorely needs.

I’ve tried several builds of Mardu incorporating Arclight Phoenix, but the results were lukewarm. You could play with them and I wouldn’t fault you for it, but you’re often empty-handed or close to it by Turn 3. You need to use your cheap spells early to interact with your opponents, and then you rarely have three spells to bring back your Phoenixes. Manamorphose is the singular godsend, but you still must get lucky and draw a spell (or even name the right color of mana!).

As always, the rest of the deck is infinitely customizable, but I would heavily recommend trying the enchantments in the sideboard.

Finally, just for fun.

Don’t try this at home.


There are two things I like in Legacy right now, and those are Baleful Strix and basic lands.

Using Baleful Strix to buy you time in your Show and Tell combo deck is a genius move. These decks typically use Cunning Wish as a win condition, but it doesn’t seem entirely necessary to me. Plus, with Thing in the Ice, you get to have an actual sideboard, which was one of the glaring weaknesses with old Show and Tell decks.

Thing in the Ice is the best sweeper in Legacy. If you’re playing Grixis Control, leave your Toxic Deluges at home.

If I were playing #SCGNY, I would 100% be playing this.

The goal of the deck is to disrupt your opponent while putting a clock on them. Easy mode is getting Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow active and clearing the way. Getting to Ninjutsu a Spellstutter Sprite or Baleful Strix back to your hand is just extra value.

Not only is Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow a very, very sweet Magic card, but this style of deck is probably quite good right now. Any reason to play Bitterblossom backed up by disruption is worth pursuing, plus that means you get to play Spellstutter Sprite.

Delver of Secrets will likely disappoint you in this deck, but it’s there as a cheap Ninjutsu enabler and isn’t meant to do the heavy lifting.

I really hope someone does me a favor and attacks with Yuriko this weekend.