M14 Standard Review

Gerry breaks down what cards from M14 interest him from a deckbuilder’s perspective. And what would a set breakdown be without a few decklists?

I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited for a core set.

Why, you ask? Because of the following 36 cards.

Archangel of Thune

Much has been said about this card already, but for good reason. At five mana, it’s probably a little too slow for this Standard environment. However, Gavony Township, evasion, and ways to win races have been great ways to break creature mirrors in Standard, and this basically has everything. It’s like a Baneslayer that demands you have some little guys in play, which is something you probably want anyway.

I doubt it will make an impact, but still won’t be surprised if it does.

Banisher Priest

There’s nothing too exciting here, as Fiend Hunter is already legal. This is basically a Fiend Hunter that wants to attack instead of block.

Celestial Flare

I don’t expect many people to get excited about this one except for me. With Renounce the Guilds, Ratchet Bomb, Supreme Verdict, and Celestial Flare, U/W/x decks have a lot of tools to fight Hexproof decks. Edict effects don’t line up well against Voice of Resurgence (especially this one, heh) or Thragtusk, but there are decks that play difficult-to-remove creatures such as Geist of Saint Traft and Boros Reckoner.

Fiendslayer Paladin

I’m not sure we need this right now, but it’s a very cool answer to red or black aggressive decks. I would have loved this when Zombies was around.

Imposing Sovereign

Blind Obedience was always very close to playable in aggressive decks, but it never quite made it because, even though Extort is decent, it doesn’t do as much work as a body would. Thragtusk, Huntmaster of the Fells, and Restoration Angel don’t do much when you get a free attack step, and then get to alpha strike them.

Dismiss into Dream

I might be going off the deep end with this one. This plus Izzet Staticaster might be a nice way to lock up the game against creature decks.


This one is niiiice. It didn’t any play the first time around, but it didn’t exactly line up well against Bloodbraid Elf and Vengevine. This time, things are different.

Gimme that Boros Reckoner!

Tidebinder Mage

Delver would have loved this card. I’m not sure a tempo deck exists that wants this card to fight Thragtusk and the like, but it’s nice to have it.

Warden of Evos Isle

I always thought Favorable Winds was close to making it. This card can help power out Dungeon Geists and Drogskol Captains, so it’s probably worth it if you want to build that type of deck.

Blood Bairn

Definitely not impressive and nothing we haven’t seen before. If you want a Bloodthrone Vampire that’s a little better on its own, you have this guy. With so many sacrifice outlets, I wouldn’t be surprised if Mark of Mutiny, Blood Artist, etc become even more popular.



I doubt it, but Corrupt is a very powerful card.

Dark Prophecy

Dark Prophecy

When I submitted this article, apparently I left the part for this card blank, which would be somewhat apt. After all, some people believe this card has no relevant text.

I think this could be good. We have plenty of sacrifice outlets and Blood Artists, so I don’t see why we can’t do something with this. The BBB cost is certainly prohibitive, so this likely wouldn’t fit into any other deck except for mono-black with a splash color. My newest obsession has been W/B Humans, but I will be brewing with this in the future as well.

Stay tuned.

Diabolic Tutor

Does this help Corrupt or make it so people will foolishly try it? Is this what they call a “skill tester?”

Doom Blade

Much like Terramorphic Expanse, I had no idea how much I missed you until you were gone. It’s even prompted@Doom_Blade_Guy to make a triumphant return to Twitter. Get those Putrefies out of your Jund decks as soon as possible (although beware of Olivia Voldaren), and enjoy life with a solid two-mana removal spell.

Lifebane Zombie

This and Tidebinder Mage are what color hosers should be like. Protection from a color is often backbreaking whereas these cards are fair but have a profound effect against its enemy colors. It’s also an effect that promotes interaction instead of sitting behind a Knight of Glory against Zombies.

Xathrid Necromancer

Xathrid Necromancer

This is probably the card that I’m most excited for in the entire set, at least for the three months where Champion of the Parish and Doomed Traveler are legal.

This is where I’m starting for the StarCityGames Open in Somerset featuring the Invitational:

I’ll be the first to admit that Skirsdag High Priest looks a little weak here. Some have said the same for Restoration Angel, but I like that it’s a bigger body in a deck full of little guys, it’s fine against Supreme Verdict, and it’s fine with Champion of the Parish.

That said, there is enough token action going on in this deck that maxing out on Sorin, Lord of Innistrad is likely better. I was even considering Selfless Cathar, but there are too many good cards in W/B for him to realistically make the cut. It’s the same situation for Increasing Devotion, although that card has a lot of nice synergies.

The sideboard Blood Artists may look strange, but this is more of Champion of the Parish deck than a Cartel Aristocrat deck. I want to beat down, not control the board with various triggered abilities. Blood Artist is still quite good against opposing Blood Artists and aggressive decks, but is very bad against Jund and Supreme Verdict.

Barrage of Expendables

While I would love to have Goblin Bombardment back, as would at least one fellow SCG writer, it’s probably too efficient. Even if this isn’t good enough to maindeck, because it’s either too slow or not effective enough against the top decks, it would make a perfect sideboard card against some decks.

Burning Earth

Burning Earth

This card is a gigantic beating. Red decks are almost twice as good as they were before just because of the existence of this card. Will they play it maindeck? Will people bother adapting? Who knows, but I’m dying to watch it all unfold.

I’ve mentioned a few times that building manabases that are “too good” can be destructive. One of my biggest regrets in my Magic career is that I could never seem to close at US Nationals. Several times, I’ve been in striking position of Top 8 when something disastrous would happen. In this case, I was playing for the right to intentionally draw into Top 8 against Pro Tour funnyman Antonino DeRosa.

Previously, I had Ant’s number, and this matchup didn’t seem like it was going to go any differently. I was playing a Bant deck based on abusing Momentary Blink, whereas he was piloting a R/B Aggro deck featuring the combo of Dark Confidant plus Greater Gargadon.

We went to three games with me losing one due to a mulligan to four. What ultimately cost me was this:

4 Breeding Pool
1 Hallowed Fountain
2 Temple Garden
4 Flagstones of Trokair
4 Treetop Village
1 Plains
2 Island
1 Forest
4 Yavimaya Coast

My manabase was awesome – I even had Wall of Roots and Edge of Autumn! It was so good that I didn’t even need those Yavimaya Coasts, but I played them anyway.

In the end, I lost to Magus of the Moon. Of course I prepared for Magus by playing four Serrated Arrows in my sideboard, but by the end of the tournament, Ant knew about them and sided in some Shattering Sprees.

I was being unnecessarily greedy, and it cost me what was probably my best shot of being our National Champion. Do not repeat my mistakes. Play basics, cast Farseek for basics, cut the third color in your deck if you don’t need it.

Burning Earth will be cast against you and you won’t like it.

Chandra, Pyromaster


I’m not impressed.

What am I doing with this card? Making their Thragtusk not able to block maybe, then they can just attack back and kill it. If I’m trying to utilize the Howling Mine ability, I have to wait to untap with it. The ultimate could possible miss, so I’m probably not building for that.

Obviously the card has upsides, but I don’t understand the hype.

Chandra's Phoenix

Chandra’s Phoenix

I think that Goblin Guide and Chandra’s Phoenix should be legal from now until the end of time. Topping off that early game aggression with some mid-game staying power is what the red decks should be about, and that’s what people should be forced to try and beat.

Current red decks might not want the Phoenix though. There’s Boros Reckoner in the three-drop slot already, and mid-game staying power isn’t really what it’s looking for. Hellrider tends to kill people quickly, as does Ghor-Clan Rampager, so the Phoenix doesn’t even have time to do much.

The games where Phoenix would allow you to grind someone out typically involve burn spells, but Searing Spear and Pillar of Flame are not exactly cards you want to keep in against a control deck. We need a Searing Blaze or Lightning Bolt, something that’s actually efficient, to make Phoenix truly good.

Of course, maybe the red decks change entirely with the help of the next card…

Young Pyromancer

This card seems insane. Random archetypes that could use it include Delver monored, Burn at the Stake combo, and others. Left unchecked, it’s probably going to kill you. I definitely wouldn’t be surprised if this saw play in Eternal formats either.

Elvish Mystic

Yes, please.

Garruk, Caller of Beasts

Garruk, Caller of Beasts

Domri on steroids? Domroids perhaps?

I like Garruk. He seems like a nice way to top the curve in a midrange deck or a combo piece for putting quick Worldspine Wurms into play. Regardless of how you’re using him, you’re definitely getting what you pay for, mana-wise.

From a control player’s perspective, I don’t think I can beat this Garruk reliably at all, so that says something about his strength. He can even go toe to toe with Sphinx’s Revelation, which is pretty disgusting.

Gladecover Scout / Witchstalker

Oh WotC, what have you done?

First, there was Witchstalker, and I was sad. Then, there was Gladecover Scout and I was scared. It seems like, in order to shake things up, WOTC has made Bant Hexproof a legitimate contender for the last three months of the format.

Perhaps the Abundant Growths aren’t necessary, but I’m worried about the mana. If you aren’t, then you could slot in the Voices maindeck. It does seem like this deck is going to be about building a battleship more than it will be about grinding people out with Strangleroot Geist and Voice of Resurgence, so I want my Ethereal Armors to be as good as possible.

I would expect a strong uptick in Supreme Verdicts, edict effects, Ratchet Bombs, and the like, as the threat of Bant Hexproof looms over the format.

As for the sideboard, against decks like Jund I want to remove some of the enchantments for additional threats. Against decks like R/G Aggro, where it comes down to a race, I want Fog and some Dispels for the Skullcracks they’re siding in against your Unflinching Courages already. Mending Touch should handle the Supreme Verdict decks, but Ratchet Bomb can also take out your enchantments. Maybe Pithing Needle is a good answer if decks lean on Ratchet Bomb or Liliana of the Veil too much?

Ray of Revelation might be necessary to beat any mirror matches, but it also might just be worse than casting Fog.

Kalonian Tusker

Is this the industry standard now? That’s both frightening and awesome at the same time.

I guess I’m glad it doesn’t have Hexproof.

Lay of the Land

This is likely not good enough unless domain starts mattering somehow, but it’s something to keep in mind. I just like a good reprint, OK?

Manaweft Sliver

With Farseek leaving, I could see this actually getting cast at some point. Like most of the cards I’m talking about, they aren’t truly exciting, but they don’t need much in order to become playable either.

Primeval Bounty

I’m not sure what I want to do with this, but I do know I want to cast it at some point. It’s similar to Trading Post in that it does a bunch of things, but whether those things are actually useful is another story.

Savage Summoning

There really isn’t a counter-heavy control deck out there, and even if there were, Cavern of Souls exists. Also, you’d rather be hammering them with threats until they run out of answers instead of forcing a guy through with this and seeing it die. It is a sweet design though, and given the right circumstances it could become a viable hate card.

Scavenging Ooze

I love it. This card has already proven its worth in Legacy, so it’s great to see it become available for Standard (and Modern) play. It’s a solid value life-gainer, but it’s also as big as a Tarmogoyf most of the time. This will see a lot of play in a variety of decks.

Haunted Plate Mail

While this card is likely not good, it hearkens back to the old days of nearly- creatureless control, with only Steel Golem or Rainbow Efreet as your finisher. Those decks aren’t going to be viable anymore, but I get hit with nostalgia whenever I see a similar card.

This does work pretty well with sweepers, but it’s also probably worse than any planeswalker.

Ratchet Bomb

Yesyesyes! From Jund to Flash to Esper, Ratchet Bomb will likely see more play than it ever has before. This is not a powerhouse like Voice of Resurgence, but it’s a solid, multi-purpose answer to a lot of problems.

Encroaching Wastes

For now, this is likely worse than Ghost Quarter. Post-rotation, I love the idea of this existing.

How absolutely sick is it that in order to “fix” Wasteland, you only have to add a tiny activation cost? What about Dust Bowl? WOTC really doesn’t want us messing with other people’s lands and I don’t blame them.


As you can see in my above W/B deck, I’m eager to put Mutavault to work. It’s been a while since we had a nice manland. As a player, I tend to prefer my manlands to make colored mana of some sort, but besides thaT Mutavault is about as efficient as it comes. I’m sure it will fit into plenty of decks, annoy the hell out of Supreme Verdict decks, and give us that extra push against Jund.

Glacial Fortress

After years of Caw-Blade and Delver, my Glacial Fortresses are beat to hell. I guess they needed a break.


I expect M14 will do a lot to shake up Standard for the Invitational, and I can’t wait. Bant Hexproof is the obvious winner, but I also like my W/B Humans deck a lot. Of course, I’ll also be working on U/W/R in some capacity, but I have no idea how that will end up. I also have Brad Nelson to point me in the direction of the best green deck, so I should have all my bases covered!