Rally Good

Pro Tour Champion Shaun McLaren has been hard at work learning the Four-Color Rally deck that you should be working with at the #SCGPHILLY Standard Classic! Read the details on Shaun’s experiences with the deck here!

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<p>Is Four-Color <a href=Rally the best deck in Standard?

Probably. But not by much. If Rally is the best deck, it’s at least beatable, which is more than you can say about the best deck in Modern at the moment. Rally has been consistently putting up great results for a while now, and the rest of the format is pushing back.

Most decks in Standard are now built specifically with Rally in mind. Rally is a hard deck to beat game 1 because it does some of the most powerful things in the format, so it’s important to run a strategy that has a shot game 1 and pack a good sideboard.

Even though Rally is one of the best choices right now, I think the rest of the format is winning the war. Rally can be beaten and strategies are starting to do so.

It’s nice when the best deck in format is tricky to pilot. Eldrazi decks in Modern are fairly easy to play for a format as intricate as Modern, and as a result, the format is overrun by them. Hard-to-pilot decks are less likely to be picked up and more likely to be targets. This is good for dedicated Rally players; not only will it reward you for mastering the deck, it will also mean Rally is a smaller part of the metagame, no matter how good it is, which makes building a deck specifically to beat it less appealing.

I’ve been Rallying on and off since Pro Tour Magic Origins. Rally the Ancestors has only grown in popularity and become a bigger part of the metagame since it was printed, especially since Reflector Mage showed up. Rally the Ancestors is certainly going to be rotating out of the format at the height of its career as the sun sets on Khans of Tarkir,

Today I’ll go over some Rally lists, how to best use specific cards, tips and tricks, sideboarding, and the best ways to beat Rally decks.


Rally is the deck to beat in Standard because it’s reached a critical mass of good maindeck creatures to hit with Collected Company and Rally the Ancestors. Maindeck configurations are starting to appear more and more similar, since the good options are so good. There are a few slots you have wiggle room with, but the power and synergy of the deck keeps the core the same.

The two Rally decks that Top 8ed the Standard Louisville Classic, piloted by Sam Black and Levi Basham, are similar. Their versions are definitely pushed towards the tempo end of the spectrum and I think that’s the correct way to go.

Since everyone is coming prepared to deal with the ridiculously powerful cards that are Rally the Ancestors and Collected Company, it’s best to back them up with a strategy that can function on its own. Thanks to Reflector Mage, the deck can play a great tempo game and push through damage early and late by keeping the other side of the table spotless.

Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim does a lot. It’s great on defense, freely attacks into anything to help push through damage, gains life, and plays very well against a lot of popular cards like Sylvan Advocate and Monastery Swiftspear. Having a lot of sacrifice outlets is underrated, since they are a key component necessary for Rally the Ancestors to be effective.

Running Grim Haruspex or not is one of the key decisions for the deck. Having a Grim Haruspex is excellent in slower matchups and as an option with Collected Company or in the mix of a Rally the Ancestors.

Tips and Tricks

Sidisi’s Faithful is the secret third sacrifice outlet in the deck with lots of uses. You can use it to bounce Elvish Visionary for extra card draw, upgrade its bounce by returning your ownReflector Mage and replaying it, or “save” any of your creatures after casting Rally the Ancestors. That one is especially relevant with Nantuko Husk after you’ve bounced all of your opponent’s creatures with Reflector Mages and replayed your Nantuko Husk. Then you can sacrifice everything to the Nantuko Husk on your upkeep and attack for a boatload. Every spare blue mana you have means Sidisi’s Faithful can bounce itself and sacrifice other creatures to trigger Grim Haruspex, Zulaport Cutthroat, or Catacomb Sifter.

Common starts for playing your lands are: Swamp, Island, Canopy Vista or Plains, Forest, Sunken Hollow (in the opposite order works as well). These starts allow you to cast Reflector Mage or Catacomb Sifter and further Battle lands enter the battlefield untapped.

Tokens, including Eldrazi Scions, still die even with Anafenza, the Foremost or Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet on the other side of the battlefield, which means you can still scry and get Zulaport Cutthroat triggers.

You can cast Rally the Ancestors for two if you’re tight on mana or don’t have any three-drops to return (or more than three, if you’re running something like Siege Rhino).

Missing a sacrifice outlet in your graveyard? After casting Rally the Ancestors, you can cast Collected Company on your upkeep to try to find a sacrifice outlet to keep your creatures from getting exiled. You can also dig for more Zulaport Cutthroats or fuel for Zulaport Cutthroat.

Time is a factor with Rally. When playing online, always yield to triggers, and if you’re really pressed for time, you can sacrifice Grim Haruspex and Catacomb Sifters first to put fewer triggers onto the stack. In real life, you don’t have to resolve all your scrying if you just want to get to lethality more quickly.

Comboing Off

Let’s go through some of the basic mechanics of how it plays out when you actually cast Rally the Ancestors. Here’s how it goes if you cast Rally the Ancestors for three on your turn with the following in the graveyard:

First of all, Rally the Ancestors gets exiled. Then you choose which legendary creatures to keep, so you keep one Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim and one Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy.

Separate the creatures you Rallied back from any that you already had on the battlefield. Then arrange them in the same way you stack their triggers to help keep track. You can then pull back the ones whose triggers have resolved to help keep track. Here’s how you might want your triggers to resolve:

Two Zulaport Cutthroat drains (from the legendaries that just died)

One Reflector Mage bounce

One Catacomb Sifter Scion token

Two Catacomb Sifter scrys (from the legendaries that just died)

One Sidsi’s Faithful exploit

Two Grim Haruspex draws (from the legendaries that just died)

One Elvish Visionary draw

Drain first so you don’t forget.

Usually you want to scry before you draw cards. If you have access to lots of scrying and lots of draws, you probably want to spread the scrying out and give yourself access to anything reasonable. If you don’t have a Grim Haruspex and you only have access to one draw from Elvish Visionary, you’re going to want to sacrifice-scry before you draw until you find what you’re looking for. If you want what’s on top of your library, let a draw resolve and then you can resume scrying.

Take some time to think about if there’s anything you want to draw. You might have lethal with another Zulaport Cutthroat, and if you have a black source untapped or can draw into a land and haven’t made a land drop yet, you can find one off your scrying and cast it with the help of an Eldrazi Scion before sacrificing everything to Nantuko Husk.

Once your initial triggers resolve, each additional creature you sacrifice on this battlefield will get you a scry, a card draw, and a Zulaport Cutthroat drain.

Don’t forget that your creatures will exile next upkeep, so be sure to keep them separate from the ones that won’t, and try not to forget to sacrifice any of them and let them exile.


Here’s my current list. You’ll get me to cut Elvish Visionary when you pry it from my cold dead valueless fingers, even if it doesn’t support the tempo plans very well.

The very nature of Rally is that you’re good against everything in the format in game 1, but during sideboarded games, you’ll encounter heavy hate. So to be a true Rally master, you need to excel at sideboarding. Basic Rally sideboard strategy is mostly targeted at counteracting the hate that you’ll meet. You can also try more exotic approaches like bringing in Deathmist Raptor, Den Protector, Painful Truths, or Siege Rhino, to try to attack from different angles, but for now let’s just focus on what’s proven to work.

Apply all disclaimers about sideboarding being fluid and based on what you see from your opponent. As well, I’m assuming your format is hostile to Rally, which makes Rally the Ancestors less effective and more likely to be brought out than it would have when the format was less ready for it. Using my list from above:

The Mirror

You can expect your opponent to bring in Anafenza, the Foremost, so you’ll need to proactively sideboard in some amount of removal for her. You’ll also want your answers to Collected Company and Rally the Ancestors. Anafenza, the Foremost; Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy; and Collected Company are such powerful threats in sideboard games that it’s important to have plenty of answers for them. It’s difficult to reach the critical threshold or resolve Rally the Ancestors, so I think it’s better to focus on getting value in the early game. Trim on bounce as you need more permanent answers to Anafenza, the Foremost and Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy.



Bant Company

They bring in Dispel and Disdainful Stroke, so you’ll have a more difficult time resolving your haymakers. Also, be wary as a face-down creature could easily be a Stratus Dancer. They will often slowly win in the air, so pressure them when you can and try to find an opening. Flying creatures backed with disruption is a great way to beat Rally.



Abzan Aggro

Nowadays, you may have to contend with Hallowed Moonlight as well as the Anafenzas that are already maindeck. Again, shave on some of the bounce and some of the combo, as it is harder to snowball. The Elvish Visionaries are trimmed because they don’t chump Siege Rhino well, but they aren’t cut completely as they can block Sylvan Advocate and Anafenza, the Foremost nicely.

Remember, you don’t have to cast anything if you suspect (or know) they’re holding a Hallowed Moonlight. At the very least, that’s two mana they need to keep open every turn.




Ramp usually doesn’t have many cards to sideboard against you. Some lists run a couple of Cranial Archives to disrupt your Rally the Ancestors, and they also might run some Reclaiming Vines to keep you off of double white mana. This is a complete race and there’s no effective way to keep them from winning the late game.

World Breaker and Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger are going to be their key cards, since they’re trying to destroy your lands. Keep that in mind when you’re fetching.

Infinite Obliteration would be nice here, since hitting World Breaker gives you a lot of time and flashing it back will often end the game. It’s also nice in the Rally mirror, but not the trump it once was.



Jeskai Black

These decks usually fight you with a combination of Duress, Dispel, and Hallowed Moonlight, while they pressure you with Goblin Dark-Dwellers and Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet. This is where the Abzan Charm shines as both card draw and removal for Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet.

Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet is one of the best cards in the format and singlehandedly wins the game against Rally. It is Soulfire Grand Master; Anafenza, the Foremost; and Monastery Mentor rolled into one card. If you’re playing with Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet against Rally, don’t risk it in combat for marginal benefit. Cast it early on and then start picking off priority targets like sacrifice outlets and Zulaport Cutthroats.

When you’re playing against a deck that is likely running Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet or Anafenza, the Foremost, save your bounce. Save it! Save lots of it. Hold onto those Reflector Mages like they’re the golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.

Getting a Reflector Mage or Sidsi’s Faithful in your graveyard can also be very useful if you can do it before Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet resolves. The next time you cast Rally the Ancestors, you’ll be able to get rid of anyone trying to cramp your style.



Atarka Red

This what your Arashin Clerics are for, but on their own, they’re not quite enough. Three life won’t save you from the Become Immense + Temur Battle Rage combo, and that’s what the matchup is really about. You should be able to flood the battlefield, and as long as you can keep up a Murderous Cut, you should no longer have any fear of death.




Rally takes a good deal of practice and experience to navigate all the hate in the format. Anticipating what sideboard cards they’ll be bringing in to counter you and making sure that you side in the appropriate answers are important.

Like it or not, Rally is one of the best decks in Standard, so you need to be prepared. Will you be using Rally and booting your opponent out of the game or fighting back and drowning the deck in hate cards?

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