Rise Of Aintrazi – Moar Decks!

National Champion Ali Aintrazi is saddened by the overwhelming number of aggro decks doing well in Standard, but perhaps now that the metagame is more established, he can brew up some sick combo/control decks for Nashville.

YAAYAYAYAYAYAY!!! Red Deck Wins took 1st and 2nd at the latest Open! It overcame Solar Flare and even U/W tempo. You know what the kicker is? There was only one non-aggressive deck in the Top 8; doesn’t this make you jump for joy?

Le sigh… If you know anything about me, you probably know I’m not a fan of red decks or very aggressive strategies. That’s not to say I don’t think they are good—quite the contrary. I believe aggressive strategies are the best in a new metagame. While your opponents are stumbling with their inconsistent “combo” or misbuilt control decks, you are just bashing face over and over again. But now that we have some information, let’s try and build a deck that beats all these aggressive strategies, shall we?

The first deck I turned to was U/W, since it’s known to put little creatures where they belong… in the graveyard.

Here is a tuned version of U/W that is favored against all these aggressive strategies. The only one that still scares me is the Illusion deck since it can counter your removal and slowly recover with Moorland Haunt, but if they are holding countermagic, then they are slowing down their clock. If you resolve a Wrath, you should be okay; you also pick up another wrath effect vs. them after boarding. You have no real good targets for their Phyrexian Metamorphs and Phantasmal Images, so they can rot in their hand after you wipe their board.

You hopefully shouldn’t lose to Red Deck Wins anymore, and it only gets better after boarding. Maindeck, you have Dismembers, Wraths, Gideon Jura, and life gain through Timely Reinforcements and to a lesser extent Druidic Satchel.

After the first game, you bring in Celestial Purge. Celestial Purge is obviously amazing vs. Red, and it’s probably one of the only times you actually want all four, but—hold on a second—Celestial Purge doesn’t only stop red decks. It’s also very good against Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas, Koth of the Hammer, Grave Titan, Liliana of the Veil, and even a flipped Garruk Relentless! Having an instant way to remove planeswalkers is extremely beneficial for a U/W Control deck. Now I wouldn’t bring in all four against these types of decks, but I could easily bring in two and possibly three if I see Grave Titan.

We also haven’t given up our control matchup. We have counterspells, Mr. Snapcaster, Venser + Exclusion Ritual, Druidic Satchel, and Baba Karn to seal the game away game one. Games two and three, we pick up Geist of Saint Traft and Purify the Grave against graveyard-based decks, particularly Solar Flare. Again, I like Purify the Grave more than Surgical Extraction because it counters the reanimation target and lets you Time Walk them, and afterwards, it sits in your graveyard ready to do it again if need be. With Surgical Extraction, you have to hope they are only playing one or two reanimation targets, or you have to hit Unburial Rites, which doesn’t really stop them either, since the whole point of Solar Flare is being able to cast your dudes.

If you want to beat these aggressive decks without giving up your control matches, I would recommend U/W.

Next up let’s look at an Esper control deck!

Yay card advantage! This list tries really hard to abuse Snapcaster Mage. The only cards Snapcaster Mage can’t recur are the necessary Oblivion Rings, planeswalkers, lands, and the lone Grave Titan. Everything else is fair game! This deck can answer pretty much anything, and I’ve quickly fallen for it.

Poke your opponent for ten damage or deal ten to them with Grave Titan then give them a grand finale with a Sorin’s Vengeance. You can even just cast Sorin’s Vengeance twice to deal the full 20 thanks to Snapcaster Mage! Gaining ten against aggressive decks is also nothing to scoff at.

Use your Visions of Beyond early as a cantrip then use them again for their full value late game or just turn them on with a Jace, Memory Adept. Karn Liberated made his way into this list as well. I just love the way he can totally lock up a game on his own. I was going to put Sun Titan over Grave Titan to recur Snapcasters, but I just wanted another way to end the game, and Grave Titan did that really well.

This deck plans on going for the long game, so I needed four Nihil Spellbombs against graveyard-based strategies. Gruesome Encore is nice vs. Solar Flare, stealing an early fatty and hitting them for six or more. In the late game, it can grab a Sun Titan, reviving a Snapcaster Mage that lets you encore again or just grab another spell. That may be living the dream, but it’s happened!

Okay let’s move away from control strategies. How about a crazy combo deck?

Disclaimer: If you don’t want to read about new potential combo decks, please stop here.




















This deck was suggested to me by Uriah Braden at the local card shop I play at. After Uriah beat me with his mono-green Dungrove Elder crap, he later wanted to show me a deck. I played a couple of games with it, and I think it has potential.

Okay, so what is this deck trying to do exactly? Well it’s trying to combo off with Necrotic Ooze. This deck is untested, and I wouldn’t recommend playing it at a competitive tournament without some testing and tuning. I’m just throwing this idea out there, since I haven’t seen it anywhere else.

Okay, Ali, so how does it combo?

1. You need Necrotic Ooze in play.

2. Have at least Grimgrin, Corpse-Born and Bloodline Keeper in your graveyard.

3. Tap Necrotic Ooze to put a Vampire into play, then sac the Vampire using Grimgrin’s ability to untap Necrotic Ooze.

4. Rinse and repeat until you have an infinitely large Ooze.

What are the other creatures for?

Well Trespassing Souleater makes Necrotic Ooze unblockable, and Skithiryx allows Ooze to combo off as soon as it comes into play thanks to her haste ability. Splinterfright is there to just fill the graveyard up and serve as an alternate win condition. Mirror-Mad Phantasm will mill a lot of your deck, and if you use the Phantasm’s ability with Necrotic Ooze, you will mill your entire deck, allowing you to win yet another way. Since you have no deck, you can flashback Memory’s Journey returning just Maniac if you think your opponent can’t kill it. Otherwise you can just fill your deck with two Oozes and the Maniac or just two Oozes.

This deck can also just win with creatures if your opponent is too focused on wrecking your graveyard. Right now, I’m using an Innistrad mechanic for the deck’s sideboard. You can take out your combo pieces and transform into a ramp deck that ramps into a Grave Titan.

-3 Necrotic Ooze
-3 Grimgrin Corpse-Born
-1 Laboratory Maniac
-1 Trespassing Souleater
-1 Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon
-1 Mirror-Mad Phantasm
-1 Memory’s Journey
-1 Visions of Beyond

+3 Grave Titan
+4 Rampant Growth
+1 Forest
+2 Solemn Simulacrum
+2 Sword of War and Peace

What if I want to maintain the original combo, Ali?

If you don’t want to transform, I would suggest starting with four Mental Missteps, since it stops Surgical Extraction, Nihil Spellbomb, and to a lesser extent Purify the Grave.

Let’s see if we can incorporate this strategy in a less vulnerable shell with the help of Birthing Pod.

This list is by Corkryn Williams, another player in Belmont, NC that plays at RC games. After getting smashed a couple of games when I was piloting Bant Pod, I decided to ask him some questions about his deck.

Hey Cork, do you have any tips for a player wanting to play this deck? Also what are its good and bad matchups and does is deck have potential?

Here is what Cork had to say:

Don’t know that I really have any worthwhile tips to offer. Skeleton is a good sac outlet when you just have Necrotic Ooze and Grimgrin in the graveyard, making your Ooze huge. Deceiver Exarch is to skip to your four-drops since they enable your combo. This probably goes without saying for a Pod deck, but you’ll likely want to swap in at least one six-drop so you have a value-positive way to bin Grimgrin if he makes it into play. “Sac another creature” is a lot more inconvenient than you’d expect.

It felt like the Pod matchup should be very good right up until they get Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite out. Then it gets a little trickier. Control decks in general are favorable, since your combo pieces are all fairly legitimate and cost-efficient threats that are immune to Doom Blade. You don’t even really mind too much if they get Wrathed or Mana Leaked—although Dissipate is another story entirely. I think aggro is really not what you want to see across the table, so this may not be the best choice as of now, but I would keep it in mind if control begins to emerge.

I definitely think there is potential here, although I do feel it lacks one or two key support spells before I’d call it a legit combo deck. It really needs another card like Intuition, Buried Alive, or Gifts Ungiven in order to be more consistent. Hopefully something like that will pop up in the next couple sets given this block is a graveyard set.

Mirror-Mad Phantasm could be a singleton that I’d like to toy with in the build a bit more. Once binned, your Necrotic Oozes essentially have “1U, sac: Mill your deck,” an ability which should give any other Ooze you have (or clone thereof) the abilities it needs to go infinite immediately. Or it could make miser copies of Laboratory Maniac and Think Twice pretty good. Cutting green from the deck entirely has also been a serious consideration. Turn-two Liliana or Pod is really good, but the extent to which the mana base has to be warped to accomplish that can be brutal.

I know I’ll be testing some of these combo decks. They are definitely in their infant stage, but they could easily become a force to be reckoned with the help of a new card or if the metagame switches.

I’ll be in Nashville this weekend probably piloting some control deck. Stop by and say hi if you’re in the area!

Ali, Conjurer Adept

P.S. If you have a cube at Nashville, I would love to draft it if you’ll have me.