Video Daily Digest: Enter Sand Man

All it takes is a lot of oppressive cards getting banned before the real mechanics of Standard start showing up! Ross Merriam travels the dunes of the format to bring you the best thing to desert it up since Siege Rhino!

A little over a week ago I featured a deck built around Hour of Promise that wasn’t trying to go over the top with powerful, expensive threats but instead grind value with a ton of utility lands. Today’s deck takes that plan and pushes it to another level by incorporating Ramunap Excavator and Wayward Swordtooth.

After an Hour of Promise it’s not hard to have the city’s blessing, so Wayward Swordtooth should be able to get into combat around turn 5 in a lot of games, and being able to play Evolving Wilds every turn or continuously activate Field of Ruin or Ifnir Deadlands means that you’ll be taking over any game if it goes long enough.

In order to facilitate this “turbo land” plan, we see eight explore creatures in the two-drop slot between Seekers’ Squire and Merfolk Branchwalker. These creatures ensure that you won’t get run over by Hazoret and friends while keeping the lands flowing into the midgame because missing any land drop before turn 5 or 6 can be devastating.

With so much value, there isn’t a great need for top end threats, but there’s still room for a set of planeswalkers in Vraska, Relic Seeker; Ajani Unyielding; and Liliana, Death’s Majesty, but the true all-star in the end game when you have a million lands on the battlefield is Walking Ballista. Even in non-creature matchups, where you expect the card to underperform, casting it for five or more is incredibly powerful and helps close out games rather quickly.

And lastly, the presence of Evolving Wilds allows that touch of white that gives you access to Ixalan’s Binding, one of the most underrated cards in Standard and one that doesn’t have a great home. Being able to answer a Hazoret the Fervent or The Scarab God and not fear anymore copies is a huge burden lifted, and you get that peace of mind at the same rate as Vraska’s Contempt.

I really like decks like this that are able to leverage huge mana advantages but aren’t dependent on generating that advantage to function because they use cheap cards. It’s like Eldrazi Tron in that respect, a deck with a strong pedigree in Modern. Decks like this are difficult to attack because there’s nothing that’s absolutely essential. The previous list hinged rather largely on Hour of Promise and while that’s among the best cards in this list too, you’re far from out of it if it gets countered or taken with a discard spell. Wayward Swordtooth and Ramunap Excavator provide a secondary engine to start accelerating on mana that can get the job done.