Innovations In Historic From SCG Tour Online $5K Strixhaven Championship Qualifier #2

Bryan Gottlieb searches the SCG Tour Online results for new Kaldheim Standard decks and tech. Where has Banish into Fable been all this time?

Banish into Fable, illustrated by Colin Boyer

The balanced, diverse metagame of Kaldheim Standard is rapidly approaching its end point. Somehow, the online release of Strixhaven is only a few weeks away. At the same time, the SCG Tour Online is returning its focus to Historic next week. It possible this week’s tournaments represented the last hurrah of this Standard iteration.

I’ll be sad to watch this format go. Churn among top archetypes has been great, and even more importantly, I think Tier 2 decks have a real chance of succeeding. For instance, I mostly played this deck to solid results all week.

I’m willing to concede that this list is a step behind the Sultai Ramp (Yorion) and Dimir Rogues (Lurrus) builds of the format, but the surprise value alone has given it the ability to find plenty of wins. Nothing like feeling the virtual disdain from an opponent who was sure they had a game locked up watching end-step Banish Into Fable clear the way for the tokens to produce lethal with Alrund’s Epiphany.

Players on the SCG Tour Online seemed as willing as I am to get up to some off-metagame nonsense this week, and quite a few good results were achieved with unorthodox choices. Let’s do our weekly review and see if there’s anything to inspire us for these last few weeks and into Strixhaven’s release.

Riley Hicks played this deck throughout the weekend, and it strikes me as a wonderful adaptation from the Naya Fury decks which have rapidly fallen out of favor. The “Fury” Combo of Goldspan Dragon, Kazuul’s Fury, and Unleash Fury is contained in a single color, so it’s shocking it took this long to be ported to different shells.

Adding black as the Boros support color means you unlock a lot of the traditional Mardu Sacrifice ways of controlling small-ball threats. There are a lot of good targets for Claim the Firstborn to steal and sacrifice right now, but the traditional Mardu or Jund Sacrifice top-end doesn’t really inspire in a format capable of going so incredibly large. Instead of Korvold, the Fae-Cursed King or Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger, just one-shot your opponent.

Black also unlocks some premium sideboard cards. Elspeth’s Nightmare is extremely strong against Cycling variants, and Kaervek, the Spiteful just shuts down so many archetypes right now. Kaervek is so good that it inspired me to build the following list earlier in the week.

It’s probably safer to just go ahead and play Riley’s very clean list if you’re looking to cast a Kaervek, but we’re not here to find the safe decks. No gamble, no future!

Speaking of gambling, a return to Mono-Green Aggro would have to qualify as exactly that. It strikes me as underpowered relative to the other aggro options in the format, but most of these creatures have a very important keyword — big. In some metagames, being big is enough to matter, and with more Glass Caskets, Elspeth’s Nightmares, and Shadows’ Verdicts, you can make a strong case that your beatdowns are better served up by the Questing Beasts and Vorinclex, Monstrous Raiders of the world.

One thing I really love about Kyle’s list is the small number of In Search of Greatness. This card hasn’t proven to be quite the staple I thought it would be, but the ceiling on its output is absurd, and I really like it in micro-doses. More of my green decks are playing a one or two-of In Search of Greatness, and I’ve yet to be disappointed by it.

My first draft of this paragraph was entirely comprised of references to The Simpsons episode “Mr. Plow.” Between typing it and hitting submit on this article, I convinced myself that such a paragraph would make me look even older than I actually am. As someone who was recently laid up for days because I took out the trash too aggressively, I’m having a bit of a moment confronting my rapid decay and inexorable march towards the winter of my existence. For this reason, you’ve been deprived of “Mr. Plow” references.

Instead, I’ll just say that this deck is awesome, and I have zero idea why I’d ever choose to play it. Given recent power creep, we’re probably not that far off from a 6/3 for two mana anyway, so just wait for that to roll around rather than jumping through these hoops.

We previously looked at the Fury combo branching out to different splash colors, and here is our first look at the traditional Adventures shell doing the same thing. The pickups from black are mostly focused on removal and card advantage. Order of Midnight and Foulmire Knight look to keep the Adventure count high enough, and Polukranos, Unchained remains a premier late-game threat in the right matchup.

This deck is placing a bet on the importance of Embercleave for breaking open Adventure mirrors, and I do buy that. I’m just not sure why we needed to add black to get there. I guess Duress is fine, but I’d rather have Reidane, God of the Worthy to check big-spell decks. Suffocating Fumes is a good find though, and we even saw some Dimir Rogues lists running the card main to answer Toski, Bearer of Secrets and other small threats.

I’ve been unable to shut up about the combination of Niko Aris and Archon of Sun’s Grace for quite some time now, so it shouldn’t shock you to hear I absolutely love this deck. This list showed up in the middle of the week being played to great success in high Mythic.

The key find here was Banish into Fable, which I will entirely forgive you for not recognizing as a real Magic card. Yet another Throne of Eldraine card from supplemental products that clearly could have cut it as a main-set inclusion, Banish onto Fable is exactly the time-buyer this deck needed to more reliably reach its combo-esque end-game. The copy mechanic providing insulation from countermagic plus potential for instant-speed blowouts add up to a card that really should have been on our radar this entire time.

As mentioned above, I’m now working on Toski / Alrund’s Epiphany decks focused on this card and have found myself impressed. I don’t think that’s the end of the road for Banish into Fable though. How about Doom Foretold decks that use Banish into Fable to thin opposing battlefields and rebuy key effects like Treacherous Blessings? Are there Setessan Champion decks that could benefit from Banish into Fable’s flexibility? How about Flash builds looking to generate tempo out of nowhere? I think all of these decks merit consideration, and the only reason Banish Into Fable hasn’t seen more play is because we all forgot it existed.

I’m am absolutely here for a return to Mono-Black Aggro, and this deck is doing its thing in a very wise way. It recognizes it doesn’t have the explosiveness of either Mono-White Aggro❄ or Mono-Red Aggro❄ so instead it takes on a split identity, with a bit of an engine built in via Hateful Eidolon. If the format is about small bodies to the extent that maindeck Suffocating Fumes is an option, then there has to be space for the recursive removal of Mogis’s Favor alongside Mire’s Grasp and Dead Weight.

This list does a tremendous job building card advantage into an archetype that should be lacking access to it. Four maindeck Lurrus of the Dream-Den remains my favorite deckbuilding move in Standard, and even Call of the Death-Dweller can get you a two-for-one. I think this deck is worth highlighting for the potential it could have in the future. As it stands now, it’s lacking a good engine for graveyard velocity. I’d want to try out some Throne of Deaths here, but I suspect they’re a little too small-ball. If Strixhaven has something more akin to Stitcher’s Supplier (a huge ask, for sure) then get ready for this archetype to be scary.

While Standard has been a blast, I’m getting hyped to see what this weekend’s Historic events will bring to the table. Historic Anthology IV wasn’t a particularly deep set, but its best cards are potential game-changers. I’ve been crushing with the following, and I’d encourage you to give it a run in next week’s Satellites. Plus, if you do well with something inspired by this list, you know I’m going to feature you in next week’s column! Collect that clout!