Standard With M14 inc. Decklists – Spread the Sickness by Grant Hislop

Analysing the Modern Ban List – Spread the Sickness with Grant Hislop

Standard With M14 inc. Decklists – Spread the Sickness

Building decks is probably my favourite part of a new set’s release. I can’t get enough of exploring the possibilities that all our new toys afford us. Sadly, the online release schedule isn’t quite in line with paper yet, which generally leads to the first few SCG opens shaping the metagame in time for the Online players to tune and tinker with it. At this stage though, the World is our metaphorical oyster, and anything is possible.

Standard is about to become at its largest, for a very short while with M14 and M13, before shrinking to its smallest. What this means is that for the most part, we’re just going to be looking at updates to existing decks, where the new cards make the rich get richer, with the odd lynchpin card here or there that could enable new strategies.

In any case, the time is right to explore our options, and have a look at the sort of thing that’s going to be available to us over the Summer months.

Up first, we’ll look at what’s sure to be one of the more popular strategies in the opening weeks:-

Bant Hexproof

Invisible Stalker1 Ascended Lawmage
3 Avacyn’s Pilgrim
4 Gladecover Scout
4 Geist of Saint Traft
4 Invisible Stalker
1 Witchstalker

4 Ethereal Armour
2 Gift of Orzhova
4 Rancor
2 Simic Charm
4 Spectral Flight
4 Unflinching Courage

3 Forest
4 Breeding Pool
Rancor2 Glacial Fortress
4 Hallowed Fountain
3 Hinterland Harbor
3 Sunpetal Grove
4 Temple Garden


2 Scavenging Ooze
4 Voice of Resurgence
2 Detention Sphere
3 Rootborn Defenses
2 Spell Rupture
2 Witchstalker

This iteration of the deck is one of the more ‘obvious’ ways to take the deck. I’m not overly impressed by Witchstalker, and wanted to try a split between that and Ascended Lawmage. I think it’s possible that with only 23 lands and 3 mana bugs, running 4-drops is a little on the ambitious side.

Essentially, the core of this deck is such that there are only really 4 slots up for grabs. I’ve used them on Ascended Lawmage, a Witchstalker and 2 Gift of Orzhova here. An argument could easily be made for the 4th Pilgrim, as turn 2 Geist of Saint Traft games are just as obnoxious as you’d expect.

This deck gets a lot better, as the cards it’s been given are huge upgrades to the often underwhelming Fencing Ace and friends that were used previously. I’d expect the hexproof brigade to be out in force in the opening weeks of the format, as it does something that people love – non-interactive creatures with fancy outfits on.

Big Zoo

Boros Reckoner4 Avacyn’s Pilgrim
4 Boros Reckoner
2 Ghor-Clan Rampager
2 Huntmaster of the Fells
3 Loxodon Smiter
2 Scavenging Ooze
2 Sublime Archangel
4 Thundermaw Hellkite
4 Voice of Resurgence

4 Domri Rade

2 Bonfire of the Damned
2 Mizzium Mortars
1 Selesnya Charm

Domri Rade3 Clifftop Retreat
1 Forest
1 Kessig Wolf Run
4 Rootbound Crag
4 Sacred Foundry
4 Stomping Ground
3 Sacred Foundry
4 Temple Garden


1 Aurelia, the Warleader
2 Boros Charm
2 Garruk Relentless
1 Mizzium Mortars
2 Oblivion Ring
1 Selesnya Charm
2 Ray of Revelation
2 Rest in Peace
2 Unflinching Courage

This is a deck that started really gaining traction towards the latter part of the format’s lifecycle. This version is a fairly simple upgrade to that, eschewing Flinthoof Boar for the little hate-bear that could – Scavenging Ooze. This upgrade adds an element of interaction to what is, at its heart, a very simple midrange deck.

This version also allows you to live the dream of having both Voice of Resurgence and Huntmaster of the Fells in play simultaneously, which is as disgusting as it sounds.

Domri Rade hits in this deck almost half the time, as well as giving an additional source of removal, which is very welcome in a deck like this. I love cards like Domri, that are so good against some decks, and just awful against others. This deck pushes the Domri idea to the limit though, and can almost always find something productive for him to do. You’ll miss with him a bunch, but he’ll still be one of the best cards in the deck, just through what he ‘might’ do.

There could be an argument for shifting either Bonfire of the Damned or Mizzium Mortars into the other, and fully committing to one or the other, but in the early stages, I prefer to hedge my bets.

Jund Midrange

Scavenging Ooze4 Huntmaster of the Fells
3 Olivia Voldaren
3 Scavenging Ooze
4 Thragtusk
2 Zhuur-Taa Druid

2 Garruk, Primal Hunter
1 Liliana of the Veil

1 Abrupt Decay
4 Bonfire of the Damned
1 Doom Blade
1 Dreadbore
4 Farseek
1 Putrefy
2 Rakdos’s Return
farseek2 Tragic Slip

4 Blood Crypt
3 Dragonskull Summit
2 Forest
2 Kessig Wolf Run
4 Overgrown Tomb
2 Rootbound Crag
4 Stomping Ground
4 Woodland Cemetery

2 Barter in Blood
2 Curse of Death’s Hold
2 Duress
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
2 Liliana of the Veil
1 Putrefy
2 Tragic Slip
2 Underworld Connections

Another upgrade here, featuring Scavenging Ooze. Jund was becoming one of the most popular decks in the format, championed primarily by Reid Duke, and the addition of Scavenging Ooze should be enough to suppress Junk Reanimator, a previously iffy matchup sufficiently enough to turn it into a favourable one. At the point where Junks good matchups are becoming bad, it’s probably a bad time to be casting Unburial Rites.

This version of Jund hedges quite a bit in its removal, and it’s certainly possible that as the format develops, there will be a need to focus, but at present, without a clear picture in mind, diversification is the aim of the game. I fully expect Jund to be the most played deck initially, as it won the most recent Standard GP, features cards that people love playing, like Olivia Voldaren and Bonfire of the Damned, and just made its poorer matchups a lot better.

Junk Aristocrats

Doomed Traveller4 Blood Artist
4 Cartel Aristocrat
4 Doomed Traveller
1 Obzedat, Ghost Council
3 Skirsdag High Priest
2 Varolz, the Scar Striped
4 Voice of Resurgence
2 Young Wolf

2 Garruk Relentless
1 Sorin, Lord of Innistrad

4 Lingering Souls
4 Tragic Slip

2 Gavony Township
Lingering Souls4 Godless Shrine
4 Isolated Chapel
3 Overgrown Tomb
3 Sunpetal Grove
1 Swamp
4 Temple Garden
4 Woodland Cemetery


4 Abrupt Decay
3 Appetite for Brains
2 Deathrite Shaman
1 Duress
1 Obzedat, Ghost Council
2 Scavenging Ooze
2 Sin Collector

Junk Aristocrats was one of the best decks going pre-M14, but I don’t really think that it gained anything from the set. Any significant changes there will be the deck adapting to the metagame rather than gaining anything significant itself. All that’s happened here is the addition of a couple of Scavenging Ooze in the sideboard, and the maindeck hasn’t gained anything.

I could see an argument for Imposing Sovereign, if the metagame calls for it, but I’m not really confident that that will ever happen.

That covers updates on the more popular decks at the moment, so putting those aside, let’s have a look at some of the new strategies that could emerge.

Orzhov Humans

Champion of the Parish4 Cartel Aristocrat
4 Champion of the Parish
4 Doomed Traveller
2 Restoration Angel
2 Sin Collector
4 Xathrid Necromancer

2 Sorin, Lord of Innistrad

4 Gather the Townsfolk
4 Lingering Souls
4 Tragic Slip

4 Cavern of Souls
4 Godless Shrine
4 Isolated Chapel
Xathrid Necromancer2 Mutavault
1 Orzhov Guildgate
5 Plains
3 Swamp


2 Beckon Apparition
2 Blood Baron of Vizkopa
2 Lifebane Zombie
2 Obzedat, Ghost Council
2 Orzhov Charm
1 Pithing Needle
2 Profit // Loss
2 Sin Collector

This deck seems very similar to the aforementioned Junk Aristocrats deck, and in many ways, it is. This deck harkens back more to the initial, Pro Tour Gatecrash winning Aristocrats deck, as it’s basically a Champion of the Parish and friends deck. I’m not really sure how good this deck will prove to be, but the individual card power is present on most of these cards, and the synergies are also pretty solid.

It’s possible that Lifebane Zombie should get the nod Maindeck over the Sin Collectors, but as I’m mostly afraid of Sweeper type effects, the Collectors get the nod for now. I’m a fan of this type of deck, and a lot of people enjoy tokens too. I’d expect to see this deck in numbers at FNM, as it’s really quite cheap, in comparison to a deck like Big Zoo or Junk Aristocrats, as it eschews most of the marquee mythic rares currently clogging up Standard, without much of a drop in power level. I’d be inclined to believe that the serious tournament player wouldn’t play a deck that was weaker than another similar one just due to budgetary concerns though, so this will come down to metagame positioning.

BUG Hydra

Cloudfin Raptor4 Cloudfin Raptor
4 Corpsejack Menace
4 Experiment One
4 Kalonian Hydra
4 Lotleth Troll
4 Renegade Krasis
2 Scavenging Ooze
3 Varolz, the Scar Striped

1 Abrupt Decay
2 Doom Blade

4 Breeding Pool
3 Drowned Catacomb
1 Forest
Experiment One2 Hinterland Harbor
4 Overgrown Tomb
1 Swamp
4 Watery Grave
4 Woodland Cemetery


3 Abrupt Decay
4 Appetite for Brains
2 Golgari Charm
2 Scavenging Ooze
2 Simic Charm
2 Vorel of the Hull Clade

This is my favourite of the many Kalonian Hydra decks that I’ve seen, but that’s primarily down to a penchant for the colour combination as one which has potential answers to everything an opponent might present over the course of a game of Magic.

Ogre BattledriverWhile it’s probable that decks with Kalonian Hydra was to be Red, as there are a decent number of Haste granters in that colour, with Ogre Battledriver and Exava, Blood Witch being the main ones. Is Fervor still legal? I can’t remember, there is an argument for using him to supplement an Evolve plan. I’d like to see if Vorel of the Hull Clade is actually playable in the Maindeck, but I think it’s unlikely.

To wind up here, as I’m sure you can see, Standard is a very varied format, and while there are always going to be people complaining about how ‘stale’ they perceive it to be, it’s obvious when examining their arguments in any way that they’re just wrong. Even pre-M14, there were plenty of varied Tier 1-1.5 decks that one could reasonably play, and while you might play the same matchup twice in a tournament, it’s not like the bad old days, where Affinity mirrors were everywhere.

I never lend any credence to ‘Standard is stale’ viewpoints, because I don’t respect any of the people expressing them’s views on Magic at all. Control isn’t dead, there are north of 10 viable decks you could feasibly win a PTQ with, Witchstalker isn’t broken, Thragtusk isn’t that bad and Wizards isn’t printing cards specifically as a ‘Fuck you’ to you. Play with what you’re given, don’t wish for what you could have had. Besides, if it’s so stale, it should be really easy to build a deck that beats everything, as you know exactly what you’re aiming to take down, right???

Stay classy mtgUK,



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