Standard Deck Lists: Grixis, Esper Control & Boros Aggro by Ruairidh Macdonald

M14 Sealed Pre-release Event & Deck Tech and Set Observations by Ruairidh Macdonald

lis in a forest

In horror movies it is not uncommon to see a pretty girl in a nightdress investigate a creepy sound in a dark wood, armed with nothing but a thimble.

Then they get owned by some monster.

This is how I feel trying to brew a deck for post-rotation. We don’t know what decks we will be facing, so what weapon should be equip ourselves? Certainly not a thimble, that’s for sure.

If the creepy woods are the unknown post-rotation metagame, and I am the pretty girl in the nightdress (obviously), what would I grab from the bedside counter?

Izzet Charm

Izzet charm

It does it all! With three relevant modes (oppose to the usual 1.5).

1. [card]Magma Spray[/card] (w/o the exile clause) – Positions it well against RDW, [card]Young Pyromancer[/card] strategies, [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card], premature [card]Scavenging Ooze[/card]s etc

2. [card]Spell Pierce[/card] – Counters removal, Planeswalkers, [card]Anger of the Gods[/card] or [card]Detention Sphere[/card]s. Will cause your opponent to play around it.

3. [card]Faithless Looting[/card] – Allows you to run more lands to ensure early land drops and filter away unwanted lands late game. Can pitch a fatty at instant speed for [card]Whip of Erebos[/card] or [card]Rescue from the Underworld[/card].

No deck that is playing these two colours can resist it’s charm.

Control will really miss [card]Think Twice[/card]. To gain card advantage we must turn to [card]Read the Bones[/card], or perhaps play a cantrip like [card]Quicken[/card] to thin our deck while adding the possibility of an instant speed [card]Supreme Verdict[/card] or [card]Mizzium Mortars[/card].

Three decks we can sensibly safeguard against are Jund, Esper Control and Red Deck Wins. These are all tried and tested ‘comfort zone’ decks that one would be happy to play blind.  Jund especially is famous for consistency. Conveniently by making a deck that can beat them you are also building against Aggro, Mid Range and Control.

Three cards I would like to be able to play moving forward are:

– [card]Izzet Charm[/card]

– [card]Far // Away[/card]

– [card]Sphinx’s Revelation[/card]

Far/Away has more victims to prey upon. In the form of Gods, potentially indestructible [card]Fleecemane Lion[/card]’s and creatures that are pro [card]Azorius Charm[/card] ([card]Stormbreath Dragon[/card] and [card]Mistcutter Hydra[/card]).

Sphinx’s Revelation needs no validation.

Furthermore I would like to have access to Scry lands such as [card]Temple of Silence[/card], but do not want to be playing more than three colours.

These factors all clash somewhat. UWR or Esper Control appear to the most obvious choices at first glance. However, here is what I have brewed so far:

Grixis Control

Spellheart Chimera

3x [card]Dissolve[/card]
2x [card]Essence Scatter[/card]
4x [card]Izzet Charm[/card]
4x [card]Magma Jet[/card]
1x [card]Rescue from the Underworld[/card]
4x [card]Steam Augury[/card]
3x [card]Thoughtflare[/card]
2x [card]Turn // Burn[/card]
2x [card]Mizzium Mortars[/card]
2x [card]Far // Away[/card]
2x [card]Aetherling[/card]
2x [card]Anger of the Gods[/card]
4x [card]Spellheart Chimera[/card]

25 Land

3x [card]Blood Crypt[/card]
5x [card]Island[/card]
6x [card]Mountain[/card]
4x [card]Steam Vents[/card]
4x [card]Temple of Deceit[/card]
3x [card]Watery Grave[/card]


2x [card]Anger of the Gods[/card]
2x [card]Dispel[/card]
2x [card]Hero’s Downfall[/card]
2x [card]Far // Away[/card]
2x [card]Negate[/card]
2x [card]Notion Thief[/card]
2x [card]Jace, Memory Adept[/card]
1x [card]Dissolve[/card]

This operates as a control deck, dragging the game out and gaining card advantage while trying to draw into of our 6 threats. [card]Steam Augury[/card] and [card]Thoughtflare[/card] are the binding agents here. They gain you card advantage and allow you to fill up the graveyard with instants/sorceries for [card]Spellheart Chimera[/card].

The chimera is a cheap threat that is easy to cast + protect. The 3 toughness is a concern, and is why [card]Anger of the Gods[/card] is currently 50% relegated to the sideboard.  The Chimera allows us to have a bit of game vs Planeswalkers; something we are lacking with the loss of [card]Restoration Angel[/card].

Steam Augury creates mind games and brain boggling situations. It is my prediction that if I hit an [card]Aetherling[/card] with it mid-late game, the opponent will give me the other pile even if it is stacked 4-1. This powers up Chimera’s and provides sick card advantage. A [card]Rescue from the Underworld[/card] later and we can have our cake and eat it!

[card]Magma Jet[/card] varies from brilliant (vs Aggro) to okay (vs control). At worse, you nug them for 2 dmg and scry 2. With 4x [card]Temple of Deceit[/card] in addition we should be able to scry on turn one or two, fixing our early land drops. I find that after turn two I scry [card]Omenspeaker[/card] away if I ever get the chance, implying that their number should possibly be reduced and/or that scry is awesome (for removing redundant copies of the effect). I do not think Omenspeaker is worth a card, unless [card]Grisly Bear[/card]s attack!

I have a dirty secret to share. Black was only in this deck so I can play [card]Temple of Deceit[/card].. I want to scry 1 on turn one, and will not take no for an answer. As it happens, it busts open a fantastic suite of removal and sideboard options.

The problem I [card]foresee[/card] with this deck is the inability to deal with resolved artifacts/enchantments or a mass of creatures. Fortunately, almost everything is at instant speed so we shouldn’t have to tap out. Ever.

Sphinx's Revelation

Esper Control

4x [card]Azorius Charm[/card]
4x [card]Dissolve[/card]
3x [card]Far // Away[/card]
2x [card]Hero’s Downfall[/card]
4x [card]Sphinx’s Revelation[/card]
3x [card]Quicken[/card]
3x [card]Supreme Verdict[/card]
2x [card]Elspeth, Sun’s Champion[/card]
2x [card]Jace, Architect of Thought[/card]
2x [card]Aetherling[/card]
2x [card]Syncopate[/card]
2x [card]Thoughtseize[/card]
2x [card]Detention Sphere[/card]

25 Land

3x [card]Godless Shrine[/card]
4x [card]Hallowed Fountain[/card]
6x [card]Island[/card]
1x [card]Plains[/card]
1x [card]Swamp[/card]
3x [card]Temple of Deceit[/card]
3x [card]Temple of Silence[/card]
4x [card]Watery Grave[/card]


2x [card]Detention Sphere[/card]
2x [card]Dispel[/card]
2x [card]Jace, Memory Adept[/card]
2x [card]Negate[/card]
2x [card]Syncopate[/card]
1x [card]Supreme Verdict[/card]
2x [card]Sin Collector[/card]
2x [card]Thoughtseize[/card]

Pretty standard control strategy here. Removal, counterspells, card draw, and [card]Aetherling[/card] for finishing business.

[card]Quicken[/card] can be cycled early to help with a land drop, or get cheeky with a Verdict/Thoughtseize. I had tried [card]Read the Bones[/card] in this slot, but found the sorcery factor made me too vulnerable. Ironically Quicken fixes that, but we can’t have everything. Furthermore, I don’t think it’s possible to play Thoughtseize, shocklands and Read the Bones due to the life loss.

[card]Elspeth, Sun’s Champion[/card] doubles as a 6mana wrath and a second finisher. The ultimate is a bit suspect, but I imagine the horde of 1/1’s should get the job done anyway.

[card]Jace, Architect of Thought[/card] is better positioned by the departure creatures like [card]Hellrider[/card] or [card]Thundermaw Hellkite[/card]. Say you roll out a Jace and +1 him, only to have you opponent cast a [card]Stormbreath Dragon[/card] and attack you. Jace will only take 3dmg, meaning that you have the option to use his [card]Fact or Fiction[/card] ability (a factor that did no exist if he got Thundermaw’d).

I had [card]Sin Collector[/card] in the main for a while and am still undecided. I believe he/she/it to be an under-rated card. Depending on the metagame it may replace the two [card]Detention Sphere[/card]’s in the main.

Boros Charm

Boros Aggro

4x [card]Ash Zealot[/card]
4x [card]Minotaur Skullcleaver[/card]
4x [card]Rakdos Cackler[/card]
4x [card]Spark Trooper[/card]
4x [card]Viashino Firstblade[/card]
4x [card]Shock[/card]
2x [card]Chained to the Rocks[/card]
4x [card]Boros Charm[/card]
4x [card]Lightning Strike[/card]
4x [card]Magma Jet[/card]

22 Land

11x [card]Mountain[/card]
7x [card]Plains[/card]
4x [card]Sacred Foundry[/card]


2x [card]Chained to the Rocks[/card]
3x [card]Warleader’s Helix[/card]
3x [card]Glare of Heresy[/card]
4x [card]Boros Reckoner[/card]
3x [card]Burning Earth[/card]

This is not really my style, but looks effective none-the less. There are no [card]Temple of Triumph[/card] present because we can’t afford to lose a turn to a tapped land (sorry Scry!).

[card]Chained to the Rocks[/card] allows this deck to completely remove a large problem blocker for just one mana. If they manage to deal with the enchantment the turn after, good for them – the damage is done!

The greatest addition from Theros here is [card]Magma Jet[/card]. It allows us to remove a blocker and ensure that we keep drawing gas with the scry effect. Being able to aim to the face is very relevant in a deck like this too, and will be a common mode.

[card]Spark Trooper[/card] wishes it was a [card]Ball Lightning[/card], as we should not be too interested in the life. It does make races pretty favourable though!

[card]Boros Charm[/card] keeps the team alive, gives [card]Spark Trooper[/card] double-strike (lol) but most of the time is a one sided instant speed [card]Flame Rift[/card].


The only two cards I am unsure of are [card]Minotaur Skullcleaver[/card] and [card]Shock[/card]. The minotaur needs the way cleared for it so as to avoid just trading with their 2/2.


Good luck with your Standard brewing folks! I changed these decks constantly even while writing this.

Till next time nerds!





Please let us know what you think below...

Visit our Manaleak online store for the latest Magic: the Gathering singles, spoilers, exclusive reader offers, sales, freebies and more!

Magic The Gatherig Freebies Giveaways