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. Magma Spray (w/o the exile clause) – Positions it well against RDW, Young Pyromancer strategies, Deathrite Shaman, premature Scavenging Oozes etc

2. Spell Pierce – Counters removal, Planeswalkers, Anger of the Gods or Detention Spheres. Will cause your opponent to play around it.

3. Faithless Looting – 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 Whip of Erebos or Rescue from the Underworld.

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

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

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:

Izzet Charm

Far // Away

Sphinx’s Revelation

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

Sphinx’s Revelation needs no validation.

Furthermore I would like to have access to Scry lands such as Temple of Silence, 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 Dissolve
2x Essence Scatter
4x Izzet Charm
4x Magma Jet
1x Rescue from the Underworld
4x Steam Augury
3x Thoughtflare
2x Turn // Burn
2x Mizzium Mortars
2x Far // Away
2x Aetherling
2x Anger of the Gods
4x Spellheart Chimera

25 Land

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


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

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

The chimera is a cheap threat that is easy to cast + protect. The 3 toughness is a concern, and is why Anger of the Gods 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 Restoration Angel.

Steam Augury creates mind games and brain boggling situations. It is my prediction that if I hit an Aetherling 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 Rescue from the Underworld later and we can have our cake and eat it!

Magma Jet varies from brilliant (vs Aggro) to okay (vs control). At worse, you nug them for 2 dmg and scry 2. With 4x Temple of Deceit 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 Omenspeaker 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 Grisly Bears attack!

I have a dirty secret to share. Black was only in this deck so I can play Temple of Deceit.. 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 foresee 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 Azorius Charm
4x Dissolve
3x Far // Away
2x Hero’s Downfall
4x Sphinx’s Revelation
3x Quicken
3x Supreme Verdict
2x Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
2x Jace, Architect of Thought
2x Aetherling
2x Syncopate
2x Thoughtseize
2x Detention Sphere

25 Land

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


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

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

Quicken can be cycled early to help with a land drop, or get cheeky with a Verdict/Thoughtseize. I had tried Read the Bones 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.

Elspeth, Sun’s Champion 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.

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

I had Sin Collector 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 Detention Sphere‘s in the main.

Boros Charm

Boros Aggro

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

22 Land

11x Mountain
7x Plains
4x Sacred Foundry


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

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

Chained to the Rocks 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 Magma Jet. 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.

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

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


The only two cards I am unsure of are Minotaur Skullcleaver and Shock. 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!





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