A little over a month ago I put it to you, my readers, to come up with some Standard decks.
They had to be cheap.
They had to be good.
They had to be interesting and original.
And you did not disappoint!
When the dust had finally settled and all the decks had been counted we ended up receiving a total of 66 entries, so a huge thank you goes out to everybody who entered a deck into the contest.
We decided to split the decks into different archetypes, and then pick the winner based from those “best of the bunch” decks. Each of these decks would be rated according to its style, control, damage and aggression, each out of ten according to our three judges.
Our runners up included (in no particular order):
Ross Oliver – Mono-Red Goblins
Alex Telford – Red/Black Aggro-sac
David Hughman – Mono-white Life Gain Combo
Lee Coetsee – Token Burn
Jamie Williams – Blue/White Control
William Masters – Blue/White Quiet Contemplation Control with transformational sideboard
Mark Lingelbach – Tales of the Bard
Two of our favourite decks among these were the last two (Mark Lingelbach’s and William Masters), due to their uniqueness amongst the other entries, which was something we really wanted to encourage for the competition. It made the decks stand out amongst other more “cut and paste” type lists as they showed imagination and inventiveness to squeeze their decks in well under budget. Due to their more unique nature, we’ve also included the lists for these two decks and a little bit about them too.
Tales of the Bard
1 Arbor Colossus
2 Dragon Throne of Tarkir
2 Elvish Mystic
1 Heroes’ Bane
2 Kiora’s Follower
1 Nessian Wilds Ravager
1 Terra Stomper
1 Thassa, God of the Sea
4 Voyage’s End
This deck is about getting creatures on the battlefield without actually casting them.
An ideal play would be:
Turn 1: Forest into Elvish Mystic.
Turn 2: Island into Kiora’s Follower.
Turn 3: Play a Forest, tap Elvish Mystic and all lands to cast Market Festival on a land. Then the Kiora’s Follower untaps that land to play Yisan, the Wanderer Bard. From there he is able to put out creatures while other spells keep him alive. The goal is to get him and the Prophet of Kruphix out to have creatures coming out on your turn AND the opponents turn. With Kiora’s Follower, that is twice per turn per person.
The judges really liked this deck due to its toolbox nature and the way it can really generate value very quickly with Yisan out. However, it does have a few notable omissions which stopped it getting a higher score which it could well have included due to the fact that it came in incredibly far under budget at only just over £60!
We felt that the deck could have done with a little more attention to the manabase, as just having basic lands can leave us colour screwed a little too often and a few copies of Chord of Calling would go a long way to making sure we have access to Yisan more often, as well as allowing us more access to the toolbox when we need to. However, we were very impressed by the deck nonetheless.
Blue/White Quiet Contemplation Control with transformational sideboard
4 Seeker of the Way
4 Chasm Skulker
1 Glare of Heresy
1 Resolute Archangel
2 Phyrexian Revoker
So I read your article today and thought I’d pull together a list which I’d been brewing, and see if I could make the build cheaply. As it turns out, I could make it come in under the budget with £0.32 to spare, and without cutting the most important, expensive card, Dig Through Time.
The deck is a Blue/White control list with Pearl Lake Ancient (a conveniently cheap mythic) as the win condition. The innovation is Quiet Contemplation in the list, which (hopefully) puts our opponent in a position where they need to over commit to the board to get through that, before we use End Hostilities to punish them for it.
With Quiet Contemplation we might want to play a card at our opponents beginning of combat step, so we’re quite loaded with proactive instants, so we have Last Breath, Crippling Chill, Reprisal and Pillar of Light, and the best of the lot – Defiant Strike. A one-mana instant that draws a card is exactly what we want. Topping that off with Dig Through Time, which we should often be able to use very cheaply, and we have plenty of instant speed options.
The sideboard is designed to be transformational – largely because in a control mirror I want to board out 16 cards, so I wanted plenty of options I could board in to. I’m sure it could use some play-testing and tuning but I think it looks fun, and with some potential.
Now, the reason that we loved this deck was the fact that William had considered the limitations of his deck and had a plan to play around it. He has built a deck that can play well against the aggressive and midrange decks of the format, but that in a control mirror where he feels that the budgetary constraints of the deck will cause his cards to be outclassed he has an innovative sideboard plan that will allow him to compete in these games.
He has also managed to squeeze in all the elements a good control deck needs. A stable manabase that gives him extra value, some strong mass removal, some good spot removal and some game winning, difficult to kill threats. But despite all of this, the deck was still missing something. Something some people would define as an “X-factor”.
And the winner is…!
Which leads us nicely on to our winner, in a way that will become very apparent. This deck definitely has an “X-factor”. It really caught the imagination of us all, with its great mix of control elements, light ramp, hard to remove win conditions and very strong manabase. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you:
Ashiok’s Golden Egg by Matthew Lingelbach
2 Drown in Sorrow
4 Embodiment of Spring
2 Mistcutter Hydra
2 Silence the Believers
I began playing Magic with a group of guys at work during lunch. There, I usually play fast/aggressive decks – my current being a Red/White Heroic deck. I also always gravitate towards red and/or white. I wanted to do something different, something new. For that reason, I started looking into blue and black to take me out of my comfort zone. I wanted something very control oriented with a big finish, and I think that is exactly what Villainous Wealth provides.
To start off, you just want to focus on keeping your opponent down. Destroy or counter anything he puts out. Your goal here is to build up as much mana as you can and flash out a Dictate of Karametra right into a massive Villainous Wealth. The worst case scenario of casting a Villainous Wealth for X of about 5 will most of the time be worth it.
The way I see it, the better your opponent’s deck is, the better your deck will be. Both Ashiok and Villainous Wealth enable you to win by using your opponent’s deck against them.
In the main deck, I like to use basic destroy spells. These will work against most decks that only use a few choice creature threats. Bile Blight and the sideboard Drown in Sorrows are very nice for token/creature heavy decks. The counter spells pretty much speak for themselves and are a must have in this deck.
Sultai Charm is a very universal card. You can use any of its abilities to benefit this deck. Treasure Cruise (poor man’s Dig Through Time) gets very easy to cast with all of the destroy and counter spells you will be putting in the graveyard. Once you get late game, you can cast it easily with dictate.
If you get into a bad spot, you can always Dictate of Karametra into an In Garruk’s Wake instead. The Courser of Kruphix and Sylvan Caryatids are just amazing for ramping. I also put Mistcutter Hydra on the sideboard. If you find the match going very long, having another X cost card that can take advantage of Dictate is very nice. It has haste and can’t be countered. Even with 5 mana, you can flash out a Dictate and have a hasted 9/9 Hydra swinging the next turn.
I hope you’ll agree that a deck like this is rather a thing of beauty, able to control the board and before eventually swinging in with its big haymakers. This deck scored highly across the style, control and damage categories as it is able to lock down the board well, and take over the game with incredibly swing games with huge amounts of damage outputs.
Thank you once again for all of your entries, it’s been a huge privilege for me to go through them and pick my favourites. I’ve tried to go through and represent a wide range of archetypes, which wasn’t particularly difficult because there were just so many different types of decks. Standard is a wide open environment right now and this competition has really displayed that.
Join me again soon as I’ll be back to exploring a different format and looking forward to Christmas.
We decided that we couldn’t just let you see these deck names above without a list, so included below are all of the rest of the top 8 lists.
Mono-red Goblins by Ross Oliver
4 Obelisk of Urd
3 Foundry Street Denizen
4 Frenzied Goblin
4 Goblin Kaboomist
4 Goblin Rabblemaster
4 Circle of Flame
4 Dragon Mantle
3 Stoke the Flames
4 Hordeling Outburst
4 Titans Strength
3 Searing Blood
4 Lightning Strike
4 Magma Jet
Red/Black Aggro-sac by Alex Telford
3 Act of Treason
2 Murderous Cut
3 Bile Blight
1 Torch Fiend
1 Whip of Erebos
1 Hammer of Purphoros
Mono-white Life Gain Combo by David Hughman
4 Radiant Fountain
4 Ajani's Pridemate
4 Hopeful Eidolon
4 Nyx-Fleece Ram
4 Sungrace Pegasus
4 Watcher of the Roost
4 Wingmate Roc
2 Mortal's Ardour
4 Staff of the Sun Magus
3 Feat of Resistance
3 Kill shot
4 Mass Calcify
Token Burn by Lee Coetsee
[deck]2 Lightning Strike (13)
1 Tormenting Voice
1 Magma Jet
2 Launch the Fleet
2 Read the Bones
3 Ponyback Brigade
1 Crackling Doom
1 Dead Drop
Blue/White Control by Jamie Williams
2 Brimaz, King of Oreskos
1 Disdainful Stroke
1 Fated Retribution
2 Last Breath
3 Nyx-Fleece Ram
1 Resolute Archangel