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Decknology: Hellrider and Quirion Dryad

Written by LegitMTG Staff on . Posted in Competitive Magic, FNM, Standard

Editor’s Note: Welcome to Decknology, a weekly series with two Standard decks you can sleeve up tonight for Friday Night Magic. We hope to feature some Tier 1 decks and some spicy brews, but need your help! For a chance to be featured, submit your decklist with accompanying article (about 1,000 words) to editor@legitmtg.com. For best results, focus on what makes your 75 stand out from the crowd.

Previously on Decknology: Naya and RG Aggro.

RW Tokens by James Eveland

James Eveland is an avid Magic player and Level 2 Judge from Royersford, Penn. He is currently studying chemistry at the New College of Florida in Sarasota, Fla. When he’s not playing in Prereleases, FNMs and Game Days, you can usually find him judging local PTQs and GPTs. You can find him on Twitter at @JamesEveland.

When I first got back into Magic, my college budget would not let me afford a competitive Standard deck. I eventually made the jump with a Mono-White Knights deck that I still hold very dearly to my heart. Even the smallest step through the door can open up a world of possibilities. Once you start to win some store credit at FNM, your deck can begin to improve. When starting out, aggro decks are usually a good choice because who doesn’t love attacking for two? One engine currently low in price is Hellrider, and you can make this entire deck for less than $50. It is designed to be competitive and consistent, and it contains no cards that will rotate out in October.


Hellrider is pretty bonkers, and he plays well against many of the controlling strategies like Solar Flare because countermagic is on the decline due to the presence of Cavern of Souls. It also helps to push those last few points of damage through a wall of Lingering Souls tokens or, if necessary, a legion of Sun Titans. Geist-Honored Monk is virtual army in one card, and with any sort of board presence she is a monstrous beat-stick. Against Delver, the spirits left behind can block their flyers for a while, and the Monk herself is a bad Vapor Snag target, as she will bring even more spirits when she inevitably hits the table again. Getting three other creatures should not be difficult with this deck, and Odric, Master Tactician can pick off annoying hexproof creatures like Geist of Saint Traft. Following him up with a Hellrider is hard to beat. Pyreheart Wolf grants another form of evasion for your team of attacking creatures, and undying gives him resilience.


Evasion is essential to any RW deck because it prevents your opponent from presenting infinite blockers. The versatility of an instant puts Midnight Haunting over the top against both aggro and control. It can be useful to surprise a Delver of Secrets[/cards] or [card]Restoration Angel midcombat, especially if you have an Intangible Virtue in play. Doomed Traveler is one of the unsung heroes of the deck, and do not underestimate the fateful hour ability on Gather the Townsfolk. Krenko’s Command is Gather the Townsfolk five through eight. Yes, the card is that important. They may be only lowly 1/1 goblins, but they pull their weight just like 1/1 humans.


Intangible Virtue is another lynchpin of the deck, and it allows a single spirit token to trade with a flipped Delver. Playing Gather the Townsfolk or Geist-Honored Monk with Fervor out results in immediate pressure on your opponent, forcing them to block or take a lot of damage. You may notice that the deck doesn’t have much removal. In fact it has none! That’s because this deck is designed to do as much damage as fast as possible. If you desire removal in the maindeck, Oblivion Ring and Fiend Hunter fit the bill nicely. Clifftop Retreat is an expensive inclusion, but a necessary one for mana fixing. Slayers’ Stronghold is another inclusion to make your little guys big and your threats even more dangerous. After a board wipe, the utility land makes anything you play immediately relevant. Only two are included because this deck needs its colored mana.


Smelt is especially important while the Swords remain in Standard and Erase will exile newly reprinted Rancor, essential to prevent from being overwhelmed. Safe Passage is your answer to cards like Slagstorm and Bonfire of the Damned. A bit of cheap burn never hurt anyone, and Pillar of Flame can also clear out an annoying blocker to get in those last few points of damage. Traitorous Blood is a good answer to Titans and Wurmcoil Engines, helping you get mileage out of your opponent’s creatures.


As you start to succeed at FNM, you may find that your budget will increase from either pack prizes or prizes in store credit. If that is the case, there are a few additions to the deck that can really improve it. Thundermaw Hellkite, Sublime Archangel and Ajani, Caller of the Pride are all legitimate inclusions for those with bigger budgets.

It is also possible to go into different colors for the token deck. Expanding into black is more expensive but offers Lingering Souls, Sorin, Lord of Innistrad and Vault of the Archangel. The WB deck lacks the explosiveness of Hellrider, but tends to be a bit more consistent in games that go longer. Playing green gives you the benefit of playing Gavony Township, which is a monster of card when combined with tokens.

— James Eveland
Twitter: @JamesEveland

RUG Miracle Grow by David Doyle

David Doyle is a student at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Ky. When he isn’t hitting the books and working to become a teacher, he likes building decks. Known for bringing fun, off-the-wall decks to FNM, he has a fire for deckbuilding things that take people by surprise.

Oh, hey, get it? MIRACLE Grow. You know, because Bonfire of the Damned is a Miracle … and there’s the … *ahem* Quirion Dryad. Um … OK, sorry about that.  The original Miracle Grow deck was largely attributed to Hall of Famer Alan Comer, and it was an excellent counter to the Donate/Illusions of Grandeur decks that were ruling Extended at the time. With cheap, efficient threats and free counterspells, how could it not be? Needless to say, we don’t have free counterspells in Standard (Remember when Mental Misstep was $6?). What we do have is a very good selection of cheap, efficient blue beaters.

This is a more midrange-y version of the UG Delver deck. The red here is very, very important. Pillar of Flame helps with some of the problem cards Delver-style decks have a hard time beating; Gravecrawler, Geralf’s Messenger and Strangleroot Geist. Also, it’s additional reach if you just need to throw some burn to the face. Bonfire of the Damned is particularly effective here because you have the option to Ponder into one and set up plays accordingly.

Red also provides us with one of the best four-drops in Standard: Huntmaster of the Fells. If there was a deck that really controlled how often this guy flips, it’s this one. Just as easily as you can sit there and not cast spells, you can throw two or more spells out in one turn, turning him into a Searing Blaze / Turntimber Ranger split card. He and Thragtusk go a long way towards buffing my life total so I don’t get aggroed-out by a fast deck, and they also replace themselves. It’s a one-two punch of pure goodness.

I moved away from Gitaxian Probe and Thought Scour to Think Twice because it allows you to turn some of your late-game mana flood into action. Since you can cast it twice on its own without any setup, it’s a very good way to control your Huntmaster flips and getting value out of your Dryads and Talrands. This deck doesn’t have the same mana sinks as Esper Midrange or UW Delver do. I put one Hellion Crucible in the deck to act as a surprise late-game threat. This is purely experimental, but I think Stone Raining yourself is worth a 4/4 haste.

And now an aside about the dangers of building around Talrand, Sky Summoner. A lot of people are jamming between nine and 12 Phyrexian mana spells as an attempt to fully take advantage of his ability, but then you’re playing a lot cards you don’t really want to cast without Talrand in play. This route also involves you paying a ton of life, which is a precious commodity in an environment of hungry Zombies and hasty Dragons.  I like to use Talrand with spells that I already want to cast. That way, I still have something left when my field gets answered. What I sacrifice is the ability to barf out a ton of creatures at the end of my opponent’s turn. But even just getting a couple of triggers off him is worth. At any rate, he is a lightning rod for removal and countermagic that will most likely keep your other guys safe.

The singleton Yeva, Nature’s Herald is for INSTANT SPEED THRAGTUSKS. You’re attacking for lethal and all I have is this 4/4 to block? NOPE! Here’s a 5/3. Trade with your guy. Also I gained 5 life. And put a 3/3 into play. A surprise Huntmaster of the Fells doesn’t seem too shabby either, although instant-speed Quirion Dryads aren’t going to be too impressive.

Against Delver, you need to play around Mana Leak and kill their creatures while you have a chance. Bonfire of the Damned is probably the best card against them, so try to plan it so that you can maximize its crippling effect. Eventually, you’ll just grind them out with superior removal and threats. Rancor decks might prove to be a little problematic because we don’t have the advantage of having Vapor Snag in the main deck. Just do your best to set up for a Bonfire blowout.

— David Doyle
Twitter: @DavidPDiddle

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