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Last Hurrah: Favorite Decks Before Rotation

Written by Zach Cramer on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Standard

Last Hurrah: Favorite Decks Before Rotation

Zach Cramer

Zach is a Northeastern Magic grinder who specializes in eternal formats. When building decks, he has a strong preference to Blue cards, toolboxes and combo decks. With a recent RPTQ finish just short of an invitation, Zach hopes to take his skills to the next level and play on the Pro Tour.

Greetings all! This week I’m back with an article about all the decks I’d like to give one last go-to before Kaladesh and Amonkhet rotate. I don’t plan on talking about Grixis Energy because I imagine many people will, but, here’s a few decklists with some of my favorite rotating cards.

Monument was one of my favorite decks during Innistrad block because it featured so much raw card advantage. Cards like Thraben Inspector, Spell Queller, Bygone Bishop, Cloudblazer, and all the tasty value and mana efficiency off of Monument itself. However, Inspector and Spell Queller are long gone. Thankfully, we have a new Bygone Bishop in the form of Mentor of the Meek and Militia Bugler to find it. Other great value two drops like Knight of Grace, Remorseless Cleric, and a new white pony plus some white creature bullets that can be found off Bugler offers a nice dynamic. I’ve specifically added Champion of Wits and Jace’s Defeat as extra tools for the grindy midrange and control matchups. A key danger with this list is Goblin Chainwhirler but when all cylinders are firing, Monument can grind better than anything in the business.

Another Innistrad standby: Zombies! Again, we’re losing some grindy elements in the fantastic Cryptbreaker, but, we’re gaining a lord in Death Baron and we have a meaningful number of lands to splash that don’t enter tapped. Having 10 one drops improves Binding Mummy and makes the Ruin Raiders impressive after board as well. Liliana, Untouched by Death is absolutely fantastic in this shell because you get to use every piece of her Zombie synergies. Stitcher’s Servant is not particularly impressive in and of itself but the fact that it fuels Liliana’s -3 and it also helps make Graveyard Marshall even better. The Plague Mares in the sideboard is a nice way to deal with Monument tokens and the Ammit Eternals are large creatures that can block against aggro decks. Profane Procession is an exploratory idea that a friend of mine brought up to address midrange decks and a potential uptick in Grixis strategies.

Improvise is one of the most interesting mechanics that we will lose when Kaladesh rotates. Cards like Herald of Aungish are still powerful and the new additions of Karn and Tezzeret provide a powerful artifact pair that lets you make a lot of very powerful Karn-structs. But, really, there’s some pretty wonderful memories about Metallic Rebuke that I’ll be sad to leave behind. And, honestly, I really like the idea of Metallic Rebuke in the emerging Standard format. The raw efficiency of Rebuke in this shell allows you to protect planeswalkers from clunky removal like Vraska’s Contempt and Ixalan’s Binding at a discount. You’ll notice that I’ve got a few question mark on a couple cards because my other favorite part of Improvise is that 4 Renegade Map, 4 Prophetic Prism, 3 Spire of Industry and 1 Basic gives you 12 fantastic sources to cast any splash spell you’d like. That kind of versatility is at its most powerful in expanded standard. Give your splash spell a try while you’re doing some improvising.

Bonus Decklist:

Looking at the RG Monsters deck, there’s some old and there’s some new. Being able to play some of the energy cards in green and pair them up with some of the upcoming formats biggest monsters. Goreclaw has such raw power in its cost reduction ability. If it can power out Rekindling Phoenix or Ripjaw Raptor for just two mana! It can cast Rhonas for one or Glorybringer for three! These cost reductions are huge in pulling ahead. I’m not sure if having something like Blossoming Defense to protect Goreclaw before the “combo” turn makes more sense, but, I have liked forcing them to answer it on top of all the other resilient and powerful threats in your deck. One of my favorite play-patterns has been to play Chandra on three after a dork and then follow up with Goreclaw and a Chandra for another impressive fatty. After board, you get access to more Chandras, Carnage Tyrants, and Bestiary for control and spot removal as well as Sweltering Suns for aggressive decks or tokens strategies. Red/Green, at least until rotation, has some of the best sideboard cards in the format and I’m going to miss playing a lot them.

That’s all I’ve got for this week. Hopefully, these lists offer some fun opportunities as new standard starts to drift away. If there’s something you’d like me to write about next, let me know in the comments or send me a message on Twitter!

Until next time

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