Get a life!

The standard format of today is won by combat damage most of the time. Agree?

If you look at the gauntlets of Ixalan standard, all the decks except Approach wins through combat damage. Whether you die quickly with haste creatures, die relative fast with value creatures, or die a horrible death through massive punches, you still die through combat.

Bomat CourierLongtusk CubTorrential Gearhulk

Lifegain strategies are not commonly used to win games except if you use it to buy yourself some time and setup a combo win, this is how Approach of the Second Sun decks win essentially. They stall the game long enough to get to 7 mana, cast Approach, go through their deck with cantrips and cast the second Approach and win.

Approach of the Second Sun

I wrote a UW Sunmare deck a couple of weeks back and found that control is just not my style. I was never a fan of control decks so today I want to revisit that deck and use the life gain mechanic as a byproduct of a much more proactive gameplan.

Crested Sunmare

Most would consider Crested Sunmare as a crap mythic but it’s actually a good card if used in a dedicated shell. Unfortunately we don’t have other horses to play with but thank goodness Crested Sunmare is capable of making horses of its own if you gained a life in a turn, regardless whose turn it is.

Authority of the ConsulsSunscourge ChampionDovin Baan

Authority of the Consul has stabilized at $5 because it’s a solid sideboard card against Ramunap Red. In this deck however it becomes a great main board because it slows down the aggression when we land it on turn 1. Our deck is considerably slow so it’s important that we can hold off any damage as long as we possibly can.

Sunscourge Champion is just an all-star when we consider the power and toughness we get out of 3 mana plus gaining us 2 life. His eternalize ability is just icing on this value cake!

Since Dovin Baan was spoiled, he failed to find a home even in UW Approach decks who preferred Gideon of the Trials over him. The lifegain was too slow for Ramnuap and his disable ability isn’t enough to step 3 creatures barrelling down on him by turn 4. In our deck, he will be our constant source of card advantage and 5/5 horses.

Desert's HoldIxalan's Binding

For control elements, I’ll reserve counter magic to the sideboard and instead pack enchantment based removal in the main board. Desert’s Hold is amazing in a deck with deserts because it does so much for 3 mana.

  1. Gains you 3 life
  2. Disables combat
  3. Disables abilities

Ixalan’s Binding is also awesome in shutting down one permanent for the rest of the game.

Aerial ResponderRegal CaracalAngel of Invention

And to finish off the creatures, we will also play Aerial Responder, Regal Caracal and Angel of Invention to really shove the lifegain theme down your opponent’s throat!


I changed the deck to add 3 copies of Negate in the mainboard because after testing, a resolved Fumigate or GPG, or Anointed Procession is absurb in game 1. I wanted something that will not make this deck automatically lose to some decks.

Here’s my UW Lifegain Deck Tech!

Creatures: 17

4 Sunscourge Champion
4 Aerial Responder
3 Crested Sunmare
3 Regal Caracal
3 Angel of Invention

Planeswalker: 2

2 Dovin Baan

Enchantments: 9

3 Authority of the Consul
3 Desert’s Hold
2 Ixalan’s Binding
1 Cast Out

Spells: 8

3 Dusk // Dawn
2 Fumigate
3 Negate

Lands: 24

4 Glacial Fortress
4 Irrigated Farmlands
4 Ipnu Rivulet
4 Shefet Dunes
6 Plains
2 Island

Sideboard:  15

1 Negate
3 Spell Pierce
4 Gideon’s Intervention
3 Solemnity
2 Fumigate
1 Cast Out
1 Ixalan’s Binding

The sideboard plan is heavy against control decks since our mainboard should be pretty much capable in handling creature based decks.

Spell Pierce

Against UB and UW control decks, Spell Pierce can stop their turn 4 Glimmer or Hieroglyphic Illumination. The last copy of Negate is sided to to counter Approach, Vraska’s Contempt and Bontu’s Last Reckoning.

Gideon's Intervention

I actually added all 4Gideon’s Intervention in the sideboard because I want to draw it every single game against UB control decks. It’s priceless because they do not have ways to remove enchantments. Naming The Scarab God or Torrential Gearhulk should seal their fate. It’s also a great capture-all card against other jank decks you’ll find in an FNM or even fairly large tournaments.


You should know by now how much I like Solemnity. With Protour Ixalan happening as I write this, Temur, Sultai and 4c energy decks are among the strongest tiered decks after day 1. Solemnity is great in this deck both early and late in the game. Since we’re packing Fumigates and Dusks, playing Solemnity after sweeping the board will make energy decks struggle to rebuild their board if suddenly their creatures become vanilla dudes.


We will pack 2 more copies of Fumigate to replace the Dusk against Temur Decks because I don’t want the temur player to play around Dusk buy not pumping their cubs and try to stay low to the ground and flood the board with 1/1 thopters. Nothing beats a non-conditional sweeper any day.

That’s it for today – I’m brewing this up in Cockatrice to do a test drive. It looks sweet, don’t you agree?

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Bye for now!


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