It has been a very long since I logged in to the Lab and I’ve been wanting to get back to writing but a lot of things have me pinned down. Married life is awesome and it’s not what people say it is (or maybe I’m just listening to the wrong people haha!) Nonetheless, the wife has been very supportive of me and my hobby and she’s actually the one reminding me to play Magic again and go back to writing. She’s a true keeper!
With work, projects, marriage, honeymoon planning and everything else in between happening at the same time, it’s really a challenge to get the time to just sit down and write. So let’s take advantage of this lazy saturday afternoon and go back to Standard.
This is one diverse battlefield we got here. Almost all the possible color combinations are represented, even those combinations without perfect mana. Interestingly, we see color combinations that used to be non-aggro like Grixis and mono-U even are fighting the good fight. Aggro comprise 76% of the meta today and in an event like the Gold Rush, that’s 380 aggro players if 500 people sign up. Wow.
I honestly haven’t played a single game of GRN standard since it launched. I even missed playing the pre-release. But after watching several videos online, I actually thing we have one of the best meta environment so far since energy and chainwhirlers. The aggro decks we see all have different playing styles and varying win conditions at all stages of the game. Some win with quick small punches, some win mid-to-late game with big hitters. Some change styles in the middle from aggressive to value town, then to go-wide strategies. I am actually very excited to have first hand experience playing this season.
Like any aggressive deck, the Achilles Heel of this archetype is early sweepers, life gain, and cards that prevent them from turning the corner to win the game. In previous standard, a timely Settle the Wreckage or Fumigate was bonkers to an all-creature deck. It also feels miserable if the opponent is able to stabilize behind a Teferi, untaps two lands and have 2 copies of Fog in their hand.
We lost Fumigate, Yahenni’s Expertise, Bontu’s Last Reckoning but were left with decent staples like Settle, Cleansing Nova and my personal favorite sleeper, Slaughter the Strong.
For the not so familiar, Slaughter does not kill everything with power 4 or greater but instead puts a limit on the total power of all the creatures a single player controls once it resolves. I means that a player can keep four 1/1s, two 2/2s, a 3/1 and a 1/1 or one 4/4 creature then sacrifices the rest. With decks that explore on power like mono green, a turn 1 Llanwonar into turn 2 Steel Leaf into Nullhide Ferox will essentially net him the Llanowar Elf after Slaughter Resolves because the 5/4 and the 6/6 automatically breaches the total power limit. Definitely this isn’t the cleanest sweeper in the market today because it will almost always leave something behind however I like this mainly because I can build a deck that allows me to strategically keep my dudes alive as long as I can meet this power cap requirement, or at best keep my army below 4 total power.
Take note, giving some of your creatures negative power will subtract the deficit to the total which will allow you to keep creatures with power 5 or greater. Not saying I’m abusing this in any specific deck anytime soon but its good to know if you plan to use Slaughter.
Speaking of small creatures and to support the namesake of the deck, Tragic Poet and Satyr Enchanter’s power easily dodges the slaughter and survives to recur and draw cards for another day.
What do they recur or draw from you ask?
History of Benalia is a great early threat or threat-stopper. The 2/2 knights go beneath the Slaughter which is convenient but the pump can pose a serious threat to the unprepared. The Eldest Reborn on the other hand is the gravy to this value meal. With Tragic Poet in play or in the graveyard, TER can technically reanimate Tragic Poet infinitely whilst Poet can infinitely retrieve TER from the yard. The effect is that the opponent will discard and sacrifice a creature or Planeswalker infinite number of times. Nasty! Of course TER has to live through the third saga but still, this is some spicy crazy interaction that’s not a do-nothing when the pieces enter the battlefield.
Two enchantments don’t draw a lot of cards so let’s look at our other options at the card advantage and board presence department.
Early removal is super important with all the goblins, soldiers, elves and pesky blue fliers roaming around. Silver bullets for noncreature permanents is also nice to have especially with Teferi popping its head across most control builds.
Our utility one-offs are also fine when we draw them but not deal breaking if we don’t. Journey to Eternity synergizes well with our Tragic Poet and can be used later to get it back or retrieve a dead Satyr. Profane Procession on the other hand is a great hoser for decks that rely on a few creatures to close the game.
Gift of Paradise is our last enchantment which is great against aggro but also curves well into a TER or Cleansing Nova. The 3 life is super effective against aggro decks if we end up with a slow hand and against control, this becomes the de facto flexi-slot to swap in those sideboard cards.
Here’s my take on GWb Enchantress
4 Tragic Poet
4 Satyr Enchanter
4 History of Benalia
3 The Eldest Reborn
4 Seal Away
3 Ixalan’s Binding
1 Profane Procession
1 Journey to Eternity
3 Gift of Paradise
2 Slaughter the Strong
2 Settle the Wreckage
4 Cleansing Nova
1 Vraska, Relic Seeker
4 Temple Garden
4 Sunpetal Grove
2 Overgrown Tomb
4 Woodland Cemetery
3 Nature’s Spiral
1 Settle the Wreckage
2 Kitesail Freebooter
3 Carnage Tyrant
1 Sorcerous Spyglass
1 Dawn of Hope
The sideboard is a draft so feel free to revise it but let me discuss my choices.
Duress and Kitesail are early disruption against control match-ups. They pull a lot of weight to ensure your spells get through and they do a good job drawing hate and forcing opponents to invest resources to counter or get rid of them.
The big green machine is still today’s apex control predator thanks to its uncounterable skill, hexproof and 6 toughness which is not very easy to trump in combat these days.
The entire deck is mostly permanents so Nature’s Spiral gives us ways to replay our threats if they get destroyed or countered. I prefered this over the Golgari Findbroker because of the mana cost and less dependency on double black, and it’s cheaper than Recollect.
Sorcerous Spyglass comes in for one-trick pony decks, against Planeswalkers and anything we want stopped. A free peak is also nice if you want to make sure you can commit more to the board.
In long games, Dawn of Hope is a great way to stall, stabilize, and out-card advantage our opponent. With an infinite loop on our side, we can usually grind our way out of a deadlock win the game.