Before we all become busy with the Christmas rush because tomorrow’s the last weekend before Christmas, it’s a pay day, and it’s probably your last chance to buy gifts before kris kringles start, why not cap the week off with another deck tech? This is my gift to you!
There was a time that UW Historic popped its head in the Top 8 when Dominaria was hot off the press. The allure of casting History of Benalia or Teferi, Hero of Dominaria at end step was too good to resist. After some time, the archetype died down as Mono Red, RB Midrange and Esper Control decks took the podium for best decks in standard.
Now with Guilds of Ravnica out and Scarab Gods, Heart of Kiran and Scrapheap Scroungers are gone, is it possible to revive the Legendary archetype? I think it is, all because of how powerful Urza’s Ruinous Blast is right now.
This is the list of things Urza’s Ruinous Blast can exile in the current meta:
As long as it’s not Lyra, Shalai, Aurelia, Benalia, Vivien, Vraska, Niv-Mizzet, Teferi and The Immortal Sun, it should be among the few that survives after you resolve an URB.
Now that’s a lot of cards getting affected so we can’t use them if we hope to turn Urza’s Ruinous Blast into a one-sided board wipe. The solution is to naturally build around it using the best Legendary permanents we have available in Standard. For my color choice, I believe White and Black has the most viable Legandary threats, while Green offers accessibility to cards that go well with the Orzhov colors.
Let’s go over my card selection.
Our real threats start at the 4-drop slot, prioritize removal and some ‘Boarding’ the Weatherlight shenanigans. Josu Vess has the same stats as Ripjaw Raptor, a solid 4/5 body for 4, survives Lava Coil, and blocks early threats for days. If drawn late game he alone can kill the opponent along with eight 2/2 zombies with Menace.
Shalai is another good 4-drop that helps protect our other creatures from removal. We’re running 3 copies of her because she’s great at drawing hate. She is the most disposable but indispensable creature we have at the 4-drop slot.
At the 5-drop slot we have our life gainers, Lyra and Vona. Lyra together with Shalai makes for great aerial assault by making Shalai a 4/5 Drawnbringer-like creature. With most decks not running any flying creatures apart from Drakes, these two can go uncontested and the opponent is not packing non-cast down hate. Vona is another utility creature that attacks and blocks well but also has a built-in Vindicate to remove Planeswalkers, Artifacts and Enchantments. We don’t mind losing 7 life if we gain it back with him or Lyra.
On the six-drop slot we have two 6/6 creatures that draws us cards or further helps cleaning the board. Demonlord Belzenlok can hit all but 10 of our main board cards which is a good percentage if you ask me. A 6/6 for 6 that flies and tramples is also a good stat especially if we’re facing an opposing Niv-Mizzet or Doom Whisperer. Tetzimoc is another great card regardless if you draw him early or late. Sniping problematic creatures with prey counters and taking them down on turn 6 is a great way of stopping the opponent from over committing, thus buying us some time. If they do still over commit in the hopes of killing us before turn 6, URB on five should be theoretically game over.
Planeswalkers are also Legendary permanents so they also dodge URB. We’re playing Karn for the card advantage and Vraska for the board presence and removal-on-a-stick. Both impact the board really well by drowning the opponent in card advantage or disposable 2/2 bodies which forces them to commit more in hopes of punching through only to be wiped clean by URB.
The one weird card here is History of Benalia. After shadow testing the deck during brainstorming, I always wanted a way to stop early damage getting through so I can deploy by 4 and 5-drops at a decently high life total. History provided me with this cushion by creating chump blockers without investing mana everything I need one. A turn 2 Cast Down, into Turn 3 History buys be enough time to play my lands tapped and still have a body to block with. Turn 4, another knight comes out to soak more damage while I play Shalai, Karn or Josu. If my opponent wants to overwhelm me, they may not know we’re running URB which exiles our knight but wipes everything on the other side clean. Against control match-ups, having History in the main is also a decent way to put pressure, forcing them to Settle or burn through their counter magic early in the game.
The reason why we’re splashing green in the main is to cast the Finality half of Find // Finality. It’s also good to have a back-up sweeper in case we don’t draw URB, but what’s interesting here is how valuable Find is for the deck. Being able to revive a Lyra, Vona or Tetzimoc that has preyed on a couple of creatures makes for a strong come back after several trades in the red zone. Retrieving a Shalai and Lyra is stupid against the red deck who’s left top decking for answers. Seeing how the BG midrange decks are able to win the long games with back to back Find-Carnage-Find-Carnage, I decided to put the same engine into this deck as well.
The last card I want to discuss is Board the Weatherlight. The key purpose of this card to find URB in most cases, but it can also help us draw Gas like a Tetzimoc on a cluttered field, or a Lyra against a stalled board state. It hits 24 cards from our deck which I think should be fairly consistent to snag something from the top 5 cards of our library.
As for the sideboard, we’re still seeing a couple of Legendary permanents to keep within our build restrictions.
Against control, Arguel’s Blood Fast comes in to help us dig through our deck and find those Duresses to strip our opponent clean of answers.
Against midrange and opposing Legends that don’t die to URB, we have Profane Procession which exiles them for later use. We can also dig this up with Board the Weatherlight too so I think 1 copy should be enough.
If History is not useful against a heavy removal control deck that wins off of Walkers or huge threats like Jeskai or Izzet control, The Eldest Reborn comes in to fill the gaps. Hand disruption, removal and reanimator all rolled into one Legendary package that’s immune to URB. Sign me up! Against, Board the Weatherlight can also help dig this up early or late.
I preferred Golden Demise over Ritual of Soot because the deck needs a way to stay alive to get to turn 4. Against Mono Red and very fast Boros aggro decks, I might be dead by turn 4. Golden Demise also takes down Adanto Vanguard which is very annoying so that’s something Ritual can’t do. Whatever survives Demise on turn 3 should be cleaned up by URB on turn 5 anyway.
The weird inclusion in the sideboard is Carnage Tyrant. Against Jeskai and Grixis control that run Niv-Mizzet, Nicol Bolas, Ral, and Teferi, they don’t fear a resolved URB. But they do fear the giant, implacable death lizard. This is another reason for splashing green. Landing Carnage Tyrant against these control decks has been game winning for BG midrange decks and I think we can steal that line of play as well.
The deck is not Arena friendly since we’re running a lot of Rares and Mythics. However it’s fairly easy to build on paper if you were piloting BG midrange, White Weenies recently.
That’s it for now and I wish you all a Merry Christmas!