The Standard that’ll soon be out the door has definitely had some mixed reactions: Some loved the slowed down pace with an emphasis on mono-color devotion and scrying. Others hated how some decks just had no bad match ups, specifically mono black. Who knows what Khans of Tarkir will bring, but that’s another deck for another time. For now, lets look at a brew with one of the most exciting cards from M15:
Lets marvel this card for a bit. For one, like Jace the Mind Sculptor, he has four abilities instead of the standard three. Also like Jace, all four abilities are pretty relevant, two of which increase his loyalty and meet his end game goal. His first ability kills other planeswalkers, which is very nice in a standard that has has the likes of Elspeth, Jace AoT, and even Domri. If your opponent doesn’t run players walkers, that’s okay, Garruk can summon beasts that can be used both offensively with a chunky 3/3 body or defensively with a handy deathtouch keyword attach to them. His third ability isn’t as impressive, but killing a big creature and getting life for it, is nothing to scoff at. Finally, his ultimately will make all your creatures, even the normally pitiful 1/1 Elvish Mystics that are most likely in your deck a force to be reckoned with when attacking. There’s only one other card that Garruk reminds me of. A card that if not dealt with soon enough, then that could very well be the end of the game.
There she is. In my experience, whenever an Elspeth hit the field, it’s a frantic race to try and remove her as fast as possible before she swarms the field with soldier tokens and especially before she hits her ultimate. I could only imagine what it would look like if the opponent had to deal with both Garruk and Elspeth at the same time.
Meanwhile, at the Hall of Justice! The legion of Junk Planeswalkers gather to create what might be the next major contender in standard!
The concept for the deck is relatively simple. Using cards like Elvish Mysic, Sylvan Caryatid, and Voyaging Satyr, you ramp quickly to the mana amount necessary to cast the your planeswalkers, namely Elspeth and Garruk, as they are your win condition. The other planeswalkers in the deck, Ajani, Steadfast and Ajani, Mentor of Heroes serve more of a support role, but an essential part nonetheless. Mentor of Heroes serves the purposes of gathering the other planeswalkers from your library so you can play them. Once you have either Elspeth, Garruk, or both out, Steadfast Ajani speeds up the process to get to their ultimately that much quicker (and as a bonus, ups the power of the tokens Elspeth and Garruk will be producing).
From there, it’s just a matter of controlling the board and surviving until you reach that point, utilizing removal spells like Hero’s Downfall, Putrefy, Banishing Light, and Abrupt Decay, and utility spells like Underworld Connections and Courser of Kruphix.
The sideboard is constructed in a way to handle different threats, based on the current meta: Having trouble with board wipes? Golgari Charm. Hexproof Auras giving you a pain? Devour Flesh and Back to Nature with help. Gods causing issues? Deicide. And so on.
Playtesting seems to show there’s a fair amount of removal to keep it so your planeswalkers will fire off, and there’s enough lifegain in the deck to certainly allow you to survive that long as well. The only question is what to do in the mirror match as it appears to be very awkward when basically comes down to who played the second Garruk to kill the first one. That said, I think the deck has a lot of potential and would like to see it further experimented with and improved upon. Needless to say, it’ll look vastly different post rotation, but we’ll see what Khans brings when it brings it.