With the announcement of the Allied Fetch Land reprint in Khan’s of Tarkir there has suddenly become a lot of excitement for the set, and since we are about a month away I felt it was time to start looking at what MIGHT happen come rotation. I will be looking at the Tri-Color Wedges that are being released with Khan’s of Tarkir to see what they look like and what decks might look like. This means I will be ignoring the old wedges, mono-color, and duel-color decks and not 100% focusing on what will be the most powerful decks. As a matter of fact I won’t even be providing full deck lists as of course our spoilers are just beginning.
Today I will be taking a look into the world of the War Wedge Mardu! Out of the spoilers released so far, I believe it is fairly safe to say that this faction looks the most exciting (thus far) and when I was going through the cards and looking at what will be standard, the options seemed absolutely endless! As a matter of fact, I came up with three very viable deck archetypes in probably a half an hour span. Let’s start by taking a quick glimpse at the tri-color cards that have been spoiled.
Here we get the first glance into what the Mardu are all about; being aggressive. Zurgo Helmsmasher is a creature I expect to really affect the format, being able to drop a Hasted 7/2 that attacks right away is indestructible while attacking and gets bigger if pretty near anything blocks it is a pretty impressive turn 5 (turn 3 with a Generator Servant). Crackling Doom, in my opinion, is only missing you gaining two life for each opponent in order to really represent all three colors! But being able to deal your opponent two damage while forcing them to get rid of their strongest (power wise) creature while evading indestructible, hexproof, or protection for three mana is pretty good. I honestly can’t wait to nail Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker with this card! I also really like Mardu Ascendancy, a lot of flavor here in the aggressive sense, but also in the ability to survive. A deck with heavy control or creatures that add tokens when attacking will really like this card, while Bile Blight will really hate this card.
These three cards are only the beginning of the spoilers for Khans of Tarkier and the Mardu, and you can already see why you should get excited for them. I will speak more about them later when I discuss the aggressive, control, and token based archetypes I think these colors will be able to toy around with. The Mardu didn’t just get some excited tri-colored cards however; they also got a batch of other spells that fall within their colors.
These are my pics out of the spoiled cards so far from Mardu that could be really good for the wedge. To say Sorin, Solemn Visitor is good might be an understatement. His first ability provides something very unique “Until YOUR next turn”; this means when you can give your attacking army +1/+0 and lifelink for an extra aggressive attack or pump them and prepare to defend. You can grab yourself a nice 2/2 flying token or, if you manage to get ultimate, then opponents are going to be losing creatures left, right, and center. Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker is the return of Gideon Jura and will be the center of debate as to which was the better walker. Sarkhan can become a 4/4 Flying, Indestructible Dragon with haste … while adding a +1 to the loyalty rating. This will be solid in an aggressive based deck. His minus ability is giving you Mizzium Mortars back by dealing four damage to opposing creature. It is Sarkhan’s ultimate that will be intriguing, “At the beginning of your draw step, draw two additional cards and at the beginning of your end step discard your hand.” The ability is interesting and could be very dangerous, I expect it to be more dangers in RG Ramp decks, but it could be very good here if Mardu is in a place where they need to start digging for answers.
The other two cards that I like are both in white. Herald of Anafenza is perhaps my favorite card based purely on the awesome that is that name; but it could be a wrecking ball in standard. One mana for a 1/2 creature is already solid, but build in the fact that it makes itself bigger while adding a token and you are a happy camper. Turn one Herald, Turn two Raise the Alarm, Turn three Outlast and you’ve built a small army already. The fact that he creates warriors as well is nice in a token deck, as it helps provide variety to dodge Bile Blight. Then, of course, white had to have its sweeper in End Hostilities. Despite it costing 5 as opposed to 4, it will still be quite powerful and it answers bestow creatures as well as equipment. This card wipes the creature and ANY permanent attached to that creature, it means bestow creatures aren’t coming back, it means it gets around the Ensoul Artifact on a Darksteel Citadel, it just powers down a lot of good combo’s and does its work. This card is very much worth the five mana.
Finally of course we have the new lands. All of the wedges are getting their own tri-color land which will be an instant four of in every tri-color deck. We also see the fetch lands, here like all of the new wedges you only have access to one that fetches two colors in Bloodstained Mire. This could be an issue as I expect that the white will be very important in a Mardu deck. Now the deck could run additional fetch lands that only fetch a single color to help filter, but with Battlefield Forge, Caves of Kolios, Mana Confluence, Temple of Malice, Temple of Silence, and Temple of Triumph all accessible in the format, getting the colors you need won’t be overly difficult. The format will also be slowed down significantly with the absence of the shock lands.
U/W, Esper, American these are all classic control decks. Mardu could easily become the control deck of this format, which knowing current standard and spoilers so far will remain a very creature heavy format. Here is a list of viable control cards that Mardu has access to:
White: Chain to the Rocks, Decide, Last Breath, Banishing Light, Devouring Light, and End Hostilities
Red: Magma Spray, Lightning Strike, Stock the Flames, and Anger of the Gods
Black: Thoughtseize, Ulcerate, Bile Blight, and Hero’s Downfall
That is not even including the tri-color Crackling Doom or anything yet to be spoiled; planeswalkers or anything that I might have missed. What it really comes down to is the fact that Mardu Control would have no issues keeping creatures off of the board. The deck can then play finishers like Elspeth, Suns Champion, Sorin, Solemn Visitor, Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker, Stormbreath Dragon, or Zurgo Helmsmasher to finish games. It also has access to some pretty amazing protection/utility creatures like Nyx-Fleece Ram, Goblin Rabblemaster, Master of Feasts, Solider of Pantheon, and Brain Maggot! We never know how a deck is really going to perform until we see it in action, but at this stage of the game Mardu Control looks like it could do a mighty fine job protecting itself and landing some pretty nasty threats.
With an aggressive idea there is always a lot of ideas; Mardu Weenies with a ton of small drops, a bit more midranges, a combo of burn and creature kill to push your guys through are options. The aspect I am interested in is Mardu Gods: Mogis, God of Slaughter forcing creatures down or dealing two damage, Iroas, God of Victory helping creatures punch through while protecting them in combat, Athreos, God of Passage bringing your creatures back or forcing your opponent to take a bolt to the face, and even Purphoros, God of the Forge dealing out damage to opponents when you play creatures and giving you mana sink options when your hand is depleted.
Since this appears to be a slower format, late game seems almost inevitable and control seems like it will also be very good. I think looking at the Gods is a very important aspect of this, an aggressive creature deck running quick early drops in R/W while utilizing burn, black creature kill/hand disruption, and supplementing it with Athreos, God of Passage seems like a truly great way to give your opponent headaches. Solider of Pantheon, Spiteful Returned, Eidolon of Countless Battles, Goblin Rabblemaster, Stormbreath Dragon could all become real all-stars here.
The other idea I like with the control options is playing a few aggressive early drops with Mogis and Iroas wreaking havoc on the ability for opponents to actually block your creatures. While these cards were all around before, the speed of the format made it much less viable to play them. These cards are now certainly worth exploring heading into rotation.
Yes, I am aware that tokens are considered an aggressive strategy, but I felt that Mardu warranted the tokens their own slot and am basing this around Mardu Ascendecy! I know that the ability doesn’t apply to attacking tokens, but with access to creatures like Akroan Hoplite, Goblin Rabblemaster, Preeminent Captain, Altac Bloodseaker, Spiteful Returned, Borderland Maurader, Foundry Street Denzien, even Frenzied Goblin could do so major work here.
There is also major token production in Raise the Alarm, Launch the Fleet, and Triplicate Spirits that the deck could try and access to continue to be quick and aggressive. This would be another great place for Iroas, God of Victory to make an appearance, and due to the ability of Mardu Ascendecy, tokens can become very difficult to kill. Even only using Ascendecy itself, with creatures producing the extra tokens in Rabblemaster and Preeminent Captain, along with other quick strong creatures and supplementing the deck with creature control of its own can go a very long way. We didn’t even consider the power that Sorin, Solemn Visitor or Ajani Steadfast could have in a deck like this. This could potentially be one of the faster three colored builds in the format.
Mardu at the early stages looks fun and it seems to me will have the benefit of a lot of cards becoming much better after the rotation. There are options to experiment with no matter what your play style and on paper they all look like they could have a lot of potential. I truly believe the next couple of months of standard are going to be very fun and have so much variety, which I feel is always what happens when we get access to the mana to allow us to be versatile in what colors we are running. If you have any Mardu deck ideas or opinions, let me know in the comments below.
Until next time, keep on searching!