Back in (Green) Black.

Now that Dominaria is just around the corner, I’m sure many of us have begun donning our brewer’s hats and are beginning to formulate our first prototype decks for the new standard set. Whilst I’ve not played standard since before the release of Ixalan, the new set has got me super hyped to get building and playing standard again. Whilst I’m still learning and loving playing modern, it feels nice to be brewing with a new set in such a focused format.

Dominaria is an absolute treasure trove of build-arounds and awesome interactions, and it was pretty hard to choose what direction I wanted to go in with the deck I wanted to build for Dominaria Standard. After mulling over a similar G/R build (which I may yet revisit), I settled on this list, which brings back nostalgic, hopefully fond memories of Magic: Origins standard and the power of GB aristocrats.

Artifacts (3)
Aethersphere Harvester

Creatures (15)
Llanowar Elves
Josu Vess, Lich Knight
Torgaar, Famine Incarnate
Twilight Prophet
Tendershoot Dryad
Ghalta, Primal Hunger

Enchantments (7)
Rite of Belzenlok
Song of Freyalise

Instants (7)
Fatal Push
Vraska’s Contempt
Lands (24)
Woodland Cemetery
Blooming Marsh
Arch of Orazca
Forest
Swamp
Ifnir Deadlands

Sorceries (4)
Saproling Migration

Sideboard (15)
Skysovereign, Consul Flagship
Arborback Stomper
Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar
Golden Demise
Duress
Doomfall
Fungal Infection
Naturalize

 

This deck is mostly a result of my attempts to build a competitive token deck utilizing the various cards in standard which benefit from having a large number of creatures on the field. Whilst we’re missing some of the key pieces which made old aristocrats lists so powerful (Nantuko Husk, Blisterpod etc.), we have a slew of ways to abuse having a bunch of small creatures. One of the neatest interactions in the deck relies on the new Saga, Song of Freyalise. When combined with early token creators like Saproling Migration and Rite of Belzenlok, it allows to get big mana very rapidly. What can we do with this mana I hear you ask? Well, kick a Josu Vess, Lich Knight for one. This can happen as early as turn 5 with the right draw and puts a swift end to games against decks with no maindeck sweepers. The final trigger of the saga is also not to be laughed at. With a host of creatures the board-wide buff can spell doom for our opponent.

Our other maindeck token payoffs are Torgaar, Famine Incarnate, which can create a one or two turn clock when paired with the Demon created by Rites of Belzenlok. Whilst Ascend cards have seen fairly limited play in standard, in this deck they really shine. Getting the City’s blessing is incredibly easy in this deck, with Rite of Belzenok providing six permanents on its own. Twilight Prophet is one of our ascend payoffs, providing needed card advantage in longer games and allowing us to regain some life. Tendershoot Dryad is a card which has seen no play but is an absolutely brutal finisher in the deck. I’ve actually been surprised at how often the Dryad sticks on the board in my testing, with opponents typically fresh out of removal after dealing with 2-mana Torgaars and 6/6 Demons for much of the early game. It’s a card which can single-handedly win the game, and in multiples is absolutely brutal. We’re also running a single Ghalta, Primal Hunger, who provides a one-hit kill following a Torgaar either through combat damage or by flipping from Twilight Prophet. This spot should almost definitely be something else, and i’m not entirely sure how reliably castable it is in the deck, but I love the card far too much to not include it (a passion I will likely regret).

We’re also running three copies of Aethersphere Harvester, which provide a nice roadblock against aggro and an evasive threat. This spot could be taken up by Walking Ballista, and I’m not currently sold on which is the better card yet. The deck is fairly light on 2 and three-drops, and the versatility of Walking Ballista as a 1/1 or 2/2 in the early game is something that would help increase the deck’s early resilience. Our removal suite is fairly standard for a deck running black – a playset of Fatal Push, and three copies of Vraska’s Contempt to take care of all those pesky gods and planeswalkers.

The sideboard is fairly standard, running some lifegain and sweeper cards for the aggro matchup, and some hand disruption and resilient threats to help against control and midrange strategies. Naturalize has been absolutely amazing in testing, dealing with pesky Sagas and Enchantments at instant speed.

My initial tests with the deck have gone amazingly well (its not dropped a match yet in about 8 or-so test matches), but we’ll see how it shapes up when the Standard meta-game settles after the release of Dominaria. Hopefully this deck tech has inspired you to find your pet combo in the set and to build around it for the exciting new standard format which awaits. If you guys have any thoughts on the deck or want any more info on some of the card choices, please let me know in the comments. Until then, happy Dominaria everyone!

In response...