Last week I wrote about potential Modern cards in Core Set 2020. Today I would like to talk about some new possible brews in Standard.
With M20’s entrance, there are eight sets in the format and lots of potentials are opened up. There is no secret that War of the Spark and Core Set 2020 are so much stronger than previous core sets. I believe the design philosophy behind these later entries into Standard is meant to be highly impactful so that they can shake up the format as much as rotation does so that the game continues to feel refreshing throughout the years.
Alright, let’s not waste much time at deducing design philosophy. The first card I would like to mention today is 《Scapeshift》.
Wait! Isn’t 《Scapeshift》 printed in M19?
Yes, you are right!
I believe lots of players had questions about why putting 《Scapeshift》 into the core set. Did Wizards just put in some expensive card into the set to push the sales of the core set? If you remember the first print of 《Scapeshift》 in Morningtide, it was a crap rare with no way to use at all.
Two years later, 《Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle》 was printed in Zendikar and 《Scapeshift》 became one of the top decks in Extended and Modern (after the unban of 《Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle》) since then. This is a good story of how a card with unique function potential to be a “build around the card”. 《Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle》 and 《Scapeshift》 didn’t even exist in the same Standard!
So what changed with M20?
I already mentioned the potential use of 《Field of the Dead》 in Modern. The power level of Standard is lower and we could use it as a simple win condition. If someone does not have a way to fight off a neverending stream of Zombies, they could easily become a victim of the 《Field of the Dead》.
Here is a draft of a list:
2 《Breeding Pool》
2 《Hallowed Fountain》
2 《Temple Garden》
2 《Temple of Mystery》
1 《Temple of Epiphany》
1 《Temple of Malady》
1 《Glacial Fortress》
1 《Hinterland Harbor》
1 《Sunpetal Grove》
1 《Blossoming Sands》
1 《Thornwood Falls》
1 《Tranquil Cove》
1 《Azorius Guildgate》
1 《Simic Guildgate》
1 《Selesnya Guildgate》
4 《Field of the Dead》
-Land (28)- 4 《Arboreal Grazer》
4 《Hydroid Krasis》
4 《Elvish Rejuvenator》
4 《Golos, Tireless Pilgrim》
We have a very simple game plan as a combo deck. We try to cast an end step 《Scapeshift》 (with the help of 《Teferi, Time Raveler》) to create enough Zombie tokens and attack for lethal in the very next turn.
We are playing 28 lands and 32 spells in the deck. 20 of our spells are ramp purpose and each of them is trying to get more lands into play and trigger 《Field of the Dead》 as soon as possible.
The Ramp Spells
These are the cheapest possible ways to get extra lands into play and are basically automatically included in the deck. Playing 28 lands means we are very likely to play extra lands on resolving these spells.
The cheapest double ramp spell, just the most efficient option in the card pool. You could be able to get two triggers with five lands including a 《Field of the Dead》 on turn four, or occasionally even turn three with a turn one 《Arboreal Grazer》.
One of the problems of the deck arises when you aren’t able to draw 《Scapeshift》. We want the deck to function when we don’t draw 《Scapeshift》. The easiest way is to find 《Field of the Dead》 and create some 2/2 Zombies with natural ramping. Both 《Elvish Rejuvenator》 and 《Golos, Tireless Pilgrim》 help us dig for 《Field of the Dead》 which suits our plan B.
The Non-Ramping Spells
This is a one-shot combo when you have enough lands on the battlefield. You could generate X times Y Zombie tokens where X is the number of 《Field of the Dead》 and Y is the number of lands comes into play provided there are seven different lands.
I would say decks without mass removal normally won’t be able to stop 16 tokens by turn five or six which means resolving 《Scapeshift》 with eight lands in play would be a reasonable primary game plan before the game starts.
Thanks to 《Teferi, Time Raveler》, counterspells barely exist in the format. Resolving a game winning 《Scapeshift》 is not really a huge problem for us in game 1. However, getting swept by 《Kaya’s Wrath》 is not something I would like to see after resolving 《Scapeshift》. We need a way to fight mass removals.
I have seen lists with 《Samut, Tyrant Smasher》 for getting our Zombies hasty. However, it exposes you to planeswalker removals like 《Despark》 or double burn spells which otherwise aren’t very good against you. 《Samut, Tyrant Smasher》 also does nothing if you do not draw 《Scapeshift》 and that is pretty bad.
The [+1] ability of 《Teferi, Time Raveler》 suits us the best as it allows us to resolve 《Scapeshift》 at the end of the turn and untap to get past summoning sickness. The minus ability could buy us time against aggressive strategy plus absorbing damage whilst not losing a card should 《Teferi, Time Raveler》 be answered.
《Hydroid Krasis》 is still 《Hydroid Krasis》. There is nothing better than casting a big flying creature, drawing some cards and gaining some life after spending the early turns at ramping. It also fits into every point of the curve.
The Mana Base
To trigger 《Field of the Dead》, we want all of our first seven lands to be different. The philosophy of this mana base is with this goal in mind. We have an easy 4-of for 《Field of the Dead》 as we really needed it to be in play.
Past that, we do not have any lands exceeding more than two copies in the deck no matter how good they are at providing mana or any other function. In the end, we checked the number of colored source for the spells in our deck as per the great Frank Karsten and the mana base was done.
It might look messy but every land choice has reasoning behind it. Also, I snuck in a Red and a Black source for the activated ability of 《Golos, Tireless Pilgrim》, which might be relevant once in a hundred games.
Do you want to cast 《Show and Tell》 in Standard?
The second card I would like to mention is yet another “Random” Mythic printed in M19: 《Omniscience》.
This is the first draft of the deck:
4 《Breeding Pool》
4 《Hallowed Fountain》
4 《Temple Garden》
4 《Hinterland Harbor》
4 《Temple of Mystery》
-Land (25)- 4 《Arboreal Grazer》
4 《Urban Utopia》
1 《Search for Azcanta》
4 《Gift of Paradise》
4 《Guild Globe》
3 《Teferi, Time Raveler》
2 《Narset, Parter of Veils》
4 《Tamiyo, Collector of Tales》
1 《Jace, Wielder of Mysteries》
With 《Omniscience》 in play, 《Tamiyo, Collector of Tales》 can keep on returning 《Flood of Tears》 and you can go infinite with any cantripping permanent such as 《Urban Utopia》, 《Guild Globe》, 《Narset, Parter of Veils》 and 《Teferi, Time Raveler》.
This deck is extremely straightforward and the key is to assemble 4 nontoken nonland permanents in play to enable the “《Show and Tell》” function of 《Flood of Tears》. I am not going to explain much here as most of the cards are self-explanatory. I wish there were more cantripping permanents but unfortunately, there are no 《Arcum’s Astrolabe》 in this format.
I would like to mention that 《Mana Geode》 is a reasonable option as the Scry could provide value close to a draw step to the deck. A copy or two of 《Mox Amber》 is also on the radar but I have a doubt on its reliability as a mana source.
I believe the deck is able to win by turn five or even turn four. Drawing my whole deck by turn four sounds like one of my favorite things to do in Standard. I guess I will test more to see if the power level of this deck can match up to the format.
So those are two new combo decks enabled by the new cards from Core Set 2020. If you are like me and dislike grindy Magic and prefer to do broken things, I hope you like my brews.