Attacking Standard with Orzhov Doom Foretold

Joe Soh

Joe Soh

Introduction

“UW Control is the best deck in Standard!”

This seems to be a statement that I’ve heard a lot before World Championship XXVI, and even more after Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa (PV) won the Worlds. While I acknowledge UW is a good deck, I don’t think it’s “the best deck by far” as most people claimed. I knew I had to anticipate a lot of UW Control in the field in my WPNQ, so Mono Red was initially my first choice since it’s supposed to have a solid UW Control match up.

Doom Foretold

And then I found gold when I saw one of Magic Pro League (MPL) member Andrea Mengucci’s Video piloting a BW 《Doom Foretold》 list. The deck seems to have all the right answers against UW Control, while still being competitive against the other decks. I immediately look up for more 《Doom Foretold》 list, put together the deck, played a few games, and knew this was the deck I’ll be playing for my WPNQ. Here’s the deck I registered:

Black-White 《Doom Foretold》

Decklist

Card Selection

4 《Yarok’s Fenlurker》

Yarok's Fenlurker

4

I liked the general BW 《Doom Foretold》 list, so I made minimal changes by adding my new found favorite card: 《Yarok’s Fenlurker》. During my previous Pioneer testing for Players Tour Nagoya, I brewed up a BW Discard deck using 《Yarok’s Fenlurker》 alongside 《Burglar Rat》 and was heavily favored against UW Control. The idea behind this was that UW Control relies a lot on turn 3 《Teferi, Time Raveler》 to gain value with his [-3] ability, so we invalidate their Teferi play by playing a turn 2 discard creature. I had some good leagues on Magic Online (MTGO) preying on UW Control, before the sudden rise of Dimir Inverter, so I tried to use the same idea onto my Standard deck. That idea definitely works across format, and I was having solid games against UW Control. It fills up the weakness in the deck of not having a good 2 drop that supplement the deck’s game plan of running your opponent out of resources, and it easily attacks for 3 or 4 to close games in the later turns!

0 《Elspeth, Sun’s Nemesis》 and 2 《Cavalier of Dawn》

Cavalier of Dawn

2

I’ve also dropped 《Elspeth, Sun’s Nemesis》 that’s played in most list and added another 《Cavalier of Dawn》. I played some games with Elspeth and found the card to be rather disappointing in most match up as we usually don’t have ways to protect it, and we want to keep our graveyard for 《Elspeth Conquers Death》 and 《Cavalier of Dawn》. It is very important to remember that 《Cavalier of Dawn》 can target itself, so we can loop 《Cavalier of Dawn》 by destroying itself to return 《Elspeth Conquers Death》, which will then return Cavalier again on Chapter 3! 《Cavalier of Dawn》 has been extremely impressive and I could easily see adding a 3rd to the 75.

3 《Treacherous Blessing》

Treacherous Blessing

3

《Treacherous Blessing》 is one of the cards that I liked it a lot on paper, but liked it less the more I play it. I started with 4, and quickly drop it to 3 as I’ve lost a number of games where drawing multiple Blessing puts us in a weird spot. I kept the number at 3 as I expected a lot of UW Control at my local WPNQ, but I could see us going further down to 2 if the metagame changes.

25 Lands with 4 《The Birth of Meletis》

The Birth of Meletis

4

Castle Ardenvale

3

Castle Locthwain

2

Playing 25 lands and 4 《The Birth of Meletis》 might feel like a lot of lands, but the 5 Castles provides us with flood protection and lots of late game utility. The deck is great at utilizing all its mana at the later game, so we are happy to flood out every game. We have a lot of incidental life gain to draw of 《Castle Locthwain》, and 《Castle Ardenvale》 tokens will eventually bury our opponent.

Note: We do not need the 5th 《Plains》 for 《The Birth of Meletis》 and 《Fabled Passage》. Games should not reach the point where we are out of 《Plains》 to search, and when it does, the extra land is irrelevant at that point.

Testing the Deck – Matchups

I mainly focus my testing against the top 3 decks from Worlds, which are UW Control, Mono Red and Jeskai Fires as I expect them to be heavily represented in my local WPNQ. The general match up are as follow:

UW Control

Dream TrawlerAbsorbTeferi, Time Raveler

I believe we have slight advantage in this matchup, which is the main reason I like this deck. We have discards to proactively attack their important spells, and we could easily answer 《Dream Trawler》 by sandbagging a 《Doom Foretold》. When given the option, always activate 《Castle Ardenvale》 over 《Castle Locthwain》 as putting pressure on board is more important unless we have to dig for an immediate answer to 《Dream Trawler》.

Agonizing RemorseDovin's VetoYarok's Fenlurker

Sideboarding

Against UW Control

Out

Oath of Kaya Oath of Kaya Oath of Kaya Oath of Kaya
The Birth of Meletis

In

Gideon Blackblade Gideon Blackblade Archon of Sun's Grace Archon of Sun's Grace
Eat to Extinction

Mono Red

Runaway Steam-KinTorbran, Thane of Red FellEmbercleave

We have disadvantage in game 1, and our best chance of stealing game 1 is with a good curve of 《Yarok’s Fenlurker》 > 《Oath of Kaya》 > 《Doom Foretold》. The match up gets better after sideboard as we have several high impact cards, and 《Archon of Sun’s Grace》 can win the game by itself. Mulligan aggressively any hand without 《Oath of Kaya》, or we could easily find ourselves losing to a single 《Robber of the Rich》.

Sideboarding

Against Mono Red

Out

Agonizing Remorse Agonizing Remorse Agonizing Remorse Agonizing Remorse
Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage Treacherous Blessing Treacherous Blessing

In

Cry of the Carnarium Cry of the Carnarium Archon of Sun's Grace Archon of Sun's Grace
Devout Decree Devout Decree Kaya, Orzhov Usurper Eat to Extinction
Treacherous Blessing

1

Note: I like to keep 1 《Treacherous Blessing》 in the deck after sideboard as we have lots of early plays to stay alive while having more life gain options in the mid game.

Jeskai Fires

Cavalier of FlameKenrith, the Returned KingFires of Invention

This is a favorable match up, as we have a lot of ways to deal with 《Fires of Invention》 through early discard spell or 《Doom Foretold》. As all their threats cost 3 or more, it is not too hard to eat away their board with 《Doom Foretold》 and eventually set up 《Elspeth Conquers Death》 + 《Cavalier of Dawn》 loop to lock them out of the game. They do have a lot of haste creatures to steal the game, so don’t be afraid to chump block with 《Yarok’s Fenlurker》 or Tokens early on to preserve our life total when necessary as we will win the attrition war.

Sideboarding

Against Jeskai Fires

Out

Oath of Kaya Oath of Kaya Oath of Kaya Oath of Kaya
Kaya's Wrath Kaya's Wrath

In

Gideon Blackblade Gideon Blackblade Despark Despark
Eat to Extinction Heliod's Intervention

Our Worst Matchup

Uro, Titan of Nature's WrathTamiyo, Collector of TalesHydroid Krasis

Unfortunately I didn’t played enough game against the other decks, and learnt the hard way on the deck’s worst matchup during my WNPQ: Bant Ramp. I started the tournament 2-0 against an Esper Control and Jeskai Fires, but lost my next 2 match to Bant Ramp and was eliminated from top 8 contention. Bant Ramp is extremely resilient against discard as 《Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath》 invalidates our discard strategy, and 《Tamiyo, Collector of Tales》‘ static ability is a natural counter against 《Doom Foretold》. We don’t have a fast clock either, so they are eventually going to draw a 《Hydroid Krasis》 to stabilize and get back into the game.

Moving Forward

Nissa, Who Shakes the World

I’ve always enjoyed brewing decks to attack specific metagame, but metagame changes extremely fast due to prevalence of MTG Arena. I liked this deck a lot 2 weeks ago, but may be a challenge at present as it seems Ramp decks, either Bant or Sultai variant, are definitely on the rise in the recent metagame. While we are definitely behind the first game, I believe the right sideboard configuration should be able to even up the matchup.

Lucky Clover

Another deck that seems to be picking up at the moment is the Temur Adventures deck. I’ve only played this matchup a couple games on MTG Arena, and I do like our chances here. Temur Adventures feels like a totally different deck with and without 《Lucky Clover》 on board: It feels like playing Modern with it, while the deck feels like an average Limited deck without it. On the play we have 《Agonizing Remorse》 to exile it, but it will be tough on the draw if they lead with 《Lucky Clover》 into 《Fertile Footsteps》. Luckily their deck isn’t very good at clogging up the board with non-token permanents, so we should eventually be able to take out the 《Lucky Clover》 with 《Doom Foretold》. Our early game priority should be to keep 《Lucky Clover》 out of the board, and put pressure whenever we can as they have a lot of great late game top decks if the game drags too long.

Updated List

With the recent popularity of Bant Ramp and Temur Adventures, I will be trying this updated list:

Archon of Sun's Grace

I’ve only make minor changes to the maindeck as the game plan has been working, but I would love to try moving 《Archon of Sun’s Grace》 to the mainboard. They are great against Mono Red while serving as a solid clock against other deck. That would free up space in the sideboard for efficient hate card such as 《Duress》 to pre-emptively discard Teferi, 《Nissa, Who Shakes the World》 and 《Lucky Clover》.

Aphemia, the CacophonyArchon of Absolution

Or maybe we should try sideboarding 《Aphemia, the Cacophony》 instead as it’s a good threat that dodges 《Elspeth Conquers Death》? I’d also like to try 2 《Archon of Absolution》 in the sideboard, as it dodges 《Elspeth Conquers Death》 and Teferi while blocking 《Dream Trawler》 all day.

Conclusion

As the format changes every week, only time will tell if the new decks are the real deal. Or maybe Ramp decks and Temur Adventures will eventually get defeated by “best deck in Standard” UW Control? I’ll be looking to find a sideboard tech to battle again at my next WPNQ, and hopefully get myself a ticket to Players Tour Kitakyushu!

Joe Soh (Twitter)

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Joe Soh

Joe Soh Joe Soh is a veteran player from Malaysia. He achieved many things like four Grand Prix top 8, winning Nationals twice, and went 11th place at Pro Tour San Diego 2007 (Two-Headed Giant) with his brother; Terry Soh. Recently, his constructed skill is rewarded and he won the whole thing at Grand Prix Kobe 2017 with an interesting Orzhov Eldrazi, and went 9th place at Mythic Championship Cleveland 2019 with Mardu Vampire. Read more articles by Joe Soh