For a while now we’ve seen Gideon, Ally of Zendikar hold his place as a dominant force in Standard. Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas on the other hand has seen a reasonable amount of play in Modern in various Ensnaring Bridge and Thoper Sword half-prison, half-combo decks. However, with the recent introduction of Ixalan and some planeswalker rule changes, these two story-line characters deserve a spotlight in their other formats as well. Let’s take a look!
Grixis Improvise – Zac Elsik – SCG Standard Classic, 1st Place
Here’s a deck that my good friend Peter McKinney played in the SCG Dallas Open this weekend to a 31st finish. I asked him for his list at the end of day 1 because I wanted to play it in the classic and I’m super glad I did. This was one of the most fun decks I’ve played in quite a while. There were several lines of play and sequences that just felt like I was doing something powerful even in the early turns of a game. Often I would lead with an artifact on turns 1-3, then follow up with a big threat in Maverick Thopterist and/or Herald of Anguish. These cards may not seem that powerful by themselves, but when you consider that you are developing the board with more and more artifacts, other cards in the deck start to perform above expectations.
Tezzeret the Schemer serves an important role in a game where you can establish a board state with a handful of artifacts in play. At worst, he’s a four mana removal spell that you can to use twice and still keep around, it even kills gods like Hazoret the Fervent. At best, you get to uptick him to six loyalty, which is a lot by the way, while also holding up Fatal Push or Metallic Rebuke as protection. His ultimate is no joke either. Once it’s online, there’s no stopping the onslaught of 5/5 creatures you get to deploy, or even ones with flying if you have some Thopter tokens.
Contraband Kingpin was an all-star the entire day. Not only is this little guy a 1/4 creature with lifelink, acting as a road bump against Ramunap Red or other creature decks, but he will “fix your draws” over and over again, giving you incredibly consistent top decks. What I mean by this is that the “Whenever an artifact enters the battlefield under your control, scry 1.” ability is going to trigger a lot, twice for cards like Cogworker’s Puzzleknot and every single turn you make an Etherium Cell with Tezzeret the Schemer. You are constantly able to choose what cards you will be drawing, whether that’s more lands or removal or big threats, whatever you need at the time. This effect may not seem like much as it’s not card advantage or affecting the board state, but small effects like this will add up over time and ensure you consistently draw relevant threats when you need to.
If you’re looking for a deck to play in Standard that’s constantly making you think about what play you should make and how to sequence them, I highly recommend giving this list a shot. It’s very refreshing to piece together synergies and interactions that aren’t exactly popular in Standard and end up winning a few games by doing so. There are many more hidden synergies left to explore with this deck but I’ll leave those for you to discover!
Time to brew with some Gideons in Modern. Yes, that’s plural Gideons!
Gideon Devotion – Zac Elsik – Modern
2 Archangel of Tithes
1 Linvala, Keeper of Silence
1 Gisela, the Broken Blade
1 Bruna, the Fading Light
1 Emrakul, the Promised End
1 Path to Exile
1 Wrath of God
1 Runed Halo
2 Rest in Peace
1 Journey to Nowhere
1 Banishing Light
1 Quarantine Field
1 Dawn Charm
Now that’s a pretty spicy Modern list. It’s pretty rare to see a deck in Modern with so many cards that cost 4 or more. It’s even more rare to see so many Gideons all in one deck! Unlike in the past, you can now have more than one Gideon in play at a time as long as it has a different name. This is because of a recent change to the Comprehensive Rules in Magic that has removed the former planeswalker uniqueness rule in favor of just making all planeswalker cards legendary instead. This change leads to some very interesting boardstates:
This deck is really wonky. You get to have multiple Gideons in play at once. You get to play Thalia’s Lancers which is a tutor for Gideon, since all of the planeswalkers are legendary now. If that wasn’t enough, you also get a real sweet legendary creature toolbox for your lancers to fetch up. That’s a ton of big-mana cards that are difficult to cast – but not for this deck.
Mono-white Gideon Devotion takes advantage of Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx as a way to ramp you into all of your powerful spells. Cards like Knight of the White Orchid, Wildfield Borderpost, Fieldmist Borderpost, and even Leyline of Sanctity add to your devotion to white, giving you the extra boost you need to play five mana spells on turn 4 or seven mana spells on turn 5. The Knight of the White Orchid also increases your land count thanks to borderposts returning lands as well as Path to Exile giving your opponent more lands, meaning you’ll more than likely always be able to tutor up a free Plains.
This deck plays a lot like GR Tron does. You spend most of the first few turns of the game developing your mana and putting white permanents onto the battlefield. Then at some point you find and play Nykthos with the help of Weathered Wayfarer or Thalia’s Lancers. Yes that’s right, Lancers can fetch ANY legendary card! Once you’ve got an active Nykthos generating tons of mana, you’ll quickly establish control of the game thanks to your assortment of planeswalkers.
Lastly there’s the sideboard. It’s a bit all over the place but that’s mostly because I’m not really sure what the good or bad matchups are for this Gideon Devotion deck yet. That’s something that will require a bit more testing. Some of the cooler cards in the sideboard are Quarantine Field, Runed Halo, and Archangel of Tithes mostly because they all easily increase your devotion to white. Emrakul, the Promised End is also incredibly powerful especially in the Modern format. There are a number of decks that simply fold to themselves if controlled by their opponent, most notably any combo deck will completely fall apart.
Well I hope you enjoyed this weeks brews. As always, if you have any questions or comments you can find me on twitter @UTDZac or leave a comment below.