April 21, 2015

Exploits in Exploiting Exploit

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Welcome to Exploit Week!

This week, we're going for bit of a double use of the word exploit! Not only are we using the exploit mechanic, but we're exploiting a particular card to create a crazy combo that uses cards with exploit!

If your mind hasn't exploited exploded from all of that talking about exploit to frame today's exploits, then you're good to continue. Prepare yourself for a deck which requires… a bit of mind-stretching. Coming all the way from Japan and into my inbox, it's a combo deck unlike what you may have seen in Standard recently.

Get ready to exploit your ancestors.

Err…that came out weird. How about just what the person who originally built the deck called it: "The Ancestors."

Much better.

Let's take a look:

Masaya Honda's The Ancestors


The Battle Plan

Strap yourselves in for a bit of an unusual deck today.

There are some elements here that may look familiar. Sylvan Caryatid, sure. Siege Rhino, okay. Even Satyr Wayfinder makes some sense.

But there are a few out of place cards. Profaner of the Dead? Purphoros? Sidisi's Faithful? What's going on?!?

Well, it's all about this card of course. Rally the Ancestors:

This deck can play as a totally legitimate midrange deck, casting Siege Rhinos and attacking people. However, with some draws, you can march to an entirely different tune.

All the creatures that you've milled past with cards like Satyr Wayfinder and all of the creatures that naturally died are sitting cozy in your graveyard. Then you cast Rally the Ancestors with X equaling 5.

Tons of things return. Mill triggers off cards like Satyr Wayfinder and Sidisi, Brood Tyrant happen. Exploit triggers hit the stack. You'll get some Zombies. Everything goes nuts.

And then off of your Sidisi, Undead Vizier trigger, you search up another Rally the Ancestors to do it all again next turn.

The end result of all this is you'll have any combination of a bunch of Zombies off Sidisi, Brood Tyrant, drain them for a bunch of life with Siege Rhino, and/or a Rally fresh in your hand.

And, thanks to all of your exploit triggers, many of your creatures should either be back in your graveyard or back in your hand (thanks Sidisi's Faithful!) safe from being exiled in your next upkeep and ready to go again.

So what's all of this building toward? Well, you might be able to kill them with Siege Rhino drains and Zombie tokens alone. But if that doesn't work out, eventually you can use Sidisi to search up a Purphoros.

Whether you cast the Theros god from your hand off a Sylvan Caryatid or put it into your discard via some means, if you had Purphoros in your graveyard your opponent is likely going to be straight-up dead. The Theros god sees all of the other creatures entering the battlefield at the same time, so your opponent will take 2 damage for each creature returned this way.

That's going to be a lot of damage.

This deck is a really unique combo deck in that you'll end up doing very different things in different situations; the combo plays out a little differently each time. It keeps you on your toes. And so having the right build is going to be crucial.

So let's take a deep look at the decklist, shall we?


Deck Breakdown

What can we properly exploit and what should be taken out of this deck? Let's go through the deck card by card and find out!


These mana accelerants provide a couple crucial roles for this deck. For one, they help accelerate you into your four-drops (and eventually, your big Rallys) faster. They let you play fewer lands to make your Sidisis better. And also, very importantly, they act as great exploit fodder and extra bodies that come back when you rally.

While you'll often be playing an "enters the battlefield tapped" land on the first turn, meaning you can't play a first-turn elf, that's actually okay: the key jump is two to four mana, so a second turn Elvish Mystic is entirely acceptable. While I could see not playing the Mystics, especially keeping in mind the deck's colored requirements, overall it's the direction I would start with.


This is a key component of a deck like this. Not only does it help you hit your land drops, not only is it a 1/1 you can exploit but, when your combo is working, the cards this puts into your graveyard are very beneficial—and without your combo, it even works with Sidisi, Brood Tyrant to boot. I'll keep all four copies.


While I certainly won't claim it's the most original card to play in Standard, this Rhino is actually doing something a little different here than usual. It acts as a way to drain your opponent over and over again while you're cycling through your Rallys. Plus, of course, it can serve as a good midrange attacker when necessary. Four copies, please!


While not a card you might expect to show up here, it actually does a lot of good work. When you're comboing out, it exploits a creature to put it back into the graveyard and also helps you pick up one of your other creatures to use once again. If you're playing the midrange game, it can provide some tempo. In a pinch against decks like Mono-Red, it can even serve as a 0/4 blocker! I'm going to keep all of these.

In addition, the effect is (surprisingly) so strong that I'd like to add in a similar card: Jeskai Barricade. While not quite as strong as the Faithful in this deck, since it doesn't exploit one of your creatures and you can't bounce your opponent's creatures with it, it provides a similar and powerful effect. I'd like to play two copies to go alongside my Faithful.


This Sidisi serves as both a midrange card and a card that works well when you go to combo out, milling you for a bunch to power up your next Rally. Whether it's filling the board with Zombies, attacking and posing a threat, or just dumping more cards into your graveyard, this Khans of Tarkir Naga is doing good work. All four copies will stick around.


Sidisi is working overtime for this deck, showing up both in her living and undead forms. And what a card this version of Sidisi is for us! Searching up another Rally is absolutely huge, while simultaneously putting a creature—perhaps herself—into the graveyard for you to bring back and do all again is absolutely crucial.

While she is a bit on the expensive side, her import to the deck is very high. I'd like to move up to three copies.


Scary Silumgar is certainly a potent card to sit at the top end of this deck's curve. As a vicious midrange threat, this can really stop an opposing midrange deck in its tracks as you steal one creature and put a huge body in the way.

The inclusion of Silumgar poses a huge question to this deck: how much of a midrange game do you want to play? Do you want to be more of a Rally deck with a midrange plan, or more of a midrange deck with a Rally endgame? How does Silumgar fit into your strategy?

If you're mostly aiming to be a midrange deck, Silumgar might be a good choice. However, it's not quite as strong of a fit in this deck. It's expensive to cast on its own and not going to be reanimated when you fire off a Rally for 5. Silumgar is a card that can go.


The Haruspex promises a lot. It draws you a fistful of cards when you're comboing off, as each exploit trigger nets you an extra card off of the Haruspex's ability.

However, step back for a moment. If you're casting Rally and several exploit triggers are going off, then you should be in great shape anyway—great enough shape that you don't need the Haruspex. While a very exciting win-more card, I don't think the Haruspex is a necessary component of this strategy.


These are both one-ofs that seek to do the same thing: end the game. Purphoros ends the game if your Rally is large enough. Profaner can essentially lock your opponent out of using creatures, as with each Rally you exploit a Sidisi and bounce everything they have with toughness 5 or less.

I like Purphoros a lot, as it just kills off your opponent. The problem I have with Profaner is: while the lock is certainly exciting and it can be a fine card to tutor for with Sidisi, I'd rather just have something proactive that is more likely to defeat my opponent then and there.

It could be a second Purphoros, but I'd rather have two different one-of options to end the game. They're both likely to end the game but, in certain situations, one can be better than the other. The card I'm looking at here? Mogis's Marauder.

The Marauder does something very special: give a ton of your creatures haste all at once. And while Rally the Ancestors doesn't usually work offensively since the creatures go away during your upkeep even if you cast it on your opponent's turn, with the Marauder it can absolutely kill your opponent. Bring back your graveyard, give a huge swath of them haste and intimidate, and then attack past them for the victory!


You absolutely need all four of these. While they're not great draws early in the game, you want to have as many as possible later on to help create your army of ghosts. Plus, when you're milling cards from your deck, you are going to lose some of these, and making sure you don't accidentally mill past them all during your combo is very important. (Though I also have a backup plan for that—read on to see what.)


I definitely want a bit more milling than is in the deck right now. However, Commune is such a poor tempo play and finds you a creature—when what you often want is the ability to grab a spell. It also isn't a creature for your Sidisi triggers.

But, fortunately, I know a little spider who is: Nyx Weaver.

This not-so-itsy-bitsy Spider serves a few key functions. First of all, it just helps get more cards get into your graveyard every turn you keep it on the battlefield. But secondly, it helps you find and chain together Rallys! While the spider does exile itself, you can get a lot of mileage out of it.

Mill past a Rally? Mill past all of your Rallys? No problem! Nyx Weaver can spin up a web and pick one up for you.

Nyx Weaver ends up in your graveyard at some point and then you cast a Rally? Well, Nyx Weaver comes back—and can regrow that very Rally for you!

All that, and you even get a 2/3 body with reach to boot. I'll take three copies for this deck!


With all of those changes made, that brings our deck to:

Gavin Verhey's Midrange Ancestry

This deck is like no other I've worked on recently. It's a midrange combo deck that can win in all kinds of ways—and requires careful attention to how it works to be successful.

And it's an absolute blast to play, to boot!

If you're looking for something fun to play in Standard, give this a try. It'll keep your opponent on their toes while you do get to exploit some unique and exciting synergies. Have fun!


McArtor's Mentions

Each week here on McArtor's Mentions, we take a gander at some of the other great decks that were sent in this week. There were many different flavors of exploit submitted—here are a few more!

Watanabe Takashi's "Vizier Disposes to Archon"

Matsukasa's Alesha Exploit

Brandon Housman's Inksploit

MagnetCrocodile's Exploit Mockery

Takuya Hiramatsu's Silumgar sacrifice

STUART CRAWFORD'S GRIXPLOITATION

Nicholas Condon's Erebos Sultai

Yuuichiro Terui's Sidisi Black


The Modern Day (Again)

Hopefully you enjoyed today's look at something a little bit crazy—and every bit worth giving a try. It's a unique enough deck that it reminds me of something you might find in Modern.

…And thanks to that ridiculously perfectly-timed segue, I'll note that there isn't a deck building challenge for this week. Why? Because Modern Masters 2015 Edition previews begin in just two weeks!

Yes, that's right: in a couple weeks' time you'll be able to come back and check out ReConstructed to see a few different cards you can expect to find in Modern Masters 2015 Edition booster packs. I'll be talking all about one of the Limited archetypes—and if you plan on drafting Modern Masters, you definitely won't want to miss it.

In the meantime, if you have any thoughts or feedback, I'd love to see them! Feel free to send me any comments you might have either by sending me a tweet or asking me a question on my Tumblr and I'll be sure to take a look.

I'll be back next week when we talk a bit about the Tempest era of Magic. Have fun looping your Rally the Ancestors, and talk with you again then!

Gavin

@GavinVerhey

GavInsight



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