For Standard players, RPTQ weekend signaled the end of competitive events until after rotation. Some players are sad to see their favorite cards leave the format, with all-stars like Chandra, Torch of Defiance, Hazoret the Fervent, and Walking Ballista being relegated to Modern decks forever. Others are glad to see Standard get a shake-up, and will be happy to see the powerful Kaladesh and Aether Revolt sets getting the boot.
I’m in the second group, and I can’t wait to try out brand new decks in the first couple weeks after Guilds of Ravnica is released. But until we have the full spoiler list, sometimes brewing decks feels like a waste of time. How are we supposed to know what the format defining cards will be when we’re still missing a fifth of the cards that will be legal in said format? Well, a few weeks ago, Gerry Thompson and Bryan Gottlieb came to the rescue on their podcast and gave me an answer. GAM Podcast episode 91 is all about how these two hosts go about brewing and diving deep into specific powerful cards that were previously overshadowed. What I got out of the episode is that they like to look for engine cards that have some support, and put together as many different decklists as they can trying to break said engine piece. They used Desecrated Tomb as an example, a rare from Core Set 2019 that had been largely overshadowed by the established decks, until it put up a strong run at an SCG Classic. Pairing it with cards like Stitcher’s Supplier and Reassembling Skeleton gave the deck a lot of grind, and is a great starting point for brewing in post-rotation Standard. Not only does this specific card provide a great example, it also provides an interesting theory about brewing: Building shells of decks around potentially powerful engine cards is an extremely useful exercise, as it leaves you with a repository of decks that might just be missing one piece to be truly competitive. So I set about at looking at powerful cards that had been overshadowed by the absurdity that was Kaladesh block, and I wanted to share some of the favorite things I put together.
I started with Desecrated Tomb, and I realized that there are a lot more synergies then I expected to find. I ended up with five different decklists, but only two that I really liked:
This first list is similar to the deck that caused the commotion in the first place. It looks to abuse Stitcher’s Supplier by putting value creatures like Reassembling Skeleton and Squee, the Immortal into the graveyard, while abusing the full graveyard with Isareth, the Awakener and the namesake Desecrated Tomb. Makeshift Munitions is built in reach with the Skeleton and Squee.
This second list is a riff on a green black midrange deck. It uses the explore creatures Merfolk Branchwalker and Jadelight Ranger alongside Stitcher’s Supplier to fill the graveyard for Graveyard Marshal, Bone Dragon, Desecrated Tomb, Necrotic Wound, and Muldrotha, the Gravetide. Muldrotha also let’s us recast Desecrated Tomb if it gets milled or destroyed. The rest of the deck is filled out with removal.
A quick aside: while shocklands are getting reprinted, only the five featured guilds’ associated lands are being printed in the first set. This lets those five two color decks have a much stronger manabase when combined with the dual lands that are already in Standard. This also means that five of the ten three color combinations will have much better mana. These are Sultai, Naya, Jeskai, Abzan, and Grixis. Three color decks should try to be in these colors in Guilds of Ravnica Standard.
After filling my excel spreadsheet with plenty of bad Desecrated Tomb brews, I moved onto my pet deck from the previous format: Dinosaurs. I mean, have you ever cast a Regisaur Alpha? Have you done it on turn four? It’s fantastic. I started by compiling all cards that had relevant “Dinosaur” text, and then built decklists in each of the two color combinations (GR, RW, and GW). From there, I put together red white splashing green, and green white splashing red Naya decks. I liked how the last one turned out so much that I put together a mock manabase to play out a couple mock hands. I really like how it felt, and this will be a solid starting point for ramp-centric Dinosaur decks.
Finally, I moved onto another seemingly innocuous three mana artifact from Core Set 2019: Dragon’s Hoard. While it doesn’t seem to do much, the extra value generated over the course of the game by drawing those extra cards is valuable, and shouldn’t be overlooked. While I’m not going to claim that this deck is the best build, I do think that it seems like a solid starting point for Dragon tribal decks. Demanding Dragon is, at the time of writing this, the best five-drop option, with Verix Bladewing and Lathliss, Dragon Queen as the bigger options.
Hopefully this gave everyone the urge to go back and find those cards that you always thought might be good enough, but were largely overshadowed, and start building decks! I’m going to keep adding to my vault of decklists while keeping a close eye on how Guilds of Ravnica fits in.
Featured Image: Reassembling Skeleton by Austin Hsu