spent most of my time testing for Pro Tour Dragon's Maze trying to build decks that used cipher—either Hidden Strings, Whispering Madness, or both. The Whispering Madness deck felt close, but the removal in Block just wasn't quite good enough. In Standard, access to better mana and cheaper removal offers a lot of new options, and the combo is definitely outstanding once it gets going.
The deck can definitely be built to be more controlling, but I find the aggressive version more fun and explosive, and it makes Whispering Madness without Notion Thief better.
Nivmagus Elemental is outstanding with Hidden Strings, but it also plays well with Thought Scour as a cheap instant that it can eat if you have to. Snapcaster Mage and Think Twice make Hidden Strings much better than it was in Block by offering good ways to spend the mana at instant speed.
It's hard to figure out the best possible draw for this deck, but one that is very good would be:
Turn one: Play a land and Nivmagus Elemental.
Turn two: Play a land and cast Hidden Strings, untapping two lands and encoding onto Nivmagus Elemental, then cast Goblin Electromancer. Attack and exile the copy of Hidden Strings to make Nivmagus Elemental a 3/4 (or untap two lands and pass, then Searing Spear a creature the opponent plays).
Turn three: Play a land, then tap two lands for mana and cast Hidden Strings for one mana, untapping both lands, then tap all the lands for mana and cast Whispering Madness, encoding onto Nivmagus Elemental. Attack and trigger Whispering Madness, then Hidden Strings, then Hidden Strings. Allow one Hidden Strings to resolve and untap two lands, then tap them for mana and untap them again with the other Hidden Strings. Before the Whispering Madness resolves, cast Notion Thief. The opponent discards his or her hand, and you draw twice that number of cards.
Stealing your opponent's entire hand on turn three is a bit extreme, and very unlikely to ever actually happen, but the things this deck can do in real games are still impressive.
Grixis Cipher Aggro
Sam Black is a Platinum Pro Player and longtime writer for StarCityGames.com. He is a respected deck builder and took over Daily Decks for the first half of 2013. If you have an original deck you'd like to see featured, email him with the link above.