oday's deck is truly, well... inspired.
I love it when players use cards in ways you would never expect. Whether it's Blistercoil Weird and Paradise Mantle or a Horizon Chimera combo, these odd uses of cards always put a smile on my face.
Today's deck is decidedly another entry into that category.
Let's get right to it. Here's this unique and exciting deck sent in by the deck-creating madman known by the Internet pseudonym "Qoarl."
Qoarl's Spawn More Warleaders
The Battle Plan
So, what's going on here?
The core of this deck is a combo. Did you find it?
It's a bit tricky and takes advantage of the new legendary rule. It works like this.
First, get a Felhide Spiritbinder on the battlefield. Then, cast Aurelia, the Warleader with two mana available. Attack with both Aurelia and the Spiritbinder. Aurelia triggers, the Spiritbinder untaps, and you pay two mana to copy Aurelia.
Now here's the tricky part: thanks to the new legendary rule, you sacrifice the original Aurelia and keep the token copy around. Felhide Spiritbinder hits your opponent, and you get another attack step from Aurelia's trigger. When you attack with the token copy of Aurelia, it's an entirely new creature—so it triggers because it's the first time it attacked that turn. Then you can do the whole process over again!
Now, normally you're bounded by the amount of times you can pay for the Spiritbinder's trigger... but if you have two mana-producing creatures on the battlefield, Aurelia untaps them as well—making it truly infinite! Bam: a one-shot kill. Even if you only have one mana-producing creature, you can still attack for 3 for each mana you have available.
Simply awesome. I'll admit, when I designed Aurelia, I never imagined she'd be used like this.
But that's not all Qoarl did with this deck. Something I often talk about is that almost every deck should be about two or more things—and Qoarl has diversified nicely. Not only does the deck have the combo, it also has a nice cadre of creatures that can both beat down and are individually good with Aurelia. The deck even has some removal spells to ensure that Spiritbinder can get through safely. At this point, it's all about refining to the most optimal choices possible.
Let's get started, shall we?
Which cards can stay while which ones are bound to be cut? It's time to go through the deck card by card and find out!
The other side of the Aurelia combo, Spiritbinder actually isn't too shabby on his own. A four-mana 3/4 isn't winning any Olympic medals, but it isn't too bad either. The ability, though, can pack a real punch. Even without Aurelia, simply copying a Kalonian Hydra or a Loxodon Smiter lets you smash through for a ton of extra damage. Considering this is a crucial piece of the deck and not bad on its own, I definitely want to play four.
And here's the other piece! While normally I wouldn't want too many copies of a six-mana legendary creature floating around, with plenty of cards that interact favorably with it, mana ramp, and being half of your combo, this is one case where I can justify it.
I could see moving to three copies and making the Aurelia interaction something that's nice if you draw her, no harm done if you don't—a very real worry is that your opening hand will just have two or three Aurelias, which is a virtual mulligan—but I'd rather stick with four to help on the consistency. A full set of Aurelias it is!
These cards all serve similar roles here—it's just a matter of picking the best ones for the job. There are numerous mana creatures in Standard you could choose, and it's key to optimize your batch.
The purpose of these creatures is to both accelerate out your creatures when you're on the beatdown plan and to help you combo off with Felhide Spiritbinder and Aurelia. Something notably important is that one of your mana creatures has to be able to create red mana for the combo to work.
Sylvan Caryatid is a fantastic fit, and definitely my first choice. It's hard to remove, can block incoming creatures, and makes mana of any color.
Next up is the Voyaging Satyr. It also makes red mana by virtue of untapping your lands. Although it does cost two mana, I want eight creatures that can make red to help ensure my combo will actually work when it gets online.
Zhur-Taa Druid, on the other hand, is not as necessary. It only makes green, and while it does kill your opponent if you get into some odd situation where Felhide Spiritbinder is facing off against a 4-toughness wall, the combination of costing two mana and not making red mana makes it undesirable to me.
Instead, I'd much rather have Elvish Mystic. This staple card also helps our beatdown plan, letting the deck cast Loxodon Smiter on turn two and quickly putting pressure on the opponent. It also just speeds up your potential kill turn. With a hand of Elvish Mystic, any two-drop accelerator, Felhide Spiritbinder, and Aurelia, you can go infinite on turn four! While it may sound silly to prepare for that hand, you will get hands like that every now and again and it's nice to speed them up where you can.
I also want to have twelve accelerators for this deck to both help get to Aurelia and to turbo out early threats, so I'd like to add four Mystics. Four Caryatid, four Satyrs, and four Druids: a strong package of twelve accelerators.
Fanatic of Xenagos offers up a pretty tantalizing package: it's either a 3/3 haste for three mana or another Loxodon Smiter. I do like the card in beatdown decks in general. However, there's only so many spots available for three-drops—and in this deck I would much rather have the king. King Brimaz, that is!
Brimaz, King of Oreskos is really strong. Yes, you can't cast him nearly as easily off an Elvish Mystic, and no, he's worse with Felhide Spiritbinder. But he does work well with Aurelia, and is a remarkable backbreaking card on both offense and defense. While I think the Fanatic is a good choice, Brimaz is a great one. Long live the king!
Smiter is a solid three-drop for this deck. You can cast it off Mystic on turn two, and slamming it on turn three is perfectly reasonable as well. Copying it with the Spiritbinder lets you hit for 4 extra damage as well. While Fanatic got chopped for Brimaz—and Brimaz is also stronger than Smiter—I still want a set of three-drops to sit alongside Brimaz, and Smiter is my choice for that.
Welcome to this deck's second plan. This card is really about just as lethal with Aurelia as Felhide Spiritbinder is—and they curve perfectly. Cast Kalonian Hydra (perhaps on turn four—or even three) and then follow it up next turn with an Aurelia. Hydra attacks, and doubles its own counters, then attacks and doubles again—slamming in for 24 damage on its own (30 if you include Aurelia!).
Copying Hydra with Felhide Spiritbinder yields similar results. Play Felhide on turn four (or three!), attack, then play a Hydra. Untap, make a copy of the Hydra, and each Hydra doubles the other—attacking for 32 damage combined from the two of them!
Even if your opponent dismantles the rest of your plan, Kalonian Hydra is a humungous threat on its own. I'll stick with four.
This deck definitely wants access to some removal to help clear the way for your Felhide combo—if your opponent can block it and kill it the combo doesn't work—and just for your general creature onslaught.
Chained to the Rocks is a pretty good choice. I'm a fan of diverse removal choices, though, especially with something like Chain, which has things that could go wrong. (Not drawing a Mountain, encountering a Stormbreath Dragon.) For that reason, I'd like to split it two-and-two with Mizzium Mortars. It's not too hard to overload Mortars in this deck (especially good for wiping up opposing Brimaz tokens), but it also just serves as a nice two-mana way to deal with most threats your opponent will cast.
This deck has a ton of acceleration, and Springleaf Drum doesn't really help this deck's early creatures create mana at all since this deck's early creatures already make mana. You can tap Felhide Spiritbinder the turn you cast it to set up for a nice next turn—but that one benefit isn't enough to preserve the Drum's spot here. Springleaf Drum can go.
Finally, there's one more card I'd like to fit into the deck: Garruk, Caller of Beasts. Six-mana Garruk is pretty scary in a deck that can power him out so quickly, and is a nice way to recover against board sweepers. I would only main deck two—you already have four Aurelias at six mana—but would definitely consider sideboarding another.
That brings the entire list to:
Gavin Verhey's Infinite Aurelias
And there you have it! A few tweaks to optimize what's going on, and the deck is all set. It has some pretty powerful draws and can kill out of nowhere with Aurelia—especially with Kalonian Hydra.
In Standard right now, this deck can out-midrange a lot of the midrange decks—many of them don't have great instant-speed answers for Aurelia outside of Hero's Downfall. If they leave you with anything, Aurelia can completely turn the tide of the game. Mono-Black might be a bit of a rough matchup if it draws a lot of removal and Demons—but this deck is such a blast that hopefully you can tolerate a world of Demons for the sake of playing with an Angel.
If you're looking to make this deck stronger against aggressive decks, you could definitely consider trying Archangel of Thune as a nice weapon against them. If control decks and their board sweepers are an issue, Boros Charm is a nice way to save your team from Supreme Verdict and another Garruk or even Domri Rade can help you reload.
I'm glad I got a chance to take a look at this deck as it does something pretty unique. Enjoy!
What are some of the other cool decks players sent in this week? Let's take a look!
Phil St.Antoine's Mono-Black Humans
Hiroya Kobayashi's Silent Song Combo
Mike Paddock's Sheer Pain
Hunter Oka's Pain Jund
Alex Bohn's Felhide Hippo Campus
Simon Harris's UB Pain Seer
Simon Dermaux's Chimera Token Giveaway
Andy Chen's MinoRoar!
Takahiro Yamamoto's Endless Inspired
The Budget-Born Landscape
Ah, I love seeing the new shape of formats after a set has released. Standard has already begun to change, and who knows if there will be a breakout Born of the Gods card at the Modern Pro Tour next week? It will be fun to watch either way!
But what can you do on a budget?
Each set, I like to do a budget challenge. And now it's time for the Born of the Gods edition!
Restrictions: Your deck is on a budget. For a loose definition, consider budget to contain few rares and very few, if any, mythic rares.
Deadline: February 17, at 6 p.m. Pacific Time
Submit all decklists by clicking on "respond via email" below. Please submit decklists using the following template. (The specific numbers below are arbitrary, so please don't feel a need to use them—it's just how an example of how a decklist should look when laid out.)
1 Other Spell
1 Other Spell
What can you do when some of the most prominent rare and mythic rare tools are set aside? Restrictions breed creativity—let's see what you can come up with!
I hope you enjoyed this take on Standard! I had a blast working on this deck, and if you build the deck, may you have equally as much fun. If you have any feedback on this article, feel free to send me a tweet or post in the forums and I'll be sure to take a look.
I'll be back next week with a look at Modern, right before the Pro Tour! It should be pretty interesting. Talk to you then!
When Gavin Verhey was eleven, he wanted a job making Magic cards. Ten years later, his dream was realized as his combined success as a professional player, deck builder, and writer brought him into Wizards R&D during 2011. He's been writing Magic articles since 2005 and has no plans to stop.