The Modern Pro Tour is coming up this week, but more importantly, Oath of the Gatewatch is finally out! Players have gotten some real opportunities to get their hands on the new set and see what sort of difference it might have on Standard. This week, I’m going to focus on some of the decks that existed before Oath’s release and on the additions that potentially improve the archetype.
Rally the Ancestors may have been the best deck in Standard without any additional help. Many people were touting the deck’s incredible power and Reid Duke took down Grand Prix Oakland with his version of the deck.
It also may be the deck that received the biggest boons from the newest Magic expansion.
Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim is fantastic. A 2/3 deathtouch for only 2 mana is a solid rate for a creature, but that’s not good enough for Constructed on its own. This still represents the same power and toughness as Catacomb Sifter—a key creature in the deck not just because of the power of scry, but also its decent stats. An additional sacrifice outlet is a major benefit for a deck that is happy to have creatures in the graveyard. Open mana means extra life whenever your opponent uses removal spells, and evading exile effects is another bonus. The “ultimate” on Ayli may not seem likely to come up, but with so many creatures in the deck, not to mention Rallys to bring them back, shooting up in life total is far from out of the question. Being able to Vindicate opposing board states is another bonus on a card that didn’t need it to be excellent.
Reflector Mage might be the biggest addition to Rally. It may not seem like much on the surface, but the new Man-O’-War does it all. Anafenza, the Foremost just isn’t the threat it once was when you can take it off the board and also guarantee you get a turn of reprieve before it comes back down. The instant speed of Collected Company combined with Reflector Mage is a tempo blowout to help guarantee the time needed to set up the win. Bringing multiple Reflector Mages back after a Rally is devastating since the ability to completely clear out all blockers for a lethal Nantuko Husk went from a dream scenario to a common one.
The only other card from Oath to make a real impact, both in and against the Rally deck, is Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet. Kalitas threatens to take over the game against aggro decks as a huge brick wall with lifelink, but the “Anafenza clause” is great against decks relying on loading up the graveyard with powerful creatures to eventually Rally back. Having a mix of Kalitas and Anafenza can also be nice with both being legendary and to leave you with outs to Reflector Mage.
Rally may have been the best deck in Standard, and may have just gotten the best additions from the new set!