As we approach the final days of this format before Ixalan comes in to change the world, we continue to see innovation in the top decks. Today’s deck takes the God-Pharaoh’s Gift shell and adds more discard payoffs and madness spells to generate additional value.
The base of the deck remains the same. You have 4 copies of Gate to the Afterlife to power itself with the looting mechanic, and to get enough creatures to go find and utilize God-Pharaoh’s Gift. Champion of Wits is one of the best ways to enable all of this, and eternalizing the Champion either via its ability or Gift gives you crazy card advantage. Angel of Invention is the best card to return with Gift as a 6/6 flying, lifelinking, vigilant Angel (that oh, by the way, pumps your entire team) is nearly unbeatable for many decks.
Playing blue and red gives you access to the best 1-drops for the archetype in Minister of Inquiries and Insolent Neonate. Minister allows you to mill through your deck, so your Gates are live draws and your Gifts are getting maximum value. Insolent Neonate plays especially well with Gate: you can move 3 creatures into your graveyard at instant speed by sacrificing the Neonate, discarding a creature, and looting away another creature.
All of this milling and extra discard makes Refurbish an appealing choice. You’re not all-in on the card, as many decks are, but a couple of copies can go a long way.
Walking Ballista gives you some sweet combos with Gate to the Afterlife, and more game against Red. With a Gate in play, you can play a Ballista as normal to shoot down a creature, get a loot, and potentially have multiple, extra creatures in the graveyard instantly. You also have the option to play the Ballista for 0, gain a life, and loot, putting lots of creatures into the graveyard for no mana investment.
The big addition to this deck is a card that I’ve long looked at for this strategy. Wharf Infiltrator provides a constant source of looting. It also can create an army all by itself so that you don’t need to worry about actually casting more creatures and can instead discard them. The skulk mechanic gives Infiltrator some evasion, and being able to dig deeper into your deck is critical to the strategy. It also gives you more outs to discard Gifts to Refurbish in the early game.
With Neonate, Gate, Minister, and now Wharf Infiltrator, why not look into some madness spells? Avacyn’s Judgment can finish the opponent off, take down a 2-toughness creature, or kill multiple creatures against decks like Red. You’re going to need a lot of mana to truly take advantage of madnessing out the Judgment, but with many ways to discard spells with no mana investment, that’s possible. Infiltrator and Neonate don’t require you to invest any mana before discarding your spell, and Judgment can fireball an opponent out or sweep the opponent’s board.
That’s not your only madness addition. Just the Wind provides some tempo and allows you to reset your Champion of Wits or Minister of Inquiries when that’s what the doctor orders. It’s already going to be hard to race an Angel of Invention, but Just the Wind really closes the door on that possibility. Getting Kalitas out of play, even for just a turn, can be the difference between winning and losing.
One final, spicy addition to the deck is Padeem, Consul of Innovation. The popularity of Abrade is a critical weak point of the strategy. Abrade is a solid removal spell that can also waste your best-laid plans by blowing up Gift before combat. Padeem has 4 toughness to avoid Abrade itself, and then gives your artifacts protection from being targeted. The extra card per turn is icing on the cake to make sure you run away with the game!
God-Pharaoh’s Gift is one of my favorite cards to come out of Hour of Devastation, and the next Standard format might be all about finding the best version.
BIGPRADS, 5-0 in an MTGO Competitive League