The New Standard Gauntlet

I can’t sleep. So many cards with potential in Magic Origins—I have to brew!

First off, it’s crucial to have good decks to test against, not just five decks you built yourself from scratch.

Updating the Best Pre-Origins Decks

There is a reason Abzan has always been at the top since Khans of Tarkir, it doesn’t care what new cards are out there. There is an answer for everything in the deck, and if you are trying to be cute with synergy Thoughtseize will ruin your day. Abzan is my favorite kind of deck to have in a gauntlet. Once I have a new brew idea, I’ll jam games against it and if the matchup is horrible for my experimental deck, most likely it’ll go in the trash. I just can’t play a deck that doesn’t stand a chance at beating the most played strategy.

Speaking of which, let’s start there:

Abzan Control

Not much has changed from my GP-winning deck, but the big change is Languish, which ultimately does what you wanted End Hostilities and Crux of Fate to do for one less mana. It is weaker than your usual wraths against opposing Abzan decks, since they have Rhinos as well, and there are some spots against Dragon decks where Crux of Fate would be better at keeping your own creatures alive. Still, I think that going forward it’ll be a better main deck choice.

The sideboard has Tragic Arrogance instead of the End Hostilities I had for Devotion. The goal here is to leave them with an Elvish Mystic or Sylvan Caryatid and yourself with something better. It is possible it won’t work as expected due to my sideboard plan of shaving Siege Rhino, yet, I’m still looking to try.

I am down to one Drown in Sorrow since Languish does a decent impression of Drown against red decks. It was too slow to have 5-mana sweepers against any aggressive red strategy, but on 4 mana it’s worth keeping them after sideboard.

I have not tried Nissa, Vastwood Seer in any Abzan variants yet, however I’m sure there’s a way to play one or two extra Forests to make it happen. Reave Soul could also be a reasonable removal to play somewhere in the 75 because it hits Courser of Kruphix, Fleecemane Lion, and Rakshasa Deathdealer, which Bile Blight and Ultimate Price cannot do reliably.

Abzan Aggro

I dislike Abzan Aggro quite a bit and that’s why I chose to use Andrew Boswell’s latest list since he has been playing it for a while. His list is much more aggressive than any other—he doesn’t play Thoughtseize and has FOUR Mana Confluence to make sure he can cast everything on curve rather than having tapped Temples. I was inclined to use this list over a slower one because a new card from Magic Origins has caught my attention and I believe this is the deck where it would fit best.

It’s not a great card on its own, kind of a double summoning sickness Birds of Paradise, but Andrew’s mana base already supports a turn-1 green drop and has the removal to push it through on a regular basis.

Reave Soul again is a removal spell I will consider playing. Woodland Bellower is probably worse than Elspeth as a way to go big after sideboard.

Gr Devotion

Nissa, Vastwood Seer has proven really good in my testing so far. She’s especially great in this deck, making sure you make actual land drops and don’t get blown out by a sweeper and lose all your mana sources. Late game she’s obviously great as a very threatening win condition.

Deathmist Raptor got the axe for Nissa. Double-green for devotion was nice, but Nissa is a more versatile card.

The sideboard gained Gaea’s Revenge. If people play Languish over Crux of Fate it gets even better.

Evolutionary Leap is possibly a contender—it’s a permanent for devotion and prevents mana dork flood. It’s reasonably good with Courser of Kruphix as a way to manipulate your library as well.

UB Control

Clash of Wills is an exciting addition to this deck. Silumgar’s Scorn is better but required playing Dragons, which are not great in straight blue and black. Having a counterspell on turn 2 really was what this deck was lacking. I would want to play 4, but they get pretty bad in multiples later in the game.

Languish is great in this deck—Crux of Fate has always seemed awful to me in a control deck like this, 5 mana was just too much.

Mage-Ring Network is not Dreadship Reef, but still, it does a fine impression. It’s comparatively good in mirror matches, so I’m starting with 2. Testing will tell how many is the right number.

Sphinx’s Tutelage seems degenerately insane in any control mirror matches. Orbs of Warding almost completely shuts down red decks.


This may or may not be the new ‘Red Deck Wins, but the previous version was not very good in my opinion. Other versions I have in mind cut the Goblins for Exquisite Firecraft. I unfortunately haven’t tested enough to tell you if this deck is good or not, hopefully we all find out soon!

Esper Dragons and Mardu Dragons

Much like any other Dragon decks, they haven’t gained anything from the new set. It doesn’t mean they suddenly became bad, but I suggest exploring the decks that have potentially gained something special first.

Thanks for reading and happy brewing!


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