Valuable Lessons – The Fast and the Curious

Welcome back to Valuable Lessons. The Khans of Tarkir spoiler is finally complete and today we’ll be taking an early look at what promises to be one of the best strategies for the early portions of the upcoming Standard format. Aggressive black decks have experienced quite a bit of success in the past, and the new format promises to give us a more conducive environment to this strategy while also giving us some of the best cards we could ask for. Today, we’ll discuss the aggro black deck and experiment with an exciting new card from Khans of Tarkir.

There are a lot of awesome multi-color cards in this new set. Why are we trying to force a single-color deck?

The mana for the new Standard environment is shaky. People can make it work, but they’ll take quite a bit of damage from their lands or at least hiccup for a few turns in the process if they want to take full advantage of cards like Mana Confluence and the new three-color lands. By playing a single-color deck, we set ourselves up for success in a new field that’s full of inconsistency.

Why black?

Black looks to offer up the best mono-colored aggressive strategy for the new Standard now that we know what all the cards are. In black, we have three different one-mana 2/1 creatures—that means we’ll be dropping a Savannah Lion with upside in nearly all of our games on the first turn. That represents a ton of damage, especially in a format where a lot of the decks won’t be doing much until the third or fourth turn of the game. With Tormented Hero, Gnarled Scarhide, and Bloodsoaked Champion we can turn up the heat really fast.

What’s new for the aggressive black deck?

Bloodsoaked Champion is the realest of deals and I won’t be surprised when it becomes one of the most important cards in the new Standard format. Mardu Skullhunter may seem a little underwhelming, but a 2/1 for two-mana that puts us up a card is a fine deal, and I’ll have to be proven that the card is bad before I stop playing with it. With Supreme Verdict and Sphinx’s Revelation going the way of the dodo, we’ll be playing against a lot more midrange green strategies and those decks will likely get run over by the most aggressive black lists.

Here’s the list I would play:

Black Aggro
by Jacob Van Lunen

Aggressive black decks are powerful and consistent, but sometimes we’re looking to do something big and flashy. I often read a new Magic card without thinking about it too much. Later, it haunts me. I find myself losing track of conversations because I’m imagining delving twenty cards to put 20 points of power onto the table with Empty the Pits. There’s definitely a lot of power to be had with Empty the Pits, but we need to be willing to build our deck around the card.

We need to be filling our graveyard pretty aggressively to make Empty the Pits worth it, but the card becomes exceptionally powerful when we have enough fodder to delve away in our graveyards. Luckily, there are a lot of new ways to fill our graveyard in Khans of Tarkir. Most notably, Sidisi, Brood Tyrant is basically a better Huntmaster of the Fells when we’re playing a deck that’s capable of filling the ‘yard in multiple ways.

There are a few ways we can build around Sidisi, Brood Tyrant. Personally, I feel like Sidisi, Brood Tyrant makes Chord of Calling much more plausable in Standard. We get tokens, we’re encouraged to play with Satyr Wayfinder, it’s just a great option for the deck. We can expect a lot of tokens in the new Standard and being able to have access to a few copies of Doomwake Giant to search for should make our deck a lot better. We’ll be playing enough enchantments to reliably get activations off of a Doomwake Giant.

Courser of Kruphix is easily the best card in the new Standard format. This deck does a good job of manipulating the top of its library with Polluted Delta and Satyr Wayfinder. Courser provides us with a strong defense, card advantage, and baits removal spells from the opponent so that we can stick a copy of Sidisi, Brood Tyrant without having it be killed immediately. As a nice bonus, it also triggers Doomwake Giant.

Elvish Mystic accelerates our mana and gets removal spells out of the opponent’s hand.

Nyx Weaver is an enchantment for our Doomwake Giant. It’s a nice blocker, and it returns Empty the Pits from our graveyard back to our hand when we have enough cards in the yard to put lethal damage on the board with our big spell. The Regrowth ability on Nyx Weaver also allows us to use Chord of Calling or find Empty the Pits and make ten or more 2/2 Zombies on the opponent’s end step. It’s also nice to have the ability to rebuy a Reclamation Sage, Eidolon of Blossoms, Doomwake Giant, or Hornet Queen when the time it right.

Brain Maggot works with Doomwake Giant and Chord of Calling, it’s nice to find it during an opponent’s draw step to keep them locked out of the game when we’re ahead. It also serves as a ramp spell for our Chord of Calling.

One copy of Eidolon of Blossoms serves as a nice tutor target for games where we can potentially draw two or three cards on the following turn with it.

This deck seems tremendously powerful and I’m sure with further tuning it could become a major contender in the new Standard environment.

Here’s the list:

Tyrant of the Pits
by Jacob Van Lunen

Khans of Tarkir Prerelease events are this weekend. This is the perfect opportunity to brew up a new and exciting strategy to take your local Standard events by storm before the new Standard format becomes established. Black aggro and Empty the Pits Combo are both exciting strategies. We can expect aggressive black decks to be tier one, and Empty the Pits could very easily become a powerhouse if the format develops along a certain path. Stay tuned for next week’s column where I’ll continue brewing new and exciting strategies for Standard with Khans of Tarkir!


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