Hello everyone and welcome back to the new edition of the Standard Budget series, where I continue to share some of my budget and semi budget deck brews & reviews for the Standard format. Online debut of the M14 Core set is nearly upon us and it is coming strong with lots of new & exciting possibilities. The M14 will clearly improve most of the existing decks and it will also open doors for the new brews, like tribal Sliver decks. The most common point of the new cards for the Standard is that, they will mostly upgrade the aggressive decks with new options. And these options mean more new creatures in the Arena. What can I say, these days it is all about the Creatures.
First of all, the new Color Hoser Creature cycle is amazing. I think all of them will affect different formats without any doubts. Currently it seems that, Tidebinder Mage may not be useful for Standard, still there will be always another day for Legacy & Modern. Otherwise, four of the five cards seem to be very relevant options for their respective Colors. They will also give the final push to the decks that lost their spark during Meta changes in the last year.
Standard Mono Black or B/G Zombie decks have received new Zombie tools and among them; Lifebane Zombie can easily be the center point of these decks. Lifebane Zombie is really an effective hoser creature that can also see play in the Modern Jund decks or even in the Legacy against the Tax or Maverick decks as a Sideboard option.
Mindsparker is another good main deck option for the Mono Red or Rakdos decks during the Post-Rotation stage. Three CMC for 3/2 body with First Strike is quite something and its trigger color hoser bonus is a real value against the U/W Control type decks.
And among all of them; Fiendslayer Paladin & Witchstalker have the best chance to immediately impact on the Standard within the Hexproof deck shell.
Obviously Witchstalker is a natural boon for the Hexproof type decks, but Fiendslayer Paladin can be also relevant within this shell. He has a Semi-Hexproof bonus against the Black and Red spells. We can easily utilize this duo within any Bant, Naya or G/W colored Hexproof decks.
I have decided to review the Naya option here in order to maintain the power level & semi-budget constraint of this deck. So, let's check it out what kind of Naya Hexproof deck we can brew with these new M14 cards!
This current budget version had managed to become even more aggressive than my previous Standard Hexproof deck brews. The average CMC of this deck has been lowered with the inclusion of Elvish Mystic, Gladecover Scout, Fiendslayer Paladin and Witchstalker. The total creature base quantity is well enough to match against any other aggressive deck strategies with the overwhelming support of the Auras.
Avacyn's Pilgrim is one of the core members of any Standard Hexproof deck. The pilgrim looks to provide the required Mana acceleration and now he is not doing this job alone.
Elvish Mystic is basically a functional re-print of Llanowar Elves. I do not think Wizards will print Llanowar Elves in any further Core sets due to the name matter and that's how we got Elvish Mystic as a substitution. This also means that Elf Ball decks received a new tool to abuse. Maybe we may even start to see more Beck Elf decks in the Modern format. Overall, Elvish Mystic is a great accelerator card and it will be one of the Standard staples next year.
After her glorious achievements in Modern, once again Gladecover Scout is back to the lands of Standard. This time she is ready to fulfill her true purpose. During M12, she was just a functional reprint of Elvish Lookout and that was all, until the G/W Modern Aura deck. Now, we have various versions of Hexproof decks in Standard. We have lots of cheap Aura spells to play with and that can imitate the success of their Modern side. I think that Gladecover Scout will be one of the core members of every Standard Hexproof deck together with our Big Wolf.
Witchstalker is our Green hoser card and it is mostly useful against the control players, like Voice of Resurgence. You should consider it as just a 3/3 creature with a Hexproof ability and this is what it will be most of the time. Regardless of these points, Witchstalker will be still relevant to preserve the casting curve of the deck.
Fiendslayer Paladin excites me more than Witchstalker as a new inclusion to the Hexproof decks. I know he is not a Paladin en-Vec, but his Lifelink ability can easily help us to dominate the tempo of the game. On his own, Fiendslayer Paladin is just a 2/2 creature with First Strike & Lifelink, and that is fair enough. We are playing with this card in the Hexproof Aura deck, so that means that even a single Rancor or Madcap Skills combined with his natural First Strike will put him out of reach at that point on the curve. Fiendslayer Paladin will continue to be effective even during the Midrange phase with each additional Aura attachment.
Imposing Sovereign is another unique White creature with a tax effect over the opponent's board. The two CMC and 2/1 body is so well balanced and elegant for this effect. I strongly believe that we will continue to see her in Standard & Legacy and maybe in the Modern too.
Now let's look into our Aura spell options;
Rancor is clearly one of the best Aura spells ever printed. Its +2/+0 and Trample bonuses are very aggressive. And the magical plus effect comes from its re-usable ability over and over again.
Madcap Skills is a card that really resembles Rancor a lot. It is nearly cheap for the CMC matter and its GRuulish evasion bonus with +3/+0 is huge.
Ethereal Armor is a catalyst for any Aura themed deck. Basically, Ethereal Armor will multiply its efficiency with each Enchantment in our control. Its First Strike bonus can be huge when combined with other Auras.
Unflinching Courage is a fixed functional reprint of Armadillo Cloak. Currently, we have a huge Aura spell diversity in the Standard and Unflinching Courage is definitely contributing a lot to the Hexproof Aura type decks with the +2/+2 and Trample & Lifelink bonuses.
Mainly, Boros Charm is here to protect our investments with the second charm option. The top issue of the Aura decks is to preserve the board integrity against the Global destroy or damage effects and in that matter cheap Global Indestructibility protection will help us to survive. The third option of the Boros Charm can be also very useful in this Aura deck as a well timed Double Strike bonus can finish the game in a single blow. We can always use the first option for a one-sided Flame Rift to deal 4 damage to our opponent or opponent's Planeswalker.
The M14 Core set clearly effected the current Standard environment in lots of ways and in that matter, the Hexproof Aura type decks received a huge boost in this Meta change with the contribution of Gladecover Scout and Witchstalker. I strongly believe that Hexproof Aura decks will continue to exist in Standard next year, even after the next rotation season. The main structure of this deck will be mostly preserved and also Theros block is upcoming with unknown possibilities.
See you next time in the "Standard Budget" series with new Budget & Semi-budget Standard deck brews. I will continue to M14 Core set reviews with the Zombies!