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By: kelvinmai, Kelvin Mai
Sep 10 2013 5:57am
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I know I said I would lay low on the standard train on my last article but these are some pretty sweet decks. And both of these concepts may look familiar to you but have no fear the list will be completely different. Everyone remembers Enchant and Hexproof being a real powerhouse in standard even before m13 well today I shake things up by changing the core of the deck while still providing a beating. And then there's Aristocrats, a deck based solely around sacrificing it's own creatures and gaining value off of death. The aristocrats have made a strong presence in all of this current standard and even spawning off a variation of different colors. So how to twist this around? Well I just simply present the question; instead of sacrificing your own creatures why don't you sacrifice your opponent's creatures? And the deck was built from there. As always enjoy these two variations below.

Hexchant

By now we all know what an aura deck looks like in standard and even spawned some punny names such as Bant Pants. It has the face of the deck in the form of Geist of Saint Traft with an accompanying Invisible Stalker. Both very hard to deal with because of it's hexproof nature but it doesn't stop there, these decks add auras into the mix with a slew of Unflinching Courage, Rancor, Spectral Flight and Ethereal Armor as the core of the deck. Of course outside of that is where "creativity" comes in; some featuring Silverblade Paladin while others prefer Ajani, Caller of the Pride as the main three drop and Sigarda, Host of Herons makes a rare appearance as the big bad finisher. And while I prefer the rogue decks I do have a soft spot for this type of deck, Invisible Stalker being a personal favorite. Unfortunately it's not a good time to put this deck together for two reasons: rotation and budget. One of the key pieces, Geist of Saint Traft, is both rotating and is maintaining a high price so obviously we're not creating this deck but it doesn't mean we have to throw out the idea. 

Color Shifting

So the question comes to how do we make a cheap alternative to this while at the same time keeping it rotation proof? Well simple we'll shift the colors! Come rotation we'll lose all the blue goodies that are in blue but we can instead use it's Izzet brother and go red. The deck feels very different but just as satisfying. Because we're losing the unblockablity of Invisible Stalker, trample becomes much more important in the form of Unflinching Courage and the bloodrushed Ghor-Clan Rampager. And We can still grant a psuedo unblockability with auras like Madcap Skills. Ok our plan of attack is ready, but what about the hexproof creatures? M14 gave us both Gladecover Scout and Witchstalker to replace our two big baddies in the bant version but we can also add in the new jedi Fiendslayer Paladin as it's almost hexproof as well. There is an advantage of this deck over Bant in that it's stronger against sacrifice effects because simply we run more creatures. Both the new Llanowar Elves and Burning-Tree Emissary provide a body to be sacrificed instead of the lone Avacyn's Pilgrim in the Bant version. 

Inspired by PolishTamales.

This is the final version for me, it differs from the artist, PolishTamales, only by one card. I felt that the deck needed more land and doesn't necessarily need the Warleader's Helix that he had in there. I was also trying to balance the deck with the rotating cards such as Rancor and the M13 buddy lands, but in the end I thought to myself what was the point? The deck runs smoothly as it is, and if you start off with this it's perfect for going through rotation cause you can just add good cards and cutting bad ones instead of saying goodbye to your mighty Rancor. One thing that I do want to mention that somewhat surprised me is that I was testing out Abundant Growth instead of the new Llanowar Elves and it turned out that the extra enchantment (trying to feed Ethereal Armor) just didn't impact as much as the elf did. So in the end it turned out that the deck was in it's best form all along. 

The Aristocrats

The aristocrats, one of the most resilient decks in all of standard. It has always given my problems because at first I couldn't tell what archetype it fits in, being both aggro and control. And once I figured it out it was still hard to deal with, my go to removal didn't always deal with them cause the deck benifits from their creatures dying most of the time. The original deck was in Oros colors, red black and white but it also shifted into Junk colors, green black and white, and most recently there is a version that is straight black white. But they all play pretty much the same, attack, sac/die and attack even more.

So how do we change it up if all the color shifting has taken place? Well we look beyond just the colors and we think of something else. Threaten effects are printed in every set because it's a great limited card. But it's not used in constructed so much because the creature is given back to the owner. But you know what would be really cool? Is if they don't get it back. And that's how this deck came to be. The deck concept has had 2 nicknames before, both Steal N Sac and Grab N Go both describe the deck's strategy very well. It goes like this the deck will steal an opposing creature with something like Act of Treason and sac-ing it at the end of your turn with one of your many sac outlets like Cartel Aristocrat or Bloodthrone Vampire. Because this deck is in an Aristocrat shell it will rotate unlike the hexproof list above, but it is one way of going out of standard with a bang!

Inspired by roguedeckbuilder and Frank Lepore.

The majority of the list should look pretty familiar there is the usual Lingering Souls, Blood Artist and Doomed Traveler. In fact creature base is almost exactly the same as the usual aristocrats deck with one exception: Zealous Conscripts. The conscripts are great because it adds to our gameplan while at the same time is a great finisher in any game. The most fun thing to do with her is steal a planeswalker just as they are about to ultimate so you get to do it instead of your opponent. One absence that may be apparent is the lack of Falkenrath Aristocrat but that is mainly due to budget constraints. I don't want you guys to be spending so much especially towards the end of the season. But in her absence I added both Barrage of Expendables and Immortal Servitude. The barrage adds an extra sac outlet so we have more ways to sacrifice the stolen creature and the Immortal Servitude adds to our aristocrat game. Servitude is great because since we no longer have the big aristocrat most of our creatures are 2 drops so we can bring them all back for big end game turn. Cloudshift is one of those sweet rogue techs that I learned about from Frank Lepore when he was exploring this kind of deck. The card acts both as protection, by blinking out our important creature as they get targeted by a kill spell, and as a way to extend our steal game, by blinking the stolen creature so it becomes ours permanently.

The weakness of this deck is against those very creature light decks like most versions of control. The Threaten effects just become useless and turn into dead cards. To fight this though, there is always a sideboard which in this case has to be a transformative one. One way is turning it into the default Aristocrats list. But something I would do is just to make it very resilient against control with such things like a full playset of Duress and Assemble the Legion.

 

And that brings us to the end of the article, I hope you enjoy these very different takes on two of the top decks that dominated most of the standard season. I highly encourage bringing the Naya Hexproof deck into new standard with Theros being an enchantment block. The deck could only get better from there. The aristocrats deck is one that I don't condone building if you are afraid of rotation. Instead only build it to play if you want to have some fun in the last few weeks of the season before rotation.  

As always please check out the rest of my articles here.
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