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By: JXClaytor, Joshua Claytor
Sep 20 2017 12:00pm
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It's International Talk Like a Pirate Day and you would think with proper planning Wizards of the Coast would have taken full advantage of this um...special day and released the set today, instead of prereleasing over the weekend and getting Ixalan out on MTGO on Monday. I feel like this would have honored the work of Ol' Chumbucket and Cap'n Slappy, though I guess by creating a fake holiday, they are not really looking to get much honor out of the whole deal.  

I'm not really serious about this though, International Talk Like a Pirate Day is a thing that is for fun, and as we all know, Magic: The Gathering is serious business! 

Most of the time it is at least! 

Ixalan will be on MTGO soon, the extended downtime for the set's release is about to happen, and while I am not super excited about the new set, I understand that the formats change, and so must I.  This article is going to look at that deck I am going to play in the first week of new Standard, and that is basically looking at what Ixalan adds to it. 

Let's get to the established deck first!  

This deck sees some pretty key cards rotate out, but the important stuff is sticking around the Standard format for a bit longer.  As a fan of alternate win conditions, this is super good for me, and maybe not as good for my future opponents.  While the mana base is a bit non traditional, I like the idea of being prepared for others that might abuse the graveyard, and I can't possibly see the downside of preboarding for those kind of decks.  Let's look at what is leaving the format. 

Blessed Alliance
Immolating Glare
Summary Dismissal
Stasis Snare
Prairie Stream

A couple of these are fairly easy to replace.  Prairie Stream becomes Glacial Fortress thanks to the reprint in Ixalan.  Stasis Snare and Summary Dismissal are both one ofs that can see other cards shine, and Dispel probably sees a minor upgrade (thanks to the reprinting of Duress) to Spell Pierce, but Blessed Alliance and Immolating Glare leaving the deck are both like Frank Thomas, a big hurt. 

Aether Meltdown however is a fairly good spell to pick up for the deck.  It has flash, can deal with problematic vehicles and helps buy you time like the leaving spells did.  Unless you're feeling saucy though, you can only run four copies of the card in your deck, so we need to find a replacement for the other three copies, or maybe just head in a different direction.  After going over the spoiler for Ixalan, I was not exactly happy about the removal options.  Bright Reprisal costs five mana, Legion's Judgment is a sorcery, Pious Interdiction gives you some life, but also costs four, and I would give the contents of my bank account for that card to just be Faith's Fetters

It's not much money though.  Like 17 dollars. 


Settle the Wreckage seems like a card that I could try, but giving my opponent a bunch of lands in exchange for exiling attacking creatures seems to be a trade that is not in favor.  It might be powerful, it might not be.  Slash of Talons deals two to an attacking or blocking dork, and the blue spells are bounce like Depths of Desire, Perilous Voyage, River's Rebuke or Run Aground.  Not exactly setting the world on fire there.  Perilous Voyage at the very least seems pretty interesting though. 

None of those cards are what I would call good enough, but I did not talk about two options that I am bringing up now, Entrancing Melody and Ixalan's Binding are what I am strongly considering.  Entrancing Melody is a nice scaling catch all for creature decks, for two mana you can take an Ornithopter, for eight, a gearhulk.  That seems pretty okay to me.  Ixalan's Binding on the other hand is like a supercharged Stasis Snare.  While it loses flash, and costs an additional mana, this enchantment exiles a nonland permanent and makes sure that your opponent can't cast additional copies of the exiled card.  Dealing with stuff like Chandra, Torch of Defiance was a huge issue for the deck in the past Standard, and having this option open to us is really nice! 

With Binding and Melody I could take the easy way out and just cram them in to the deck and jam some games, but there are some other cards in Ixalan that I have on my short list of things to try out in the deck.  I want to talk about those cards now. 

Treasure Map:  It's let you scry a few times and then it flips to become a land that sacrifices treasures to draw a card.  Not likely to make the cut, as we have plenty of card draw already, but I thought it might be worth a look. 

Thaumatic Compass:  A card that reminds me a ton of Journeyer's Kite and for good reason, it's basically the same card, but with an incredible kicker, when you get to seven mana, you flip it, and it becomes a sweet Maze of Ith!  That would certainly help out in the long game right? 

Primal Amulet:  Upon first glance, I thought that when this flipped casting Approach of the Second Sun would become an instant win, but then I remembered that sometimes I know how to read and Approach cares very deeply about if the card was cast from hand, not if it is a copy or not.  However, making our card draw cost one less might be worth looking at, but I am pretty sure that it is not. 

Search for Azcanta:  I've seen some people say that Opt is needed in the deck, but I disagree.  Search is really powerful, allowing you to smooth out your draws until it flips.  When it flips it becomes an Impulse on a land, but that land is legendary, so that kind of puts a bit of restraint on the deck.  You want to draw the card, but you want to draw it enough to not Stone Rain yourself every so often.  Could it fit?  Yes, in this creatureless deck, I feel like Search for Azcanta has a home here, but I lack the intestinal fortitude to actually play it in the deck.  Am I wrong?  Yeah let's go ahead and hedge to the I am bad at Magic side, and understand that legend ruling yourself may be a small price to pay to have all that power. 

Where do these cards potentially leave the deck?  I'm only going to present a sideboard work in progress for now, as that will be the hardest part for me in regards to seeing where the field is, but considering that we normally go in an aggro to control cycle, and aggro decks are thought of as the easiest to build we're going to keep with the anti aggro package in the board.  Regal Caracal, you're still the cat's meow!  This is what I will be digitally sleeving up in week one!

To me, this is one of the safest plays in the first week of the format.  We're gaining a ton of stuff, and while some of the cards that are gone will be a bit of a bother, with some adaptation Approach of the Second Sun should be winning plenty of games in the new Standard format.  The mana is still great, the control is still great, and so is the card draw, so with any luck the only treasure chests I'll be cracking on MTGO will be the kind that have sweet cards in them and not the kind that sacrifice for mana! 

How are you approaching the new format?  Let us know in the comments! 

Thanks for reading! 


I think Baral in the board by Rerepete at Wed, 09/20/2017 - 20:40
Rerepete's picture

I think Baral in the board might be better than the cats

It might be, would have to by JXClaytor at Thu, 09/21/2017 - 05:08
JXClaytor's picture

It might be, would have to test it, I went heavy on the anti aggro plan, and cats were really outstanding against the red deck, because their plan at the time was to stop us from blocking, and three creatures instead of one made that a little bit harder.

mana artifacts by bread expert at Thu, 09/21/2017 - 19:07
bread expert's picture

thought on Manalith (or Cultivator's Caravan I guess)? Getting to your Fumigate or Caracal one turn earlier is clutch against aggro, and they won't be using Abrades against us, right?

I'd imagine that they have by JXClaytor at Fri, 09/22/2017 - 01:39
JXClaytor's picture

I'd imagine that they have main deck Abrades, because the spell is still really good, so it would give them targets in game one, and it's not the kind of spell that I want to be sideboarding into.