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By: Plainswalker83, Marcus Brunstetter
Jul 29 2015 11:00am
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Well this Standard format is definitely interesting. I have been trying to pay very close attention to the events and decklists that have been surfacing since Origins has made its way into the Standard format. This one has just been very strong.

Though I would never play this deck, I do like the list a lot. This particular list doesn't actually need Rally the Ancestors to win. Of course the times when the spell is cast everything is more explosive but it can just attack with a bunch of guys including Nantuko Husk and Mogis's Marauder. The value the deck gets off of Grim Haruspex is fantastic and the new Liliana only makes the deck better by being able to buy back any of the pretty sweet utility creatures.

When I first saw this deck online months ago I didn't really give it any thought, I just passed it off as a gimmicky combo deck. When Collected Company, Deathmist Raptor, and Den Protector came out the deck got better but then Origins had to go and reprint some key creatures and give this deck another gift.

Nantuko Husk Fleshbag Marauder   

These cards really gave the deck the push it needed to make it a tier 1 competitor. Last weekend there was 4 Color Rally deck doing well and then this past weekend the Abzan Rally deck showed up and obliterated the room. I believe he dropped one match the whole weekend. That made me sit up a bit and pay attention. I have since been playing against it in Dailies and even in the Tournament Practice Room. I do not think it will be going anywhere. 

So there are 2 options: You can play it... or you can try and beat it.  I am taking the latter route and have been digging around looking for ways to interact with the graveyard. There are a few that do and they happen to be in the colors that are already pretty popular.

   Anafenza, The Foremost, Pharika, God of Affliction, Agent of Erebos Infinite Obliteration

Anafenza was a 4 of in Abzan Aggro but it seems that those decks have gone into hiding with the coming of Languish. The next two cards really fit best in a constellation deck but even though one made the top 8 of the very same open I just don't think that is the route you want to take. The last isn't really graveyard interaction but if you can decide on which creature you want to take from the Rally deck than it does that very efficiently. If you play Abzan Control like me then you can fit any one of these cards into your board if you feel the need. Of course Abzan Control can still be able to combat it by picking their hand apart with Thoughtseize and playing sweepers and plenty of removal but the problem is Rally can still come out of nowhere to beat you. However there are other routes to take.

You can play some sort of control just to be able to control their board with Perilous Vault and counter their important spells like Collected Company and Rally the Ancestors. UW and UB can still be viable and I have even been seeing Esper Dragons resurge as I have been testing online. Though if you know me there is only one thing I truly want to be playing. It just so happens that the color that I gravitate towards has a pretty sweet sideboard option for the Rally strategy.

                                                                                        Hallowed Moonlight

A well timed casting of this card will just wreck the Rally deck. It is quick efficient and draws you a card. Of course the best part is that it can be put into any mono white sideboard :). Right now I am testing both Mono White Aggro and a White Devotion deck. I have even been playing with the Mono White Heroic deck that I mentioned last week. All of those decks can slot Hallowed Moonlight into the board and I believe they should.

So if you hate the Rally deck let me know how you are beating it and if you love it.. well watch out there are plenty of players looking to beat it :)

Now onto a brief preview for the upcoming Pro Tour. I am pretty excited for this one for a few different reasons first off I always love seeing who gets into the Hall of Fame, I know it has nothing to do with me but there are a lot of players I really respect and I can't wait to see what happens. I am really pulling for Eric Froelich and Willy Edel. Both of whom are phenomenal players and do a ton of work in their respective communities.

I also can't wait to see what the results will be from some of the greatest minds in magic being locked up in their test houses with brews and proven decks and figuring out what is the "best" deck.

To me that is one of the best parts. I love to brew and I love to play good decks, I just know that these players will do it better than I could ever hope to. I really look forward to what they come up with.

I expect to see a lot of Abzan. Abzan Control has been a threat since Siege Rhino has been printed. With each new set the deck gains new toys and tools. Each one making the deck even more solid as if it was just missing that last piece of the puzzle. I believe this will be the "old standby" but I also think that there will be different versions and some innovations to come out of this Pro Tour.

Some sort of blue based control will also be a presence at the Tour. I am unsure what will be the most popular but I am sure with players like Christian Calcano and Adrian Sullivan UB will be the weapon of choice. Last time I checked Dissolve is still a card and stops all but like 2 creatures and spells in Standard. The removal is good and they have various win conditions. I am unsure what deck list will look like but I am sure there will be one.

Aggro could and should also be something to watch for. What flavor of it I am unsure but Mono Red or Red splash Green will most likely be the most common. I am also really hoping for some innovation hear as well. I would love to see a mono white or mono black list as I think they both can really be viable decks even if they are a little weak to Languish and other sweepers.

Devotion is going to be another huge player. We all know that Green Red is strong and I don't think that will change at all. However I do think that any other color can have its day in the sun as well. I have been playing with Mono White Devotion and have been enjoying so if I pieced together some sort of cohesive deck imagine what the pros are going to come up with.

Combo like Abzan Rally will also be there. I covered that deck in the first half of the article and I see no reason why it won't be played. I am unsure if Jeskai Ascendancy will be played or not but there is no reason why it can't be. Everything gained new toys and there are some great minds trying to break the Standard format. Which leads to the last category.

Rogue decks can be showing up as well. Remember not all the players on the Tour will be members of huge teams that spent a week or more in a testing house and even if they did we still had decks like Chromantiflayer at the last Pro Tour. I am really looking forward to seeing what decks show up and who is playing what.

Now comes the part where I try to predict who will do well. I was way off the last time I tried this but I am ok with looking like a fool sometimes so I will gladly do it again :).

First I will start with Luis Scott-Vargas and Brian Kibler. I will probably always start with them because they are two of my favorite players and I really love to watch them play. (even if Kibler has a hand shuffling problem) I am also interested in what type of decks they choose to play. Kibler usually plays some sort of an aggressive strategy but LSV can play anything really. I still think they are due for a good performance sometime soon.

I am also thinking it may be time for Paul Reitzl and Craig Wescoe to not only do well but possibly top 8 again. I don't want to just label them because they are both amazing players but they have both been known to do well with an aggressive white weenie type strategy. I felt that with the past few sets that R&D has really been pushing for mono white aggro type deck and if anyone is going to "break it" or find the right list it may be them. If the deck is not there that will be sad but I still will continue to work on what I have been testing.

What do you think? Are you excited for this Pro Tour? Do you even care? What decks are you looking for and who do you want to win? Let me know and as always feel free to shoot me a message if you see me online I always love testing and talking about all formats! Until next time!        



I'm running UW Control in by mr_roskam at Wed, 07/29/2015 - 11:53
mr_roskam's picture

I'm running UW Control in Standard right now and you read my mind! I'm currently playing one Hallowed Moonlight in the main, and two more in the Sideboard. It might be overkill, but we're not going to have a better picture of Standard until after the Pro Tour, and HM can wreck alot of strategies.

UW by Plainswalker83 at Wed, 07/29/2015 - 14:08
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Yea the tour will help give us a better idea but I feel like UW and UB can be in a very good position moving forward.

Rally! by MichelleWong at Thu, 07/30/2015 - 01:02
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Thanks Marcus, great article.

Rally the Ancestors is the deck which I plan to play during the next year of Standard. It is very potent, fun to play, and it has almost no expensive cards from Theros Block (which is a great thing given that rotation is around the corner).

In my opinion:

1. Rally deck is a NIGHTMARE matchup for the poor midrange and ramp decks. In other words, the Rally deck is the natural predator of midrange and ramp decks.

2. Rally deck is an AVERAGE-bad matchup for control and aggro opponents (in other words, the matchup is average-favorable for the Rally deck). However, the more counterspell-heavy build the control player chooses, the better the chances will be. Players running all 4 x Clash of Wills and all 4 x Dissolve will be the ones better placed to cope.


1. Post-sideboard things can change (either for or against the Rally deck depending on a range of factors), but I believe my comments above reflect the starting position for Game 1. If anyone disagrees, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.

2. These comments are not based on playtesting in actual games, but based on "playtesting in my head".

3. My comments are rooted in generalities. For example, of course some builds of each archetype will vary the above matchup predictions somewhat (for example, Abzan Aggro is the aggro deck which is particularly well placed to defeat Rally decks Game 1, due to the 4 x Anafenza the Foremost present in Game 1). So please don't breathe fire down my throat and say "NO!!! Aggro decks are the natural predator of the Rally deck!!" just because your aggro deck happens to be Abzan Aggro).

The biggest downside to the deck? The mana base is slightly shaky (and if you shore up the mana base by adjusting it, you must reduce power elsewhere in the deck). This is particularly the case if your Elvish Mystic is removed immediately. Satyr Wayfinder does help a LOT but often you will not draw it early, and you might be stuck on 2 mana. Being stuck on 2 mana is complete death for this deck, don't kid yourselves in any fantasies here. You absolutely need to hit 3 mana before the deck can function, and with only 20 lands this type of mana screw WILL happen a reasonable amount. In every single game, you want to see Satyr Wayfinder in your opening hand, but of course reality has its own way of getting in the way here! :)

Have fun,

If you are gonna plan on by Plainswalker83 at Thu, 07/30/2015 - 19:46
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If you are gonna plan on Rally then put a ton of work into it. It is definitely a good deck but there is a reason that it is not played in huge numbers. I will wait until after the tour to see what develops due to not having a ton of time to test right now. There are other poor match ups for the deck but it is definitely a force to be reckoned with.

I am not scared of Rally. by CalmLittleBuddy at Fri, 07/31/2015 - 07:53
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I am not scared of Rally. It's pretty easy to shut it down if you're expecting that deck to show up. And it will show up. In is current form, it's a metagame call. If you expect Red Green ramp/Devotion, Rally is a great deck. But I'm no where near convinced it's a legit Tier 1 deck when folks are prepared for it. There are so many cards you can ruin Rally's day with.

Abzan has nice answers in Hallowed Moonlight and Anafenza, plus good old Abzan Charm. There's Perilous Vault and Tormond's Crypt. Any Blue deck wins with counter magic. I just think Rally is too slow, even the value Rally + CC deck due to Languish to stop the value plan. See the problem is Den Protector. He makes main deck graveyard hate justifiable. Which also hates on Rally. Now that the deck is a known commodity and an ongoing concern, folks will be ready.

The great thing about Rally though is it gives aggressive decks a favorable match up, and forces midrange and control to skimp on hate cards for aggro. Some of the cards overlap but not by a lot.

I'll give Rally this, it has made life a lot more interesting!

Rally! by MichelleWong at Fri, 07/31/2015 - 09:41
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Calm Little Buddy, I loved reading your post.

I agree, I think Aggro decks can be too fast for Rally sometimes, but on the other hand Rally does often have 4 x Collected Company, which means that cards like Arashin Cleric (post-board) and Raptors are coming down thick and heavy to defend against Aggro. Arashin is particularly good with Rally because of the repeatable life-gain effect.

I am however surprised that you do not consider it to be a Tier 1 deck (in terms of power, perhaps not Tier 1 in terms of popularity). I believe that it can compete at the top levels of tournament play, but I respect your view that it is a Tier 2 deck even if I disagree with that perspective.