I try to find decks that are both successful and different from something I’ve previously covered. There are certainly plenty of Magic cards in any given format, but the most powerful ones tend to be clearly defined and thus most successful strategies tend to be variations on established decks.
That is not the case today.
This deck is pretty heavy on black disruption that starts with Kitesail Freebooter. An early evasive threat is nice, but a 1-power flyer isn’t lighting the world on fire. Taking your opponent’s best removal spell, counter magic, planeswalker, or whatever other interaction they may have had available can put you on the front foot early.
This deck isn’t short on discard spells. Harsh Scrutiny will take care of the creatures that your Freebooters couldn’t get their hands on. This is great for both disrupting your opponent’s curve or taking away their haymaker. Against a red deck, you can take their 2-drop or their Hazoret, and a The Scarab God or Torrential Gearhulk against a control deck. The fact that you get a scry out of the deal means the card isn’t completely dead late even if it wouldn’t be an ideal draw.
You have even more discard available in Heartless Pillage. This is effectively Mind Rot, but you do have enough creatures in the deck to trigger raid. Curving Scrutiny into Freebooter into Pillage can leave an opponent on no resources while you got to scry, attack with a flying creature, and you even have Treasure around to cast your bigger spells later.
The discard theme stays strong with Dreamstealers. Being able to take the opponent’s interaction to clear the way for Dreamstealer gives you a real threat. With all of your hand disruption, you don’t need as much removal since they won’t even have those blockers in hand, and once you start connecting, they get locked out of holding cards very quickly. Eternalize gives you resilience to removal and a late-game weapon.
Finally, you have Raiders’ Wake. Not only is this an excellent combo with all of your other discard spells to make sure they’re consistently taking 2, but it will get rid of the rest of their cards in hand. Curving Dreamstealer into Raiders’ Wake to make them discard two cards and take an additional 4 points of life loss is very powerful.
Your other creatures are more aggressive than a bunch of discard spells might lead you to believe. Adanto Vanguard is a great offensive threat that looks underwhelming as a 1/1 on defense. Another threat that’s resilient to removal is nice, and it’s one of the best ways in the format to consistently trigger raid. If you’re triggering raid, Ruin Raider is a fantastic way to stay ahead on cards as long as you’re mindful of your life total and don’t dip too far down.
To combo with the life loss of those two creatures and Adanto Vanguard’s indestructible ability, you have 3 copies of Cartouche of Ambition. This can kill a small creature or shrink a threat while gaining you a ton of life. Putting this on Dreamstealer makes them discard extra cards, and putting it on your Vanguard can just be game-ending against aggro.
Legion’s Landing is not a card you want access to many copies of, especially since it isn’t particularly easy to get a bunch of attacking creatures in this deck, but flipping a copy is potentially very powerful. You can use the extra mana source and making Vampires every turn is great for keeping up raid and your life total.
The end game starts with a cheap spell and ends with a big X-spell. Treasure Map is a useful tool to make sure you’re drawing what you need to, and it happens to be a nice combo with Ruin Raider to help preserve your life total. Flipping the Map gives you access to another land and a bunch of Treasure that you can either use for mana or card drawing. If you decide to go the mana route, Torment of Hailfire can annihilate your opponent. This is a great finisher, and it’s made even better in a deck that has a bunch of removal and discard to make sure they’re sacrificing important permanents (or, more likely, losing the game).
This deck utilizes so many cards I have never seen in Standard and attempts a strategy far off the beaten path. The 5-0 record in an MTGO Competitive League speaks for itself, so maybe there’s something here.