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The Deck to Beat This Weekend: (Still) Rally the Ancestors

It seems like every Monday morning I’m telling myself the same thing: “People are finally going to start hating out Rally the Ancestors now.” And the following Sunday, Rally has yet another dominant performance at another high profile event. This deck seems immune to the normal ups and downs of successful decks in a metagame. It keeps winning, everybody knows that it’s out there, and yet it remains an excellent deck choice week in and week out.

I’ve come up with a few theories about why Rally the Ancestors is different from other decks:

  • It’s very difficult (or at least perceived to be very difficult) to pilot. A large portion of players feel intimidated to play it, or don’t want to switch decks late in the season. This caps Rally out at 10% or 15% of the metagame, no matter how much it wins. Additionally, it makes it hard to practice against, since the difference between an expert pilot and somebody going through the motions is like night and day.
  • The sideboard options aren’t good enough. Reflector Mage makes Anafenza, the Foremost and Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet unreliable. There are too many decks pulling people in too many directions for sideboards to be loaded to the brim with Dispels and Hallowed Moonlights.
  • Rally is too good of a deck. It’s so powerful, and attacks from so many different angles at once that you can’t get a big edge over it no matter what you do.

Of those theories, the third is the one that I find difficult to stomach. You can beat Rally the Ancestors, and I’ll explain how!

4-Color Rally

Owen Turtenwald, 1st place at GP Houston

What To Do

  • Clock them in a way they’re not prepared for. You won’t beat Rally by attacking normally on the ground. They produce too many blockers, and they’re happy when you’re sending their creatures to the graveyard! You’re either going to need Anafenza and Kalitas (and yes, you should play with both), or you’re going to need flying creatures. If your deck can support Mantis Rider, you should play it. Other good choices include Thunderbreak Regent, Kolaghan, the Storm’s Fury, and Stratus Dancer.
  • Play with Dispel and Hallowed Moonlight. These are the best cards against Rally, and you probably can’t have a winning matchup without them. First, you should go out of your way to make sure your deck has either white or blue in it. Next, you should play 3 or 4 copies of these cards between your main deck and sideboard.
  • Practice against Rally. If you have a tournament that’s important to you, and you haven’t played at least 20 or 30 games against Rally—including with sideboards—then you haven’t done your homework. You’ll want to be familiar with the Rally deck’s common play patterns, the tricks it’s capable of, and you’ll want to have your sideboard plan hammered out carefully.
  • Block the Nantuko Husk! This might seem fairly elementary, but it’s a mistake that even great players make far too often. When you’re being attacked by Nantuko Husk, carefully count how large it can become if you opponent sacrifices the rest of his or her creatures. Now consider the possibilities if your opponent casts Collected Company at instant speed. Next, consider Rally the Ancestors. When in doubt, don’t let Nantuko Husk go unblocked because it’s one of the easiest ways for Rally to steal a win.

Rally the Ancestors is the best deck in Standard. It’s not unbeatable, but it is going to beat you if you show up unprepared. Take it seriously, and don’t let it run your next Standard event!

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