Most of the decks to come out of Pro Tour Ixalan were known quantities. The set had been out for a while and the metagame was established. That doesn’t mean that the pros weren’t hard at working finding the very best and most tuned versions of these archetypes, and Pascal Maynard with his team may have found the best version of God-Pharaoh’s Gift.
God-Pharaoh’s Gift made its breakout on Magic Online prior to Pro Tour Hour of Devastation. Standard is no stranger to powerful but expensive cards, and Gate to the Afterlife’s main purpose was finally revealed when the world got to see exactly what the Gift could do. Getting an early Gift into play just requires creatures in your graveyard, and if there are any good creatures in there, it’s back-breaking for the opponent. Decks had to be built with lots of creatures to make sure that Gate could be activated with ease, but Maynard’s version eschews the 3-mana artifact. Instead, he plays a creature light version with alternative ways to cheat Gift into play and card selection.
Refurbish is plan A for getting your Gift onto the battlefield. This means that you want to play as many cards as possible to both help find the Refurbish and to get a Gift into the graveyard. Accomplishing both of these things can result in a turn-4 Gift, or even turn 3 with some fortune.
Search for Azcanta helps fill multiple roles. It can put cards into the graveyard, find the key cards you’re looking for, and even flip into a land to accelerate you to 7 mana late or to 4 mana as early as turn 3.
Minister of Inquiries helps make this engine work. A turn-1 Minister into turn-2 Search can allow you to flip as early as turn 3. If you happened to hit a Gift and a powerful creature, game on!
Chart a Course and Strategic Planning give lots of additional ways to both find Refurbish and put creatures/Gifts into the graveyard. They’re cheap to cast and give this deck some velocity. Most versions of Gift you see play creatures in these slots to trigger their Gates. This leaves the card selection tools at a minimum—not something this version needs to worry about!
This is still a Gift deck and so the creatures are very important, none more than Champion of Wits. It’s the card you desperately want to see early to dig deeper into your deck, find your Refurbishes, and set up your graveyard for the later stages. This also helps find lands and makes sure you have a great late game even if they have interaction for your big artifact. Getting up to 7 mana means Champions get eternalized and Gifts get hard cast from your hand.
Angel of Invention is the best creature to bring back from the graveyard. A Gift returning an Angel results in a 6/6 flying, lifelink, vigilance creature with haste that pumps your entire team. You can go wide and this deck can easily cast Angels from your hand. Once cast, they have to deal with it once and then deal with it again post-Gift!
The final card in the deck is perhaps the most innocuous. Sacred Cat doesn’t have the same power level as the other cards in the deck, but it serves a critical role. There are many aggressive decks in the format and Sacred Cat blocks early to gain some life. You can embalm it for more cheap blocking duties, or just wait for a Gift to come online to get yourself a 4/4 lifelink!
God-Pharaoh’s Gift is still one of the most powerful cards in Standard, and finding a great list like this one to utilize the weapon is a great place to be!