4.5-Color Rites, Combo Rites, or whatever else you call it, has taken Standard by storm in the last two weeks. Originally designed by East West Bowl member Tommy ‘’Mastermind’’ Ashton 3 weeks prior to Pro Tour Shadows over Innistrad, the deck only took off after the event.

We didn’t pull the trigger at the time because we didn’t like our White Weenie matchup, which was one of the top expected decks back then. Also, we couldn’t come up with a sideboard that made sense, especially in an unexplored field.

Once the metagame established, White Weenie vanished and GW Tokens clearly became the most played deck—that’s exactly when we brought back East West Rites from the ashes. We came up with a transformational sideboard to beat the control decks that were playing sweepers and we were ready to rock GP Toronto.

We placed three in the Top 32 and teammate Ben Weitz Top 8’d the MOCS from the comfort of his bedroom. We honestly didn’t think that these results would put the deck that much on the map, but apparently it was the most played deck on Day 1 of GP New York.

In the week leading up to Grand Prix New York, a good friend of mine coming from France chasing silver, Louis-Samuel Deltour, crashed at my place in Quebec City and we mastered the Rites deck over the week.

4c Rites

There were a few differences between the whole team sideboards, mostly because of how restrictive it is to sideboard with this deck. Collected Company is the best card in Standard but forces you to keep a high number of hits and makes every single sideboard card questionable.

Matchups

GW Tokens

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This is your single best matchup in Standard. Eldrazi Displacer kills tokens, Hangarback Walkers, and keeps Archangel Avacyn from flipping. Add Reflector Mage to the equation and Sylvan Advocate looks stupid. They aren’t very fast and your deck punishes slow starts by amassing an insurmountable board state—they are also low on removal which lets you combo in peace.

After sideboard it gets trickier—they can realistically win with Tragic Arrogance. There are ways to play around it: don’t overextend, prioritize Duskwatch Recruiters activations to reload after they wrath you, keepCollected Company in your hand and actively look for a Negate by scrying with Catacomb Sifter and/or blinking Elvish Visionary.

One random tip is to always double-block their Sylvan Advocate to make them cast their Dromoka’s Command. That way, you can cast Cryptolith Rite safely the following turn.

Bant Company

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This is another good matchup, but it’s not as easy as GW and in fact, it is super hard to play and often goes to time. They have access to Reflector Mage and Bounding Krasis, which makes blocking a nightmare and stops you from ever being able to make aggressive plays to try and close the game quickly. I recommend playing the matchup over and over to reduce the time you spend thinking so you can actually play 3 games in 50 minutes.

Just like GW, their sideboards include a few Tragic Arrogance, so playing around it and/or finding Negate is a priority.

Grixis Control

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This deck is fairly new. It was originally designed by Olivier Tiu and he Top 8’d GP Toronto with it, which instantly made the deck one of the most played in New York. I spent hours in between Toronto and last weekend playing the matchup and it is surprisingly better than I thought for East West Rites. Pre-board they are slightly favored, especially if they run more than 1 Radiant Flames—otherwise, a Reflector Mage on Kalitas is often game over.

Post-board they go up to 3 or 4 Radiant Flames, which is actually not too bad for you because Reality Smasher is your number one threat. They are forced to keep in Ruinous Path, which is simply awful but necessary to kill Smasher. Sylvan Advocate is insane when you are on 6 lands because it’s huge, but also because it leaves you mana for Collected Company or any other creature.

White Weenie

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I haven’t faced the matchup in 30 rounds of GPs and 20 rounds of Leagues of MTGO, so this is all theory. I played pre-board games when testing for the Pro Tour but while I’m certain you want these 5 cards in, I’m not convinced on what to take out. As far as games go, don’t keep slow hands. You lose games where you get run over, but never lose if you go late game.

I know for a fact that comboing is not necessary. Locking them with Displacer and Reflector is enough—the bodies that Brood Monitor provides are both great at blocking and making mana with Cryptolith Rite so that’s where my uncertainty comes from. Elvish Visionary doesn’t block super well once they have an anthem, which is why you want Sylvan Advocate, not to mention that it becomes your win condition once you have them on lock down. Ascetic deals with Always Watching and Silkwrap or Stasis Snare—the ability to blink it is pretty sweet.

BG Rites

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This matchup sort of plays out the same as White Weenie—you only lose when they get super fast starts. In this case, double Zulaport Cuttroath + Nantuko Husk + Blisterpods draws. Once you put them on lockdown with Reflector Mage and Eldrazi Displacer, you make sure they never have Husk and Zulaport in play at the same time.

Cryptolith Rite is of course the best card from both sides and so Enlightened Ascetic is pretty good.

WB Control

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WB decks are generally your worst matchups because they run sweepers as well as answers to Ormendahl, Profane Prince, Reality Smasher, and 4/5 Sylvan Advocates in the form of Anguished Unmaking, Declaration in Stone, and Stasis Snare, something Grixis and Ramp don’t have access to.

The sideboarding is a little ambiguous because there is no consensus list out yet. But if you want to consider Seth’s winning 75 as one, that’s how I would sideboard. If you are playing against a list with creatures main deck and more midrange than control, consider boarding in less Reality Smasher and Sylvan Advocate, and keep a few combo pieces.

Esper Dragons

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The matchup should technically be unfavored because they have sweepers, yet, their deck is so clunky and slow that it might actually be even pre-board. Their only answers to Ormendahl is Foul-Tongue Invocation so your priority should be to flip the Abbey as fast as possible while keeping a creature or two around.

Post-board, your plan works perfectly. You don’t want Negate because they have a fair number of creatures, Reality Smasher is phenomenal, etc. It plays out similar to the Grixis matchup.

Ramp/Goggles Ramp

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This matchups is all about trying to fire Westvale Abbey as fast as possible. They have no way to beat it outside World Breaker, so just hold it in your hand until you have 5 creatures and that should do it. Outside of the Abbey plan, your matchup is not good game 1—between all of their removal and sweepers it’s hard to ever combo.

After sideboard, you get a lot better. Reality Smasher and discard spells go a long way. Sylvan Advocates aren’t great mostly because World Breakers eat your lands, but they are still reasonable at not dying to the Kozilek’s Return front side. I only bring in 1 Negate because I don’t want the full 4 Advocates and it does a good job against Chandra, Fall of the Titans, and Hedron Archive. Don’t be too greedy—your deck isn’t well positioned to play a reactive game and keeping Negate up can be really bad. Don’t bring more than 1.

BG Petition

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Game 1 is atrocious for you—they have access to 8 Languish because of Dark Petition and their late game is unbeatable. There isn’t much to say besides wishing you luck at drawing a lot of Collected Company.

This sideboard was primarily designed to beat this exact deck. I could not ever beat them with the combo so I had to use a transformational sideboard. Negate is great against them since they are sitting on expensive sorcery spells, Reality Smasher can hardly be killed, discard is amazing, and Sylvan Advocate goes a long way toward beating Grasp of Darkness and Languish.

Mirror Match

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You are basically goldfishing. Whoever has Cryptolith Rite is super ahead, comboing is king, Reflector Maging combo pieces is important, and attacking is overrated.

Going forward, facing the mirror will become a reality. Having a second Enlightened Ascetic might be good—other than that, I’m not sure. Transgress the Mind and Thought-Knot Seer are okay but they come at a real cost as they make your Collected Company worse and do not help you when you are behind.