Dear Standard,

I know we haven’t been spending as much time together as we used to. It’s just, well, I’ve been so busy working on Modern and Limited for the PT I haven’t had time for you lately. I know, I know it’s a lame excuse but now that things have settled down I promise to give you the attention you deserve. I love you 4-color Rally the Ancestors.

I know we are good together and I think if we put in the effort together we could take our relationship to the next level. I’ve played a lot of decks before and now I know what I’m looking for in a deck and I’m ready to settle down exclusive:

4-Color Rally the Ancestors

“Let Me Tell You About the Birds and the Rallys”

Most of the time when people think about 4c Rally they fantasize about casting the signature spell, bringing back their ‘yard, and comboing out.

Sure, that is the most flashy aspect of the deck but not necessarily the reason I think it’s the best deck. Obviously, having a Splinter Twin-esque way to end the game with one card is a selling point, but only half the story.

Rally is much deeper and more interesting than just a clunky combo deck, because it does several things well.

The deck reminds me of another deck I used to go out with a few years ago—The Aristocrats. Aristocrats was cool but always a little too snobby for my tastes. I felt like Aristocrats was always pressuring me to be something I wasn’t:

“Come on Brian, don’t you want to be a Vampire like us? It’s soooo cool…” Settle down Falkenrath Aristocrats, you’re making me super uncomfortable. It didn’t work out, but we’re still friends.

The aspect that 4-color Rally and Aristocrats share is that both are respectable aggro decks that also have a sort of creature-based “combo” finish that gave them inevitability.

Yet, both decks had a great beatdown plan that could easily end games before the combo ever came into play. The combo is the insurance plan in case you can’t get it done inside the red zone.

What I Got You for Rallyingtine’s Day

Flowers and chocolates are cliché and I know what my deck is really into is growing as a couple. (It’s how you know it’s a keeper!)

I decided to spend some time last week focusing on us and really listened and tried to figure out what my deck needed from me, and I believe we are stronger than ever.

Reflector Mage

Obviously, Reflector Mage is the hotness. A little narcissistic (obsessed with checking itself out in the mirror all the time? WARNING SIGN) but nonetheless the card is outstanding and gives us fight against annoying creatures like Anafenza, Kalitas, and Dragons. Not bad on the play against a Jace either.

Ayli is great because it gives us another angle by virtue of providing copious amounts of life gain while also bringing the beats and having a decent-sized body for combat. I’ve gotten to use her ultimate several times already in long grindy games, so all modes play here.

Love her against red as well. We have inevitability if we don’t die and this card is very good at helping us not die.

A Little Action on the Side(board)

The sideboard and how it is used is the most compelling aspect of playing 4c Rally.

We don’t expect to see a ton of diversity in the main deck because the framework is already so potent. But things get way different once we move into the second and third games.

“You Are Never Going to Combo Me Again!”

It seems like every single time I play the deck my opponent starts boarding in 10+ cards against me. A legitimate concern. Rally is a well-known commodity to everybody familiar with Standard and if the deck didn’t require a PHD in Physics to play at an 80% clip it would make up an even larger piece of the pie.

The key is that everybody assumes game 1 is going to be unfavorable and so they sideboard a lot of hate and play for a great matchup after sideboard.

The key is that people focus on hating mostly the combo angle of the deck because they figure they can win the “fair” fight against our creatures. Perhaps that would be true if I wasn’t sideboarding into a very different creature-based deck with no reliance on the graveyard.

Out

In

Bring It All In!

The key reason for this (especially against Abzan and Jeskai decks) is that they tend to be overloaded on Hallowed Moonlight.

Moonlight is absolutely devastating to the combo plan because if we try to Rally and they give us the old Joker: “Have you ever danced in the pale moonlight?” in response, we have no choice but to exile all of the creatures that would enter the battlefield. The problem isn’t that it’s a cantripping counterspell but that it takes away our ability to Rally again by eating our ‘yard.

Rather than focus on an interactive combo-control plan, I want to bring the beatdowns. I still have the cards to fight through hate with my combo if I choose to but I’ve also got a mono-beats option as well.

Advocate is easily one of the format defining cards in Standard and I’m happy to make use of it in my sideboard.

Before Oath of the Gatewatch I had concluded that Arashin Cleric was pretty mediocre against Atarka Red. I instead chose to give all of my superhero-themed Valentines to Glade Watcher. I felt having a cheap “large” body was what I actually wanted against their tiny creatures. The 3 life wasn’t important to me as being able to actually fight with their creature profitably.

I also love the way that Advocate doubles as a clock by attacking them every turn and having vigilance to also defend.

Rallyingtine’s Day truly is a special time of the year. It is important every once and awhile to remember to show those special decks that you love that we still care and how important they are us. Spend a little time with them, get to know them all over again, figure out what they need and cash in a little store credit to get them something nice. Maybe a few new pieces of tech, or if you are really ambitious maybe even a few shiny new foils!

[Editor’s Note: This article originally had Elvish Mystic instead of Elvish Visionary in the deck list.]