#1 – Unburial Rites

[draft]Unburial Rites[/draft]

Last time, I said that [card]Unburial Rites[/card] was among the best things you could be doing in Standard. Almost all the Standard played since then has born this out, and until people show they can stop these decks, there’s no way you can put anything else at the top. Until you break the streak, there’s nothing to talk about. My hope is that people go back toward the powerful aggro plans that kept the deck in check to begin with, or at least back toward more Islands, but who knows.

#2 – Angel of Serenity

[draft]Angel of Serenity[/draft]

This is the other reason Junk Reanimator is a dominant strategy in the format. While buying back [card]Thragtusk[/card] over and over will beat creature decks, [card]Angel of Serenity[/card] plowing two of your guys and buying back a [card]Centaur Healer[/card] or [card]Thragtusk[/card] is just game over against fair decks. If they get two going, even fair control strategies have major issues outlasting the cycle of Angels and Beasts. Meanwhile, in fair decks, Angel of Serenity is merely one of the best control finishers.

Graveyard hate can at least neuter her recursion abilities to run Junk out of cards, so there’s more than one reason to play hate in your board. Otherwise, your best shot is not killing her, but borrowing her for a turn with [card]Zealous Conscripts[/card] or going around her with [card]Gruul Charm[/card].

#3 – Olivia Voldaren

[draft]Olivia Voldaren[/draft]

Jund feels overplayed for how well it performs, but you do have the upside of playing Olivia in your deck. She breaks open any creature match and can dominate the game if she isn’t immediately dealt with. While fast aggro decks may have been beaten down, you’ll still see them early in tournaments and she remains strong in any match involving creatures. I’m honestly surprised not to see other BRx decks outside of Jund, just because of access to Olivia and the flexible removal suite.

#4 – Prime Speaker Zegana

[draft]Prime Speaker Zegana[/draft]

She’s finally gotten a chance to shine in Bant, and I’m really glad to see a 6-drop with a heavy impact in Standard. She provides a nice draw engine and a beefy threat. While the mana cost is still limiting, the recent success of the Bant midrange decks can largely be attributed to her and [card]Loxodon Smiter[/card].

#5 – Sphinx’s Revelation

[draft]Sphinx’s Revelation[/draft]

Realistically one of the only reasons to play UW. A while ago, I would’ve listed [card]Supreme Verdict[/card] as a great reason, but as time goes on, only Revelation has remained compelling.

#6 – Rakdos’s Return

[draft]Rakdos’s Return[/draft]

I talked about it in my last article and I’ll rehash here—Return is one of the few uniquely powerful cards you can play in Standard. Only Angel of Serenity and Sphinx’s Revelation can produce the kind of swing Return is capable of in midrange and control mirrors. It remains one of the primary weapons Jund has against other slow decks and blasting a pair of removal spells into [card]Blightning[/card] can still end the game against an aggro player.

#7 – Thragtusk

[draft]Thragtusk[/draft]

Still had all this swag. Tusk.

#8 – Obzedat, Ghost Council

[draft]Obzedat, Ghost Council[/draft]

This card has been the bane of my existence when boarding against Esper and Junk decks alike. Any deck that can support the mana cost usually has a pair or more of these guys in the sideboard, and they remain very difficult to deal with. Unless you play The Aristocrats, odds are you don’t have all that many removal options that actually deal with the Council. Worse still, it can race most of the format, forcing you to either hold back or get in with awkward attacks where you could lose the race to any piece of removal.