This week I have something special for you—with all the Theros spoilers, my brew-juices have been flowing. I’ve always liked this framework for white weenie, but it never quite seemed right for old Standard.
4 Judge’s Familiar
4 Suntail Hawk
4 Dryad Militant
4 Soldier of the Pantheon
4 Precinct Captain
4 Sin Collector
4 Spear of Heliod
4 Brave the Elements
4 Heliod, God of the Sun
4 Godless Shrine
4 Temple of Silence
4 Banisher Preist
4 Rootborn Defenses
3 Keening Apparation
4 Boros Reckoner[/deck]
Spear of Heliod is an incredible card, and for as long as I can remember, [card]Glorious Anthem[/card] and [card]Honor of the Pure[/card] have been staples whenever they were legal.
Just look at the list LSV used to get 2nd place at Pro Tour Kyoto:
4 Arcane Sanctum
4 Fetid Heath
4 Caves of Koilos
4 Windbrisk Heights
4 Reflecting Pool
4 Knight of Meadowgrain
4 Kitchen Finks
4 Cloudgoat Ranger
4 Tidehollow Sculler
4 Glorious Anthem
3 Ajani Goldmane
4 Spectral Procession
1 Ajani Goldmane
2 Wrath of God
3 Burrenton Forge-Tender
3 Path to Exile
2 Head Games
1 Celestial Purge
2 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
Spear of Heliod has a strange activated ability, and I can’t imagine it will get activated very often. The ability is really just gravy, and I would put it in this deck even without it—having an Anthem is a good way to justify playing basically any creature. As you can see, it helped LSV play a card as marginal as [card]Knight of Meadowgrain[/card]. With even a slight boost, many creatures become much more playable. That lifelink becomes better than it was before, a creature that deals 3 damage and gains 3 life a turn is almost immeasurably better than one that is dealing 2 a turn. It’s hard to see the precise impact at a glance, but it’s enormous. There is almost no doubt in my mind that without [card]Glorious Anthem[/card] to help, Luis would have looked elsewhere for a 2-drop creature.
[card]Sin Collector[/card] does a very good [card]Tidehollow Sculler[/card] impersonation. I immediately noticed a glaring weakness to [card]Supreme Verdict[/card] while deckbuilding, and [card]Sin Collector[/card] alleviates that problem. During my preparation for the last Pro Tour I built many midrange decks that had 4 [card]Sin Collector[/card] maindeck, because I appreciated its ability to singlehandedly alter any control matchup while also giving you a reasonable and solid tool against Selesnya decks playing [card]Advent of the Wurm[/card] and [card]Rootborn Defenses[/card]. Even against a mono-red aggro deck you can strip them of a [card]Magma Jet[/card] if they’re tapped low and trade off with a [card]Burning-Tree Emissary[/card]. I don’t care who you are or how fast your opponent is, a 2-for-1 is always welcome. Overall, it’s a disruptive effect that contributes to the beatdown plan, makes good use of Spear of Heliod, and provides devotion to Heliod, God of the Sun.
A lot of people dismiss [card]Suntail Hawk[/card] out of hand, but I am quite fond of it. I recognize that it’s a low power level card, but it clearly can be a good card. People love [card]Lingering Souls[/card] and [card]Spectral Procession[/card], but for my money, and value aside, I’d rather pay one mana for a 1/1 flying creature than having to pay 3 to get two, there’s more to life than value right? Plus, [card]Vault Skirge[/card] sees play in Modern, so clearly a small creature can be playable for more reasons than just the words in its text box.
When your game plan is to swarm with small, evasive creatures, you could do much worse than this little guy. [card]Supreme Verdict[/card] aside, it can be quite difficult to just ignore a creature that comes down early and is not blocked. Even in draws that don’t have a [card]Glorious Anthem[/card], if you play a [card]Suntail Hawk[/card] on turn 1 against control and they never cast [card]Supreme Verdict[/card], then it will usually deal 7 or 8 damage. Obviously, it’s hard to envision a game in which [card]Supreme Verdict[/card] does not get cast, but you have [card]Sin Collector[/card] and sideboard [card]Rootborn Defenses[/card].
[card]Judge’s Familiar[/card] would already warrant an inclusion even without his ability to counter spells, so the fact that he can do that is wonderful. I have done almost everything in my power to push the mana curve of the deck as low as possible, and having 8 copies of [card]Suntail Hawk[/card] helps a ton. Although [card]Judge’s Familiar[/card] can’t counter [card]Supreme Verdict[/card], it can counter [card]Sphinx’s Revelation[/card] as well as stuff like [card]Far // Away[/card] and basically any spell the control deck wants to resolve. It gives them a choice between trading one of their best cards with a lowly 1/1 or time walking themselves—both options are appealing to a deck like this one.
[card]Dryad Militant[/card] isn’t a particularly exciting card to put in the deck for its ability to remove cards from graveyards—off the top of my head, it doesn’t disrupt anything we care about. The days of [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card] and [card]Unburial Rites[/card] are over, but the days of [card]Savannah Lions[/card] are back and I for one welcome them with open arms.
Soldier of the Pantheon, well then this is interesting. This [card]Savannah Lions[/card] means business! So not only is this card exactly what we want, it offers up an excellent answer to red aggressive decks. [card]Rakdos Cackler[/card]? [card]Burning-Tree Emissary[/card]? Stop right in your tracks, because you can’t ever get in a good attack again. It is also quite good against a Golgari deck that is trying to win with cards like [card]varolz, the scar-striped[/card] and [card]Dreg Mangler[/card]—good luck trying to kill him with an [card]Abrupt Decay[/card] or [card]Putrefy[/card].
[card]Precinct Captain[/card] has impressed me since the last Pro Tour, where I saw people playing blue-white solely to have better mana to cast this card from the main deck. I saw people sideboard it in for the control mirror match and even to stop mono-red dead in its tracks. Not only do I think that [card]Precinct Captain[/card] is great on its own, but it’s also one of the best reasons to even play the color white. If it isn’t being blocked, it isn’t that different than something like [card]Bitterblossom[/card]. It offers unique value in a deck trying to get devotion to white as well.
I also like the synergy between [card]Precinct Captain[/card] and [card]Rootborn Defenses[/card], since they both work so naturally against control together. You stick a [card]Precinct Captain[/card] against control, and sit back without committing more to the board while applying serious pressure. The fact that he comes pre-packaged with a way to make tokens to populate is icing on the cake. It’s funny how good [card]Rootborn Defenses[/card] is against [card]Supreme Verdict[/card], because when you can populate the opposing player actually takes more damage as a result, so there is a serious risk in casting the Verdict.
[draft]brave the elements[/draft]
[card]Brave the Elements[/card] is a legitimate draw to white in this format as well, and when you can turn on Heliod the last thing you want to see happen is for it to just be removed from the board so easily by a card like [card]Detention Sphere[/card] or [card]Azorius Charm[/card], which you’d better believe you’re going to face often in the new world of Standard. Once again, we’re talking about a card that does not help against [card]Supreme Verdict[/card], but it does help against almost literally everything else you are going to come up against, and [card]Brave the Elements[/card] is a hard card to evaluate since it does so much so often.
Using BtE as a [card]Falter[/card] will happen many times each tournament and cannot be understated. This acts as a [card]Falter[/card], a [card]Dispel[/card], and even a [card]Negate[/card] when it counters something like a [card]Mizzium Mortars[/card]. It even has powerful implications as a defensive card, because it means if the opponent attacks with too many creatures then you can block them all, use it as a fog, and hopefully win on the crack back, whereas if they attack with too few creatures they allow you to gang-block one bigger creature and finish it off. [card]Brave the Elements[/card] is like the Swiss Army Knife of spells.
I very badly wanted to put [card]Banisher Priest[/card] in the main deck, and it’s certainly possible that in the optimal build of this deck that’s where he belongs, but I had a little too much strain on my 3-casting-cost slot and wanted to alleviate some of that pressure by relegating the removal to the sideboard. [card]Banisher Priest[/card] is the benchmark for what an aggressive deck wants, and as far back as I can remember I’ve seen Craig Wescoe smashing people with [card]Fiend Hunter[/card]s and [card]Leonin Relic-Warder[/card]s. [card]Banisher Priest[/card] is made even more powerful now that you can use [card]Brave the Elements[/card] to protect it from an instant-speed removal spell that could potentially blow you out in combat. I also like that it’s a removal spell that has no qualms about what it kills or whether that creature does something sweet when it dies.
[card]Boros Reckoner[/card] is another card that I thought could have merit in the main deck, but I chose to leave him in the sideboard for now. He does some serious work against mono-red and Gruul since they have no real way to remove it from the board without facing the wrath of his ability. Not to mention, he is as close as it gets to Devotion-In-A-Can, as long as you control [card]Boros Reckoner[/card], Heliod, God of the Sun, and any white permanent you’re going to make Heliod a very happy God that will smash your opponents face for 5.
I put [card]Keening Apparition[/card] in the sideboard purely out of speculation that I think enchantments will be a major player in the Standard. If people are leaning heavily on enchantments then this will be a perfect sideboard card, but remember that while the God cards are enchantments, they are also all indestructible.
Personally, I can’t wait to play more with this deck against the top dogs of new Standard. I think it’s an excellent starting point for abusing Heliod, God of the Sun.
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