4-Color Rally the Ancestors

STRACA3 5­-0 in an MTGO Standard League

This is the same Rally the Ancestors combo deck that rose to prominence a few weeks ago with an impressive performance on the European Grand Prix circuit. This version of Rally is My Pick of the Week because there was substantially fewer maindeck Dispels and the deck has proven itself to be a consistent performer despite the existence of Anafenza, the Foremost as a 4-of staple.

I spent a fair bit of time recently just scrolling through winning Standard decks from Grand Prix and Magic Online and I was really shocked at how few people had counterspells in the main deck—often 0-2 main and 0-4 sideboard. Which means that even under the most hateful of circumstances you would play against people who had 5 or 6 after sideboard—which isn’t all that bad, considering that Rally and Collected Company are both must-­counter cards.

I saw a version recently with one copy of Liliana, Heretical Healer over the fourth copy of Grim Haruspex and I recommend that moving forward. Drawing two Liliana is horrible and a much more common downside to the card is hitting two off a Collected Company or hitting one once you already have one in play, so the diminishing returns on the card are severe. That cost is eliminated by only playing one, and you can do enough with Nantuko Husk and Sidisi’s Faithful that I feel its inclusion is warranted. It’s a common but powerful interaction to get Liliana active with Sidisi’s Faithful—effectively creating a planeswalker that reads “-­1: return target creature to its owner’s hand” since you can sacrifice the Sidisi’s Faithful and rebuy it. You may remember this from such cards as oh I don’t know Jace, the Mind Sculptor?

One thing people seem to forget about this deck is that it contains 4 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy which is an important-though-non-essential piece of the combo. It does mean that in some percentage of games you get to play exactly the same strategy as the other great decks in the format by just having the uncontested best card in the format. Even today I feel strongly that Jace is the best card in standard and there’s an extremely high correlation between activating it’s ability and winning the game.

I’ve also always been a huge fan of Elvish Visionary. He goes under-appreciated but it’s just an extremely high quality card. When it’s an 0/4 people call it Wall of Omens and put it in their Modern decks as a 4­-of. In Legacy it’s played in combination with Wirewood Symbiote and it’s a killer card draw engine that defines that deck.

I tried Elvish Visionary in Standard and I was underwhelmed, but that’s largely because there aren’t many 1-toughness creatures in the format, so the body is less useful. In this deck, however, you can make good use of the 1/1 and with Zulaport Cutthroat, Nantuko Husk, Catacomb Sifter, and Grim Haruspex there’s always a need for extra creatures. The point of all of this is that Elvish Visionary is awesome but needs the right staff of supporting characters for it to shine, and the 4-­color Rally deck provides exactly that. So when considering this deck, know that it’s not a collection of bad cards that make the combo work it’s actually just awesome cards like Elvish Visionary and Jace.

The two largest concerns for this deck are Dispel and Anafenza, the Foremost but between the fetch and battlelands you have a somewhat solid reliable 4-color manabase which means you have excellent sideboard options. You can play Murderous Cut in large numbers or even things like Fleshbag Marauder or Valorous Stance if your chief concern is Anafenza. Duress and or Dispels of your own are totally reasonable answers to counterspells as well.

I would caution against sideboarding in too many cards for any specific matchup, since diluting your deck is a big worry when you play with 4 copies of Collected Company. That’s part of the genius behind the Sidisi’s Faithful in the maindeck, they act as a solution to Anafenza and can be returned with Rally or found with Company.

On top of that it’s just a fine card—Unsummon has been Constructed playable from time to time and it has added utility in that it can remove blockers to clear the way for Nantuko Husk to go through unblocked, which almost always results in a win.

This deck is in a great position right now in the metagame and I would play it this weekend if I had a major Standard tournament coming up, but it requires practice to master as there are a ton of triggered abilities to track, and maximizing the power of all of your abilities is no simple task. Despite the high deck difficulty I would recommend it, as I’ve seen even less experienced players fumble their way through big Rally turns and still win despite some missed opportunities because the deck is so strong and the power of the combo is so high.

Videos (Josh McClain)