I love building decks—I always have. Now that I’m not playing competitive or regular Magic, the one thing I really enjoy is exploring new ideas. When the Eldritch Moon spoilers started flowing, I saw card after card that was Standard playable. Spell Queller and Thalia, Heretic Cathar were the first two. Bant Company getting a power boost didn’t feel necessary, and I knew it would define the early period of the format. When I saw Elder Deep-Fiend, Ishkanah, Grafwidow, and Voldaren Pariah, I became optimistic about the possibility of archetypes that could compete with Collected Company.

The first card I wanted to test was Voldaren Pariah. This was the final draft of the deck before I moved on to Ishkanah, Grafwidow decks.

I really liked the Haunted DeadPrized Amalgam combination and Voldaren Pariah was very good against Collected Company decks. The deck felt strong, but I still had other ideas to test.

I knew Ishkanah, Grafwidow had potential if you could reliably get delirium by turn 5. This would be more of an issue than whether the card was good enough. It was on this quest that I found the engine that would define the rest of my deckbuilding process. Grapple with the Past and Traverse the Ulvenwald create decks that get to cut on lands because they find them, they enable delirium and flip Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy early on, and they allow you to have great power in the late game by tutoring and raising the dead.

The last cool thing that I wanted to try was the interaction between Elder Deep-Fiend and Kozilek’s Return, and it certainly did not disappoint. Tapping their lands and killing everything before untapping with a 5/6 is actually a great effect in Standard.

This is the most up-to-date version of the deck that I went 5-0 with in a couple of competitive Leagues and EFro featured in his Deck of the Day.

The deck is really good and I was recommending it to friends who were qualified for the Pro Tour. As I was tuning it, I played against someone who was using Stitchwing Skaab to bring back Prized Amalgam in a very similar shell . This made me think of combining the two decks. I knew from playing it that Haunted Dead was a lot better than Stitchwing Skaab because you use the 1/1 Spirit to chump the turn you return the Dead on a regular basis. This meant 4 colors, but I felt I could get the mana to work.

Dredge

The game plan is to use Gather the Pack, Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy, Grapple with the Past, and Traverse the Ulvenwald to smooth out the early turns of the game and fill up your graveyard. From there you take over with powerful interaction. 5 mana means you can bring back Haunted Dead, triggering Prized Amalgam, emerging Elder Deep-Fiend, and triggering Kozilek’s Return.

When you aren’t goldfishing, or when things aren’t going to plan, the deck is very tricky to pilot. You need to work out how to interact with Archangel Avacyn, which often means tapping creatures even when they are dying to Kozilek’s Return.

Knowing when to Elder Deep-Fiend is also tricky—just like Mistbind Clique, there are pros and cons of doing it on upkeep, in combat, and at end of turn. Knowing the format and how they might be able to interact is really important in this spot.

Sideboarding took me a while to work out and I still don’t have my head around it completely. The deck’s shell is pretty tight so it’s hard to sideboard everything you want. These are my current plans, but I’m not certain about them:

WW Humans

Out

In

The 3-drops are all pretty bad to cast and while they give you late-game power, you don’t need it here. Having early removal and great defensive creatures gets you to the point where Ishkanah, Grafwidow, and Elder Deep-Fiend can close the game.

Bant Company

Out

In

You sacrifice a little late-game power and consistency for defense since you’ve favored going long.

Bant Humans

Out

In

This plan is a mix of the previous two. You can’t afford to cut all your Prized Amalgams like you can against WW Humans, but you do need Gnarlwood Dryad to combat their enormous cheap creatures.

UW Spirits

Out

In

Similar to Bant Company, but Rending Volley is really good.

GW Tokens

Out

In

The games play out so differently that it’s hard to know what cards are going to be the most impactful. The matchup is complicated and favorable and this plan has been working, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a better approach.

BW Control

Out

In

This one is straightforward—you side in things that make sure your deck will work through a discard spell or two. Be careful about Brisela, Voice of Nightmares and Hallowed Moonlight as these are the ways you can actually lose an otherwise great matchup.

The Mirror Match

Out

In

This is speculative as I haven’t played any games. I’m really not certain about how things will play out but I know it will be very messy.

As far as the list goes, I haven’t loved Noose Constrictor or Just the Wind. A learned colleague suggested Oath of Jace and I think that has a lot of merit. The deck is so powerful in the midgame that it can afford to sacrifice early turns to set up. I’m pretty unsure about these slots, the Snake plays defense really well against the aggressive decks so I think you want 3 somewhere in the 75.

This deck is really good and I think Standard is better for having a combo deck. If you love doing broken complicated things, then this might be the list for you. Just make sure you get in enough games to feel comfortable with all the things it can do.