Welcome back, Standard! You have been missed. While I’m not sure if the format is as healthy as it should be, I think it’s healthy enough, and that’s the important part—perception, right? Even though we only get to see 5 decks from each Magic Online League now, there seem to be plenty of viable decks thanks to Hour of Devastation, and the deck I’m looking at today is quite spicy.

You may remember a friend Case I’ve mentioned in previous articles, who provides me with sweet Standard decks from time to time. This is one of those times.

U/B Cycling

Now I’m usually very big on giving credit where credit is due in terms of decks, but I’m also usually only working off the information I have. To the best of my knowledge, this is a deck Case created, but if not, I’m sure he’ll let me know.

The obvious goal here is to cycle cards until you can activate your Gate to the Afterlife, search out a God-Pharaoh’s Gift, then get back 4/4s until you dominate the game. Archfiend of Ifnir should also be a boss in the deck with all the 1-mana cyclers. I’m excited about trying this deck out, as it looks nothing like anything else I’ve seen in Standard, which is right in my wheelhouse. (What the heck is a wheelhouse anyway?)

One thing I would definitely like to change is the number of Strategic Planning. This card was presumably intended for two purposes: Fixing your draws and getting creatures into the graveyard. But in most of my games I found I was doing just fine without them. I would like to see more spot removal, and maybe more Gifted Aetherborns. While they don’t cycle, they’re extremely efficient and they also count as creatures in your graveyard for Gate to the Afterlife and God-Pharaoh’s Gift. And getting back a 4/4 Gifted Aetherborn with God-Pharaoh’s Gift is just sweet—after all, they both have “gift” in their names!

I was also super impressed by Champion of Wits. This is a card that seems underwhelming until you play with it, at which point you realize how utterly bonkers it is. It’s bonkers. Not only does it fill your graveyard while it helps you hit land drops and artifacts, it’s also a creature itself. And when it’s brought back with a God-Pharaoh’s Gift it’s basically like you eternalized it, allowing you to draw 4 cards and discard 2. I’m pretty sure it’s easily better than Strategic Planning in the deck since it puts a body on the board, in the graveyard, and lets you fix your draws.

Considering there aren’t many (if any) cards that exile artifacts, I think you’re actually pretty safe cutting 1 God-Pharaoh’s Gift from the main deck. Gate to the Afterlife can find it anywhere, after all. The one issue this presents is if it gets locked under something like a Cast Out, but I’m not entirely sure that’s worth having a second 7-mana artifact in the deck. If you up the count of Champion of Wits, I think it could be fine because it’s easy to discard it.

This deck was a blast to play and the hardest part about it was definitely sideboarding. Every card seems relevant, and I hate the idea of cutting cycling creatures! I finally decided that Strategic Planning was the best card to cut in most situations. That being said, if I had to play the deck again, I would cut all the Plannings, add 3 Champion of Wits, and add one more Grasp of Darkness. I think that’s where you want to be.

Anyway, that’s about all I have for now, but that’s a ton for reading and I’ll catch you all later!