Raise Your Standards – Pro Tour Ixalan Innovations


Hello and welcome to another episode of Raise Your Standards.  This past weekend was Pro Tour Ixalan and I’d like to say “Congratulations!” to Seth Manfield.  He took first place with his Sultai Energy deck.  If you’ll recall, I predicted that Sultai Energy would be the winning deck at the Pro Tour a couple of weeks ago, and Seth didn’t let me down.  Let’s start by taking a look at his deck.


Sultai Energy – (by Seth Manfield)

CreaturesHostage Taker


LandsAttune with Aether



While Seth’s version of the Sultai Energy deck is slightly different from the one I presented to you a couple of weeks ago, all of the important cards are there.  Hostage Taker proves once again just how powerful it is.  I’m hoping to get to play this deck in the next week or so, but I’ll have to hurry before other people begin playing Glorybringer in large numbers again.

Since the winning deck at the Pro Tour is written about by a lot of the other content creators on the mainstream sites, I won’t rehash what those writers have already said.  Instead I’ll look through the other decklists from the PT in my effort to bring you innovation in Standard.  First up, let’s take a look at a deck that feels like it would have been a thing a Pro Tour or two ago.  Here’s W/U Cycling.


White-Blue Cycling – (by Boussaud Eliott)

SpellsDrake Haven

LandsSettle the Wreckage



Beyond a couple of lands, Search for Azcanta, and Settle the Wreckage, this deck has been possible for a while.  And ever since it was spoiled, people have been looking for a way to break Drake Haven.  This deck does a great job of doing just that.  In game 1, Drake Haven is your sole win condition.  Many opponents won’t see it coming, and even if they do, it can be difficult to get it off the battlefield once Drake Haven resolves.  In sideboarded games, adding Sunscourge Champion and/or The Scarab God offers you additional ways to win while confounding your opponent who likely boarded out creature removal cards.

The next deck I’d like to take a look at features a lot of cards from Ixalan.  It’s called Mono-White Vampires.


Mono-White Vampires – (by Wilson Hunter)

CreaturesMavren Fein, Dusk Apostle


LandsIxalan's Binding



This wasn’t the only build of mono-white vampires to do well at the PT, but after playing a vampire-based tribal deck at my local Friday Night Magic a few weeks ago, I think this build is definitely the right way to go.  Mavren Fein, Dusk Apostle is an incredible card that provides you with a potentially endless stream of Vampire tokens.  I also love the combination of removal spells that this deck plays.  Cast Out, Ixalan’s Binding, and Thopter Arrest are all great solutions for singularly troubling permanents.

The next deck I’d like to look at is as far away from mono-white as it can be.  Let’s take a look at Mono-Black Aggro.


Mono-Black Aggro – (by Andrejs Prost)

CreaturesGlint-Sleeve Siphoner


LandsWalk the Plank



Glint-Sleeve Siphoner shows why it’s such a good card, allowing you to gain card advantage with additional draws each turn.  And with good reason card advantage has long been held as one of the foundations for winning a game.  This deck also utilizes Bone Picker which can be played on the cheap as long as a creature died this turn.  It doesn’t matter if it was your creature or your opponent’s.  With all of the removal you have in this deck, it’s likely to be your opponent’s, but you can always sacrifice a creature to Yahenni, Undying Partisan if you need to.

The next deck I have for you uses black mana in conjunction with blue and red in an attempt to slow things down until victory can be achieved.  Let’s take a look at Grixis Control.


Grixis Control – (by Shaheen Soorani)

CreaturesThe Scarab God


LandsHour of Devastation



While Grixis Control isn’t exactly a new kid on the block, it hasn’t seen much play recently.  Maybe this version played by control master Shaheen Soorani will spark a bit of a renaissance for this deck.  Part of me wishes that this deck could find a way to include Hostage Taker, since there are some decks that play artifacts that this deck might have trouble with.

The next deck I have for you is another blast from the past.  Let’s take a look at G/U Pummeler.


Green-Blue Pummeler – (by Patrick Dickmann)

CreaturesElectrostatic Pummeler


LandsBlossoming Defense



Way back when Kaladesh came out I was thoroughly trounced by a R/G Pummeler deck.  Ever since then, I’ve had a special place in my heart for Electrostatic Pummeler.  At its heart, this is an energy deck that attempts to funnel all of its energy into the Pummeler for one great alpha strike.  Larger Than Life and One With the Wind can help get the Pummeler’s damage where you want it to go, directly to your opponent’s life total (instead of into one of their chump blockers).  Also Dive Down is a nice addition to the deck, with it and Blossoming Defense offering you protection from most of your opponent’s removal spells.

The final deck I have for you from the Pro Tour swaps the blue cards for some white ones.  Let’s take a look at G/W Aggro.


Green-White Aggro – (by Eduardo Vieira)

CreaturesOviya Pashiri, Sage Lifecrafter


LandsLegion's Landing



If you like playing G/W token decks, this is a good deck for you to try out.  Oviya Pashiri, Sage Lifecrafter is a card that I’ve wanted to play for a long time.  While her stats might not be that great, her ability to make absurdly large tokens in the late game certainly is.  I also like the inclusion of Oketra the True, who should be able to attack and block whenever you should desire.  This looks like a fun deck to play.

Wrapping Up

In my opinion, Pro Tour Ixalan was very successful.  I was initially concerned that it would be a boring affair since it was taking place so long after the new set premiered, but even with a large portion of the field being energy-based decks, the Top 8 had 7 different archetypes represented.  Also, as this article has shown, there was plenty of innovation taking place outside of the Top 8.  What do you think?  Let me know by leaving a comment.  Or you can reply to me directly on Twitter (@mikelikesmtg), or email me directly at mikelikesmtg@gmail.com.  Also, don’t forget to like our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/MTGDeckTechs/) to be sure to be notified when a new article is posted.

Be sure to join me again next week for another installment of Raise Your Standards.  I’ll see you then!

Mike Likes


Mike Likes

Mike Likes

Mike started playing Magic back in 1994, but gave it up at the end of 1995. He came back to the game during the Lorwyn block and has been playing ever since. Around this time, he opened and ran his own comic & game store, while also raising his newborn daughter. After 8 years, he sold his business and moved to Wisconsin with his wife and daughter. With the debut of Kaladesh, his entire family became regular Magic players. He now has hopes of competing alongside his wife and daughter at a Grand Prix or similar event in the future. #MTGDad

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