Raise Your Standards – PTQ Innovations and Decklists

Hello, and welcome to another episode of Raise Your Standards.  Last weekend there was a PTQ on Magic Online so we’ll be taking a look at a few of the innovative decks that were in the Top 32 of this tournament.  Let’s get started.

Golgari Menagerie

The first deck I have for you this week showcases Gruesome Menagerie.  Let’s take a look at it.

Golgari Menagerie - (by CIOTTIX)

Main Deck Sideboard
1 x Doom Whisperer
1 x Golgari Findbroker
2 x Izoni, Thousand-Eyed
4 x Jadelight Ranger
4 x Llanowar Elves
4 x Merfolk Branchwalker
1 x Molderhulk
4 x Plaguecrafter
2 x Ravenous Chupacabra
4 x Seekers' Squire
4 x Wildgrowth Walker
3 x Find // Finality
4 x Gruesome Menagerie

8 x Forest
2 x Memorial to Folly
4 x Overgrown Tomb
4 x Swamp
4 x Woodland Cemetery
1 x Ravenous Chupacabra
2 x Cast Down
2 x Deadeye Tracker
3 x Duress
3 x Kraul Harpooner
1 x Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar
3 x Plague Mare

Jadelight Ranger   Ravenous Chupacabra   Gruesome Menagerie

At the heart of this deck lies the explore mechanic.  You’ll want to utilize those times you explore to put creatures into your graveyard.  That will help fuel the remainder of your deck to take advantage of the undergrowth ability.  It also provides you with the potential to maximize Gruesome Menagerie once you play it.  It’s still very playable if you’re not getting full value by returning three creatures to the battlefield, as you might be able to return a creature or two that have explore and can set up the next Gruesome Menagerie you cast.

This deck looks to be fully embracing the Golgari lifestyle as it doesn’t mind losing its creatures when it blocks.  However, when doing so, you’ll still want to try to double block so that you’re also killing the opponent’s creature as well.  Once your creatures have gone to the graveyard, they’re still helping your deck by enabling larger creatures such as Molderhulk to be cast easier or by creating multiple insects when you cast Izoni, Thousand-Eyed.  They also have the ability to return from the dead thanks to the signature card in the deck, Gruesome Menagerie.  It’s the true circle of life with this deck.

One key card you’ll always want to get onto the battlefield as soon as possible is Wildgrowth Walker.  The expectation is that you’ll be doing a lot of exploring with this deck, and that can lead to having a huge Wildgrowth Walker on the battlefield as well as increasing your life total by a significant amount.

Naya Dinosaurs

Our next deck utilizes a few of the powerful dinosaurs from Ixalan along with some other powerful pickups from more recent sets.  Let’s take a look at Naya Dinosaurs.

Naya Dinosaurs - (by NARADANA)

Main Deck Sideboard
4 x Carnage Tyrant
3 x Kraul Harpooner
1 x Reclamation Sage
1 x Shalai, Voice of Plenty
4 x Steel Leaf Champion
4 x Territorial Allosaurus
3 x Thrashing Brontodon
3 x Untamed Kavu

2 x Banefire
4 x Commune with Dinosaurs
4 x Deafening Clarion
1 x Fight with Fire
2 x Thunderherd Migration
8 x Forest
1 x Mountain
1 x Plains
4 x Rootbound Crag
3 x Sacred Foundry
1 x Sunpetal Grove
4 x Temple Garden
2 x Timber Gorge
1 x Kraul Harpooner
1 x Reclamation Sage
1 x Shalai, Voice of Plenty
4 x Fiery Cannonade
2 x Legion Warboss
2 x Nullhide Ferox
2 x Tilonalli's Summoner
2 x Vivien Reid

Carnage Tyrant   Deafening Clarion   Territorial Allosaurus

In this deck, Deafening Clarion is the bee’s knees.  The majority of the creatures in this deck can withstand taking the three points of damage this card causes, and the life that you can gain when they have lifelink will quickly get out of hand.  Even if your opponent has a few creatures that stick around after Deafening Clarion resolves, by attacking with lifelink you ensure that you’ll still gain an advantage even if they manage to block and kill some of your creatures.  Because of Deafening Clarion, you’ll usually want to wait to cast Untamed Kavu until you can pay the kicker cost for it so you can ensure that it survives Deafening Clarion.

The best way to finish the game in the event that your large dinosaurs can’t get the job done is with Banefire.  Usually if the game has stalled, you can cast Banefire to deal anywhere from 6-8 points of uncounterable, unpreventable damage.  That should be enough in most instances.


The final deck I have to share with you this week is an Izzet deck that is both controlling and aggressive.  Let’s take a look at Counterburn.

Counterburn - (by GRANTFLY)

Main Deck Sideboard
4 x Crackling Drake
4 x Goblin Electromancer

1 x Blink of an Eye
4 x Chemister's Insight
2 x Expansion // Explosion
4 x Ionize
2 x Lightning Strike
2 x Opt
2 x Radical Idea
4 x Shivan Fire
2 x Shock
1 x Banefire
2 x Fight with Fire
2 x Lava Coil

1 x Search for Azcanta

6 x Island
3 x Izzet Guildgate
6 x Mountain
4 x Steam Vents
4 x Sulfur Falls
1 x Fight with Fire
2 x Disdainful Stroke
4 x Fiery Cannonade
1 x Mystic Archaeologist
4 x Negate
1 x Niv-Mizzet, Parun
1 x Patient Rebuilding
1 x Ral, Izzet Viceroy

Goblin Electromancer   Banefire   Search for Azcanta

If you like passive-aggressive decks, this is the deck for you.  Ionize is a great counterspell as it does all of the things that this deck wants to do; It counters any spell your opponent casts as well as dealing two points of damage to them directly.  While this is the only spell you have in the main deck that outright counters a spell, you have plenty of other ways (burn spells) to deal with an opponent’s creatures.  Plus, the majority of those burn spells can also be pointed directly at your opponent’s face, so they’re not sitting in your hand as dead cards.

This deck also has a lot of ways to draw additional cards.  Not only do you have instants that do this, but one of your other routes to victory, Crackling Drake, also draws you a card when it enters the battlefield.  This means you should have little trouble having things to do on your turn (or on your opponent’s turn as well).

The Explosion half of Expansion // Explosion is another great way to deal a ton of damage and draw a bunch of cards, especially in the late game.  After sideboarding, this card becomes borderline obscene when you have Niv-Mizzet, Parun on the battlefield.  It’s a hard combo to pull off, but you’ll never forget it if it happens.

Wrapping Up

As you can see from our first look at post-rotation Standard, there are a lot of cool, exciting things to do in Standard right now.  What decks are you having the most fun trying out?  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.  And, 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.

Also, be sure to check out my articles every week on CoolStuffInc.com.  I have a new article there every Friday as well.  If you like the innovative decks I write about here each week, you’ll want to check out my articles there as well.

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

— Mike Likes


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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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