The release of a new Magic set is always an exciting time because of the potential it has for every single format in the game. Using cards from the latest expansion Core 2021, I created decks for five different formats. If you play Standard, Historic, Pioneer, Modern, or Legacy stay tuned because I have a deck for you.
One of my favorite cards to come out of the new set is a very simple card, Elder Gargaroth. Its big and its dumb, but it has the potential to do a lot. Elder Gargaroth can be described as a Baneslayer style card. If it gets removed the turn you play it, you essentially get time walked and might lose the game. However, if your opponent has no answer for it, a Baneslayer can steamroll the game singlehandedly.
Getting around the downside of a Baneslayer is a challenging one, but offers huge reward if you can succeed. UW control decks play Baneslayer Angel in their sideboard so that when you board out your removal, they bring in a huge threat. A Gruul aggro deck has a different way of getting around the Baneslayer downside, and that is giving it haste. Thanks to a sneakily powerful card in Rhythm of the Wild, we can give all of our creatures riot and turn them into powerful threats that are hard to deal with.
Giving your Elder Gargaroth haste negates it’s biggest downside and you can immediately start getting value. Other Baneslayer style cards such as Quartzwood Crasher can impact the board as soon as possible, rather than awkwardly standing around for a turn. If your beater already has haste, such as Questing Beast, riot is still good with it as it will enter with an additional +1/+1 counter. Add some ramp, a removal spell or two and Timmy just got himself a new and powerful deck.
Historic Anthology 3 teased us by giving us the Hondens, and promising a format in which they might be playable. Thanks to Core 2021, this might actually be possible now. With 6 more shrines to work with, it is trivially easy to fill the deck to the brim with Shrines and get massive amounts of value. If you can get to the lategame with this deck, it is going to be challenging to ever lose.
But that brings us to the biggest problem with this deck, and that is getting to the lategame. The mana for a 5 color deck in Historic is not the greatest, and while I could spend some time tweaking the manabase to get it to have the perfect amount of untapped to tapped sources, the truth of the matter is this deck is meant to be more fun than it is serious. If I wanted it to be serious, I wouldn’t include all 11 shrines anyways, but it is absolutely worth it if you can get a screenshot with 21 triggers on the stack.
When not getting value in your upkeep there are a few other ways you can grind out your opponent. With Setessan Champion and Archon of Sun’s Grace, just playing your enchantments can get you some useful triggers. Slap a Starfield Mystic in and you might actually have a chance of stealing some games. If you are an achievement hunter, here’s another thing to add to your bucket list.
Lifegain has never had so many tools introduced in one set, but thanks to Core 2021 it might actually have a fighting chance now. The two key cards from Core 2021 that make this possible is Griffin Aerie and Indulging Patrician. Getting a 2/2 and a 6 point lifeswing every turn can quickly end games. Speaker of the Heavens, also from this set, is a threatening one drop that can spit out Serra Angels like there is no tomorrow provided you can gain enough life.
Moving outside of Core 2021, we can still find plenty of goodies that work in this style of deck. One of my personal favorite inclusions is Lone Rider thanks to its frightening Eldrazi Horror side. With all that out of the way, the rest of the deck is dedicated to gaining life. With powerful 4 drops in Basilica Bell-Haunt and our good old friend Siege Rhino it’s easy to make it to the late game and overpower the opponent. Charming Prince is an all-star in this deck as it can set up your draw step, trigger your permanents, and flicker your 4 drops to take over the game. If your opponent ever plays a turn 1 mountain and shocks you, be sure to apologize to them for the deck you are playing.
A one mana 1/1 with lifelink is worthless in Modern. A one mana 5/5 flyer, however, now that is exciting. Archfiend’s Vessel asks a simple question, and Modern provides great answers. Unearth and Claim // Fame are both one mana ways to pull this guy out of your graveyard and get an extremely cheap 5/5. But 3 cards does not make a deck, so with a few more slick additions, we can get a pretty sweet Rakdos reanimator deck.
A card that many people try to make good, but hardly any ever succeed with is Vexing Devil. Your opponent will always choose the option that means the least amount of damage to them. In the early game, they’ll take the 4 and in the late game they can probably deal with a 4/3. If you immediately bring it back from your yard after they dealt with it, the question of take 4 or leave it on the battlefield becomes much harder.
To round the deck off, we need some ways to pitch our guys to the yard. Bomat Courier, Insolent Neonate, Collective Brutality, and Seasoned Pyromancer are all very efficient at discarding cards, and can even help you dig towards your enabler. Add a couple Lurrus, of the Dream Den for added redundancy and you have a deck with a fast clock that is also very grindy. A good recipe for success in Modern.
Rogue Tribal just get the best one drop it has ever seen, a 3/2 flash deathtouch, which is an insane rate. (Some terms and conditions may apply). Seeing this card I set out to look and see what options existed for Rogue Tribal and discovered two very interesting cards that might make it playable as far back as Legacy. True-Name Nemesis needs no introduction, as it can singlehandedly destroy opponents who will struggle to deal with it. The other card that convinced me to try rogues out in Legacy was none other than Edric, Spymaster of Trest. Combine him with a few evasive creatures and you can bury your opponent in card advantage.
Another plus to playing this deck is that it dodges Force of Will by being an Aether Vial, Cavern of Souls deck, and it can also play Force of Will if it wants to. (Although the deck probably needs more blue cards to reliably achieve that). Dodging this key piece of interaction is one of the reasons Goblins is a tier 2 deck in the format. The deck primarily plays black which gives it access to Thoughtseize, giving this deck an incredibly strong disruption suite against the unfair decks of the format. Against the fair decks, the combination of Edric and Noggin Whack should be enough to pull ahead. With a brand new one drop, powerful 3 drops, and an angle of attack that has already proved to be successful, I’m curious to see if rogues have what it takes in Legacy.
I may be a little late to the party with this article, but I hope that the decks I showed today were inspiring and convinced readers to try something new with these new cards. I’m curious to hear about the decks that you have brewed using Core 2021 cards, so please share any decklists in the comments below.
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