In the wake of the Alrund's Epiphany and Divide by Zero bans, Standard has looked a lot different. Izzet control decks are struggling to adapt and Mono-White has taken a hit from the Faceless Haven ban.
This has opened up some room for experimentation and is allowing midrange decks to find success in the format. Although decks previously on the cusp of Tier 1 like Naya Aggro and Orzhov Control are becoming popular, several new brews are also gaining traction.
One has seen particular success against the emerging meta—a Golgari brew built around planeswalkers and Storm the Festival.
The six-mana sorcery is proving to be quite effective inside a shell of value-focused planeswalkers and spells.
Let's take a look at what makes this deck tick and how you can ride it to success in the meta.
You can find the full decklist here or at the end of the article.
As noted, this deck relies on cards that can grind out value and make it to the late game. From there, dropping a Storm the Festival is often enough to overwhelm your opponent. However, the deck is resilient enough that it can often grind out a game even without resolving a Storm.
I've managed to pilot it to an 89% win rate in best-of-three Standard with a sample size of about 50 games. It feels like this list has a good matchup against almost every strategy and is resilient enough to win any game with tight play.
Let's look at the key cards.
Lolth, Sorin, and Wrenn
Arguably the three best planeswalkers in Standard, this deck leans heavily on Lolth, Sorin, and Wrenn. The two black walkers offer excellent value, both on-board and in the form of card advantage. Both of them let you draw an extra card each turn for the cost of some life (which you have plenty of, but more on that later). Meanwhile, their ability to create tokens gives you blockers in the early game and lets you take over in the late game. The lifelink on Sorin's vampire token is also invaluable.
The synergy between Wrenn and Esika's Chariot is well-known by this point. However, it is still an incredibly powerful combination that puts loads of power on the board in a hurry. Wrenn also lets you dig for extra lands to resolve your first or second Storm the Festival.
Binding the Old Gods
This card has dipped in popularity since the Emergent Ultimatum deck rotated out. However, I've found it to be a solid addition in this deck.
Not only does it let you kill any permanent that's causing trouble, it also ramps you in the process. Giving deathtouch to your creatures is typically irrelevant, but it can be helpful in the late game when you have a wide board and need to push through damage.
Note that you can also pull this off a Storm and put it into play for free.
We all know that the cat cart is busted. Note that it can copy any of the tokens your planeswalkers produce in this build. That gives you flexibility whether you need a menace/reach spider, a lifelink vampire, or a giant-ass tree.
You can also drop a chariot off Storm the Festival, which is good at any stage of the game.
This isn't the best card in the world. However, it has served its purpose well in this deck. With the only other one-drop being Dread Fugue, it can help smooth your draws and ensure you hit land drops reliably.
In the late game, you can tutor up exactly what you need. You may think that Storm is always the go-to. However, I find myself searching up Meathooks, Chariots, or an important sideboard piece more often than not.
This rare didn't make a splash when it came out. However, it feels incredible each time it hits the board. The flexibility it offers gives you exactly what you need at any given time.
When possible, drawing a card on the first activation is usually best. However, immediately transforming Henrika gives you a tremendous blocker that gains life and threatens larger creatures with deathtouch. In a pinch, you can also sacrifice a token to make your opponent sacrifice a creature. When all they have is a solitary Goldspan or Lier, that's a blowout.
There are a few noteworthy cards in this deck that deserve a mention even though they aren't key pieces. Let's take a look at them.
What is this common changeling doing in this build? As a one-of in the main, it seems to show up right when you need it.
Notably, this lets you destroy an opponent's artifact or enchantment by exiling a creature from your graveyard. Since we aren't worried about reanimating, that isn't a problem. Meanwhile, Vandal can hit key targets like an opposing Chariot, Meathook, Celestus, Wedding Announcement, or Edgar Coffin.
With the influx of artifacts and enchantments coming in Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, this effect is going to be even more valuable. It's worth noting that Vandal also gives us another hit off Storm the Festival—even if it isn't the best option.
This card is often a better Duress as it can nab any card (for the right price). Against aggro decks, you can steal a key one- or two-drop to slow them down. Against control, you can get a counter or removal spell in the early game or go after their finisher for three mana.
You'll often board this out on the draw, especially against aggro, but it is a good card more often than not.
Crippling Fear / Path of Peril
These sweepers help clean up against aggro decks that can get under your planeswalker plan. Path of Peril decimates Mono-White and most zombie builds. Meanwhile, Crippling Fear is a great way to wipe the board while preserving your tokens. Enough said.
As mentioned, this deck relies on out-valuing your opponent until the late game. There, you tend to have much better draws and evasive creatures that can win you the game.
The ideal playline is to ramp quickly during your first few turns. Tangled Florahedron, Lotus Cobra, and Prosperous Innkeeper help do so nicely. In matchups where your opponent could have Spikefield Hazard or early removal, I prefer to play slowly with the hedron as a land.
Ideally, you'll drop a Binding the Old Gods on turn four to remove their best permanent and ramp you on your next turn. If not, you can typically drop either a Sorin or Chariot here. However, be careful to not cast a Sorin into a board that will get him killed on your opponent's turn. It's better to wait a turn or two and cast Sorin into a safer board than get the token removed and Sorin killed.
From here, your plays are matchup dependent. Against control, there's no need to rush. With no Epiphany, you should have answers to most control finishers. That said, don't jam your Storm or Lolth into a counterspell if it isn't necessary. Bide your time, draw some extra cards, and bait out your opponent's removal with things like Henrika and Chariot.
Meanwhile, against aggro, focus on minimizing damage. If you can keep your life total above five by turn five, you'll typically be able to recover. Between lifegain from Meathook, Innkeeper, Sorin tokens, and Henrika, you're never out of the game. Plus, if you make it to this point, you can almost certainly stabilize with tokens or overwhelm the board with a Storm.
Don't be afraid to trade your Innkeeper or Florahedron to a key piece if necessary. Try to hold targeted removal for things like Thalia, Reidane, Lier, and Goldspan. Trust your powerful mid- and late game to help you stabilize and turn things around against aggro.
There are a few cards out there that truly hose this deck. If you can avoid them (or remove them) you'll typically be alright. However, if you see one of these hit the battlefield, they should be your number one priority.
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Given that this deck is about everything but creatures, Thalia is a huge problem. She taxes essentially every important card in the deck. Do whatever you need to do to remove Thalia.
Reidane, God of the Worthy
Since all of our important cards also cost more than four mana, Reidane is also a major issue. Much like Thalia, she needs to be dealt with immediately. Fortunately, Reidane sees less play and you have several ways to remove her.
There isn't much you can do about this one, but Duress (and similar cards) is worth noting. It lets your opponent get any one of your most valuable threats. I point this out because playing around Duress is important. In matchups where you're likely to see it, try to play your threats ASAP instead of letting them sit in your hand vulnerable to discard.
Halena and Alena, Partners / Reckless Stormseeker
These two fall into the same category because of what they do—give other creatures haste. This deck doesn't pack enough removal to deal with two big threats on the same turn. With that in mind, remove either of these as soon as possible so your opponent's other creatures come in without haste.
Tips and Tricks
There are a few interesting lines and combos in the deck worth mentioning. Some of them are well-known others are a bit more nuanced.
For instance, you don't always want to pull two walkers off a Storm the Festival. Sometimes, pulling a Lolth and a Binding the Old Gods is a much better choice. It helps you protect your walker and ramp towards a flashback for Storm.
Need some life? Dropping a Chariot onto a board with Innkeeper grants you a quick two. If you've got multiple Innkeepers, it's double the fun.
If you have a board full of tokens, don't be afraid to drop a Meathook. Wiping your own creatures can often be enough to drain your opponent to 0. Just be sure to leave yourself something on the board if possible. This could mean activating your walkers after the Hook or making "X" less than your Henrika or Wrenn token.
If your opponent has an important flashback spell in their graveyard (like Memory Deluge) don't be afraid to take a turn off and fire up your Hive of the Eye Tyrant.
We've already covered most of the other tips throughout the article, but if you find any others, I'd love to hear them!
What do you think about this resilient brew? Got any changes you think would make it better? Finding success on the ladder? Let us know in the comments below or on social media!