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Upgrading an Old Deck - Part 2

Categories: CasualConstructedStandard

Last week I looked at a few decks in the current standard environment and showed that most are based on older decks. This week I'm going to do the opposite. I'm going to take an old deck and try and make a Standard version. At first I was just going to update it with new cards but with most decks that would only result in a few changes and would be more like just tweaking the deck slightly. Choosing the deck was actually very difficult and I'm still not sure I chose the best deck. I looked at more than 300 old decklists trying to find one that was both interesting enough to update as well as one that is old enough that it hasn't been used in a while. After the first hundred or so decklists the only thing I found that might work was Machine Head. This was before I decided on making it standard legal. While I do like that deck and it does fit the criteria when I tried to figure out what I would do with it I found I'd only make a few changes. Noticing this lack of change made me realize that if I made it Standard legal I'd actually be forced to make a new deck. This sounded better but this particular deck wouldn't have that exciting of a change and would likely be inferior to both a mono-black or mono-red deck in Standard. While I wasn't looking to make anything tournament viable I was still unhappy with what I could turn the deck into. So I looked for a new deck. After another 200 or so lists I think I finally found what I was looking for. Behold type 2 with Mirage+Tempest blocks legal 5-Color-Green.

This deck is a good choice because I think it has the capability to make the transition well. Standard currently has the tools necessary to make the mana base work. It it just a matter of whether or not the cards themselves are worth adding those extra colors for.

First we need to look at what is still around and what the deck has lost. After which we will look for what would be worth adding to the deck.

Birds of Paradise are still around (at least until 9th comes out) and are almost a necessity for any green based 5 color deck. City of Brass is also still around and worth keeping. Mana Leak and Maro finish off the cards that are still usable. Now we look at what we lost and see if there are any obvious replacement for them.

Undiscovered Paradise and Gemstone Mine are gone and will be hard to replace. Mirrodin's Core and Tendo Ice Bridge are definite possibilities but this deck likely wont be able to get over the drawback on Forbidden Orchard.

Tradewind Rider is also gone and this one is impossible to replace. Looks like we'll just have to find another powerful card for this slot. The deck existed before this was printed with Man-o'-War in that slot so a one-shot bounce spell like Echoing Truth is a possibility.

Wall of Roots will likely become Sakura-Tribe Elder. Vine Trellis is another possibility if both need to be run.

Granger Guildmage may not have a direct replacement but isn't as important in the current environment as it was back then. There aren't that many one-toughness creatures that see heavy play outside of Eternal Witness now that Disciple of the Vault has been banned.

Uktabi Orangutan just becomes Viridian Shaman.

Jolrael's Centaur has nothing on Troll Ascetic. It has the same casting cost, and extra point of power, plus the ability to regenerate. It also lets just you target it if that winds up being relevant.

Derelor is just under-costed fat and I'm sure we can find a replacement somewhere.

Quirion Ranger is another painful loss as it was one of the most powerful tools in the deck as it let you reuse creatures with tap abilities, keep your hand full for Maro, and save lands from

Incinerate is better than current burn but either Volcanic Hammer or Magma Jet will do just fine. The former can kill three-toughness creatures and do more to the dome but the Scry on the latter may make it the better choice. The fact that I can't think of many 3-toughness creatures in the environment makes me like Magma Jet more.

The loss of Diabolic Edict will mean we will have to use a removal spell that targets. Choices are Rend Flesh, Dark Banishing, and Echoing Decay.

Now for the part that really hurts. Armageddon is gone and likely forever. There isn't anything even remotely close to its power level so this is another open slot. It is a shame too as this would absolutely destroy Tooth.

Now we look at some cards that may be worth including that weren't around back then.

There will be 4 copies of Eternal Witness in the deck. It is just too stupid not to run as many as possible.

Cranial Extraction is another possibility. It is splash-able and very powerful in the current environment.

Rough Decklist:

There really wasn't anything worth running in white so I just dropped the color. It actually may be wise to drop red as well since you could just replace with burn with more black removal like Echoing Decay. I like the interaction of Meloku with Tendo Ice Bridge.

After Testing:

There is too much land in the deck. The deck gets mana flooded often. The Mana Leaks weren't working out too well. There is too much other stuff you want to be playing on turn two to keep the mana open and later on it is much less useful. More copies of Troll Ascetic and Meloku would also be nice.

Final Decklist:

This version is more powerful and consistent. It still seems to keep drawing land in the late game though. I'm guessing that is more due to bad luck than anything though. The equipment gives you uses for creatures that would normally just sit there after a while like Birds and Eternal Witness.


I don't think this deck is a contender for any sort of serious metagame. In general it just feels inferior to a plain G/B aggro control deck. Really the only thing it would really miss by dropping red and blue would be Meloku and I think the addition of Kokusho would take the sting out of that. While I will admit bouncing multiple Eternal Witnesses with one Echoing Truth can be powerful, it likely isn't worth keeping an extra color.