For the first time in a long while, I’m enjoying the Standard format again. I found a deck that’s both competitive and fun to tinker with. It’s got consistent draws, and can win both short tempo battles as well as long games. The best part is, it contains neither Thragtusk nor Sphinx’s Revelation. I wrote about it briefly last week after my first outing with it. And now, a week and two events later, I feel comfortable enough to put together a short primer.

Deck: Grixis Seer

Counts : 60 main / 15 sideboard

3 Augur of Bolas
4 Snapcaster Mage
4 Duskmantle Seer
1 Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch
1 Olivia Voldaren

1 Pillar of Flame
1 Unsummon
1 Desperate Ravings
1 Dimir Charm
2 Dreadbore
1 Essence Scatter
1 Izzet Charm
1 Mizzium Mortars
1 Rakdos's Return
2 Searing Spear
3 Think Twice
1 Turn // Burn
2 Dissipate
1 Forbidden Alchemy
2 Tribute to Hunger
1 Sever the Bloodline

2 Blood Crypt
1 Cavern of Souls
1 Desolate Lighthouse
3 Dragonskull Summit
4 Drowned Catacomb
2 Island
4 Steam Vents
3 Sulfur Falls
1 Swamp
4 Watery Grave

2 Appetite for Brains
1 Pillar of Flame
3 Rakdos Charm
2 Turn // Burn
3 Izzet Staticaster
3 Evil Twin
1 Psychic Spiral

Let’s address the obvious stuff first. No, Exava’s not a placeholder for some other four-drop I don’t have a copy of. She is well positioned against the field in that she can attack through just about everything. Four power of first strike is a handful, it turns out. Being able to almost mindlessly turn sideways against Loxodon Smiter, Restoration Angel, Thragtusk, and many other format staples is quite the desirable trait. She’s also a decent blocker if you ever need her to be, but there aren’t too many scenarios I can think of where you want to leave her leashed.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s discuss how this deck wins. This is very much a “win later” deck. You’ll spend a good amount of time in the early- to mid-game killing off your opponent’s threats with your removal suite and chipping away at their life total with Snapcasters and Augurs, and when they’ve all but run out of gas, you’ll resolve one of your four-drops and set yourself up to win over the next few turns. Duskmantle Seer is your best card (no surprises there), and will be responsible for a significant portion of your wins, but there will be games where you win off of a gigantic Olivia or a ridiculous Rakdos’ Return.

One really important thing to remember is that, despite this being a base-blue deck with a small creature count, you are not a draw-go deck. Since you don’t have Sphinx’s Revelation at your disposal, you lack the inevitability of UWx decks. Oftentimes you’ll need to be proactive and flash in an Ambush Viper to mount some pressure, otherwise your opponent will just durdle until they play a large animal/gain life/play a large animal that gains life. You have the most varied arsenal of removal in the entire format at your disposal, and even though many of them are one-ofs and two-ofs, there is a lot of redundancy to ensure that you always have the answer you need for every situation, or at least close to it. As such, it’s okay if you don’t have that Essence Scatter in hand when they go to resolve that Restoration Angel to ambush your Snapcaster, because you’ve got ways to get rid of that thing, maintain tempo, and sometimes get some value out of it. When you finally do get to resolve Seer, do everything within your power to make sure he stays alive. He draws you cards and domes your opponent for considerable chunks of life. Games can get grindy, but your wins will be rewarding.

The last few notes I have are cards that I’ve tried but have failed to impress.

I played with Delvers for a bit. They’re sometimes amazing, but most of the time they’re just straight terrible. Last week at FNM, I could not buy a keepable hand due to the concessions on the mana base I had to make to fit in those fuckers. In the end, they’re simply not worth it. The other card that was nothing but awkward for me was, surprisingly, Ral Zarek. The +1 didn’t do a whole lot when I didn’t have any creatures to attack with (which I often didn’t), and the two Bolts, while nice, didn’t answer anything I couldn’t already answer with my other spells. The ultimate wasn’t ever a consideration as it was next to impossible to tick him up for all those turns without being disrupted. Other than that, it’s just minor details here and there. I used to run a Devour Flesh rather than the second copy of Tribute to Hunger, but in a lot of matchups, I’d rather have the two or three points of life rather than doing it a turn earlier, since I’m not trying to Geist my opponents out or anything. I might also try and fit in a singleton Runechanter’s Pike to seal games that threaten to get out of hand.

I’ll need more experience with the deck to figure out the other intricacies, but the list shows promise in its current form, and it’s gotten me excited about Standard again, which can’t be all bad.

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