With spoiler season in full swing, we are moving into a brewer’s paradise. All of the drinks (in this case spoilers) are free flowing, and you head down memory lane into the past and remember all of the cards that are available. Rather than the regretful “What If’s?” that normally occur, in Brewer’s Paradise, we are greeted with more optimistic thoughts. What if we paired these cards? Or these ones? Or these? The choices are endless!

The card that has currently got me in a bit of a fluster is High Alert from Ravnica Allegiance. The ability to attack with walls is design space that appears from time to time, starting with Animate Wall back in Alpha. But assigning combat damage using toughness is something that was has only really been explored a few times, most notably with Doran, the Siege Tower. We had this effect in Standard somewhat recently with Assault Formation, but to no success.

Of course, this effect is already in Standard with Arcades, the Strategist, and now we potentially have a viable toughness aggro deck. The deck’s previous weakness was that if the key piece (Assault Formation) was countered or removed, the deck just simply didn’t function. If we instead run eight copies of this effect, we should have a much better chance of resolving one while increasing our consistency. This is what makes High Alert key: the fact that having copies 5-8 of the Doran effect means that we are highly likely to have one in our opening hand to consistently enact our gameplan.

Lets have a look at what this could be:

Standard High Alert

Creatures (28)
Wall of Mist
Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive
Surge Mare
Gleaming Barrier
Suspicious Bookcase
Grappling Sundew
Deputy of Detention
Arcades, the Strategist

Spells (10)
High Alert
Dive Down
Aegis of the Heavens
Lands (22)
Hallowed Fountain
Breeding Pool
Temple Garden
Glacial Fortress
Hinterland Harbour

Not quite an army of walls, but instead I’ll settle for a bunch of high-toughness creatures with useful effects. Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive makes all of our ground creatures unblockable, and Deputy of Detention is an efficient creature that interacts well with opponents’ creatures.

Arcades provides card advantage while also being the main reason to play the deck. Playing a 3/5 flier with vigilance for four mana is already a good rate, but including the ability to draw a card per defender gives you the tempo. Surge Mare is an unlikely inclusion, but it has very high toughness for two mana and its stat-changing ability gives us offense when we don’t have a Doran effect.

One drawback of the deck is its propensity to get into board stalls against fellow creature decks. While we have no good way to combat this in Bant, our non-wall threats help to mitigate this while also becoming a lot more powerful when we have one of our payoffs in play. Tetsuko will help.

While I haven’t included a sideboard for our theoretical deck, there is definitely room to play four copies of Tocatli Honor Guard alongside classic white sideboard cards such as Settle the Wreckage and Lyra Dawnbringer. Tocatli Honor Guard does have some anti-synergy with Arcades, shutting off our card draw and making Deputy of Detention a lot worse, but the potential upside of the card shutting down our opponent’s deck makes this worth considering even in the maindeck. You could play straight UW, removing Arcades and relying heavily on the High Alert. What this does allow you to do though is play a cleaner mana base and higher-value creatures like Murmuring Mystic—just don’t forget to up the instant and sorcery count in your deck if you do this!

So there we have it, a quick brew in spoiler season bringing back an elder dragon with some Ravnican flair. While the list I’ve provided is definitely rough around the edges, it is worth looking further into the archetype to see if this can be refined into a solid Standard deck. Now that we finally that multiple copies of our affect, it could be the time of toughness matters!

Daniel Roberts (@Razoack) is a UK based player writing about all things Standard. Playing since the release of Gatecrash, he loves nothing better than travelling to European GPs with friends and losing in the feature match area. His best record is 12-3 at GP Barcelona 2017, but he’s aiming for that one more win.

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