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Against the Odds: 36 Wraths (Standard)

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The other day I was looking over some Murders at Karlov Manor spoilers and saw No Witnesses for the first time. The card itself isn't all that notable - it's essentially a twist on Depopulate which itself is a twist on Wrath of God - but what is notable is that both Depopulate and No Witnesses will be legal in Standard together.

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Traditionally there are just a handful of wraths in Standard, maybe two or three, but this Standard is unique. With Wizards canceling rotation there's a whole extra years worth of cards legal in the format, which combined with Wizards love of printing unique wraths for Commander means that there are currently an absurd number of wraths in the format. In fact, by my count, there are at least nine wraths - cards with the text "destroy all creatures" or "exile all creatures" - current in Standard.

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Even better, several of these wraths like Sunfall, White Sun's Twilight and even Invasion of Fiora make creatures. This is when it struck me: for the first time in Magic's history there were so many wraths legal in Standard that it's actually possible to build a deck that is literally just wraths and lands! Could the deck actually work?

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I headed over to the metagame page. For an all-wrath deck there are two nightmare matchups: creature-free control decks and spell-based combo decks. Thankfully Storm-style combo doesn't exist at all in Standard and draw-go control isn't an especially popular archetype at the moment. In fact, nearly all of the top tier decks in Standard are looking to win by beating down with creatures, which is exactly what an all-wrath deck wants to see.

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So I put together the deck. The idea is actually quite simple: play 36 wraths and plan on casting one every turn necessary to keep the opponent from doing much of anything and then win in one of three ways: first, we can win by the tokens some of our wraths make, second we're playing 63 total cards (36 wraths and 27 lands) so we can simply keep wrathing until our opponent runs out of cards and win by our opponent milling out, third, we can trust that after the 17th wrath trust that our opponent will throw their laptop our their window in rage and time out.

Of course, the deck would have to be played in best of one. In best of three there are simply too many blue decks running around in Standard that will sideboard in cards like Negate and Disdainful Stroke which will ruin our day, but in best of one the deck just might work. So I jumped into some games to find out...

Wrap Up and Odds

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And the deck did kind of work. Heading into our matches I figured we'd win on occasion when we hit good matchups and drew well, but overall we wouldn't have that great of a record, but the deck did was better than I expected: across 16 games it won 8, giving us a 50% win rate with a deck that it literally all wraths! Even better, we managed to beat he best deck in Standard - Domain - multiple times, including a record setting game where we wrathed 17 times before our opponent finally milled out!

While 36 Wraths is probably more of a semi-competitive deck than a truly competitive deck, the fact that it can win half the time is wild. This is the first Standard format ever where there are enough wraths to even build an all wrath deck, and in past Standards even if we had somehow managed to build the deck I wouldn't really have worked since most old wrath were just wraths. Today's wraths are so busted - among the 36 wraths in our deck we can only only blow up creatures, but deal with every permanent type including lands, make massive creatures, go wide with Mite tokens and if our opponent has indestructible creatures or recursive threats we don't really mind because multiple wraths can exile! Somehow we live in a world where we can not only build and all wrath deck but the wraths themselves are so flexible and strong that an all-wrath deck actually sort of works! 

Honestly, I'm not sure what this says about our current Standard format and modern Magic design, I'll leave that for the philosophers, but I do know that milling out the best deck in Standard by casting a wrath for 17 turns in a row is one of the most memorable and hilarious wins I've had in a long time. If you decide to give the deck a try, which you should because it's hilarious, keep in mind that there are still some really tough matchups in Standard (oddly, out of the top tier decks Mono-Red is actually the worst since literally every creature in the deck has haste which allows them to chip in for damage even if we wrath every turn), but the deck wins way more than it should and the opponents look of despair when the 17th wrath in a row hits the stack is worth any losses along the way.


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Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive, or at

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