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Against the Odds: Old Stickfingers (Standard)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 307 of Against the Odds. Innistrad: Midnight Hunt is here! Last week, we had our second Innistrad: Midnight Hunt Against the Odds poll, and Old Stickfingers took home a super-easy victory. As such, we're heading to our new Standard format today to see what graveyard value we can generate with the Horror. While we're more than happy to win by making a massive Old Stickfingers and beating down, we do have a pseudo-combo built into the deck, where we can stock our graveyard with creatures with the help of Old Stickfingers, make a ton of decaying Zombie tokens with Diregraf Rebirth, reanimate Dreadhound and/or play The Meathook Massacre, and drain our opponent out of the game as our Zombies decay! What are the odds of winning with Old Stickfingers in Innistrad: Midnight Hunt Standard? Can a graveyard deck compete in the format? Let's get to the video and find out in today's Against the Odds; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Against the Odds: Stickyfingers Sultai

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The Deck

When Old Stickfingers won the poll, I wasn't exactly sure which direction to head with the deck. It obviously wanted to be a graveyard-matters deck with enough creatures to support Old Stickfingers itself, but there were several possibilities. My first take was actually very similar to the deck we ended up with—a combo reanimator decay shell, except it was straight green-black rather than Sultai. While the deck was fine, it felt like something was missing. I tried Golgari and Jund builds with various Phoenixes, Ebondeath, Dracolich, and Skyclave Shade, with the idea being that we can use Old Stickfingers to get recursive threats in the graveyard and then replay them from there, but there were super slow and inconsistent. Eventually, I wrapped back around to the original build but added blue for Suspicious Stowaway to discard expensive threats like Lord of the Forsaken and Dreadhound (they are often better in the graveyard since we can reanimate them on the cheap with Diregraf Rebirth), and eventually it finally clicked!

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Old Stickfingers is the centerpiece of our deck, and it does two important things. First, it becomes a massive creature as the game goes along and we fill our graveyard. It's not that uncommon that we can cast an Old Stickfingers in the mid-game for two mana and have it be a 8/8 or 10/10, which is already a really solid threat. Second, if we can cast Old Stickfingers for a bunch of mana, it fills our graveyard with creatures, which, in our deck, not only grows Old Stickfingers but also supports a bunch of other synergies and pseudo-combos as well!

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Eccentric Farmer, Suspicious Stowaway, and Lord of the Forsaken help to support our graveyard plan by stocking our graveyard. Eccentric Farmer just mills three cards and helps to make sure we hit our land drops. Suspicious Stowaway is incredibly important to the deck because it gives us a way to discard expensive threats from our hand, which we can reanimate. Lord of the Forsaken potentially can mill a ton of cards if we have some useless creatures (like decay Zombies) to sacrifice, and its graveyard Channel ability allows for some really explosive combo turns where we can use it to flashback Diregraf Rebirth or Ghoulcaller's Harvest for just two mana! Combined with Old Stickfingers, these cards give us a lot of ways to fill our graveyard with creatures quickly, growing Old Stickfingers and helping to set up our combo-esque reanimator turns.

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So, apart from Old Stickfingers itself, why are we so interested in filling our graveyard with creatures? The answer is two Golgari flashback spells from Innistrad: Midnight Hunt: Ghoulcaller's Harvest and Diregraf Rebirth. Diregraf Rebirth is basically a new take on Unburial Rites (one of the best Modern-era reanimation spells), allowing us to reanimate two things thanks to flashback. This allows us to get back big Old Stickfingers in the late game or to reanimate combo pieces like Dreadhound or Lord of the Forsaken once Old Stickfingers and friends get them in the graveyard. It also interacts well with the decay Zombies from Ghoulcaller's Harvest, which tend to sacrifice themselves and thereby reduce the cost of casting Diregraf Rebirth. Speaking of Ghoulcaller's Harvest, it's actually pretty insane in our deck since the decay Zombies are essential to our combo finish. It's pretty easy to get to the point where each casting of Ghoulcaller's Harvest is making three or four Zombies (and we occasionally can make six or seven Zombies with a single Diregraf Rebirth in the late game). And while these Zombies aren't great creatures since they can't block and can only attack once before sacrificing themselves, they do work super well with our Blood Artist effects...

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Apart from winning by beating down, our main plan for closing out the game is making a bunch of decay Zombies with Ghoulcaller's Harvest, reanimating Dreadhound with Diregraf Rebirth, and then using The Meathook Massacre to kill the Zombies (or, if we already have a The Meathook Massacre, we can just attack with all the Zombies and let them decay away) and double draining our opponent—once with Dreadhound and once with The Meathook Massacre—for each creature that dies. This is often enough to win the game on the spot with direct damage, especially combined with a few attacks early in the game from Suspicious Stowaway, Old Stickfingers, and friends. 

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Otherwise, Prosperous Innkeeper helps to speed up the deck (and fix our mana) with the Treasure it makes while also gaining us a surprising amount of life thanks to Ghoulcaller's Harvest. Meanwhile, Baleful Mastery gives us some targeted removal. Initially, I was playing Infernal Grasp in this slot but realized that exiling can be important in Standard, and with lots of Wrenn and Sevens running around at the moment, hitting planeswalkers is important as well. While casting it for its reduced cost is somewhat painful, the upside makes it worthwhile.

The Matchups

In general, Old Stickyfingers felt competitive across against a lot of different decks. We only lost once with the deck, against Gruul Aggro, although that was as much because were got severely mana screwed as anything, especially since we avenged the loss by beating Mono-Green and Mono-White Aggro later. Even better, we also managed to take down Izzet Epiphany and Grixis Control, so we apparently have game against the more controlling side of the Standard meta as well!

The Odds

All in all, we finished 4-1 with Old Stickyfingers, giving us a very above average 80% match win percentage. As we talked about a minute ago, the deck felt surprisingly strong. Old Stickfingers itself was great, and the decay reanimation "combo" was a lot more effective than I expected it to be. As weird as it sounds, it seems possible that there could be a competitive Old Stickfingers deck in Standard!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

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We've been playing a lot of Standard lately. Next week let's try some Innistrad: Midnight Hunt in Modern! Which card should we play? Click here to vote!

Conclusion

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 SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.



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