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Against the Odds: Rite to the Throne (Standard)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode ninety-one of Against the Odds. Last week, we had an all-artifact Against the Odds poll, and in the end, it was the newest artifact of the bunch—Throne of the God-Pharaoh—taking home a pretty easy victory over Lich's Tomb and Decimator Web. As such, this week, we are heading to Standard to see if we can win some games by draining away our opponent's life on our end step with the combo of Throne of the God-Pharaoh and Cryptolith Rite! Can this plan, supported by a GB Aristocrats-style shell, work in our post-Aetherworks Marvel Standard? Let's get to the videos and find out, and then we'll talk more about the deck and building around Throne of the God-Pharaoh!

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Against the Odds: Rite to the Throne (Deck Tech)

Against the Odds: Rite to the Throne (Games)

The Deck

As I started to build around Throne of the God-Pharaoh, I quickly realized that there really aren't that many ways to make it work in Standard. By itself, all Throne of the God-Pharaoh really wants is a lot of creatures and a way to get those creatures tapped. In theory, we can tap our creatures by attacking, but this plan is risky, since our opponent can ruin it with blockers. I very briefly considered building a Rise from the Tides deck, which can kill with Throne of the God-Pharaoh right away if we can use it to make at least 20 Zombie tokens (since they enter tapped), but in the end, it seemed that the best way to build around Throne of the God-Pharaoh was to take the obvious route and use Cryptolith Rite to give all of our creatures the ability to tap themselves. 

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With Throne of the God-Pharaoh and Cryptolith Rite, all we really need to do is get as many creatures on the battlefield as possible, and we can win the game by draining away our opponent's life on our end step. While Throne of the God-Pharaoh doesn't do much other than kill our opponent, Cryptolith Rite is super important to the deck because the mana it produces helps us find and cast more creatures to do even more draining with Throne of the God-Pharaoh.

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Loam Dryad is our backup plan for when we don't have a Cryptolith Rite, giving us a way to make a little bit of extra mana and also allowing us to tap two creatures for Throne of the God-Pharaoh. While draining for two isn't a lot, it does add up and helps support our backup Aristocrat drain plan. Oviya Pashiri, Sage Lifecrafter is just a one-of because it's legendary, but she can do some pretty sweet things in our deck. Not only does it tap itself for Throne of the God-Pharaoh drain, but it also makes more creatures to make even more mana with Cryptolith Rite and for even more draining with Throne of the God-Pharaoh

Card Advantage

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Duskwatch Recruiter is one of the most important cards in our deck because it gives us something to do with all the mana we produce with Cryptolith Rite. While just tapping all of our creatures to drain with Throne of the God-Pharaoh is fine in some situations, it's far better when we can actually spend the mana on something relevant. Our deck has a massive 27 creatures, so we should almost always hit at least one with Duskwatch Recruiter, and then since we have so much mana, we can usually cast the creatures we hit with Duskwatch Recruiter quickly, flooding the board and pumping up our Throne of the God-Pharaoh. Meanwhile, Vizier of the Menagerie is sort of similar to Duskwatch Recruiter. While it doesn't dig through our deck quite as well as Duskwatch Recruiter, considering we have so many creatures. we are almost 50 / 50 to have one on the top of the deck, at which point Vizier of the Menagerie is drawing us an extra card. 

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Tireless Tracker also generates card advantage by making Clue tokens (which we can sacrifice easily thanks to our oodles of Cryptolith Rite mana), but it's mostly in the deck because it's a good card. Since we focus so heavily on creatures to make the key cards in our deck work, it seems wrong to leave out one of the most powerful creatures in our colors, especially when it fits well on the curve, even if it doesn't have any specific synergy with the rest of our deck.

Flooding the Board

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When the goal is to get as many creatures on the battlefield as possible, having creatures that make multiple creatures is key. Both Weaponcraft Enthusiast and Marionette Master fill this role in our deck and work well with each other. If we can get enough artifact creatures on the battlefield (like Servo tokens, for example), Marionette Master ends up working almost like a Blood Artist, which helps support our Aristocrats backup plan. While both of these cards might be slightly overcosted, the fact that we can ramp into them with Cryptolith Rite makes them better in our deck than in most others.

The Backup Plan

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While draining with Throne of the God-Pharaoh is our main goal, if we don't have both Cryptolith Rite and a ton of creatures, it can take a long time to drain our opponent all the way to zero, so we have a backup plan as well, turning to Zulaport Cutthroat (to combine with Marionette Master) and sacrifice outlets to drain away our opponent's life by sacrificing our creatures, Aristocrats style. Not only does this plan take advantage of the fact that our deck is overflowing with creatures to support Throne of the God-Pharaoh, but it also combines well with Throne of the God-Pharaoh. In theory, we can 20 our opponent all in one turn by tapping all of our creatures to Cryptolith Rite and then, after Throne of the God-Pharaoh triggers on our opponent's end step, sacrificing our board to Yahenni, Undying Partisan or Bontu the Glorified to finish off our opponent!

The Matchups

Based on the matches we played, it felt like aggro was our hardest matchup, considering we lost to both Zombies and Two-Tix Red. While we can beat these decks with good draws (mostly involving Cryptolith Rite), we are just too slow much of the time, and Throne of the God-Pharaoh isn't very good when we are playing defense. On the other hand, we seem pretty well positioned against midrange, where we can clog up the board and then eventually win by draining away our opponent's life. Finally, control is an interesting matchup, and it really depends on what removal our opponent is playing—we're in trouble if they can sweep our board and keep our Marionette Masters and Zulaport Cutthroats of the table, but we can grind out a win if they have the wrong removal at the wrong time, thanks to our endless drain effects. 

The Odds

All in all, we got in five matches and won three, good for a 60% match win percentage, and played 13 games and won eight, giving us a game win percentage of just a touch over 61%, which is solid. From a broad perspective, the deck felt pretty strong and like it could keep up with a lot of the most played decks in the format. Throne of the God-Pharaoh was strong, either by letting us chip in for a bit of drain here and there to make it easier to win with the Aristocrats plan later in the game or by giving us a big combo kill out of nowhere (the best example of this was in game two against Zombies where we were dead on board, activated Duskwatch Recruiter a couple of times on our opponent's end step to find a Yahenni, Undying Partisan and Marionette Master, and proceeded to untap and 20 our opponent with a combination of draining with Throne of the God-Pharaoh and sacrificing away our board on our end step). That said, the correct number of Throne of the God-Pharaohs is likely three, since additional copies are dead draws and we were punished at times by drawing multiples. 

Vote for Next Week's Deck

Last week was announcement week, and one of the most exciting announcements was that core sets will be returning starting next summer. Now, some people view core sets as simplistic beginner sets, and while it is true that they are designed with new players in mind, a ton of sweet and interesting cards still come from these sets. So for this week's Against the Odds poll, we'll be exploring the best of the "M" core sets. Which of these core set cards should we play for Against the Odds next week? Let us know by voting below!

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Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. Don't forget to vote for next week's deck! 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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