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Against the Odds: Steal, Smack, and Sac (Standard)


Standard today is overloaded with super-pushed, power-creepy creatures—Atraxa, Etali, Sheoldred, massive Dinosaurs—so today, we're going to punish our opponent for playing these busted bombs by using some random uncommons to steal their creatures, smack our opponent with them to get in some damage, and then sacrifice them for value! What are the odds the plan works? Let's find out on today's Against the Odds!

Against the Odds: Steal, Smack, and Sac

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The Deck

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Today's deck came about because I really wanted to build a deck around Tarrian's Journal. As I started to build around creature-sacrificing, I realized that we've actually got a bunch of good sacrifice outlets in Standard...

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Backing up Tarrian's Journal is Bartolome del Presidio, which can sacrifice any number of artifacts or creatures for free to get a +1/+1 counter; Fleshtaker, which sadly takes a mana to activate but has the upside of gaining us a life and scrying 1 whenever we sacrifice a creature; and Braids, Arisen Nightmare, which offers another way to sacrifice creatures (and other stuff) and potentially generate some card advantage. The redundancy of powerful, mostly free, and often card-advantage-generating sacrifice outlets in Standard was the inspiration for today's deck. 

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As I mentioned in the intro, Standard is overflowing with super powerful, power-creeping, game-ending creatures. It's 2023, after all, and we're living in the era of creature power creep. What if we looked to punish our opponent for playing these bombs? What if, rather than playing win conditions of our own, we just overloaded our deck with as many sacrifice outlets as possible (preferably ones that draw us cards), backed them up with as many Threaten effects as possible, and trusted that our opponent would play massive creatures and that each turn, we would steal them with haste, smack our opponent for some damage, and then sacrifice the creature to draw a card? Thankfully, we have a ton of good Threatens in Standard. Wizards has realized that OG Threaten just isn't good enough anymore, so now, our three-mana Threatens all come with an upside of making a Blood, Treasure, or Role, while we also get a four-mana draining Threaten in Eriette's Tempting Apple. The end result is today's Steal, Smack, and Sac deck, which plays 14 ways to steal opposing creatures and 13 ways to sacrifice those creatures for value after we smack our opponent for some damage with their own bombs!

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Of course, the plan does have one drawback: we might be in trouble if our opponent doesn't play good creatures, either because they are some sort of creature-light control deck or because they are playing a bunch of aggro 1/1s. So we need a backup plan for winning the game if our opponent refuses to play anything good to steal. For this, we turn to Wedding Announcement, which makes an army all by itself and eventually pumps it. If we're in a good matchup, we can still take advantage of the enchantment—the tokens it makes are fine sacrifice fodder. And if we run into a control deck, Wedding Announcement and creaturelands, plus some planeswalkers and Duresses in our sideboard, should give us a shot of competing even if our Threatens are bad. Brass's Tunnel-Grinder is similar—if we run into a matchup where our Threatens are bad, we can use Brass's Tunnel-Grinder to loot them away and maybe eventually flip into a land that generates even more card advantage. 

Wrap-Up

Heading into our matches, I figured this would be one of those decks where we really annoyed opponents and got some funny victories but overall didn't win all that much. But, it turns out that Steal, Smack, and Sac really annoyed opponents, got some funny victories, and won a surprising amount of the time. After starting off 4-1 with the deck, I finished 10-7 overall, good for a solid 59% win percentage. Sure, we sometimes get run over by aggro and lose to creature-free control in theory (which isn't really a thing in Standard, so we never played against it), but we crush big aggro and midrange decks in hilarious fashion. Normally, we're sitting around hoping our opponent doesn't play a Sheoldred, Atraxa, or Etali, but with this deck, we're actively rooting for our opponent to play those cards, and most opponents did!

While Steal, Smack, and Sac looks super janky on paper, it turns out that stealing a creature each turn and then sacrificing it for value is almost unbeatable for a lot of the top-tier decks in Standard. It got even funnier as opponents started to realize what our deck was doing. There would be these long pauses where our opponent was obviously thinking really hard about whether it was even worth dropping their big finishers or if it was going to backfire because of our Threatens. We even had one opponent that was looting away Etalis and Decadent Dragons even though they had the mana to play them because they were so afraid we'd steal, smack, and sac them! 

If you are tired of getting beaten by the biggest, bombiest creatures in Standard, give Steal, Smack, and Sac a try. The deck wins way more than it should, and it is absolutely hilarious to punish opponents for overloading their decks with the best creatures in Standard by using some super-janky uncommons and commons to turn their own creatures against them!

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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