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Brewer's Minute: Answering the Gods


Hey, everyone! It's time for another Brewer's Minute. Right now, in Ixalan Standard, two Gods are near the top of the format: Hazoret the Fervent and The Scarab God. Part of what makes these Gods so good is that they are incredibly difficult to answer, with The Scarab God bouncing back to its owner's hand after it dies and Hazoret the Fervent being indestructible. Since these Gods are so powerful, when it comes to brewing in Ixalan Standard, we have to make sure that our decks have at least some answers to the Gods somewhere in the 75. So, what answers exist for the Gods, and which answers are best? Let's break it down for this week's Brewer's Minute!

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Transcript

When it comes to answering the Gods, we basically have three groups of answers. First, we have partial answers, which either deal with Hazoret the Fervent or The Scarab God but not both, or only deal with the Gods temporarily. Second are sketchy answers, which are cards that do answer both Gods but have some issues, meaning they might not actually be that practical. Finally, we have a handful of good answers that take care of both Gods!

Partial Answers

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Red gets two interesting partial answers in Puncturing Blow and Hour of Devastation. Puncturing Blow is a great answer to The Scarab God, taking care of the mythic forever for just four mana, although it doesn't really do anything against Hazoret the Fervent thanks to her indestructibility. If you are playing a deck like Ramunap Red and struggling with The Scarab God, Puncturing Blow is the place to be.

On the other hand, Hour of Devastation is a good answer to Hazoret the Fervent but not a permanent answer to The Scarab God (although it does have the upside of wiping away all of the tokens The Scarab God makes). In a pinch, it can be combined with a card like Crook of Condemnation to deal with The Scarab God forever.

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Commit // Memory isn't a great answer to the Gods, but it is important, since blue decks really struggle with both Gods after they hit the battlefield (all of blue's good answers involve countering the Gods on the stack). While Commit // Memory is a very temporary answer and puts the God on the top of the opponent's deck, if you can leave up a counter a couple of turns down the road, it can become a more permanent answer when the opponent recasts their Scarab God or Hazoret.

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Hostage Taker is one of the most high-variance God answers. It's amazing in the late game when we can exile a God and immediately cast it but looks pretty silly when we cast it on Turn 4 to exile a Hazoret the Fervent and our opponent immediately Lightning Strikes our Hostage Taker, gets back the Hazoret, and kills us. Because of this, while Hostage Taker is incredibly powerful, it often plays like a temporary answer rather than a permanent one.

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Finally, we have a couple of narrow answers. Both Tezzeret the Schemer and Battle at the Bridge are great at killing Hazoret the Fervent and can take care of The Scarab God temporarily but really need a lot of artifacts on the battlefield to be playable. The good news is that artifact decks can easily play Crook of Condemnation or Sentinel Totem to make both cards answer The Scarab God forever, rather than letting it bounce back to our opponent's hand.

Sketchy Answers

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Overwhelming Splendor does a great job of shutting down both Hazoret the Fervent and The Scarab God by turning them into useless 1/1s with no abilities. The problem is that it costs a massive eight mana, which means there's a pretty realistic chance we are dead to the Gods before it hits the battlefield. This being said, it could at least be worth considering, especially in ramp shells, since it's hard for most decks to get off the battlefield and shuts down more creatures than just the Gods.

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Lost Legacy might fit more into the partial answer category. While it can be very strong against The Scarab God, the problem with Lost Legacy is that it's really slow against Ramunap Red. Sure, it does get rid of Hazoret the Fervent forever, but if you spend Turn 3 casting it, you're probably just going to die to Earthshaker Khenra and Ahn-Crop Crasher thanks to the loss of tempo. This being said, when you consider it also answers Approach of the Second Sun, it is a reasonable sideboard card at the moment.

Good Answers

First off, it's worth pointing out that red and green don't really have a card that answers both The Scarab God and Hazoret the Fervent, which means we are left trying to piece together partial answers to keep the Gods at bay. The good news is that all of the other colors have at least some good answers to the Gods.

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Blue is weird. It's horrible at answering the Gods from the battlefield but great at answering the Gods on the stack with counters like Essence Scatter and Disallow. The challenge is you have to make sure you leave up a counter every turn because going shields down for just one turn can end the game by your opponent sneaking a God into play.

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White actually has the most good answers to the Gods thanks to a ton of enchantments that exile creatures. While all of these cards come with the downside that the opponent can kill the enchantment to get back their Gods (perhaps with an enchantment of their own or a Vraska, Relic Seeker), they are still some of the best options we have for not dying to Hazoret the Fervent and The Scarab God. Cast Out is the most heavily played at the moment but might not be the best answer. Thopter Arrest is underrated, basically being a Stasis Snare (a staple before rotation) that trades flash for the ability to answer artifacts. Ixalan's Binding might be the best answer, since it not only deals with the Gods on the battlefield but all copies of each God in our opponent's deck. Meanwhile, Desert's Hold is one of my favorite answers. While the downside is that the opponent can simply legend rule themselves to get back their God, this isn't really any different than Cast Out; plus, the life gain is helpful against a deck like Ramunap Red.

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By far the best answer for the Gods from black is Vraska's Contempt, which not only comes down at instant speed but gains us a bit of life along the way. As a result, this is the best option available if you are playing a black deck. The problem is that Vraska's Contempt is pretty expensive, which means it might be off-limits for many budget decks. Hour of Glory is basically the budget Vraska's Contempt, and while it is close to strictly worse, it does have a bit of upside of pulling additional Gods from the opponent's hand (if it searched the deck as well like Deicide, it would actually be a great answer). Meanwhile, Final Reward is our ultra-budget option, and while it is a bit more expensive in terms of mana, it can still exile any creature forever. 

Wrap-Up

Until things change, the Gods are the gatekeepers of Standard, which means when you sit down to build a deck, you need to make sure you are building with Hazoret the Fervent and The Scarab God in mind. Forgetting about these cards is the easiest way to end up with an unplayable deck, considering that nearly 60% of the decks in Standard are using one God or the other as their finisher. While we could certainly use more answers, especially in colors that are lacking answers altogether like red and green, most of the colors do have some answers to the Gods (and even budget-friendly answers); we just have to make sure to take advantage of them. So, next time you build a deck, don't forget to include some answers for the Gods!

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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