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First Impressions of Theros: Beyond Death Standard

This past week I was able to get my hands on some Theros: Beyond Death cards on MTG Arena thanks to the early access streamer event. We played a ton of bad decks throughout the day and it was nice to see a few decks go from my mind to the board. This article will pretty much be a decklist dump of a few lists I've seen that are pretty cool and have been running around or decklists that could be contenders with more fine-tuning. Let's get right into it!

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To start us off, Rakdos Aristocats which doesn't change much but did get some decent pickups that are worth giving a shot ...

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The deck got some more synergistic cards like Slaughter-Priest of Mogis which is another card that benefits anytime something gets sacrificed, and maybe the card is too cute, but I tried a few copies and enjoyed it. It can serve as an outlet to sacrifice things that are stolen with Claim the Firstborn. We'll have to see with the weeks to come if Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger fits in this deck. If it doesn't, you can probably play more Priest of Mogis or removal like Murderous Rider or Act of Treason

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Izzet Phoenix might have its time under the sun as the deck benefited from cards like Underworld Breach and Ox of Agonas. Underworld Breach can be used as a closer and way for you to get one last push with your spells. With how fast this deck is able to load its yard up, this would be the first place to try Ox of Agonas. The issue with this deck will be the coming weeks as I assume graveyard hate will be amplified, but for the first few weeks, this deck will probably steal some games. 

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Another deck that was a blast was the Grixis midrange deck. The ability to have a Lazav, the Multifarious become a 6/6 for two mana is absurd. I played a version of this deck on stream and I think there's some power here once everything is tuned a bit. Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger doesn't just sit around in the graveyard! As you can see from the previously mentioned decks, they all have graveyard synergies. Because of this, expect more Leyline of the Void and other graveyard hate cards. 

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Another deck that I've found fun was this Aphemia, the Cacophony enchantment deck. This is a very rough start but there's a strong chance with Theros here that maybe Alela, Artful Provocateur might see some standard play. Against what I played in the event, I've found Alela just spawns so many tokens due to all of the enchantments and enchantment creatures. If you're wondering why we don't play Dance of the Manse, that's because of Aphemia. By the late game, there isn't much of a graveyard left. With the coming weeks, I'm going to try to turn a list like this into best of three to see if I can make a more aggressive Esper Enchantments style of deck! 

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If you're looking for an Esper list that is less Enchantment heavy, Esper Hero got some new toys as Kunoros, Hound of Athreos and Dream Trawler slot perfectly into this deck as they're multicolored bombs. Dream Trawler can definitely take over the game by itself. Kaya, Orzhov Usurper has to be one of the relevant cards with all the Escape running around along with Cauldron Familiar and Witch's Oven clogging up the meta. If the deck needs more exile, maybe its time to start playing Eat to Extinction. The pseudo-Surveil on Eat is amazing for fixing our draws on top of permanently dealing with cards. 

How about something a little more counterspell heavy?...

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This was the Dimir Control deck that actually looked quite impressive and worth a shot for pure control mages out there. One of the more powerful cards was actually Ashiok, Nightmare Muse as that card seems to be a bit underrated right now because it isn't Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. I feel like Ashiok's 2/3 nightmare token is a serious closer and the fact that you can just keep putting bodies on board that doesn't get dealt with by a Shock effect is important. The -3 is even better than I thought it would be after playing it. This list isn't perfect but I think Dimir might be the real deal with some tuning. Another card that has stood out to me is Labyrinth of Skophos. The card has been a house in protecting us from attacks from creatures with Embercleave and I think the colorless downside is worth the number of times it'll save our behind.

Don't worry, it wouldn't be me if I didn't supply a few Teferi control lists ...

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I played a lot of the Azorius and Esper deck on stream and with all the sweet new cards that have been added from #MTGTHB, the archetypes can be viable once again. I'm not sure if I like Dream Trawler in the main deck of land go playstyles. The last time I had something like that was Aetherling but that was because it was impossible to kill. I also think the Azorius shell could add Medomai's Prophecy. The current Azorius shell I have doesn't play Planar Cleansing as right now, the deck has been performing just fine thanks to Banishing Light and all my other enchantments. Now if we went into Esper Control, it'd look like this

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Of course, the games are slow, but with the addition of black, we can cast cards like Eat to Extinction, Kaya, Orzhov Usurper, and Ashiok, Nightmare Muse. The addition of black gives us so much more power and now with so many Temples in the format, we can fix our draws quite nicely.  A card that could be really relevant again is Despark as that card hits Cavalier of Thorns and Thassa Deep-Dwelling and most of the gods. The list isn't perfect though, I definitely see that the deck could use cards like Chemister's Insight or some card to refuel our hands. So far, I haven't missed Opt as I don't really play Gadwick, the Wizened but this list is a wonderful starting point for Esper mages.

Here are a few other lists I've seen around in the community that are pretty cool!

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I played a list in the same ballpark as this deck that revolves around Enigmatic Incarnation but my version doesn't seem as smooth as Huey's list. This deck generates some sweet value by turning our enchantments like Omen of the Sea into a Setessan Champion. Incarnation pretty much makes us a tool box style of deck that is just an improved Prime Speaker Vannifar. The version I was playing had Medomai's Prophecy which is way better than what I thought it was.

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I'm sure you've all seen how much Thassa, Deep-Dwelling has spiked in popularity by now as that card is very real but so is the whole Mono Blue deck. Here's a list that Seth "Probably Better Known As SaffronOlive" made. Nyx Lotus hasn't disappointed us yet. The card has been so good that we've seen people add Kiora, Behemoth Beckoner just to untap it for a billion mana! 


The event was fun and there are a ton of decks running around and the decks listed above aren't final will probably go through a ton of revisions. I'll probably be making tons of videos for each deck mentioned above so be on the lookout for that. Before I head out, I'd like to just say that a handful of cards definitely lived up to the hype like Nyx Lotus but the cards that crept up on me were a few of the Uncommon sagas. They're amazing early turn plays that can definitely set up our next batch of turns!

Amazing Magical Cards (These definitely Delivered)

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Surprise (Wowee, they performed better than I thought they would!)

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Anywho, thanks for reading and let me know in the comments of what decks you've seen that have shown promise and what you're excited to play with! Theros: Beyond Death is a very well designed set that delivered on the promise of increased power. Though there is still a ton of time left for something to be broken, this set definitely delivers on the fun and should breathe new life into Standard.

If you ever have a deck you want to be made into a video feel free to leave a like, comment, Email, and subscribe to the MTGGoldfish Youtube Channel 

-Your Friendly Neighborhood AsianAvenger

Twitter: @TheAsianAvenger || Twitch: || Email:


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