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Testing Five Sweet New Decks During Core Set 2021 Preview


Yesterday was early-access day for Core Set 2021 on Magic Arena, and while we didn't stream due to the Twitch blackout, thanks to having a fully stocked account for the day (thanks, Wizards!), I did manage to record a bunch of matches with five decks that I think are among the sweetest for Core Set 2021 Standard. As such, today's video is a bit different: rather than focusing on just a single deck, we're jumping around preview-stream style to get a glimpse of some of the coolest things you can do with new Core Set 2021 cards! If you like some of the decks, make sure to let me know in the comments because we can revisit them in the future for a full stream or video. Anyway, let's get to the video, and then we'll talk briefly about the decks!

The Decks

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As soon as Peer into the Abyss was previewed, the first thing that popped into my head was using it as a combo piece with Underworld Dreams or Ob Nixilis, the Hate-Twisted. As long as our opponent has at least 20 cards in their library, resolving Peer into the Abyss targeting our opponent with either of the "when your opponent draws a card, they take one damage" cards on the battlefield is lethal, with the opponent losing half of their life from Peer into the Abyss itself and the rest from a huge pile of Underworld Dreams or Ob Nixilis, the Hate-Twisted pings. Technically, this means we have a two-card "I win" combo in Standard! With the help of Nyx Lotus, we can pull off the combo as early as Turn 5, with Grim Tutor offering us a consistent, cheap way to find whatever combo piece we are missing. Beyond the combo, we are a weird sort of Mono-Black Devotion deck since having a bunch of black mana symbols on the battlefield helps to power up Nyx Lotus, and Gray Merchant of Asphodel's drain ability is a good way to make Underworld Dreams relevant while we are waiting to draw Peer into the Abyss.

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Conclave Mentor is one of the most exciting uncommons in Core Set 2021, doing a pretty good Winding Constrictor impression (and Winding Constrictor was very strong back in Kaladesh Standard). More importantly, the theme of +1/+1 counters got a ton of new support in Core Set 2021, even discounting Conclave Mentor, with Basri Ket, Basri's Solidarity, and Basri's Lieutenant all offering ways to add counters to creatures (and potentially two counters, thanks to Conclave Mentor), while Scavenging Ooze puts counters on itself while also hating on pesky graveyard threats like Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath and Cauldron Familiar. The main reason to play GW Counters is its ability to get off to incredibly explosive starts. Something like Pelt Collector on Turn 1 into Conclave Mentor on Turn 2 into another one-drop like Stonecoil Serpent or Venerable Knight on Turn 3 allows us to convoke out Venerated Loxodon to put two +1/+1 counters on our team while also adding a 4/4 body to the battlefield. This allows us to (hopefully) build a massive, unbeatable board very quickly and use it to run our opponent over before they can recover.

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Bolas's Citadel is a powerful card, but it's gotten even better and more explosive thanks to Core Set 2021. The goal of GB Citadel is to ramp into Bolas's Citadel (which we can find with Grim Tutor in a pinch) with the help of cards like Arboreal Grazer and Gilded Goose and then, once Bolas's Citadel hits the battlefield, use it to play through a huge chunk of a deck in a single turn (and maybe even win the game) with the help of cards that let us make extra land drops. The way Bolas's Citadel normally fizzles is when we find the second land on the top of our deck. But thanks to Azusa, Lost but Seeking and Dryad of the Ilysian Grove, we can potentially play seven lands each turn. Add in some lifegain from cards like Pulse of Murasa, Planewide Celebration, and Bond of Flourishing along with additional ways to change the top card of our deck like Temple of Malady and Fabled Passage, and there's a decent chance we will win the game the turn we resolve Bolas's Citadel. As far as actually killing our opponent, we have another new Core Set 2021 addition in Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose, which drains our opponent as we cast our lifegain spells. The other key card in the deck is Dread Presence. With Dryad of the Ilysian Grove on the battlefield, all of our lands are Swamps, so they trigger Dread Presence to either draw us cards to find Bolas's Citadel (or draw extra lands off the top of our deck so we can cast more spells with Bolas's Citadel) or drain our opponent for two (which ends up being four if we have Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose on the battlefield). Once we get going, we can potentially drain our opponent for 20 damage in one turn with all of our extra land drops. Or, for a more direct Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose kill, we can resolve Planewide Celebration to gain 16 life and dome our opponent for 16 with Vito!

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I'm a big believer in the power of Demonic Embrace as a weird hybrid of Rancor and Angelic Destiny, both of which were very good cards when they were in Standard. Mono-Black Demonic Embrace Stompy is a simple way to take advantage of the aura. We aren't doing anything fancy, but the game plan of playing cheap, aggressive black creatures and sending them to the air with Demonic Embrace can be very effective. While any random creature is a fine Demonic Embrace target—since even if it dies, we can always recast Demonic Embrace from our graveyard—the sweetest thing the deck can do is to stick Demonic Embrace on Rotting Regisaur (potentially after discaring it to Rotting Regisaur), making it into a 10-power flier that can kill our opponent in just two attacks, perhaps as early as Turn 5!

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Last but not least, we have Blugin, a mono-blue artifact ramp deck that also doubles as Ugin tribal. The dream draw is something like Palladium Myr on Turn 3 into Ugin, the Ineffable on Turn 4 into Ugin, the Spirit Dragon (for six mana, thanks to the discount from Ugin, the Ineffable) on Turn 5, which should beat most decks in the format. While we play a lot of strange cards like Renowned Weaponsmith, the deck was oddly effective and can do some absurd things. Oh yeah, we also get to cast Sublime Epiphany, which (as long as we dodge Mystical Dispute) offers an absurd amount of value and is usually a straight-up four-for-one at instant speed!

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. Which of these decks do you like this most? Which should we play more on stream or YouTube? Let me know in the comments! Have you built or found some other sweet and spicy Core Set 2021 decks for Standard? Leave those in the comments as well! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com


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