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The Fish Tank: Strixhaven Edition (April 25 - May 1, 2021)


Welcome back to The Fish Tank, the series where we sneak a peek at sweet viewer-submitted decks and maybe, with our powers combined, turn them into real, fun, playable lists! This week, we get a first look at some decks featuring new Strixhaven cards, with offerings for Standard, Pioneer, Modern, and even Commander! What cool ideas did you all send in this week? Let's find out! But first, to have your own deck considered for next week's edition (and for our Fishbowl Thursday Instant Deck Tech), make sure to leave a link in the comments, or email it to me at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com. 

Standard

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Mutate has proven to be one of the most unique mechanics ever made. While it hasn't been able to become a top-tier competitive mechanic, it does allow for some absurd things to happen. Mateob27's Orvar Mutate deck looks to combine the mechanic with Orvar, the All-Form and Goldspan Dragon. The main idea is to use the mutate abilities of Lore Drakkis and Vadrok, Apex of Thunder to keep casting cheap spells from the graveyard in order to trigger Orvar, the All-Form and build a massive board of threats, with Goldspan Dragon providing the mana we need to keep churning through our deck by making Treasures whenever we target it with mutate or one of our cheap instants. As for winning the game, we can either just overwhelm our opponent with threats or make a bunch of copies of Thassa's Oracle with Orvar, the All-Form until we have enough devotion to win the game. The deck also has some really neat tricks, like mutating on an Orvar, the All-Form, which gives us a creature with Orvar's ability but a different name so we can play another Orvar and potentially have a bunch of Orvar, the All-Forms going at once. The drawback of the deck is that like all mutate decks, we need to keep a mutate pile (or multiple mutate piles) on the battlefield, which can be tough in removal-heavy matchups, although cards like Shell Shield and Fight as One can help us fight through our opponent's interaction. Just how good the deck is remains to be seen, but once it gets going, it seems like it should be able to do some absurd things!

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So far, Strixhaven hasn't made the biggest impact on Standard, although Warzkey's Mardu Locks deck is looking to change this. The deck is basically Mardu Magecraft with a bunch of sweet synergies. Clarion Spirit and Sedgemoor Witch offer token production, which we then can use to cheat the backside of Extus, Oriq Overlord, Awaken the Blood Avatar, into play on the cheap. We can also use Claim the Firstborn to steal our opponent's creatures and then sacrifice them to Village Rites, Woe Strider, or Extus, Oriq Overlord. If going tall with Awaken the Blood Avatar isn't in the cards, we can use Leonin Lightscribe to go wide by pumping all of our Sedgemoor Witch and Clarion Spirit tokens to close out the game in one massive attack! Can Mardu Locks compete with things like Rogues and Sultai Ultimatum? I have no clue, but the deck looks like a blast to play and solidly built!

Historic

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Thrilling Discovery might not look like the most thrilling card—it's basically just a Boros twist on Cathartic Reunion—but its printing shouldn't be underestimated thanks to the redundancy it offers decks. Now, with Thrilling Discovery, Cathartic Reunion, and Thrill of Possibility, it's incredibly easy to chain these cards together and quickly fill your graveyard. In Historic, this opens up the possibility of a powerful and consistent reanimator deck like East2West's list. The primary plan is to discard a big threat like Drakuseth, Maw of Flames or Noxious Gearhulk along with Unburial Rites to cheat it into play for four mana. But one of the things I like about the deck is that many of the reanimation targets are five or six mana, which means we can hard cast them in a pinch if our graveyard is shut down and still have a chance of winning. Of course, graveyard hate is still really good against our deck, but if we can dodge Rest in Peace, Leyline of the Void, and friends, we have powerful answers to just about everything, with Massacre Wurm dealing with go-wide aggro decks, Noxious Gearhulk dealing with big threats, lifegain from Baneslayer Angel, and a fast clock to finish the game with Yidaro, Wandering Monster and Drakuseth, Maw of Flames. The deck looks like a blast if you like reanimating things, although it might be best suited for best-of-one play, where you're less likely to get wrecked by graveyard hate in games two and three.

Modern

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Hollow One has always been one of my pet archetypes in Modern. There's nothing like casting a Burning Inquiry on Turn 1, knowing that either you or your opponent could essentially win or lose the game on the spot depending on what is randomly discarded. Well, now, thanks to Strixhaven, Hollow One has a new toy in Conspiracy Theorist, which seems insane in the archetype. Conspiracy Theorist's ability to let us exile and play a card that we discard can do some crazy things. On level one, it allows us to mostly get around the drawback of Burning Inquiry—if we discard something we really need, we can exile it with Conspiracy Theorist and cast it. The two-drop also works really well with delve threats Gurmag Angler and Tasigur, the Golden Fang since we can discard them and then cast them for just one mana by exiling some cards from our likely full graveyard. While the rest of the deck is a pretty straightforward Hollow One build, the archetype might deserve another look in the format based solely on what Conspiracy Theorist can do!

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Finally, we have not one but two Modern decks this week built around the same concept: trying to kill opponents as quickly as possible with Fortifying Draught. The main idea of both decks is to play a one-drop and use Nourishing Shoal to exile Autochthon Wurm to gain 15 life, which, along with the +2/+2 Fortifying Draught gives, naturally allows our one-drop to attack for 17 damage—exactly enough that our opponent should be dead if they cracked a fetch land for a shock land on Turn 1. 

While both Halfwing's deck and RGNKPhoenix20's list are built around a similar concept, they will actually play much differently. Halfwing's deck is slower, with fewer one-drops in general and also fewer hasty one-drops, although it offers a stronger midrange backup plan, with Voracious Wurm potentially being a two-mana 17/17 and Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose potentially just killing opponents directly with the help of Nourishing Shoal. While it can still potentially hit for a ton of damage on Turn 2 (Uktabi Drake into Nourishing Shoal and Fortifying Draught adds up to 19 damage) or even Turn 1, with the help of Chancellor of the Tangle adding an extra mana, it also has the ability to play a slightly longer game.

Meanwhile, RGNKPheonix20's list is all about killing as quickly as possible with a ton of one-drops, many with haste. Plus, being in red offers Lightning Bolt to force through the last three points of damage if we end up just short of winning with our one-drop into our combo of Nourishing Shoal plus Fortifying Draught

While both decks look incredibly explosive and spicy, consistency probably is an issue. Nourishing Shoal without a big green thing to exile doesn't do anything, while big green things without Nourishing Shoal are also mostly dead cards. My guess is the idea of both decks is to mulligan aggressively for a Turn 1 or 2 kill and hope for the best. When it happens, it should be spectacular, and if we don't mulligan into our combo or our opponent has a cheap piece of interaction, we can move on to the next game and try again. Either way, Turn 1 kills are one of the most exciting things you can do in all of Magic, and the combo of Nourishing Shoal with Fortifying Draught is an exciting new way to potentially enable them in Modern.

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for this week! If you have any ideas about how to improve these decks, make sure to let us know in the comments, and if you have a deck you want to be considered for a future Fish Tank, leave that there as well! Thanks to everyone who sent in decks this week! 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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