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The Fish Tank: Sweet and Spicy User Decks (September 6-12, 2020)

Welcome back to The Fish Tank, the series where we peek at sweet viewer-submitted decks and maybe, with our powers combined, turn them into real, fun, playable lists! This week, as we wait for Zendikar Rising to be released and shake up Standard, we're jumping from format to format with sweet decks for post-rotation Standard, Pioneer, Modern, and even Pauper! What sweet lists did you all submit 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 them to me at


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While we still have a few days to go until Zendikar Rising is released and Standard rotates, people are already preparing for the new format! While the party mechanic doesn't look all that exciting for constructed, some the party tribes have enough pieces to make full-on tribal decks, like Rogues! Scapegoat_tom (which I'm still not convinced isn't Crim on a fake account) shows off the possibilities of Rogues. Thanks to some good pre-existing Rogues like Rankle, Master of Pranks and Brazen Borrower, the deck has a head start on Standard playability compared to some of the other party tribes like Clerics, while new additions like Zareth San, the Trickster and Nighthawk Scavenger add power to the deck. The end result is a tribal tempo deck with some tricky one-drops and solid midrange threats. While I really like the idea and think Rogues have potential in Standard, I would like to see the deck maximize the number of copies of some of its most powerful tribe members, like Zareth San, the Trickster and Brazen Borrower, which seem like the biggest draws into the tribe, perhaps by cutting some of the questionable one-drops to make room. Either way, if you're looking to get a head start on building for Zendikar Rising Standard, keep the Rogue tribe in mind. With some more brewing and tuning, it could into a real threat in the format, and it looks super fun to play!


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When I saw Roiling Vortex, I saw a hate card for Burn and red-based aggro decks to fight through opponents' lifegain, similar to Sulfuric Vortex, with the "five damage when a player casts a spell without mana" being mostly a weird bonus. Meanwhile, Robin S. saw a combo piece, with Roil of Possibilities being built to make Roiling Vortex deal a ton of damage by forcing opponents to cast spells for free. While the end result is a weird sort of Jeskai Taxes deck, the main synergies involve Possibility Storm, Spell Queller, and Release to the Wind exiling our opponent's spells and making it so that if our opponent wants to cast them, they are going to have to take five damage from Roiling Vortex. If they choose not to cast them, we come out ahead by turning cards like Spell Queller and Release to the Wind into hard removal. And if they choose to cast them, we're just as happy because they'll quickly die to Roiling Vortex

Along with the Roiling Vortex plan, the deck has some other strange locks. Lavinia, Azorius Renegade and Drannith Magistrate both hard lock the opponent from playing spells, with the help of Possibility Storm (as does Teferi, Time Raveler, which could be a good addition to the deck), while Containment Priest exiles creatures that return to play from Deputy of Detention or Detention Sphere, giving the deck a ton of strange taxing synergies. The downside is that a lot of our tax creatures aren't very powerful as standalone threats and need help to really do anything exciting, which might leave the deck prone to drawing the wrong pieces at the wrong time and ending up with a bunch of half-locks that do nothing and no full locks, although it has a bunch two-card combinations that virtually win the game if they are assembled. While I have no clue how good the deck is, it's a really unique and fun idea!


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Speaking of making opponents miserable (to the point where the original name of the deck was "The Reason I Have No Friends"), we have a super-cheap ($35 in paper and just $1 on Magic Online) Mono-Blue Ponza list from Programmer_112. As you can see, the deck is overloaded with a massive 28 spells that can bounce any permanent that costs between two and four mana, with the goal being to start bouncing the opponent's lands on Turn 2 with Boomerang or Eye of Nowhere and keep bouncing at least one land a turn for the rest of the game, which, depending on if we are on the play or the draw, will mean that the opponent should be stuck at either one or two lands, making it hard to do much of anything. Eventually, we will win the game by drawing either our one Aetherling and beating our opponent down or our one Elixir of Immortality, to shuffle our graveyard back into our library, allowing us to make our opponent play through their entire deck (while doing nothing) until they mill out (with Jace's Archivist and Dictate of Kruphix speeding up the process). While the deck is super cheap and looks fun to play, keep in mind that it is very matchup dependent. Aggro and burn decks with lots of one-drops are almost unwinnable matchups since Goblin Guides and Monastery Swiftspears can win even with just a single land on the battlefield. On the other hand, midrange, control, and decks like Tron can be super good matchups since these decks struggle to do anything meaningful if they are stuck on just a couple of lands. Still, especially considering the deck is so cheap, it's hard to complain about having some bad matchups in a format as expensive and powerful as Modern. If you want to make Tron players cry for just $35, Mono-Blue Ponza is worth keeping in mind.

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One of the most unique aspects of Zendikar Rising is that it has provided color-shifted versions of some efficient landfall threats that were already close to being good enough to see play in Standard, with Akoum Hellhound being a red Steppe Lynx and Brushfire Elemental being a Gruul Plated Geopede. The redundancy of cheap landfall threats (and the presence of fetch lands) opens up the possibility of a very powerful landfall zoo aggro deck in Modern, as Dane P. realized. The idea is to cast landfall threats on Turns 1 and 2 and use our 14 fetch lands to double-pump them each turn. Picture this relatively easy start: Turn 1 Akoum Hellhound. Turn 2 play and crack a fetch land, attack for four with Akoum Hellhound, and play a Plated Geopede. Turn 3, we can follow up with Brushfire Elemental, play and crack yet another fetch land, to pump Akoum Hellhound to a 4/5 and Plated Geopede and the hasty Brushfire Elemental into 5/5s, allowing us to attack for another 14, giving us a total of 18 damage, which is within range of our opponent cracking a couple of fetch lands or playing a shock land untapped from being lethal! Otherwise, we have more land-based shenanigans, with Wrenn and Six getting back fetch lands from the graveyard to make sure we always have a way to pump our creatures, Knight of the Reliquary offering up to four landfall triggers in a single turn by finding a fetch land, and Atarka's Command putting a land into play at instant speed for potential mid-combat blowouts! While we look at a lot of janky, fun decks on The Fish Tank, Landfall Zoo looks like it could be legitimately competitive. While I'm not 100% sold on every choice in the deck (is Bloodbraid Elf too slow?), I wouldn't be surprised to see something like this be a real player in Modern once Zendikar Rising is released.


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Looking for a way to make opponents miserable while also drawing a ton of cards in the Pauper format? Look no further than PinguPenguin's Turbo Fog deck. The idea is simple: use our seemingly endless assortment of Fogs—literal Fog, Moment's Peace, and Tangle—to stay alive while churning through our deck with cards like Accumulated Knowledge, Frantic Inventory, and other cheap cantrips. Eventually, we'll find our win condition: Stream of Thought. Stream of Thought not only (slowly) mills our opponent out of the game but also allows us to keep shuffling cards from our graveyard into our library. So once we have mostly emptied our deck, we can keep putting Fogs and other copies of Stream of Thought back into our deck, which sort of locks the opponent out of winning (at least, through combat) while we slowly eat away at their library with mill. While the deck looks like it should be great against any sort of creature-based strategy, I do wonder how it will hold up to decks like Tron or Burn, which doesn't really care all that much about our Fogs. Either way, the deck looks super fun to play (although opponents might not agree).


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

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