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The Fish Tank: Sweet Viewer-Submitted Decks (Feb. 2-8, 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! Theros: Beyond Death is officially here, so let's peek at some more sweet viewer-submitted decks using cards from Magic's newest set! Our main focus this week is Standard, which makes sense, as people are excited about the new format, but we have some Pioneer and Modern spice as well, along with a deck that's specifically for best-of-one Standard on Magic Arena! Oh yeah, and 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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What's better than making a few lifelinking Pegasus tokens with Archon of Sun's Grace? Making infinite Pegasus tokens with Archon of Sun's Grace. The idea of xivia's Esper Archon Combo deck is to get a Kaya's Ghostform (or Inevitable End) on an Archon of Falling Stars and then sacrifice it to Woe Strider. Archon of Falling Stars will come back into play thanks to Kaya's Ghostform, and then Kaya's Ghostform will return to the battlefield thanks to Archon of Falling Stars' death trigger, which allows us to repeat the process again and again and again. Since Kaya's Ghostform is an enchantment, we'll trigger anything with the constellation mechanic an infinite number of times, which means infinite Pegasus tokens with Archon of Sun's Grace and infinite mill from Sage of Mysteries, along with infinite drain from Cruel Celebrant thanks to Archon of Falling Stars dying an infinite number of times! While the deck does need a bunch of pieces to go off, we can speed it up with the help of Rise to Glory, which can reanimate both halves of the combo from our graveyard for just five mana. The lack of removal in the deck is a bit of a concern, but maybe that isn't a huge deal if we can combo off quickly enough, especially since bid lifelinkers like Archon of Sun's Grace and Gravebreaker Lamia can help to stabilize the board against aggressive decks. I'm not sure how consistently everything will come together for Esper Archon Combo, but the games where we find all of our combo pieces should be spectacular! 

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With all of the hype and power for Theros: Beyond Death and Throne of Eldraine before that, the proliferate mechanic from our return to return to Ravnica has been more or less forgotten, but it just so happens that the mechanic actually works well with one of the major themes of Theros: Beyond Death: Sagas! The idea of Saga Proliferate Tokens is to use cards like Grateful Apparition, Huatli's Raptor, and Evolution Sage to rush through all of the lore counters on powerful Sagas like The First Iroan Games and Elspeth Conquers Death while also keeping the loyalty on Gideon Blackblade and Elspeth, Sun's Nemesis high. Then, we can use Venerated Loxodon to put counters on all of our random creatures and then proliferate them into huge game-ending threats.


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Allure of the Unknown is a potentially powerful card, but the drawback of allowing the opponent to cast something for free makes it difficult to build around. However, as Tom R. shows in Unknown Punisher Burn, there are ways to build your deck to get around the drawback. The idea here is that our deck is overloaded with burn spells that really aren't all that valuable to our opponent when cast for free from Allure of the Unknown—the worst case is that we end up taking three or four damage, which isn't the end of the world. On the other hand, for a burn deck that needs to cast seven or eight spells to win the game, ending up with five extra cards in hand after Allure of the Unknown resolves is a huge deal, hopefully giving us enough action to close out the game with random Shocks, Lightning Strikes, and Skullcracks (among a million other burn spells). In general, the deck looks solid, but if you decide to take it out for a spin in Pioneer, make sure to have a plan for the Inverter deck. I'm not sure that Unknown Punisher Burn is quite fast enough to race it, so adding some discard like Thoughtseize and Anguished Unmaking is probably necessary to keep up with the new best deck in the format. Regardless, the deck looks powerful and actually might be a competitive (or at least budget-competitive, considering the deck is only $107, with most of that being a playset of Blood Crypt) way to take advantage of Allure of the Unknown.


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Oftentimes, we get caught up looking for decks that can compete in tournaments and forget that a lot of Magic is played on the kitchen table, where having fun (and maybe sometimes winning) is the most important thing. Dapper Turtle sent in a very flavorful and budget-friendly deck: Walk like a Dryad. From a competitive perspective, the deck is probably a worse version of Infect, but who doesn't want to win with a janky tribe like Dryads? The idea of the deck is to overload with forestwalking Dryads and then play a Yavimaya Dryad to tutor a Forest from our deck and put it into play under our opponent's control. Then, we can throw some pump spells like Become Immense, Might of Old Krosa, and Scale Up at our janky Dryads, and hopefully kill our opponent with just one or two big attacks! While I would be shocked to see Walk like a Dryad win a tournament, if you're looking for a budget-friendly way to get the "I won with Dryads in Modern" merit badge on the kitchen table, this list seems like a fine and fun way to go about it.


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Tortured Existence has been a build-around in Pauper for a long time, but it normally involves a green / black-based Dredge-style shell, which makes Rakdos Tortured Existence unique. Oddly, apart from Tortured Existence itself, the most important card in the deck is Bartered Cow. The idea is that we can keep discarding it and returning it to our hand with Tortured Existence to build up a big buffet of Food tokens, which will trigger Glaze Fiend when they come into play and then grow Atog as cheap sacrifice fodder, potentially allowing us to one-shot our opponent with a big attack. We can get even more value from our graveyard by casting Traitor's Clutch to make Atog unblockable and Gravitic Punch to force through a ton of direct damage. While I haven't played much Pauper lately, so I have no idea how the deck lines up with the meta, it is a really unique take on Tortured Existence and seems like it should be both consistent (thanks to a ton of card filtering) and powerful, assuming our big payoff creatures (Atog and Glaze Fiend) can dodge removal for a turn or two.


Anyway, that's all for today! If you have some ideas on how to improve these decks, make sure to leave them in the comments. And if you have a deck you'd like considered for the next edition of The Fish Tank (or the Fishbowl Thursday Instant Deck Tech), leave that as well! As always, you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

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