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The Fish Tank: Theros: Beyond Death Edition (Jan. 5-12, 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 marks the second week of Theros: Beyond Death spoilers, and a lot of viewers seem excited to brew with the set! As such, we're jumping across formats this week, featuring decks built around Theros: Beyond Death cards! 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 SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.

Standard

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Underworld Breach is a card that clearly has the potential to be broken, but it seems much easier to break in older formats. Undeterred, Towan is looking to combo off with the enchantment in Standard. The deck's primary plan is to get Underworld Breach on the battlefield and then loop two copies of Emry, Lurker of the Loch to stock the graveyard and provide the cards we need to escape as well as Nyx Lotus (with Corridor Monitor and Manifold Key to untap it) to provide the mana. Eventually, this will mill over our one copy of Jace, Wielder of Mysteries, which we can escape into play to win with the static ability by drawing on an empty library. While the combo seems super sweet, and it's awesome to see a way to abuse Underworld Breach in Standard, there is a problem: we've seen a lot of powerful escape cards in Theros: Beyond Death and also a lot of graveyard hate to keep it in check. Cards like Leyline of the Void completely shut down our deck, and even incidental graveyard hate can be effective against Nyx Breach Combo if it can snag our Emry, Lurker of the Loch at instant speed. Still, when we can dodge the hate, the deck offers a really unique and potentially powerful way to win the game!

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Mono-Black Devotion is one of the decks I'm most excited to build in Theros: Beyond Death Standard, mostly because Gray Merchant of Asphodel is one of my favorite cards. -Arcanity- gets the fun started early with a build of Mono-Black Devotion that is both powerful and budget-friendly, at just $100 in paper. The deck is actually a weird sort of hybrid between Mono-Black Devotion and Mono-Black Aristocrats, with the Cat Oven combo offering repeatable damage with Ayara, First of Locthwain, a way to get Deathless Knight and its massive four black mana symbols back from the graveyard every turn, and a constant source of card advantage with Erebos, Bleak-Hearted. Eventually, we'll find a Gray Merchant of Asphodel or two and drain our opponent out of the game. 

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While I like the build in general, especially considering its budget price tag, I do have a couple of questions. First, Dreadhorde Invasion has been in Standard for a year now and hasn't really found its footing. I'm not sure that Mono-Black Devotion will be the card that changes its fortunes. It might be better to play something with more black mana symbols. Second, I'm a huge fan of Bolas's Citadel in Mono-Black Devotion, and while this build has a decent amount of card advantage with Ayara, First of Locthwain and Erebos, Bleak-Hearted, it might be worth finding room for a copy or two as an extra finisher since it works so well with all of the deck's incidental lifegain (and has three black mana symbols).

Pioneer

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Deathbellow War Cry has generated a surprising amount of hype for a card that only shows up in traditionally underpowered themed boosters. And now, thanks to Dragon Controller, we have an Against the Odds–esque Pioneer build looking to take advantage of the card's power. The plan here is simple: ramp into Deathbellow War Cry as quickly as possible with the help of Arboreal Grazer, Elvish Rejuvenator, Nissa, Who Shakes the World, and friends and then tutor out a game-ending combination of Minotaurs. Which Minotaurs are we tutoring up? One copy of Kragma Warcaller to give the team haste and pump our Minotaurs +2/+0 when they attack, one Rageblood Shaman for +1/+1 and trample, one Felhide Petrifier for deathtouch (to combo with Rageblood Shaman's trample), and Fanatic of Mogis to deal roughly four direct damage when it comes into play and give us another attacker. Assuming nothing goes wrong (like our opponent killing a Minotaur at instant speed before we can attack), this package of four Minotaurs represents 22 hastey, trampling, deathtouching damage, along with an extra four-ish from Fanatic of Mogis entering the battlefield, which should be enough to close out the game. In theory, we can do this as early Turn 3 by curving Vessel of Volatility into Irencrag Feat into Deathbellow War Cry! While the deck can be extremely explosive when things go right, the downside is that when things go wrong (either because we don't draw Deathbellow War Cry or because our opponent can counter Deathbellow War Cry or kill our Minotaurs at instant speed), we're left in a situation where we basically spend our entire hand on nothing and have little chance to rebuild since our deck is full of Minotaurs that are underpowered without being tutored into play by Deathbellow War Cry.

Modern

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Apparently, it's Underworld Breach week on The Fish Tank. We looked at a Standard build earlier, and now Psychosmuft96 offers an interesting Modern take on Underworld Breach in Underworld Orb. The deck's primary plan is to get Underworld Breach on the battlefield along with Mesmeric Orb and Grinding Station. While this might sound like a lot of combo pieces, it's actually much easier than it looks since we can cast Orb or Station from our graveyard once we get Underworld Breach on the battlefield, while Emry, Lurker of the Loch also provides some extra consistency. After the combo is assembled, we can repeatedly escape free artifacts like Mishra's Bauble and Mox Opal from our graveyard by sacrificing them to Grinding Station to mill three cards (and even more with Mesmeric Orb on the battlefield). We can also tap Mox Opal for mana in between, so eventually, we'll have our entire deck milled over, a few red mana floating, and a reasonably high storm count. At this point, we can simply escape our one Grapeshot a couple of times to kill our opponent or escape Laboratory Maniac on the battlefield to get the "drawing on an empty library" win, with the help of a Thought Scour. In theory, we can win the game as early as Turn 2 with the help of Simian Spirit Guide and Mox Opal providing extra mana, although Turn 3 is probably more common. Much like Standard Underworld Breach, the biggest issue with Underworld Orb is its reliance on the graveyard. If our opponent has Rest in Peace or Leyline of the Void, our only backup plan is beating down with Emry, Lurker of the Loch, Simian Spirit Guide, and friends, which is almost never enough to win a game of Modern. While Psychosmurth96 didn't include a sideboard, if you decide to pick up the deck, make sure to have a plan for beating graveyard hate in games two and three.

Legacy

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Planar Sunrise from TheBirdNerd cheats on the Theros: Beyond Death theme a bit, but we don't see too many budget-friendly Legacy decks, so it's worth bending the rules for. The deck looks pretty convoluted, but the basic idea is to stick an Aggressive Mining, which lets us turn lands into cards, and then hopefully play through our entire deck by cycling lands in and out of our graveyard, with Natural Balance giving us an additional way to sacrifice lands, while Planar Birth and Splendid Reclamation return them to the battlefield. The end game is to eventually empty our entire deck and win with Laboratory Maniac

In all honesty, I have no idea how this deck will work in practice. I can see the combo's idea, but it's hard to figure out just how consistent it will be. My biggest fear is that we are lacking in card draw because we can only activate Aggressive Mining once each turn, which might leave us fizzle prone. That said, the deck is convoluted enough that it might play more consistently than it looks. Either way, the idea is really interesting, and you can't beat the $100 price tag in the Legacy format.

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for this week. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and if you have some ideas on how to improve or use these decks, leave those as well. If you'd like your own deck considered for a future edition of The Fish Tank (or the Fishbowl Thursday Instant Deck Tech), leave a link in the comments, or you can email me at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com. Thanks to everyone who submitted decks this week. Keep the spicy jank coming!



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