Courtesy Wizards of the Coast
Geist of Saint Traft, Art by Igor Kieryluk

The wait is over. The rotation has occurred. We have returned to Ravnica, and the plane-spanning cityscape has not disappointed. As much as things change, however, some thing do remain the same.

A challenge whenever a set rotates out of Magic is adapting old decks to the new Standard. Some designs are more resilient than others. Some cards in and of themselves take the wind right out of certain decks, vis a vis [mtg_card]Birthing Pod[/mtg_card], while others like [mtg_card]Delver of Secrets[/mtg_card] lose the suppor they need to really shine ([mtg_card]Ponder[/mtg_card], etc). To be frank, I’m pretty happy to see both of those decks fall by the wayside or perhaps slip in to Modern, a format to which I must sadly send my trusty [mtg_card]Hero of Bladehold[/mtg_card] – more on that tomorrow.

However, the token generation of my Scars/Innistrad Standard deck remains mostly intact. With the addition of the Populate mechanic used by the Selesnya Conclave, the possibility exists to generate even more creatures without warning. Examination of existing resources also indicated some potential that, until now, went unrealized. To that end, I built the following deck.

[mtg_deck title=”Spirit Squadron”]
// Creatures
4 Doomed Traveler
4 Drogskol Captain
2 Geist of Saint Traft

// Spells
4 Lingering Souls
4 Intangible Virtue
4 Rootborn Defenses
4 Favorable Winds
4 Eyes in the Skies
2 Cackling Counterpart
2 Detention Sphere

// Planeswalkers
2 Sorin, Lord of Innistrad

// Lands
5 Plains
4 Island
4 Glacial Fortress
4 Isolated Chapel
4 Hallowed Fountain
2 Vault of the Archangel
1 Swamp

// Sideboard
4 Judge’s Familiar
3 Cyclonic Rift
3 Azorius Charm
3 Sundering Growth
2 Grafdigger’s Cage

The centerpiece of the deck is, of course, [mtg_card]Geist of Saint Traft[/mtg_card]. With every attack, his guardian angel appears. She has a tendency to disappear after combat, but Instant-speed Populate cards and [mtg_card]Cackling Counterpart[/mtg_card] can copy her, and the copy sticks around. Enhanced by [mtg_card]Intangible Virtue[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Favorable Winds[/mtg_card], she’ll be a force to be reckoned with. The multiple Captains protect each other and any Spirit tokens I generate, as well as making them even more powerful. It’s a heavily aggro-flavored deck, but preventative spells like [mtg_card]Rootborn Defenses[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Detention Sphere[/mtg_card] should help stave off sweeping responses or large defenders.

As eager as I am to test this deck in a true FNM situation, my heart remains leaning towards Izzet. In the wake of the various pre-release and release events, I know I have a variety of mad science choices. As good as the cloning technology in the Spirit Squadron deck might be, I feel a strong Izzet deck will be a touch flashier in its climax. I’ve been playing around with a few designs, facilitating between control and aggressive burn, and I think what follows is the best one yet.

[mtg_deck title=”Izzet Controlled Burn”]
// Creatures
4 Goblin Electromancer
3 Guttersnipe
3 Snapcaster Mage
2 Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius

// Sorceries
4 Pillar of Flame
2 Mizzium Mortars

// Instants
4 Izzet Charm
4 Searing Spear
4 Dissipate
2 Think Twice

// Planeswalkers
2 Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
2 Jace, Architect of Thought

// Lands
7 Island
4 Sulfur Falls
4 Steam Vents
7 Mountain
2 Desolate Lighthouse

// Sideboard
4 Demolish
4 Chandra’s Fury
3 Counterflux
1 Mizzium Mortars
3 Thunderbolt

It’s still a work in progress, and I’m torn between [mtg_card]Dissipate[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Syncopate[/mtg_card] as the main deck counterspell. The Electromancers reduce the cost of each, both include the Exile clause, and while Dissipate may be a touch costlier, it does not allow my opponent the chance to ‘buy’ their way out of the counter. I’ll run with it for now and see how it works. If it looks promising, I may alternate between using this deck and Spirit Squadron in upcoming FNM events.

Standard isn’t the only format out there, though, and I’ll address the formats I’ve been neglecting since my days in high school… next time.