I have just returned from the charming sunshine of the Lone Star state and feel revitalized! I spent a long 4 day weekend in Austin and San Antonio and had an absolute blast. Much delicious vegan grub was eaten, many Lone Stars were drank, two-steps were stepped, oh, and I played in a super sweet team Grand Prix as well!

We Dredged, Fish’d, and Coco’d to the best of our ability, but we unfortunately lost our win-and-in to day 2. Overall, we all had positive records, but our losses just overlapped a bit too much. We unfortunately hit quite a few copies of Rest in Peace out of the sideboard of Affinity (UH WHAT? TURN OFF YOUR RAVAGERS WHY DONTCHA) and that boded quite poorly for my teammate registering Stinkweed Imp. What’s a Golgari Thug to do?

Regardless, I’m happy with our play and team comp though, and if there is one small thing I’d change, it’d be to stick a Golgari Charm in the sideboard of Dredge. The innocuous little charm serves as an insurance against Anger of the Gods, plus has the ability to blow up troublesome enchantments like the aforementioned Rest in Peace or Leyline of the Void. I don’t even wanna speak to what it’s last mode can do to my precious Birds and Hierarchs.

I played in the large Modern challenge event on Sunday and cruised into an easy 3-0-1. I got a sweet plastic cowboy hat and many prize tickets, so it’s obvious who the real winner of the weekend is. I won’t regale you with another article’s worth of Abzan Company stories, but if I would make one change to the deck, it’d be to cut the Sin Collector from the board for another Tidehollow Sculler. The card was consistently impressive and mostly does the same thing for cheaper.

As sad as I am not to have another Modern event coming up, I am super excited to delve into Amonkhet spoilers! Standard has gotten quite stale, and that’s become all the more apparent to me after playing so much Modern lately. Hopefully Amonkhet will provide a bevy of exciting new options to shake the format up and breathe some fresh air into Standard.

The trials of Amonkhet challenge every denizen of this sandy plane, and towering above them, are mighty monochromatic gods. Hazoret the Fervent was the first to be officially spoiled and Jonah covered the hasty red god here. He also gave a prediction on what the other Gods might end up looking like. And much to my editor’s joy and love of saying, “I told you so,” he pretty much hit the nail exactly on the head for the blue god. If he ends up being correct on any of the others, we’ll have to assume he’s hacked the mothership, and I will be promptly reporting him to the Magic authorities.

[Editor’s Note: He’s onto me! Run!]

(Sorry if you can’t read Japanese, but we’ve unfortunately not been given an English version yet.)

Kefnet the Mindful is just as Jonah predicted. A flying indestructible bird who requires 7 cards in hand to attack or block and has the activated ability to draw a card. The one slight thing he missed was in addition to drawing a card when you active its ability, you may also return a land you control to your hand. Not such a small bonus when you’re trying to keep 7 cards in hand.

Kefnet, like the blue god before them, also happens to cost 2U. Of all the original Theros gods, Thassa, God of the Sea was the only one to see consistent play as a 4-of in a tier 1 deck. She made waves in Dublin at Pro Tour Theros and set the pace for the format to come. Will Kefnet follow that trend?

I’m gonna go ahead and say “hell naw.”

Mono U Devotion was something akin to a white weenie-style strategy. It curved out with cheap creatures and put pressure on quickly. The sum was more than its parts, and played less powerful cards like Cloudfin Raptor and Frostburn Weird to turn on the real powerhouses in Master of Waves and Thassa. The drawback in Thassa, requiring 5 devotion to blue, was much easier to build around when you were trying to take advantage of her high power and activated ability. She was made to close out games quickly, and decks trying to do that benefited in curving out with threats. Decks trying to play to the board and attack were much more likely to put devotion on the field, as well.

So how does that parallel work with Kefnet? Unfortunately I don’t imagine any deck trying to clock fools with a flying 5/5 will have 7 cards in hand at all, much less turn after turn. Maybe the flying God will warrant a brand new archetype, but I’m having a hard time imagining what that would be. This might simply be a case of wait and see what the rest of the set holds, but right now I’m not optimistic.

Surprisingly, one of the cards I’m most excited for is one of the first that was spoiled. I’m not sure what it is, but Archfiend of Ifnir has got me super excited. The flying 5/4 for 5 might not look like it effects the board the turn it comes into play, but I’m dreaming of wonderful scenarios where I might already have a Key to the City in play or some other free discard outlet.

Permanently shrinking your opponent’s board at instant speed sounds amazing to me, and I only wish I could have paired this fiend with a Smuggler’s Copter. The idea of an engine 5 drop might seem clunky when you realized you’d most likely have to run 4 copies, but don’t forget this demon comes with Cycling built in. Clogged in your hand in the early game? Simply cycle it away! Draw a redundant copy when you already have one in play? Cycle it away and trigger the one in play!

Glorybringer was another early spoiler that I’m interested in as well. Thundermaw Hellkite and Stormbreath Dragon have set a powerful precedent for flying hasty 5 drop dragons. I’m less interested in bringing home glory with this dragon though, and more interested in murdering my opponent’s freshly cast Gideon, Ally of Zendikar.

Exert is a hard one to judge without playing, but I have high hopes for the mechanic. Imagine staring down a Glorybringer on the opposite of the table. If you play any X/4, they’re likely going to kill it and then clock you for 4. If you don’t advance the board to race or block, you’re still going to get clocked for 4! Imagine if there was a way to give all our Exert creatures Vigilance as well….hmmmm

Spoiler season is just starting up and I can’t wait to see what other spicy new staples shake up Standard! If something in particular jumps out at you, feel free to leave a comment and maybe we can discuss it next week!

Are you as excited for Amonkhet Standard as I am? If you are, check out this article by Riccardo Monico where he discusses the keywords, abilities, and cards that are going to thrive in this new format.

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