Esper Gift by Ricky Linn at SCG Open Dallas – 22nd

Creatures (25)
1 Cataclysmic Gearhulk
1 Noxious Gearhulk
2 Walking Ballista
4 Angel of Invention
4 Champion of Wits
4 Glint-Nest Crane
2 Hostage Taker
4 Minister of Inquiries
2 Sunscourge Champion
1 Padeem, Consul of Innovation

Non-Creature Spells (12)
3 Gate to the Afterlife
3 God-Pharaoh’s Gift
3 Chart a Course
3 Refurbish

Lands (23)
3 Island
2 Plains
2 Swamp
1 Concealed Courtyard
4 Drowned Catacomb
2 Fetid Pools
4 Glacial Fortress
3 Ipnu Rivulet
2 Irrigated Farmland

Sideboard (15)
1 Cataclysmic Gearhulk
1 Sunscourge Champion
1 Vizier of Many Faces
1 Ixalan’s Binding
1 Disallow
1 Forsake the Worldly
2 Negate
2 Spell Pierce
1 The Scarab God
3 Duress
1 Lost Legacy

Summary

The U/W and Jeskai Gift archetypes that popped up at the end of Hour of Devastation Standard were a favorite of many, as they offered unparalleled card advantage in the mid to late game, and offered players a combo-oriented strategy that they don’t often get to play with in Standard. Since rotation, many have speculated that Gift could still be a deck, but perhaps it would require a differently colored shell to make it work. The deck we’re featuring today is Esper Gift, which looks to be this archetype’s best shell moving forward.

Like all Gift decks, this deck wants to get cards into its graveyard, get a God-Pharaoh’s Gift into play, and ride it to victory over several turns. To get the powerful 7 mana artifact in play before that much mana is available, this deck plays Gate to the Afterlife and Refurbish. Gate to the Afterlife demands that you are already pouring cards into your graveyard, but this is hardly a problem, as this is already the strategy of the deck. Similarly, Refurbish requires you to have a Gift in the graveyard, but this deck is built to do that, with multiple ways of getting cards from your hand into your graveyard.

Like the Gift decks of last Standard, this deck plays Champion of Wits and Minister of Inquiries as ways of getting through cards quickly, including putting creatures to be reanimated into the graveyard. The main innovation in this package that was brought by Ixalan is Chart a Course. While Chart a Course is, in most contexts, better when you have attacked with a creature, so the card is actively card advantageous, but in this deck it functions differently, offering a valuable draw 2 that puts a card into the graveyard, whether it be a Gift to be brought back into play or a creature to be reanimated.

As for reanimation targets, Angel of Invention is still the #1 target, but this deck plays a wide array of valuable options. Both Cataclysmic Gearhulk and Noxious Gearhulk have powerful enters the battlefield abilities that can swing a game singlehandedly in your direction by wiping the board or destroying the opponent’s best creature. Another new and exciting addition to this deck is Hostage Taker. The 4 mana pirate offers a good creature to be cast regularly from hand as well as a value-driven creature to reanimate.

Here are the changes I would make going forward:

Mainboard

No changes.

Sideboard

-1 Ixalan’s Binding

-1 Disallow

-1 Lost Legacy

+1 Hostage Taker

+1 Sunscourge Champion

+1 Demon of Dark Schemes

This is day 276 of Spellsnare.com’s 2017 Deck of the Day column, where each day we’ll feature a different Standard, Modern, or Legacy deck that caught our eye. You can read day 275 here, where we featured the winning Standard decklist from the SCG Open in Dallas this past weekend.

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