The Tough, The Mean, and the Deadly (Standard)
30 Jul 2020 - 15 min read
Ahhhh keywords. The slang that allows the incredibly complex and growing rules set of MTG to function. Without keywords, we’d be a verbose mess and no one would be able to adequately convey anything about how the game is played or what actions they’re taking. But keywords, over the course of 27 years have grown to be a massive and overflowing bunch as nearly every set brings two or more new mechanics.
But I don’t want to talk about Companion or Escape in today’s article. I want to throw it back to the most basic of keywords, the bread and butter of casual Magic that are known as ‘evergreen’ mechanics. These are the bread and butter of magic, as creatures were flying over to chip in for damage or trampling over each other long before anyone was counting cards in their graveyard for Undergrowth or tapping mana specifically to trigger Adamant.
Today, spurred by the keyword-matters creatures and pseudo keyword lords from Ikoria, I want to focus on three of my favorite keywords: Trample, Menace, and Deathtouch. Let’s dive into a build focused on each of these mechanics with the added benefit that they all completely survive rotation this Fall!
Math is for Blockers
A great person once said these words, “Math is for blockers. Attack with everything.” That is the exact motto of a board full of creatures with trample. Our creatures are going to be bigger than our opponents, and no matter how they block, we’re going to decimate their forces and crash through for damage anyway. The centerpieces of this deck is the humble bond between a man and his dinosaur. Courtesy of Ikoria,
Proud Wildbonder, though taking away our ability to actually destroy creatures in combat, allows us to punch through damage rapidly and efficiently. And then with all that extra damage, Quartzwood Crasher triggers giving us more fat tramplers to block and then smash even more face next turn. But these two best buds want everyone to join in on the fun, which is why they’ve brought along a bunch of beefy friends to help them.
Trample creatures generally are above rate so as to make use of the keyword and we have great includes all along our curve.
Warden of the Chained
is a great body for only three mana and since so many of our creatures are four or more power, he shouldn’t have any issues crashing in. His other 4/4 buddy is
who can shut down small flyers or mutate onto pretty much any of our creatures to pick off opposing artifacts and enchantments.
is great as it can fit at any spot in our curve, either as an early way to chip in damage, or as a big stallbreaker when the board gets cluttered.
Topping our curve is Thorn Mammoth , a Brawl all-star who hasn’t seen any love in Standard during his tenure since Elraine dropped. Not only does the mammoth have impressive stats, but he comes in swinging and takes out opposing blockers everytime we play another creature. To help ramp into our trunked friend as well as our other creatures, we have Gilded Goose and Ilysian Caryatid , the latter of whom gets even better with our beefed stats.
“Now Julian, you can’t possibility expect to solve all your problems just with Trample!” you might say. To which I would say, ”Nonsense!” Even our removal spells have trample! Ram Through and Flame Spill each punch the rest of their damage through to the opponent after removing a blocker or pesky utility creature and are welcome additions to this deck. Add in some Garruk’s Uprising s for card draw and Embercleave , cause it’s Embercleave and we’ve got one buff build!
2x Gilded Goose
4x Ilysian Caryatid
4x Proud Wildbonder
4x Quartzwood Crasher
3x Stonecoil Serpent
2x Thorn Mammoth
3x Warden of the Chained
4x Ram Through
4x Temple of Abandon
Menacing the Witness
Menace is the “newest” of the keywords we’re discussing today as Wizards has now made this the go-to specific blocking conditions after discarding Fear, Intimidate, etc. Menace is great because it makes our opponent essentially only able to block half of our creatures, makes chump blocking essentially impossible, and sometimes makes our board unblockable if we keep removing their creatures. The powerhouse duo in this build are
These two make our creatures incredibly hard to block, let alone trade with favorably (or even unfavorably). Plus our Raptor’s ability will help manage their board from getting out of control and can pump up the creatures they didn’t have enough blockers for.
Unlike the trample deck, our menace creatures are fast and low to the ground which helps us curve out and apply pressure quickly. A perfect example that also fuels further draws is
. Already a powerful card in Knights’ decks, it shines alongside our other mean muggers.
is on the bigger end of our curve, but helps strip our opponent of resources to keep up the onslaught.
falls in the middle of the two and can play offense and gain us life or defense and hold back threats with deathtouch
To help keep blockers to a minimum and to remove opposing haymakers, we’re running several removal spells. Fire Prophecy and Eliminate are both efficient and we’ve got Blood Curdle s for flavor. We’re also running two excellent creatures who double count as removal: Bonecrusher Giant and Murderous Rider .
Though they don’t have menace, their value is undeniable and with Blood Curdle or
Call of the Death-Dweller
they can gain the buffs from our Howlbonder or Raptor. Call of the Death-Dweller is also key to get back either of our menace ‘lords’ that might have been removed.
4x Labyrinth Raptor
4x Murderous Rider
4x Sonorous Howlbonder
4x Stormfist Crusader
3x Fire Prophecy
Call of the Death-Dweller
2x Tentative Connection
4x Temple of Malice
The Kiss of Death
Deathtouch is a rarely used keyword and is usually relegated to small, insignificant creatures (except The Gitrog Monster and Grave Titan ). Used to symbolize the small but deadly creatures that inhabit our own world, it’s primarily a defensive mechanic, great for stalling games with our opponent fearing losing their bomb to our deathtoucher that we’ll gladly make a trade for.
On the flipside, deathtouchers can also make great attackers primarily because they are so small and our opponent won’t want to trade to block, that they’ll allow us to chip in turn after turn for a considerable amount of damage. It’s these two angles that we want to maximize in this all deathtoucher’s deck!
There isn’t a ‘bonder’ from Ikoria to give a buff to our deathtouch creatures, but M21 gave us something arguably better in Hooded Blightfang . Now, every attack will drain our opponent for one. Add that to the damage from them most likely not blocking and we’re looking at a three or four lifepoint swing per creature! Add on the ability to merc planeswalkers and the Blightfang is a powerhouse.
The other extremely notable card in this deck is…. Questing Beast . Yes, I know, we sold out. I don’t like this card either, but as a creature with deathtouch it’s too good to ignore. This will punch in a lot of damage for us and up our clock since most of our creatures are one or 2 power.
Speaking of our other creatures, here’s a slew of our rank and file deathtouchers.
can cover the skies either offensively or defensively.
provides card advantage and/or a cheap venomous body.
(remember them?) and
both are versatile in their uses.
Thieves’ Guild Enforcer is new from M21 and provides a pseudo combat trick with its flash. Chevill, Bane of Monsters will provide us card advantage whenever we do need to trade off our creatures or if we use a Ram Through to remove anything pesky.
Call of the Death-Dweller
and a singleton
Nethroi, Apex of Death
gives us grindability with a few
to churn through our library. Truly a dangerous deck to tangle with.
A Gentle Caress of the Inner DIE
2x Chevill, Bane of Monsters
3x Fetid Imp
4x Foulmire Knight
4x Hooded Blightfang
1x Nethroi, Apex of Death
4x Questing Beast
3x Village Rites
4x Temple of Malady
Well that’s it for this week! Let me know what you thought of these keyword tribal decks and if there’s any other keywords you want to see brewed around. Until next time, staying brewing y’all!
More Entries in Homebrewed:
- 14 Sep 2020: Get back to the Past (Commander)
- 16 Jun 2020: Subira, Goblin Caravanner (Commander)
- 08 Jun 2020: Making Greatwurms Great Again
- 05 Jun 2020: Defenders of the Realm (Standard)
- 28 May 2020: Hello Dawn, My Old Friend (Standard)