M:tG Low Standards – Suns, Stars, and Cows

A while ago, I mentioned the “Low Standards” challenge that my friend Adam and I chose to do as a springboard to get us back into Magic and ensure that we’d be on roughly the same sort of level after nearly five years of not playing; as much as I feared Adam’s elf deck back in the days of Lorwyn/Shadowmoor, it hasn’t been updated since then. I myself had become bored on my own “proper” decks (green-white flicker, blue-black artifacts, Gruul aggro, Grixis control and mono-black exalted) and wanted to make up some new decks.

So, a recap of “Low Standards”;

  • The deck must be Standard legal. As of today, that means Theros block, Magic 2015 Core Set, and Khans of Tarkir.
  • The deck’s contents (discounting basic land) must come to £15.00 or less, going by the prices on Magic Madhouse.

As an aside, I find Madhouse to be the best UK-based seller for MtG singles; the other big contender, Manaleak, is slightly more expensive, and though they’re better stocked (Madhouse always seems to be sold out of at least one card I want), Madhouse has better service; I’ll typically get an order within a few working days.

Last time I showed off the decklists for the first three of my Low Standards decks; Temur monsters, Sultai walls/sacrifice, and green-white Abzan heroes.

Well I’ve been brewing new decks, and have three new ones to share! As a disclaimer I haven’t used any of these in a game yet, so there may be eventual tweaks and amendments as I find out what works and what doesn’t.

Bad Stars


Many many years ago, back when the trauma of Mirrodin block was still fresh, there came a set called Kamigawa. It was to Mirrodin as Masques was to Urza’s; that is to say, necessarily horrible and low-powered. When I wasn’t taking my pills to stop my Affinity flashbacks, I was using a terrible red-white samurai deck, and an incredibly fun green-black Spirit deck that focused on Zuberas, Death Denied, Consuming Greed, and this spooky dude.

Ten years on and I still love this little guy.

Oh yeah, the deck’s win condition was really Devouring Greed + lots of little Spirits, but Thief was the superstar, bleeding my opponents dry with every spell I cast. So when I saw that he had a Greek cousin…


… I knew that I had to build a similar deck.

This deck is a very straightforward control build; you’re stalling with stuff like Brain Maggot, Stab Wound, Pin to the Earth and Grimmy G until you get one of the pieces needed to give your opponent a slow, agonising defeat; you can either go with Grimmy G and Riptide Chimera, or Fate Unraveller and Dictate of Kruphix. Or both, if you’re so inclined. If things go perfectly, you never need to attack with your creatures; just hang back and sloooowly drain your opponent dry. Will I feel mean doing it? Yep. Will I still do it? Yep.


Heliod’s Army


White weenie is one the simplest deck archetypes in the game, right next to green ramp and red burn; you play lots of little dudes, buff them up, turn them sideways, and repeat until you win.

I wanted to do a devotion deck of some type; common sense would be to try and do a budget version of the mono-black devotion archetype that floated around a while ago, which used Grey Merchant of Asphodel and Whip of Erebos for some truly disgusting swings in life. However I’m one of those people that likes having an even-ish distribution of colours among my decks, and I’d already used a lot of black, red, green and blue. Guess what that left me with?


White is definitely my least favourite colour in Magic. I don’t hate it… I just find it a bit boring. However, the offerings for white in Standard are pretty decent, so I figured I could throw together a fun, simple white deck that played to that old strength of little dudes + buffs. The gimmick here is that we’re trying to get as many white mana symbols for Acolyte’s Reward (a mean combat trick) and Evangel of Heliod (instant army, just add mana).

There’s a few similarities to my Abzan Heroes deck; unfortunately that’s unavoidable when Theros block is your main resource. So yes, we have some heroes like Fabled Hero and Vanguard of Brimaz, and some cheap buffs like Ajani’s Presence and Gods Willing. However, we also have seven “anthem” effects; Paragon of New Dawns buffs the entire army and can give someone vigilance (always handy), and Dictate of Heliod is backbreaking when played in the middle of combat.

All that said, I have a feeling that this is the deck I’ll change the most; maybe switching out the Evangels and Rewards for Raise the Alarm and Devouring Light. Hmm. We’ll see.


Mad Cows


Aah, Minotaurs. A nice janky tribe, perfect for a cheap janky deck! I’ve always been fond of the ‘taurs; consider it a soft spot for the underdog/bull. For years of Magic’s history, Minotaurs have been pretty terrible, with a few exceptions. Theros threw them the biggest of bones and turned them into a fairly fun aggressive archetype. Yeah, it still boils down to “turn creatures sideways, repeat”, but Minotaurs are one of the very few creature types in Standard at the moment with some decent tribal support; they have a good number of “lords” (Rageblood Shaman, Felhide Petrifier, and Kragma Warcaller) and a cost-reducer in Ragemonger.

The rest of the deck is fairly straightforward; Skullcleaver, Deathbellow and Brawler are cheap smashers, and Fanatic burns face and then sticks around as a decent-sized threat. The Underworld Ceberus is a bit of fun, if a near-unblockable 6/6 for five mana can be considered “fun” for your opponent. Some burn and buff rounds it out.


So that’s my next batch of decks which I’ll be using at the end of the month when Adam and I meet up for another “Low Standards” day. I also have plans for a green-blue morph deck and a Jeskai prowess/scry deck, but I’ll wait on the next instalment of Khans before I start putting together lists for those. And black-white Warriors is always very tempting, thanks to stuff like Chief of the Edge and Raiders’ Spoils… sigh. Too many cards, not enough time!

In the meantime, I hope this inspires you to try out “Low Standards” too! Remember, you don’t need to drop £100 or more on a deck to have fun. In fact, you’ll probably have more fun by spending that money on something else, and you’ll still get to play Magic; everyone wins!




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