Last updated on May 16, 2022
All That Glitters | Illustration by Iain McCaig
When new sets are released in Standard, most players add cards to existing archetypes to improve their current builds. Ranger Class has been the big winner from Forgotten Realms. It sees play in almost every green-based archetype and performs the best in mono green aggro. Power Word Kill, Iymrith, Desert Doom, and Portable Hole are also being used and have gained some adoption over the past few weeks. Outside of those, there aren’t many others that have found their spot in this meta.
I’ll be going over a deck that runs six different cards from the new set, and it’s been doing pretty well over the last two weeks of Standard Challenges. Without further ado, let’s dig into the newly introduced Azorius Craft. Or as its creator, Hamuda, calls it: Azorius Smith.
Silver Raven | Illustration by Joe Slucher
As a brewer and grinder, Hamuda is always trying to find new ways to crush every format. With the introduction of Forgotten Realms, he created a deck that utilizes tons of synergies between cards like Ingenious Smith and Treasure Vault. Still, the dream is to turn any 1/1 artifact into a 4/4 with the help of The Blackstaff of Waterdeep.
Aside from that, we run cheap creatures with evasion like Gingerbrute and Silver Raven. Their dream is to get turned into bigger treats thanks to your Staff, but they do their job with cheap damage in the early turns.
Stonecoil Serpent also has some evasion since it has protection from multicolor. Still, its main appeal is that it can grow into a giant creature in the late game and doesn’t interfere with Lurrus’ restrictions.
As far as your creature toolbox goes, Ingenious Smith leads the pack. It can tutor for any artifact on the top four cards and grows itself as each turn passes. It can turn into a relatively giant creature and present a threat very quickly if left unchecked.
Selfless Savior is in the deck to protect your creatures from dying, especially if they’ve already been turned into giant monsters. Speaking of, Giant Killer is a fine choice for getting rid of creatures that can’t otherwise be answered.
The Blackstaff of Waterdeep is, without a doubt, the deck’s main card. You can fetch it with a little help from Ingenious Smith and then use it the next turn and turn your 1/1 into a big creature. If you drew your lands correctly, it could easily be a 6-power worth of damage by turn 3, which is a big deal.
Keep in mind that it can turn any artifact into a 4/4, which means that your Treasure Vaults are, in essence, Faceless Havens that don’t turn back into lands after activation. You also need to remember that the staff changes any artifact’s base power and toughness. This means that creatures with counters like Stonecoil Serpent can get even more threatening.
Speaking of making your creatures big, the deck’s other win con is All That Glitters. It can turn your evasion creatures into huge threats turn after turn. It’s a big deal when paired up with your other transformed creatures.
A set of Glass Caskets and two copies of Portable Hole is enough to get rid of opposing utility creatures. Plus, they both trigger Ingenious Smith’s ability and pump any creature enchanted with All That Glitters. They can also be converted to creatures with the help of the Blackstaff in a rough spot, but I’d refrain from doing so otherwise. Any creature removal spell will wreck you.
Shadowspear is here to help in aggro matchups where you need to both race and stabilize. It also has the upside of dealing with opposing Selfless Saviors and any creature that has indestructible or hexproof.
Last but not least, you’ve got two copies of Miscast as another way to protect your creatures. In most scenarios, it catches your opponent off guard when they try to cast their board wipe or a big finisher like Emergent Ultimatum.
This is probably the worst part of the deck. It doesn’t have much fixing for aggro strategies which means you need to be careful about what cards you’re casting and which color you choose with Hengegate Pathway.
Your main color should be blue, but try to get at least a one white source for your removal and Ingenious Smith’s early white requirement. Temple of Enlightenment helps guarantee your land drops, and you should be sure to play it early to prevent slowing the deck down on future turns. It also helps develop a more consistent mana base just like Fabled Passage.
Two copies of Cave of the Frost Dragon act as the manlands for the deck. They’re good beaters in the air in the late game. Still, you don’t want to run too many of these since they usually enter the battlefield tapped and we don’t want to slow down the deck even more.
Lurrus of the Dream-Den | Illustration by Slawomir Maniak
Piloting a new deck is always challenging, especially one that hasn’t really existed until now. But don’t worry, I’ll give you some general guidelines to help you on that.
- Remember that Ingenious Smith only triggers once each turn. Save your artifacts for later if it’s possible to cast two spells in a turn unless you have multiple artifacts in hand. It’s not right to hold turn 1 plays because of this since you want to apply as much pressure as you can early on.
- You can trigger Smith’s ability every turn, which means your opponent’s turns count as well. Crack your Treasure Vaults on your opponent’s turns to pump your guy further whenever possible.
- Activating your Treasure Vault’s ability can lead you to win the game more times than you may think. The more artifacts you have, the bigger your creatures get thanks to your All That Glitters.
- Tokens can’t be turned into 4/4s and The Blackstaff of Waterdeep’s ability can only be activated at sorcery speed. This means that you can’t ambush your opponents on their turn with a Blackstaff activation.
- Some players might miss that Shadowspear gives your creatures trample, which can turn things around with All That Glitters.
- I already mentioned this, but let me point it out again: don’t turn your Glass Caskets or Portable Holes into creatures unless you’re sure your opponents have run out of removal or you’re threatening to close the game. You can quickly go from a winning position to a losing one if you transform them without being careful.
- Remember that Gingerbrute has two abilities, and that the most important one is the “unblockable” one. Pair it with your win conditions and, well, you win the game.
- Gingerbrute is an excellent blocker. It can block a creature and gain three life in the process if timed correctly. This is crucial if you’re racing.
- Lurrus provides a lot of recursiveness for the deck and can bring back your removal permanents that have already been destroyed, discarded, or milled. Don’t forget that if you decide to cast a Stonecoil Serpent from the graveyard, the maximum you can pay for it is two.
- Don’t keep hands with no creatures. It’s often tempting to hold hands with a couple copies of All That Glitters and the Blackstaff, but they’re useless with no creatures to exploit them.
- With a couple ways to scry, it’s often good to crack your Fabled Passage first and then scry. The problem with doing it the other way around is that you may end up liking the card you have on top and not cracking the Passage will set you back a couple turns.
Weathered Runestone | Illustration by Dan Scott
One thing that’s particularly difficult with this deck is making sideboard adjustments in games 2 and 3. Your cards can vary in effectiveness depending on whether you’re on the play or on the draw. I’ll try to cover most of the most common matchups you might see while trying to reach mythic this season.
Naya Winota Matchups
This match is slightly favored with all the removal you run main deck. Your main plan is to keep your opponent from deploying too many non-human creatures on the battlefield. By the time you suspect they’ll cast Winota, Joiner of Forces, try to hold your Giant Killer to kill Winota to prevent its ability from triggering.
Post-sideboard is slightly more favored for you, as you run more removal and replace your Miscasts. A couple more copies of Giant Killers seal the deal very well. Your creatures will eventually outclass theirs by a large margin.
Gruul Magda Matchups
This is a very tight matchup. You have to race them before they resolve their dragons into Embercleaves. If they’re running the adventure version of the deck, you can bring in the Drannith Magistrate. Otherwise, it should be the same sideboard strategy as Naya Winota.
Mono Green Stompy Matchups
The card you fear the most against mono green stompy is Gemrazer. Outside of that, the match is somewhat favorable. Be careful of Primal Mights and don’t let them stick a big creature if you can help it. The other card you need to be careful about is Questing Beast, so try to save your Giant Killers for them.
- +2 Giant Killer
- -2 Miscast
Mono White Aggro Matchups
The game plan is to get your creatures bigger than theirs and deal with key cards like Luminarch Aspirant and Skyclave Apparition. It’s nice that Silver Raven brick walls their Elite Spellbinder, so you just need to deal with their ground creatures most of the time.
Post sideboard you should again side out Miscast and Giant Killer. Bringing in more removal and your second Shadowspear is key since your opponent won’t be able to protect their creatures in combat with the help of Selfless Savior.
Disenchant is also excellent if they’re running a Glass Casket of their own or potential equipment, but the real deal is The Book of Exalted Deeds. Save your removal for it. Once a Faceless Haven is turned into an angel there won’t be any way for you to get rid of it. If you see them running this, consider keeping in a copy of Giant Killer.
Sultai Ultimatum Matchups
This is possibly your worst matchup, so you need to hit them quick and hard and don’t overcommit to the board. Miscast is your best weapon, so don’t use it unless it’s strictly necessary. Try and save it for opposing board wipes and Emergent Ultimatum.
Post sideboard, bring in your counterspells as an additional way to protect your creatures and side out your dead removal. Giant Killer is also key against opposing Greater Gargadons or Polukranos, Unchained.
Temur Adventures Matchups
The key to winning this match is not letting their Edgewall Innkeeper stick too long because they will outvalue you. Try to get a good read from them to not get caught by Brazen Borrower’s Petty Theft and you’ll be fine. But don’t miss going for the kill whenever you can with All That Glitters.
Don’t forget that Temur Adventures can be straight Temur with dragons or Temur Lukka. You can tell the difference by looking at their companion. If they’ve got Obosh, the Preypiercer then they’re running Goldspan Dragon and Alrund’s Epiphany. Otherwise, they’re probably running the Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast / Koma, Cosmos Serpent combo.
The latter is probably the one that’s harder to beat, but you can get around it by holding Giant Killer for their Serpent. That version also runs a bit more removal than the traditional one, so you need to be a bit more conservative on your plays.
Post sideboard, you aim to disrupt their plays by bringing in Drannith Magistrate and Negate against some of their sideboard options. What’s nice is that this works against both versions of the deck. You’ll also bring extra copies of Giant Killer to deal with Koma, Cosmos Serpent and creatures bigger than yours.
If you’re up against the Lukka version, bring a Weathered Runestone.
Izzet Dragons Matchups
This match gets complicated because of one card: Prismari Command. It can deal with your creatures and artifacts and since your main core involves both, you get two for one most of the time. Still, the Command can’t deal with your Stonecoil Serpent, so make sure to cast it for four mana or above as it gets out of range from the other removal they may run.
Saying that the Serpent is the deck’s MVP in this matchup wouldn’t be an overstatement. It can very easily deal with their Goldspan Dragons, and outgrowing them with your The Blackstaff of Waterdeep or All That Glitters usually seals the deal.
Post sideboard you need to be careful of the board wipes they may run. Try not to overspend early and use your counterspells wisely. Always leave one single blue mana up. This may delay them even if you don’t have any counter available.
Dimir Rogues Matchups
Tempo matches are always hard, but you’ll out grind them with relative ease since you can attack from so many angles.
The cool thing about this matchup is that your opponent doesn’t have any way to get rid of your removal in that color pair. Always aim for their Ruin Crabs and try to trade with the rest of the creatures. Post sideboard, replacing your Giant Killer with Mystical Dispute is enough.
- -2 Giant Killer
Mono Red Aggro Matchups
This matchup can be won or lost on the little details, so you need to trade wisely and not let them develop a board state where they surprise you with Embercleave. Shadowspear is key, and that’s why you bring the second copy post sideboard.
Other Cards to Try
As the meta changes, it’s always good to have some card options that you can swap back and forth between your builds. Here are just some of them.
This one may seem like a very innocent creature, but when you sacrifice your Gingerbrute to get the removal spell you need, the perspective changes. What’s more, you can sacrifice your Stonecoil Serpent and tutor for The Blackstaff of Waterdeep or Portable Hole if you need to. Oswald Fiddlebender is a very flexible card, and this little gnome can go from zero to hero in no time.
Another newly introduced card from the last set. Paladin Class can pump your entire team and act as a pseudo-tax effect that helps protect your creatures. The third mode is brutal and can be a game-winner.
The innocent Colossal Plow may seem a bit cute, but you have to remember that its effect remains in place even if it’s not crewed with its crew cost. That’s why you get to attack and trigger its abilities if you turn it into a 4/4.
Funeral Longboat hasn’t seen much play, but it does two things for you. One, it makes every cheap creature you have into a vigilant, hasty 3/3 threat. Two, it’s resilient to board wipes.
Giant Killer | Illustration by Jesper Ejsing
It’s been an enjoyable experience piloting this deck. It feels like a breath of fresh air every time a new brew makes its mark in the meta.
Have I mentioned that this deck was piloted by Hamuda twice in the top standings of the last two Standard Challenges? It certainly feels like this is the base for similar strategies in Standard 2022, so keep an eye as new cards get added.
I hope you have as much fun as I did if you test this deck out. Don’t forget to let me know how it performed for you in the comments and which changes you’d make to improve it. And make sure to grab Arena Tutor if you’re playing on MTGA a lot and want a free app to track your matches. It’s awesome.
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