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The Top 8 Spiciest Standard Decklists at Pro Tour March of the Machine

May 05, 2023
Frank Karsten

In total, 252 Standard decklists were submitted for Pro Tour March of the Machine, but some stand out more than others. The spiciest ones use innovative combinations of cards, represent a novel archetype, or do something that no one saw coming. In this article, we'll take a closer look at the eight Standard decks that stood out to me the most. All of them leverage new cards from March of the Machine and have a chance of winning the Pro Tour.

Let's start with the deck of the reigning Pro Tour champion, Reid Duke. The Hall of Famer and captain of Team CFB UltimateGuard won Pro Tour Phyrexia by using Big Score to ramp into Indomitable Creativity. and he once again put his faith in Big Score this time around. As a group, Reid Duke, Seth Manfield, Will Krueger, Jakub Toth, Jim Davis, and Raphael Levy all settled on a deck that they have been calling Rakdos Breach in testing. In addition, Tim Hughes is playing an extremely similar list.

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The deck's primary game plan is to use Big Score to ramp into a turn-five Breach the Multiverse. The sorcery will always provide a formidable battlefield presence, and there is the dream of milling Etali, Primal Conqueror yourself while grabbing Atraxa, Grand Unifier from your opponent's graveyard. In addition, Chandra, Hope's Beacon is a powerful new top-end, and her ability to copy Big Score, Invoke Despair, or Breach the Multiverse can lock up games with ease.

Their deck is capable of being a big stuff deck in the matchups where that's good, especially in Game 1 before people are loaded with discard spells and countermagic, but then it can also turn into a removal-heavy midrange deck against that are weak to that. Although Rakdos Breach has a lot of overlap with Rakdos Midrange, its flexibility and namesake stand out, and it's hard to argue with the deck choice of the reigning Pro Tour champion.

West Canada Regional Champion William la Hay, along with compatriots Philippe Gareau, Markus Thibeau, David Olsen, Cameron Sweetnam, Christian Trudel, and Adham Momen all registered a spicy five-color deck that exploits the synergy between Topiary Stomper and Invasion of Zendikar. In addition to these seven Canadians, Federico del Basso and Christoph Schlom registered similar decks as well.

555361 Invasion of Zendikar

A turn-four Invasion of Zendikar allows a turn-three Topiary Stomper to attack right away, which means that you can defeat the battle immediately. With this curve, you can have access to nine mana on turn five, and then you can do pretty much anything you want. For example, how about Atraxa, Grand Unifier into Ossification? You could also cast Etali, Primal Conqueror and transform him on the next turn. After sideboard, Tyrannax Rex is a powerful option to ramp into as well.

The Canadians don't all have the exact same list, with minor disagreements in the numbers of cards like Archangel of Wrath or Sunfall, but their deck is jam-packed with power and they aim to go over the top of any slower midrange deck.

Only one player registered Dusk Legion Duelist and Doomskar Warrior for Pro Tour March of the Machine: Hall of Famer Brian Kibler. In the past, he has often found success with green creature decks, so he may be pointing the way forward in the new Standard.

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His deck's strategy will resonate with Hardened Scales players in older formats and with Selesnya players in March of the Machine draft. Basically, most of his cards dish out +1/+1 counters, add more of them, or trigger whenever a +1/+1 counter is placed. Moreover, Dusk Legion Duelist and Doomskar Warrior provide more cards to keep the +1/+1 counter train rolling. When left unchecked, these synergies can overwhelm opponents.

For example, suppose you control Ozolith, the Shatttered Spire and Botanical Brawler, and you use the back side of Invasion of Gobakhan to put +1/+1 counters on two other attackers. Then each would get two +1/+1 counters thanks to Ozolith, which triggers Botanical Brawler twice. Each of those triggers put two +1/+1 counters onto it, so things get out of hand quickly. Although the deck may be somewhat vulnerable to removal spells or sweepers, its aggressive curve and sweet theme make it a spicy brew to watch.

Brian Kibler was not the only player to take advantage of Ozolith, the Shattered Spire and Botanical Brawler. Benton Madsen, the runner-up from Pro Tour Phyrexia, put the +1/+1 counter theme in a Naya deck, unlocking additional synergies.

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Kumano Faces Kakkazan is the best aggressive one-drop available in Standard, and the +1/+1 counter from its second chapter synergizes perfectly with the theme of the deck. Although there are only 11 red sources to cast the Saga on turn one, Madsen may actually prefer to lead with Hopeful Initiate or Enduring Bondwarden, for which there are 13 untapped sources. After all, sequencing Kumano Faces Kakkazan after Ozolith or Botanical Brawler maximizes its second chapter.

Red also offers the powerful synergy between Quirion Beastcaller and Voldaren Thrillseeker. By targeting Quirion Beastcaller with the backup ability, you can create lethal damage out of nowhere or distribute the +1/+1 counters at instant speed. I like the deck, and I'm excited to see how it will play out.

Chris Cousens is the only Pro Tour competitor who registered Bloated Processor and Progenitor Exarch in his main deck, allowing him to leverage the power of the Phyrexians.

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Since the tokens created by Progenitor Exarch and Crawling Chorus count as Phyrexians, the deck features a critical mass of creatures with the right type. They can be boosted by Grafted Butcher or munched on by Bloated Processor. Bloated Processor also allows you to drain out opponents with Vraan, Executioner Thane and Elas il-Kor, Sadistic Pilgrim at will.

The mana is a breeze because of The Seedcore, which makes it easy to run the double-black Gix, Yawgmoth Praetor and the double-white Elesh Norn in the same deck. And with the large number of token creators in the deck, transforming Elesh Norn is realistic. Orzhov Phyrexians makes great use of the new March of the Machine cards, and it will be fun to see it in action.

Hall of Famer Ben Stark registered a deck that I did not see coming. I wasn't sure whether to call it Dimir Toxic, Dimir Proliferate, or Dimir Corrupted, but I opted for Dimir Toxic because it can win many games by attacking with toxic creatures and then proliferating to victory.

Bilious Skulldweller Voidwing Hybrid Anoint with Affliction

The proliferate aspect in the deck is pronounced, with several cards keying off proliferation, and Chrome Host Seedshark from March of the Machine makes it even more valuable to proliferate. Indeed, Incubator tokens have +1/+1 counters, so they will grow when you cast Experimental Augury or activate Vraska, Betrayal's Sting. In this deck, Chrome Host Seedshark also has sweet synergy with Distorted Curiosity: even if it only costs one blue mana to cast, its mana value remains three, which means that you create an Incubator token with three +1/+1 counters. After transforming them into huge Phyrexians, it's easily possible to win via regular damage.

Ultimately for this Dimir Toxic deck, three poison counters is the magic number. If the toxic creatures can give the opponent three poison counters quickly, then this unlocks the full power of Bring the Ending, Anoint with Affliction, and Distorted Curiosity. The subsequent path to victory can be via toxic, proliferation, or regular damage, depending on the cards available. It's a spicy brew for sure.

Nicolas Johnson, who qualified by finishing ninth at the U.S. Regional Championship, is the only competitor who registered four copies of Faerie Mastermind in his main deck. Immortalizing the likeness of Yuta Takahashi, the new March of the Machine card follows in the footsteps of Fervent Champion and Elite Spellbinder. Even though former World Champion Yuta Takahashi is not playing the Faerie himself at Pro Tour March of the Machine, it is seeing a fair amount of play in various archetypes, and Nicolas Johnson put it to the best use.

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The common thread in Johnson's Dimir Midrange deck are cards with flash or instant-speed abilities. You can pass the turn with untapped mana and then decide whether to cast or activate Faerie Mastermind, transform an Incubator token created by Chrome Host Seedshark, counter the opponent's strategy with Make Disappear, or destroy their biggest creature with Invasion of Innistrad. Such flexibility is valuable, and it always puts the opponent in a bind.

Faerie Mastermind's evasion is also perfect for defeating Invasion of Innstrad or Invasion of Segovia. Due to the presence of these battles, flying will be even more valuable than normal. Faerie Mastermind can also draw cards off opposing Fable of the Mirror-Breaker; Wedding Announcement; Invoke Despair; and Raffine, Scheming Seer. Considering all these advantages, I wonder if Yuta Takahashi might have wanted to switch to a different deck after seeing Johnson's list.

Derrick Davis (who finished fourth at Pro Tour Phyrexia) and Isaac Sears (who finished second at the U.S. Regional Championship) are already qualified for the World Championship later this year, and they have registered a spicy Domain Control version for Pro Tour March of the Machine.

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The standout cards in their list are Invasion of Alara and Cemetery Desecrator. Invasion of Alara provides card advantages and immediate board impact when it enters the battlefield, and it provides an absurd amount of value when it transforms into Awaken the Maelstrom. There are just two difficulties: Casting the battle, and defeating it.

Casting the battle is not a problem for a deck filled with tri-lands and Herd Migration for fixing. Defeating it, however, is trickier, especially when there are few early-game creatures. But that's where Cemetery Desecrator comes in. By exiling the Herd Migration that you discarded earlier, you can remove seven counters from Invasion of Alara, defeating it instantly without having to go through combat. That's a powerful interaction, and it makes for the final spicy deck that I wanted to highlight.

In conclusion, if you were looking for a brand new Standard deck to try out, then give one of these eight decks a try! They might emerge victorious at Pro Tour March of the Machine, and you may be able to see them in action on the livestream over the weekend.

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