Budget Orzhov Clerics Deck Guide – Zendikar Rising Standard
Zendikar Rising is all about adventuring the world with your Party, and Clerics are one of the four creature types that got a new boost in the latest expansion. The primary colors for Clerics are White and Black, taking the strength of small creatures, removal suite and lifegain synergies from both colors to chip away at your opponent’s life total. In this deck guide we will go through with you the basic strategy of the deck, card choices and sample decks for upgrades.
Also note that we are currently in the process of completely refreshing our Standard Budget deck section, so take this guide as a sneak peek of what’s to come and keep an eye out in the next few days!
Below we have two versions of the deck for you to try. The first deck is more about Clerics and the second one is less reliant on them.
Orzhov Clerics is a deck that focuses on lifegain synergies and has a good curve of creatures that can start attacking and leech life from your opponents. Core Set 2021 introduced some great lifegain payoff cards that are neither Rare or Mythic Rare in Indulging Patrician and Griffin Aerie. While not the fastest or the most powerful, they can be both difficult to deal with for many decks.
With Standard rotation, one of the key cards for this archetype – Ajani’s Pridemate – is no longer legal, but with the refreshed New Player Experience (NPE) decks, we have cards that now never rotate, but are allowed to be played in best-of-one Standard only. These cards are a part of the Arena Base Set (ANB) and the Hallowed Priest is a suitable replacement. That means cards like Soulmender or Angel of Vitality are also allowed and can be considered for this deck if desired. The two cards here offer the relevant creature type and synergy that we are accustomed to in these types of decks.
With Zendikar Rising, we have a new premium removal spell Bloodchief’s Thirst which will be played in most decks that have Black going forward. Cleric of Life’s Bond is not the most powerful card (I really wish it also drained a life from your opponent) but is acceptable until it can be upgraded to something else, as is Skyclave Cleric as a more flexible option that poses interesting deck building decisions as one of the modal double-faced cards.
The Archfiend’s Vessel and Call of the Death-Dweller is a powerful combination for this deck. It even triggers lifegain from Impassioned Orator and Cleric of Life’s Bond, allowing you to potentially reset your battlefield after a series of removal that you will undoubtedly face over the course of your games.
Overall, the deck is strong against opposing aggressive decks as you naturally gain life and have great stallers like Indulging Patrician that can also chip away at your opponents without having to attack. The deck however does not have the fastest way to end the game, and will be weak against control decks and other ramp decks that will snowball if left unchecked.
Upgrading the Deck
The budget version of Orzhov Clerics aims to work well at least until Platinum. The deck is currently not an established deck archetype, and is considered off-meta so there are many ways you can build and experiment with the deck. Below is one example of a potential build that is packed full of more Clerics to explore and lifegain payoff cards. We will update the deck and upgrade guide below once we have a better understanding of the deck.
We will go over the potential upgrades for this deck, in rough order of importance below:
- Brightclimb Pathway: As the new untapped sources of dual mana, these will be an integral part of mana bases for the foreseeable future. You may swap either Basic Lands or Scoured Barrens depending on your preference since the latter gains you life as well.
- Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose: This card is very good and can be played along side Indulging Patrician or replace it altogether.
- Luminarch Aspirant: This card can replace one of the weaker links of the deck such as Cleric of Life’s Bond or Griffin Aerie. It does a decent impression of Ajani’s Pridemate and even grows your creatures without any other work.
- Agadeem’s Awakening: Your deck gives you some leeway with life, and your creatures are already cheap so not a huge mana investment is required for the spell part of the card. Almost a “free” include to replace some of your Swamps.
- Speaker of the Heavens: Another one drop Cleric with lifelink and is a must answer threat.
Other noteworthy mentions that needs further testing:
- Taborax, Hope’s Demise: This card could be a bit slow for the current metagame, but has potential.
- Lurrus of the Dream-Den: Not a Cleric, but gives recursion that works especially well with Archfiend’s Vessel and even has lifelink itself.
- Heliod, Sun-Crowned: The card’s potential is not as great in a two-color deck where it will not be a creature most of the time.
- Tavern Swindler: This is a fun card, especially with Vito.