Core Set 2021 Theorycraft Decks: Part One

Terror of the Peaks Art by Andrew Kuzinskiy

Hello again!

Magic Core Set 2021 is knocking on our doors and has plenty of sweet new cards for us to mess around with. Before every new set, Standard always becomes rather stale, so it’s always nice to have the format refreshed – if it does so. Right now, Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath plus Growth Spiral decks seem to overrun the format, and I’m not sure if any of these new cards have the power to change that, but there is always room for surprise: we all slept on Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast, myself included, and it completely warped the format.

Core Set 2021 certainly has its strong (and also fun) contenders. Today I will focus on some of them: Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, Basri’s Lieutenant, Conclave Mentor, Peer into the Abyss, Terror of the Peaks, and Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose. Good friends of mine helped me brew these up, and I’m excited to show off what we came up with.

By the way, if you want to see these decks in action: you can catch me streaming them in the Core Set 2021 Early Access Event on Wednesday, at 7 pm CEST where Wizards of the Coast were kind enough to provide me with a #sponsored account so I can test these sweet new cards!

Selesnya Tokens

Deck
4 Stonecoil Serpent
4 Pelt Collector
4 Alseid of Life's Bounty
4 Raise the Alarm
4 Conclave Mentor
3 Huatli's Raptor
2 March of the Multitudes
2 Unbreakable Formation
2 Basri's Lieutenant
2 Ajani, the Greathearted
4 Venerated Loxodon
4 Flower // Flourish
4 Temple Garden
1 Castle Ardenvale
7 Plains
9 Forest

We’ve had some token action in Standard already, but it feels like it was missing some pieces to be strong enough to compete with the best. This kind of strategy is always good at flooding the board, but is very susceptible to sweepers – not a good place to be in when you consider the amount of sweepers that are currently Standard-legal. This is where our new boy Basri’s Lieutenant will shine: Sweeper protection on a stick!

Basri’s Lieutenant is as good as you think he is, and even better. Not only does he offer board protection, he himself brings 4/5 worth of power/toughness onto the battlefield for 4 mana, which is huge stats for a white creature. To make use of his static ability, we want to build a deck that naturally gives counters, and this is where the new addition of Conclave Mentor will shine: it synergizes very well with Venerated Loxodon, Ajani, the Greathearted, and Unbreakable Formation, on top of increasing individual power levels of cards like Pelt Collector and Stonecoil Serpent. Now, we have the tools to go wide, pump our creatures up, and protect ourselves from sweepers, all in rapid fashion.

Golgari Underworld Peer

Deck
4 Swamp
1 Island
4 Watery Grave
4 Zagoth Triome
4 Breeding Pool
3 Forest
4 Fabled Passage
4 Overgrown Tomb
3 Bolas's Citadel
4 Dread Presence
3 Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath
3 Cultivate
4 Dryad of the Ilysian Grove
4 Underworld Dreams
4 Growth Spiral
2 Scheming Symmetry
2 Arboreal Grazer
3 Peer into the Abyss

This is a spicy brew with a pretty cool 2-Card-Combo: the goal is to get Underworld Dreams onto the battlefield and one-shot your opponents with Peer into the Abyss. To do that, we want to add Ramp to get to Peer faster, and play cards like Bolas’s Citadel and Scheming Symmetry to fetch up our combo pieces more consistently. Note that Dryad of the Ilysian Grove, Dread Presence, and Bolas’s Citadel work really well together. We also use the new card Cultivate to get another land into our hand so our Dryad of the Ilysian Grove has enough gas to be useful. Growth Spiral and Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath go together like bread and butter, and are just good cards to include in your ramp deck in general.

Mono Red Mirror March Terror

Terror of the Peaks
Deck
4 Shock
4 Runaway Steam-Kin
7 Seven Dwarves
3 Thrill of Possibility
4 Irencrag Feat
3 Chandra, Novice Pyromancer
4 Terror of the Peaks
2 Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast
4 Mirror March
23 Mountain
2 Dwarven Mine

We’ve had some fun Mirror March decks in the past, but I personally like this one the most. First of all, Terror of the Peaks has really strong card text, but it’s just a little bit slow, since it almost always requires you to untap with it. That means that it’s time to cheat a bit! If you play Terror of the Peaks after your Mirror March is out, you only need to win two coinflips for 20 damage: your first Terror will see the 2 tokens that are copied from it, that’s 10 – and the your two tokens see each other, because they enter at the same time, that’s another 10. If 20 damage isn’t enough, you still get to attack with 10 damage in the air! We’ve got Irencrag Feat to cheat either Mirror March or Terror of the Peaks out on turn 4, Chandra, Novice Pyromancer and Runaway Steam-Kin as some sort of “fair” ramp, and Seven Dwarves is just hilarious in general combined with Mirror March. This is the deck that I am excited for the most to showcase in my Early Access Event, despite it being a bit janky.

Orzhov Paulo Vito of the Dusk Rosa

Deck
2 Heliod, Sun-Crowned
4 Godless Shrine
9 Plains
8 Swamp
3 Basri's Lieutenant
2 Call of the Death-Dweller
3 Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose
2 Temple of Silence
1 Castle Locthwain
4 Priest of Forgotten Gods
3 Fiend Artisan
4 Cruel Celebrant
4 Hunted Witness
4 Witch's Oven
4 Cauldron Familiar
3 Woe Strider

First of all, if you don’t think that the wordplay between current world champion Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa and Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose is hilariously funny, I don’t know how to help you anymore.

Real talk though: I think I might be onto something with this deck. We’ve got a bit of a classic B/W Sacrifice Deck right here, but we combine it with lifegain for world champion Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose: Now our Cat-Oven loop and Cruel Celebrant deal twice as much damage to the opponent. Also, we’ve got an infinite combo hidden in this one! Do you see it?

I’ll explain: You need Basri’s Lieutenant, Heliod, Sun-Crowned, Woe Strider, and Cruel Celebrant. If a creature with a counter dies, you need Lieutenant’s trigger to resolve before Cruel Celebrant’s ability triggers, so you get the 2/2 Knight token before the drain kicks in. Now, your Cruel Celebrant’s ability triggers and, because of the lifegain, you can put a +1/+1 counter onto the token thanks to Heliod’s static. Now you just need a Woe Strider to have an infinite Sac-Outlet, and your infinite drain begins!

Frankly, it’s a 4-Card-Combo, but we have Fiend Artisan to look for some of the pieces and all the cards already synergize well in the deck anyway, and we’re not primarily a Combo deck so it’ll just be nice when we can set it up without investing too much. I think my card numbers are still a bit off – but we’ll see after testing. 

Simic Mutate Ugin

Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
Deck
2 Illuna, Apex of Wishes
9 Forest 
2 Ketria Triome 
1 Castle Vantress 
2 Castle Garenbrig
4 Breeding Pool 
2 End-Raze Forerunners 
3 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon 
4 Stomping Ground 
4 Auspicious Starrix 
4 Parcelbeast 
3 Gemrazer 
4 Migratory Greathorn 
2 Paradise Druid 
4 Pollywog Symbiote 
4 Arboreal Grazer 
6 Island

I wanted to build a very dedicated Ramp Deck with Azusa, Lost but Seeking first, but came quickly to the conclusion that we don’t have enough effects that put lands into our hand, in order to make good enough use of Azusa’s static ability. Yes, we get Cultivate, but that just isn’t enough. So instead, I decided to put Ugin, the Spirit Dragon into the Simic Mutate Ramp shell.

That deck already does an amazing job of getting a lot of lands onto the board, with the help of Auspicious Starrix and Migratory Greathorn, and we can even hit Ugin off the Starrix! I think there’s gonna be a lot of board states where we just slam Ugin much earlier than turn 8, clear the board of small creatures and thereby make a path for our bigger creatures. Whether or not this is the best shell, I am not so sure, as Bant or Sultai might be better places for Ugin, but it’s worth a try.

Thank you for reading and I hope you’re as excited as I am for Core Set 2021!

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