Saturday, October 4, 2014

Orzhov Pilgrim Post-Rotation

Looking at the results from the most recent Standard Pauper tournaments, it is clear that the Orzhov Pilgrim deck is the deck to beat for next week's capstone Worlds event. Additionally, this will be one of the archetypes that will be a solid starting point for deckbuilding in the new Standard once Khans of Tarkir is released on Magic Online. So today I want to take a look at this decklist, discuss how it will be affected by rotation, and offer some initial thoughts on what new cards might find a home here.

Let's start by taking a look at Forli's build of this archetype, which he piloted to an undefeated 1st place finish in MPDC 26.06:

Of these 75 cards, only 43 cards will survive rotation. Gone are Auramancer, Beckon Apparition (SB), Celestial Flare (SB), Duress (SB), Ethereal Armor, Keening Apparition, Orzhov Guildgate,  Pacifism, and Stab Wound. Of these, the loss of Auramancer, Ethereal Armor, Keening Apparition, and Pacifism are probably the most significant: Auramancer for its recursion of the deck's numerous Enchantments; Ethereal Armor for its ability to turn any creature into a massive threat; Keening Apparition for its ability to act as a creature and also Enchantment-hate; and Pacifism as excellent spot removal that could be searched up using Heliod's Pilgrim. So what does Khans of Tarkir bring to the mix?

Erase1. Erase is the best option for Keening Apparition. While it obviously doesn't have the added utility of being a 2/2 creature, it can fulfill the same role as Instant speed Enchantment removal. It's cheap and even prevents the Enchantment from being returned from the Graveyard. Feast of Dreams, Moral Obstinacy, and Revoke Existence are also worth consideration.
2. Kill Shot is probably the best stand-in for Pacifism. While it can't be tutored up using Heliod's Pilgrim, it does allow you to kill anything as long as your opponent actually attacks with it. Most of the time that won't be a problem, since Standard Pauper rarely includes solid utility creatures. Kill Shot also has the advantage of not be vulnerable to Enchantment hate.
3. With most of the relevant Auras leaving the format, Auramancer wouldn't be as effective as it was previously. This means that Font of Return should be able to perform a similar role. Again, having this effect tied to a creature is obviously much better, but in a longer game Font of Return can generate a ton of value. And since it's an Enchantment, it can still be fetched by Heliod's Pilgrim.
4. Sadly, there simply is no replacement that even comes close to the value of Ethereal Armor. Molting Snakeskin is probably the closest analog, in that it pumps the creature's power, is cheap, and allows it to survive combat with Regeneration. Eternal Thirst has also seen some play already in this deck, and is also a decent substitute.

Other cards from Khans of Tarkir that might be worth considering for this deck include: Ainok Bond-Kin, Bitter Revelation, Sultai Scavenger, and Unyielding Krumar.

If you've got other ideas for this archetype, I'd love to hear them! Let me know in the comments below.

1 comment:

  1. Font of Return can't be fetched by the Pilgrim because it's not an aura. I'm sure Ainok Bond-Kin will see play in the heroic builds. More controlling builds will probably try Griffin Dreamfinder as a replacement to Auramancer.