This week we have a deck that started life as a rouge brew and has become my go to deck for Standard: Lich’s Approach
This is the centrepiece of the entire deck. We cast Approach of the Second Sun with a Lich’s Mastery on board. This allows us to put Approach seventh from the top, then draw seven cards. So we win the following turn. It’s from this point that we start to build the deck.
The first problem I encountered is that pure “Lifegain” is not a viable strategy. There simply aren't enough ways to gain large amounts of life. What there is, however, is considerable removal with Lifegain stamped onto the side.
These three will take care of any individual threats. Each is perfectly playable on its own, but when the Lifegain translates into card draw we start winning matches. Moment of Craving takes down a surprising amount of things, especially in Red Aggro and White Weenie; the two decks that give us the most problems. The same can be said for Essence Extraction, crucially taking down Benalish Marshal.
Meanwhile, Vraska’s Contempt is a God killer. It has one job, and does it wonderfully. But it can’t handle everything, which is where the pairs of Fumigate and Settle the Wreckage come in. Initially I wanted to run four Fumigates but it’s just too slow on the draw. Settle helps to speed us up and doesn’t hit any of our important creatures.
To go along with this incidental Lifegain Synergy we have three copies of Crested Sunmare. When this card was first spoiled people could see the power of it but couldn’t find a home for it. Well here it is. Most of the time you want to play this horse on a turn where you have already gained life. Though, a 5/5 is often big enough to stop an opponent in their tracks on its own.
An important thing to note is that against a white deck it's worth not attacking with the Sunmare itself to avoid the risk of Seal Away and Settle the Wreckage. Helping our drove of horses expand we have Regal Caracal. Once again a card from the plane of Amonkhet that has obvious power, but just hasn’t found a home yet. Making seven power for five mana has always been a good deal, but when it can go on to draw us cards or make a couple of horses, we have a game breaker.
Finally the unseen text on Lich’s Mastery is that you cannot lose the game. That’s neat, but we can actually abuse that in Standard right now.
Glorious End is just a Time Walk when we can’t lose. And Time Walk has never been too good has it? But three copies of Lich’s Mastery simply won’t cut it for making us invincible. Enter three copies of Gideon of the Trials. If we have both him and his emblem we can avoid that pesky death nonsense again. But when we don’t have the combo we can always just use him to shut down the biggest threat at any given time.
So here it is, Lich’s Approach:
Our deck is well tuned to beat Aggro and Midrange. Our biggest problem is facing Control. This is because we are a Control deck with no Counterspells, which leaves us with no way to pressure them in the early game.
Dreamstealer is a nightmare for them post board, generating more card advantage than a Glint-Sleeve Siphoner, whilst being harder to answer. Lost Legacy names Glimmer of Genius, unless they are also an Approach deck, at which point you know what to do. The same can be said for Gideon’s Intervention against Approach, however in straight Control Matchups name Torrential Gearhulk instead. We want to strip them of any good card advantage and the Gearhulk is their best way of doing that.
Finally, against Blue decks that are likely to have River’s Rebuke drop down to two copies of Lich’s Mastery and only play it if you have nothing better to do. It’s simply not worth the risk otherwise.
In summary this is a serious control deck, not a gimmick. But, as is true for all Non-Blue Control decks, it struggles game one against other Control Decks. If you want to play Standard seriously, but also don’t want to play an off the shelf strategy, this deck is the one for you.
This past week I’ve been playing a bit of Brawl and I can assure you it’s very fun, however we recently had a Brawl tournament and guess who turned up in force; Baral, Chief of Compliance. We already have callings for a ban and it’s understandable, but he’s not unbeatable. I’m going to stand where I always stand on bans. If in six months Baral is still everywhere, fair enough. But for now, give the Meta a chance to adjust and adapt and be ready to beat Counterspell Tribal.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the deck. As usual don’t forget to share this with your friends or maybe your LGS, and if you want to see more content like this and get updates on all things standard be sure to check me out on Facebook and Twitter. I’ll see you guys next week.