Standard - Orzhov Aggro by cstick #50 Sept

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DECK AND DESCRIPTION BY cstick via reddit. 





Hi spikes. I brewed a deck that has been doing very well for me on the ladder (top 50 Mythic), and I haven’t seen any other lists like it, so I wanted to share it with you. I posted a bit about it in the ZNR week 1 thread, but have since made some refinements and played a lot more with it.


MtgGoldfish link:

Arena importable:

4 Brightclimb Pathway (ZNR) 259
2 Alseid of Life's Bounty (THB) 1
7 Plains (ANB) 115
4 Selfless Savior (M21) 36
4 Seasoned Hallowblade (M21) 34
3 Bloodchief's Thirst (ZNR) 94
5 Swamp (ANB) 116
4 Skyclave Apparition (ZNR) 39
4 Skyclave Shade (ZNR) 125
4 Maul of the Skyclaves (ZNR) 27
2 Demonic Embrace (M21) 95
3 Agadeem's Awakening (ZNR) 90
4 Temple of Silence (M21) 255
4 Luminarch Aspirant (ZNR) 24
2 Murderous Rider (ELD) 97
2 Sejiri Shelter (ZNR) 37
2 Legion Angel (ZNR) 23

2 Shadowspear (THB) 236
4 Duress (M20) 97
2 Agonizing Remorse (THB) 83
2 Legion Angel (ZNR) 23
2 Lurrus of the Dream-Den (IKO) 226
1 Bloodchief's Thirst (ZNR) 94
2 Archon of Emeria (ZNR) 4


Before rotation, I was messing around with a couple of different Orzhov lists. One was a humans list, and the other was an auras list. One thing I liked about both lists was the combo of Seasoned Hallowblade + Demonic Embrace, which could give you a large, sticky flier to attack with as soon as turn 3. In the ZNR spoilers, a couple of cards caught my eye: Skyclave Shade as a great complement to Hallowblade, Skyclave Apparition as an excellent interactive creature, and Maul of the Skyclaves as a better Demonic Embrace. I felt that a list centering around these cards and supplemented by the plentiful protection effects in white could be pretty strong.


This is an aggressive creature deck. Any deck that wants to beat down generally has to overcome two primary types of obstacles: blockers and removal. This deck handles blockers either by killing them with its various high-quality removal spells or by enhancing a creature to just fly over them. On the other hand, many of the cards in the deck (particularly Seasoned Hallowblade, Skyclave Shade, and Selfless Savior) line up very well against the most popular removal spells. Against decks that want to beat you down, you have plentiful removal for their creatures, Seasoned Hallowblade as an excellent blocker, and Maul of the Skyclave to dominate combat.

Card Choices:

Selfless Savior: This is a great card. You can play it early and chip in for damage, and when one of your good creatures would die, just sac this instead.

Alseid of Life’s Bounty: Generally worse than Selfless Savior, because the mana to activate makes it harder to use when curving out. You want redundancy of this effect though, and protection instead of indestructible makes it situationally better.

Seasoned Hallowblade: This is the best card in the deck. He attacks, he blocks sometimes, and he just doesn’t die. He also sort of helps improve your card quality, by giving you a use for extra lands or situationally bad cards.

Skyclave Shade: This is sort of the reverse Hallowblade. When your opponent tries to kill Hallowblade, you gain a tempo advantage, since you spend a card and 0 mana against their card and >0 mana. When they kill this, you get card advantage, since it comes back. Sometimes, you get to discard this to Hallowblade for extra value.

Luminarch Aspirant: You want more than 8 two drops, and this is the next best one. Sometimes it just dies to removal, but when it doesn’t it can snowball into a win. It can stack counters on itself, or later on can stack them on a flier. One of the benefits of running a bunch of protection is that this gets to live more often.

Skyclave Apparition: This kills most things and leaves a body behind at a very good price. It doesn’t just hit creatures, so having this means you have outs to troublesome permanents like Lucky Clover and Felidar Retreat without having to play specialized removal. The small body and negative death effect can make it difficult to use in combat sometimes, but if you stick a maul on this, you can actually take advantage of the body. Protecting this to keep your opponent from getting the token is quite nice as well.

Legion Angel: I’ve quite liked these as a top end. A trio of large fliers end the game pretty quickly, and you usually have enough time to deploy them because your opponent should hopefully already be on the backfoot. The other two live in the board for you to get, obviously.

Maul of the Skyclaves: Most decks have a hard time profitably blocking anything equipped with this (or attacking into it, for that matter). The up front cost is pretty cheap for how large of an effect this can have on the board, you have lots of ways to make sure it works, and if you do need to move it around, the price is fair. Access to this effect means that a lot of the time, you can ignore most of what your opponent is doing and just kill them.

Demonic Embrace: This is worse than Maul, but you want redundancy of this effect because it’s often an important part of your plan. These usually come out after sideboarding, when the games get more interactive. They stay in against Omnath, though.

Bloodchief’s Thirst: This is one of the best available removal spells. You can kill Lotus Cobra, Robber of the Rich, or Scavenging Ooze (or the token from Skyclave Apparition!) for very cheap, and later you can kill whatever their best creature is. There’s a fourth copy in the sideboard for when you want a bit of extra removal (which is most of the time).

Murderous Rider: This is the newest addition to the deck. I used to play Heartless Act, but I encountered a lot of Sultai and Dimir on the ladder, and this card is much better against them. Of course, since the swap, I haven’t played against those decks. But still, this kills anything, the life loss doesn’t matter too much most of the time, and you eventually get a 2/3 lifelinker. The body works well with Maul and Aspirant.

Sejiri Shelter: A decent amount of the time, you’re stacking up on one big creature, and all you need to do to win is keep it safe. This does that, and it’s also a land. I tend to use it as a land about half the time. Just having these in the deck lets you keep more hands, curve out more consistently, and flood less.

Agadeem’s Awakening: These get played as lands about 85% of the time, but the spell is pretty good if the game reaches that point. Just getting back a Savior and an Aspirant for 5 mana is meaningful, and sometimes you do better than that.

Temple of Silence: People love to hate taplands, especially in aggro decks, but you absolutely have to play these. This deck has 1WW and 1BB spells; you lose way less for having a tapped land than you would lose to color screw by swapping these for basics. It’s not that hard to fit these into your curve, and the scrying is subtly strong.

Pathways and basic lands are obvious.


Shadowspear: This is great in any matchup where your life total matters. The deck is already prone to ending up in race situations, where you swing with your big flyer and/or your Skyclave Shades while the rest of your team hangs back to block. This just wins those sorts of games.

Lurrus of the Dream-Den: This also comes in against creature decks, and is also good in grinder matchups. Lurrus works very well with the one mana creatures, as they protect Lurrus, and you can reuse them every turn. Lifelink means he’s very good at wearing Maul. Lurrus would probably be in the main deck, but he’s mediocre against the Omnath decks, so the angels are in the main instead.

Archon of Emeria: This is basically just an Omnath hate card. It’s a good one though, as the abilities slow them down quite a bit, while the flying body can meaningfully augment your clock. It already survives Stomp, and the protection effects can keep them from getting rid of it with other spells. Sometimes it’s worth it to put Maul on this even though it already flies just to put it out of range of Scorching Dragonfire and Thundering Rebuke.

Duress: Discard is useful for fighting more controlling decks. You usually don’t care about taking random spot removal spells, and instead want to focus on taking bigger spells like planeswalkers and especially Extinction Event.

Agonizing Remorse: A more expensive, more flexible discard spell. Against control, you’re happy to play all six discard spells, while I like this against Omnath (and not Duress, typically) because Duress can whiff in that matchup while this can hit whatever big spell you need to, whether it’s Genesis Ultimatum, Escape to the Wilds, Greater Gargaroth, Omnath, or Kenrith.


My read of the format is that the main decks are Omnath, Sultai/Dimir, Mono Red, and Gruul.

Omnath: Slightly Favorable

I win most of the time that I play against them, but the games often feel very close. Their usual removal suite is not very good at even slowing you down, your plan to fly over works well against them, you have good answers to their creatures, and your clock is usually fast enough to kill them before they start casting really big stuff like Genesis Ultimatum, provided that you keep Lotus Cobra and Omnath off the board.

+1 bloodchief's thirst
+2 agonizing remorse
+2 archon of emeria

-2 alseid of life's bounty
-1 selfless savior
-2 skyclave shade

Removal is good, Archon is very good, and remorse can take whatever their big payoff is. Notably, Demonic Embrace stays, as smacking them with a big flyer is the main plan here. Protection is less important here, so some gets cut, and the recursiveness of shade isn't as good as the fast clock from aspirant, so a couple get trimmed to make room.

Sultai/Dimir: Slightly Unfavorable

They have lots of removal, so Hallowblade and Skyclave Shade are very good, while Luminarch Aspirant and Demonic Embrace are less good. Skyclave Apparition often lacks targets, especially against Dimir. Extinction Event is possibly the best card in the format against you, as almost all of your good threats are at even CMC, and the exile hoses Hallowblade and Apparition.

+4 duress
+2 agonizing remorse
+2 lurrus of the dream den
+2 archon of emeria

-2 demonic embrace
-4 skyclave apparition
-1 maul of the skyclaves
-2 bloodchief's thirst
-1 luminarch aspirant

Skyclave Apparition comes out because it usually doesn't have targets. Demonic Embrace is too risky, but Maul is nice because you can move it around to turn your smaller creatures into threats post wipe, and it helps kill ashiok. The key card in this matchup is Extinction Event, and discard should almost always take it. Archon is pretty bad, but I like it over Luminarch Aspirant because it survives Extinction Event. That could be wrong though. This plan is for Dimir; against Sultai, you want +2 Skyclave Apparition to hit Uro and potential Scavenging Ooze, and +1 Bloodchief’s Thirst for Uro and Greater Gargaroth. Cut the other three Aspirants to make room.

Mono Red: Favored

You’re the control here. Hallowblade blocks and eats removal extremely well against them, and they really struggle to beat it. Maul is often good on defense here, as they struggle to get through a large first striker.

+2 lurrus of the dream-den
+2 shadowspear
+1 bloodchief's thirst
+2 duress

-2 demonic embrace
-2 legion angel
-2 skyclave shade
-1 luminarch aspirant

The matchup improves post board, because you get to cut clunky cards for things that gain life. A couple of duress let you lower your curve a bit, usually won't whiff post board once they bring in their removal, and can take embercleave. Demonic embrace is bad, angels are too slow, and the two drops both have advantages but I lean towards trimming shades since they can't block.

Gruul: Favored

You’re faster because your two drops are better, your removal is better, and Maul lets you dominate combat. Skyclave Apparition is particularly good at killing their three and four mana creatures. Just play your cards and you should usually win.

+1 bloodchief's thirst
+2 shadowspear
+2 lurrus of the dream den

-2 demonic embrace
-1 alseid of life’s bounty
-1 skyclave shade
-1 luminarch aspirant

Sideboarding is mostly the same as for mono red, because a lot of the same things are good. I cut an Alseid because protection isn’t as important and Savior already beats all of their removal. The games go a bit longer than against mono red, so the angels stay in. The plan for most other creature decks (e.g. rogues, clerics, mono green) is pretty similar.

That’s all for now. Feel free to respond with any questions, suggestions, etc. and I’ll try and answer as best as I can. I definitely recommend giving a deck a shot, because in addition to doing well I’ve been having a lot of fun playing it.


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Last Updated: 30 Sep 2020
Created: 30 Sep 2020
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Mainboard - 60 cards (17 distinct)

Creature (26)
Instant, Sorcery, Enchantment, Artifact (14)
Land (20)

Sideboard - 15 cards (7 distinct)


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