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Deck of the Week: Standard Scales

Deck of the Week: Standard Scales

Hardened Scales was always the little rare from Khans that could. “New” Standard has been defined by the new meta of slow, grindy games that allow players to cast cards that they may not have given a passing glance in a meta similar to one a few years ago. Don't follow my logic? Compare Sip of Hemlock to Murder and tell me the game hasn't changed.

Cards that add +1/+1 counters are often immediately compared to the Commander powerhouse, Doubling Season its smaller, less broken cousin, Primal Vigor. When comparing the three together, Hardened Scales appears to be the weakest of the bunch, however in the New Standard this little sleeper rare appears to have finally caught on, and it appears to be bringing some friends with it.

This deck, a hold over from Theros/Tarkir standard appears to attempt to abuse a combination of Renown and Bestow triggers, using Hardened Scales to get the most out of every creature we cast.

Creatures (21)

2 Endless One

2 Kytheon, Hero of Akros

2 Servant of the Scale

2 Consul's Lieutenant

2 Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit

3 Avatar of the Resolute

4 Citadel Castellan

4 Managorger Hydra

Instants (10)

2 Dromoka's Command

4 Valorous Stance

4 Feat of Resistance

Enchantments (7)

4 Hardened Scales

3 Gleam of Authority

Land (22)

6 Plains

8 Forest

4 Canopy Vista

4 Windswept Heath

Not tournament level by any means, but a solid deck for an FMN or the kitchen table nonetheless. However, not only are we tasked with making the deck better, we are being asked to add another color, a smart choice considering the mana fixing available in the New Standard.

Hey Marc, here’s my deck. It’s standard and is a pretty basic Scales deck. The goal is to get Hardened Scales out and start dropping +1/+1 counters on my creatures at an accelerated rate. I would like to turn this into something I could take to an FNM or tournament and do well, so that’s why I’m coming to you for input. I have been thinking about adding another color, likely Black or Red, and I wanted to see what changes you would make to the deck to make that work.

The availability of the Khans Tri Lands, the allied Fetch Lands, the enemy Pain Lands and the new Slow Lands means that piloting a four or even five color deck is now a reality. In fact, I think the answer here may not be to add Red or Black, but Blue.

Adding Blue gives us access to the all important control game as well as access to some of the more powerful awaken spells. Underplayed cards like Roil Spout can cause real trouble for an opponent, especially when cast in conjunction with one or more Hardened Scales. While you'd hardly ever consider casting a 4/4 for six in a normal situation, removing a creature, negating your opponent's next draw step and getting a 5/5 with haste suddenly doesn't sound so bad for six mana.


Hardened Scales and cheap creatures remain the heart and soul of the deck. With Scales, we can turn an empty board into a powerhouse in relatively short order. I feel though there are some easy cuts to the deck. Although Kytheon in his Gideon form ties up an opponent's attackers, his inability to play with Hardened Scales gives me reason to send him to the bench.

For my take on this deck, I prefer an all in strategy. Using a combination of cheap, effective green and white creatures to take advantage of Hardened Scales, we set the stage for a tradition “White Weenies” build with the support of Roil Spout and a blue focused sideboard. I want though to keep the spirit of the deck in tact, so we're not looking for a deck that can take down a 1,500 person Grand Prix, hitting the Top 8 of a Grand Prix Trial shouldn't be out of reach for us.

Aeropaws's Get Me Hard

Creatures (25)

4 Avatar of the Resolute

4 Servant of the Scale

2 Anafenza, Kin Tree Spirit

3 Hangarback Walker

4 Undergrowth Champion

4 Citadel Castellan

4 Managorger Hydra

Sorcery (3)

3 Roil Spout

Enchantment (10)

4 Hardened Scales

3 Stasis Snare

3 Citadel Siege

Land (22)

4 Plains

5 Forest

2 Yavimaya Coast

3 Prarie Stream

3 Canopy Vista

4 Windswept Heath

4 Flooded Strand

Sideboard (15)

3 Den Protector

2 Scatter to the Winds

2 Stubborn Denial

2 Planar Outburst

2 Dragonlord Ojutai

3 Stubborn Denial

1 Disdainful Stroke

As stated before, this is an all in, heavy creature strategy. Imagine casting spells on turn and ending up with a turn four game state of a 2/2 Hangarback Walker, and a 4/4 Undergrowth Champion. A turn four option of a Managorger Hydra or saving the mana for a Citadel Siege is a board that I would be more than comfortable being in charge of.

I look forward to trying this deck out at my LGS and seeing if the beat down strategy can compete. Given the speed and the direction of the New Standard, I think that this deck could lead me to more than a few top 8 finishes. Coupled with the control of the sideboard, save for an all in Mono Red strategy, I feel we have a strong deck for the pilot that enjoys swinging in with as many creatures as possible.

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