Standard Orzhov Midrange | Arena Standard and Best of Three

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Traditional Standard (Best of Three)

Offering a fresh take on an established Standard format, Orzhov operates on a similar axis as Esper Hero. By sacrificing the versatility of Thought Erasure and powerful blue sideboard cards, Orzhov is able to capitalize on a unique weakness of many decks in Standard — Field of Ruin. Almost absent from Standard, this once defining staple of midrange punishes many of the three color decks in the format. Backing up hard to remove threats with the most efficient and versatile removal spells in the format, Orzhov has the ability to match other midrange decks in the format. It does lack a powerful card advantage engine like Hydroid Krasis but makes up for it with Arguel’s Blood Fast and evasive threats.

Card Choices

Threats

Kitesail Freebooter — Serving as a Thought Erasure replacement, Kitesail Freebooter pairs well with Memorial to Folly and can slow down Esper Control or Nexus just enough to close out the game.
Tithe Taker — Forming the other half of the disruptive threat plan, Tithe Taker slows down Esper Control and aggressive decks alike while providing an extra body for Arguel’s Blood Fast loops later in the game.
History of Benalia — One of Standard’s most defining threats, History of Benalia offers a quick clock on a defensive spread on bodies. The decision to play this over Resplendent Angel was a nod to the prevalence of Kaya’s Wrath on the side of opposing decks. By spreading the creatures over two turns, History can mitigate the effectiveness of opposing sweepers and is an additional hard to remove threat.dom-26-lyra-dawnbringer (1)
Seraph of the Scales
— Arguably one of the more powerful additions from Ravnica Allegiance, Seraph pairs well with Lyra to afford Orzhov inevitability against most aggressive decks. The afterlife component also serves as an additional hard to remove threat, taxing Vraska’s Contempt and Lava Coil from opposing decks.
Lyra Dawnbringer — No midrange deck would be complete without a game-ending win condition, and in many ways, Lyra is the ideal option. Five toughness is a crucial number, and Lyra can dominate most flying creatures in the format while acting as a self-contained win condition against aggressive strategies.

Removal

Cast Down/Moment of Craving — Interacting early is the most effective route to victory, and a 3/1 split lets Orzhov remove most threats in the format. Moment of Craving is a nod to Adanto Vanguard, which dodges most other removal spells in the deck.
Mortify — Acting as a catch-all removal spell, Mortify can remove Wilderness Reclamation or Search for Azcanta acting as a crucial component to success in a variety of matchups.rna-187-kaya-s-wrath (2)
Vraska’s Contempt — As Standard’s most ubiquitous Midrange removal spell, Vraska’s a25-104-ravenous-chupacabraContempt can deal with nearly any threat on the opposing side of the battlefield while buffering life in aggressive matchups.
Kaya’s Wrath
— Kaya’s Wrath affords Orzhov the ability to play a control game by bunkering behind Arguel’s Blood Fast or Kaya and using Kaya’s Wrath to punish the opponent when they overcommit.
Ravenous Chupacabra — As an additional removal spell that pairs well with Memorial to Folly, Ravenous Chupacabra is a strong one-of to round out the removal suite.

Engine Pieces

Crucible of Worlds — This long-forgotten Standard card is poised for a prominent comeback. Pairing naturally with Field of Ruin to lock out many Standard decks, Crucible also affords Orzhov card advantage off of the back of Memorial to Folly. Artifacts are the most resilient card type right now, and much of the power of Orzhov is off the back of this late game engine.
Kaya, Orzhov Usurper — Esper Control showcased the power of Kaya at the first Mythic Championship, and she pulls her weight in Orzhov as well. Occupying a convenient spot on the curve to complement the disruptive two drops, Kaya serves as an additional win condition that allows Orzhov to command a controlling role.
Temple of Aclazotzxln-90-arguel-s-blood-fast (2)Arguel’s Blood Fast — For those who remember the terror The Scarab God brought, Arguel’s Blood Fast is an incredibly powerful card advantage engine held back only by the inability to capitalize on both sides of the card. Fortunately, Orzhov can use the front side to produce a continual stream of cards and can stabilize against aggressive decks with the Temple of Aclazotz. Crucible plus Memorial to Folly does a reasonable Scarab God impression, pairing with Arguel’s to truly lock most opponents out of the game.

Sideboard

Duress — Perhaps the most powerful sideboard card available, Duress allows postboard games to be overloaded with disruption against Temur Reclamation and Esper Control while replacing Kitesail Freebooter in the Mono Red matchups. Without access to Negate, four copies of Duress is a must.
Arguel’s Blood Fast — The second copy of Arguel’s Blood Fast allows the deck to play a controlling role in most games.
Dawn of Hope — Dawn of Hope is a hard to remove threat that taxes the Mortify count of Esper Control, and serves as an additional card advantage engine in grindy games.
Moment of Craving — The second Moment of Craving serves as an additional concession to White Aggro and is crucial in many postboard games.
Sorcerous Spyglass — Perhaps the most powerful answer to Teferi, Sorcerous Spyglass also serves a disruptive role against Vivien by protecting your other enchantments from the powerful planeswalker.
Cry of the Carnarium — Getting the nod over Golden Demise due to the ability to dispatch Gutterbones, the two copies of Cry of the Carnarium complement the transitional sideboard plan.
Mortify — The fourth copy of Mortify gets the nod over the fourth copy of Vraska’s Contempt due to the importance of Wilderness Reclamation in Standard.
Profane Procession — Profane Procession is a backbreaking sideboard card against Sultai Midrange, serving a similar role to Hostage Taker. One copy is perfect for a silver bullet sideboard card like this, and Ethereal Absolution can replace it depending on the metagame.rix-166-profane-processionUntitleddom-1-karn-scion-of-urza
Karn, Scion of Urza — Rounding out the card advantage role, Karn acts as an additional copy of Arguel’s Blood Fast in the control matchups, but can threaten a quick clock similar to Kaya. If more aggressive decks are in the metagame, consider playing an additional Kaya.
Kaya’s Wrath — One copy of Kaya’s Wrath supplements the impactful sweeper in Midrange matchups, and allows the deck to transition fully into a controlling game plan.

Orzhov Crucible


Arena Standard (Best of One)

Gaining a bit of recognition in recent weeks, thanks in part to the prominence of Riley Knight, Orzhov Angels is an archetype showing promise in a hostile Arena Standard metagame. I’ve included my take on the archetype below, with changes that I feel are beneficial as the format currently stands. The power of Orzhov comes from the flexibility of card choices, as the color combination contains the best removal spells in the format alongside some of the most powerful threats.

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In a Best of One format, Orzhov has an equal opportunity to succeed by exploiting an aggressive metagame. Combining one-sided sweepers with powerful life gain, the Angel package can close out games quickly while stabilizing against Mono Red and Mono White. The drawback, of course, comes in the Esper Control matchup, where Moment of Craving and Kaya’s Wrath are largely dead cards. To compensate for this weakness, the Crucible package is replaced with Dawn of Hope.

Arena Orzhov

Kitesail Freebooter/Tithe Taker — As with the Traditional Standard version of the deck, the disruptive creatures can buy just enough time against aggressive decks for the Angels to take over the game, but a 3-3 line allows for the full playset of Moment of Craving.m19-34-resplendent-angel (1)
Resplendent Angel — Replacing History of Benalia, Resplendent Angel is crucial in Arena Standard due to the ability to lock aggressive decks out of the game. Many games are a race and many games are ended by a single activation of Resplendent Angel.
Seraph of the Scales — Resilient to removal and comboing with Lyra ensure Seraph’s 4-of status in Arena Standard.dom-35-shalai-voice-of-plenty (1)
Shalai, Voice of Plenty — Providing more disruption on a creature, Shalai can buy enough time against Mono-Red to find a Lyra.
Lyra Dawnbringer — As with Traditional Standard, Lyra serves as a crucial win condition against aggressive decks, and as the best card against the best of one metagame, Lyra warrants a 4-of status.
Moment of Craving — Moment of Craving is nearly absent from the Traditional Standard list, but is the most important removal spell in the Arena Standard metagame, earning its spot as a 4-of.
Golden Demise — With Tithe Taker and Seraph of the Scales, exiling your own creatures can matter, and the one-sided nature of Golden Demise causes it to get the nod over Cry of the Carnarium. In Arena Standard, preserving a clock is more important than mitigating the opposing clock, and Golden Demise does that far more effectively than Cry.rix-73-golden-demise
Kaya’s Wrath — Acting as an additional sweeper, Kaya’s Wrath can answer even Golgari’s board states.
Vraska’s Contempt — Present in the same number as in Traditional Standard, Vraska’s Contempt is effectively an additional copy of Moment of Craving against aggressive decks while answering Teferi in the control matchup.
Arguel’s Blood Fast/Kaya — These two cards each allow Orzhov to stabilize against aggressive decks while affording long term advantage against Esper Control.
Mortify — Functioning similarly to Cast Down, Mortify can answer nearly any creature but can free Lyra from opposing Conclave Tribunals. The limited effectiveness of Mortify relegates it to a 2-of status in Arena Standard when compared with its Traditional Standard counterpart.


Thanks for checking out this week’s Standard and Arena deck tech, and let me know what you think in the comments section below.

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