By Thijs Weytens

It’s been a while since my last article. Ravnica Allegiance has been released and I’ve been tinkering along with updates for my trusty Izzet Drakes and White Weenie deck.
I also discovered that a new deck is slowly emerging in Standard, the 4-color Gates deck. A deck designed to take advantage of the many new Gate pay-offs that Ravnica Allegiance provided us with
.

As you all know by now, the way I prefer to build Gentry decks is to look at new promising Standard decks and try to port them over to our lovely Gentry format. This new deck seems tailor-made for that, as most of its pay-offs are not vacating any Rare or Mythic slots.

Let’s start with the decklist:

(60)
Gatebreaker Ram
Gate Colossus
Hydroid Krasis
Elvish Rejuvenator
Vivien Reid
Nexus of Fate
Expansion//Explosion
Guild Summit
Gates Ablaze
Growth Spiral
Negate
Shimmer of Possibility
Opt
Simic Guildgate
Gruul Guildgate
Izzet Guildgate
Azorius Guildgate
Selesnya Guildgate
Boros Guildgate
Forest
Island

It’s interesting how much Ravnica Allegiance helped this deck take form. The Gate pay-offs have received some big additions, and where before you got acces to 6-mana 8/8 fliers and 5 mana 3/3 Double Strikers now you get 0 mana 8/8’s and a Wrath of God.

From this…
… to this!

I would describe this deck as a hybrid between Ramp and control. You’re aiming to ramp up your mana with cards like Growth Spiral and Elvish Rejuvenator. Once you’re established you can start controlling the board with Gates Ablaze, get card advantage with Guild Summit and eventually beat them to dead with a huge Gatebreaker Ram and Gate Colossus. They Murder your Gate Colossus? No problem, just play a Guildgate and you’re sure what your next draw step is gonna be.

But all these powerful options come with a hefty price. You have to run a deck with 19 lands that enter the battlefield tapped, thus setting you on the back foot most of the time. Time will tell if this drawback will be too much to handle for the deck, but the pay-offs seem well suited to claw your way back into the game and turn the corner very fast.

To further facilitate this, I included some sleek options that can easily be cast off-curve and dig you to your Gates Ablazes or Gatebreaker Rams. Opt, Growth Spiral and Shimmer of Possibility are all examples of this.

Let’s start with examining the mana base.

19 guildgates and 7 basics. This seems to be a fine number as the deck is essentially Simic with a splash for Red and White.

The color distribution is as follows:

Green sources: 14
Blue sources: 14
Red sources: 9
White sources: 8

The white is a splash for Revitalizes in the sideboard, 8 sources may seem a little low but I’m banking on the ramp and cantrips to find the white source when needed.

You need some basic lands because there are times you want to land your spells on curve. Especially on turn 3 you either want to cast a Gatebreaker Ram, Guild Summit or Gates Ablaze and start building from there. Note how each of those cards fill very different roles. It’s up to you, and the deck you are facing, to decide which one is the most optimal choice in any given situation.

Your play pattern in the early turns will almost always be the same: play 2 Gates, maybe play an Opt in between, and start casting spells as early as turn 3.

Onto the card choices

4 Gatebreaker Ram
This can come in on turn 3 as a 4/4, or on turn 6 as a 8/8. That’s an insane rate for a 3 mana creature. It also never, never, never dies to Gates Ablaze, which essentially gives this deck a 1-sided 3-mana Wrath of God. Together with Gate Colossus, this is one of your win conditions. It’s also really good at brick walling creatures from White Weenie or Mono Red. Just be careful when playing against Jeskai and Izzet. Don’t expose it to Lava Coil! Trample and Vigilance puts it completely over the top. On the one hand your opponent can’t chump block it and on the other hand you have a huge blocker. This makes the Ram very difficult to race.

3 Gate Colossus
Your other big creature. This one comes into play a little later than the Ram, but it’s more resilient against removal. Eventually, as the game progresses, the mana cost goes down dramatically, allowing you insane turn sequences. Imagine playing Gates Ablaze to sweep your opponent’s board, drop 2 Colossi and have a Negate as backup. Seems nice…

Gate Colossus is also your main threat against any control deck, because basically every Guildgate brings it back to the top of your deck. Just be weary against exile effects like Seal Away and never run into
Settle the Wreckage! It’s also semi-unblockable, which is quite relevant. Together with the Ram this deck is very resilient to decks that aim to go wide and leave back some chump blockers to win the combat race.

4 Elvish Rejuvenator
The cost of porting this deck over from Standard to Gentry is you only get to play 15 uncommons. This meant Circuitous Route got the axe in favor of Elvish Rejuvenator. That being said, I think this may be the deck where Elvish Rejuvenator really shines. Note that it can also put Gate cards into play and not just basic lands. You’re also playing more lands than any typical deck so the chance of whiffing is lower. On top of all that it’s also an excellent chump blocker, which gives you the time to get back into the game. (did I mention you start the game on the back foot most of the times)

4 Guild Summit
This should be about the best card draw engine in the format right now, and it’s one of the biggest payoffs you get for cramping 19 Gates in your deck. It’s interesting that it’s good on turn 3 because every Gate you play from that point on draws you a card, but you can also take a turn off on turn 8 and draw a million of cards at once. It’s especially sweet with a Gate Colossus in the yard, as you can stack both triggers so that the Colossus goes back to the top of your deck, and then you can draw it. (And hopefully, recast it for 0 mana)

One word of caution if you are playing this deck on Arena, you should manually tap the lands to cast Guild Summit. The auto-tapper sometimes taps Gates for mana, which might make you miss a few draws. It happened to me once. I was not amused. Also on Arena, make sure to go to Settings and disable “Stack abilities automatically”. If not, when you play a Guildgate, it will resolve the Guild Summit first and the Colossus second. Making you draw the card and then putting the Colossus back on the top of your deck. Also happened to me once. I was even less amused…

4 Gates Ablaze
This is the way to get yourself back into a game when you’re behind. The mere existence of this card allows you to keep up with decks like White Weenie and Mono-red. It’s even better in this build because most of your creatures survive the blaze. You can clear out all their blockers and start crashing through with your 12/12 Ram!
It’s really sweet against Izzet Drakes, as Dive Down usually won’t save their Drakes and you can easily play around Spell Pierce. That said, the card is completely dead against control decks without creatures, but I think that most controlling decks will at least play some creatures to win. Be it Basilica Bell-Haunt, Niv Mizzet or Chromium the Mutable. Gates Ablaze will take care of any of those.

I really like how they designed this card to only cost 3 mana instead of 4, leveraging the fact that it’s only playable in a deck with lots and lots of Guildgates.

Standard has been devoid of a Wrath of God-like card for a long time, and now we’re getting one that’s even playable in Gentry due to its uncommon rarity.
I can imagine a Jeskai or Grixis control deck that plays something like between 10 to 12 gates in order to facilitate Gates Ablaze. That’s a big upgrade for these kind of decks because before they had to give up one of their 4 rare and mythic slots for the likes of Cleansing Nova and Settle the Wreckage. This frees up more space for cards that actually win you the game, although some people would state that win conditions in control decks are overrated.

4 Growth Spiral
Some additional ramp and cycling for the deck. Between this and Elvish Rejuvenator, the deck will often drop a lot of lands on the battlefield early. Growth Spiral is an additional sleek card to help smooth out the curves of this deck a little bit. It’s funny how Growth Spiral is meant to increase your mana count, but in this deck, it’s actually putting you on “normal pace” because all your lands enter the battlefield tapped.

2 NeGate
Ne“Gate” 20 and 21.

A couple of Negates will get you a long way with protecting your creature spells. It’s also good synergy with Growth Spiral as you can just leave 2 mana up and if you don’t want to counter anything just play Growth Spiral and get some mana advantage.

1 Shimmer of Possibility
I’m still debating between this and Anticipate but Shimmer actually surprised me a lot. You’re essentially giving up the instant speed of Anticipate in order to have 1 extra look. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the extra consistency this gives you. In the early game it helps you find your missing pieces, be it lands or threats. And in the late game, it can help dig you to one of your big pay-off cards. I’ve had sequences where I cast Nexus of Fate first and followed it up with
Shimmer of Possibility in the hopes of finding the Nexus again. ( I didn’t..) On the other hand, the deck also plays Growth Spiral, Negate and Expansion//Explosion in the same slot, which are all instants. So Anticipate might be the best inclusion after all.

One tip about the deck: The Shimmer, combined with the 4 Elvish Rejuvenators do put a lot of cards on the bottom of your deck. You might want to keep an eye out for which cards you’ve put there. It might influence some choices you could make later in the game. For example, I’ve had a game where I played a Rejuvenator early and had to bottom 2 Gates Ablaze… Against Orzhov Wheenie… From that point on the plan changed from trying to control their board, to trying to get a Ram or Colossus out as fast as possible and race them. (It worked..)

4 Opt
Another one of the sleek options to smooth out your draws a little bit. As I’ve said before, this card has the lowest impact overall but you’ll be happy if you cast it on turn 2 to find your Gatebreaker Ram or Gates Ablaze. Or later in the game when you don’t need any more lands but are looking for some action spells.

The rares

Hydroid Krasis
Remember Sphinx’s Revelation? Last time this kind of effect was in standard it was a staple of the format. Sure, they toned down the effect by only letting you draw half of X-cards, but instead you’re getting a X/X Flampling Jellyfish Hydra Beast (oh Simic…) I think you can include a lot of different rares in this type of deck, but I’m fairly sure all builds should include Hydroid Krasis. It’s just the best card for this type of deck, helping you get back in the game by gaining you some life, drawing you some cards and just being a giant flying beater.

Vivien Reid
I’m not sure if Vivien has a home in this deck, but somewhere in the back of my head there’s a voice telling me I need to include 1 maindeck answer for artifacts and enchantments. I’ve gotten to use her for good effect so far, when I discovered that Ixalan’s Binding is actually a very very good answer to Gate Colossus. Apart from that, Vivien has some uses against basically every deck apart from the hyper aggressive mono-red. The ramp strategy also allows you to sometimes drop her a turn earlier, which is especially powerful against some strategies.

Nexus of Fate
You could make the argument that this is in fact a Nexus of Fate deck, but the card has more of a supporting role here. You can turn the corner very fast when you’re in the late game. Just drop some Gate Colossi for 0 mana, cast a Nexus of Fate and attack your opponent to 0 before they ever take their next turn. Also, with Guild Summit and the other card draw spells you see a large percentage of your deck most of the time, so chances are Nexus will pop up a second time.

Also relevant, you can never get decked with this card in your deck. (Except when they Syncopate it)

Expansion//Explosion
By now you might have noticed how almost all my rares are big mana payoff cards. So naturally I had to include the card with the biggest ceiling. Explosion you for X = 20! What’s actually very interesting is the fact that the card isn’t completely dead in the early game. As you still have the Expansion side to use. So far I’ve been able to copy my opponent’s
Duress to good effect and I’m looking forward to copying some other sweet cards from my opponent.

Other rares you could include

Sunbird’s Invocation
The converted mana cost of Gate Colossus is 8, so when you drop a Sunbird’s Invocation and play a Colossus you get to dig 8 cards deep to either find a second Colossus or god forbid, Nexus of Fate . Include this rare if you really want to go all-in on the Nexus of Fate plan.

Ral, Izzet Viceroy
There are 2 posibilities here. Either you play Ral instead of Vivien Reid. Depending on personal preference. Or you play both and include Karn and Teferi if you want to overload on planeswalkers to make it “Gates Ablaze Superfriends tm

Zacama, Primal Calamity
I can see the appeal of playing this card. You know, it’s a really big bad looking Dinosaur. But I fear the idea of dying with this card in my hand. For that reason, I chose to include the “X” cards as my rares of choice. The modal nature of “X” gives me more wiggle room in the earlier turns. I’m especially dreading getting to 9 mana, casting my big bad Dinosaur just to have it countered.

Mass Manipulation
This card pops up in the standard version of the deck but I still need to be convinced how good it is in Gentry. I’m just not seeing it here.

Star of Extinction: If you believe 4 Gates Ablaze isn’t enough mass removal or you want some additional answers against planeswalkers.

Thaumatic Compass
The deck only plays 7 basic lands so you won’t get to activate it all that much, but the many ramp effects will get it to flip faster, which could actually prove very decent in the mirror.

Multani, Yavimaya’s Avatar
Gatebreaker Ram survives Gates Ablaze 100% of the time. Multani will survive it 97% of the time. Just make sure to have 1 non-Gate land. That being said, Gatebreaker Ram and Gate Colossus both are cheaper to cast so I don’t want to waste a rare slot on a card that’s worse than my uncommons.
If there would be some more self-mill in the deck I might want to include Multani, but with this version I would never play her.

Treasure Map
If you want to go really big on the mana, just include a rare that will at one point provide you with 3 treasures. Play this card if you want to play big Explosions.

The sideboard

2 Naturalize
Never leave home without some form of enchantment of artifact hate. You never know what you might run into in Gentry. I’m expecting some decks with Wilderness Reclamation to pop up so I might even up the count to 3.

Revitalize
The plan against the aggressive decks. You side out your expensive spells and redundant cantrips for Revitalizes and Shivan Fires, and try to win with your Rams and Collosi. It’s possible the mana base needs some adjustments though, as you only have 7 white sources as of now. But as I’ve stated at the start of the article, the deck has lots of ramp and cantrips which will help dig me to my white source. As a second argument I would like to quote an article from a certain Mike Flores on the date of May 19, 2014.

“Life as a resource”

This means I don’t require my white mana source on turn 2 of the game in order to stand a chance against the hyper aggressive decks. I’m playing with 20 lifepoints and a deck well suited to sweep their board and play huge undercosted blockers. This means I only need my Revitalizes to help me get out of reach of their burn, which will probably be around turn 5 or 6. Thus I need to find my white source after seeing about 12-13 cards instead of 7-8. Thus I don’t even need 14 white sources to start with. Basically, I’m fine with 7 at the moment. Further testing will prove if my theory is sound.

4 Shivan Fire
Also against the aggressive decks. Bring out those Guild Summits, Vivien Reid, and Expansion//Explosion to add more cheap interaction.

Root Snare
Some more slots against the aggressive decks. A timely Root Snare will win you the race against the aggressive decks. They won’t play around it and alpha strike you. You will cast this and win on the following turn. Also, it’s quite good against Bladebrand.

Negate
2 extra counterspells against the control decks and the mirror. Another reason why I would want to include Anticipate over Shimmer of Possibility. Also, “Gate 22 and 23”

Essence Scatter
This one could be about anything you want but I’ve chosen to include 1 Essence Scatter. It’s possible Spell Pierce is the better choice but this isn’t really a tempo deck either. Maybe good old Cancel should do the trick in this slot. If you know what I should include as the 15th sideboard card, don’t hesitate to let me know on facebook. I’m always open for feedback.

Thanks for reading!

Thijs

mm

Thijs Weytens used to play the World of Warcraft TCG extensively but since that game got discontinued he started playing competitive Magic, since Theros block. One of his favorite formats is Modern, but Gentry is definitely competing for that spot these days. He’s mostly known for playing the UR Eldrazi deck both in Gentry and Standard, with the latter giving him a 9-4-1 finish at GP Paris 2016. Together with his teammates at Team Wrecking Ball he tries to play competitive as much as possible but when there’s a Gentry event on the horizon you can count on him being present, slinging all sorts of Blue/Red decks.

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