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Without following Standard closely I’m still well aware that Oko, Thief of CrownsOko, Thief of Crowns is a huge problem in that format. I heard 69% of the players at Mythic Championship Richmond sleeved up the card, and the top 4 consisted of all Oko decks, which is unacceptable. With a Banned and Restricted announcement coming up, it seems inevitable for Oko to be relegated to the past tense in Standard – but what about the other formats? Normally players would do what they can to get rid of their cards with a ban target on their back, but I’m here to tell you that Oko will remain a staple across multiple formats in the future. Let’s dive into the formats one by one!

Pioneer – Simic Aggro

Llanowar Elves

Llanowar Elves

The new kid on the block already had some exciting weeks of data put in the books, and various versions of Blue-Green aggressive decks have made their way to the top tables. Any good opening needs a turn one accelerator, and from there the hits keep on coming with the undercosted planeswalker or fatties. Speaking of fatties, the blue splash enables Stubborn DenialStubborn Denial as crucial disruption against expensive powerful non-creature spells or a well-timed removal spell to stop the Simic deck’s aggression. I’ve also seen versions with Thought-Knot SeerThought-Knot Seer and Reality SmasherReality Smasher in favor of the triple green threats, and even though Pioneer doesn’t have access to Eldrazi TempleEldrazi Temple, they’re still efficiently costed haymakers. Another version goes bigger with Ghalta, Primal HungerGhalta, Primal Hunger in a world without too much proper removal for giant monsters. I also really like having access to vehicles like Heart of KiranHeart of Kiran or Smuggler’s CopterSmuggler’s Copter to be better against sweepers. When I find the time, I will study the pros and cons of each version and see if I can come up with a final judgment.

Pioneer Simic Aggro (sample decklist)

Lands (20)
Botanical Sanctum
Breeding Pool
Forest
Hashep Oasis
Yavimaya Coast

Creatures (26)
Elvish Mystic
Llanowar Elves
Ghalta, Primal Hunger
Gilded Goose
Lovestruck Beast
Questing Beast
Rhonas the Indomitable
Steel Leaf Champion
Surrak, the Hunt Caller
Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig

Spells (14)
Heart of Kiran
Oko, Thief of Crowns
Once Upon a Time
Stubborn Denial
Sideboard (15)
Feed the Clan
Heroic Intervention
Lifecrafter’s Bestiary
Prey Upon
Sleep
Spell Pierce
Veil of Summer

Modern – Sultai Whirza

Urza, Lord High Artificer

Urza, Lord High Artificer

While Modern definitely didn’t exactly benefit from the creation of Pioneer, it’s still a relevant format with premier events all over the world including on Magic Online, and Oko is putting up great results here as well. I was really impressed with the “newer” versions of Urza where the deck transformed into a more consistent deck rather than a focused combo deck. It has not only implemented the dynamic duo of Gilded GooseGilded Goose and Oko, Thief of CrownsOko, Thief of Crowns, but also format veteran Cryptic CommandCryptic Command and “sneaky cheap Mana LeakMana Leak when playing a Mox OpalMox Opal deck” Metallic RebukeMetallic Rebuke while the combo of Sword of the MeekSword of the Meek and Thopter FoundryThopter Foundry takes a back seat. With the versatility that Whir of InventionWhir of Invention brings and the bases that the black splash for sideboard cards cover, we are looking at well-oiled machine ready to battle any deck in Modern.

Modern Sultai Whirza (sample deck list)

Lands (19)
Breeding Pool
Misty Rainforest
Mystic Sanctuary
Polluted Delta
Scalding Tarn
Snow-Covered Forest
Snow-Covered Island
Watery Grave

Creatures (12)
Emry, Lurker of the Loch
Gilded Goose
Urza, Lord High Artificer

Spells (29)
Arcum’s Astrolabe
Cryptic Command
Engineered Explosives
Metallic Rebuke
Mishra’s Bauble
Mox Opal
Oko, Thief of Crowns
Sword of the Meek
Thopter Foundry
Whir of Invention
Sideboard (14)
Abrupt Decay
Collective Brutality
Damping Sphere
Ensnaring Bridge
Fatal Push
Grafdigger’s Cage
Pithing Needle
Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas
Thoughtseize
Tireless Tracker

Legacy – 4-Color Control

Wrenn and Six

Wrenn and Six

Legacy is crazy these days. The winner’s metagame mostly consists of decks that are either running Wrenn and SixWrenn and Six or decks that don’t care about Wrenn and SixWrenn and Six. It means that some fan favorites like Death and Taxes and Elves are mostly watching from the sidelines at the moment, but we also got some sweet new decks added to Legacy. In a world of fear for getting WastelandWasteland-locked, cards like basic lands and Arcum’s AstrolabeArcum’s Astrolabe are attractive – the latter even helps you play multiple colors in your control deck. In these good stuff decks, Oko is a fine roleplayer that will do a lot of small things which combine to make it a versatile and powerful card. Turn giant monsters into 3/3’s, steal a TarmogoyfTarmogoyf, send animated Astrolabes at opposing planeswalkers, preserving your lifetotal against Burn, the list goes on. If it’s bad in a certain matchup, pitching it to Force of WillForce of Will or Force of NegationForce of Negation can often make it still reasonable. I love how Gilded GooseGilded Goose desperately tries to do a Deathrite ShamanDeathrite Shaman impression in this list.

Legacy 4-Color Control (sample list)

Lands (21)
Badlands
Bayou
Misty Rainforest
Polluted Delta
Sheltered Thicket
Snow-Covered Forest
Tropical Island
Underground Sea
Verdant Catacombs
Volcanic Island
Wasteland

Creatures (9)
Gilded Goose
Tarmogoyf
Snapcaster Mage
Plague Engineer
Brazen Borrower

Spells (30)
Abrupt Decay
Assassin’s Trophy
Brainstorm
Fatal Push
Force of Will
Inquisition of Kozilek
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Kolaghan’s Command
Lightning Bolt
Liliana’s Triumph
Oko, Thief of Crowns
Ponder
Thoughtseize
Vraska, Golgari Queen
Wrenn and Six
Sideboard (15)
Angrath’s Rampage
Ashiok, Dream Render
Blue Elemental Blast
Cindervines
Ensnaring Bridge
Force of Negation
Nihil Spellbomb
Pithing Needle
Plague Engineer
Pyroblast
Red Elemental Blast
Surgical Extraction
Veil of Summer

Vintage Oath of Druids

Oath of Druids

Oath of Druids

Last up is Vintage which surely is too powerful for Oko to make an appearance? WRONG. Eternal Weekend North America had a handful of Oko decks in the top 8, both fair and unfair strategies. I like it the most in Oath of DruidsOath of Druids where its flexibility is utilized the most. When you’re playing Oath of DruidsOath of Druids, you want your opponent to have a creature on the battlefield – check. Sometimes the opponent will use Grafdigger’s CageGrafdigger’s Cage or Containment PriestContainment Priest as their hate against your Oath of DruidsOath of Druids triggers – consider them elk’d. Sometimes you don’t find your Oath of DruidsOath of Druids and have no way to win the game – elks will take you home. Between all that utility and with six blue Forces in the deck, Oko will always be a reasonable Magic card in this deck despite Vintage being the most unfair format in existence.

Oath of Druids by ecobaronen

Lands (14)
Flooded Strand
Forbidden Orchard
Polluted Delta
Scalding Tarn
Tropical Island
Volcanic Island

Creatures (2)
Niv-Mizzet, Parun
Griselbrand

Spells (44)
Abrade
Ancestral Recall
Ancient Grudge
Black Lotus
Brainstorm
Dig Through Time
Force of Negation
Force of Will
Gaea’s Blessing
Gitaxian Probe
Mental Misstep
Misty Rainforest
Mox Emerald
Mox Jet
Mox Pearl
Mox Ruby
Mox Sapphire
Narset, Parter of Veils
Oath of Druids
Oko, Thief of Crowns
Ponder
Preordain
Pyroblast
Spell Pierce
Time Walk
Veil of Summer
Sideboard (15)
Ancient Grudge
Blazing Archon
Nature’s Claim
Pyroblast
Ravenous Trap
Tormod’s Crypt
Andreas Petersen

Andreas Petersen

Andreas is probably better known as "ecobaronen" on MTGO. After 2nd place of Team Trios #GPMadrid playing Modern he's heading to his second Pro Tour in Minneapolis this year. Andreas has an opinion about every constructed format except Standard.