Silversmote Ghoul is an awesome new card from Core Set 2021. Its perfect combination with Creeping Chill in Dredge-style decks in older formats like Pioneer and Modern is obvious, but these cards are both Standard-legal. So what's the best way to take advantage of this interaction? Well if you've been reading our posts of previous Standard formats, you might know that we've had an addiction to graveyard-based decks in Standard for quite some time now.
At first glance, one might be tempted to assume that Silversmote Ghoul is simply a slightly more powerful Narcomoeba, a card that has been a staple in more powerful formats but not quite relevant in Standard. However, the Ghoul is way more impressive. Not only does it have a bigger body that can be cast normally and threaten planeswalkers, but it can come back repeatedly even if it wasn't milled (hey, they keyworded our favorite mechanic!). It's more akin to Arclight Phoenix than to Narcomoeba, a card that has CERTAINLY made waves in several formats. Can we combine them into the same deck? Well…yeah! Easily!
Standard Silversmote Ghoul with Arclight Phoenix
2 Underworld Breach 4 Merfolk Secretkeeper/Venture Deeper 4 Drowned Secrets 4 Opt 4 Unsummon 4 Radical Idea 2 Maximize Altitude 4 Silversmote Ghoul 2 Cling to Dust 1 Thassa's Oracle 4 Arclight Phoenix 4 Creeping Chill 4 Steam Vents 8 Island (335) 4 Watery Grave 1 Temple of Epiphany 4 Temple of Deceit
The self-mill package of Drowned Secrets, Merfolk Secretkeeper, and Unsummon is by far the best you'll find in Standard. Drowned Secrets is so powerful that you can mulligan aggressively for it. It used to be that you would spend your time spinning your wheels cantripping while hoping that Drowned Secrets milled the four copies of Arclight Phoenix, and using Creeping Chill to help you stay alive while setting up. Now if you ever hit a Creeping Chill, you just get every copy of Silversmote Ghoul back for free, effectively doubling the efficacy of the triggered ability. It's also nice that Unsummon happens to be quite relevant interaction against aggressive opponents, giving us just enough interaction to get online against them. A copy or two of Stern Dismissal could be considered in this list if more of this effect is needed.
Cling to Dust finally has its chance to shine as a key piece of this new strategy. We've already considered playing this card in the past due to being one of the only 1-mana cantrips available in Standard, but its ability to easily and repeatedly gain 3 life makes it a perfect fit. We weren't drawn enough to black mana with previous iterations of this archetype, but the desire to cast and activate Silversmote Ghoul plus the increased relevance of hardcasting Creeping Chill from hand means we want the black mana now anyway. The fact that it can randomly hose the opponent by sniping something like Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath or Cauldron Familiar is just a bonus.
Maximize Altitude is an unassuming but important piece of the puzzle that we caution against cutting entirely. Traditional card advantage is a thing of the past with this deck, since everything we do naturally fuels more things for us to do, especially with all of the escape cards. However, this card gives us a much higher chance of reanimating Phoenix on an earlier turn. We also have a much increased density of relevant cards to discard to Jump-Start now that we have 8 creatures to reanimate instead of 4. And of course, the Ghoul happens to benefit from being able to randomly gain flying and give the final push for a lethal attack surprisingly often.
It's still a huge question mark to us just how good this combination of Underworld Breach and Thassa's Oracle really is, but it seems to win us quite a few games. Underworld Breach is a value card on 4 mana and absurdly busted on 5+ mana, and including a single copy of Thassa's Oracle in the deck lets us just win outright against any Bant midrange or control type of opponents who think they can grind us out of the game. It seems slightly "win more" since it doesn't work well unless we've already put our self-mill engine online, but our compromise of only occupying 3 slots in this list gives us enough increased win percentage to justify their inclusion. However, with our increased draw towards black mana we could see it being worth eschewing red mana entirely in a future, more streamlined version of this deck.
We've mentioned Uro as an opposing card a couple of times in this article, but it's worth noting that this super busted Standard staple also has the phrase "gain 3 life" tacked onto it, so there could be a Sultai version of Silversmoke Ghoul that explores this combination. We'll have to save that for another article! For now, enjoy dredging people out in Standard!