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I'm looking for a Standard-legal version of the Dark Ritual + Entomb + Exhume combo. Basically, trying to get a 7 or 8 mana creature onto the board by turn 3 without casting it. There are lots of great alternatives in Legacy/Vintage, but so far I have not come up with anything for standard. This does NOT have to be Ahmonket, anything in standard will do. Also, by 'casting' I simply mean getting the fatty onto the BF, not necessarily concerned with anything else.

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    I think turn 4 is the earliest you can do this via [mtg:Champion of Rhonas] – thatdude1087 Jun 1 '17 at 19:10
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Fastest I can get is turn 3.

T1: Mountain, Bloodlust Inciter

T2: Forest, mana dork (e.g. Servant of the Conduit)

T3: Forest, Champion of Rhonas (give haste from Inciter)

Alternate:

T1: Forest, Loam Dryad

T2: Island, Thriving Turtle, Aether Theorist (off first Dryad) (or anything that gives 3 energy for 2 mana)

T3: Aether Hub, Aetherworks Marvel

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Standard doesn't quite have the awesome interactions that the more expansive formats have but there is something available in Standard that might help you do what you want. It is called Aetherworks Marvel and it is doing quite well in tournaments.

Card Name: Aetherworks Marvel

Mana Cost: 4

Types: Legendary Artifact

Card Text: Whenever a permanent you control is put into a graveyard, you get [Energy] (an energy counter).

Tap, Pay [Energy][Energy][Energy][Energy][Energy][Energy]: Look at the top six cards of your library. You may cast a card from among them without paying its mana cost. Put the rest on the bottom of your library in a random order.

Expansion: Kaladesh Rarity: Mythic Rare

This is pretty cool, but it needs some enablers to accelerate the energy token production. The simplest way to do this is Woodweaver's Puzzleknot. Cast on turn 2, sac on turn 3. Now your turn 4 Marvel can be used immediately.

Card Name: Woodweaver's Puzzleknot

Mana Cost: 2
Types: Artifact

Card Text: When Woodweaver's Puzzleknot enters the battlefield, you gain 3 life and get [Energy][Energy][Energy] (three energy counters).

2Green, Sacrifice Woodweaver's Puzzleknot: You gain 3 life and get [Energy][Energy][Energy].

Expansion: Kaladesh

Rarity: Common

Of course ramp can accelerate this by a turn, allowing first turn Puzzleknot and third turn Marvel.

Other cards that synergize with Marvel:

Dropping Bombs

The whole point of this is to drop big things on the table and roll to victory. The best choice for the current environment is Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. Since Marvel casts the card, you get to exile two permanents, which is pretty good.

  • Marvel still casts where Champion of Rhonas just puts the creature on the battlefield, OP was asking "without casting them" – thatdude1087 Jun 1 '17 at 19:13
  • Yeah, well it's about as good as it's going to get in current Standard. It casts without paying the mana cost, that has to count for something right? – Ayatollah of Rock 'n' Rolla Jun 1 '17 at 19:15
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    Indeed. I have a feeling OP also meant traditional ways of casting and not too concerned with on cast triggers not happening. – thatdude1087 Jun 1 '17 at 19:18
  • Can you expand this to explain various combos that will achieve what the question is asking for? By itself, this card is no where close to getting fast results. You wouldn't be able to cast it until turn 4, and you would need some way of getting 6 energy counters by then. – GendoIkari Jun 1 '17 at 19:25
  • @thatdude1087 if we use a precise definition of "cast," the question title and body contradict themselves. I think it's safe to guess that this the specific means of deploying the creature isn't (hardcast, graveyard, library, &c.) an essential part of the question. – Alex P Jun 1 '17 at 19:45
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The most obvious example of a "cheating" spell is Aetherworks Marvel, the RUG variant of which is dominating standard at the moment. There are many ways to generate the 6 energy you need to activate it, but here's a two-card sequence to get it done, with the other being Woodweaver's Puzzleknot.

  • Turn 2: Woodweaver's Puzzleknot, you gain 3 energy (and some life)
  • Turn 3: Sacrifice Puzzleknot to get another 3 energy (and some life)
  • Turn 4: Cast Aetherworks Marvel and activate the ability. Hope that you hit Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger or something to that effect.

As demonstrated by tournament numbers, this is obviously the most powerful way to cheat out giant creatures (getting the cast triggers is a very relevant bonus with Eldrazi too!), but there are other cards, that aren't quite as fast or repeatable. Unfortunately, seeing Animate Dead or any ressurection spells of it's ilk is unlikely in Standard any time soon.

  • Liliana, Death's Majesty can use an ability immediately to reanimate a creature, of any size.

  • Bruna, the Fading Light reanimates a Human or Angel creature when you cast her, and while the most obvious use case is finding Gisela, the Broken Blade and melding them, you could hit other powerful creatures too. Very slow, though.

  • Ever After is hard on the mana but if it resolves it is a very good rate for both cards:creatures and mana:creatures, for Standard, anyway.

  • Champion of Rhonas is the newcomer, clocking in at only 4 mana, and putting a card directly from your hand on the battlefield, instead of graveyard or library.

  • Refurbish is only four mana, but it hits artifacts only. If you were wanting to cheat gearhulks, this is a decent choice.

  • Rise from the Grave is almost certainly always worse than Liliana, costing 5 mana to do the same effect as her minus ability (it can also hit your opponent's graveyard, but I assume whatever's in your own is better), but I've included it for completeness sake; it's the straightforward reanimation spell, and it costs 5 mana. That's the going rate in new sets, and you can't expect to do much better than that.

As for getting the cards in your graveyard, there's no Entomb-style effects in standard, although cards like Cathartic Reunion are perfectly passable discard outlets to get the job done.

  • Worth pointing out that Rise from the Grave is "a graveyard", while Liliana is "your graveyard". Not that the distinction is going to be helpful when trying to play a fast early game combo involving getting stuff into your graveyard, but still could be a pretty big distinction. – GendoIkari Jun 1 '17 at 21:02
  • I did not catch that, but that's actually super relevant @GendoIkari! I'll note it. – monoRed Jun 1 '17 at 22:38

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