[Welcome to another round of Fact or Fiction! Todd Stevens and Conley Woods have weighed in on five pressing questions ahead of the release of Amonkhet! Don't forget to cast your vote for who made the better arguments at the end!]
1. Standard's metagame with Amonkhet will radically change even if nothing is banned.
Todd Stevens: Fact. Aether Revolt Standard finished with only three possible deck choices: Mardu Vehicles, Four-Color Saheeli, and Temur Dynavolt. Even if nothing is banned, this will radically change by Pro Tour Amonkhet. The addition of Magma Spray, coupled with the abundance of artifact removal, will drastically decrease the amount of Mardu Vehicles that sees play. The deck won't go away completely, but I expect it to have half of the metagame share that it currently has. I also see Dispossess being a huge blow to Temur Dynavolt, because that deck solely relied on Dynavolt Tower and Torrential Gearhulk to win games.
As far as Four-Color Saheeli goes, both Manglehorn and Trespasser's Curse will help previously fringe decks stand up to the arbitrarily large army of Cats. Although Amonkhet may not have a ton of obviously powerful cards that will force brand-new archetypes into the metagame, there are many quality role-players that will help old, forgotten decks resurface, and I'm expecting Amonkhet Standard to change drastically once the format has time to mature, like how B/G Delirium and Jeskai Saheeli were the only two decks at the beginning of Aether Revolt Standard but are basically nonexistent now.
Conley Woods: Fact. For a while now, Standard has been in a somewhat stagnant state with only a few true Tier 1 decks and then a lot of runners-up filling out below that. Because of this, even if just one new deck entered that Tier 1 status, I think that would qualify as a radical change. I personally believe we may see more than that based off the content of Amonkhet, specifically with control getting more tools than we might normally expect it to.
Of course, a set of bans will cause a larger shake-up on top of anything that evolves naturally and still might be necessary to arrive at the healthiest Standard possible. That said, I have faith in the deckbuilders out there and think that they can cause a stir with or without the aid of bans!
2. A powerful Nissa, Steward of Elements deck will be found before Hour of Devastation.
Todd: Fact. Four-Color Saheeli was already the best deck at the end of Aether Revolt Standard, and Nissa, Steward of Elements also fits in quite nicely as a role-player in the strategy. That won't be Nissa's only home, though, as I think the card is powerful enough to be the reason to play blue and green together. I expect some sort of U/G ramp deck to be built around Nissa, maybe with Crush of Tentacles, and also a midrange deck where she pairs with Vizier of the Menagerie. Nissa, Steward of Elements will be a major player starting in the first week of Amonkhet Standard.
Conley: Fact. This feels like a slam dunk in Nissa's favor. The thing about Nissa is that you do not need to do much to make her powerful. Maybe you play a few extra creatures more than you normally would, but that is hardly a given and barely a cost when it is. So in most cases, a Nissa “deck” is basically any deck playing Nissa.
When you are talking about a planeswalker that can come down as early as turn 3, it doesn't take much to convince me that the card will find success. In this case, Nissa brings a toolbox with her that extends all the way up to an immediate ultimate in the late-game. This versatility gives her such a range in her potential applications that I expect an equally wide range of lists to try to harness her strengths. From there, it's just a numbers game as we wait out the tournament results.
3. The Amonkhet Gods, as a whole, will see more total play in Standard than the Theros Gods.
Todd: Fiction. This was the easiest question to answer, as I'm not impressed by the Amonkhet Gods and am hesitant about them seeing much Standard play. Looking back at the Theros Gods, Thassa, God of the Sea was the cornerstone of Mono-Blue Devotion and Erebos, God of the Dead saw plenty of play in Mono-Black Devotion decks. Nylea, God of the Hunt was usually a one- or a two-of in G/R Devotion decks, and Heliod, God of the Sun and Purphoros, God of the Forge both saw fringe play.
I just don't see the Amonkhet Gods seeing nearly that much play in the current format. Standard as a whole is more powerful now than it was before, and these Gods don't have abilities as good as the previous ones. Rhonas the Indomitable is most likely the easiest God to have attack and block, and it's the one most people are excited about, but personally I'd rather just play Tireless Tracker. The same kind of statement can be said about each Amonkhet God, and I don't think they will see much more than fringe play.
Conley: Fiction. People seem to have forgotten that the Theros gods were quite powerful and essentially all of them, other than Heliod, showed up in Tier 1 decks at some point. They had the benefit of essentially a whole block being built around them, or at least on-theme with them, which made animating them pretty easy.
In addition to a good supporting cast, the Theros Gods had passive abilities that you always had access to for free. This gave your mana an immediate payoff, plus the activated abilities of the Theros Gods were generally stronger than these new ones too. I think the Amonkhet Gods will definitely show up in Standard, but I don't think they will define it the way Theros Gods did.
4. Glorious End is a very dangerous card.
Todd: Fact. Dangerous to cast, that is. I wouldn't necessarily endorse putting Glorious End in your Standard deck, as it's probably a sign that your tournament will be ending shortly. There may be some fun potential with Glorious End in both Modern and Commander, as there are plenty of previous cards on-theme with it, but I don't expect it to make an impact on Standard. However, if your tournament is going to end anyway, it might as well be a Glorious End to remember.
Conley: Fact. If you were to list every single category where “dangerous” was in the range of possible options, Glorious End would register just that in nearly all of them.
It is dangerous to the combo player that it is being used as tech against. It is dangerous to the combo player who is using it (no, Joey, Panoptic Mirror is not the way!). It is dangerous to the judge who inevitably has to make some obscure ruling involving it. It is dangerous to the Magic Online programmer who is sitting somewhere right now with fingers permanently crossed. It is dangerous to the Magic Online player who auto-picks this after their pizza arrives to start Pack 2. It's a dangerous topic at the dinner table. It's even dangerous to me, which is why I will be filing for a restraining order immediately following this statement.
I do think it makes a relatively safe stocking stuffer idea, though.
5. #SCGATL will be won by an aggressive deck, as per the conventional "Week 1" wisdom.
Todd: Fiction. Although Amonkhet will mark the return of aggressive decks to the format, they won't win Week 1. There are plenty of good aggressive cards in Amonkhet, but they are not necessarily powerful from a pure rate perspective, meaning they will be harder to build around, and it will take time to build the optimal aggressive decks. The amount of cheap removal such as Fatal Push, Shock, and Magma Spray in the format will also hinder the ability of aggressive decks on Week 1. I'm calling Four-Color Saheeli as your Week 1 winner, as it was already the best deck in the previous format and it gained more tools, such as Magma Spray, Manglehorn, and Nissa, Steward of Elements. Even though there are new tools to fight Four-Color Saheeli, the sheer numbers that it will show up with for Week 1 lead me to pick it as the winning deck.
Conley: Fiction. When we start talking about anything “conventional,” you are not likely to find me nearby. I do think aggro probably has an edge going into an early tournament like SCG Atlanta, but I also think Amonkhet has different plans in mind. With all of the new tools being offered to control players and a relatively solved metagame before Amonkhet, I think we will have a big showing of new control decks in Atlanta. Players are going to feel more comfortable showing up with control when their cards are strong and when they have an idea of what to include in their sideboards.
It is true that early control lists tend to be a little rough around the edges, but that doesn't invalidate them altogether. I think the right control mind can construct a lot of different lists with the new tools from Amonkhet, lists that weren't even possible prior to it. Built correctly and in the right hands, it is hard to bet against a good control deck, and I'm just hoping someone proves me right here!