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This is perhaps one of the oddest new set release seasons of all time.
Standard has been a complete disaster for months, with the first wave of bannings in years giving way to a two-deck format based around a design-mistake-induced two-card combo and an oppressively powerful planeswalker. Some might even argue that the introduction of Feldar Guardian into Standard has made this format even worse than it was before Emrakul, the Promised End and friends were banned.
As such, Standard tournament attendance is way down, and Standard FNMs are struggling to get enough players while other formats thrive. The cost of banning cards in Standard is twofold; not only is it extremely damaging to more casual players to have their deck/cards no longer be playable, it also kills the stability and confidence one can have in future decks. How can a player justify buying into a two-deck format when either deck is likely to be banned? How can a player get excited about building new decks with a new set when they don't even know what cards will be legal?
As such, despite Amonkhet looking like a pretty sweet set, it feels like it has a much lower general excitement level than most set releases.
To that I say, “Forget all that noise; let's build some decks!”
We can't control what will or won't be banned, but we can have some fun and explore all that Amonkhet has to offer. Let's build our decks now and sort out the details later once the new Banned List is revealed next Monday. We're going to start with just maindecks, as it is impossible to know what the format will look like and what cards will even be legal.
First up is an updated version of a very old-school beatdown deck with a peculiar name. If you wonder why decknames are more regulated now, this is a great case.
This decklist has to bring a nostalgic tear to one's eye. 24 lands and nine four-ofs? Oh, what a simpler time it was.
Honored Hydra is a fantastic update to Roar of the Wurm, one of the most powerful threats when it was a legal Standard card. Honored Hydra is better than Roar of the Wurm in almost every aspect; it's not hard to see why giving trample to your 6/6 is a huge upgrade, but reducing the front-side cost from seven to six is a huge improvement when it comes to actually casting the card in the mid- to late-game or if you are flooding on lands at all. Considering it is often discarded for value, Honored Hydra will often feel like a cantrip, and a four-mana 6/6 trampler that cantrips is quite the value.
Good one-drops have been pretty absent from Standard if you aren't playing white, but Flameblade Adept is quite the little package for only one mana. Menace makes it ideal for getting in chip-shot damage early in the game, and every time you discard a card to one of your various discard effects, you are getting a very good rate. In conjunction if Noose Constrictor, your opponent has to respect the fact that they could be facing a barrage of damage from nowhere if you discard your whole hand, and that's a lot of power from a one-drop.