Week 1 of new Standard with Ixalan is this weekend at #SCGDFW. While I sadly won't be in attendance, I am very excited to see what people bring to battle! It's always interesting to see what decks will emerge, especially when dealing with Ramunap Red and Temur Energy, two decks that haven't lost much.
Ramunap Red and Temur Energy
Make no mistake: if you plan on attending #SCGDFW, then you'd better be prepared to beat both of these decks. Ramunap Red puts a lot of pressure on you to have early interaction and definitely has a quick clock. Temur Energy on the other hand can rule the mid- to late-game with The Scarab God and post-sideboard countermagic.
The best color to play to beat both of these decks is still white for these two sideboard cards:
The next question that needs to be asked is what the best color to pair with the white is. I think red and black are likely off the table because the mana is pretty rough, having only one multicolor land. There is Evolving Wilds that can help make it happen, but I think that going with U/W or G/W is a better approach. U/W is going to be a more controlling base, possibly an Approach of the Second Suns strategy like I talked about in my last article. It's tough for the deck to be just U/W because there is basically no cheap interaction for resolved threats.
In my mind, the G/W deck looks more of a G/W Dinosaur deck. Ripjaw Raptor is incredibly powerful and the removal in this format doesn't line up that well against it. If we take a look at the prevalent spot removal in the format, we can see the following cards:
One of the tricks to solving a Constructed format is finding creatures that play well when compared to the popular spot removal spells in the format. Although four of the six do actually kill Ripjaw Raptor, Harnessed Lightning will trigger enrage and both Cast Out and Vraska's Contempt are an equal trade on mana. Walk the Plank is a good answer to it; however, it is a sorcery, which has its costs.
Let's take a look at a list:
- 4 Walking Ballista
- 3 Carnage Tyrant
- 3 Deathgorge Scavenger
- 4 Drover of the Mighty
- 4 Glory-Bound Initiate
- 4 Ranging Raptors
- 4 Ripjaw Raptor
- 1 Rhonas the Indomitable
Deathgorge Scavenger is also a nice piece of all-around value that beats down, gains life, and has some built-in graveyard hate. Shout-out to the one-of Nissa, Vital Force in the sideboard. That card is the real deal and people need to start respecting it more.
Glory-Bound Initiate may look a little off, but a) we need another two-drop and b) it's insane against Ramunap Red with Savage Stomp post-exert for double lifelink! Perhaps a Naya list is better, if anything just for more cheap removal. I think Dinosaurs have the potential to beat Ramunap Red and Temur Energy. However, to ensure victory against both of those decks, you need to pack both of these sideboard cards.
Of course, you can always channel your inner Craig Wescoe and just play mono-white…
- 4 Metallic Mimic
- 4 Adanto Vanguard
- 2 Angel of Sanctions
- 4 Duskborne Skymarcher
- 4 Glory-Bound Initiate
- 3 Mavren Fein, Dusk Apostle
- 1 Oketra the True
I really liked the Mono-White Eldrazi deck in the last format because it had a good matchup against Temur Energy and a pretty good one against Ramunap Red. This deck is very different and all white decks are worse off without Thraben Inspector, but I imagine this would have a similar experience against both decks. The advantage this strategy has over Dinosaurs is more streamlined mana. I think you will have an easier time beating a control deck with this. However, Carnage Tyrant is quite the card.
Another deck that I have been quite interested in trying is one based around a card that Sam Black has put to good use:
Enchantments are rather difficult to deal with in this format and Anointed Procession has quite a powerful effect. I want to be playing the classic Hidden Stockpile, but I also want to play green for Vraska, Relic Seeker. Let's take a look at a list:
I think there is definitely something to still be had for an Anointed Procession-type deck. Perhaps Growing Rites of Itlimoc could fit into here somewhere, which would work really nicely with going wide. It is hard slotting that card into this deck because of how many non-reatures we're running. I suspect that Growing Rites of Itlimoc will find a home, but I'll leave it for the Matt Nasses of the world.
While we are on the subject of Vraska, Relic Seeker, I think she could also be quite good in a Sultai Midrange strategy. Sultai has all the colors I want to be in this format. I think green is likely the best color in Standard, and then you get to play black for removal and discard, and blue for countermagic. Maybe something like this:
This deck offers a lot with a basic Winding Constrictor subtheme tied in with blue for some over-the-top midrange beatdown! The Scarab God, alongside Hostage Taker, provides an end-game that is nigh-unbeatable for some decks. Along with Duress and counterspells in the sideboard, that end-game makes this deck a tough competitor going forward.
Basic Ones and Twos
I mentioned earlier in the article the importance removal has on a format. Another huge influence that is put on a format comes from the one- and two-drop creatures. If we break down the colors of viable one- and two-drops, it would look something like this:
Most of white's early aggressive drops in this format point you towards Vampires. I'm sure Toolcraft Exemplar and even-Glory Bound Initiate could show up elsewhere, likely in some type of Vehicles deck.
Blue really doesn't have much going on in the early-drop creatures. Siren Stormtamer is pretty nice for Pirates. I suspect most blue decks in this format will be control-based, not counting Temur Energy and Pirates of course.
Dread Wanderer's creature type pretty much no longer matters. Black is actually quite diverse in its early threats. It has a fair amount of card advantage engines, interaction, and even lifegain. I suspect early black creature decks to be Vampires, Pirates, or Winding Constrictor-type strategies.
What a surprise… four out of seven early red drops are already in Ramunap Red. I put Bomat Courier here because it's basically a red card. Wily Goblin and Inventor's Apprentice play well together, so perhaps there is another red artifact aggro deck that's viable.
There are a ton of green two-drop ramp creatures. Servant of the Conduit is for Energy, Drover of the Mighty is for Dinosaurs, and sadly Channeler is largely kept in check by Walking Ballista and Winding Constrictor. Longtusk Cub is still one of the best creatures you can cast on Turn 2, especially after Attune with Aether.
Scrapheap Scrounger and Heart of Kiran are still best friends. Metallic Mimic is really nice for some tribal decks, more specifically Vampires. Walking Ballista has likely never been better what with Enrage being around; however, it is also worse against Enrage.
The multicolored two-drops point you pretty specifically into an archetype as a rule. Perhaps Mardu Vehicles turns into Jund Vehicles with Voltaic Brawler.
This is a fun exercise I like to do with a lot of formats. This led me to Sylvan Advocate being one of the strongest creatures when Oath of the Gatewatch had released. More controlling and midrange strategies can opt for spells over creatures, so that is something to consider also.
If I were to be playing in #SCGDFW this weekend, I would likely be playing some type of Dinosaur or Vampire strategy that is sporting some good cards against Ramunap Red and Temur Energy. That being said, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" is definitely a phrase I've grown used to. I'm still interested in Sultai Midrange or Esper Control also, as well as the card Vraska, Relic Seeker in general.
I have a pretty exciting announcement to make: I am going to start streaming! I don't have a schedule set in place yet and need to work out the details, but keep looking at my Twitter for updates. Also, I should be recording my second episode of my new podcast this week, which also still needs to be publically announced hopefully soon. So keep an eye out for things to come!