Welcome back, Standard! It's been a minute since we've had to think this much about Magic's fastest-changing format, but it's back in the spotlight in a pretty major way. With multiple Standard cards making big gains this week, I wanted to take some time and talk about my overall approach to the format.
It shouldn't come as much of a surprise that Standard has taken a back seat to Modern over the past couple of years. We're coming off a series of stagnant or unpopular metagames and lots of players simply stopped playing as a result.
The Masterpiece series also made Standard speculation a lot less interesting. As long as a full third of each set's value was tied up in lottery tickets, it was difficult for any card that didn't see a ton of play to spike hard enough for the buy-in to be worthwhile. For every Walking Ballista, there were a dozen cards like Glint-Sleeve Siphoner that failed to break the $4 mark, even when they started seeing a decent amount of competitive play.
Dominaria is different. Not only are there no Masterpieces, the metagame seems fairly balanced at the moment. According to MTG Goldfish, Mono-Red Aggro and U/W Control are the two most popular decks, but neither one has even a 6% share of the total metagame. Beyond that, we've got R/B Aggro, W/B Aggro, U/W Historic, G/B Constrictor, Bant Midrange, Sultai Energy, Goblin Gift, and Mono-Green Aggro as viable alternatives. The Scarab God has been effectively neutered, all five colors are playable, and you can sleeve up aggro, control, or even (sort of) combo. Plus, anecdotal reports on my Twitter and Facebook feed seem to indicate a surge of Standard attendance at FNMs and other local events. Loads of people want to play Standard right now and that hasn't been true for a while.