Our metagame is set!
Through a week of Magic Online testing and SCG Columbus, we now know who our enemies are. Depending on which corner of the internet you ask, the deck to beat going into Week 2 is going to vary wildly, but I'm about to lay down the law.
10. Izzet "Stuff"
There are many takes of this deck flying around and they have two things in common: Crackling Drake and a bunch of things that say instant or sorcery on them.
Goblin Electromancer seems weak, even if it lives. A Sarkhan, Fireblood / Niv-Mizzet, Parun package looks stronger to me, plus it gives Izzet a bit of a lategame punch. With some decks, you can tune them week-to-week or dust it off for a specific week where it's well-positioned, but Izzet doesn't have that capability. It's always going to be fine, and while the details might change, it won't drastically shift matchups.
9. G/X Aggro
- 4 Jadelight Ranger
- 4 Llanowar Elves
- 4 Merfolk Branchwalker
- 4 Nullhide Ferox
- 4 Pelt Collector
- 4 Steel Leaf Champion
- 4 Thorn Lieutenant
- 3 Vine Mare
- 2 Ghalta, Primal Hunger
What started as the litmus test for the format was quickly surpassed by a metagame that could easily handle Steel Leaf Champion when not backed up by Blossoming Defense and Heart of Kiran. Having access to cards like Lava Coil certainly helped, but ultimately Mono-Green Aggro's one-dimensional nature got the better of it.
It's still on the list of "decks that are capable of doing powerful things," but I can't foresee it being a player for much longer. Pelt Collector is one of the strongest cards in Standard, but we might have to wait a little longer before we see its true power.
8. Mono-Blue Aggro
- 21 Island
Despite losing virtually nothing in rotation and the metagame losing a significant portion of red decks, Mono-Blue Aggro hasn't been talked about much. Granted, it didn't gain much of anything from Guilds of Ravnica either, but that hasn't mattered much in the past. Realistically, the lack of shiny new toys probably kept people from talking about it more. Week 1 is about playing with new cards, right?
If Standard continues on its midrange trajectory, Mono-Blue Aggro could be a sleeper pick in the coming weeks. Not only do you gain percentage points from your opponents not necessarily knowing how to play against you, but no one is specifically targeting you either.
I happen to like Spell Pierce in this Standard format quite a bit, but I understand the necessity for additional filtering through Opt and Nightveil Sprite. The details matter, and I'm guessing the extra consistency helped Kat. After all, the best card in the deck is Curious Obsession, and it isn't particularly close.
7. Esper Control
Awesum Rosum shows up with a control deck I have major issues with and happens to beat a bunch of people? Well, I'm shocked. Only Wafo-Tapa could register a deck with this many four-drops and get away with it.
I've found cards like Cast Down and Disdainful Stroke to be mediocre maindeck cards, and I can't imagine playing a deck with twelve checklands with only thirteen ways for them to enter the battlefield untapped. Evolving Wilds is something I would heavily recommend, at least in small numbers. There's also some diminishing returns on Ritual of Soot compared to having a mix of Rituals and Golden Demises, but that's probably minor. Vona and Profane Procession are also largely mediocre. Chromium is also a ham sandwich.
Honestly, I'm not sure what you're getting from Esper that you can't get from Azorius (or Jeskai). Three copies of Vraska's Contempt make it seem like planeswalkers weren't a large concern anyway.
6. Boros Angels
- 4 Adanto Vanguard
- 4 Knight of Grace
- 4 Resplendent Angel
- 3 Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice
- 4 Lyra Dawnbringer
- 3 Shalai, Voice of Plenty
This isn't the place you expected Boros to end up, is it? Well, Deafening Clarion is incredibly important in this format and not many decks are capable of utilizing it. Boros capitalized on the equity gap and became a midrange deck to exploit that fact.
Sadly, for Resplendent Angel fans, it probably won't last long. Jeskai Control seems like a much better fit for Deafening Clarion, and Boros' threats don't line up well against all the removal in the format. This deck also has issues with a lack of two-drops, so it's not something I'd advocate for in its current state.
Still, it won the Standard Classic, people like Angels, and it will continue to get played.
5. Grixis Midrange
- 3 Doom Whisperer
- 1 Ravenous Chupacabra
- 4 Thief of Sanity
- 2 Lazav, the Multifarious
- 3 Nicol Bolas, the Ravager
Ramen.dec is here!
Originally designed by VTCLA, this leaner version of Grixis Midrange is better suited to tackling this aggressive metagame. Cards like The Eldest Reborn and Dream Eater are a little too slow at the moment, no matter what Andrew Jessup tells you. Nicol Bolas, the Ravager is still good against everyone though!
Thief of Sanity is the big question mark, and I'm leaning toward no at the moment. Some decks, like Selesnya Tokens, are notoriously light on removal, plus taxing a control deck's removal spells is a good idea. However, a three mana 2/2 isn't blowing anyone away, especially because of how slow it can be to take over a game. Assuming we don't want to maindeck Thief of Sanity, I don't even necessarily want to sideboard it because of how strong Arguel's Blood Fast is.
4. Jeskai Control
Expansion is one of the best reasons to play Jeskai compared to any other control deck, so I'm surprised to see only one copy here. Regardless, Deafening Clarion is the real reason. Even though it doesn't clean up everything, it's still the best sweeper right now. Your spot removal, like Justice Strike and Ixalan's Binding, can clean up the bigger stuff.
I'm more partial to the Izzet lists that splash some white cards rather than Azorius splashing red (or going full Jeskai with little regard to casting cost), but it's not that much of a deal breaker either way. A pile of removal and four copies of Teferi, Hero of Dominaria is going to beat up on a lot of people, and Jeskai has infinite room for innovation.
3. Golgari Midrange
- 1 District Guide
- 3 Golgari Findbroker
- 4 Jadelight Ranger
- 4 Llanowar Elves
- 4 Merfolk Branchwalker
- 2 Plaguecrafter
- 3 Ravenous Chupacabra
I didn't think I'd see the day when Golgari opts to play zero Vraska's Contempts in the 75, but it's a genius move.
Vraska, Relic Seeker is one of the biggest midrange trumps in history, and likely the best one available in Standard at the moment. Assassin's Trophy, despite having a real downside, is one of the few answers to Experimental Frenzy. Plaguecrafter looks weak in this deck due to the lack of sacrifice fodder, and the same could be said for lil Vraska, but apparently, they're good enough on their own.
Golgari Findbroker is finding its place as a Golgari staple, with or without access to Dead Weight maindeck. Zero copies of Find in the 75 is odd, but when you're leaning on Vraskas for your card advantage, maybe it's not necessary.
I worry that this version of Golgari is weak to Rekindling Phoenix and part of the reason is due to a lack of closing speed. Doom Whisperer covers Phoenix both ways but is otherwise a strict win condition when this deck is all about value.
2. Mono-Red Aggro
- 4 Fanatical Firebrand
- 4 Ghitu Lavarunner
- 4 Goblin Chainwhirler
- 2 Rekindling Phoenix
- 4 Runaway Steam-Kin
- 4 Viashino Pyromancer
- 22 Mountain
Max is smart and streamlined his list without falling prey to the hype on certain cards, like Experimental Frenzy or Risk Factor. Instead, he chose to play a modest two copies of each, with more in the sideboard. His simple take is a solid one and wouldn't be a bad place to start.
One thing I will note about this format is how weak it looks to Rekindling Phoenix in general though. These Golgari decks might have to rethink their anti-Vraska's Contempt stance, but time will tell.
1. Selesnya Tokens
- 2 District Guide
- 4 Venerated Loxodon
- 4 Emmara, Soul of the Accord
- 2 Shalai, Voice of Plenty
- 2 Trostani Discordant
My picks for top decks in Standard hasn't changed much, even through a weekend of major tournaments. Shoopman's list isn't wildly different than the one I proposed last week, but it's enough to make me question my own choices.
Venerated Loxodon was already strong, but Saproling Migration might be enough to put it over the top, even with "only" sixteen green sources of mana. I was focused on one-drops to make Venerated Loxodon stronger, but Migration makes more sense. Similarly, Saproling Migration powers up March of the Multitudes to the point where playing four copies becomes reasonable.
Also, District Guide. <3
So, my dear readers, using whatever metrics you deem appropriate …