This set looks awesome.
Tomorrow on GBTV you're going to see us give a full explanation of what you can expect for Standard after rotation but the short list of it is:
- Standard shrinks by about 1000 cards so naturally the amount of decks and quality of those decks decreases.
- Zombies gets a whole lot better and loses basically nothing.
- Delver might still be a deck.
- Control is typically good in a new Standard but it might not be in this one.
Attempting to build Standard decks at this point might seem foolish but I'm going to do it anyway. I love to brew and my notebook has seemingly endless pages so I might as well. Standard is winding down Legacy is still a thing thanks to the SCG Open Series but Modern doesn't really matter for most people until the next PTQ season.
Therefore I'm writing about Standard (with a little Legacy fun at the end). To the surprise of no one Delver is still good in current Standard. These days Delver should pack multiple hate cards for Zombies since it's the most well equipped to deal with the flying menace. Past that play your Thragtusks build your brews and have fun with it while it lasts.
Moving forward I'm interested in seeing if Delver will still viable. U/R seemed like the most attractive initially as Pillar of Flame and Bonfire of the Damned were a couple of the best cards in old Standard. I doubt creatures are suddenly going to be unplayable in new Standard so you would think that those cards would continue to be good.
With Zombies on the rise it's easy to see that Pillar is going to be fantastic. However Bonfire hasn't been very good versus Zombies and I don't think that will change anytime soon. Their guys are too big and unless you're exiling them don't care about dying. Bonfire is a fantastic card right now but that's only because almost everything dies to it.
You could build a more aggressive U/R deck with Brimstone Volley and Thundermaw Hellkite or you could be more controlling with Augur of Bolas Talrand Sky Summoner and Mizzium Mortars. Naturally I like the controlling version better or at least the idea of it.
I want to play something like this:
This slightly resembles the version I played at the SCG Standard Open in Buffalo. Granted it is sans Ponder and Gitaxian Probe which means Delver is fighting fair with everyone else and is forced to play a realistic land count. Maybe this type of deck simply isn't viable but I'll find out soon enough.
Awkwardly enough Zombies seemed like one of the bad matchups in Buffalo depending on how many Pillar of Flames you drew. If you draw a Pillar and a Snapcaster things should go easy. That won't always happen especially with Ponder gone. Maybe that means we need another color or another angle of attack entirely? Invisible Stalker is what I'm using in current Standard but maybe I could play white and red. Geist of Saint Traft is still very good...
I also wouldn't mind revisiting Delver with a heavy token theme. As it turns out Talrand works pretty well with Lingering Souls. Favorable Winds is another card that seems to have been ignored for the most part.
With Unsummon and Azorius Charm you should be able to hold off their aggression until you're able to stabilize behind a wall of tokens. Since there's no Gut Shot or hard removal innocuous things like Blood Artist are a real problem but at least this list has the aforementioned Charm and Vault of the Archangel to gain some life.
With the popularity of Bonfire of the Damned and the fact that cards like Mizzium Mortars are going to see play playing a deck where the goal is to overextend might not be the smartest thing. Still a single Lingering Souls or Talrand's Invocation often demands a sweeper especially with some Crusade effects in play.
I don't doubt that control will exist in new Standard; it just remains to be seen what colors it will be. Each color has potential but what do we actually need? If you're trying to win you should build your deck with that in mind. Because of that I made a list of what each color offers us give or take a couple things I might have missed.
When building a modern control deck you need to build it to beat creatures. Once that happens you'll inevitably run across some psychopath playing four Trading Posts and zero creatures and you'll be kind of screwed. Right now blue gives you some card selection and filtering but doesn't really offer any hard card advantage. Overall it's not the most impressive color but it might be necessary in order to find the right answers or just keep the gas flowing in the late game.
Black has some solid removal especially in the multicolored department and it's one of the few colors that has ways to kill Geist of Saint Traft. However unless you want to be Zombies it's slim pickings.
Unburial Rites is a fantastic strategy but Gisela is dangerous as long as Zealous Conscripts is around. Griselbrand is obviously a fine Magic card but it might be more trouble than it's worth. You could just settle for hard casting six-drops instead of winning big with eight-drops.
The best thing red has going for it is Pillar of Flame and a variety of sweepers. It also pairs well with Unburial Rites but until I see something of Titan or Elesh Norn quality I probably won't try to mess around with that.
Terminus and Oblivion Ring are fantastic as those are the removal spells which are great against Zombies but are they enough? Past those white also looks pretty thin and being able to Restoration Angel my Augur of Bolas isn't going to sell me.
I like the mana fixing but what really stands out is Thragtusk. If I end up playing some sort of control deck it probably doesn't matter what base colors I have because I will have Thragtusk in my deck anyway. That card is such a gigantic beating against any strategy that isn't going over the top of you so it's hard to imagine playing without it.
Lotus is sick if you want to go the Grixis/Nicol Bolas Planeswalker route or just have a bunch of expensive spells but it's probably not worth it. Chromatic Lantern is the artifact you should really be building around.
This is where the real power is. Aside from Thragtusk or planeswalkers your finishers are likely going to be multicolored.
Here's my first take at a control deck although it might just be better to call it a Rock deck:
Should this list be playing Abundant Growth? I'm honestly not sure but it feels wrong to omit it.
I bet that list has far less blue in it than you thought it would. Truth is blue isn't good for much right now so perhaps this deck is better off as just Jund? Oblivion Ring kills everything including Geralf's Messenger but is it really that much better than Dreadbore? Whether Amass the Components is good or not depends on the metagame which we don't really know about yet.
Making sacrifices to play Five-Color Control means we're doing powerful things or we need to splash in order to answer specific threats. In this case it seems like the latter so what about keeping it consistent?
Is that mana base pretty? Definitely not but a pile of removal planeswalkers that protect themselves and solid life gaining beaters is probably a good place to be in new Standard. Of course there are several other options such as Mizzium Mortars Borderland Ranger and even Diabolic Revelation. There's also the possibility that we want to be a Sign in Blood deck. Maybe we could try to make Mutilate work but that seems like a stretch.
Aside from Zombies this is the best deck that I can imagine right now. If this type of strategy does become popular ramping might become incredibly important. Being the first one to Vraska or Rakdos's Return is going to result in a lot of game wins.
Naturally we need to take a look at our enemy.
This list is a little rough but the premise is obviously solid. I'm unsure if the Blood Artists are worth it considering how aggressive the curve is already. Rakdos Shred-Freak or Highborn Ghoul might actually be better. Depending on what Golgari Charm does I could very easily see a couple of those slotting in possibly instead of Murder as I expect all the Charms to be very good.
Having some more four-drops might be wise. Maybe the deck wants a higher end but that all depends on how the metagame shapes up. If you're playing a lot of grindy matchups you're going to need a way to fight in the late game. Vraska certainly isn't the worst thing you could be doing but that card doesn't exactly fit into a hyper-aggressive maindeck.
B/G seems like the obvious build of Zombies and I can't imagine anyone straying too far. The Golgari cards are just too good. You also get Thragtusk and Vraska out of the sideboard but you're going to want an extra land. Assuming our 23 maindeck lands provide sufficient colored sources that land could be a Grim Backwoods which plays well with the majority of cards in the deck.
Crossing Some Things Off The Bucket List
A couple weeks ago I started playing some Legacy on Magic Online with the intent of crossing some things off my bucket list. I started with this list of B/R Reanimator/Storm:
Unsurprisingly I was unhappy with my lack of Brainstorms. Outside of Faithless Looting the deck was lacking ways to filter through redundant combo pieces. When you were going off it was awesome and when you could take someone by surprise with the sideboard it was even better. Sadly there were consistency issues and I couldn't quite convince myself to keep playing this deck.
Instead I moved further down the list.
I used the above list to win a Premier Event on Magic Online. The list worked out well but it definitely could have benefited from some Wastelands. As I said last week I just started buying up Legacy cards on Magic Online and didn't quite have enough to buy everything. I played without them (and a Liliana of the Veil that I would have liked in my sideboard) but it worked out!
Death's Shadow provided a quick clock and overperformed in the RUG Delver matchup. I have yet to be as happy to play against RUG as I am with this deck. Playing this type of U/B deck reminded me of the good ol' days playing BUG and I like it. No game feels completely out of my grasp and while I might not have huge blowouts at least I get to feel like I'm playing Magic.
That's about all I can ask for.