Even though known entities like Jeskai Control and Mono-Red Aggro won the latest Grand Prix, there wasn’t any shortage of cool stuff to come out of the weekend.
Recently, Standard has been a rotating mix of Golgari dominating, Tocatli Honor Guard and The Immortal Sun rising up to combat it, and Golgari fighting right back with Carnage Tyrants. Getting to beat up on mirrors and control was a side benefit. That led to control decks adopting Star of Extinction. Now Standard’s a crazy place.
While maybe not the best decks in Standard, these are definitely the coolest.
10. Boros, Without All Those Crappy Angels
Although Tenjum failed to convert his strong 8-0 start, his deck was interesting. Rather than play cards like Resplendent Angel and Lyra Dawnbringer that line up poorly in this format for a multitude of reasons, Tenjum played a host of excellent removal spells and card advantage tools that could give him an edge in grindy matchups like Jeskai Control and Golgari Midrange.
With sixteen two-drops and very few one-drops or three-drops, it’s odd to not see more copies of Stone Quarry. Granted, Treasure Map often functions like a three-drop, and aside from some double-white cards, the deck doesn’t necessarily require a pile of multicolor lands. That seventh Mountain might be dicey with History of Benalia, but other than that, I agree with Tenjum’s choices.
Huatli, Warrior Poet isn’t a card we’ve seen much of, but if you’re in the market for a five-drop, you could do worse.
9. A Different Selesnya
This deck is an odd mix of Boros Angels, Selesnya Tokens, and Golgari Midrange. You’ve got March of the Multitudes, some Carnage Tyrants and planeswalkers, and not much in the way of removal. The various Mono-Green Aggro decks of the format couldn’t make Vine Mare good enough, but the answer seems to have been adding more than a splash to that sort of deck. If you hone in on the good aspects, namely hexproof, and cut the chaff, you could end up with something excellent.
Karn, Scion of Urza has basically never worked well for me in decks without a pile of removal (or unless the -2 ability was potent), but it seems to have found success here. Perhaps having blockers is enough, or maybe the deck needed an engine to fight control?
Overall, this is kind of what I’ve come to expect from this Standard format. In any given week, a successful deck might appear to be a random pile of cards, but if you position everything perfectly, you could have something capable of decimating the entire metagame.
8. Bigger, Better Mono-Red
Red aggro that curves all the way up to Star of Extinction? It’s truly a sign that things are getting out of control. Obviously Carnage Tyrant is a threat, but for a red deck to go to these sorts of lengths? It’s kinda crazy.
Regardless, it’s clear that small red creatures need some help backing them up. Mono-Red Aggro won a Grand Prix this weekend because of Experimental Frenzy, so it’s important that people aren’t sleeping on that card. This deck slows down, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Again, it’s a matter of Golgari Midrange being all over Standard.
If you can’t play Carnage Tyrant to fight control, aggression backed up by Banefire is a good plan. Having Treasure Map, Azor’s Gateway, Experimental Frenzy, and Karn seems like a nightmare for control decks. Having a plan for Carnage Tyrant is key if you’re slowing down, but Star of Extinction fits that bill. This deck seems well thought out.
7. Goblins in All Formats
- 4 Siege-Gang Commander
- 4 Rekindling Phoenix
- 2 Ravenous Chupacabra
- 4 Dusk Legion Zealot
- 2 Torgaar, Famine Incarnate
- 4 Goblin Instigator
- 4 Legion Warboss
- 2 Midnight Reaper
- 4 Plaguecrafter
Good old Jim Davis. You gotta appreciate someone sticking to their guns. In this case, you can expect Jim to try Goblins in any format where Siege-Gang Commander is legal.
This deck takes some of the most recent Golgari technology, using Midnight Reaper as a way to alleviate some of the damage done by sweepers. Ravenous Chupacabra takes care of most of the main threats in the format. Plaguecrafter can take care of bigger threats, including Niv-Mizzet, Parun, but is also capable of beating the planeswalkers from Golgari or Jeskai Control. Black decks certainly have an advantage in that they get to play their removal spells in the form of creatures rather than spells that are completely dead in some matchups.
Using Torgarr, Famine Incarnate as a finisher alongside Thud is cute, but I suspect it’s unnecessary and not why this deck was winning. I’m surprised to not see any copies of Treasure Map or Experimental Frenzy, which are basically how these midrange red decks are winning games at the moment.
I wouldn’t recommend this deck if you’re trying to win a GP, but it’s probably a great FNM deck.
6. A True Burn Deck
This deck has been making the rounds for a bit now, but it seems to be sticking around. Cinder Barrens isn’t the best card for a burn deck, but I imagine once we have Blood Crypt and some Rakdos cards, this sort of deck will only get better. In the meantime, Sovereign’s Bite and Sword-Point Diplomacy will have to do.
Having multiple “punisher” cards doesn’t seem great, but once you have a large amount of them alongside burn spells, your opponent has less of a decision. With this deck specifically, Sword-Point Diplomacy and Risk Factor will basically always be what you want.
Given that you’ll probably end up drawing a bunch of extra cards and making your land drops, it’s kind of weird to not see a Banefire maindeck. It’s far less efficient than each of the other burn spells, so I get it, but it seems easy to make Banefire powerful.
5. A Path of Discovery
- 4 Llanowar Elves
- 4 Wildgrowth Walker
- 4 Merfolk Branchwalker
- 4 Jadelight Ranger
- 2 Shalai, Voice of Plenty
- 4 Trostani Discordant
This is another deck that’s been making the rounds, this time thanks to Tulio Jaudy, and it’s a rather innovative take. Path of Discovery is quite the combo with Trostani Discordant, March of the Multitudes, and even Memorial to Glory. With all these tokens, having The Immortal Sun as the top-end is also huge.
Aside from the sick token package, there’s also the Wildgrowth Walker package, which helps fight aggressive decks. If you manage to stick Walker with Path of Discovery, even the above deck won’t be able to touch you. Meanwhile, you can build a huge battlefield position.
Control seems tough, but there’s not much to do on that front. Carnage Tyrants out of the sideboard help, but with all the control decks packing Star of Extinction, this deck will probably go extinct.
4. Every Elf in Standard
- 4 Llanowar Elves
- 4 Druid of the Cowl
- 4 Marwyn, the Nurturer
- 4 Steel Leaf Champion
- 4 Elvish Clancaller
- 4 Thorn Lieutenant
- 4 Beast Whisperer
- 4 Pelt Collector
- 20 Forest
Is Elves beatdown, combo, or both?
When building around this tribe, I tried to get creative by not including some of the “crappy” cards, but dismissing things before trying them is never a good idea. Druid of the Cowl, Thorn Lieutenant, Vanquisher’s Banner, and Marwyn, the Nurturer all serve a purpose in this deck and deserve inclusion. Maybe the next evolution involves adding a color, but for now, Mono-Green is perfectly serviceable.
Having two card drawing engines is fairly incredible for a Standard deck. Beast Whisperer is vulnerable to basically every removal spell out there and Vanquisher’s Banner is unwieldy, but you make do with what you’re given. If either one gets online, you will almost certainly win. In the meantime, your Plan A is beatdown and this deck does that quite well.
3. Mono-White, But Better
- 4 Duskborne Skymarcher
- 4 Adanto Vanguard
- 4 Skymarcher Aspirant
- 4 Benalish Marshal
- 4 Rustwing Falcon
- 4 Silverbeak Griffin
- 4 Healer's Hawk
- 4 Venerated Loxodon
- 18 Plains
More one-drops than lands and no copies of History of Benalia anywhere in the 75? It takes a lot of guts to go this far off-book, but it seems like a good plan for the current environment.
The biggest takeaway from this deck is that flying is rather incredible at the moment. Maybe it didn’t seem like there were enough fliers to truly work on that theme, but Silverbeak Griffin might be a card you didn’t know was Standard-legal. Overall, it’s quite the air force.
Gird for Battle and Pride of Conquerors aren’t powerful cards, but they get the job done. History of Benalia is too slow for a deck like this and most decks have the ground locked up. Make some Birds, pump ’em up, and get to work.
2. Going over the Top
This deck is rather genius.
It contains many of the cards that are surging in popularity as a response to Golgari Midrange. Ramping into The Immortal Sun and Star of Extinction will annihilate them. Deafening Clarion cleans up the smaller stuff, and the various Ixalan block artifacts provide your card drawing and card selection.
The mix of Thaumatic Compass, Treasure Map, and Azor’s Gateway may seem odd, is unlikely to be the best combination of tools, and might not be enough of them. Having a mix actually seems best considering how useful each of them is and drawing multiples of a single one isn’t ideal.
Control is difficult but there’s no shortage of uncounterable help from Banefire and Carnage Tyrant. Using Circuitous Route when all the control decks have Expansion is certainly a risky one, but you’re starting from a deficit already. If you think Jeskai is on the decline, feel free to sleeve up some Grow from the Ashes.
1. Izzet Finally Has an Identity
Similarly to the Naya Ramp deck, this Izzet Control deck is aiming to target Golgari hard. Cards like Niv-Mizzet, Parun aren’t great against Ravenous Chupacabra, hence most of the Paruns living in the sideboard.
Despite being only two colors, this control deck has found some interesting ways to defend itself. For example, the Fountain of Renewals in the sideboard can be wonderful against Mono-Red Aggro. Your removal can line up poorly, but there’s enough of it and there are plenty of ways to go over the top. Even if you have a dead card or two, your powerful cards should be able to clean up.
I suppose this is technically a three-color deck, what with the light splash for Unmoored Ego in the sideboard. With the weakness to Carnage Tyrant, I get it, but it’s not entirely necessary. Crackling Drake and Star of Extinction are fine answers. With Rekindling Phoenix in the sideboard, it’s even possible to race a Carnage Tyrant. You’re going to have some issues, sure. Splashing a couple of cards (even off Treasures and Gilded Lotuses) isn’t the most consistent answer. I’d rather load up on Star of Extinctions and call it a day.
This might not be the best deck on this list, but it’s by far my favorite.