Continuing The GAM Podcast: The Sound And The Fury Of Standard

The acclaimed GAM Podcast’s Bryan Gottlieb is amazed at how fast Standard changed! Check out his look at its current levels and the decks you should pick up if you want to win SCG Indianapolis’s Standard Classic!

Greetings all. The following article is meant to be a companion piece to
The GAM Podcast, available
right here
on StarCityGames.com.

If you’re a regular listener of The GAM Podcast, you’ve heard Gerry and I
express consistent disbelief at just how quickly the Magic metagame moves
in the current era. The malleability of the current Standard metagame has
been on clear display over the past week-and-a-half. The addition of Core Set 2019 to the card pool has served as the catalyst for a
three Act tale that has played out before us across in an incredibly brief
span of time.

ACT I- Enter stage left, astride a majestic green H

orse, swelling with confidence and certainly unable to be targeted by
any spells his opponents may wish to cast, Andrew Jessup.

Did Andrew Jessup know he was about to change the makeup of Week 1 Standard
when he tweeted out the following?

Magic social media immediately caught flame as everyone scrambled to figure
out what could have catapulted Jessup to such incredible success. His
article delivered the answer, and it was a somewhat innocuous looking
uncommon from Core Set 2019.

Data provided by Wizards of the Coast in an article justifying a non-ban of
Goblin Chainwhirler already suggested that Mono-Green Aggro was the best
performing deck prior to the release of Core Set 2019. A
significant upgrade to the archetype was nothing to take lightly. Vine Mare
was enough to tilt the balance of Standard even further in favor of the
Mono-Green Aggro decks.

Jessup laid his cards on the table, and shared the following list:

Prior to the release of Jessup’s article, Magic Online was being dominated
by black decks of all sorts. B/U Midrange, Mono-Black Zombies, and B/U God
Pharaoh’s Gift all seemed poised to cement themselves as potential tier-1
archetypes. The inclusion of Vine Mare in the Mono-Green Aggro decks robbed
all these archetypes of a previously favorable matchup and shook the
metagame to its core.

While Mono-Green Aggro had found an impressive new tool at the zero hour
before the first major events of Core Set 2019, a group of heroes
were unwilling to let ontrol and Midrange fall by the wayside.


Enter stage right, with Essence Scatters at the ready, Jonathan Rosum,
Dylan Donegan, and Magic Online PTQ Winner Gobern.

Blue decks could have very easily found themselves squeezed out of the
metagame by Vine Mare, but the heroes of Act II showed up to the
StarCityGames.com Worcester Open and the Magic Online PTQ ready to address
the threat:

The common thread between these two decks is an increased number of Essence
Scatters in the maindeck and multiple cogent plans to address a resolved
Vine Mare. Essence Scatter’s influence on Standard has ebbed and flowed
since its printing, but the card might just be at its apex of usefulness
right now. Besides answering the threat of Vine Mare and other sticky
creatures, Essence Scatter is out here winning The Scarab God wars, keeping
Torrential Gearhulk at bay, preventing Hazoret the Fervent from making
hasty attacks, and generally finding valuable targets in every possible

While I believe either of these two lists to be defensible choices coming
into the StarCityGames.com Philadelphia Open, I also think we can do a
little bit better.


Enter from on high, bathed in glowing light, ready to conquer their
foes and rise to the top of upcoming tournaments, the beloved
listener/reader of The GAM Podcast.

In most contexts, I would categorize avoiding creatures to be a somewhat
simplistic response to blue decks picking up an increased number of Essence
Scatters. It just so happens that there are two creature-light options
which are powerful enough to stand on their own merits while gaining some
bonus points from largely shrugging off Essence Scatter.

So maybe this first list is cheating a bit, since its not all that far off
from what Jonathan Rosum and company played last week. However, I’ve made
some small adjustments to the maindeck and sideboard that should serve us
well as others recognize just how good U/W Control is.

As one of the earliest adopters of this style of minimal-win condition U/W
Control, I have picked up a few tidbits of knowledge along the way. First,
I think playing any less than 27 lands is a mistake. The U/W Control deck
desperately wants to make a land drop for the first five turns of the game
and failing to do so can be a death knell in multitudinous situations. As
the deck is color hungry, I’ve resigned myself to playing the incredibly
mopey Meandering River.

Guilds of Ravnic
a dual lands can’t get here soon enough.

The other alterations I’ve made to Jonathan Rosum’s list can be found in
the sideboard. In my experience, there’s no better tool for winning, no, dominating, the U/W Control mirror than Baral, Chief of
Compliance. The discount on spells, the looting effect, and the 1/3 body
are all perfectly suited to play in the mirror. Gaining mana advantage in
counter wars, drawing into relevant spells in the late game, and blocking
the woefully ineffective tokens produced by History of Benalia-Baral, Chief
of Compliance can do it all. In addition, the card serves as a fine blocker
against the 1/1s and 2/1s of the Mono-Red Aggro decks.

My second choice should come as no surprise to those of you who have
already listened to The GAM Podcast.

It took some time, but by the end of this week’s episode, I think I
convinced Gerry Thompson that there is something worth paying attention to
here. Largely modeled after Ray Perez’s list from the Magic Online PTQ,
this list has been putting up incredibly strong results for me over the
course of the past week.

The addition of Sai, Master Thopterist to these Paradoxical Outcome combo
decks provided exactly the shot in the arm the archetype needed. Sai,
Master Thopterist can buy time for you to look for combo pieces, but also
functions as a very real clock and alternate kill condition when your
Aetherflux Reservoirs have been dealt with.

I’ve fleshed out the sideboard to allow the deck to execute a full
transformation into a strange artifact-based beatdown deck with some
capacity for combo kills out of nowhere. This new angle of attack has been
great against control decks which previously presented a horrible matchup.


As the players take their bow, Goblin Chainwhirler bursts through the
stage, chains akimbo, sending the cast running for their lives.

Astute readers have no doubt noticed that my discussion of Standard has
come this far without much mention of the formats previous boogeyman,
Goblin Chainwhirler. I do believe R/B Aggro will remain a defensible and
adaptable choice throughout this Standard format. The deck currently fills
the role of the 50/50 deck, with no truly bad matchups and good sideboard
plans against every deck in the format.

I would expect skilled players who
have felt at home with the archetype to continue playing the deck and
attempt to leverage their skill edge and clever sideboarding to push
matchups beyond the 50/50 threshold.

I’m inclined to search for a deck that can do more than present 50/50
matchups. I expect my deck choice for any given tournament to give me an
edge before I even sit down to play a game. If you are of the same mindset,
I think you’ll appreciate what we discuss every week over on The GAM
Podcast, and you’ll be pleased to take U/W Control or Paradoxical Outcome
to your next important Standard event.