In recent years, Standard seasons have fallen into a similar pattern.
There’s an opening week or two after a new set where new creations are
thrown into the lion’s den against the tuned decks from the previous
season. Quickly the format coalesces around the best strategies. Then those
top decks start to inbreed since the format is narrower and they need any
edge they can in the important matchups.
You’d think that the format would stop there. But in the closing events of
a season, the inbred metagame is at its most vulnerable, as the top decks
have sacrificed some power and versatility in order to be better positioned
against the other top decks. This results in a few brews that wouldn’t have
been playable in the previous stages making one final mark on the metagame.
Last weekend, with two Standard Grand Prix, we saw those decks emerge,
highlighted by Alexander Gordon-Brown’s Sultai Midrange list. With eight
mana creatures and few actual removal spells, this deck is trying to get on
the battlefield very quickly with powerful creatures and vehicles.
The removal that does appear, Hostage Taker and Confiscation Coup, both fit
this theme by helping you build your own side of the battlefield. Hostage
Taker is particularly nice when you have lots of excess mana in the
mid/lategame, so you can immediately cast the creature you take and not
give your opponent a window to untap and use a removal spell.
The explore mechanic keeps the gas flowing while also ensuring that you hit
land drops. We often view mana creatures as a replacement for lands, but
missing a land drop is actually more punishing in these decks since their
curves are built in such a way to utilize the extra mana. This leads you to
flood more often, but the fix is to include mana sinks and ways to find
more gas, so explore is great here.
But the big payoff is The Scarab God. Defended with a Blossoming Defense
the card takes over a game and is the best mana sink around. It can be
fueled by the explore cards and will take over a game even if your opponent
has a Settle the Wreckage. Even cast early before you can leverage its
reanimation ability, it’s still a 5/5 that applies a ton of pressure or
makes planeswalkers untenable to cast.
In conclusion, The Scarab God is very good. You’re welcome. This is why
they pay me the big bucks.
- 4 Llanowar Elves
- 4 Servant of the Conduit
- 4 The Scarab God
- 4 Hostage Taker
- 2 Wildgrowth Walker
- 4 Merfolk Branchwalker
- 4 Jadelight Ranger