Daily Digest: Vraska’s Contempt Never Went Away

Is B/G Midrange the Standard metagame solution? Ross Merriam examines a new contender ahead of SCG CON!

Before Dominaria, black removal was dominant in Standard, as Fatal Push and Vraska’s Contempt paired nicely to cover cheap creatures, expensive creatures, and planeswalkers. Appearing next to The Scarab God certainly helped, but no other color could boast of a similar pair of removal spells.

With the addition of Teferi, Hero of Dominaria and Seal Away, white has now supplanted black as the color of choice for removal and a busted five-mana threat. With white’s removal nearly entirely based in enchantments, green decks have taken to playing a huge number of disenchant effects with Thrashing Brontodon maindeck and some combination of Naturalize and Crushing Canopy in the sideboard.

With so much enchantment removal around, perhaps it’s time to go back to black removal to more consistently answer key threats.

Pairing black with green to answer opposing enchantments further develops the asymmetry we’re trying to create here, with the last step being playing threats that are either absolutely necessary to answer, thereby making our Naturalize effects backbreaking, or inherently resilient to white removal.

Hour of Promise certainly does that, acting similarly to History of Benalia so long as you find a Desert by Turn 5, and that extra mana enables the kicker on Josu Vess, Lich Knight, which will immediately demand a sweeper while providing enough material to play through a Settle the Wreckage.

Vraska, Relic Seeker falls under the “answer quickly or die” category while also serving as another Naturalize effect, and the already proven Arguel’s Blood Fast rounds out the lot.

The rest of the deck is additional mana acceleration and some Vehicles that play nicely against the non-control decks in the format while also serving as easy ways to upgrade your weaker creatures, like mana creatures or Zombie tokens from Hour of Promise or Josu Vess.

Flooding is a big issue in decks like this, but there are enough utility lands to ensure you have plenty to do as the game goes long. Your first few matches with the deck will be daunting, as you have so many options once you transition into the mid-game, but as you get more comfortable, you’ll be able to catch your opponent unaware of what your deck is capable of.

Is this the answer to the Standard Metagame Triumvirate of W/B Aggro, R/B Aggro, and U/W Control? I don’t know, but it’s doing a lot of good things to combat those decks, so it merits a closer look.