Dear Santa: Please Fix Standard

Brennan DeCandio has had it with this supposedly “fixed” Standard format! Plus, get his take on a Modern deck that buries its foes in one-sided fun!

If I could get one thing for Christmas, it would be the banning of these cards.

Just ban them. Just do it already. I feel like Shia LaBeouf here, shouting at the top of my lungs to Wizards to ban all the cards that make the Energy decks tick, but I’ll settle for these three cards. I originally thought that Attune with Aether and Aether Hub would be sufficient, but at this point I’ve had enough.

For those of you who don’t know or have been living under a rock for the past 48 hours, StarCityGames.com has effectively removed Standard from all of its individual Opens. You can read more about all that here. While Team Constructed is a brilliant format and one I’ve come to really enjoy a few times during the season, having it shoved down my throat five times in the first half of the year might make me resent it. I’m not entirely sure that will actually happen, but knowing that it’s come at the expense of individual Standard Opens could certainly put a damper on my enthusiasm about it all.

Yes, I fully understand I’ll still likely be playing Standard during those events for my team and I’ll be able to get my fix there, but there is something truly special about the release weekend Standard Opens that allow for all kinds of decks to show up, while the apparent biggest reason SCG has made this change is that, for the foreseeable future, if you’re not playing Attune with Aether and Rogue Refiner, you’re doing it wrong.

Temur, or some variant of Temur, is just the best deck in Standard, and you’re absolutely 100% wrong to be playing anything but those cards. It’s not that they’re degenerate. It’s not that they’re broken. It’s that it’s the purest aggro/control deck that’s ever existed and that it makes every other archetype look like a bad version of what Temur is.

So here I am, raising the banner for this one and getting on my hands and knees, begging for something to be done about this by Wizards. I love Standard. I love the ever-changing metagame and all the potential that each new set brings to the format. I think they’ve finally gotten a lot of things right in the format with cards they’re making now, and I do certainly believe that this time next year we’ll have an amazing Standard format that might just have us starting to think we can forgive them for all the mistakes we’ve had to deal with the past few years.

But we’re not there now, and I’m not sure the player base can take it much longer.

A year ago, I was begging for the removal of Emrakul, the Promised End, and back then the notion of banning a card in Standard seemed impossible, but with enough evidence pointing to the issue, it was done. But we’re not in the same predicament as we were before, with a card or two being broken that could easily be removed and the format fixed. We’re facing a much different animal this time around. There’s no one card to point to. Instead it’s a mechanic and all the cards that go into making that mechanic one of the most powerful ones ever printed. Sure. it’s no storm, dredge, cascade, or affinity, but it’s close!

The real issue with energy is there’s no way to punish a player for having it or building their deck around it. If you’re playing energy cards, you simply have another resource over your opponent, and that gives you an advantage and will likely result in you winning over your opponent. Your opponent could Electrolyze every single copy of Rogue Refiner you cast and cast To the Slaughter on every single Bristling Hydra, successfully keeping pace with all the cards and problematic abilities they have, but as soon as you resolve a solo Whirler Virtuoso, they’re behind almost to the point of losing on the spot simply because, during those exchanges, you were generating energy.

I don’t think I’m alone here in thinking that Standard needs a lot of help and soon. SCG has certainly noticed the disinterest in Standard over the past year with players and viewers alike, and it isn’t about to showcase Attune with Aether mirrors for the next ten months of coverage every time a new set comes out, discouraging players from even looking at new cards since that’ll likely have little impact fighting the three-color foe and might even enhance the archetype. I don’t blame them for not wanting to do that, and for as much as I’d love to play Standard and as hard as it is to admit, I doubt there will be much of a change with the current format with the introduction of Rivals of Ixalan.

The only worse outcome than nothing changing the status quo here with Temur being the best deck is something even more oppressive coming down the pipeline, and that would be an absolute nightmare, as we’d be living in a paradox of power creep, ultimately destroying the format somehow even more than it is.

I hope Wizards of the Coast’s plan isn’t to ride out the storm for the next year, because local stores are hurting enough as it is with no one wanting to play Standard and attendance being lower that it’s ever been for me locally, having me harken back the days of Mirrodin block and Ravager Affinity. While Wizards hates banning cards, since it’s literally a company coming forth and admitting it’s at fault, it’s better to save face than to torture your target audience any longer.

I’ve tried beating around the bush on this one, but it’s been too much for too long now. Temur Energy needs to have action taken upon it and there’s no one card to point to. It’s gotten so bad that even I have lost interest in the format and am nearly at the point of not getting excited for the new cards in Rivals of Ixalan. For the sake of Standard, please, Wizards, do something before it’s too late.

On a Happier Note

With all that in mind, I’ve actually been enjoying my foray into Modern quite a bit. While nothing conventional like Storm, Death’s Shadow, Tron or any Jeskai deck has really caught my attention, I’ve been infatuated with the Arbor Elf / Utopia Sprawl decks I’ve been trying out. I’ve branched away from the Mono-Green Devotion deck I talked about last week to a much more “get ’em” style of deck!

Spell Snare player, eat your heart out! With this deck taking the concept of jumping from one mana to three to the very extreme, mana accelerant lovers can truly appreciate it.

While I did go into extensive detail as to how much I loathe cards like Blood Moon in the format, since they make games un-fun for one player who basically doesn’t get to play Magic anymore once it resolves, as long as this is what Modern is about, it’s time to set aside my personal distaste for cards like this and just start playing them!

Welcome to Modern, people. You signed up for this just as I did!

The goal with this deck is just to stick a Turn 2 Blood Moon and then beat your opponent with whatever you feel like. Huntmaster of the Fells? Sure! Stormbreath Dragon? Heck yes! Inferno Titan? Why the hell not?

I’ve lost all care for what’s right and fair in the format and just want to win matches and have the most fun I can have giving, my opponent the most miserable experience I can possibly fathom: of having to stare at a single card on the table and not get to cast a spell. While that might be a slightly harsh way to go about saying it, should I care? It’s Modern, after all, and everyone knew what they were getting into when they entered the event. Or at least that’s what I’ve been told by many, many people the past year when I have something to say regarding something I think isn’t fit for the format. I can’t beat you, so I’m joining you and fully embracing all that enjoying Modern means.

On a more serious note, I do think that this deck has a lot of great things going for it at the moment. While you do literally mulligan every single hand without an accelerant of some sort, exploding onto the battlefield on Turn 2 has never felt so amazing! Not to mention, getting to bust out my Tireless Trackers from their home in my old Delirium deck and bring them to center stage in Modern feels like a dream come true. With some tuning, this could be a real contender for the first weekend of the 2018 SCG Tour stop in Columbus!

A card I wouldn’t mind going in on if I were into investing in Modern speculations is Primal Command. The amount of games I win when I cast the card has to be nearing 100%. It serves as a functional Time Warp / Demonic Tutor for a creature almost every time, since very few decks in Modern play to the battlefield in ways where a full turn of attacking is relevant. Sure, the hyper-aggressive decks are like that, but linear decks are always going to have an edge over any five-mana sorcery.

One card in the deck I’m not sold on yet is Stormbreath Dragon. While I do understand it being invulnerable to Path to Exile is a big deal, I’d imagine that Glorybringer might just be a better fit, since the exert ability seems like it could come up more often than when your opponent has a specific removal spell in hand versus when they don’t. I’d love for everyone’s favorite Standard swingy cards to make a jump into Modern, and in a deck with zero actual removal spells, having one attached to one of your finishers certainly is something I’m in the market for.

Overall, while I am sad to say goodbye at least for now to individual Standard events, I’m looking forward to the new season of play with @Team_BCW and getting more chances to play in Team Opens which have by far been some of the best moments in my Magic playing career. As for the holidays, whatever you celebrate, have a fantastic time with family and may all your wishes come true.