Fact Or Fiction: Philly And New Standard

Our two SCG Tour commentators for the weekend can’t wait to get the chatting started! That’s why they’re already debating the big issues surrounding new Standard, modern Modern, and old style Legacy in this week’s Fact or Fiction!

[Welcome to Fact or Fiction!

This week, Minnesota Vikings SKOL-screaming maniac Matthias Hunt and
Taco Bell investigative journalist Ryan Overturf take on five pressing
questions about SCG Philadelphia this coming weekend. Read their
answers and vote for the winner in the poll at the end!]

1. Mardu Vehicles is the Standard deck to beat at SCG Philly this

Matthias Hunt: Fiction.
A whopping four cards banned from Standard and now we want to talk about a
deck to beat? Give me a break. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar rotated out a long
time ago. It’s true that Mardu Vehicles may be the best deck to survive the
bannings without a scratch, but that doesn’t mean I’m ready to crown it

If the Dallas Open and Classic are any indication, we’re going to see two
types of decks this weekend. This first is aggro and it’s going to be
Mono-Red, a deck that lost some resiliency after the banning of Ramunap
Ruins but still has all the quick wins that it had a month ago. Mono-Red
can still perform as evidenced by taking both spots in the finals of the
Dallas Classic. The second is midrange, though it’s going to take on many
forms. Mardu Vehicles, G/R Monsters, and Dan Jessup’s Sultai Energy are all
decks that are trying to play removal spells on the first few turns and
then take control by playing some of the format’s most efficient threats.
Is Mardu Vehicles the best among these? Maybe. It looked good last week,
but now players get to see the lists that won as they build for
Philadelphia. I’m skeptical that it will remain on top.

So what is the deck to beat? I wouldn’t register anything that can’t beat

Ryan Overturf: Fiction.
Mardu Vehicles was a nice week one blast from the past. While everybody was
trying to figure out the best shell for their Jadelight Rangers, Julian
John’s plan of just running them over was pretty brilliant. If you look
over league results from this week though, you’ll notice that there are
several decks featuring four Fatal Push and four Vraska’s Contempt. Mardu
has a real problem fighting through all of that now that Gideon, Ally of
Zendikar has rotated.

If you want to know the deck to beat this weekend, I would look to the
finals of the Dallas Classic. Despite being hit by the bans, Mono-Red Aggro
is still extremely powerful. If people are gunning for it, then it’s
certainly beatable, but even still, I would expect it to be the most played
Standard deck in Philly.

2. Humans is the Modern deck to beat at SCG Philly this

Matthias Hunt: Fiction.
Has Humans ever been the deck to beat? I’ll admit that it looks pretty good
right now, and I might even register it for the event, but being the deck
to beat is different than being the deck you’re supposed to play.

When I play Modern, what I want to know is what the most popular “unfair”
deck is and see if I can match up well against it. Right now I would put
the target on Tron and Burn. Both decks have been putting up results and
are popular choices any given weekend. I would want a deck that can race
Tron and also can fight against a Searing Blaze. Can Humans do that? Based
on last week, I see no reason why not.

Ryan Overturf: Fiction.
Humans is a fine deck. It’s a fair degree better than similar linear
aggressive strategies in that it’s very good at punishing specific decks
while maintaining a comparable closing speed. That said, Modern just
doesn’t have a deck to beat unless something is totally broken. If you were
wondering, Champion of the Parish is not that. Humans is a powerful deck,
and it might even be in the Modern seat of the winning team again, but it’s
just as weak against the removal-heavy decks of the format as all of the
other linear aggressive strategies.

3. Lands is the Legacy deck to beat at SCG Philly this

Matthias Hunt: Fiction.
Legacy is in a very polarized place right now and that’s a bad thing for
Lands. In Legacy we often see decks fall into three camps: decks that want
to win fast, decks that want to disrupt early and then win, and decks that
want to win late. Right now there aren’t enough Delver of Secrets to keep
Lands going.

Decks have been moving toward the ends of the spectrum in the last year in
Legacy. Reanimator has put away its blue cards and replaced them with red
ones to go even faster. Sultai decks started cutting Delvers and playing
Leovold to go slower. Blood Moon became a staple in the Ancient Tomb decks.
None of these changes are good for Lands. I think the deck will still be
played this weekend and it may even win the trophy–the Lands players know
a thing or two about Legacy–but I don’t think it’s the best thing you can
be doing right now.

Ryan Overturf: Fiction.
If you want to make the argument that Lands is the most powerful deck in
Legacy right now, you’re not alone in believing that. However, the ceiling
on the number of times that you’ll play against Lands is easier to
establish than most other decks in Magic’s history. All you have to do is
know how many copies of The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale are even in the
room. If you play against Lands more than twice in the same tournament, you
will have broken my record.

It’s a good idea to have a plan for Lands and to evaluate your opening
hands against Jody Keith based on your knowledge of the matchup. Jody is
probably going to outplay you anyway though, so really even there you’re
just kind of hoping to get lucky. If you want to have a successful Legacy
tournament, you should really just get good at Deathrite Shaman/Brainstorm
mirrors. Those will be the most common matchups you play and will be the
ones that you are least likely to win with a turn 1 Deathrite Shaman or a
timely Force of Will.

4. Rivals of Ixalan will make a bigger impact on
Standard at SCG Philly than it did at SCG Dallas.

Matthias Hunt: Fact.
Rivals of Ixalan
has some hidden gems left in it, and I think they can find homes in new
Standard. We saw some Rivals cards debut last weekend in Dallas.
Ravenous Chupacabra was in multiple decks and Jadelight Ranger made it all
the way to finals. I wouldn’t be surprised if more players start playing
these attrition-based cards in Philly, as they can go in a number of
midrange strategies.

What I’m hoping to see is what Rivals of Ixalan can do for control
decks. U/B Control was left untouched by the bannings, and I’d like to see
it break out this weekend. We know that Chupacabra goes well in the deck,
but I’d like to see it slow down even more. Arch of Orazca and Vona’s
Hunger are both cards I’d be excited to see cast.

Ryan Overturf: Fiction.
It looks to me like Rivals made a significant impact in Dallas as
far as individual card choices, which is about the most I would expect from
the set. Ravenous Chupacabra, Jadelight Ranger, Rekindling Phoenix, and a
few others are showing up in the midrange and control decks already, and
you can expect that trend to continue. If you’re waiting on somebody to
figure out tribal Merfolk in the new format and take the tournament by
surprise, I wouldn’t hold your breath. The synergies of the set just don’t
hold up to the raw power of the midrange decks currently available or the
speed of Mono-Red Aggro.

5. Given the diversity of Standard decks at SCG Dallas, WotC got
the Standard bannings correct.

Matthias Hunt: Fact.
How could you look at the 2017 SCG Season Two Invitational and not see that
a banning was necessary? The format needed to open up and at first glance,
it definitely has. There were eleven different archetypes between the top 8
of the Standard Classic and the top 8 of the Team Constructed Open.

It’s hard to say whether or not the banning was exactly correct.
Would Rampaging Ferocidon staying legal have led to a one-deck format? I’m
not convinced. Now that Whirler Virtuoso sees less play I’m not even sure
how good the Dinosaur would be. Over-banning may have happened, but I don’t
want to let that take away from the fact that I’m excited again to see new
decks in Standard.

Ryan Overturf: Fact.
Temur Energy was a messed up deck. It was pretty refreshing to play a match
against Whirler Virtuoso this week and have it be simply very good instead
of totally unbeatable. I was skeptical of the Rampaging Ferocidon ban at
first, and it’s still a bit strange to me, but with Mono-Red Aggro
remaining a serious contender I suppose it’s not a huge issue. I’ve been
playing Jim Davis’ W/U Auras deck and it is kind of nice that they can’t
just Ferocidon me out in the games when I’m leaning on Sacred Cat. Rogue
Refiner was dumb, Attune with Aether was lame, and it makes sense to hit
Ramunap Ruins once you take away the red deck’s worst matchup.