GerryT’s 10 Things: New Standard Mayhem

As always, if you’re looking to rogue on a given weekend, Gerry’s 10 Things column is the place to look! See the wild archetypes to beat at SCG Worcester!

With Core Set 2019 in the mix, we have one of the largest Standard
formats of all time. When you have access to such a large card pool, the
benefits of mono-colored decks start to outweigh the positives of playing
multiple colors, especially if the mana fixing is as lackluster as the
current options we have.

Sometimes there’s a multi-colored card that is so good, you’ll jump through
hoops to cast it. For the most part, you’ll see consistency win out, mostly
because the power level in these nearly mono-colored decks is on par with
the two or three-color decks.

10. A Candidate For Best Deck

God-Pharaoh’s Gift has faded in and out of Standard ever since its
inception, often functioning as a perfect metagame call for very specific
weeks. While the best color combination tended to vary, Stitcher’s Supplier
makes it so there’s enough action in black and blue to finally have a de
facto best version.

The combination of a low mana curve, good mana, great creatures to
reanimate, and the best backup plan in The Scarab God, B/U God-Pharaoh’s
Gift is probably going to stay in the format for the rest of its duration.
Having access to cards like Duress, Spell Pierce, and Negate out of the
sideboard only serves to bolster its stock. Even if your opponents show up
with Abrades and counterspells, you can configure the deck to make it

9. How To Ravage Standard

The first Standard results showcased the various different forms of Grixis,
each seeking to utilize Nicol Bolas, the Ravager in their own way. Since
then, we’ve seen
another take
on the deck rise up, but mostly, people are taking these decklists and
having repeated success with them.

Where Nicol Bolas will eventually end up being the best remains to be seen,
but it’s either a more aggressive build, one that contains Liliana, Death’s
Majesty, or both. If you go down the Liliana route, you likely can’t play
Goblin Chainwhirler, which is where the heavy Grixis builds have ended up.

Nicol Bolas, despite seeming like a value-oriented midrange card, is
perfectly serviceable as the top end of an aggressive deck. A 4/4 flying
body is more than solid in this format and you’ll always have the looming
threat of transforming it and nearly winning the game on the spot. In the
meantime, you get to attack for four each turn.

Liliana works well with Nicol Bolas, both because of being able to strip
your opponent of resources, but also because Liliana is among one of the
strongest cards to return with Nicol Bolas once you’ve transformed him. A
grindier option could be useful, even in aggressive decks, but it could
also be part of a sideboard plan.

8. Stop Trying To Make Knights Happen

If Knight tribal weren’t a thing already, adding some Valiant Knights to
the mix won’t solve it. Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants is a strong card, but
it’s something that works fine with the two-drop Knights in a normal W/B

The strength of these decks is mostly centered on the two-drops, so you
don’t necessarily need the four-drop “payoffs” when planeswalkers will
typically be better. I don’t really understand the appeal of trying to make
Knight tribal a thing.

7. Monumental Mediocrity

There was a time when I really liked Oketra’s Monument. Cards like Spell
Queller, Bygone Bishop, and the like were powerful on their own merit. When
people try to recreate the success of Oketra’s Monument, it often leads
them down a path of playing mediocre creatures to get a miniscule payoff.
Some cards, like Mentor of the Meek, seem great in theory, but typically
don’t live up to the hype.

For the most part, these white decks are outclassed by the other decks in
the format. Torrential Gearhulk is a nightmare, and your Skymarcher
Aspirants and Suncleansers aren’t as good as playing objectively powerful
cards like Ajani and Karn.

Part of the lesson here is that synergy isn’t what this Standard format is
about, especially when those synergies are this weak.

6. Pelakka Wurms And Nonsense

Pelakka Wurm is likely a stronger Sifter Wurm. You might not think either
card is particularly playable, but these Hour of Promise ramp decks have
been performing much better than expected as of late. They’re also on this
weird trajectory of playing a bunch of crazy cards, getting tightened up,
and then adding more crazy cards.

We’re obviously at the latter stage.

Among the standouts are Endless Sands and Sandwurm Convengence. Banefire
continually makes appearances throughout these decklists too, which I love
seeing. Control decks currently don’t have a way to handle it well outside
of trying to keep their life total high. Obviously Banefire is much better
in decks that can apply pressure (which this deck doesn’t do particularly
well), but this deck can also get to ten mana with relative ease.

I’m confident Pelakka Wurm will continue to show up in Standard, and while
the combo with Hour of Promise is a good one, I’m not sure these sorts of
decks are remotely playable if you’re trying to win a large tournament.

5. G/R Medium

Why are the G/R decks always just a pile of mopey midrange cards that don’t
work well together, yet are brutally effective? This deck is literally
creatures, removal, and Fireballs, and I don’t think that’s impressing
anyone, yet here we are.

As I noted above, aggression plus Banefire is a good combination and this
deck capitalizes on that. This is also one of the few decks I’ve seen to
take advantage of Vine Mare, Vivien Reid, and Reclamation Sage, each very
powerful cards. Thorn Lieutenant also makes an appearance!

I can’t imagine what would make me want to play this deck over something
like R/B Midrange, especially when that deck can easily access Nicol Bolas,
but there’s no arguing that this deck isn’t something you should be
concerned about.

4. Zombies’ Last March

I like the idea of Zombies in general. It can be a midrange deck slanted
toward aggression, which typically means your control matchups are solid.
You have staying power, disruption, and some of the best removal. Sadly,
one of my favorite tribes is currently lacking in some areas.

With several lord effects, you’d think the deck would want to be more
aggressive, but Diregraf Ghoul doesn’t beat anyone, especially if you’re
trying to curve up to five-drops. Aside from Graveyard Marshal, the
two-drop slot is lacking, which means you must turn to Metallic Mimic or
Scrapheap Scrounger for additional help. Metallic Mimic currently fits the
theme, and if you’re on the play, you might be able to avoid a Goblin
Chainwhirler catastrophe by playing a lord, but that doesn’t stop it from
being an incredibly underwhelming card overall.

Vraska’s Contempt is great but a tad clunky with a deck with eight
one-drops. Liliana, Untouched by Death is either completely dominating or
embarrassingly poor. Overall, the deck is missing a few pieces to be truly
great, but it’s a fine Tier 2 strategy.

3. The Best Way To Play Mono-Black

Death Baron is tight, but you know what’s way better than Lord of the

Vicious Conquistador is sketchy, but I’m reasonably happy to not have to
play anything like Lord of the Accursed anytime soon. There are enough
three power creatures that Heart of Kiran looks incredible, especially if
you’re able to cast Bone Picker on the cheap.

Dread Shade and Graveyard Marshal both like having additional lands around,
so only playing 23 seems light to me. Realistically though, there’s not
much I would (or could) change about this decklist. It knows what it wants
to be doing and does a reasonable job of it.

Again, this deck is a little short on ideal cards for the archetype, but I
like something in this vein more than attempting to be a tribal Zombies

2. 24 Forests And A Dream

Look, basically no one is beating Blanchwood Armor on a Vine Mare, but that
doesn’t mean it’s something you should actually be trying to do. If you end
up with Cartouche of Strength and/or Arborback Stomper in your 75, you
probably messed up somewhere.

1. Unsealing The Technology

Is Sarkhan’s Unsealing broken or unplayable?

On one hand, it’s basically a Chandra, Torch of Defiance emblem against
control decks, which is oftentimes unbeatable. With cards like Traxos,
Scourge of Kroog; Ghalta, Primal Hunger; and Carnage Tyrant, it’s sure to
dominate creature mirrors.

Anytime a card is patently absurd in Limited, its deserves some attention
for Standard. Sarkhan’s Unsealing was the card most complained about during
Prerelease weekend, so it’s not surprising to see someone trying it and
immediately being successful.

Being able to close games is something that aggressive green decks
previously lacked, but Sarkhan’s Unsealing not only fixes that, but it is
truly game-defining if you manage to untap with it.

And getting to play Traxos? I’m so in.