GerryT’s 10 Things: The Most Underrated Cards In Standard

Nothing beats some free GerryT! Today he’s giving you his chronicle of the Standard cards that are powerful enough to see play at the SCG Dallas Classic, but that far too many are sleeping on!

Despite being in its infancy, Guilds of Ravnica Standard has
shifted dramatically multiple times. Initially, Standard was a format where
people were overloading on removal spells and breaking up synergies. Now
the decks contain creatures with built-in card advantage and planeswalkers
to beat removal-heavy decks. The next step is to either go over the top of
them with a control deck, go wide, or go back to synergy.

Keep in mind that these decks all have significant amounts of lifegain,
reasonable amount of answers to Experimental Frenzy, and uncounterable
cards for fighting control. Everything has changed in two weeks, and these
are the ten cards that are currently the most underrated in Standard.

10) Find//Finality

Find will likely be considered an odd inclusion given how much play it’s
seeing, but I still see people underrating it. They develop plans that
involve grinding out Golgari or going wide, only to lose straight up to
Find or Finality.

No aspect of the card makes it easy to play against. You would need
dedicated graveyard hate to beat the recursion since there isn’t anything
spectacular that has incidental graveyard hate attached, but you don’t want
to go far as to include cards like Sentinel Totem just for Find. Your only
options are to avoid trading with them if possible and find a way to win
the game, but Finality covers them against that.

Find is one of the most frustrating cards to play against, but in a healthy
way. It’s just that good.

9) Expansion//Explosion

(Almost) everyone slept on this card. Realistically, neither side is good
on rate, so Expansion seeing play is a product of the context. Given more
sets, more options with the mana, and a faster format, I fully expect
Expansion to disappear.

Currently, Expansion can lead to some sick blowouts while also being strong
in control mirrors. Meanwhile, Explosion is your reward for playing a
normal control game. Given that this is a midrange-leaning format, “kill
your planeswalker and draw five cards” is basically what you should be
looking for.

8) Karn, Scion of Urza

It wasn’t too long ago Karn, Scion of Urza was finding a home in nearly
every deck in Standard. Toward the end of last season, it was the go-to way
to gain an edge in the Rakdos Aggro mirror. As it turns out, Karn is still
quite good.

Note that while Karn is great out of most sideboards (bigger red decks,
Selesnya, Golgari, Boros, etc), it should only be played with copious
amounts of answers to whatever your opponent is up to. Karn needs a lot of
time to truly take over a game, otherwise he’ll continue to feed you the
worst cards from the top of your deck.

Red decks tend to like Karn because of how versatile their removal is and
how well they can make use of excess lands with Fight with Fire and
Banefire. For those playing Vraska, Golgari Queen in Golgari, you should
consider Karn instead.

7) Doom Whisperer

Given the amount of Ravenous Chupacabras in these Golgari decks, you might
think anything that doesn’t provide immediate value shouldn’t be played.
Vraska, Relic Seeker is another potential issue. However, given the
relative lack of a clock from the Golgari decks, losing your creature to a
Chupacabra isn’t a huge issue, especially because you’ll likely have some
life to spare to surveil.

Realistically, your opponent will probably take the first opportunity to
Chupacabra your Jadelight Ranger or Wildgrowth Walker, which could open the
door for Doom Whisperer to take over. Even if they have a removal spell,
you have Find to get it back. Don’t trade with their Chupacabra if you can
avoid it!

6) Vivien Reid

A card drawing engine and out to random permanents, including Lyra
Dawnbringer and Niv-Mizzet, Parun? Get those The Eldest Reborns outta here
and sign me up!

It might not make sense to hype Doom Whisperer and Vivien Reid at the same
time, since Vivien will likely end up trumping Doom Whisperer, but it’s
where I’m currently at with Golgari.

5) Sarkhan, Fireblood

Many Standard decks are stuck with dead cards in certain matchups. The
bigger red decks, like the ones that would be interested in playing
Sarkhan, Fireblood, might have cards like Lava Coil and Shivan Fire instead
of Lightning Strike and Shock. They might even splash Justice Strike.
Having a way to filter through those cards is incredibly important. Having
a Sarkhan waiting around to ultimate is just icing on the cake.

Additionally, many of the Dragons are quite good, including Niv-Mizzet. A
Turn 4 Dragon isn’t particularly fair in Standard, especially if it’s the

4) Siege-Gang Commander

I’m less sure about Siege-Gang Commander being great than I am about the
other cards on this list. Regardless, Siege-Gang is absolutely underplayed
at the moment. You could make a case for Demanding Dragon in the five-drop
slot (along with Sarkhan), but if you plan on grinding against Golgari,
you’d rather have Siege-Gang Commander. Yes, it will likely die on sight,
but hopefully you can clear the way and finish the game with the help of
some wonderful Cedric Phillips tokens.

If Siege-Gang actually lives, you get to clear blockers, remove some
planeswalkers, or even end the game. That’s an incredible laundry list of
possibilities. Glorybringer mostly overshadowed Siege-Gang, but right now
it’s the best we’ve got.

3) Carnage Tyrant

Between Carnage Tyrant, Banefire, and Niv-Mizzet, control mages have a
tough time. Banefire is played in far too many spots to be underrated,
often coming in for matchups where it has no business being there. Control
can also play lifegain cards like Lyra Dawnbringer or gain hexproof from
Shalai, Voice of Plenty. If they play Cleansing Nova over Settle the
Wreckage, that solves a lot of the issue also.

Carnage Tyrant is still great though. There are the aforementioned sweepers
that clean it up nicely, but those are WW in a primarily Izzet deck. If
you’re Golgari, you also have access to Duress to clear the way. Your
control opponents might try to block with Crackling Drakes, but presumably
you’re ready for that with a timely Chupacabra.

Even in the Golgari mirror, Carnage Tyrant can be a house. Nothing blocks
it efficiently, so it will often rampage all over the battlefield. It’s
also incredible with Finality. Protect it against Plaguecrafter and The
Eldest Reborn (maybe with Elvish Rejuvenator?) and you should be ready to

2) Trostani Discordant

Everyone is playing Deafening Clarion, but you can recover from sweepers
with this one easy trick!

Seriously, March of the Multitudes isn’t a four-of. You need to be more
resilient by not playing into their sweepers as much. Trostani Discordant
is about as good at that as you’re going to get. Again, we’re moving away
from cards that die without providing any value, such as Lyra Dawnbringer,
and more toward Siege-Gang Commanders.

Trostani is the Selesnya Siege-Gang.

1) Llanowar Elves

Oh, how quickly they forget.

The quickest way to win the Golgari mirror is be the person who plays the
first Vraska (and gets to untap with it). Exploring is nice for hitting
your land drops, but it doesn’t matter if your opponent goes over the top
of you.

Goblin Chainwhirler still exists, but not quite in the dominant numbers
we’ve had in the past. In fact, Mono-Red Aggro is quite good, but not as
prevalent as one would expect from a Magic Online PTQ.

When you have a Llanowar Elves and your opponent doesn’t have anything
similar, the game can get out of control very quickly. Why would you not be
trying to utilize that effect? I’d argue that unless you’re trying to be
supremely grindy, you should have Llanowar Elves in your Golgari deck. Even
then, I don’t think the grindy gameplan is the best one for the mirror
match given how easily your opponent can go over the top of you with

Respect the Elves.

When composing this list, I noticed a trend — nearly all of them involve
traction. At the start of the format, very few planeswalkers were being
played. Aside from Teferi, Hero of Dominaria (and maybe Karn), the
planeswalkers seemed weak and didn’t have any obvious homes. Since then,
Standard slowed down and planeswalkers have become an important way to keep
a threat on the battlefield or provide card advantage.

Decks were built with these cards in mind and try to utilize them to their
fullest. Even if our planeswalkers are weaker than what we’re used to, they
still tend to shape how Standard is played. Eventually, Standard decks will
gravitate towards the most powerful strategies with the most powerful
cards, and it’s no coincidence that those cards end up being planeswalkers.