Tournament results have been pouring in, giving us tons of data to sift through. Standard is looking very good, with almost every country proving that a different deck can win. Are these decks one-hit wonders? Is the era of Caw-Blade just beginning? What are the best decks? All answered in this week’s top decks!
This is still the best deck in the format. Edgar Flores designed this deck, continuing to prove how talented he is at developing Caw-Blade. Nick backed this up in Seattle this last weekend when he went undefeated and only lost one game in the 74-card mirror in the finals. This list has many different elements from the other Caw-Blade decks.
This is what the other versions look like.
- 4 Mana Leak
- 3 Oblivion Ring
- 2 Into the Roil
- 3 Spell Pierce
- 1 Deprive
- 2 Gravitational Shift
- 4 Preordain
- 2 Sword of Feast and Famine
- 3 Dismember
The difference between Edgar’s list and the others comes down to the cost of spells. The other lists have Gravitational Shifts, Blade Splicers, Emeria Angels, and Hero of Bladehold.
I have not tested with Gravitational Shift yet, but I assume it is not needed. The first problem is that Shift is not good against other Caw-Blade decks, since they get the advantage as well. Since Caw-Blade has been doing well, the archetype will become more and more popular over the next couple weeks.
The other problems come with how high the curve is. The format is very fast; many decks beat down or combo out very quickly. Slower decks use Spell Pierce, which makes playing multiple five-drops awkward. Cheap spells are where it’s at right now.
I tested Blade Splicer and Hero and know that these cards are not really needed. Blade Splicer is not a bad cardâ€”it attacks and blocksâ€”but does not fit this deck. It’s a trap to play four copies of each of these.
Tim’s version of this deck is very aggressive. Most of his cards are four-ofs, and the ones that are not serve similar roles. Edgar’s version has many different cards serving a wider variety of roles. Caw-Blade’s power has always come from being very versatile. The deck has a ton of play, and diluting it with more creatures reduces its flexibility.
Even though Tim’s version plays great creatures, many of his hands will be filled with cards that do the same thing. For example, Hero of Bladehold is a very powerful spell that can win you the game, but drawing multiples can be very bad, especially when the deck is behind on board presence or tempo. Adding Blade Splicer to the mix gives the deck an even higher chance of having weak hands.
That being said, I still think Hero of Bladehold might have a spot in this deck. It just is not really a four-of kind of card. Playing a couple copies of this card is an option that I think is better after more testing with this deck.
Caw-Blade is very good at adapting to a metagame. The potential card pool in Standard for this deck goes so deep that it can metagame to beat any deck in the format. So many cards in U/W are very good against other decks right now. If aggro gets better, they have Day of Judgment. If control gets bigger, they have counterspells, Squadron Hawks, and planeswalkers. This deck will remain a powerhouse until rotation because it has so much play in games and its construction.
The spells in the deck are also very flexible. They can be used in many situations, making it very hard to hate out this deck. Finding a game plan can be difficult at times, but there are more losses caused by misplay than variance.
The problem with being on top is that people will be constantly working to find the holes in current decklists. Caw-Blade is slightly weak against Tempered Steel right now, which makes that deck very popular and powerful. Caw-Blade can be shifted to beat it, but there are many decks out there with different game plans, and all have the blade in mind.
Since most decks in the format are very proactive, it can be easier to beat Caw-Blade with strategies they are not prepared for. Even though the deck is very flexible, the spells can sometimes be too narrow to affect certain matchups. Into the Roil for example is very good at bouncing Deceiver Exarch but can be very weak against Titans.
#2 Tempered Steel
- 16 Plains
- 4 Inkmoth Nexus
This deck is taking on a huge role in this format. Not only is it the most explosive deck in the format, but it is surprisingly resilient. Alex’s list proves this by slowing down the maindeck to be able to have enough spells to stop opposing game plans.
I do not understand the logic for Shrine of Loyal Legions in the maindeck. It must be there because Alex was expecting a control-heavy metagame, but most of the control decks do not have mass removal to merit a spell like this for game one. The card is amazing for sideboarded games but seems excessive for the first game.
I am also not a big fan of Leonin Relic-Warder. It does not deal that much damage and becomes a liability if an opponent has a removal spell. I would rather just have more Revoke Existence.
The interesting thing about this deck is people are just starting to experiment with it. There are many slots that people do not agree with. Some people play Ornithopter, some Blade Splicer, others Porcelain Legionnaire.
I am not a fan of any of these spells but like Ornithopter over the others. The problem with the ground pounders is, well, they are ground pounders. Not being able to have evasion is a very big downside to these creatures. Many games with this deck are won by sending multiple evasion creatures through the opponent’s defenses.
Ornithopter is also very good in the mirror match, being able to block everything and then becoming the biggest creature once Tempered Steel hits the board.
People have tried splashing other colors in this deck, and I still do not know if that is correct. I recently heard about a list splashing green for Beastmaster Ascension so I gave it a whirl. This is my current list.
Beastmaster Ascension was supposed to give the deck more consistency by acting like Tempered Steel 5-8. Even though it could be very powerful, it just did not seem like it was needed. For some reason it caused more problems than solved. I do not think it is a terrible idea, but for now I would rather just play mono-white if I were to play this deck.
This deck is capable of the most powerful starts in the format. Some decks cannot even compete with an early Tempered Steel. These games are almost locked when this card resolves, and even without the spell, the deck can still function. Being able to act fast is what is needed in this format, and this deck does it best. As a result, this deck doesn’t have any bad matchups. It’s favored against everything in the format as long as its draws are reasonable.
Land flood/screw is a very real problem. Many of the spells are very weak on their own, so drawing too many lands without a Tempered Steel can be very embarrassing. There is also a choke point when stuck on two lands. Always having the opportunity to cast Tempered Steel in the early game when drawn is very important.
- 1 Grim Lavamancer
- 4 Bloodghast
- 4 Gatekeeper of Malakir
- 4 Vampire Lacerator
- 4 Kalastria Highborn
- 4 Pulse Tracker
- 3 Viscera Seer
- 2 Hero of Oxid Ridge
Vampires is a very strange deck. It is sometimes just a terrible choice or can be very good. It always depends on what people are playing. It is great right now if people are going to be playing Tempered Steel and Caw-Blade. Vampires is very good against both decks if people are not prepared for the matchup.
This deck is also great against U/R Twin. It is just very difficult for the deck to get the combo assembled and try to deal with the onslaught that this deck brings. I have had great success with this matchup.
Hero of Oxid Ridge is not the most stable card for this deck, but does give it a good chance at beating matchups it would otherwise have trouble with. The mythic rare can come down and deal 5-8 damage on its own on turn 4. This helps out in the Valakut matchup, which can be a bit difficult.
I am not sure how good Grim Lavamancer is in this deck, but it might deserve more slots. Right now I just want to test the card out in a few slots in case it isn’t great. It might even replace Viscera Seer since this is by far the weakest Vampire in the deck.
Aggressive decks are in good position right now. Many decks are not prepared to race even though they are trying to be aggressive as well. Very strange format.
Vampires is a very consistent deck that can deal a good amount of damage fast. The creatures also serve multiple purposes, giving it reach when a game gets tied up. The metagame is not prepared for this deck. It has not had much time in the sun lately but can come back and be a great choice.
It still is closer to a Block deck than not. Being forced to run non-Vampire creatures makes for some very unusual draws. It can also have creature-light hands if built incorrectly.
Vampires has the same problem as Tempered Steel. Land-heavy draws are very difficult to win through.
#4 RUG Twin
- 2 Solemn Simulacrum
- 4 Birds of Paradise
- 1 Acidic Slime
- 4 Overgrown Battlement
- 1 Tuktuk the Explorer
- 2 Frost Titan
- 1 Molten-Tail Masticore
- 1 Urabrask the Hidden
- 2 Spellskite
- 4 Deceiver Exarch
- 1 Phantasmal Image
I have not been a big fan of many of the Splinter Twin lists until I saw Aaron’s version. This list not only has great proactive things to do when the combo is not around, but it has maindeck creatures that stop other combo decks.
Overgrown Battlement is a great card to be playing instead of Lotus Cobra. Cobra was never really needed since the deck was not about raw power but consistency. Overgrown Battlement can also engage in combat without dying.
The one problem with his decklist is that he is running three each of Ponder and Preordain. I cannot honestly tell you which one is better in this deck, but I can tell you a split of 3-3 cannot be correct. Splitting up removal can be a very smart way of not flooding on the wrong removal, but having these cards as three-ofs is foolish. One has to be better than the other.
I would guess that Preordain might be slightly better, since the deck does not shuffle much; when it does, the pilot is probably winning regardless of the card’s being Preordain or Ponder since Birthing Pod is active.
The reason I like RUG Twin over the traditional (combo only) lists is because having a plan B is becoming important. Most decks have a strategy to beat the combo in the maindeck or at least sideboard that makes winning with the combo not always an option.
This last week in Seattle, Matt Nass was playing against Edgar Flores in the top 4 of the Standard Open. Even though Matt was able to get through most of his deck, he was not able to deal with a small handful of spells to stop the combo. Spellskite backed up with a counterspell and Into the Roil was enough to leave the game unwinnable. This decklist at least has the option to take the game down a different path when it needs to.
It is also possible to put pressure on the opponent with creatures, making it easier to resolve the combo, since they will have to deal with other parts of the deck.
Birthing Pod decks have the ability to solve many problems, since there are so many one-ofs in the deck. This gives the pilot a ton of play in games. It is a very proactive deck, which means it will always be doing something.
These decks also can have very schizophrenic draws because of how many one-ofs and different combos are inside it. Not only do many of the cards not work together, but drawing multiples of many cards is bad. The card-sifting can help, but how much time is wasted trying to smooth out the draws?
#5 Mono Red Variants
I have to eat my own words on this one, but I don’t even know why. Last week I said that this deck would not put up any results, yet this last weekend, the exact opposite was proven. Multiple different Mono Red decks posted great results all over the globe.
I know that these decks are very fast and can be powerful, but I think their results hinge on how much hate is in the metagame. It seemed that two weeks ago people were prepared for the matchup, but then they decided to leave the hate home for last weekend. I guess red might be very similar to Dredge in that it will always be good when people don’t expect it to be.
I personally would not play the deck in a tournament but do not fault anyone for doing so. Personally this deck does not make my top 5, but results prove it deserves to be here.
One thing I would look into is playing Immolating Souleater if people continue to play Timely Reinforcements. Dropping this creature on turn two and attacking for as much as possible not only leaves most white decks not able to recover, since Kor Firewalker is being played less, but they will not be able to gain the precious six life that Timely Reinforcements is designed to do.
Winning games when hate is not as high and proving me wrong.
The format has infinite cards to deal with this deck.
These are the only decks I would even consider playing right now. Everything else seems weak to me. This is what I would play if I were competing this weekend.
I have never been a fan of only playing 26 lands in this deck. I would always run 27. This is very close to what Edgar Flores built for last week. I like what he started, but I also love a couple Hero of Bladehold. They really do give the deck another element and can steal games with Spellskite in the main.
I also believe that Kor Firewalker is important in this deck. I might be wrong, but Mono Red seems to be on a rise, and it is so powerful in that matchup.
Thanks for reading!