SCG Atlanta is coming up this weekend, and with the new release of Dominaria, Standard players have some adjusting to do.
It is already clear that Dominaria will have a large impact on the Standard format; I’ll be in the Standard seat in Atlanta, and all of the decks I have been testing with so far have been littered with Dominaria cards.
The following is a list of my current Top 5 picks for what I plan to play in Atlanta, given in no particular order. You’ll notice that all of these decks are relatively linear and proactive. For a Week 1 format, I typically shy away from playing any kind of reactive or control deck because it will always be more difficult to get a read on the metagame and you might come across archetypes that you aren’t prepared for. I would rather have my own strong proactive gameplan so that I don’t need to adjust too much depending on what I face against.
- 3 Skirk Prospector
- 4 Bomat Courier
- 4 Minister of Inquiries
- 2 Trophy Mage
- 4 Walking Ballista
- 4 Combat Celebrant
- 2 Vizier of Many Faces
- 4 Champion of Wits
- 4 Fanatical Firebrand
U/R God-Pharaoh’s Gift was the breakout deck of GP Seattle, solidifying in my mind that the deck was doing something more powerful than the rest of the format. I figured it would be a good place to start when testing in the new format, because it may still just be the best deck.
The card from Dominaria that I was excited to test out in this deck was Skirk Prospector. Mana constraints can definitely be a problem with God-Pharaoh’s Gift, since you’re trying to resolve a Gate to the Afterlife and activate it as quickly as possible. Not only does Skirk Prospector give you an extra mana to potentially cast and activate your Gate to the Afterlife on Turn 4, it also puts a creature in the graveyard and triggers the Gate’s loot ability on that turn. This can potentially make this deck even more explosive.
Another call to this deck for me was Fanatical Firebrand. I’m expecting to see a lot of Llanowar Elves this weekend because that card is extraordinarily strong in Standard. Fanatical Firebrand lines up very well against Llanowar Elves, so I think it’ll be a good weekend for the card. The Turn 1 play pattern of killing your opponent’s Llanowar Elves is even stronger in this deck than normal because you have an extra incentive to put creatures in your graveyard.
- 4 Llanowar Elves
- 3 Greenbelt Rampager
- 4 Resilient Khenra
- 4 Merfolk Branchwalker
- 3 Ghalta, Primal Hunger
- 4 Jadelight Ranger
- 4 Steel Leaf Champion
- 19 Forest
- 4 Hashep Oasis
I was surprised by the power of this Mono-Green Monument deck at the end of the last Standard, and it is definitely the most-improved deck with the release of Dominaria. The additions of Llanowar Elves and Steel Leaf Champion were exactly what this list is looking for. The deck has a couple of interesting angles of attack and a lot of synergy.
One of the basic plans of the deck is to get down a Rhonas’s Monument and use all of your creatures to buff up the creatures you have on the battlefield to punch through for a ton of damage. Llanowar Elves fits in perfectly with this plan. It allows you to get your Rhonas’s Monument down on Turn 3, and then you can even buff up the Llanowar Elves you have on the battlefield that turn with your remaining creatures.
Greenbelt Rampager serves a few interesting roles in this deck. At worst, it’s a three-mana 3/4, which is actually pretty good. The benefit of being able to thread those three mana into your curve also shouldn’t be overlooked. But sometimes you can get a lot of value off your Greenbelt Rampager.
You can use it for a whopping three Rhonas’s Monument triggers for just one mana each. That can help you push through a lot of damage. Other times you can cast Greenbelt Rampager with a Heart of Kiran on the battlefield, put the trigger on the stack, crew the Heart of Kiran, and then return the Rampager to your hand.
I have found that in this deck, Ghalta, Primal Hunger is a two-mana 12/12 a very high percentage of the time and often even comes down as early as Turn 4. Blossoming Defense goes along very well with Ghalta, because if you can ever blank your opponent’s Vraska’s Contempt on your Ghalta, the game should end quickly after.
G/W Tokens is another deck that has a lot of new tools to work with after the release of Dominaria. We were given access to a couple of new token makers, as well as another excellent payoff card.
In my experience playing the old version of this deck, often the first couple of turns revolved around setting up a large battlefield, and then later in the game you would close things out with a payoff card such as Appeal // Authority or Pride of Conquerors. Song of Freyalise works perfectly with this plan. The first two lore counters will allow you to use the creatures you have on the battlefield as additional mana sources to help you dump your hand more efficiently.
The keywords given with the last ability are perfect for our payoff turn. Our creatures gain vigilance, trample, and indestructible until end of turn. The trample is great to make sure we are pushing through damage with our pump spells that turn, and the indestructibility makes it so that we can feel much safer in casting our Appeal.
One of the weaknesses for this deck is any Mono-Red deck with Goblin Chainwhirler, so I want to be prepared in the sideboard. Lyra Dawnbringer will be an excellent inclusion in the sideboard of any white deck moving forward just because of how well it lines up against Mono-Red. It beats all of their fliers in the air and doesn’t die to any single removal spell they have access to. If you’re planning on playing white this weekend, I highly recommend you find space for Lyra in your sideboard.
- 4 Llanowar Elves
- 2 Siege-Gang Commander
- 1 Pia Nalaar
- 4 Glorybringer
- 4 Earthshaker Khenra
- 3 Resilient Khenra
- 4 Rekindling Phoenix
- 4 Jadelight Ranger
G/R Monsters is the other previously existing archetype set to get a huge increase in power from Llanowar Elves. All this deck wants to do is beat down with Rekindling Phoenix and Glorybringer as quickly as possible, and this is the best way to do it.
I really like Team5c’s addition of Seige-Gang Commander in this list. It’s another very powerful five-mana spell that is sure to have a large impact on the game. It likely will act as excellent reach for this deck, as well as a very resilient threat.
- 2 Pia Nalaar
- 4 Bomat Courier
- 3 Kari Zev, Skyship Raider
- 3 Hazoret the Fervent
- 4 Soul-Scar Mage
- 4 Earthshaker Khenra
- 4 Goblin Chainwhirler
If we want to be doing something proactive and powerful, there is usually nothing better than good old Mono-Red. It will likely be the perfect deck to prey on players trying out new strategies that haven’t quite been refined yet. Not only do I think this deck will be good for Week 1, but it also gets a new toy from Dominaria.
Goblin Chainwhirler will be one of the more impactful cards from Dominaria on Standard.
There are so many X/1 creatures floating around in Standard that Goblin Chainwhirler is very likely to hit something on your opponent’s side of the battlefield the turn it enters. Even if they only have larger creatures, the threat of it postcombat allows you to attack with your smaller creatures. Your opponents will have to respect the fact that their creatures may take an additional point of damage after they block, which I expect will make things much more difficult for them.
The combination of Soul-Scar Mage and Goblin Chainwhirler is super-strong. In that case, the Chainwhirler will permanently shrink your opponent’s creatures, making all future attacks much easier as well.
I’m excited to be playing Standard in Atlanta this weekend because I think Dominaria will have a major impact on the format. I’m very interested to see what everyone comes up with this week. Hope to see you there!