My Top 5 Standard Decks For SCG Philadelphia

Wyatt Darby knows a thing or two about winning big! Today he gives his Top 5 Standard decks for SCG Philadelphia. Hint: he’s a little higher on red than the rest of the field…

After what felt like an eternity of waiting, Throne of Eldraine is finally here, and much like the last few sets before it, it’s wildly shaken up Standard. With so many new and powerful cards to sift through it can be hard to know where to start, but fortunately for you I’ve been glued to my computer playing MTG Arena since the set released there a week ago. SCG Philadelphia will debut the format in paper, and today I’ll be sharing five decks I believe to be capable of winning the whole thing.

5: Cavalcade Red

Few things in life are as certain as me recommending red cards in the first week of a new Standard format. Exactly how to build the strategy has been complicated, though, with Eldraine introducing a powerhouse curve-topper in Torbran, Thane of Red Fell. You would think that competing with Experimental Frenzy would rule out the Dwarf Noble, but it has actually prompted me to shift my eyes towards what I previously believed to be a flawed version of the archetype.

Cavalcade of Calamity as a deck used to have a power problem, which is natural for a payoff that encouraged one-power, one-mana creatures. Synergy decks sometimes overcome this type of issue (see: Judge’s Familiar and Mono-Blue Devotion), but until Torbran came along, Cavalcade didn’t really have the redundancy of payoffs to make all these medium creatures worth it. Torbran is not just another medium piece of the puzzle, though; with an effective two points of haste per creature you control, he leads to a surprising number of Turn 4 kills.

The other reason I currently prefer Cavalcade to “traditional” red with Frenzy and Runaway Steam-Kin is the introduction of Food into the format. Chipping in for small increments of damage before just barely finishing with lethal burn isn’t particularly effective against those who bring Oko, Thief of Crowns and invalidate one of your burn spells each turn. Torbran and Cavalcade ignore this to some degree by simply overpowering for large chunk damage and ending the game before people can reasonably have the mana to gain any life.

4) Esper Stax

Every new set seems to have at least one card that slips through the cracks at first, either because it looks too finicky or there isn’t an obvious home. Doom Foretold takes that honor for Throne of Eldraine, but it didn’t take long for the card to be discovered. By splicing an artifact / enchantment subtheme using Dance of the Manse into the base of Esper, we have a powerful but flawed shell.

What makes the namesake enchantment so strong is just how much it punishes any deck that isn’t able to flood the field with permanents. Decks that cast one powerful spell in each of the early turns of the game crumble to the Esper player sacrificing cheap artifacts that already accrued their value while they lose significantly larger investments. If your opponent decides to stop making plays to allow you Doom Foretold to trigger, that is also a win for the control deck that is able to develop their mana and general gameplan in peace.

While there is undoubtedly some power here, I’m hesitant to wholeheartedly recommend the strategy. Esper Stax is vulnerable to aggression, as many early-games will devote multiple turns to playing artifacts that have no impact on the battlefield, and sometimes one sweeper isn’t enough to bail you out. The other point of tension is when you get Doom Foretold off Dance without your enablers. This doesn’t happen particularly often, but it’s worth noting that you are playing a control deck with the fail rate of a much more fragile strategy.

3) Golos Field

Golos Field is probably the deck on this list that I’ve played the least, as until recently it seemed like everyone had simply forgotten that the strategy still existed. While this isn’t a deck that I’ve played a ton, I’m happy to report that it both isn’t dead but even has some strong new tools from Eldraine.

My primary concern was that the departure of Elvish Rejuvenator would result in a damning loss of consistency in being able to find your Field of the Dead, and so far that hasn’t been the case. Once Upon a Time steps into that role, finding copies of Field while also grabbing Beanstalk Giant to ramp or Realm-Cloaked Giant to deter aggression. Even when cast at retail price, Once Upon a Time has been excellent, and I think this is one of the best shells to utilize the card.

The Giant package has also been quite impressive. In a deck that approaches 30 lands, having access to additional mana sinks is a huge value-add, as Golos is such a lightning rod for interaction that you seldom untap with it. When you do, though, having large creatures to hit with a Golos activation is quite strong.

This style of ramp deck does have a pronounced weakness to aggressive strategies, with most realistically castable sweepers costing five mana. Lovestruck Beast and Glass Casket provide enough defensive capabilities that I think this archetype remains playable, and the presence of the rest of the metagame playing strong anti-aggro cards like Oko can serve to help slower decks like this.

2: Simic Midrange

Surprise, surprise, Brad Nelson crushed it again. During a Fandom Legends tournament the first day of Eldraine’s release, he had an impressive run with an excellent build of Simic Midrange. For me, there is a ton to love here and a few unique things to point out.

The first aspect to highlight is just how much interaction we have available in this color combination. Wicked Wolf shines at keeping small creatures in check with its fight ability while also being a stalwart defender of your planeswalkers. Brazen Borrower and Oko, Thief of Crowns are a potent tag team for cards that demand more of a mana investment, bouncing or neutralizing them for a minimal mana cost. Voracious Hydra rounds out the interaction while doubling as a potent threat against anyone who leans on small blockers or damage-based interaction.

The real draw to Simic, and a card that you’re sure to see a lot of in the next two years, is Oko. The sheer amount of what this planeswalker can do is wild. He has the ability to punish more expensive permanents in the vein of Teferi, Time Raveler. Any deck trying to play expensive creatures or artifacts that need to survive a turn cycle to generate value will struggle in the face of being turned into a 3/3. Gilded Goose and Wicked Wolf utilize the repeated Food generation to truly shine, and the ability to steal small creatures works wonders to tag problem cards like Knight of the Ebon Legion or Golos, Tireless Pilgrim.

The only real update I’ve made to the deck is the inclusion of Tamiyo, Collector of Tales. Esper Stax is a worrisome matchup and there isn’t a better hate card that I can think of than Tamiyo. Shutting down Doom Foretold and Thought Erasure while accumulating card advantage is a potent package. This leaves Tamiyo as a needed role-player for as long as that variation of Esper is prominent.

1: Gruul Aggro

Finally, we have a deck that has long been dear to my heart, Gruul. It may be a surprise inclusion in this list based on how far away from competitive viability it was last Standard format, but just a few choice cards can change that dynamic wildly. Gruul happens to be a natural home for two of the most powerful cards from Eldraine, Questing Beast and Bonecrusher Giant.

Questing Beast is just absurd. While I normally pride myself on being more eloquent, it is difficult to gather words when looking at a card that does so much. Haste is a needed line of text on creatures that cost four mana and don’t generate immediate card advantage, vigilance makes racing against Questing Beast’s controller nightmarish, and the presence of deathtouch has turned Domri’s Ambush into excellent interaction. Killing planeswalkers for free is relevant in a format that is still very much about Teferi and Oko, and the ability to dodge Field of the Dead tokens is icing on the cake.

Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa did an excellent breakdown of Bonecrusher Giant, and after playing with the card, I am happy to report that it is as good as advertised. The ability to curve into itself as a two-mana Shock into a three-mana threat helps expand the range of hands you can keep, and the large power it provides allows for potent Domri, Anarch of Bolas fights.

Gruul does have an issue when it comes to two-mana plays. Growth-Chamber Guardian feels stronger as the amount of Legion’s End wanes in Standard, but beyond that it becomes a minefield of question marks. Robber of the Rich excels against Field of the Dead and Esper Stax, decks without early blockers that try to play the control role, but fails miserably against midrange green. The mana curve doesn’t contain enough four-plus-mana cards to make Paradise Druid excellent, and Zhur-Taa Goblin is the definition of medium. While these options aren’t ideal, I do think they pass the bar of playability and Gruul makes up for this with just how overpowering the top of the curve is.


There you have it: my five picks for decks to play at SCG Philly. Standard seems to be in a great place with a wide variety of decks and play styles to choose from. While the format will surely narrow a bit over time, I believe that the tools exist for some churn to happen at the top of the metagame, and I’m excited to see where it will go from here.