New Standard, New Decks

The Standard rotation is nigh, and Peter Ingram isn’t wasting any time! What spins on old archetypes does he have up his sleeve, and what’s brand-new in his Magical universe ahead of SCG Dallas?

I recently wrote about the existing decks in Standard being transported into Ixalan Standard. This week, I’d like to talk about some new brews for new Standard!

Many sweet cards have been previewed, including awesome new cards as well as some reprints. Some of these reprints include:

I think these cards will be impactful on new Standard, and I arrange them in order of impact from left to right.

Lightning Strike is an arguable upgrade from Incendiary Flow, and instant speed is really powerful despite not having the exile text. I think Opt might be a stronger card than Spell Pierce; however, the reason I have Spell Pierce being more impactful is because I think it is the type of card that gives disruptive aggro decks the tools they need to be successful. Opt is a generic good card that will see lots of play, but Spell Pierce is really brutal when it matters.

My favorite card from Ixalan was also revealed, and that card is…

Six mana is a lot for a planeswalker. That being said, this card has a whopping eight loyalty after you make a Pirate! It answers creatures, artifacts, and enchantments! And then it gives you a bonus mana! This card is hands-down my favorite card in Ixalan, and I think it’s quite good. I’m very much looking forward to sleeving her up in the future. I also want to win the Invitational even more so I can make myself a Pirate token.

While some of the key dominant strategies will still be here from current Standard, Ixalan is going to shake things up tremendously. With Ramunap Red still assumed to be a dominant feature of the format, it puts pressure on new decks. Let’s take a look at some decks that I am really excited to try:

This is a bigger take on the red deck. Going from two to four with Wily Goblin is really nice to power out Chandra, Torch of Defiance. You can also go from three to five with Captain Lannery Storm to power out Glorybringer. I think there is a possibility that there is a mix between this and Ramunap Red that becomes the most viable red deck in Standard. Wily Goblin is a card I expect will do some powerful things in Standard.

This deck could also have sweepers in the maindeck depending on the expected metagame. I view this as a big controlling red deck that has a lot of reach in the late-game. Ramunap Red also has a lot of reach, so I’m not convinced this is a necessary step to take with the deck.

When thinking about other aggressive red strategies, my mind has been on a U/R Tempo deck that looks a little something like this:

Both Heart of Kiran and Kari Zev, Skyship Raider complement Jace, Cunning Castaway well.

This leads me to believe that the best shell for Jace is a Grixis deck that splashes Scrapheap Scrounger to maximize the looting ability. Jace has been getting a lot of hype from people, and I am curious to see if it will live up to it. I think there is a possibility this deck can be quite good, and having access to blue is really nice for sideboard cards like Spell Pierce.

This deck reminds me a lot of Ramunap Red, but it has a lot more play to it. I’m not sure if the mana is worth it, but I definitely think there is something here. I expect the tapped lands like Highland Lake and Forsaken Sanctuary to pop up a little more now that enemy colors only have one untapped multicolor land. Evolving Wilds is another card that may see more play now as a result.

There was a little Pirate synergy going on in the previous deck, so maybe it could go down that route. As for Pirates, this is currently what I’m thinking based on what we have so far:

Pirates remind me a lot of Faeries in a sense. The mana is interesting because I think the best Pirate cards are blue and black, but the best land is Spirebluff Canal. For that reason, I think I would want to try a Grixis approach and play the most powerful cards. I think your mana is fine playing three-color, and honestly not that much better as U/R. Black is looking to be a very important sideboard color. I’m also not sure Kitesail Freebooter is better than Duress, but it plays well into the Pirate themes.

Pirates likely will play in the disruptive aggro place. There are a lot of cards that chip away for tiny amounts of damage while keeping card advantage. Perhaps there is a more controlling version that plays fewer creatures and more spells to interact. I’m interested to see what happens with Pirates going forward as it’s my favorite tribe from Ixalan.

Another tribe that recently got some goodies in Adanto Vanguard and Legion’s Landing is Vampires.

Whenever I think of Vampires, I think of one of my favorite bands, The Mountain Goats. Do yourself a favor and listen to their musical genius. Also, if you’ve heard them on Jim Davis’s stream, it’s because I showed them to him.

Vampires looks to be one of the strongest tribes from what I’ve seen thus far. I think Adanto Vanguard is going to be a house against a wide variety of decks. Vampires seems like it’s being pushed in a go-wide direction with cards like Legion’s Landing and Sanctum Seeker.

There are a lot of synergy based cards in Vampires, but some of the cards are quite individually powerful. Duress is one of the better sideboard cards going forward, and the fact that Vampires naturally has access to it is quite strong.

I went with a list that sported predominantly white cards so I could play Shefet Dunes in support of the go-wide approach. It’s possible the Swamps should be Ifnir Deadlands, and you can try to play more black to support Gifted Aetherborn maindeck. I think Vampires has a lot of ways to be built and I’m curious to see which version of the deck succeeds.

I think there are a fair amount of midrange decks that could be viable. It’s hard to compete with decks like Ramunap Red and Temur Energy that can go really deep, but with cards like Vraska, Relic Seeker and Hostage Taker, maybe there is a Sultai strategy that can ride to the top. Finding new sources of card advantage is going to be somewhat of a challenge without Tireless Tracker.

One final deck I would like to approach is, well… Approach of the Second Sun.

I think U/W Approach has gained a lot from Opt and Search for Azcanta, despite losing cheap removal. I also added some Treasure Maps to help you dig for Approach and give you some much-needed bonus mana. I think the double-face artifact cards are really interesting and I’m curious which of them excites players most. I’m a pretty big fan of Treasure Map and Thaumatic Compass; what about you?

Perhaps there is an Esper option that allows you to play all of the answers. I think the mana is likely good enough for it with eight cycling duals and eight checklands. Maybe something like this:

Vraska’s Contempt is a nice catch-all, but this the only card that we’re sporting double black for. I think having black gives you a lot of room to build and play around with the deck.

You could try an Esper approach, but not having Fumigate for Carnage Tyrant is going to be a huge problem. As someone who thought U/W Approach was a weak deck choice in the previous Standard, I will definitely be toying around with this strategy with Ixalan.

I’m really excited to see how Ixalan plays out. I think there will be a lot of viable strategies worth exploring with the new rotation. Tribal sets in the past have had huge impacts on Constructed, and I don’t think Ixalan will be any different. I’m siding with Pirates when Ixalan hits; which Ixalan tribe are you siding with?