Preparing For Week 1 Of Core Set 2020 Standard

What Standard deck would you take to battle at SCG Worcester? Seven SCG personalities have made their choices. Vote for your choice at the end!

Welcome to What We’d Play! With SCG Worcester this weekend, many are unsure what they’d play in such a high-profile tournament, especially one with new cards from Core Set 2020. That’s where we come in and let you know what we’d play and why we’d play it. Hopefully this last-minute advice aids in your decision making! Be sure to vote for who you agree with in the poll at the end!

Shaheen Soorani – Esper Midrange

I know it feels like a cop-out, but Esper Midrange is still one of the most powerful decks in Core Set 2020 Standard. There’s no shortage of value from the new Elementals wave that Core Set 2020 brought us; however, Esper Midrange does it best. The creature package lines up well against the new tribal threats and the Planeswalkers are topnotch.

It will take quite a bit to move me off the best shard there ever was and ever will be. Control got significantly worse with the additions of Core Set 2020, so I will place my bets on the midrange cousin. The differences between the gameplay of Esper Control and Esper Midrange is minor, but the chunkiness of Esper Control has finally pushed it from one of the top competitive options.

Although Esper Control is good against aggro decks still, it wasn’t a clear favorite against the midrange of old. With most midrange decks leaning heavily on creatures with enters-the-battlefield triggers or devastating planeswalkers in the early-game, this is not the environment for Teferi, Hero of Dominaria to be the sole win condition.

Sleeve up your old Esper Midrange deck with confidence, my friends.

Autumn Burchett – Mono-Blue Aggro

I talked about Mono-Blue Aggro a lot in my most recent article. Whilst I largely avoided registering the deck for tournaments throughout most of War of the Spark Standard (though I do think it was at least underrated during that time period), I’m currently of the opinion that the deck has all the tools it needs to be actively good again. Core Set 2020 was incredibly kind towards Mono-Blue, most notably giving us Spectral Sailor, which plays very well both in the early-game due to having flash and in the late-game due to its potent activated ability. Meanwhile the new sideboard cards help solve a bunch of problem matchups, in particular giving you actual game against Mono-Red Aggro thanks to the help of Cerulean Drake and Aether Gust.

We’ll have to see how the metagame settles to know whether the deck is well-positioned in the coming weeks, and the threat of Shifting Ceratops is something to be aware of, but for this first weekend of Core Set 2020 Standard, I think it seems like a great choice. I’m excited to play the deck against Esper Control and Simic Nexus, which were the two best decks at the end of last Standard. The Vampires matchup is easier than the Mono-White Aggro matchup ever was, and a pile of counterspells is just generally good against fresh, untuned brews.

Bennie Smith – Pitch Jund

I’ve long been a fan of land-based strategies in Standard, and I’ve been noodling and nibbling around the edges of something cool ever since the explore creatures popped up in Ixalan and Rivals of Ixalan. On the eve of their rotation, I think we might have finally gotten there.

Assuming it deals combat damage, Neheb, Dreadhorde Champion lets you pitch cards into the graveyard and in exchange you can draw cards and get a bunch of red mana. Cavalier of Flame lets you pitch cards into the graveyard and in exchange you can draw cards to replace them. Between the two of them, you will presumably toss some number of lands into the graveyard, especially if your explore creatures are hitting lands more quickly than you can play them out. That makes Cavalier of Flame’s death trigger a way to deal a significant amount of damage to your opponent and any planeswalkers they have lingering around. This, plus discard triggers from Glint-Horn Buccaneer, provides explosive reach that can kill someone out of nowhere, and that’s exactly the sort of potential I want an otherwise grindy midrange deck to have.

World Shaper’s death trigger is a bit at odds with Cavalier of Flame’s death trigger, but if they both die at the same time, you can stack the triggers and get both benefits. Both Cavalier of Flame and Glint-Horn Buccaneer, along with the single copy of Living Twister provide excellent mana sink options for a huge rush of mana from World Shaper bringing back a bunch of lands.

God-Eternal Bontu provides a sticky threat that’s also a nice way to sacrifice either World Shaper plus a bunch of lands, Cavalier of Flame, or all of the above, to benefit from death triggers and draw some cards if your opponent isn’t just dead.

Want to have your lands dance in and out of your graveyard while dealing damage to your opponents’ faces at SCG Worcester? Give Pitch Jund a whirl!

Dylan Hand – Simic Nexus

I wrote about updates to Simic Nexus on Monday, as I was very impressed with what Core Set 2020 had to offer for the deck. Most of these options came in sideboard color hosers, like Cerulean Drake, Aether Gust, Shifting Ceratops, and Veil of Summer. These cards all solve a lot of problems that Simic Nexus has had in previous Standard seasons. Veil of Summer in particular has been unbelievable almost every time I’ve cast it, countering Thought Erasures, winning counterspell battles, protecting Wilderness Reclamation from Mortify, and even stopping Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord from killing me with the three damage ability. It’s likely the card should be a four-of, in which case I’d shave an Aether Gust, but I think I like the five-by-three sideboard to account for a wider metagame, given this is a Week 1 Standard tournament.

I can’t really tell you what bad matchups Simic Nexus really has now, thanks to the new sideboard options. Mono White / Azorius Aggro is probably up there, but even then, the added consistency the deck has now thanks to small upgrades like Temple of Mystery makes it so you tend to hit what you need a bit faster than you used to. Additionally, the popular Boros Feather and Temur Elemental decks are incredibly solid matchups, as these decks in their current forms are just not at all equipped to beat Simic Nexus.

Much like Humans is my Modern pet deck of choice, Nexus of Fate decks – their countless forms throughout the last year – have been my Standard pet deck by a mile. The play patterns the deck introduces has been very fun to learn, despite what others will say, and I’ll actually miss this deck quite a bit. I’ll be playing this deck for the third straight Week 1 Standard Open in a row, and highly suggest you join me if you want to win the event.

Corey Baumeister – Orzhov Vampires

Orzhov Vampires have been all the rage with the edition of Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord. The previously dead tribe has been given new life with this incredible planeswalker. Being able to cast Sorin on Turn 3 and draw multiple cards with Champion of Dusk is about the most busted thing you can be doing in Core Set 2020 Standard. I wanted to make sure I could maximize pressure as well as have key pieces of removal against the format’s biggest threats, and I think Orzhov has the best options in that department.

In Week 1 of a new Standard format, I’m a firm believer in being proactive and low to the ground. There’s going to be a lot of players looking to play the big powerful spells like Nexus of Fate and over-the-top Risen Reef strategies. Just do what Vampires do best – turn them into the undead before they know what hit them!

Todd Anderson – Boros Angels

This deck is pretty insane considering it’s utilizing a lot of relatively new cards that haven’t been explored much. The addition of Bishop of Wings gives you a lot of life against aggressive decks, and it occasionally goes bananas with Resplendent Angel, though the combo isn’t a one-two punch. Boros Angels has traditionally been good against green decks featuring a ton of enters the battlefield abilities, but that was mostly because of their ability to maindeck Tocatli Honor Guard. It might be time for that once again. It’s really difficult to kill since it has such a high toughness and gains a bunch of life, allowing your flying creatures to get the job done in the face of a lot of pressure from the opponent.

I like the adoption of Feather, the Redeemed and Reckless Rage as a core removal package, as well as Feather being another solid three-drop. Any Angel is a good Angel with Lyra Dawnbringer, and Feather can really make your opponent sweat. If they don’t kill it, you might just obliterate them with a double Reckless Rage! If they do kill it, the rest of your better cards are less likely to get the axe. And after sideboard, having Gods Willing to continuously protect your bigger threats is huge. I really like this hybridization between the Feather and Angels decks.

Boros Angels is proactive, great against aggressive decks, and has enough combo potential with Feather to provide you with some overwhelming starts. You can lean aggressive with Adanto Vanguard into a solid three-drop creature, or you can go pretty long with your late-game flyers. We’ve seen Boros Angels on the big stage before, but in a much different form. This iteration is clean while also giving you a bit of complexity. And for a first-week strategy, it has a lot of legs.

Brad Nelson – Simic Ramp

For a week now, I’ve struggled with the need to test Modern and Modern Horizons Limited for Mythic Championship IV, but ultimately spending my time trying to understand Standard. I did this solely because I couldn’t find a way to win. I don’t know what it was, but I was losing with everything except for Boros Feather, which I wasn’t even that happy about. Things were pretty bleak until I saw this tweet:

I’m only ten matches in with the deck, but I know there’s something here. If I were heading to SCG Worcester this weekend, this is the deck I’d play and it’s not close. I’d start working on it now, as I’d be shocked if there weren’t ways to improve this deck. I’ll also be writing more about this deck tomorrow, so my list might change a little. Make sure to check that article out, as it will also come with a sideboard guide.