SCG Atlanta Review And The Era Of Big White

Gerry Thompson and Sam Black go head-to-head in a battle for your approval! Whose story are you buying as Dominaria goes to SCG Baltimore?

[Welcome back to

Fact or Fiction!


Gerry Thompson


Sam Black

are back to render their verdicts on five statements about the first

Dominaria Standard. Don’t forget to vote for the winner at the end!]

1. With TEAM5C’s Magic Online Standard PTQ win, G/W Midrange is
the deck to beat in Standard.

Gerry Thompson:
. One event isn’t a great indicator of anything, especially when three
major tournaments were happening on the same weekend. It’s difficult to
gauge how tough that PTQ was and how much people prepared for it, so I’d
wait to see additional results before drawing any conclusions.

If anything, the various flavors of U/W appear to be the deck to beat, as
it has been crushing all over the place. It’s also shown no sign of slowing
down anytime soon. With Seal Away, Teferi, Lyra, Raff, and History of
Benalia, white has enough useful cards to fulfill a multitude of roles.
Previously, they were mostly worse than U/B, but the tables have completely

White is the best, but the best color to pair with it isn’t green.

Sam Black:
. While the MTGO PTQ did seem more innovative than #SCGATL, it was still
just week 1 of Standard, which should never been taken as seriously
predictive of the rest of the season.

I believe that deck was untuned (it’s really hard for me to believe that
main deck Treasure Map is where a deck like that wants to be, and I love
Treasure Map), but I think it’s competition was as well. I think there are
a lot of powerful cards in Dominaria that people haven’t fully
explored and that Standard will look totally different by the end of the
Pro Tour.

Moreover, the simultaneous results in the Team Constructed open don’t offer
any supporting evidence for G/W. Instead, we see mostly old decks,
especially R/B Aggro and U/W Control, and despite those main deck Treasure
Maps, it seems like G/W would have a pretty hard time again U/W Control.

2. Though it was in five of the top 8 decks in the Magic Online
Standard PTQ, Lyra Dawnbringer overperformed last weekend and you believe
its dominance isn’t sustainable.

Gerry Thompson: Fact
. Lyra Dawnbringer is one of the best threats in Standard, especially
against the lower to the ground aggressive decks. At first, people didn’t
play anything to answer her specifically and were promptly punished. Now,
we see cards like Fight with Fire and a move back toward Unlicensed

While Lyra is a strong card, she’s beatable if people respect her. At this
point, I think people have learned their lesson that Baneslayer Angel is
good and they should have ways to remove it.

Sam Black:
. Lyra Dawnbringer is a great card, especially against Mono-Red Aggro. As
we can tell pretty clearly from the results, people haven’t really adjusted
to take it into account yet, since they’re basically just playing old

While one must imagine it will be a little less successful once people
respect and prepare for it, it’s a much stronger card than Regal Caracal
against people who cut removal, which makes it a much more punishing
sideboard transformation.

Ultimately, I think the format will correct for it a little, but I also
think U/W Control is well positioned and Lyra is the right card for its
role in the deck, so it’ll stay around just like other threats people gun
for, like Hazoret the Fervent and The Scarab God.

I also believe it will continue to show up in other white decks beyond U/W
Control, I just think that’s the white deck that’s best proven itself at
this point.

3. Though Karn, Scion of Urza had a modest first weekend in
Standard, you believe it underperformed and will become more dominant in
the coming weeks.

Gerry Thompson: Fiction
. Karn, Scion of Urza certainly underperformed, but that doesn’t
necessarily mean that it will be dominant. I would say that Karn is going
to see an uptick in usage as people begin to experiment with him more and
find good places to slot him in, but claiming it will be dominant is a

However, I do think that Karn plus removal for bigger threats such as Lyra
is a winning combination. We’ve seen Karn in some artifact-based strategies
and even in some aggressive decks that feature some artifacts, and it’s
looked great in both. Overall, those decks are more difficult to get right
on the first week of a new format, so they’ll only get better from here.

Meanwhile, the various Lyra decks don’t have much room left to explore.
It’s time for Standard to begin the process of evening out the metagame
share, and that typically involves playing non-white decks that will beat
up on the white decks. Naturally, some of those decks will involve Karn.

Sam Black:
“More dominant” is different than “dominant”-I’m not sure I’d call the role
I currently think Karn is most likely to fill at this point “dominant,” but
I think it will ultimately see more play than it did this week.

The reason I wouldn’t call Karn dominant is that I don’t think it’s a
broadly great main deck card; however, I expect it to ultimately become an
extremely widely played sideboard card-maybe every deck will have a couple
in their sideboard.

4. White (Seal Away, Settle the Wreckage, and Teferi, Hero of
Dominaria) has supplanted Black (Fatal Push, Vraska’s Contempt, and The
Scarab God) as the best complementary color to blue in Standard.

Gerry Thompson: Fact.
Black didn’t get any additional tools, Standard sped up making The Scarab
God less appealing, plus white received numerous upgrades. It’s official.

It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to play aggro, midrange, or control
because white is basically the best color for each. Meanwhile, black is
relegated back to being a support color.

Sam Black:
If it has, I think that grasp is tenuous-as people adjust to Lyra and
Teferi, they’ll get fewer free wins, but what I think will ultimately save
black as a color to pair with blue is access to Duress and Arguel’s Blood
Fast for the control mirror.

Historically, it’s been difficult for U/W Control to compete with U/B
Control, and I expect that trend to continue here.

5. Though it didn’t put up impressive results, Mono-Red Aggro is
still the best aggressive deck in the Standard.

Gerry Thompson: Fiction.
That honor goes to W/B or R/B. Both decks can present difficult to deal
with threats and have sufficient removal for handling Lyra and instant
speed Raffs. That versatility is what those decks need at the moment, and
it’s exactly what Mono-Red lacks.

Their transformational sideboard plan used to do a good job of juking
opponents and going over the top of them, but none of that stuff matters in
the face of History of Benalia and Lyra. What’s good against the aggro plan
is typically good against the bigger plan too.

Mono-Red didn’t put up impressive results because it’s not a very good

Sam Black:
Lyra and Seal Away are good enough against Mono-Red that I don’t think it
has the tools to stay on top, especially given the early success white is
seeing in this format.

The best aggro deck will need a better plan to compete against those cards
and Settle the Wreckage, which is honestly a tall order. Therefore, I think
we’ll see a lot more things like Karn in the sideboard. We might see aggro
decks bringing in answers to Lyra and trying to juke control decks that
side out too much late game to beat the expected aggressive threat they’re
facing, similarly to how I’ve beaten decks like that with Mastery of the
Unseen out of creature decks in the past.