Standard Decks With Core Set 2019

Owen has no intention of giving up his position as one of the best in the world. Accordingly, he’s worked hard on his head start on Core Set 2019 Standard! Here’s what he’s got so far…

The first card I saw when I opened the set list of Core Set 2019
was Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants, and its text box is just as impressive as
its artwork.

Winding Constrictor immediately comes to mind since the +1 ability closely
resembles that of the enters-the-battlefield ability from Rishkar, Peema
Renegade, already a notable combo with Winding Constrictor. Additionally,
it has the upside of pairing well with Winding Constrictor even when the
opponent kills it. For as long as Winding Constrictor has been legal,
players have been forced to adapt to its power; either kill it immediately
or hope to find a way around its continued advantage each turn, one that
requires no further mana investment.

I can already hear the skeptics who might look at this deck’s potential
manabase and call it risky, but it does have a few built-in advantages in
Blooming Marsh, Concealed Courtyard, and Aether Hub. The fastlands from Kaladesh are the best value dual lands you’re going to get right
now, so because Abzan is a three-color shell that can use multiple, it
could potentially live in a space that Temur Energy previously occupied
(though clearly not as powerful).

This is my own version of B/G Constrictor infused with white for Ajani,
Adversary of Tyrants. Most of it should look stock, but the main thing
about other Constrictor lists that confuses me to no end is why they don’t
play Scrapheap Scrounger.

Scrapheap Scrounger meets a standard of quality that I deem too high to be
excluded from a black-based aggressive deck in Standard. It even does
double duty against control, as it can turn Fatal Push from a dead card
into an almost counterspell-like effect when they go for a Seal Away or
Vraska’s Contempt on the Construct. Simply point the removal spell at your
own creature to neutralize the exiling effect on either removal spell,
something that constitutes for a huge part of the value of those cards. I’d
also like to add that once you play Jadelight Ranger and reveal Scrapheap Scrounger for the first time, it feels like everything in the world that
could be bothering you is all going to be okay.

This should be your level one Zombies list, but I’m uncertain if it’s
better or worse to splash for something like The Scarab God or maybe even
Abrade. Graveyard Marshal is the all-star addition the archetype needed to
get new life. Or new death? Undead?

I have no idea, Owen.

There were a few Pro Tours last season where I tested Zombies builds that
weren’t quite as strong as ones that ended up getting played in major
tournaments, but part of the fun of the Pro Tour is trying out all your
whacky brews because sometimes you strike gold and end up playing Temur
Emerge in a field of people who don’t believe Emrakul, the Promised End is
one of the best cards in the format. I loved Zombies, but I struggled with
it since it was missing a two-drop creature with raw power. I was so
invested in getting the deck to work and finding the two-drop that was the
missing piece of the puzzle that I eventually discovered Walking Corpse was
in one of the beginner’s decks. That meant it was Standard legal, didn’t
show up in mass release booster packs I would use for draft, and it’s
unintuitive that it’s legal so players may miss it entirely. I had a deck
with 4 Shambling Goblin, 4 Walking Corpse, and I splashed 4 Collected
Company. Poor Jelger Wiegersma played game after game casting Collected
Company and hitting two vanilla do-nothing Walking Corpses until he was
satisfied my idea was not suitable for Pro Tour play.

Hey, at least we worked as a team to eliminate it as an option!

Lord of the Accursed and Liliana’s Mastery are incredible cards and were
instrumental in Gerry Thompson’s upset victory over Yuuya Watanabe in the
finals of Pro Tour Amonkhet. If these two cards are strong enough
to defeat the former World Champion, Player of the Year, and easily in the
top five players in the modern era of Magic, you know they’re good. It’s
also worth mentioning that during that match, Yuuya was wielding
Aetherworks Marvel in combination with Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger,
something we all know now was one of the strongest decks in the history of

Finally we have old faithful: my Grixis Energy list I was championing
before Dominaria was released and The Chainwhirler ran
roughshod over the metagame, making a card choice like Dual Shot look
fairly foolish. I bring this deck back into the spotlight because it looks
like the perfect home for the newly printed Nicol Bolas, the Ravager. In
fact, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if you took my old list and cut
two copies of Gonti, Lord of Luxury and one copy of Nicol Bolas,
God-Pharaoh for three copies of Nicol Bolas, the Ravager and the deck would
hold its own against a tuned version of R/B Midrange. I’m not saying you
should take my list from three months ago and hope to be tier one
overnight, but I do believe Core Set 2019 has many tools to
revitalize old strategies and although it’s looking like The Chainwhirler will finish off Kaladesh-based Standard
with less of a fizzle and more of a bang, I say stay strong and explore the
new options. Nicol Bolas, the Ravager actually seems to check all the boxes
here as it’s an on-curve threat that produces card advantage and works
extremely well with The Scarab God. I’m already planning to use The Scarab
God to reanimate Nicol Bolas at the end of my opponent’s draw phase to lock
them out of a card, turning a game I’m 99% to win into 100%.

Now that’s what I call having fun playing Magic.

One time Corey Baumeister came up to me at a Grand Prix and wanted me to
settle a debate he had been having with his brother, Brad Nelson. He went
on to ask, “In Four-Color Energy, would you prefer to have two Scarab Gods
and one Glorybringer or just three Scarab Gods?” and it was clear to me the
two of them had gotten into many heated debates about it. I responded, “I
choose four Glorybringer” and he was visibly displeased.

I went on to elaborate that you don’t need to ask me what I believe the
best deck is because when I go to a live tournament, whatever I’m playing
is my way of betting my hard earned dollars on what I believe is best.
Those hard earned dollars, of course, go towards the cost of airfare,
hotel, tournament registration, and the cost of acquiring cards. People are
under the assumption that professional players get all the cards for free
and are paid to be at the events they play in, but that simply isn’t the
case. I live a full life with many responsibilities to different companies
in exchange for compensation, and at the end of the day, it’s up to me to
spend my own money going to tournaments, so I take on some risk each time I
show up at an event.

The point I tried to drive home to Corey was if you’ll look at the deck I
played at Worlds or Pro Tour Ixalan, I had four copies of
Glorybringer each time, and I didn’t put those cards in sleeves by
accident. I did it because I believed it was the optimal configuration to
lead to the highest win percentage against the metagame I expected. Why
argue about two versus three copies of The Scarab God when in reality it
should have been zero all along?

This weekend is US Nationals and for the second week in a row, I’ve made
the last minute decision to attend. I’m glamorizing my poor planning a bit,
but I’m still excited to play. The needle was pushed a bit more in the
direction to attend because I’ll have two byes which are used in the
Standard portion of the tournament, the area where I feel my edge is
smallest. There’s also a Dominaria draft, which I’m very excited
to play, as it’s a format Ultimate Guard Pro Team working with The Pantheon
has completely solved.

Normally I would see Nationals as an opportunity to get extra Pro Points,
but I’m already locked for Worlds and Platinum. I’m currently in third
place in the Player of the Year race with 63 Pro Points, and I would
usually take this opportunity to travel a bit harder and make a run at
winning the title for a third time to further demonstrate I’m one of the
all-time greats, but that dream is dead because my good friend Reid Duke is
in first place with 74 Pro Points. Since the final Pro Tour of the season
is Team Constructed, he and I will compete together as The Peach Garden
Oath. Therefore, we’re locked into earning the same number of Pro Points,
and I’ll be incapable of passing him. It would be an honor to win Player of
the Year again, but I’m pleased to report that from now until the team Pro
Tour, I will do everything in my power to help my friend win that
particular title.

To the competition? Good luck.