Standard: First Looks At The New Format

Collins has a few early archetypes that were made possible by the new set! Will any of these decks conquer the Standard third of SCG Worcester this weekend?

Core Set 2019
has been released on Magic Online, which means that we get our first look
at the new decklists that people are trying out with the new set. I was
excited to see what interesting ideas people had, and I’m happy to say that
I was not disappointed.

Here are some of the highlights from the first posted 5-0 decklists from Core Set 2019.

Zombies are back! With the release of Amonket, Zombies had their
time in the sun and dominated Standard until Shadows Over Innistrad rotated out. It looks like they are poised
for a comeback, because Core Set 2019 has certainly delivered for
the tribe.

Tinefol_Ru’s take on Zombies is chock full of new cards. Diregraf Ghoul and
Graveyard Marshal allow the deck to get boots on the ground very quickly,
and the rest of the deck is full of enough anthem effects to make sure
those early beaters are going to get quite beefy very quickly.

Death Baron also ensures that your Zombies are going to be able to punch
through any blockers, no matter how large. This is a very important and
powerful effect for this style of beat down deck.

One of the biggest strengths of the old Zombies deck was its ability to go
long and generate a ton of value from cards like Cryptbreaker and Diregraf
Colossus. While we no longer have access to those cards, you should not
underestimate the new version of Zombies’ ability to generate value in a
long game. We still have access to the recursive threats in Dread Wanderer
and now Scrapheap Scrounger, and we also get access to Graveyard Marshal,
which appears to be an excellent engine the longer the game goes.

Another big highlight of this deck is Liliana, Untouched by Death. This is
exactly the style of deck that this Liliana wants to fit into. Its general
game plan is to be aggressive out of the gate and put a lot of pressure on
the opponent, so the life drain from Liliana’s plus is going to be real
pressure that your opponent isn’t going to be able to ignore. When the game
goes late and you have filled up your graveyard, untapping with Liliana and
using her -3 ability can be game-ending if you have enough mana to cast
even just three or four Zombies from your graveyard.

I’m very excited about this archetype, and believe it will be a very real
player in Standard moving forward.

People have been trying out Grixis Midrange shells for a while now in
Standard, and it seems as though the deck has been missing that little
extra punch it needed to push it over into an excellent archetype… until

Nicol Bolas, the Ravager has arrived, and he’s going to make his impact on
Standard known. I expect we’re going to be hearing a lot from this guy in
Standard moving forward.

While the fact that Nicol Bolas can transform into a nearly unbeatable
Planeswalker is definitely cool and flashy, I don’t really believe that is
the main reason why we should be playing this card. Having a four mana 4/4
flying creature that makes your opponent discard a card when it enters the
battlefield is much stronger than people expect. It puts a very real threat
on the battlefield, and is always going to be at least a two-for-one,
unless your opponent is hellbent. In which case you’re likely to be in a
fine spot regardless.

Standard is in a spot right now where it’s very important to utilize all of
your cards effectively, and part of that means making your land drops up
your curve and on time. Having to discard a card to Nicol Bolas is a very
real downside, and it usually is going to mean you might not have enough
gas to keep up against a grindy value deck such as Grixis Midrange, or
you’re going to stumble for a bit on land drops and could easily just die
to a 4/4 flier.

Additionally, Nicol Bolas, the Ravager is a must-kill threat. If the game
ever goes long enough for the Grixis player to flip Nicol Bolas into its
planeswalker side, the game should end in short order.

It appears as though some people are so high on Nicol Bolas, the Ravager,
that CLYDE THE GLIDE DREXLER is willing to try to splash it in his (almost)
Mono-Red deck!

This decklist is awesome. At first glance it looks like your usual Mono-Red
deck, curving Soul-Scar Mage into Scrapheap Scrounger into Goblin
Chainwhirler. But we’ve managed to also fit in Nicol Bolas, the Ravager and The Scarab God! If that isn’t a testament to the power of
these cards, I don’t know what is.

The usual danger with a decklist like this is that the mana can sometimes
be nonfunctional. But the mana here actually looks pretty clean. I can see
many games with this deck where a large number of your lands enter the
battlefield tapped, which isn’t ideal for a traditional Mono-Red aggressive
deck. But this deck has so much power built into it that it’s more than
happy to take things into the long game and grind out the opponent.

The idea of activating The Scarab God, returning Nicol Bolas, the Ravager
to the battlefield during my opponent’s draw step gives me chills. Count me

It feels a little strange to see an Oketra’s Monument deck in the Goblin
Chainwhirler format that we’re living in, but the power of this Mono-White
Monument deck shouldn’t be ignored. This can generate a ton of value off of
these creatures, to where if you end up losing a few 1/1s to a Goblin
Chainwhirler, I don’t expect it to matter too much.

When Mentor of the Meek was first previewed, I was excited to see a
resurgence of an Oketra’s Monument style aggressive white deck, and this
decklist certainly delivers. All of the creatures in this deck have power
two or less, which combos perfectly with both Mentor of the Meek and our
new buddy, Militia Bugler.

Militia Bugler effectively gives this deck a ton of extra looks at finding
the very powerful engine cards in this deck, such as Angel of Invention and
Mentor of the Meek. After sideboard, it even lets you find powerful
sideboard cards in Kinjalli’s Sunwing and Baird, Steward of Argive.

I can easily see this deck presenting game states that are insurmountable
by many of the decks in Standard without access to some kind of wrath

We’ve been seeing more and more Knights printed in recent sets, and it
appears as though it’s finally time for all of those Knights to come
together. The average power level of all of the creatures in this deck is
very high, so I’m not at all surprised to see this list do well in the new
Standard. The general recipe of powerful spells and a good curve is hard to
go wrong with.

We even get access to a few new and exciting cards with this list.

This decklist appears to be the perfect home for Ajani, Adversary of
Tyrants. It has excellent ways of utilizing the +1/+1 counters since you’re
generally always going to have bodies to put them on, and there are a ton
of good targets for the -2 ability.

We have known that History of Benalia is a very strong card for a while
now, but this deck really pushes that over the top. The downside of History
of Benalia in the past has been if they’re able to deal with your Knights
before it reaches its third chapter, you lose out on that value. But with
this deck, you are way more likely to have more Knights for it to pump. If
you have enough Knights, a History of Benalia reaching its third chapter
could be game-ending.

History of Benalia even works exceptionally well with Valiant Knight. On
curve, you get up to the third chapter of History of Benalia on your fifth
turn, just in time to be able to activate the double strike ability of your
Valiant Knight. While this is certainly reaching Magical Christmas Land
territory levels of combo, it doesn’t seem that unlikely that this could
come up, and puts your opponent under a lot of pressure to remove the
Valiant Knight.


All in all I’m very happy to see so many new cards seeing play from Core Set 2019, and have very high hopes for a healthy Standard
format moving forward.