I really like starting off formats by looking at them as a function of
Just like we could look back to Return to Ravnica whenGuilds of Ravnica was released, we can look back toGatecrash now that all ten shocklands are in the format with Ravnica Allegiance.
That’s all three-color decks. In fact, skimming all the way down on
decklists, maybe 10% of the top finishers were two-color decks. The best of
that group? People playing sixteen basics of one color, then eight dual
lands to splash another.
What does that mean for 2019? Unless you’re playing one of the mono-color
payoffs from Dominaria, you should start Ravnica Allegiance Standard with a three-color deck. Don’t try to
use Crackling Drake as an excuse, I registered that card and Settle the
Wreckage just fine without Hallowed Fountain so now it should be borderline
free to do so.
That still leaves us with ten trios to select from.
Since it isn’t even week one of the format, why select? Here’s the deck I
would play for each three-color combination in Ravnica Allegiance
Listen, I told you I was going to give you the best deck for each trio. I
took Emma Handy’s
maindeck from last week
I added Todd Anderson’s sideboard
. The biggest change I made was adding more lands, because Growth Spiral
with 24 lands cannot be correct.
Wilderness Reclamation is everything it’s advertised to be and more. If you
want the live show of what it can do, just check out Todd Anderson playing
his Temur Reclamation deck against Ross Merriam on VS Live! last week.
If you want the analogy, it’s way too easy to use double your mana on
instants. In practice, this is just Mirari’s Wake, a World Championship
dominating control engine, but with the Urza’s Saga “untap all the
lands you cast this with” mechanic that was laughably broken. You cast
Wilderness Reclamation, then you still have Settle the Wreckage up.
This deck has issues that can be attacked, all explained via Niv-Mizzet,
Parun. The plan of looping Nexus of Fate is pretty bad against a resolved
Niv-Mizzet, Parun, putting you behind in control mirrors.
The other issue is the reason why so many decks faltered against
Niv-Mizzet, Parun. All the functional cards in Bant Nexus are spells. You
can bottleneck the deck with a lot of the typical anti-control cards like
Negate, Spell Pierce, and Duress. It has sideboard creatures to try and
avoid this, but none of them are close to the level of Niv-Mizzet, Parun.
Now that we left the Kaladesh days of cascading threats, almost
none of the creatures in Standard really are, except Niv. Jeskai can just
slam Niv-Mizzet against half the decks in the format and put them in answer
or death mode, and Bant Nexus must run through so much more work.
Still, it’s week one. People won’t have their decks and sideboards in
order, and that’s good enough for me.
Another Ravnica Allegiance card that immediately impressed me was
Hero of Precinct One. I watched William Jensen stream a Mardu list with it,
which I later learned was designed by Nick Prince of recent Song of
Freyalise Selesnya fame.
Ari Lax (@armlx) January
It’s way too easy to build a deck where you just get a Soldier token
whenever you cast a spell, and that is way too easy to abuse.
- 2 Dauntless Bodyguard
- 3 Emmara, Soul of the Accord
- 1 Boros Challenger
- 2 Trostani Discordant
- 1 Tajic, Legion's Edge
- 4 Pelt Collector
- 4 Gruul Spellbreaker
- 4 Zhur-Taa Goblin
- 4 Hero of Precinct One
Naya Aggro is easy. You take the best multi-colored cards and build a deck.
In this case you get a bunch of solid bodies, token makers, and really good
go-wide payoffs. Heroic Reinforcements is super dumb with Hero of Precinct
One, and Trostani Discordant is accessible via the spell-lands of Flower
and Legion’s Landing.
I split the one-drops across colors to minimize the really bad land
permutations. Pelt Collector is better than Footlight Fiend, and that
pushes Zhur-Taa Goblin as a 3/3. Riot isn’t a trigger, but alters the
creature as it hits the battlefield, so Pelt Collector tracks right if you
choose big over haste.
My issue with Naya is the lack of interaction. None of these cards is going
to break up a good Wilderness Reclamation hand, so you just have to kill
them. I’m willing to try Cindervines, but I make no promises it works.
Jund Cards You Own
Or maybe you don’t own these. I don’t know, here’s a bunch of good cards in
- 2 Carnage Tyrant
- 2 Wildgrowth Walker
- 4 Merfolk Branchwalker
- 4 Rekindling Phoenix
- 4 Jadelight Ranger
- 2 Ravenous Chupacabra
- 4 Incubation Druid
Rekindling Phoenix and Golgari cards are good. This isn’t new or flashy.
It’s just classic midrange. I assure you it is good enough to dunk on
people with week one decks because all the cards are good.
I wanted to try Gruul Spellbreaker, but that breaks up a lot of the current
early package. I also think you need to play Llanowar Elves with that card,
and that messes with your mana by forcing more Forests into it. That in
turn makes Rekindling Phoenix and Bedevil worse, and those are the reasons
to be Jund.
Growth-Chamber Guardian is the other new low-drop worth trying. Without a
direct synergy like Rhythm of the Wild the card is much less exciting, so I
stuck with Captain Medium Merfolk Branchwalker. Feel free to give it a go,
though you probably want 25 lands if you trim on explore.
Just remember to keep it on the aggro side. Jund can’t match the direct
card advantage of Hydroid Krasis unless you work on just killing your
If I play Steam Vents, the reason is probably Niv-Mizzet, Parun. Better
access to black mana just lets us protect Niv-Mizzet with better cards like
Thought Erasure, and I’m sure Crackling Drake doesn’t mind a partial
cantrip interactive spell.
If you already owned Izzet Drakes, congrats you still have a deck! You
might want to find room for a Fiery Cannonade in the maindeck, but the
general answer upgrade solves a lot of problems for the current stock lists
of this deck. Shock is a great way to exploit decks moving to Hero of
Precinct One and Judith, the Scourge Devil, almost to the point I don’t
want to even try Carnival as cheap removal.
People are going to be messing around with cards and short on good removal.
Crackling Drake seems better than ever in a fresh format.
I notably excluded new hotshot Pteramander from this list because I like
blocking with four toughness Drakes on curve. Pteramander is better suited
for the Arclight Phoenix lists of this deck, where mana efficiency is more
important than immediate battlefield presence.
I only have very minor changes I would make to the list that Gerry Thompson
offered up last Friday.
The maindeck is short about one card draw spell and one Settle the Wreckage
or Cry of the Carnarium that handles Adanto Vanguard and the rest of its
companions. I think the last Thought Erasure is the first obvious cut, but
I don’t know from there. It’s also possible you just don’t want all four
Kaya’s Wrath in favor of other sweepers.
The sideboard is about one copy too heavy on Thief of Sanity and Ethereal
Absolution, and a bit short on cheaper interaction.
That’s it. Traditional Esper Control just has a lot of good tools to work
with on every slot of threat, answer, card draw, and counter. You could do
much worse than to play it.
Back to that whole Nick Prince Aristocrats deck that looked great.
- 2 Elenda, the Dusk Rose
- 4 Hunted Witness
- 3 Imperious Oligarch
- 4 Judith, the Scourge Diva
- 4 Pitiless Pontiff
- 4 Gutterbones
- 4 Hero of Precinct One
- 4 Priest of Forgotten Gods
If Hero of Precinct One was among the best cards in Ravnica Allegiance, Judith, the Scourge Diva is not far behind.
Judith is also phenomenal with the Soldier tokens from Hero, so expect to
see them paired up in many decklists.
Another card my initial Aristocrats lists didn’t have previewed yet
that makes a huge difference is Priest of Forgotten Gods. That card lets
you jump the curve and directly makes Elenda, the Dusk Rose a real threat.
Priest lets you leverage your tokens in an attrition fashion and not just
the layered mass pump way that Judith, the Scourge Diva and Heroic
I don’t like the Mardu Humans deck that isn’t as sacrifice-heavy,
even if GAM Discord grinder Yoman5 does
. The deck’s curve is awkward, jammed up at three-drops that try to pay you
for a go wide strategy that the curve doesn’t support if you don’t draw
Hero of Precinct One. The sacrifice synergies actually give you something
bigger than just throwing creatures at your opponent, allowing you to
navigate the games you don’t curve out under a midrange deck.
The three-drop overload issue is also why I sidelined Gruesome Menagerie,
though I’m not entirely sure that’s correct. There might be a sweet spot
where you have a flat enough curve to support full rebuys on Gruesome
Menagerie but not so flat your deck is a clunk fest.
- 4 Llanowar Elves
- 4 Rekindling Phoenix
- 1 Nullhide Ferox
- 4 Gruul Spellbreaker
- 4 Skarrgan Hellkite
- 4 Growth-Chamber Guardian
- 4 Incubation Druid
Another 5-0 With RUG Monsters! Deck is straight fire
(literally dragons and phoenixes burn your opponents to death). Love the 8
red flyers and the impulses. Not sure if Ferox is the right call, should
probably be another impulse. https://t.co/JAGFUYR6P7
There’s a couple too many lands here, but besides that, it’s all good
Blue is probably the best color to pair with Gruul to cover the disruption
issue I mentioned with Naya. Negate and company punish the expensive but
powerful Wilderness Reclamation-related cards much better than Duress
The flaw with Temur is the lack of good removal for opposing larger
creatures and lack of natural card advantage. You’re going to have a rough
time with Ravenous Chupacabra and mirrors are going to be a mess. I think
some number of Carnage Tyrant might be in order as the big breaker.
Why not a Wilderness Reclamation deck in the Temur slot? While Explosion is
absolutely insane with Wilderness Reclamation, I don’t like the red removal
for that archetype. The white single card clean sweeps are just so much
better when you’re spending so many card slots on the non-interactive card
draw and mana aspects of the deck. Someone will figure it out, maybe as the
format condenses and you have the right removal exploits lined up, but week
one I’m not into this angle.
I know I said I had a deck for every trio, but I can’t endorse Abzan week
one. The field is undefined, and it is just less powerful than Naya or
Mardu as a go-wide deck, less aggressive than Jund as a midrange deck, and
the black disruptive elements are worse than a Bant or Temur deck.
Maybe in three weeks we will fall back into an established format where the
Nexus of Fate decks are pushed back and Ethereal Absolution or Profane
Procession or The Immortal Sun just crushes the world, but I’m not hoping
for that week one.
Like I said, the reason to play Steam Vents is largely Niv-Mizzet, Parun.
I’m back to Crackling Drake for the same reasons I liked it in Grixis. I
also think you need to really leverage Deafening Clarion to distinguish
yourself from Esper and Grixis, and that in an upgraded, faster format
Treasure Map is actually worse, as it invests cards and mana into no
battlefield impact. You will find Treasure Map in the sideboard to crank up
the heat on Nexus of Fate decks with other small threats and counters.
The rest is a bunch of small moves from older lists. I like Syncopate as
more ways to stop early Rhythm of the Wild or Gruul Spellbreaker. Lava Coil
and Shock are way better cheap removal against the new cheap creatures than
Seal Away or Justice Strike. Don’t try to sell me on Warrant; Azorius Charm
was only ever a tempo play and not the actual removal this list wants.
Maybe if you’re into Treasure Map you can try it as the tempo matters more,
but I’m not impressed by either side of that split card.
I think I was on the right path last week
with my Sultai Midrange deck. I think Frilled Mystic is a great card, and I
think Sultai is a solid home for it. I trimmed some of the nonsense from
last week’s build, added some more counters and other answers for
Wilderness Reclamation decks, and just envisioned it as a solid midrange
New Horizons feels like the lone loose goose left over, but there’s so many
double colored requirements that I think I’m fine with it. Plus, I can’t
imagine wanting to be a Hydroid Krasis deck without Incubation Druid and
this deck is nowhere close to Hadana’s Climb, so the B-tier way to cheat
+1/+1 counters onto Druid will have to do.
But…. What’s Your Choice?
I did offer up nine decklists, but you can only register one. What would I
be showing up with from this group?
Well… I also don’t have a solid answer yet, but here are some loose
Mardu Aristocrats, Temur Monsters, and Grixis Drakes are the more
proven frontrunners I would go to in the dark.
I would want to put a day or two into Sultai and Jund Midrange, but
both look really exciting and like the decks I want to succeed the
Bant Nexus and Esper Control seem like they both have a huge target
on their head, or at least Bant does and it splashes over to Esper.
Jeskai Control and Naya Aggro seem like the decks that are solid
shells, but they’re also the worst against an open field. Jeskai
doesn’t have the answer breadth of Esper or the raw power of Bant
but falls somewhere in the middle. Naya Aggro doesn’t have the
disruption of Mardu or the raw power of Mono-White Aggro. Taking
either of those is trying to strike a middle of the road success
path when it feels like you should take a strong stance in some
Still, if any of these decks won the event I wouldn’t be surprised. Or any
three-color deck, honestly. Two extra guilds of multi-colored cards just
adds a massive amount of power to a deck at the small cost of mana that
still works. Unless you have a real good reason to keep your mana stable
and skewed, just play better cards this weekend at #SCGINDY.