The Best Deck In Standard Right Now

Brennan DeCandio is putting up killer results online with this list! If you’re all about Standard, you need to have this archetype on your radar ASAP!

It’s been a whirlwind of a week for Magic with Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan happening and the focus being primarily on
Modern. However, if you’re here for a well thought out piece on Modern and
how diverse the format is and yatta yatta yatta, go somewhere else. I’ve
come to terms with the fact that people like Modern and also that nothing
should be added or removed from the current environment to make it better.
Modern is perfect and hopefully nothing printed in the coming sets ruins
that for those who enjoy the format.

That being said, I have my eyes set on Standard for the moment with the
majority of the PPTQs for the coming RPTQ season being Standard and want to
answer the bevy of questions surrounding what I believe is Standard’s best
deck for the weekend.

It’s no secret that I’ve become completely immersed in Rivals of Ixalan’s best card, Rekindling Phoenix. I’ve gone to
such lengths as adding it to basically every deck that can support its
color requirement.

Grixis Energy

made use of it as being a hard to deal with threat that usually paves the
way for The Scarab God to stick if answered with a Vraska’s Contempt. In

G/R Monsters

, Rekindling Phoenix is another hard hitting threat amongst Gods, vehicles,
and Scroungers, all of which are incredibly hard to deal with. All in all,
I’d be ready to face Rekindling Phoenix for the duration of its legality
since I can’t imaging it getting outclassed when it can stand up to the
likes of Chandra, Torch of Defiance and Hazoret the Fervent.

Despite all that, I think there’s more potential for Rekindling Phoenix in
other decks yet to be built. The deck I’m coming at you with is what I
believe to be the best in the current Standard format with the best results
I’ve had in recent memory on Magic Online.

This deck is an evolution of the deck that Matt Tumavitch brought to the
table at SCG Philadelphia where he and I played in the semifinals of the
event. A derivative of the G/R Monsters deck I built for the previous
weekend, this version of the deck takes a much more aggressive approach to
the archetype and builds upon some of the cross block synergies we have
available in Standard between the explore and eternalize mechanics.

The big bonuses to this deck over the Monsters version is the inclusion of
seven eternalize creatures that you can turn over with Merfolk Branchwalker
and Jadelight Ranger, giving you added value even against the most
removal-heavy decks out there. One difference with this deck over the
Monsters deck is that it has uses outside of just Rhonas the Indomitable
activations for lands six and beyond since the eternalize costs are so high
and offer so much dynamic game play. The threat of the buff from a
Resilient Khenra or Earthshaker Khenra’s ability to deprive a blocker can
really throw an opponent for a loop.

Lots has been said about Merfolk Branchwalker and Jadelight Ranger as well
at the explore mechanic as a whole, but giving selection and card advantage
to efficient creatures has always been a recipe for powerful cards in
Standard. I’d have loved to see an additional card or two graze into the
realm of the format to make cards like Shadowed Caravel and Wildgrowth
Walker have legs, but we’ll have to do with these two for now.

Building from Tumavitch’s version, I decided to include a card to help
shore up the deck’s greatest weakness, Hazoret the Fervent, with a God of
our own: Rhonas the Indomitable. While it seems strange to have a deck be
highly competitive and have literally no answer to a resolved Hazoret the
Fervent, which is the premier threat out of the format’s most aggressive
deck, the number of cards this deck has that lines up so well at either
stalemating or chump blocking it is quite surprising. Rekindling Phoenix
shines quite bright here for that very reason since your game plan is to
lock up the ground and then fly over to victory, and it does both buy time
and win the race!

The most underplayed card in Standard right now fits right into this deck’s
game plan since there are more four-power creatures than meets the eye. Of
course there’s the off chance your Jadelight Ranger becomes big enough but
also the times when you eternalize with either Earthshaker or Resilient
Khenra you now have nine damage coming at them outta nowhere. In addition
it’s being an impossible to deal with threat outside of an exile effect,
which are already taxed to the max when fighting against this deck.

Getting to a battlefield where you’re presenting multiple four-power
threats used to be an issue only solved by a card such as Bristling Hydra,
but that was sometimes vulnerable to Fumigate. Now with Rekindling Phoenix,
Rhonas the Indomitable can feel safe from having his friends swept up. Even
in some cases where a Rekindling Phoenix dies and leaves behind its egg and
is then exiled so you’re stuck with a measly 0/1 creature, Rhonas the
Indomitable can turbo charge that egg and have it swinging into the red

Rounding out the deck is a variety of removal spells best fit for the
format. Abrade is in there as the better Lightning Strike since we’re
seeing more and more Heart of Kiran as well as Aethersphere Harvester. One
newcomer to the format in terms of playability is Struggle. This card saw
highly fringe play last Standard format as an answer to various graveyard
strategies. While that bonus still exists for this card, its stock has gone
through the roof with people maxing out on copies of The Scarab God. The
rise of Struggle is also why I think we’ve seen a lack of God-Pharaoh’s
Gift decks around, since the reign of terror implemented from Harnessed
Lightning is nearly at its lowest point.

On top of being the home for many of Standard’s forgotten all stars, this
is the first deck I’ve seen that makes terrific usage for sideboarding in
Carnage Tyrant as an additional hard to deal with threat against the more
controlling decks in the format, whether they be actual Jim Davis playing
U/B Control or the variations of Grixis Energy that we’ve seen be quite
prevalent at Team Constructed events. This dino is resilient in all the
ways the deck is not. The maindeck has an insane resilience to sweeper
effects as well as one for one removal because of the inherent value the
cards generate. Carnage Tyrant, however, is one of the worst cards against
a sweeper but shrugs off even the most targeted removal such. Think
Vraska’s Contempt or Cast Out, spells that are traditionally fantastic
against this deck. Furthermore, with the decline of Temur Energy and no
card as good as Rogue Refiner, the amount of Vizier of Many Faces, which
was a trump card against Carnage Tyrant for blue mages, has drastically
fallen by the wayside.

A card I’ve been sleeping on since the release of Ixalan is
Atzocan Archer. While it looks like a marginally playable Draft uncommon
with some minor synergies with enrage, this little 1/4 that could does a
fantastic job at sniping some of the best aggressive cards in the format:

The two most aggressive decks in the format, Mono-Red and Mardu Vehicles,
all have highly powerful one-toughness creatures and can finish the game
with an Unlicensed Disintegration if the opponent deals with the early
threats and has to fight the heavier hitters with a creature of their own.
Atzocan Archer does a fantastic job at not only picking off an important
aggressive creature but blocking some of the more problematic attackers.
While seemingly innocuous, I believe it was the key addition to the deck to
help soften up the early game from the aggressive decks and give this deck
the time to set up when it comes time to start fighting the later game
cards, like Hazoret the Fervent.

Here’s a brief sideboard guide against some of the top decks at the moment
for those of you who might not have the hours to spend figuring it out
during the week and are looking to play the deck in some PPTQs coming up!

VS Mono-Red



Here we’re just trying to stabilize the battlefield as fast as possible,
and you should always prioritize removing their creatures rather than
developing your own if given the option during turns 1-3. Otherwise you
give them the ability to leverage various cards (like Shock) as huge tempo

VS Grixis Energy



This is a match all about value, and you just have to be able to beat them
down in the early game while managing their ability to draw cards off of
Glint-Sleeve Siphoner. While we’re removing Magma Spray since it literally
only has one target, it’s important to have the full amount of Abrade to
hit their early energy outlets. Struggle is at its best here dealing with
both The Scarab God and opposing Glorybringers easily.

VS Mardu Vehicles



We’re fighting a similar fight here like against Mono-Red, but they’re a
bit more vulnerable to removal than red is, and we need to only truly worry
about Heart of Kiran since very few of our early game cards line up well
against it aside from Abrade. They typically play fewer than four Hazoret
the Fervent, which gives us some breathing room in addition to their
manabase being an abomination. Typically, I’ve seen Mardu lose to itself
more than anything else so just do what you can and let the dice fall as
they may!

VS Approach of the Second Sun



People generally look at me funny when I think that this deck is favored
against Approach decks and mention how good cards like Fumigate and Settle
the Wreckage are against it. While I can honestly laugh when I hear that
they feel like the matchup is solved by them playing four copies of
Fumigate, Settle the Wreckage can be a bit annoying but by no means is it
lights out. One common play line you should learn to take is just to not
attack with all your creatures that are resilient to Fumigate when they
leave four mana untapped as to not get got by those cards. Time and time
again I’ll just be sure to attack with two of my three creatures or even
one depending on the situation. They do have to cast a seven mana sorcery
at some point and that’s somewhat difficult even with the seven life buffer
it provides. You shouldn’t be worried about the creature plan they might
bring to the table since you’re still packing removal in the form of
Glorybringer and Chandra, Torch of Defiance. My best advice might sound
harsh, but the best statement to remember when playing against a
Fumigate/Settle the Wreckage deck is “Don’t attack like an idiot” and
you’ll be fine.

Overall I’ve been very impressed with the deck and the package of
Rekindling Phoenix and Glorybringer as a whole. That one-two punch is
something we’re going to be seeing for a while, and I can’t wait to venture
into the lands of Dominaria and see what that world has to offer
for a deck like this. In the meantime though, it’s time to dust off the old
Modern decks in preparation for next weekend where I’ll be bringing you all
the details about what I plan on bringing to the table for SCG