Where I’m Starting For New Standard

Full disclosure: Gerry doesn’t know what the bans will be, if anything. But you know what? We have a new set. We have an announcement coming. And we have a Pro Tour Champion who wants to build decks! It’d be criminal to stop him!

The smart money is on something from the energy package getting banned on
Monday. I’d say Attune with Aether is a smart guess, although Rogue Refiner
is another reasonable choice. Maybe both is better if WotC really wants to
stick it to energy.

Then what happens? Is Hazoret the Fervent or The Scarab God too good? Will
something else get banned? I have no idea, but we can basically assume an
energy card will get the axe. What does Standard look like without Temur
Energy, especially now that Rivals of Ixalan will be in the mix?

While an aggressive B/R Pirate deck might be where people start, those
people are wrong. Are any of the Pirates better than Hazoret the Fervent?
For those of you who dislike Soul-Scar Mage as much as I do, you now have
an alternative.

How many Pirates do you need to play Daring Buccaneer? Is trying to add
that card to Ramunap Red a smart thing to do? We played Village Messenger
before, and Fanatical Firebrand probably isn’t worse. If it is, it’s not by
much. Kari Zev, Skyship Raider is great and maybe we could play four

The really loose card that I’m not too fond about is Captain Lannery Storm.
It’s not the worst card of all time, but it’s certainly worse than
Rampaging Ferocidon or Ahn-Crop Crasher. Fifteen Pirates seemed like a good
number, but if I ever determine that I want fewer, Lannery is the first one
getting the axe.

Dire Fleet Daredevil is a very interesting card. It strikes me more as
something you would want access to in sideboard games when your opponent
has access to more removal. At that point, it’s fairly reliable as a
Snapcaster Mage. Sometimes you’ll nab an Opt, and getting their Attune with
Aether would be sweet, but I’m guessing that won’t be a possibility.

Rigging Runner is another Pirate you could play if you wanted to. Bomat
Courier is too good and you probably don’t want more than twelve one-drops.
Maybe some copies of Fanatical Firebrand could be Rigging Runners, as the
later copies of Firebrand are less than impressive.

I’m coming around on Rekindling Phoenix. It’s very difficult to both remove
the Phoenix and the token without trading two cards for it, which makes it
quite the threat. Additionally, it embarrasses cards like Fumigate.

Other than that, this Ramunap Red variant is more of the same, except you
get to upgrade and increase your one-drops however you see fit. Fiery
Cannonade might be unplayable now.

Will a Nekrataal spell the end of creatures everywhere? No, of course not.
However, it is quite good.

I messed around with decks like these all last season, but they were always
a little short. Energy wasn’t the worst matchup of all time and Ramunap Red
was tough, but B/U Midrange had a fighting chance against both. After
sideboard, it crushed any control deck.

Ravenous Chupacabra is a fine addition, especially when combined with The
Scarab God. Hostage Taker or even Gonti, Lord of Luxury are also fine in
that spot, but you’ll find that Ravenous Chupacabra is a more consistent
version of those cards.

You’ll find the 2/2 body to be surprisingly relevant, especially in a deck
that can reanimate it via The Scarab God. This deck sometimes wins by
creating an insurmountable game state, but chip damage is a win condition,
so having an extra body lying around is nice.

In a way, Jadelight Ranger is going to be what allows green decks to
survive without Rogue Refiner. It’s not Tireless Tracker, but it’s not
quite Borderland Ranger either. There’s a little bit of variance involved
since you might not get exactly what you want, but no option is truly bad.
Either you’re getting a 2/1 that draws two land, a 3/2 that draws a land
(and scrys 1), or a 4/3 that scrys 2, and all of those sound great to me.
Double green in the casting cost is prohibitive, so you have to do a little
extra work to get there on Turn 3 every game, but it’s well worth it.

Jadelight Ranger being a Merfolk is great, but that’s also a red herring,
as it’s great everywhere.

The successor to Temur Energy? Honestly, this deck doesn’t look bad to me.
You lose out on blue sideboard options, as the mana is too awkward without
Attune with Aether to reliably cast Whirler Virtuoso early on. I think
there are some problems lurking under the surface though.

Assuming Attune with Aether and Rogue Refiner get the axe, Energy decks
lose a lot. Attune with Aether and Rogue Refiner both do their part to add
consistency. The deck already played some of the best cards in the format,
and those two did wonders to ensure the deck ran smoothly in the early
game. G/R Energy still has the powerhouses, but I’m less concerned about
them having great draws every game.

Attune with Aether is a problem because it’s a mana source that generates
energy, which allows them to fulfill energy costs while devoting spell
slots to powerful things like Glorybringer and Chandra, Torch of Defiance.
Late game, even your mana sources provide some value. It also fixes your
mana entirely too well, often allowing you to easily splash a fourth color.

There isn’t one specific card that makes energy too strong, but the
combination of legal cards makes the deck too consistent and too efficient.
It embarrasses everything else in the format. This iteration seems
relatively tame, even though it’s still playing some of the best cards.
It’s going to run out of gas faster, flood more often, and fail to curve
perfectly more often.

Without Attune with Aether and Rogue Refiner, Energy would be mortal.

Voltaic Brawler falls short somehow. Temur Energy wasn’t interested in
something that was strictly beatdown-oriented. It needed to be versatile,
capable of playing offense against control and defense against aggro. What
do we do now? Probably beat em down.

There is another midrange approach, though.

This deck is probably great. If Temur Energy is out of the picture, Winding
Constrictor is the last bastion of hope for green midrange. Attune with
Aether and Rogue Refiner were necessary for Sultai, similarly to how they
were for Temur, but Sultai played an exceptionally low mana curve and land
count that isn’t doable anymore.

This will probably usher in the return of Verdurous Gearhulk, which I’m not
unhappy about. Being able to play five-mana spells that don’t immediately
end the game is a nice place to be for Standard. Will we also finally see
Ripjaw Raptor?

I also wanted to put Jadelight Ranger in a Sultai Midrange deck with
Champion of Wits and Liliana, Death’s Majesty, but it ended up being one of
the only green cards in my deck. That made it difficult to justify. Merfolk
Branchwalker and Channeler Initiate are fine cards but aren’t enough to
justify playing eighteen green sources to play Jadelight Ranger. Still,
explore plus Liliana, Death’s Majesty is powerful, and maybe it’s worth it.

We don’t have Oath of Nissa or Traverse the Ulvenwald anymore, so it’s back
to playing 25 land and liking it.

Treasure Maps out of the sideboard of any deck with Winding Constrictor is
a new favorite of mine. Midrange decks will often want some sort of card
advantage to break attrition-based matchups. Sometimes the best choice is a
planeswalker, but the transform cards from Ixalan do the job quite
well too.

Minotaurs are dope, as are Rakdos cards. It’s a color combination I’m a big
fan of, even if it never ends up being good.

Any sort of black midrange deck could use a Read the Bones or Painful
Truths. If only Vance’s Blasting Cannons was playable. Treasure Map is
probably good enough. Glint-Sleeve Siphoner is my pick for that slot, even
if it doesn’t completely fit.

Playing a small creature in these sorts of decks has pros and cons, but I’m
on the pro side for now. Ideally my midrange deck would be set up with
versatile threats that could be used as defensive tools, just like Temur
Energy. Unfortunately we don’t have that luxury, so if we want to build
decks with new cards in order to try then, we need to get a little

With Glorybringer at my top end, I prefer to have something that can tax my
opponent’s removal early. Glint-Sleeve Siphoner and Glorybringer both run
away with the game so quickly that it often confuses our opponent’s game
plan. Should they keep an aggressive hand without removal or ensure they
don’t lose to a Siphoner that gets out of control?

Truthfully, they are almost certainly better sticking to their game plan,
but there’s always that fear of losing to a card single-handedly.

Is Tetzimoc, Primal Death better than Noxious Gearhulk?

Going long, Tetzimoc certainly scales much better than Noxious Gearhulk,
but this B/R deck is mostly winning through accumulated in chip damage
followed by a giant Ribbons. Being able to topdeck it with nine mana and
kill three of their creatures is fairly incredible, but we’ll see if games
last that long.

In the early game, the goal against Tetzimoc, Primal Death should be to
play your best creature rolling into their sixth turn. They can use
Tetzimoc on Turn 6, but it could be too awkward for them if your last play
was Glorybringer or some such.

Tetzimoc is likely too unwieldy and much worse than The Scarab God. While
B/R has a wide array of great removal, it’s missing a few key tools. The
already-existing Grixis Midrange decks are probably great.

Grixis Midrange has been doing well on Magic Online as of late, and
removing the RR requirements in Glorybringer and Chandra, Torch of Defiance
was a great call. The Scarab God is a better threat than Glorybringer if
you’re not as aggressive, and Grixis certainly isn’t.

I could very easily see Grixis Midrange becoming the deck of choice for
those going through Temur withdrawals. Maybe Jund is where people will end

Aside from the whole “basically splashing for Jadelight Ranger” thing, this
deck looks sweet. Chandra, Angrath, Vraska is a nice curve, and aside from
Glint-Sleeve Siphoner, each of our creatures have sweet abilities that
allow you to gain immediate value from them.

Claim is another sweet card that I’d like to try in a Winding Constrictor
shell and that would probably look similar to this deck.

I assume that most of these cards that look sick are probably safe, but my
Storm the Vault brewing will start next week regardless.

In the meantime, here’s a deck you probably forgot about.

In essence, this is a combo deck, hence not even playing Harnessed
Lightning maindeck. Despite being comprised of mostly unplayable cards, I
was fairly impressed when I played with and against this deck.

Don’t sleep on it.

Finally, we have my favorite Sphinx of all time.

This isn’t the best Huatli, Radiant Champion deck of all time because it
has very few early creatures and is slow to make tokens. After looking at
this decklist, I’ve decided base white is my favorite place for both Huatli
and Azor. Both cards appreciate Legion’s Landing way more than mopey green

Additionally, the mana is potentially horrendous.


I should also get around to building some Dinosaur decks with Zacama,
Primal Calamity too, but all you get is my love affair with splashing
Jadelight Ranger into every deck and praying that energy actually gets
neutered to the point where these decks aren’t embarrassing. Other things
on the docket include Marionette Master, Journey to Eternity, Hour of
Promise, updating Vampires, and finding something to do once I jump through
enough hoops to transform Path of Mettle.

Don’t let me down, Forsythe.