Which Standard Deck Can Take On The Texas Metagame?

The Texas metagame marches to its own beat, so finding the right Standard deck for SCG Dallas is a challenge! Luckily for you, eight Star City Games writers have risen to the challenge. Get their picks and vote in the poll!

Welcome to What We’d Play! With SCG Dallas this weekend, many are unsure what they’d play in such a high-profile tournament. That’s where we come in and let you know what we’d play and why we’d play it. Hopefully this last-minute advice aids in your decision making! Be sure to vote for who you agree with in the poll at the end!

Dylan Hand – Bant Nexus

If you haven’t figured it out already, I’m an enormous proponent of taking a lot more turns than your opponent in Standard right now. The above list is the one that Magic Online user Luckesh used to absolutely dominate the MTGO Mythic Championship Qualifier last weekend, boasting a completely undefeated record through the entire tournament. I love the utilization of Depose // Deploy here, and between that card and four maindeck copies of Revitalize, I imagine Luckesh was able to crack the code on how to consistently stave off the aggressive decks long enough to go infinite with Nexus of Fate.

I would look to perhaps tweak the deck some to respect pseudo-mirrors and Esper Control, perhaps by adding some copies of Carnage Tyrant or Frilled Mystic to the sideboard, but otherwise, I think this list is evidence that we’re getting dangerously close to the final form of Nexus of Fate decks.

Emma Handy – Esper Control

Esper Control is the best deck in Standard.

After watching it comfortably dominate just about every round that it showed up on camera last weekend, the deck was eventually bested by Azorius Aggro in the playoffs, but it wasn’t because Azorius Aggro was the better deck; it’s because Esper slanted too hard to beat the grindy decks.

Esper doesn’t need a ton of help in order to beat up on Sultai Midrange and the like. The deck is inherently better at grinding and can just take a few hits to the chin while accruing an insurmountable quantity of resources. This take on the deck is simply respecting Adanto Vanguard more than last weekend’s lists and has added Ethereal Absolution to the mix in order to have a clean answer to the transformed side of Legion’s Landing.

Thought Erasure and Kaya’s Wrath will put a squeeze on the rest of the format that is difficult to break up. Get in now while you’re still able to say you’re ahead of the curve.

Ryan Overturf – Azorius Aggro

Sometimes it’s best to take the results of team events with a grain of salt. I might show Jacob Hagen’s Azorius Aggro deck some skepticism if I didn’t watch him smoosh everyone at SCG Baltimore. Jacob went 7-1 on Day 1, and admittedly was down a game in his unfinished match. On Day 2, he went undefeated through the finals.

This deck has the tools you need to run over anybody who stumbles by attacking with efficient threats while also being fully able to go long, especially post-sideboard with counterspells and Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants. Most of Jacob’s opponents were Esper Control or Sultai Midrange, and very few of his sideboard games against these decks looked close. A potential uptick in Ethereal Absolution is a theoretical problem for Azorius Aggro, but any deck that would play it is already a matchup where you’re sideboarding in your counterspells. I would expect a more significant upheaval to be necessary for the format to be hostile to the deck.

I will say that I believe Sultai Midrange to this point has been an aggressively medium deck that has been heavily subsidized by the power of Hydroid Krasis, and it’s possible that somebody figures out a better Krasis shell and takes the format by surprise, though if you’re trying to play something established, I believe that Azorius Aggro is just ahead of the field as things stand.

And I hate white decks!

Ari Lax – Sultai Midrange

I showed up last weekend at #SCGBALT with one goal: make people beat me when I played Sultai Midrange and figure out how they did it.

I failed at that goal, which means my opponents lost a lot. I completed thirteen of my matches. I lost three: Azorius Aggro, one of two matches against Nexus of Gates, and Izzet Phoenix, where I think I had no idea what I was doing.

The only changes I would make from my list from last weekend are extremely minimal. Incubation Druid was sideboarded out almost every match, and Assassin’s Trophy got sideboarded in, so I’m just going to pre-sideboard there. It’s not like people aren’t starting their Vivien Reids, Search for Azcantas, Wilderness Reclamations, or Experimental Frenzies that I want to turn into a basic land. Midnight Reaper was also sideboard filler, so there it goes.

That gives me two sideboard slots to help tighten up some gaps I found. My loss to Jim Davis on Azorius Aggro did involve a lot of mana issues, but a Cry of the Carnarium can’t hurt. Tocatli Honor Guard cutting explore triggers makes it really attractive to have a sweeper that costs less than six. The one Thought Erasure is just more coverage against Thief of Sanity and similar alternative threats almost across the board. The second Thought Erasure over a Duress is considerable, but Turn 1 Duress to knock out Search for Azcanta on the draw is too important against control matchups where Thrashing Brontodon is unexciting against every other card in their deck.

Andrew Elenbogen – Azorius Aggro

Last weekend in Baltimore, Azorius Aggro won the Open and every team who played it in the Standard seat finished in the Top 12. The weekend before that in Indianapolis, I finished in the Top 32 with the deck and my friend Max Magnuson made Top 4. That is an extremely high level of results for a deck with so few pilots, and it’s not even mentioning the fact that I know multiple people who qualified for the Pro Tour playing the deck in last weekend’s RPTQs.

I’m not sure if Azorius Aggro is the best deck in Standard; it has close matchups across the board. But Azorius Aggro has proven, beyond a doubt, that it has the raw power needed to compete with the top tier. I’m a huge believer in playing what you know and I know this deck like an Infect player knows counting to ten.

As for my exact list, I breakdown every option for every single slot in my article on the best aggro deck in Standard. That article can be conveniently found on this very website.

Brad Nelson – Sultai Midrange Golgari Blue

It’s not my fault if you think I sound like a broken record. It’s not my fault if you think I’m a branded “Midrange” player. It’s your fault for not just playing the best deck.

Golgari Blue is just the best deck to play. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Last weekend, everyone thought Esper Control was the answer to Golgari Blue, yet the deck still took down the Classic in Baltimore. It’s time everyone just accepts that I’ll always just play what I think is the best deck and the best midrange deck is almost always that.

That doesn’t mean the road’s easy for Golgari Blue pilots. These Guildgate decks are the new hotness which prey on our beloved strategy. That’s why I’m not messing around anymore with Disdainful Stroke. Sure, it’s the most optimal counterspell for the mirror, but we’ve got bigger issues on our hands right now. We need to counter Gates Ablaze and Guild Summit! Do I think Gate strategies are consistent enough to be my deck choice? Nope, but that’s not going to stop people from playing the deck.

I’m talking to you, “person.”

Look, I know Golgari Blue isn’t the most fun deck in the world. Often the best deck isn’t fun to play, but nothing beats hoisting a trophy. I mean it. When I look at my beautiful, shiny cups I don’t remember all the dull games I played to get there. I just remember what it felt like when my last victim extended their hand. If you want to experience that same feeling at the end of SCG Dallas, your odds will never be more in your favor than when you play this archetype. You don’t even have to trust my card choices, but please trust the deck, the results, and the history of midrange decks almost always being the best choice.

Tom Ross – Gruul Aggro

Gruul, both Midrange and Aggro, looked to be one of the popular new decks to come from Ravnica Allegience. There were debates to be had. Domri, Chaos Bringer or Rhythm of the Wild? Should the mana curve stop at Skarrgan Hellkite or go up to Ravager Wurm?

It didn’t take the internet long to find a low-to-the-ground Gruul build that doesn’t try to directly play the midrange Hydroid Krasis game everyone else is. The biggest draw for me is Collision // Colossus. I love me a playable combat trick, especially one with some additional text against Lyra Dawnbringer and Hydroid Krasis.

Dallas is aggro country. I’ve been there enough times to know that you can’t beat ’em, you gotta join ’em.

Shaheen Soorani – Esper Control

To the surprise of everyone, Esper Control is my choice for SCG Dallas this weekend. As the clear-cut best deck of Standard, Esper Control has many different builds that one could choose to battle with any given weekend. This version goes light on the early removal, making some of the aggressive decks a bit tougher Game 1 but giving us quite the edge over control and midrange strategies. We still summon the power of four Kaya’s Wrath, a bunch of Mortifies and Vraska’s Contempts, and the life-gaining Absorb to keep us healthy Game 1.

The sideboard has been edited to make up for some lost percentages against aggro. Cry of the Carnarium is a busted battlefield sweeper against a handful of aggressive decks that attempt to go wide against us. With the rise of Mono-Blue, Aggro, Rakdos Aggro, Azorius Aggro, and Mono-Red Aggro decks, Cry of the Carnium and Moment of Craving are essential sideboard cards to make our lives easy against this hostile wave. I have found Lyra Dawnbringer to be unnecessary against most of these aggro decks, which is the reason why you’ve seen a heavier lean on the cheap answers. Those low-cost spells win the war for us on their own, removing the need to lean on the Standard Baneslayer Angel.