The Road to Mythic: Standard Simic Stompy
Andifeated managed to achieve the Mythic Rank on Magic Arena in every season and format this year. Learn how the spicy brew that is Simic Stompy helped him climb the ranked ladder quickly and read everything he knows about the deck and what his Simic Stompy Sideboard Guide is.
My Relationship with Standard
Traditionally, I'm not known as a Standard aficionado of any sorts. It's probably the format I've played the least over my career. I love Draft and Limited in general and I'm into all sorts of older Constructed Formats like Legacy, Modern and I even own Pauper, Commander, and Vintage decks (Sadly, I only own Vintage cards on Magic Online at this point). This may be because there weren't many Standard Tournaments in my local game store's early years, but I think it has more to do with my strengths and weaknesses as a player.
Draft and Modern reward repetition and players who play a lot and don't mind practicing a bunch figure out those formats pretty quickly. You simply learn all the viable Draft archetypes and the roles each card plays in those and you won't think twice about any pick again. The same is true for Modern and Legacy where you just pick up a tuned decklist and sideboard guide and internalize all the play patterns and need to practice all the different matchups in order to become a format veteran. Standard, on the other hand, is a totally different beast to master.
Standard, like no other format, rewards innovation and creativity more than anything else. The card pool may be small compared to other Constructed Formats but that doesn't make it easier to figure out. The dynamic between the popular cards is what makes Standard tick. If Rekindling Pheonix is the best card in a certain environment, your Red deck may need to main deck a couple of Lava Coils but if the Metagame shifts and Control Decks without Creatures become more popular, those Lava Coils might cost you some games if you don't replace them with Lightning Strike quickly enough. Successful Standard Players like Brad Nelson adapt quickly and chose the right deck and set of cards for every tournament. In order to do this, you need to anticipate what cards will be played at the next tournament and think of a plan that counters what the field of tournament players will do. This means that you need to abandon your favorite deck and play a new pile of cards week after week if you want to keep up with the fast Metagame. Since I'm not lazy at all and love to compete and practice but am not very fast or good at anticipating Metagame shifts or brewing decks, I'm way better at what Draft and Modern ask me to do – but I plan to change that.
Standard has always been a Format that I "needed" to play from time to time if I wanted to compete in Mythic Championship Qualifier or Grand Prix Events. Magic Arena changed this. I can't remember when I played that much Standard and enjoyed trying different decks on a daily basis. Previously, I would pick up a given archetype and play it until it rotates, hoping that it would stay good as I didn't want to own a big Standard collection that loses value as rotation lured on the horizon.
Obviously, this was a poor strategy and it only did work when a Standard Format was badly designed and had a very dominant Tier 1 deck like Abzan Midrange in Khans of Tarkir Age and Temur Energy when Kaladesh terrorized Standard. Due to Standard becoming more popular and important to play, as a Challenger and the accessibility Magic Arena creates (I simply own most of Standard just because of Drafts) I'm very excited to change my preferences and play a lot of Standard going forward.
The Deck I Used in April
This deck isn't exactly what I'd call my comfort zone in Magic. While I love counterspells and Combos, I hardly enjoy casting a bunch of creatures and praying that my opponent to not have a Wrath of God or a string of Removal Spells accompanied by an actual good creature that outclasses my remaining attackers. This Deck is different than most Aggro Decks though. Llanowar Elves makes you cast powerful Midrange Creatures like Steel Leaf Champion and Nullhide Ferox ahead on curve and with Departed Deckhand, you don't lack the ability to crash through a big Wildgrowth Walker or any other kind of board stall. Frilled Mystic saves you from game-winning Nexus of Fate or board-wiping Kaya's Wrath - Things traditional Aggro decks have to fear because they lack generic interaction. As your creatures are the biggest in the Metagame you don't need removal for opposing threads as you simply can ignore and race most creatures and planeswalkers this format has to offer.
The deck really performs outstandingly on everything an Aggro Deck wants to do, but its power comes with two flaws. Firstly - as with any aggressive Strategy in Magic – your cards are incredibly powerful when you're the beatdown but if you stumble and fall behind, it becomes very difficult to catch up again. Secondly and more importantly, your mana demand is quite high and your lands are bad.
You won't be able to curve out perfectly in some games and Departed Deckhand and Frilled Mystic will be sitting uncastable in your hand from time to time. Those two factors will lose you the most games but it's a price you have to pay for the sheer power your synergies and curve offers. On the other hand, openings like Llanowar Elves, Steel Leaf Champion, Nullhide Ferox backed up by a Frilled Mystic are often automatic wins against the format's average starting hand. Make sure to plan your land drops carefully and note that "Elf" is the correct name for Undiscovered Territory most of the time. Steel Leaf Champion and Frilled Mystic are the hardest burdens to your mana base and both share this creature type. Keep in mind that you may need "Spirit" from time to time in order to cast Departed Deckhand and activate it to push through the last damage in a close game.
I'll go over the most popular matchups and explain a few key points to the strategy used.
Red Deck Wins
We cut some expensive and durdly spells as we can't risk falling behind in this fast-paced matchup. Play around Goblin Chainwhirler to minimize its impact. Try to race them and counter their game-winning burn spells.
This is probably the worst matchup for our deck as they're capable of creating giant Wildgrowth Walkers while having a decent amount of Removal for our relevant Creatures. It's awkward when they have a removal-heavy Draw and we're on Sleep but we really need any card that lets us beat the Explore Package around Wildgrowth Walker.
Try to nut run into their Cry of the Carnarium and Kaya's Wrath. This will be hard preboard, but postboard we can afford to not over-extend and hold up counter magic as their one-to-one removal plan won't succeed against our cheap creatures with Negate backup. Note that we don't need Departed Deckhand against decks without creatures – Grizzly Bears simply doesn't cut it.
If you can counter or naturalize Wilderness Reclamation, you usually win. Keep in mind that they can cast it as early as turn three with the help of an end step Growth Spiral and that you need to set a stop (on Arena at least) in their second Main phase in order to cast Naturalize before the untap trigger goes onto the stack. Some Temur Lists run Rekindled Phoenix which is a very annoying roadblock, but you can't really sideboard against that – just take your chance to have Frilled Mystic up on their fourth turn if it doesn't cost you that much.
Ferox really is lackluster against a bunch of chump blockers like Hunted Witness and you don't want to durdle around too much as they're pretty fast. Sleep is your best card in this matchup, try to prioritize getting a hand that can cast it.
We're only looking for interaction here. Our gameplan pretty much favors us already as our cheap creatures slip through their counterspells and are usually bigger than theirs. They will have a hard time holding up Instants and you can usually find a window to deal with their key creature. If you manage to trade for their enchanted Flyer or big Tempest Djinn, they'll have a hard time catching up again. Just don't walk into their Essence Captures mindlessly.
I won about 70% of my best-of-three matches with this deck and made it to the Mythic Rank in about a week. This is probably the highest win rate I've ever achieved with a Standard Deck. The Idea for this brew came from Twitter user @Smi77y who plays a lot of Standard on Magic Arena and brews a lot, check him out!
Tell me in the comments what you think about this deck and my sideboarding plans.
Did Magic Arena make you play or enjoy more Standard as well?
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.