Two Standard Decks You Might Have Missed
- Jamin Kauf
Since Guilds of Ravnica released, many have tried finding the best combination of cards to win in Standard. Some decks have become frontrunners of the format already but there is a lot left to be explore. Today Jamin introduces two decks you may not have seen before.
Guilds of Ravnica is an awesome set! Between an interesting new draft format, new Modern decks utilizing Runaway Steam-Kin and Arclight Phoenix and the upcoming Pro Tour, there's something for everyone to be excited about. Since rotation took away the Amonkhet and Kaladesh blocks, Standard has a lot of new decks with early competitors being B/G midrange, different flavors of control, and mono red. These archetypes have been discussed a lot during recent days so today I wanted to take a look at two decks that haven't been in the spotlight yet but might still be contenders in this new format. Both lists have done well in tournaments at Hareruya, a local game store in Tokyo which publishes their winning decklists daily.
An Abzan Saga
|26Lands||21Other Permanents||13Instants and Sorceries|
|4Isolated Chapel||3Golgari Findbroker||1Assassin's Trophy|
|4Overgrown Tomb||2Satyr Enchanter||2Moment of Craving|
|3Plains||4Tragic Poet||3Settle the Wreckage|
|4Sunpetal Grove||4History of Benalia||3Vraska's Contempt|
|3Swamp||4Ixalan's Binding||2Cleansing Nova|
|4Temple Garden||1Profane Procession // Tomb of the Dusk Rose||2Find // Finality|
|4Woodland Cemetery||3The Eldest Reborn|
|1Cast Down||1Divine Visitation||4Duress|
|2Golden Demise||1Karn, Scion of Urza||2Ritual of Soot|
|1Treasure Map / Treasure Cove||1Vraska's Contempt||2Vraska, Relic Seeker|
We'll start off with a tap-out control deck, meaning that this deck relies less on instants to play during opponent's turns but instead utilizes its mana during the main phase to answer opposing threats or slam down its own game-winners.
Decks with a gameplan like this usually use Planeswalkers to generate value and close out games, but this one instead builds around the Saga mechanic from Dominaria. History of Benalia and The Eldest Reborn have both seen Standard play in the previous meta and are back in full force since they are even more powerful this time around.
Why are they more powerful in this deck? We have a four-of Tragic Poet in the main! The inconspicuous 1/1 is able to sacrifice itself to get back one of these Sagas from the Graveyard, giving you another big boost of value. While a lot more expensive, Golgari Findbroker does the same as soon as entering the battlefield, making sure you will rarely run out of enchantments to play, which is important since you do want to keep drawing cards with your Satyr Enchanter. The M19 draft playable is back to synergize with all the enchantments lingering in out deck. To round out the grind package we have two Find // Finality as well as a single Profane Procession // Tomb of the Dusk Rose, both acting as removal and late game at the same time.
Grinding is, by definition, slow. Thus, this deck needs to be sure it won't die to an early onslaught of mono red beaters, so this deck packs a lot of removal: Cleansing Nova and Settle the Wreckage make sure you can catch up from multiple creatures while Vraska's Contempt, Assassin's Trophy and Ixalan's Binding prevent Planeswalkers from taking over the game. Moment of Craving has proven effective against aggressive decks as well.
Sideboarding with this deck is pretty straightforward. Against control, you want to include all four Duress because counterspells are powerful against the mana hungry threats you're deploying. You also want to play the Treasure Map and your planeswalkers. Don't bring in the Divine Visitation as your 2/2 Knights are already threatening enough on their own.
To make room for these cards you can get rid of a lot of creature only removal as that tends to have few targets against slower decks.
Facing aggressive decks that try to win the board early, Golden Demise and Ritual of Soot are additional ways to catch up with Cast Down being another efficient removal to swap in for the slow Satyr Enchanter. Slower removal like Ixalan's Binding or The Eldest Reborn tends to be too mana inefficient but always keep in mind that you still need answers to a card like Rekindling Phoenix, so leave in some Contempts and Settles.
Lastly, against the midrange decks like B/G, Divine Visitation is at its best, but try to make sure they don't have a Planeswalker that can destroy it ready to deploy, otherwise you might end up very sad. Boarding against these decks is very hard but I tend to favor cards that generate card advantage while also making sure to have enough answers against their resilient threats.
I want to suggest a few changes that can be made from the original deck here: the current manabase has trouble casting History of Benalia on turn three and Vraska's Contempt on turn four, so you either need to play some Forsaken Sanctuary or cut the double black cards and include two more plains. I for one would cut one of each basic for the black-white tapland and I would also suggest cutting the main deck Profane Procession for another Find // Finality as it swings the board at a lower mana investment. The only other change I would make right away is cutting Divine Visitation from the sideboard. While it is sweet to have History of Benalia generate 4/4 Angels, it also isn't worth spending five mana on an enchantment in a matchup where your opponent most likely has Vivien Reid, Vraska, Relic Seeker and Assassin's Trophy to answer it.
Izzet a Wizards Deck?
|20Lands||16Creatures||24Instants and Sorceries|
|4Island||4Adeliz, the Cinder Wind||2Expansion // Explosion|
|4Steam Vents||4Goblin Electromancer||4Lightning Strike|
|4Sulfur Falls||4Viashino Pyromancer||4Opt|
|1Admiral's Order||2Diamond Mare||4Essence Scatter|
|4Goblin Chainwhirler||2Negate||2Niv-Mizzet, Parun|
So far, we've seen blue-red decks in Standard make heavy use of Crackling Drake and Arclight Phoenix, not this one though. This deck is combining some of the powerful mono red cards with Adeliz, the Cinder Wind and Goblin Electromancer to make up a classic U/R tempo deck. Ghitu Lavarunner and Viashino Pyromancer are both aggressively statted wizards, so every single creature in the main gets a bonus from Adeliz.
To go with the attacking creatures, you have four of Wizard's Lightning, Risk Factor, Lightning Strike and two Banefire which are all able to deliver serious damage to your opponent. Risk Factor, in particular, has surprised many with how powerfully it plays.
Expansion // Explosion is a card where the flexibility has surprised me a lot! Copying cheap spells can often be extremely relevant so I like the inclusion here even though the Explosion side of it is tough to make work in this deck because you're not really looking to amass that much mana. Still, sometimes you only need two more damage to your opponent and draw two cards to find those lethal outs.
As for the sideboard, this one is even easier than the one before.
Midrange? Once again, a bit more complicated than the others, but Essence Scatters are great here. Depending on which threats your opponent has shown you, Negate or Chainwhirler might be necessary, but Niv-Mizzet should only come in if you're sure that your opponent does not have the mighty Ravenous Chupacabra to punish you for tapping out.
The way this deck plays feels great to anyone who like playing tempo decks. Once you're ahead, it feels great getting to play incredibly efficient cards with Goblin Electromancer and pumping your team while also powering out 2/2 haste wizards. The flipside of that coin is being behind on the board and having to spend your whole turn to kill one of two opposing creatures, which feels truly terrible. The deck tends to do well against other decks which are a bit slower than itself and falls behind too quickly against decks that fight for an early board with all they have. If you every face a turn one Llanowar Elves, you're in big trouble.
The note about Llanowar Elves leads me straight to my improvements. I dislike Banefire in the main simply because you don't make it to six mana a lot of the time. Also, in a tempo deck, you don't want an expensive, flexible card, you want efficient ones. My suggestion: play Shock instead. Not only is it a lot more efficient, it gives you some chance to fight against opponents who curve out a lot. If you like an even more aggressive playstyle go ahead and cut the Expansion/Explosion for Shock three and four. The other card that doesn't fit this deck at all is Goblin Chainwhirler in the sideboard. Many players still don't understand how hard it is to achieve three red sources on turn three/four and this deck certainly doesn't. With 16 red sources you're gonna be an unhappy person sitting there with the 3/3 first striker stuck in your hand. While there isn't really a functional replacement for our favourite Goblin, I would suggest putting Expansion/Explosion there, giving you the option to play a more controlling deck postboard.
That's it for today, these are two extremely interesting new decks and while these exact lists might not rise to the top of the new format, both the idea of a grindy tap-out control deck and the classic U/R tempo approach might have some merit to them in the coming months.
Do you have any suggestions for the decks showcased? Or do you have other spicy newcomers in Standard for me to take a look at? Let me know in the comments here or on Twitter @Jackomatrus. I'm looking forward to hearing from you.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.