Sorry, had to get that out of my system. Wizards of the Coast once again made the tough, but right, decision to kick the legs out from under the obnoxious combo deck that was running rampant in Standard. Effective June 19th: Aetherworks Marvel is banned in Standard.
So where does that leave us, you ask? We’ve got a little bit to figure out. While there are still a slew of decks that were seeing play while Marvel was legal, even the decks that are not losing cards will need updating to be optimal for a format without the terrifying four mana artifact. The top three decks in our previous Standard format under Marvel were:
- Mardu Vehicles
- GB Energy
- Temur Energy
Each of these decks leans on a different powerful card to end games in a commanding fashion:
While we do not necessarily have to be playing an existing deck in Standard, it is good to be aware of the things the remaining best decks are doing so we can have a game plan for fighting against them. There are likely lots of avenues to explore in the new format now that we just need to have reasonable removal in our deck for opposing creature decks, as opposed to needing a game plan to get under or go around a 10/10 double Stone Rain.
Today is going to be my first of a few articles exploring this Standard format as I search for a Standard deck to play at the upcoming SCG Invitational at the end of the month. These are all rough drafts of “newish” archetypes that did not exist in the previous Standard format. They are far from tuned, but could likely be a fantastic starting point for something powerful and will be my jumping off spot in the new format.
The first place I wanted to start was combining two of the most powerful payoffs from the existing successful decks. Gideon and Glorybringer both hit hard and close games out quickly. Green provides a solid core for any deck and allows us to play out our powerful cards ahead of schedule.
This brings us to this first rough draft for a Naya Energy deck:
Aether Hub in combination with Servant of the Conduit and Attune with Aether makes playing three colors fairly free. The only thing better than a turn four Gideon is a turn three Gideon, especially when we follow up this powerful planeswalker with a Glorybringer that pushes damage and doubles as a removal spell.
Speaking of Glorybringer, while he is powerful enough on his own, this deck can put him into “super” mode with the aid of Always Watching. When we give an exert creature vigilance, we can simply exert it every single turn. This means in addition to being a 5/5 evasive threat, Glorybringer will be removal every turn, as well. Always Watching is also fantastic with Glory-Bound Initiate, allowing us to start attacking with a 5/5 lifelinker on turn three.
Thraben Inspector allows us to curve out consistently against aggressive decks and Tireless Tracker allows us to generate some card advantage when the game starts to go long. It is worth noting that Servant of the Conduit lets us play a Tireless Tracker on turn three before we play a land to help get our extra cards flowing.
Finally, we round out the deck with two of the most powerful removal spells currently in Standard:
Harnessed Lightning is reasonable on turn two and with the rest of our energy producers it can kill larger threats in the late game. Stasis Snare is unconditional removal that keeps Zombies gone for good at instant speed and gets around Gods’ indestructiblility.
Continuing with the theme of turn three Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, the next idea I want to poke at a bit is an updated variation of a deck I played at regionals last year, White Eldrazi:
The biggest draw to these Eldrazi decks is the fact that the colorless lands we have to play in order to support our Eldrazi are also utility cards. With the addition of cycling lands, we now have nine lands that can provide utility when we no longer need them to produce mana. While Spatial Contortion is less flexible than Harness Lightning in terms of the creatures it can kill, it is a bit more flexible in other ways since it can make our X/4 creatures deal extra damage in combat.
This deck also has room for four copies of Archangel Avacyn. In addition to making attacks awkward for our opponents when we leave up five resources, Avacyn also provides an evasive clock that can also function as a board sweeper in a pinch. Thanks to our copies of Selfless Spirit and Walking Ballista we have fairly reasonable control over when Avacyn flips to clear the board. Eldrazi Displacer allows us to do some tricks when we flip Avacyn. We can respond to her damage trigger after she transforms by blinking Avacyn, returning her to play as her front side which causes her team-indestructibility to trigger again.
There is a very real chance that Zombies rises in popularity with the banning of Marvel since that was one of its worst matchups. If that is the case, playing a pile of Magma Sprays and Incendiary Flows sounds like a fantastic place to be. Continuing on with the Eldrazi theme from our previous deck list, let’s take a look at a base red Eldrazi deck:
In addition to playing spot removal that is good against Zombies, we also have Glorybringer and Chandra, Flamecaller to go literally and figuratively over the top of the aggressive decks in the format. A small white splash not only gives us access to Cast Out and Nahiri, but also four copies of Needle Spires in our mana base. While the curve of this deck looks a bit awkward on paper, keep in mind that Cast Out can be a one-cost cantrip when we need it to be.
While I have only played a couple of dozen games of this Marvel-free Standard format, I have to say I am really excited for what it could become. From powerful aggro decks being represented by the Zombies archetype, to controlling decks leveraging the power of Torrential Gearhulk, to the midrange decks that we talked about here today leaning on Glorybringer or Gideon – there is a lot of room for different strategies to exist.
What are you looking forward to playing with in this new Standard format? Do you think the midrange strategies I am looking into here will be a good place to start or are you looking to attack the format from a different angle? Let me know in a comment below!
* One SCG Invitational Top 8
* Two SCG Invitational Top 16
* 14 SCG Open series Top 8s
* One GP top 16