Pro Tour Amonkhet has come and gone which has me diving back into Magic’s Standard landscape as I prepare for upcoming events.
While the top 8 decklists consisted of Marvel, Zombies, and a lone Black-Green Energy deck, it is important to remember that the Pro Tour is a split format event. This means that there will be many players who finished with reasonable records in the ten rounds of Standard that did not make the top 8 cut due to their performance during the Limited rounds of the event.
Thankfully Wizards always posts all of the Standard decklists that get six or more match wins during the constructed portion of the Pro Tour. Combing through the lists, they primarily fell into one of three categories:
- Aetherworks Marvel
- Mardu Vechicles
The Aetherworks Marvel decks were primarily Temur in color with some Sultai, Bant, and four-color sprinkled in. Zombies was split into mono Black and Black-White variations. Mardu Vehicles had some small details differ from list to list, but the cores of the decks were fairly similar. The most notable change was that Veteran Motorist is showing back up with less Walking Ballista in the format.
As someone who likes to attack formats a bit off the beaten path, I always like to pull out some of the more interesting lists that are present in the PT results. Today we are going to take a look at some of the lists that finished with seven or more constructed match wins that did not fit into one of the three most popular categories.
Peter Vieren – UR Control
This first decklist is one that is near and dear to my heart. Not only do I love durdly control decks, but Blue-Red control is an archetype I have played in Standard formats past. The cheap cycling cards really feel like they give this deck a huge leg in the new format.
This archetype always felt like it wanted more two-mana counters when I played it, but Revolutionary Rebuff was so truly awkward you could never afford to play too many of them. Past being a reasonable early counterspell, Censor alongside Hieroglyphic Illumination allows the deck to play fewer lands in total while still being able to hit its early land drops with some consistency.
Speaking of cycling cards, Amonkhet brought with it another thing this archetype desperately needed:
It is risky to play too many sweeper effects main deck generally, but when we can cycle these away it seems like the risk is fairly minimal.
All in all this deck seems like it has all the tools you could need to beat up on the aggressive decks in the format while still having some of the play you need to have game against the Marvel decks. The most important thing to remember when playing against the Marvel decks is to not board out too much removal because they have a fairly reasonable “fair” backup plan most of the time.
Michael Brierl – Temur Energy
This exact 75 had not just one, but two copies in the 7-3 and better decklists. At a glance this looks like a Marvel deck that someone forgot to add copies of Marvel and Ulamog to, but upon looking a bit deeper you will find a fairly sweet “Monsters” style midrange aggressive deck. The two primary payoffs for playing a deck like this are:
As someone who has cast a lot of Stormbreath Dragons, I am very excited to see a deck that tries to leverage Glorybringer. A 4/4 evasive threats with haste can close a game out rather quickly on its own and the fact that Glorybringer can double as repeatable removal means it can be truly powerful.
Elder Deep-Fiend is a card that can steal games that you otherwise have no business winning. Tapping down an opponent’s lethal attackers so we get another attack step before they do is often enough to swing most races – even before we factor in the 5/6 body we are adding to the table.
Being in Blue gives us tools we need for combating the Marvel decks such as Negate and being Red gives us efficient tools such as Magma Spray for fighting recurring threats. Access to Kozilek’s Return seems powerful as well, especially considering we can “flash it back” at instant speed with our Elders. With Marvel having the strong results it had at the Pro Tour, I would likely want to try and fit a couple copies of Ceremonious Rejection in the sideboard somewhere, but overall I like the core of what this deck has going on.
Speaking of loving Glorybringer, there was more than just a Temur deck that leveraged the power of this dragon to a strong finish at the Pro Tour:
Alexandre Habert – BR Midrange
As someone who has been known to enjoy “killing all the things,” a deck full of removal seems like the perfect home for a dragon that doubles as a removal spell when you need it to. In fact, it is not just Glorybringer that doubles as removal in this Black-Red Midrange deck. Chandra, Torch of Defiance, Liliana, the Last Hope, and Walking Ballista can all remove opposing creatures from the board as well. Even Gonti, Lord of Luxury occasionally takes removal from our opponent’s deck.
If I was looking for a deck that looked well positioned to beat up on the Zombie and Mardu decks of the format this would likely be it. That being said, this deck looks like it will likely have a harder time keeping up with the Marvel decks in the format. Most notably its main deck hand disruption is fairly poorly at this task:
Last, but certainly not least, it would not be a Standard article if we did not talk a bit about the most prevalent planeswalker since his printing: Gideon, Ally of Zendikar.
Alex Stok – WB Midrange
This is another midrange deck that likely was able to prey on the prevalence of various aggressive strategies at the Pro Tour. Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet seems especially well positioned against all of the Scrapheap Scroungers and Relentless Dead that were running around. Gideon has most often been found in aggressive decks, but I really like it in more controlling decks like this one as well. Gideon can gum the ground up against opposing aggressive decks while also providing a quick clock for us against more controlling and combo decks.
In addition to having access to the fairly efficient removal suite of Fatal Push and Grasp of Darkness I like that this deck also gets to leverage Cast Out. The Marvel decks in this format do not have a high density of threats to hit, so often they need to spin two or more times to close out a game. This means you generally have an opportunity to remove their Marvel from play between their first and second spins.
Much like the Black-Red midrange deck, this Black-White deck does not appear to have a stellar matchup against Marvel game one. Thankfully it has a lot of good tools in the sideboard including Transgress the Mind, Lost Legacy, and Pick the Brain to help swing the matchup in games two and three.
While the Pro Tour will set the tone for Standard moving forward, hopefully there is still room for some innovation in the format, possibly starting with one of the decklists I listed here today. Finding something that can stack up against both hordes of Zombies and the power of Marvel is no easy feat, but it is one I am definitely willing to try and take on.
What was your favorite deck to come out of Pro Tour Amonkhet? Do you like one of the decks I listed here, or was there something else that caught your eye? 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