These past two weeks I have been testing a lot of Standard in what has been one of the most informative and effective testing sessions of my life. It’s all due to the fact that I’ve been testing in google hangout sessions with 4 to 6 people at times. The group included Zan Syed and Collins Mullen as well as a bunch of other terrific players. We were mostly testing all the full range of Standard decks and some Modern too. There would be times where I would be playing G/B energy, and I’d be watching Mardu Vehicles, Mono W tokens, Temur Energy, and Zombies all being played. I really can’t think of a more productive way to test honestly. I would certainly recommend others give it a try as I plan to continue doing it for most major events.
Alright, Google Hangouts aside, I’ve got a lot to say about Standard, so let’s get into it.
First off you can really put this format in two different subsets. You can play a fair consistent deck such as Temur, Mardu, GB, or Zombies. Or you can play an unfair deck that is more powerful but not as consistent or resilient.
The Fair Decks
These are the more established decks we’ve been playing in standard since the Aetherworks Marvel ban: Temur Mardu, GB Constrictor, and Zombies of course. All these decks all have the potential to beat you down by turn 4 while also grinding you into the dust. They are all incredibly powerful, consistent and leave a lot of room for play (this format’s great!).
The main disadvantage of playing a deck like this is that most people will have a good idea of your main deck and sideboard configuration. Also these decks typically are very close to 50/50 vs the other top decks. Like it or not, but it’s one of the main reasons these decks are so good. You’re not going to get as many skewed match ups as some of the unfair archetypes, but your not going to lose to your deck nearly as much. I decided at the beginning of the week I was going to cop out and play one of the fair decks.
The format’s current top dog. This deck has been putting up the best MTGO results no question. On top of that however it also just plays almost all the best cards. Harnessed Lightning is your removal spell. Tireless Tracker and Rogue Refiner are some of the best creatures in Standard and have been for a while. Attune with Aether also the best one-mana green cantrip by a wide margin. All these cards provide such power and consistency to the deck, while their threats almost always get value. Temur just has the best cards in the format
This is my pick for the second best deck in the format and the one I’ve put the most work into. The deck is still just so powerful, and now that Fatal Push and Unlicensed Disintegration are good again, the deck feels great. Zombies and GB Energy are favored in game one but I feel advantaged post sideboard when my deck turns into a midrange control deck. Fumigate is absolutely amazing vs both those decks as well as Temur which is another close match up. Heart of Kiran is amazing in this format since most combat is happening on the ground. When it’s not, it usually involves a Glorybringer which Heart of Kiran matches up against of beautifully. The fact that your opponent can’t really ever exert on your Heart means it’s really hard for them to profitably attack into it. Trading a two-mana threat like that which has generally already gotten a hit or two is just such good tempo. We can’t forget Gideon Ally of Zendikar is still an absurd Magic card.
Currently my second choice in the format. I’m happy to see the G/B deck of choice be energy-based rather than delirium as I’ve been preaching that for a bit. This is the other Attune with Aether deck you can play and it has arguably the most powerful curve in the format when undisrupted. My biggest comments about playing this deck are (1) play a maindeck Skysovereign, Consul Flagship, (2) don’t play any discard in your sideboard, and (3) make sure you board out some numbers Fatal Push vs Mardu and Temur. The more I played I played Standard this week I noticed that Fatal Push was one of the weakest cards in my deck post board. The games just grind down more and become more about late game top decks. Without reliably getting revolt, it just doesn’t answer the heavy hitter in the format. Also the format is a race to five, as the five drops are always the scariest cards. Overall I think GB Energy is another great choice for the weekend.
Zombies is a deck I think is incredibly well positioned for this weekend. I think it has a great match up vs the top decks. With all the decks being mostly creature-based, Zombies can easily overwhelm all of them. The deck can attack you for absurd amounts by turn five but also draw two cards a turn. I think it’s actively good vs GB and Mardu. However, post board every deck has some form of sweeper which is an incredibly effective way of beating you. All though it’s not my cup of tea, I think Zombies will be a force in the format for its entirety.
The Unfair Decks
The decks that fall into that category are Metalwork Colossus variants, Mono W monument, and G/R Pummeler. The unfair decks have not seen as much success as the fair ones, but that’s also a result of them not being already established. These decks just haven’t had nearly as much work put it yet, but they have proven they have legs.
Mono W was strong a consideration through out my testing process. The deck has pretty solid matchups vs the top decks and it can go absolutely crazy. I ultimately dismissed it because I thought it was too reliant on drawing Oketra’s Monument. The draws where you don’t it just felt like a really underpowered white aggro deck. One way to mitigate that is by adding Thalia’s Lancers or Cloudblazer as another way to establish card advantage. I was quite impressed with the Thalia’s Lancers package in the deck. Providing generic card advantage is good, while also letting you tutor up your namesake, or even a land in Geier Reach Sanitarium.
I watched Zan play the UW version last night however and was not impressed. Sadly my good friend Spell Queller just isn’t super impressive in this creature-heavy metagame. There aren’t any decks you really want counterspells against and it doesn’t line up well vs the creatures among the top decks. Cloudblazer is certainly a great addition to the strategy and has absurd synergies with Aviary Mechanic, but I just don’t think the blue is worth it though. Having a more consistent mana base is valuable and the tap lands will cost you games alone. Overall I think Mono W Monument is a solid choice for the weekend if you want to be unfair.
I didn’t get to play too much with the Metalwork Colossus decks but I watched quite a bit of Brennan Decandio’s stream. I can say with confidence that the deck is not that good. Now, that could be certainly be a factor of the fact that it hasn’t been tuned yet. We will certainly see some other iterations of the deck, but I don’t believe they will last. It has a lot of sweet synergies and powerful interactions, and turn 4 double Metalwork Colossus will certainly end most games. The deck just felt clunky and it just didn’t do anything a lot of games.
Lastly, the best thing you can be doing with the G/R Pummeler deck is sideboarding in Tireless Trackers and Glorybringers. Just play Temur. That’s all I have to say about that.
That’s all I have for you today. I hope this article was helpful and informative for all you standard players! Now lets hope all this testing was helpful, wish me luck at the SCGINVI! And don’t hesitate to say hi!
Until next week,
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