Boy oh boy did we have a week in Magic! I honestly don’t even know where to begin. WOTC has made some rather questionable choices this week, but hey I’m not here to scold them for their decisions or to talk about how it was dumb that they gathered their “appropriate data” in less than 2 days. As a result of this whole ordeal we are left with two days to prepare for SCG ATL this weekend and I’m here to give you an up-to-date, post-emergency-ban guide to Standard.
First off, what do I mean when I say “level 0?” Some people are going to play the same Standard decks they’ve had since last season. The level 0 decks are the decks that haven’t really changed much with the addition of Amonkhet but which are clearly still great.
So which decks from last season qualify? Mardu Vehicles and GB Constrictor are the level 0 decks to me. I expect these decks to push out a lot of the new things people try that aren’t quite figured out. As a result I’d expect both BG Constrictor and Mardu Vehicles to be quite prevalent in day 2. Here’s the Constrictor list I’d recommend:
GB Constrictor by Todd Anderson
Here is my favorite version of three GB Constrictor lists that Todd Anderson posted in his most recent article. As we know from last season, there are many iterations of this deck. You can play a more midrange delirium build, a more aggressive, energy-focused deck, or a more straight forward like this one. There is a non-zero chance I show up with GB, but I think it is much easier to screw up the build of this archetype whereas Mardu is much easier to build.
Mardu Vehicles by Gerry Thompson
Here is Gerry Thompson’s build of Mardu Vehicles and I must say I’m quite fond of this version of the deck. Nahiri, the Harbinger looks like it is going to be substantially better in this format than the last since there looks like there’s going to be more playable enchantments in the format.
I’ll note a trend I have seen lately which is people cutting Archangel Avacyn from their Mardu decks. While Nahiri, the Harbinger has certainly gotten better and Glorybringer is a terrific new shiny toy I can not support this. Don’t cut your Avacyn’s folks, we’ve done this before and you will regret it. The fact that I expect to see a lot of Glorybringers this weekend is just more incentive to want to play the mythic angel.
I’ve got to say though I do like what Gerry has done to the mana base and I like his list a lot. I am planning to play something very close to this 75 in AT as Mardu is just the safest choice I think you can make. Your best curve should still beat everything, the deck is still great, and it’s really hard to screw up your deck too bad. I’m looking forward to continuing to ride the Mardu train.
So what is level 1 exactly? Level 1 decks are those I’d anticipate people who are trying to beat the level 0 decks to play. GB Delirium and various flavors of control decks go into this category for me, and the main ones I’d expect to be Temur, Jeskai, UR, and UW. Before I dive into a few of those I want to talk about BG Delirium since I think it got a lot of big improvements from Amonkhet.
GB Delirium by Michael Majors
Here is the GB Delirium list Michael Majors talked about in his (pre-emergency ban) article about the format. You might not need the sideboard Manglehorns or as many main deck Walking Ballistas since we no longer need to fear the cat.
So why do I think a deck like this is suddenly good? Saheeli Combo typically made it hard for a deck like this to exist. Now with Mardu Vehicles and the Winding Constrictor version of GB being the top two decks, GB Delirium should line up quite nicely against both. Typically playing more removal and having a higher top end in your deck is a strong recipe for success in those types of match ups. Liliana, Death’s Majesty is also a huge boost to this type of deck and I believe it will be one of the most impactful cards from Amonkhet in Standard.
However we’ve seen before that control typically beats midrange decks like this. So what new control options does this set bring us?
First off is the newest iteration of control in Standard, UW Control. This deck is getting away from the more energy-based theme that the red versions have deployed in order to take full advantage of cycling. The big thing you should take note of as a control mage is that Drake Haven is superior to Dynavolt Tower. It dodges artifact hate which is extremely prevalent in the format and closes games at a much faster rate. I’d expect any UR or Temur Tower to be close to non existent due to this.
Here’s both a modernized UR and Temur Control list that 5-0’d leagues this week. The latter chose to play ol’ faithful Tireless Tracker as well as Kefnet the Mindful and Nissa, Steward of Elements as exciting new additions of getting card advantage. Moving away from green seems reasonable if you don’t want Dynavolt Tower anymore since Attune with Aether was so good with it. However, I can’t help think that a build of this deck should play Drake Haven.
Regardless Magma Spray, Censor, Sweltering Suns, Essence Scatter, and Pull from Tomorrow are all exciting upgrades to these decks and I’m looking forward to playing wit them. The two mana counterspells are absolutely incredible in this type of deck and I expect this archetype to rise in popularity. If GB gets to lessen the strength of Mardu then control is in a great spot. I certainly hope I’ll be slinging some Torrential Gearhulks soon!
Level 2 features the more fringe decks of the format which I’d expect beat up on the more established decks. The best example of this in my mind is a deck like U/R Emerge. This deck that got quite a few new tools from Amonkhet that will certainly increase its playability.
So I’ve already talked about how great Drake Haven is in a control deck. Here, it seems absolutely absurd. Not only does it better utilize the card but it also applies a ton of pressure along side the usual early Prized Amalgams. I’m expecting this deck to pick up in popularity quite a bit as it is very reasonable against both Mardu and GB Constrictor. I’d expect this deck to be good if you can get into day two of the event to beat up the level 0 decks. If you get paired vs Humans or GR Energy (hyper aggressive decks people typically like to play in the early weeks) you might be in for some rough times.
All things aside I think Mardu and various builds of GB will see the most success this weekend. The control decks have the tools to be successful but typically week one is not a great time to play control. I know I’ll be beating down and punishing people as hard as I can week one. On that note, none of the decks in this article have Rhonas the Indomitable in it, but I’m expecting that one to be a real winner. I wouldn’t be shocked if 1-2 Rhonas decks get into top 8.
Good luck in ATL everyone and see you there!
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