While I may have procrastinated this Magic meta report until the very last minute of October, with the recent ban of Field of the Dead, the meta shifted right at the end of the month anyway, so it was rather fortuitous. Golos decks in every color combination dominated the meta and could not be stopped until Wizards stepped in and smashed it into nonexistence.
So, what’s left to play in the new world of post bans? Well, despite some doom predictions, there’s some fun variety here.
This is the only Oko deck I’m going to cover, both for the sake of variety, and because I’m not a fan of the Magic card. If he lands without an immediate answer, he takes over the game. In my own testing, simply playing an Oko buys you turns of time as the opponent focuses on him to the detriment of everything. He is this deck, as the rest of it is the generic and usual ramp strategy—with Gilded Goose being the new hotness—of going into large plays of Hydroid Krasis and Nissa, Who Shakes the World. The fact that, in addition to all of that, Questing Beast and Wicked Wolf are both deadly four drops and hard to effectively deal with just leads to this being the deck that you always have to expect when going into a tournament.
While Edgewall Innkeeper seems silly at first blush, they really only use it to draw cards off of the strongest adventures in Eldraine. Murderous Rider is arguably more powerful than Vraska’s Contempt in creature matchups and Lovestruck Beast is super deadly when it’s online and a devastatingly big blocker when he’s not—plus Edgewall Innkeeper activates him. The deck is subtly powerful in a way that creeps up on you with sheer card advantage. It’s not uncommon to feel the game slowly slip away from you as they simply always have more answers and big threats. While everyone’s watching Oko, this deck might become the strongest in Standard in capable enough hands.
This deck just won the Mythic Championship and for good reason—its curve is nearly impossible to survive. Firing on all cylinders, Gruul Aggro outpaces most strategies with lethal creatures, consistently powerful draws helped along by Once Upon a Time, and, should it get Embercleave, you can’t even hope to stave off the waves of damage with blockers. Decks that normally would only run minimal removal have to use a lot more to deal with this monster of a strategy. If you’re tired of Red Deck Wins as an aggro player, this is the deck to pick up and play.
It’s back and pretty much the same as before. Set up multiple Wilderness Reclamations, generate tons of mana, then shoot off a massive Explosion to either kill them or make them draw the rest of their deck or both. It’s hard to play well and has an issue with someone just countering the big blast from it—but you can’t underestimate it anymore. Throne of Eldraine gave it a few creative additions like Mystical Dispute to counter earlier plays, and some versions are running various creatures like Brazen Borrower and Questing Beast or even Irencrag Pyromancer to up damage output. It’s a fairly expensive deck depending on your build, but if you want to play the only real combo deck in town, then it’s a fun learning experience.
Those Mono-Blue Tempo players don’t give up, do they? This is the newer version of the same idea: play cards only during your opponent’s end step or in response to their main phase plays and protect something gnarly with counterspells once you have an aggressive creature down. Nightpack Ambusher will run away with games left unchecked, as will Brineborn Cutthroat. As a person who’s played against this deck a lot, Simic Flash pilots will often rely too much on playing stuff when your shields are for sure down and can miss good plays, but generally the deck is hard to effectively counter and gets to cause a lot of “gotcha” moments, which is a lot of fun when you’re the one doing it to someone.
Fires of Invention is a silly card. It’s actually got a few downsides—like making you very weak to counter magic—but it allows decks to play almost nothing but big splashy haymakers. The sideboard, though, is where the deck really comes alive. Because of Fae of Wishes, and Fires of Invention ignoring mana costs, you can have basically anything in your sideboard to bring in at basically any time. Constructing one of these “silver bullet” sideboards is fun all by itself, and the deck utterly ruins people who can’t deal with each new threat. It’s nice to see Kenrith also finding a strange, deadly home where his activated abilities get all that free mana to combine creatively. If you want to rain big spells like this is Commander, then it’s a competitive option.
And that’s standard. Now, obviously, there’s a lot of mono-colored and dual-colored aggro builds running around—as there always is in Magic—but, at major tournaments, the above (and various Oko shells) are going to be a big part of what you’ll fight. So, come at it with everything you’ve got.
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