Post-Oko ban, the Standard meta utterly opened up and the deck strategies that were viable expanded a ton. There’s a good variety of decks to explore this month, so, let’s go through them all.
Hey, look, an actual control deck is alive and kicking. With no Veil of Summer to make a lot of combo and control decks utterly useless, Little Teferi and a huge bevy of control magic, counterspells, and board wipes, leads to a deck that robs you of options, then slowly kills you—often with your own cards. Though I am not the biggest fan of playing against hard control, it’s nice to see a classic archetype spring forth yet again and do well. If nothing like Sphinx’s Revelation is kicking around, it’s a tolerable part of the meta.
Really, you can put Cauldron Familiar and Witch’s Oven into so many shells and color combos that there’s no point in trying to label one king. If you go Jund you get Korvold, if you go Mardu or Orzhov you get Corpse Knight and Cruel Celebrant to drain your opponent repeatedly. If you don’t want to deal with a finicky mana base, though, Rakdos and Golgari seem to be the best options, as you get access to Mayhem Devil for even deeper damage combos or Trail of Crumbs for card advantage. The core engine is just utterly flexible.
Fires of Invention is a brutal card, and, after a lot of different ideas for how to use it, it seems that having access to Kenrith, Deafening Clarion, Narset, and Cavalier of Flames is the best variant. The deck wins by sticking Fires of Invention, dropping big cards and swingy spells, and then dumping all the freed-up mana into activated abilities. The strategy is very weak to countermagic, as Fires almost completely stops its controller from responding to instants, but it’s still arguably the strongest deck in Standard and must be planned for if you want to win a tournament.
I prefer this deck to Simic Flash, if only because I’m a big Izzet fan. Brineborn Cutthroat does its usual job of growing way too big, too fast, and killing the opponent who’s locked in by countermagic. The deck wins the usual way a Flash deck wins; it casts almost nothing on their own turn and counters anything that stops their creatures. The high amount of Ral’s Outburst is an interesting choice, but, in a format with no Lightning Bolts or Strikes, it’s sometimes very necessary to have a three-damage spell for bigger creatures. If you like playing a tempo game, instead of a hard-aggro build, this is the one for you.
I always try to save a slot for my pet deck. Winning with a big burn spell pumped with massive amounts of mana might once have been a Timmy strategy, but, thanks to it being activated by an enchantment and done on the end step, this deck takes skill to pilot and can easily fold to its own high land count. Being a little combo and a little control, this deck can pull off some truly silly comebacks. Sometimes the deck also just smashes an opponent into the dirt with Bonecrushers or a Niv-Mizzet, Parun spell chain. Lately, Nightpack Ambusher has been an occasional innovation—as his trigger can happen before the Wilderness goes off, making its main ability almost without a downside. Whether his deck is viable is entirely meta-dependent, but, for now, I’ve been winning a lot of games with it.
Robbed of Once Upon a Time, the deck is a little less stable, but, still, an Edgewall Innkeeper followed up by a few creatures makes for truly absurd amounts of card draw. Questing Beast and Rankle easily demolish decks that can’t quickly stop them, and Gurruk is a powerhouse. Really, anytime you can take card draw, then add strong, hard-to-kill creatures, and then back it up with some planeswalker support, it will always equal a solid midrange plan.
And that’s Standard right now. Assuming no more emergency bans happen—we’ve seen way more than usual—we can expect the meta to be a shifting world of combo-aggro builds and solid midrange plans all grinding for a victory.
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