M19 is officially here, and Standard is still changing!
I touched on the B/W History of Benalia deck several weeks ago. And while it seemed to vanish for awhile, it has gone through some changes. The new set also added some much needed juice to power it up. So, let’s take a look at the new B/W Midrange!
10th Place at StarCityGames.com Classic on 7/15/2018
As you can see. The Heart of Kiran approach as been abandoned for a more disruptive style gameplan. With more black based removal at the top tables, it makes sense to drop the powerful two drop, as it becomes a liability when more Fatal Push come into the fray.
The New Additions
First thing that I want to note is the full playset of both Knight of Grace, and Knight of Malice. While there aren’t many decks where these two shine together, having both hexproof from white and black add a disruptive gameplan that can become relevant in many different matchups. Knight of Malice does work against the white based control decks, and Knight of Grace is well positioned against decks favoring more black based removal spells. The first strike is also very relevant, as it makes for very favorable blocks, and also prompts quick removal from your opponent.
As we’ve seen from Humans in Modern. Kitesail Freebooter can be devastating against the control and midrange strategies. While not as effective without an Aether Vial effect, it’s still a solid two drop that can really put a damper on your opponent’s gameplan when you snag their only removal spell on turn two. A worst case scenario is that they kill it with the trigger on the stack, but you still come out on top since that spell could have been used on something more valuable. So Freebooter does its job either way.
Now for the biggest addition to the deck. Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants can simply destroy any chances your opponent thought they had of winning. The red decks especially because a few +1s will get your creatures out of range of most of their removal spells very quickly, especially if you have a Lyra Dawnbringer or an Angel of Sanctions on the battlefield, as they already have a decent amount of toughness. Ajani can also get back a lot of your creatures from the graveyard, most of your creatures are two drops anyhow. Lastly, Ajani’s ultimate basically wins you the game, plain and simple. This card is what this archetype needed, and he’s been nothing but amazing in my testing.
New Sideboard Additions
Some M19 newbies, and just some great value from older sets, the sideboard seems pretty great to me. There are a lot of different routes you can take with this transformational sideboard, and that’s what I love about this deck.
You can turn into more of a control-esque deck by bringing in Arguel’s Blood Fast, Duress, and Ixalan’s Binding. Even Angel of Sanctions is great in this gameplan, but I’m a fan of the Angel in most matchups, maybe it should be in the main? Time will tell, but as of right now this sideboard has everything it needs to combat all the biggest decks.
The newest additions, however, are the three pictured above. The two horses are for more creature based matchups. Shield Mare can really put a clock on the red decks, and also giving a little more cushion to the life total, which is really important in those matchups, while Plague Mare is good in the mirror, and also can be used like a pseudo Goblin Chainwhirler. Ruin Raider is just another way to get that much needed card draw, and can be brought in against control and also slower midrange decks.
While noting all of the newest cards added to the deck in it’s current state, I can’t go without touching on the namesakes of the deck that we all knew in the past.
Other than his appearances in U/W Control, Gideon’s only other home seems to be in this deck. Gideon of the Trails is essentially a clock on it’s own. He can turn off your opponent’s biggest threat, or becoming a threat of his own. His ultimate might be a little out of place in this archetype, but all his other abilities are huge in swinging the game in your favor.
Karn, Scion of Urza basically disappeared for a little while, but now it seems that he may be making his way back into the mix of things. Karn has a huge starting loyalty to begin with, coming in at 5 and quickly getting up to 6 is no laughing matter. It’s hard to kill a planeswalker at 6 loyalty, aside from a well timed Vraska’s Contempt, but that’s a different story. Karn is a huge threat that requires a lot of resources to take down traditionally, and his abilities are great as well. His +1 is a pick of the lesser of two evils. It may be a land sometimes, but who doesn’t like playing lands, especially when you play Walking Ballista in your deck? His -1 just gets you back what you didn’t get to begin with, which can be great in most situations. His -2 may not be the greatest now that we don’t have Scrapheap Scrounger and Heart of Kiran, but it can be relevant sometimes.
It seems that we’ve been on a theme of putting a clock on your opponent, and it doesn’t stop here. Lyra Dawnbringer is another card that must be answered immediately. If not, you’re facing down a huge body that’s going to net 5 life per turn, or more if you add in Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants. Lyra can stabilize by herself against the red decks, and she even pumps Angel of Sanctions. Lyra is an all around beast, and a great curve out.
While this new Standard format may be in its infancy, this is a great time to analyze where the format could go. Right now there are a lot of midrange strategies going around, but that could change before we know it. I’m looking forward to seeing where this new Standard format goes, and what new decks it might bring.
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Again, thanks for all the support. Until next time, this has been your Metagame insight!
– Logan Simmons
While not playing Magic as long as others, Logan strives to be the best he can be. With a preference towards constructed formats, he prides himself in his ability to constantly evaluate and adapt his choices to everchaning metagames. You can find him frequently at Grand Prix and SCG Events alike.