Let’s Metagame – The State of Standard

As I stated in my last post, Standard is a rapidly evolving format right now. There’s been a lot of debate of what the “best deck” is, and why you’d be wrong by playing anything other than that deck.

Now, I can’t tell you what to play. I don’t have nearly the repertoire some of these other people have, and that’s okay. I’m just here to tell you what’s out there, so let’s dive in.  

U/W Control

 

Many will argue that Teferi, Hero of Dominaria  and his gauntlet of spells are the way to succeed in Standard right now, and he has the numbers to prove it. Check any tournament results and you’ll find U/W Control in the top 8. It’s no surprise that this kind of card can win games on it’s own, and I do mean on it’s own. This “no wincon” control deck can take games to the very end, resulting in the non-Teferi player running out of cards. While this strategy seems hard to accomplish, more and more player are ditching their Torrential Gearhulks for more spells, and this approach has the numbers to back it up.

U/W Control
Brad Nelson
2nd Place at Grand Prix Toronto on 5/19/2018

Planeswalkers (4)
4 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria

Lands (27)
7 Island
8 Plains
2 Field of Ruin
4 Glacial Fortress
4 Irrigated Farmland
2 Memorial to Genius

Spells (29)
3 Cast Out
3 Seal Away
3 Blink of an Eye
1 Commit
4 Disallow
3 Essence Scatter
1 Negate
2 Pull from Tomorrow
3 Settle the Wreckage
2 Syncopate
2 Search for Azcanta
2 Fumigate

Sideboard
2 Sorcerous Spyglass
3 Knight of Grace
1 Aether Meltdown
3 History of Benalia
2 Invoke the Divine
2 Negate
1 Gideon of the Trials
1 Fumigate

With the deck’s obvious weaknesses accounted for, this no-nonsense control deck can lock and opponent out with ease. Going long against this kind of strategy isn’t wise. With a late game Pull From Tomorrow being absolutely backbreaking, you want to be fast when attacking a deck like this. The sideboard plan is up for debate, but be wary of Teferi and company, they’ve proven themselves in the meta, and they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

R/B Aggro

Speaking of fast decks, Goblin Chainwhirler  is no stranger to the Standard metagame right now. X/1s are basically non-existent with this card running rampant. We no longer see a lot of Bomat Courier and Glint-Sleeve Siphoner in the format, and this card is the reason for it. Pair this lightning fast approach with Abrade and Unlicensed Disintegration, and you have yourself a nightmare of a match.

U/W has little early game interaction with this deck, as slamming a Heart of Kiran on turn two leaves little for the control deck to do until turn 4. Soul-Scar Mage is seeing its place back on top of things thanks to Chainwhirler as well by providing great interaction with the Winding Constrictor decks.

R/B Aggro
Simon Nielsen
1st Place at Grand Prix at GP Birmingham on 5/12/2018

Creatures (19)
4 Scrapheap Scrounger
2 Walking Ballista
2 Glorybringer
4 Goblin Chainwhirler
2 Rekindling Phoenix
3 Soul-Scar Mage
2 Pia Nalaar

Planeswalkers (4)
2 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
2 Karn, Scion of Urza

Lands (25)
11 Mountain
1 Swamp
1 Aether Hub
4 Canyon Slough
2 Cinder Barrens
4 Dragonskull Summit
2 Spire of Industry

Spells (12)
4 Abrade
2 Magma Spray
3 Unlicensed Disintegration
3 Heart of Kiran

Sideboard
1 Glorybringer
2 Chandra’s Defeat
1 Fiery Cannonade
1 Vraska’s Contempt
1 Angrath, the Flame-Chained
1 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
1 Karn, Scion of Urza
1 Cut
1 Doomfall
3 Duress
1 Heartless Pillage
1 Release the Gremlins

With this lightning fast deck essentially destroying GP Birmingham, it too has staked its claim as the best deck in Standard. While having a decent matchup against U/W Control, this deck has to seal the game without Teferi catching up. Having a transformational sideboard is key as well, with amazing cards such as Arguel’s Bloodfast, Duress, Doomfall, and a slew of Planeswalkers to go with it, this deck has the keys to be at the forefront of Standard.

W/B Vehicles

Dubbed a “midrange deck” compared to it’s red counterpart. W/B Vehicles has proven to have a strong control matchup, as well as a decent fairing against the other top decks of the format.

While not as fast as the other Heart of Kiran and Karn, Scion of Urza deck, W/B is resilient, and contains answers to most troublesome cards that may block it’s path. Toolcraft Exemplar demands early interaction, as pairing it with Heat of Kiran is asking for trouble. Knight of Malice too can be troublesome to the control decks, as it’s very hard to deal with and cannot properly be disposed of until turn 4. Almost every threat in the deck seems to possess evasion from the white based removal decks (excluding Walking Ballista, Toolcraft Exemplar and Scrapheap Scrounger), as Heart can’t be hit by Seal Away, and History of Benalia dodges Essence Scatter, making bodies that also can’t be preyed upon by U/W’s early interaction.

W/B Vehicles
Morgan McLaughlin
1st Place at Grand Prix at GP Toronto on 5/19/2018

Creatures (15)
4 Scrapheap Scrounger
3 Walking Ballista
3 Knight of Malice
4 Toolcraft Exemplar
1 Lyra Dawnbringer

Planeswalkers (4)
4 Karn, Scion of Urza

Lands (24)
9 Plains
2 Swamp
4 Concealed Courtyard
1 Forsaken Sanctuary
4 Ifnir Deadlands
4 Isolated Chapel

Spells (17)
2 Cast Out
4 History of Benalia
3 Ixalan’s Binding
1 Cast Down
2 Fatal Push
4 Heart of Kiran
1 Doomfall

Sideboard
2 Treasure Map
1 Angel of Sanctions
1 Cast Down
1 Fatal Push
1 Gideon’s Reproach
1 Invoke the Divine
2 Skywhaler’s Shot
1 Skysovereign, Consul Flagship
4 Duress
1 Forsaken Sanctuary

Similar to the R/B deck, W/B too has the necessary post-board gameplans in place to be a deck that can hold it’s own. As we’ve learned, Karn is hard to deal with, and loves Heart of Kiran. Resilient and versatile decks like this have continued to put up results in Standard, and I have no doubt in my mind that the W/B will continue the lineage of the archetype.

G/B Constrictor

This deck needs little introduction. We’ve seen the snake decks before, and they’re back. With Winding Constrictor undoubtedly making cards like Verdurous Gearhulk, Rishkar, Peema Renegade, and Walking Ballista so much better, it’s easy to see why a deck like this can put up some amazing results.

G/B Constrictor
Etienne Busson
5th Place at Grand Prix Birmingham on 5/12/2018

Creatures (28)
3 Verdurous Gearhulk
4 Walking Ballista
4 Glint-Sleeve Siphoner
4 Llanowar Elves
3 Ravenous Chupacabra
4 Thrashing Brontodon
4 Winding Constrictor
2 Rishkar, Peema Renegade

Planeswalkers (1)
1 Vraska, Relic Seeker

Lands (23)
6 Forest
3 Swamp
4 Aether Hub
4 Blooming Marsh
2 Ifnir Deadlands
4 Woodland Cemetery

Spells (8)
1 Blossoming Defense
1 Fatal Push
2 Vraska’s Contempt
4 Adventurous Impulse

Sideboard
2 Lifecrafter’s Bestiary
3 Deathgorge Scavenger
1 Cast Down
1 Fatal Push
1 Gonti, Lord of Luxury
1 Arguel’s Blood Fast
1 Liliana, Death’s Majesty
1 Nissa, Vital Force
1 Vraska, Relic Seeker
3 Duress

We all love Llanowar Elves, and it found no better home than in G/B Constrictor. Playing a Verdurous Gearhulk a turn early is no laughing matter. This deck can get big, and fast. Early interaction is key, and letting a Constrictor stick around too long is just asking to stare down a large Walking Ballista mowing your creatures to oblivion, and nobody wants that. Heart of Kiran, Search for Azcanta, Cast Out, and the likes should beware of Thrashing Brontodon. A Disenchant paired with a reasonable body is something to look out for, this guy can block favorably and blow up a lot of the troublesome artifacts and enchantments in the format, so watch out.

So What Do I Play?

Again, that’s not for me to decide. Standard is in a place right now where a lot of different archetypes are viable. So, find a deck you like, sleeve it up, and go play. In the end, Magic is about having fun. Some of us find the most fun while being competitive, while others just like to pay casually. Whatever your outlet, Standard is very diverse and a great format to play Magic in right now, so live it up before things change!

Closing

Please, give me a follow on Twitter @logan_actual. I post all of my articles there, and I’m also trying to be more relevant on social media, so go check it out.

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As always, thanks for reading. It means a lot to be able to express my love of Magic in other ways than just by playing. I hope you enjoyed what I’ve had to say this week.

Until next time, this has been your Metagame insight, thanks!

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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.

Twitter: @logan_actual
Facebook: Logan Simmons (https://www.facebook.com/logan.simmons.372)
Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/loganactual

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