On Monday, Wizards of the Coast hit us with the banned and restricted announcement. Fires of Invention and Agent of Treachery have been banned in Standard, while the companions have been nerfed pretty heavily (you now have to pay 3 mana at sorcery speed to put one in your hand). So what do these changes mean? Well, for starters, the power level of the format will go down a lot. The undisputed best deck – Lukka Fires – has taken a big hit, basically becoming unplayable. Winota, possibly the second best deck, can’t really function without Agent. Basically, things will come back to a pre-Ikoria state, which is pretty wild; it’s almost as if this set didn’t exist for Standard purposes. Today, I’m going to go over the 5 decks I believe will be at the top of the format moving forward. I’ve ordered these from worst to best. Let’s get started.
5. Temur Adventures
It feels like Temur Adventures always finds a way to be relevant in Standard. This deck didn’t improve much with the new set, with its only new cards being Ketria Triome and Adventurous Impulse. After the bans, this might be a sleeper pick because the power level of the format will go down significantly, while Temur Adventures has been basically the same since the deck came into existence. Adventures has always been very solid against Teferi decks, while being playable against aggro thanks to Bonecrusher Giant. The bad matchups have always been decks with Mayhem Devil and Temur Reclamation. Devil took a backseat to Lurrus but, with the companions nerfs, it might be back on the menu. Only time will tell if Temur will end up tier 1, but it might be a good choice for another weekend, if Bant becomes prevalent.
4. Lurrus Cycling
This deck came to existence with Ikoria’s release, with all the nonland cards in the maindeck belonging to that set. The Lurrus nerf will hit this deck hard; it’s unclear to me if it’s supposed to be in the deck. There might be a different variant of this deck, with 3 mana cost cards, where you would omit it completely. Right now, I think I’d start with it in my companion slot to see how much worse it’s gotten. Still, the plan of playing turn 1 Fox, make it a 5/5 and kill your opponent with it hasn’t gotten worse. This was the best aggro deck pre-ban and that will probably still be the case in the new world. One interesting card I’d like to try out is Reptilian Reflection; this could be a very resilient threat against Shatter the Sky, and it can also finish your opponent out of nowhere, because it has haste.
3. Bant Control
Good old Bant. We basically go to the version we played before Ikoria hit. Only upgrade is Shark Typhoon over Dream Trawler. In a direct fight of the Sphinx vs the Shark, the latter usually wins so therefore it makes sense to play the powerful enchantment. Other than that, this deck has a great sideboard, which can be adjusted for one’s expected metagame. This deck still benefits from the powerhouse of Teferi + Elspeth Conquers Death, and Nissa might become a bit better too, because you will no longer fear it being stolen by Agent of Treachery. This might not be the best deck for week one, because it’s a reactive one; it might be better to wait before the meta settles a little bit to have a better sense of how to build it. Bant struggles a bit in game one against aggro so you should play carefully and safely, and devote a lot of cards in your sideboard against it.
2. Jund Cat
I already mentioned Mayhem Devil coming back, and this is the shell I’d start with. Crokeyz has been championing a similar list for a while, and I like it too. The combination of Citadel + Mayhem Devil can lead to wins out of nowhere. This deck grinds well with Trail, Citadel and Castle Locthwain, while also being strong against aggro thanks to Claim and Devil.
Similar to Bant, this deck has a pretty flexible sideboard with a plethora of options to choose from. There are a reasonable mix of cards, some of them even very dedicated against certain strategies. For example Soul-Guide Lantern is great against the Cycling deck to stop Zenith Flare, and Cindervines shines against Reclamation because of the namesake card. However, I’m still a bit worried about the Reclamation matchup. Historically Reclamation has come up ahead against this deck, because your clock isn’t super fast, and they will kill you with Explosion before you can grind them down. This might be a big problem, because, well, you probably already guessed that Reclamation is number one on my list.
1. Temur Reclamation
Fans of Ivan Floch rejoice! Ivan has dominated in the past couple months with this deck and we might well see that trend continue. With no nerfs to this archetype and a sweet addition in Shark Typhoon, this will be the deck to beat on the first week. Not much to talk about here in terms of card specifics. Ivan has already written about this deck, so I recommend checking out his piece (Ivan Floch’s Temur Reclamation Deck Guide: Navigating Around Ikoria Standard). One new card I’d like to try is Fire Prophecy. Scorching Dragonfire has been getting the nod over the Prophecy, but without Lurrus in the format and Anax no longer seeing much play, it might be better to improve your hand over exiling a creature. With Yorion decks being taken out of the format, I don’t see a deck that beats Reclamation easily and I’m honestly surprised that it wasn’t hit by the banhammer as well. Maybe players can adapt to this deck, but it’s honestly super versatile with Shark Typhoon providing you an answer to the problematic planeswalkers.
That’s it from me today, do you think I missed anything? Are there any other decks you would deem to be tier 1 in the new format? Let me know in the comments.