Hello Planeswalkers from across the globe! Standard with Core Set M21 is in full swing on Magic Arena, and we can clearly identify the most powerful decks in the format; decks that will probably remain Tier 1 until rotation in September. Though there are many different strategies playable right now, there is one particular sub-archetype that has been dominating (for a very long time), and that is RAMP decks. Maybe not all of them have the exact same game plan, perhaps we find that some colors change, or win conditions differ, but we can easily distinguish one characteristic in common: all of them want to start the game with “Turn 2 Growth Spiral”.
It became the default best start you can wish for in a game of Standard nowadays; it automatically feels like you are winning. Play an extra land (untapped!), draw an extra card, all at instant speed if you want. If we had other options available to us for non-creature ramp on Turn 2, like Rampant Growth or Farseek (getting a triland!), alternatives routes in deckbuilding could exist, but as is we are forced to always play blue and green in our ramp decks, because Growth Spiral is so far ahead compared to the rest in terms of power level.
Bant Ramp, Temur Reclamation, Sultai Ramp, and many other variants became so dominant in this Standard environment that one might think that it is pointless to try and fight them, and it is better to join them and start hitting those extra land drops. Well, today we are here to convince ourselves that it is still possible: we can hit Mythic status and win games of Magic without Growth Spiral in our initial 75. There are still other possibilities at our disposal to fight the Simic menace, rank through the ladder, and have fun while doing so.
Let’s take a look at my top 5 non-Spiral choices:
Mono Black Aggro
An aggressive deck that tries to end the game as quickly as possible, by curving out with large powerful attackers.
- Can pressure the opponent rapidly and end the game in a couple of turns
- Can fight well through opposing defenses, between removal and evasion
- Perfect mana base
- Games tend to be linear, with not many different lines of play
- Being mono color heavily reduces sideboard options
This has been a solid ladder choice in the last few weeks, while even placing well in some tournaments. The deck has a good combination of early pressure, big threats that can win the game by themselves, and evasion to make it hard for your opponent to stop you from attacking. All this, combined with the different disruption spells that black has to offer, in the form of removal and discard, combine to create a consistent strategy that had been putting very good results.
One thing that might scare people off is the fact that some games with this deck tend to “play almost automatically”: some hands are just too linear and there aren’t many decisions to make, making it feel like you don’t have much control over what’s going on. Don’t let something like this affect your decision making of what to play. This, in my opinion, is a misconception, and something you should avoid at all costs. Why? Because every game of magic starts before even drawing your first seven cards. The real beginning of a game is when you are deciding what to play. A deck choice is a big part of your results, so if you find that a deck like mono Black aggro is a good choice for the metagame, your greatest play will be sticking to it.
Its three drops and four drops are capable of applying tons of pressure and finishing the game very quickly so, even if you don’t get to apply enough pressure in the beginning, it doesn’t take much to close out the game with a 10/7 flyer attacking on turn four.
An extremely versatile creature deck that tends to change roles constantly, needing to play as the aggressor in some matchups while taking the control position in others.
- Has the tools to defeat virtually anything
- Can find the right answer for almost every situation, thanks to being able to wish for cards from its sideboard
- Good curve with plenty of options available each turn
- It can be very difficult to play optimally, as more options means more opportunities to make misplays
- Needs to adopt different roles during games, and sometimes the cards you draw aren’t suited for that specific matchup
This deck was good, is good, and will be good. It will always be a viable choice to rank and get Mythic with. I’d go as far as to say that you should craft it, no matter how many wild cards you need to invest: it is a deck that you will be able to use effectively until its rotation in September 2021 (so not the one this year!).
Temur Adventures has generic and efficient answers for every possible threat that could be printed – it can attack and pressure life totals, kill creatures, bounce permanents, ramp like crazy; it draws tons of extra cards, can play at instant speed, and even has access to its sideboard during games. It does it all. Being this flexible means that its cards and gameplan can adapt to almost any situation and metagame.
Of course, everything comes with a cost. This is a strategy that is very difficult to pilot optimally, and will require tons of practice to get the best out. It will always present tons of options available every turn and different lines to take, and will be constantly asking you to reconsider your role every boardstate. This is because it’s one of those strategies that plays both defense and offense depending on the matchup, and sometimes even depending on the specific situation. Getting to recognize what to do each turn and when to switch gears is key to your success.
Regardless, all this doesn’t mean that you can’t rank up and get to Mythic with Temur while learning how to play it! Even though it’s a challenging deck, it still has some “free wins” and enough raw power to defeat anyone in your way. Just put those Innkeepers to work.
Mono Green Stompy
An aggro deck that plays big creatures on curve and tries to kill opponents with them as quickly as it can.
- Plays most of the biggest beaters for each point in the mana curve
- Solid mono-colored mana base
- Rapidly pressures slow strategies, while having a good defense against faster ones
- Some games do not have many decisions to make
- Being mono-colored reduces sideboard options available
“So you are saying I can go through the ladder winning games with just forests and beefy creatures?”. Yes! Mono green might not be the most complex deck out there, and it is a fact that playing only Green heavily limits your available options for interaction, but the idea here is to curve our aggressively through playing the biggest possible creature each turn, and smash your opponent as fast as possible, so that all those limitations end up not mattering at all.
One can see why a strategy like this can win games easily: a one drop that usually attacks for three or four, a three mana 5/5, a 4/4 hasty beaster that is hard to block and kills Planeswalkers… all these combined are more than enough to end games in a couple of turns. This is another deck that sometimes will present very few decision points during games, other than what creature to play or what to attack with, but it has many different options in deck building that will affect how the games play out.
You can adapt it to be faster, change the removal options, maybe increase its consistency in the midgame, or even go for a planeswalker-focused build. The thing is that Mono Green is a fun and competitive choice right now, and that doesn’t happen too often, so for all you forest fanatics out there, don’t miss your chance!
A fast, flexible and aggressive deck that dominates creature mirrors through drain and sacrifice effects.
- Good matchup against any creature-based deck
- Capable of some explosive first turns that can close out the game early, while still being able to play an excellent long game
- Inconsistent two-color aggro mana base that sometimes lacks red on critical turns
- Some hands play too slowly for specific matchups
Who would have thought that cooking those Cats in an Oven again and again would still be a solid choice for fighting the Growth Spiral menace? This is another deck that will require practice to play at its full potential (although not as much as the Adventures), but it also has some busted draws that bury your opponent in a few turns without even letting them play the game.
Cauldron familiar plus Witch’s Oven is another combination of cards that will stand the test of time and won’t be outclassed. Sure, maybe the decks that play them won’t always get the best winrates in every meta, but it will remain a viable strategy and impossible to substitute because of how efficient it is at doing its thing.
Rakdos Sacrifice dominates creature matchups, between Mayhem Devil shooting things, Priest of Forgotten Gods forcing constant sacrifices, and Claim the Firstborn messing up the opponent’s side of the board for such an efficient rate. It’s capable of dominating both the early and late games. Perhaps the most amazing characteristic of the deck is how it can sometimes reduce your life total to zero without even entering the red zone to attack.
A midrange creature deck that can out-value any strategy, while still being able to kill opponents quickly with the right draw.
- Efficient and resilient card advantage engine
- Can control creature matchups very well, while still outgrinding control opponents
- Has access to good threats and a flexible array of answers
- Having a three color mana base with a low curve means it will lack colors some games
- Some hands can be too slow for particular matchups
This is another deck that I think will survive rotation, at least in concept. It is true that it will lose many key pieces like Mayhem Devil and Priest, but the core engine will remain and probably find itself a new shell: Cat Oven + Trail of Crumbs. This combination of cards represents a constant flow of advantage at an extremely cheap cost; advantage that comes not only in the form of cards in hand but in lifegain, free blocks, sacrifice triggers, and draining away your opponent’s life total.
With decent early game and defensive options alongside a multitude of late-game threats that are very hard to top, Jund is a hard deck to pilot optimally that will reward you for learning to do so.
At the same time, this is also one of those decks that will punish you for keeping grindy hands against aggro opponents. Trying to apply early pressure against slow opponents is also a good idea: the more you make the game uncomfortable for them, the easier it will be to utilize your sources of card advantage undisrupted.
Which decks are you using to rank up this month? Do you think Standard is fun right now, or are you desperately waiting for rotation in September? Let me know in the comments below! Thanks for reading, you can find me live on twitch here and follow me on social media here!
Bonus: Mono White Aggro
We are including this deck as a bonus, as this deck just took down the first place prize in the Red Bull Untapped International Qualifier tournament with over 1000 players! It packs in a lot of resilient creatures and Unbreakable Formation to protect them even further!