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Subterranean Schooner Art by Svetlin Velinov

MTG Standard Top 5 Decks and Meta Tier List – November 2023 Update (The Lost Caverns of Ixalan Release)

The best 5 decks in Standard this week for Magic: The Gathering, our analysis, and an update to the Bo1 and Bo3 Meta Tier List.

The Standard metagame changes week to week, decks get pushed out, and new strategies flow in. It might be difficult to keep up with trends sometimes. This is why I will be making it much easier for you by making a ranking of the best decks for a given period! Let’s introduce the Meta Tier List update for the week and the Standard Power Rankings.

General Thoughts

The Lost Caverns of Ixalan has kicked in and we’ve got the first wave of results.

The metagame at large hasn’t changed much but there has been a reshuffle in the order of decks. However, if you know yourself around the top 5-10 decks, this largely remains the same.

Esper Legends and Ramp have fallen off heavily whilst Esper Midrange may have solidified its position even more. It seems as though Legends has been fully replaced by Midrange. Ramp was hurt by the prevalence of aggressive strategies.

There are some strategies that have emerged thanks to new Ixalan cards.

Izzet Pirates is hugely Ixalan-inspired, basing the deck on Pirate synergies and a tempo-oriented plan.

Boros Aggro is an evolution or Mono White and Mono Red aggro.

Gruul Aggro might be the most linear deck we’ve seen in a while with a bit more glass-cannony strat centred around pump spells but with potential of closing games blazingly fast, especially against slower control and ramp decks.

Jund Ramp is another new entity on the block but it actually does not play any new cards. It’s just a different take on deploying Etali, Primal Conqueror.

There hasn’t been much innovation within the established decks but some cards have broken through such as Deep-Cavern Bat or Malcolm, Alluring Scoundrel. We have not seen many Restless lands either but that might change. While you don’t want taplands in decks like Azorius Soldiers, it’s possible that slower versions come out and adopt these creature lands.

Standard Best of One (Bo1) Meta Tier List

TierDeck NameGuide
Tier 1Mono White Aggro ๐Ÿ”ผGuide
Tier 1Azorius Soldiers ๐Ÿ”ฝGuide
Tier 1Mono Red AggroGuide
Tier 1Boros Aggro ๐Ÿ†•Guide ๐Ÿ†•
Tier 1Selesnya Enchantments ๐Ÿ”ผGuide
Tier 2Izzet Pirates ๐Ÿ†•Guide ๐Ÿ†•
Tier 2Gruul Aggro ๐Ÿ†•
Tier 2Mono Blue Tempo Guide
Tier 2Esper Legends Guide
Tier 3Selesnya Toxic Guide
Tier 3White Based Midrange Guide
Tier 3Five-Color Ramp Guide

Standard Best of Three (Bo3) Meta Tier List

TierDeck NameGuide
Tier 1Esper Midrange ๐Ÿ”ผGuide
Tier 1Azorius SoldiersGuide
Tier 1Five-Color Ramp ๐Ÿ”ฝGuide
Tier 1Boros Aggro ๐Ÿ†•Guide ๐Ÿ†•
Tier 2Mono Red Aggro ๐Ÿ”ผGuide
Tier 2Esper Legends ๐Ÿ”ฝGuide
Tier 2Mono White Aggro ๐Ÿ”ฝGuide
Tier 2Selesnya EnchantmentsGuide
Tier 3Golgari Midrange ๐Ÿ”ฝGuide
Tier 3Mono Blue TempoGuide
Tier 3Esper ControlGuide
Tier 3Orzhov Midrange ๐Ÿ”ฝGuide
Tier 3Dimir FaeriesGuide
Tier 3Izzet Pirates ๐Ÿ†•Guide ๐Ÿ†•

#5: Five-Color Ramp

Five-Color Ramp Ixalan
by Skura
Buy on TCGplayer $469.14
Standard
best of 3
10 mythic
32 rare
8 uncommon
10 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (7)
Sorceries (11)
3
Depopulate
$2.07
4
Sunfall
$31.96
4
Herd Migration
$1.96
Enchantments (16)
4
Up the Beanstalk
$11.96
4
Spelunking
$7.96
4
Leyline Binding
$59.96
Lands (26)
3
Forest
$1.05
1
Island
$0.35
1
Mountain
$0.35
3
Plains
$1.05
2
Swamp
$0.70
3
Cavern of Souls
$134.97
60 Cards
$694.5
Sideboard
4
Knockout Blow
$1.96
4
Duress
$1.40
1
Depopulate
$0.69
15 Cards
$23.51
Five-Color Ramp Ixalan Best of One
by Skura
Buy on TCGplayer $442.97
Standard
best of 3
10 mythic
32 rare
8 uncommon
10 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (7)
Sorceries (11)
3
Depopulate
$2.07
4
Sunfall
$31.96
4
Herd Migration
$1.96
Enchantments (16)
4
Up the Beanstalk
$11.96
4
Spelunking
$7.96
4
Leyline Binding
$59.96
Lands (26)
3
Forest
$1.05
1
Island
$0.35
1
Mountain
$0.35
3
Plains
$1.05
2
Swamp
$0.70
3
Cavern of Souls
$134.97
60 Cards
$694.5

Five-Color Ramp might be the biggest loser after the first wave of results, much to my huge surprise. I would have anticipated that ramp will dominate thanks to the new payoffs, ramp spells, and Cavern of Souls. It was one of the top decks right before the release and it got nothing but better with new cards. While they didn’t necessarily need to be adopted, the deck was thought to stay on top either way.

It seems, however, like the top players have got a similar conclusion but went a step further and brought decks to punish those who wanted to win with ramp. As ramp plays so many triomes and overall shaky mana, aggressive strategies are a great way to punish it. While Sunfall is a pain, a lot of damage can be pushed through until it’s online. Furthermore, after such a Sunfall, burn spells or haste threats can still finish the job. And that’s exactly what happened this weekend!

There have been some developments by one of the best players, Jaberwocki, to eschew Topiary Stomper and up the number of mass removal which might be the way to go. Topiary Stomperdoes not block early and is just three-mana ramp. Jaberwocki seems to have come to the conclusion that it’s better to ensure that in the mid game you always have mass removal.

So far though, Ramp falls all the way back to #5.

#4: Mono Red Aggro

Mono White Aggro by Ondrej Strasky
by Skura
Buy on TCGplayer $240.87
Standard
best of 3
3 mythic
27 rare
12 uncommon
18 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
60 Cards
$172.28
Sideboard
3
Destroy Evil
$4.47
3
Lay Down Arms
$1.17
15 Cards
$167.55
Mono White Aggro by Ondrej Strasky Best of One
by Skura
Buy on TCGplayer $122.54
Standard
best of 3
2 mythic
26 rare
14 uncommon
18 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Sorceries (2)
2
Lay Down Arms
$0.78
Enchantments (6)
4
Ossification
$3.16
Lands (24)
18
Plains
$6.30
60 Cards
$175.68

Week one of the new format, Aggro decks thrive.

It looks like another case where right after the set release I put Mono Red back into the Top 5 – but that’s exactly how the tournaments went.

Mono Red punishes everyone who wants to try cute things out or fumbles mid-game. It’s a true format police that has reared its head now with the new set.

Interestingly, no new cards seem to have entered the deck. It’s a pure meta call. As discussed above, it can prey on slow draws especially out of Midrange and Ramp decks. Mono Red has the added benefit of being able to get the job done after a resolved Sunfall whereas Mono White or Green-based creature decks might fall short.

While it wasn’t the most successful aggro deck of the weekend, it certainly has to be on everyone’s radar now.

#3: Boros Aggro

Boros Aggro
by Skura
Buy on TCGplayer $286.56
Standard
best of 3
4 mythic
38 rare
8 uncommon
10 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
60 Cards
$380.88
15 Cards
$142.17
Boros Aggro Ixalan Best of One
by Skura
Buy on TCGplayer $183.35
Standard
best of 3
4 mythic
36 rare
8 uncommon
12 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
60 Cards
$381.48

Boros Aggro is an actual new entity that is here to stay. While I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mono Red fall back out of Top 5 in two weeks, Boros is that combination between Mono Red and Mono White that we’ve lacked.

Thanks to multiple new cards, it has much better top-end with both Adeline, Resplendent Cathar and Anim Pakal, Thousandth Moon that are must-answer threats. It puts a really strain on removal, as you want to cast it very early to preserve your life total but then you also always have to have it later to deal with the oncoming flurry of Adelines and Anim Pakals.

Inti, Seneschal of the Sun is a recurring trample giver that provides card advantage every combat. It is particularly relevant against other aggro decks where it can trample over opposing blockers and generate cards, encouraging in-combat trades.

Get Lost makes an appearance as well as the removal spell of choice. It makes perfect sense here as an instant speed answer to opposing creatures but also Leyline Binding.

For now Boros Aggro lands at #3 but I’ll be keeping a close eye on it in the upcoming days.

#2: Azorius Soldiers

Azorius Soldiers Ixalan
by Skura
Buy on TCGplayer $311.29
Standard
best of 3
3 mythic
33 rare
12 uncommon
12 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Instants (4)
4
Make Disappear
$3.96
Enchantments (5)
Lands (24)
1
Island
$0.35
3
Plains
$1.05
3
Adarkar Wastes
$23.97
4
Seachrome Coast
$17.96
2
Cavern of Souls
$89.98
1
Deserted Beach
$5.49
2
Mirrex
$18.98
60 Cards
$387.24
15 Cards
$99.13
Azorius Soldiers Ixalan Best of One
by Skura
Buy on TCGplayer $215.43
Standard
best of 3
2 mythic
34 rare
12 uncommon
12 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Instants (4)
4
Make Disappear
$3.96
Enchantments (4)
Lands (24)
1
Island
$0.35
3
Plains
$1.05
3
Adarkar Wastes
$23.97
4
Seachrome Coast
$17.96
2
Cavern of Souls
$89.98
1
Deserted Beach
$5.49
2
Mirrex
$18.98
60 Cards
$365.24

Previous champion of the rankings, Azorius Soldiers now lands at #2.

The week one results show that it’s no longer the force to be reckoned with but it still had decent results. It put 6 people in the top32 of one challenge and 7 in the other. From among these results, it Top8ed twice.

The tempo plan is still there, the adaptability is still there. The current version that can go wide and takes advantage of Lunarch Veteran also matches up well against other aggro decks that were clearly present this week.

Looking at the sideboards, this hypothesis confirms with copies of Lantern Flare and Get Lost in the board to combat other creature decks.

The only new card that seems to have slotted into the deck is Malcolm, Alluring Scoundrel – a card that I praised heavily after I played it during Early Access. Malcolm is a flash threat with evasion that cannot be disrespected due to its inevitable trigger.

#1: Esper Midrange

Esper Midrange Ixalan
by Skura
Buy on TCGplayer $644.46
Standard
best of 3
10 mythic
39 rare
8 uncommon
3 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Planeswalkers (2)
Instants (7)
2
Cut Down
$4.58
2
Make Disappear
$1.98
1
Get Lost
$7.49
Artifacts (2)
Enchantments (8)
60 Cards
$597.96
Sideboard
1
Cut Down
$2.29
1
Negate
$0.49
2
Destroy Evil
$2.98
1
Knockout Blow
$0.49
2
Duress
$0.70
1
Path of Peril
$2.99
15 Cards
$261.31
Esper Midrange Ixalan Best of One
by Skura
Buy on TCGplayer $463.3
Standard
best of 3
12 mythic
36 rare
9 uncommon
3 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Planeswalkers (4)
Instants (7)
3
Cut Down
$6.87
2
Make Disappear
$1.98
Artifacts (3)
Enchantments (8)
60 Cards
$621.76

It is not even close. In the last MTGO Standard Challenge, half the top eight was Esper Midrange and with a total of 10 copies in the entire top 32. It’s a destruction, it’s a domination.

In addition, there seems to be no Esper Legends in the results, suggesting that all the Esper players have jumped the Midrange train for good.

It was a good meta call if you’d forecast an increase in aggro decks.

Two cards from Ixalan have entered ranks, Deep-Cavern Bat and Subterranean Schooner.

The Bat is even played as a four-of! It’s a classic effect that we’ve seen a lot in Magic of a two-mana 1/1 that discards a card upon entry. Here the situation is a tad different. On the one hand, it has flying and lifelink putting it much higher in the creature quality department. On the other, it exiles the card that will get returned when Bat leaves the battlefield. It can be bitter sweet when it just dies but then again – the opponent had to spend a removal on this Bat so that’s a win in my book.

I’m curious to see how the situation develops and whether Esper Midrange can hold its position. It’s relatively tough to target but if the meta widens naturally with the new cards it might have a card time trying to adapt to *everything*

As of Week 1 though, the crown belongs to the Raffine, Scheming Seer.

Conclusion

Overall, the hero of this installment of the Standard Power Rankings – Esper Midrange!

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Skura
Skura

Also known as Skura or IslandsInFront on Twitter and YouTube, Filip started his career upon the release of Gatecrash and has been passing the turn in all formats ever since. He coaches and creates written and video content, mainly centered around the control archetype. He is passionate about Magic game theory and countering spells. Outside of Magic, he is a fan of snooker/pool, chess and Project Management.

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