October 12th Post-Ban Standard: Where do we go from here?
Welcome back everyone! Man, it only felt like two weeks ago that I was writing an article very similar to this one. Nevertheless, with Omnath, Locus of Creation, Lucky Clover, and more surprisingly Escape to the Wilds now gone, we have a brand new standard environment on the horizon. With these bannings, there are a lot of immediate positive ramifications I’m going to explain and analyse. Before anything else, I know Wizards has been getting a lot of flack recently, but I personally applaud them for stepping up and rectifying their errors before they become completely irreparable. Now, with all this in mind, how does Standard move forward from here?
AGGRO’S BACK ON THE MENU, BUT NOT WITHOUT SOME SPEED BUMPS
Aggressive decks really got the short end of the stick with Zendikar Rising’s release. Between Temur Clover, Omnath, and Uro to beat through, it was functionally impossible to do well with an aggressive deck. However, now with the main offenders being gone from Standard, aggro decks will actually have a fair shake. Now, that’s not to say that with these changes aggressive decks are suddenly going to catapult to tier one; they still have a major obstacle to overcome, and his name is Bonecrusher Giant. I slated Bonecrusher Giant as a potential ban due to his ubiquity in red decks and how difficult it is for an aggro deck to break through it. A turn 2 removal spell into a turn 3 4/3 is very brutal when you’re trying to play small creatures. However, to quote some wise words from Drifter in the ban predictions article, “if there are a lot of good targets for Shock to kill, then why wouldn’t the best version of Shock see a lot of play?”. Bonecrusher Giant is certainly a very powerful card, but beating one is significantly more reasonable than trying to attack through an Uro or an Omnath. Despite this, aggressive decks will still have quite the hill to climb in this new Standard format, as what I believe will be the new best deck has quite a strong creature matchup.
Despite Rakdos not performing the best at the Grand Finals last weekend, it has been an absolute dominating force on the ladder. Personally, I’m 7-0 with this take on it, 4 of those wins being the mirror. With the popularity of creature decks, and more specifically Rogues, this is very likely the best place to be approaching the new Standard metagame. Furthermore, with Escape to the Wilds being banned, there are functionally no huge card advantage engines left, further bolstering Rakdos’s position in the metagame.
Fear not though aggro players; all is not lost! Although Rakdos has a strong matchup against the creature decks, there is one aggressive deck that I’ve personally not lost to Rakdos with, despite facing it multiple times.
I stole this base from Danytlaw, who I believe stole it from Urlich, but we all had similar things to say: the deck was excellent. Despite it looking relatively wonky, its synergies are extremely powerful and you can accumulate a large amount of power rapidly. The Ozilith is the secret MVP of the deck, as it continuously makes a creature a humongous threat, and with Lucky Clover being gone, artifact removal will be close to non-existent. Furthermore, most of the threats are quite powerful on their own, so you constantly force the Rakdos player to keep having to answer your threats, or risk having one of your creatures become unmanageable. If you want to try an aggressive deck in the new meta, this is where I’d start (and if you want to learn more about the deck, be on the lookout for a deck guide on it soon!) However, if you’re more in the vein of wanting to kill your opponent ASAP, you could do worse than Autumn Burchett and Emma Handy’s Gruul deck from the Grand Finals.
Check out my modified list below:
I took the liberty of removing the Embereth Shieldbreakers from the sideboard and going up on Chainweb Aracnir, Ranger’s Guile, and Thundering Rebuke. With the lack of Clover, the main deck Gemrazers may prove unnecessary, but the card is still very powerful and tags cards such as Stonecoil Serpent, Glass Casket, and Tymaret Calls the Dead. Don’t be too hasty in removing them, you may regret it. I believe Gruul is still likely going to struggle as Rakdos’s metagame share will certainly increase, but Rakdos is a much easier obstacle to overcome compared to Omnath or Lucky Clover.
Mono Green is another option if you’re looking to beat face right now. Although it struggles against Rakdos, it posted a positive matchup against literally every non-Omnath strategy before the bans took place. With a blistering fast clock and a crisp mana base, this is one of the premiere aggressive options. Check out Rumti’s list below, which I think is the best one:
MIDRANGE CAN ACTUALLY BE MIDRANGE AGAIN
This is where my fingers are crossed the hardest. For the past year, there were so many overpowered and overbearing cards that midrange decks didn’t feel like decks that were actually jockeying for position, but rather just convenient vessels for Standard’s most egregious mistakes. I mean, take a look at Chandra, Heart of Fire. That’s a legitimately good card that looks laughably bad in the face of Omnath, Lucky Clover, Uro, Oko, Fires, Wilderness Reclamation, etc. Furthermore, this is where the Escape into the Wilds ban, although completely blindsiding me, makes me ecstatic for the prospect of new Standard. As I said previously, pretty much every instantaneous and powerful card advantage engine is gone from standard. If Escape remained legal, it would likely be a requirement for any midrange strategy to play, as it just gets you so far ahead in slower matchups. With it gone, you can truly be a midrange deck of any color combination you want and have a chance of actually succeeding. Take this deck for example:
GB Adventure has been unplayable for the longest time, as it simply couldn’t compete with Omnath or Lucky Clover. Not to say it was completely unwinnable, but despite playing powerful cards, they were nothing compared to what you could be playing instead. Now, the floodgates are open and I can have my baby back. Furthermore, if you’re curious on how this deck performs, you can once again expect a deck guide to come out sooner or later (I just love writing deck guides)! If you are a fan of fair Magic in Standard then you should be more excited than ever, because after a year long stretch of broken designs, I think we may actually get significant midrange deck diversity again.
CONTROL IS ALLOWED TO EXIST
Midrange isn’t the only archetype that’s been unbanned; Control has been on the backburner of Standard for a long while, as threats were built in with card advantage, so making any gap in interaction functionally fatal. For me, the most frustrating part of being a Control player is seeing my opponent play a Lucky Clover on turn 2, as I would seriously consider just conceding the game. Furthermore, answering all my opponent’s threats one for one, then suddenly an Escape to the Wilds resolves? Good luck grinding through that. I literally can’t believe that the metagame may actually be restored to what a Standard metagame should be: aggro decks, midrange decks, and control decks all seeing play. There are many Control lists that I’m sure I will try this week, but to start off, of course I have to give you an updated list of my baby:
Check out my guide to the deck, for more info.
Making a Control deck in a brand new Standard environment is difficult, but I believe this will be a good place to start. I’m assuming aggressive decks are going to explode in popularity, so a Control deck that likes beating up on aggressive decks should work relatively well. Just make sure you’re changing your list constantly as the meta evolves. Week 1 is likely to be dominated by creatures, but I wouldn’t be surprised if week 2 brings a new wave of midrange and control strategies.
Let’s do a quick recap or this could function as a TLDR. I wouldn’t blame you if you just want the highlights, I want to jump into new Standard too!
- Aggro decks have a reasonable chance of competing when they don’t have to beat through huge threats that gain life, or have multiple threats bounced or destroyed as early as turn 3 (after your opponent ramped with Beanstalk Giant of course).
- Midrange decks no longer have to be 52 cards and 8 obscenely broken cards; fair magic may yet happen for the first time in a year!
- Control decks don’t have to worry about just dying to Lucky Clover or Escape to the Wilds; this brings the archetype from completely unplayable back to the forefront of Standard
- Card advantage has become significantly more fair; ideally we’ll be seeing matches of Magic that aren’t dominated by one player resolving their broken card before the other .
How will the Metagame Adapt?
- Creature decks will be all over the ladder, especially Rogues, as it was one of the few decks that could tussle in an Omnath world. However, Rakdos is going to come by and give them all the beatdown in the immediate future.
- With the rise of popularity of Rakdos, other midrange strategies will begin to spring up, half to combat creature decks, and half to try to do it better and beat up on Rakdos.
- Once the metagame stabilizes a bit, Control decks will see a large resurgence in play. The popularity of Rogues may make it challenging for them, but there are definitely builds that can make the matchup more reasonable. It will take time to find what builds work, with all the decks Control has to combat.
- For the first time in a while, Ramp is going to remain relatively quiet. With the lack of an undercosted, overpowered payoff, it’s likely we won’t see any prominent Ramp strategies pop up for a while. However, if Standard becomes a midrange slugfest, expect Ugin to come knocking at the door.
That’s all I have for today. If you like my content, check me out on Twitch! You’ll be able to watch me break Standard open live if you want to!