Goldspan Dragon Art by Andrew Mar

Post-Ban Standard: Where Standard Goes From Here – Why These Were The Best Possible Bans

The Standard bans have been announced and the whole format is about to be flipped on it's head! DoggertQBones is coming right out of the gate with a bold statement - these were the best bans. What happens from here?

Wow.

I could almost stop the article there if I’m being honest after reading through the entire ban announcement. I’m not going to speak on Legacy as that’s not my area of expertise, but the Standard and Alchemy changes were plentiful and makes me extremely optimistic for the future of both formats. I’ll definitely be covering both formats, but we’re going to start with Standard.

For a little while, I was very scared for Standard’s future. The metagame seemed completely stagnant, Alrund's Epiphany was pretty miserable to play against, the monocolored aggro decks were out competing everything else beyond that. I knew changes had to happen, but figured it would just be an Alrund's Epiphany ban and nothing else which would slightly open up the meta. Imagine my surprise when we got the best possible bannings.

Before we begin, if you want to read the banned announcement, click the link below.

Alrund’s Epiphany

There’s not much more to say here that hasn’t already been said in the announcement. Epiphany was too good, was too hard to interact with, and just wasn’t fun. Banning this seemed like an inevitability of Wizard’s part and I’m glad that they finally pulled the trigger on it.

Faceless Haven

This ban didn’t completely shock me, but was definitely a bit of a surprise. I always pegged Wizard’s as being very conservative with bannings which made sense as getting rid of a card that maybe isn’t a problem is the worst case scenario, but it’s nice to see they’re getting out ahead of a monocolored mania.

Faceless Haven is really strong and it’s existence gives these decks a whole lot pressure for free. If you’re trying to 1 for 1 aggro, Faceless Haven is there to finish you off. I couldn’t even tell you how many times I’m about to stabilize but just get hit with a Haven once or twice that I can’t stop. That said, I’m a bit surprised that they didn’t want to see how the metagame would react to just an Epiphany ban, but I’m definitely not complaining.

Divide by Zero

This is the ban that took me completely by surprise as I didn’t even think Divide was on their radar, but it’s one I definitely agree with. Divide is an extremely innocuous card that makes playing expensive spells feel abysmal. A pricier Remand is still pretty gross apparently.

Realistically speaking, if they ban just Alrund's Epiphany, then the metagame is likely to stay pretty much the same. You’ll have Monocolored Aggro beating out every fast-medium speed deck, you’ll have The Meathook Massacre decks looking to prey on aggro, then Blue that can be good against both. If they ban Haven and Epiphany, then Blue control would just steamroll everything. Lier and Divide by Zero would realistically invalidate any strategy that can’t constantly interact with Lier or kill you before it’s relevant. With this change, the entire metagame can actually reset a little bit.

So now onto the fun part, how exactly is the metagame going to change for Standard?

MONOCOLORED IS STILL ON THE MENU

Werewolf [card name=
Werewolf Pack Leader Art by Miranda Meeks
Monowhite Aggro
by DoggertQBones
Standard
Aggro
best of 3
4 mythic
28 rare
8 uncommon
20 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Instants (2)
2
Valorous Stance
$0.50
Enchantments (2)
2
Paladin Class
$1.58
Lands (23)
20
Plains
$5.00
60 Cards
$101.42
15 Cards
$32.85

You thought Faceless Haven made these decks unplayable? Think again, strawman! Faceless Haven was a very strong component of these decks, but not what lets them exist. I will definitely admit, this ban hurts Monowhite Aggro pretty badly as the draws with and without Faceless Haven were pretty different, but it will still be plenty viable.

Monogreen Aggro
by DoggertQBones
Standard
best of 3
0 mythic
28 rare
6 uncommon
26 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Instants (2)
2
Snakeskin Veil
$0.50
Sorceries (4)
4
Blizzard Brawl
$1.00
Artifacts (4)
Enchantments (4)
2
Ranger Class
$3.58
2
Unnatural Growth
$13.98
Lands (23)
60 Cards
$120.38
15 Cards
$39.03

Monogreen on the other hand hates to see Faceless Haven go, but I think it was less necessary in their builds; it was awkward with Werewolf Pack Leader, awkward with MDFCs, and Lair of the Hydra is already a pretty good replacement. That said, are both of these decks going to continue dominating with Haven gone? I don’t think so. Although both can definitely still exist, missing out on a free threat is a pretty big hit for both decks (but again, more so Monowhite). The incentive to have clean mana in your aggro deck is definitely still going to be high as that’s just a natural advantage in Magic, but now it isn’t so clear cut. What do I mean?

MULTICOLOR AGGRO IS POISED TO BE TIER 1

Halana and Alena Partners Art by Jason Rainville
Halana and Alena Partners Art by Jason Rainville

With the incentive of Faceless Haven gone, there’s going to be new ways to approach aggro that have been a bit forgotten. Let’s go with a classic example.

Temur Aggro
by DoggertQBones
Standard
Aggro
best of 3
12 mythic
29 rare
5 uncommon
14 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Planeswalkers (2)
2
Wrenn and Seven
$33.98
Creatures (20)
2
Moonveil Regent
$4.98
4
Goldspan Dragon
$95.96
Instants (6)
2
Play with Fire
$4.58
4
Dragon’s Fire
$1.00
Sorceries (4)
Artifacts (4)
Enchantments (2)
2
Ranger Class
$3.58
Lands (22)
5
Forest
$1.25
1
Mountain
$0.25
60 Cards
$333.34
Sideboard
2
Play with Fire
$4.58
2
Negate
$0.50
2
Tangletrap
$0.50
4
Burning Hands
$1.00
15 Cards
$7.83

Gruul (or Temur technically) Aggro has been a strategy that was functionally pushed out of the metagame. It was an aggro deck looking to be good against Epiphany, but didn’t even accomplish that particularly well and had bad matchups against the other aggro decks. A pretty poor place to be in a metagame with Epiphany and monocolored aggro as the main viable options. With this change, you can look to splash in your aggressive decks again which is not only going to give a lot of variety in the meta, but also give each player much more deck building agency and can attack the meta is more salient ways. We can even get a little funkier with our splashing too.

Naya Aggro
by DoggertQBones
Standard
Aggro
best of 3
2 mythic
46 rare
5 uncommon
7 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
60 Cards
$210.06
15 Cards
$36.07

Naya Aggro won and got 4th in the most recent Standard challenge so it’s safe to say that this is good news for them! The current build of this deck was definitely geared towards beating up on Epiphany, but with access to more colors, the configuration can easily change. This will still perform well against the other aggro decks as Halana and Alena, Partners are a huge beating if left unchecked while still having the explosiveness of Monowhite. I envision more aggro decks are going to get very liberal with their mana bases very soon.

BLOOD ON THE SNOW IS COMING BACK

Blood on the Snow Art by Martina Fackova
Blood on the Snow Art by Martina Fackova
Orzhov Midrange
by DoggertQBones
Standard
best of 3
9 mythic
18 rare
8 uncommon
25 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Planeswalkers (6)
Creatures (11)
4
Shambling Ghast
$2.36
2
Fell Stinger
$0.70
Instants (6)
2
Vanishing Verse
$6.98
4
Deadly Dispute
$19.96
Sorceries (5)
Enchantments (7)
60 Cards
$431.1
Sideboard
2
Vanishing Verse
$6.98
3
Duress
$0.75
3
Go Blank
$7.47
3
Doomskar
$8.37
15 Cards
$24.57

Black midrange decks had a terrible choice to constantly make in Standard. While you have a fantastic Monowhite matchup and strong Monogreen matchup, the Epiphany matchup was god awful. You had to play 4 Duress and 4 Go Blank in your sideboard to even stand a chance, and that didn’t even make the matchup good for them. However, with the main offender gone and aggro ready to come back in full swing, Blood on the Snow can be safely played again. It’ll still need to have the right tools for each matchup, but not playing the lottery with your matchups is a very nice feeling.

MIDRANGE FINALLY HAS A CHANCE

Valki, God of Lies Art by Yongjae Choi
Valki, God of Lies Art by Yongjae Choi

It’s not just Blood on the Snow midrange that may have a renaissance! I’m going to be honest, midrange as we knew it has been gone from Standard for quite a long time. With Eldraine, everything seemed to be pushed either to pure efficiency like Adventure, Rogues, and now monocolor aggro or to going really big like Sultai Ultimatum or Turns. Having a deck with good threats and interaction hasn’t been a popular thing in quite awhile, but that may finally change.

Jund Midrange
by DoggertQBones
Standard
Midrange
best of 3
6 mythic
35 rare
5 uncommon
14 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Instants (8)
4
Dragon’s Fire
$1.00
3
Deadly Dispute
$14.97
1
Infernal Grasp
$0.69
Sorceries (2)
Artifacts (4)
Lands (23)
1
Mountain
$0.25
2
Swamp
$0.50
4
Darkbore Pathway
$35.96
4
Haunted Ridge
$63.96
60 Cards
$363.48
Sideboard
4
Burning Hands
$1.00
3
Duress
$0.75
4
Go Blank
$9.96
15 Cards
$48.19

To that end, Jund midrange was already showing promise i the previous format showing that maybe this strategy could already be viable. I have high hopes that since the metagame won’t be assaulted by extremely fast decks and decks that are going to outmuscle anything come turn 6+, these slower strategies can flourish. Hopefully we get to see a lot more of this in the near future to get a wide breadth of new decks to explore.

BLUE IS DOWN, BUT NOT OUT

Hullbreaker Horror Art by Svetlin Velinov
Hullbreaker Horror Art by Svetlin Velinov

Getting two of your best cards is unsurprisingly going to hurt you a bit, but this doesn’t mean Blue is done, it just has to change. Before these bans, Blue has only been in two real camps: play Epiphany or beat Epiphany. The play Epiphany camp you’re likely very aware of, but the beat Epiphany camp was mostly just Dimir Lier packing a bunch of disruption to try and beat up on Epiphany. However, with Epiphany and Divide by Zero gone, both of these decks are likely going to disappear: Epiphany for obvious reasons and Lier as losing Divide is extremely brutal. So how will Blue adapt?

Izzet Control
by DoggertQBones
Standard
Control
best of 3
0 mythic
20 rare
20 uncommon
20 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (4)
1
Smoldering Egg
$1.99
Instants (27)
3
Fading Hope
$3.87
3
Wash Away
$2.37
2
Cinderclasm
$0.50
2
Demon Bolt
$0.50
1
Saw It Coming
$0.25
Sorceries (4)
Artifacts (2)
2
The Celestus
$3.98
Lands (23)
5
Island
$1.25
7
Mountain
$1.75
1
Field of Ruin
$0.25
60 Cards
$177.84
Sideboard
3
Smoldering Egg
$5.97
2
Goldspan Dragon
$47.98
1
Fading Hope
$1.29
1
Into the Roil
$0.25
1
Cinderclasm
$0.25
1
Burning Hands
$0.25
1
Demon Bolt
$0.25
15 Cards
$74.45

One way to approach it is you can simply take the Turns shell, change a few cards, and throw in Hullbreaker Horror. This will definitely not be as strong as the Turns deck was, but with the rest of the deck intact, it should still be a very powerful strategy all around. What if we go even further back in time?

Izzet Dragons
by DoggertQBones
Standard
Control
best of 3
8 mythic
20 rare
17 uncommon
15 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (9)
4
Smoldering Egg
$7.96
4
Goldspan Dragon
$95.96
Instants (21)
3
Fading Hope
$3.87
1
Negate
$0.25
4
Dragon’s Fire
$1.00
4
Saw It Coming
$1.00
4
Memory Deluge
$7.96
Sorceries (10)
Lands (20)
6
Island
$1.50
4
Mountain
$1.00
60 Cards
$302.14
Sideboard
1
Fading Hope
$1.29
2
Cinderclasm
$0.50
3
Burning Hands
$0.75
1
Heated Debate
$0.25
15 Cards
$33.23

Yuta Takahashi won Worlds with this not too long ago and it’s very likely viable again. Goldspan Dragon is still one of the best cards in Standard and building with it in such a way to use it’s full potential is likely to be a strong strategy out of the gate.

CONCLUSION

To sum up, I absolutely love these bans. I think besides Esika's Chariot (which I think is a touch too powerful, but not necessarily overbearing), this ban addressed all the problems I had with the current Standard format. There should be a lot more metagame diversity as the major payoffs for the two main archetypes (Turns and Monocolored Aggro) have been completely nixed from the metagame. Hitting Divide by Zero as well I think was an extremely smart move as if just Epiphany and Haven were banned, I would highly suspect some form of Blue control to just sweep everything else away. There’s a lot of different potential decks to try out now and I’m extremely optimistic for Standard’s future.

Thank you for reading!

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DoggertQBones

Robert "DoggertQBones" Lee is the content manager of MTGAZone and a high ranked Arena player. He has one GP Top 8 and pioneered popular archetypes like UB 8 Shark, UB Yorion, and GW Company in Historic. Beyond Magic, his passions are writing and coaching! Join our community on
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