Zendikar Rising Standard Meta Snapshot #1
Hello everyone! I’m back with a Zendikar Rising Standard Meta Snapshot just in time for the Standard Metagame Challenge event this weekend! Before I get started, I’ll explain how I define each tier as there are many different interpretations to how a Tier list should be constructed.
- Tier One: The best of the best. The most consistent decks that sport the highest win rates and generally, the highest play rates.
- Tier Two: Very solid decks that are slightly lacking in some capacity, whether it’s consistency or power compared to the Tier One archetypes. These can still be strong choices for ladder or for tournaments if you are highly skilled with the archetype or play them during the right metas.
- Tier Three: Either these decks are poorly positioned or have a lot of power/consistency issues. These are decks that see play, but are generally worse choices than your other options.
With that out of the way, let’s take a brief look at the tier list before diving into each deck.
The official Magic: the Gathering Twitter account announced on September 22 that they’re going to provide an update on the Standard format early next week, and with that, the potential for a ban. For more information regarding this news, click here!
|7||Mono White Aggro||2|
|8||Mono Black Auras||2|
The undisputed king of Standard and it’s not particularly close. Powered by Lotus Cobra, Uro, and Omnath, the amount of mana this deck can generate on any given turn is absolutely obscene and puts the mana advantage you used to accrue from Fires of Invention to shame. I’ve had turns where I untap with an Omnath and six lands out, play land 7, Genesis Ultimatum, and proceed to cast 20+ mana worth of spells. The power level of this deck is absolutely unbelievable. Besides that, its ability to prolong and grind the game with Omnath, Uro, and Genesis Ultimatum make beating it consistently next to impossible. The only real detriment to this deck is sometimes the colors can be shaky and missing lands is a death sentence but beyond that, this deck boasts functionally no weakness.
The stock list is pretty set in stone but the main divider between Omnath pilots is to play Felidar Retreat or to play Terror of the Peaks. After trying both version, I’m definitely on the Terror side, and most pilots are transitioning over to Terror as well. It can make your Genesis Ultimatum OTKs and the Felidar Retreat version doesn’t really have any answers to it. Furthermore, Terror of the Peaks further solidifies your already strong aggressive matchups by establishing another must answer threat that can kill them or obliterate their board if left unchecked. Despite my clear bias, I’ll link both lists for Omnath that I’ve mostly seen.
It’s hard to keep Sultai down it seems. Let me be clear, Sultai is miles behind 4C Omnath in terms of power level, but I have it ranked highly because of it’s good matchups against the other top decks of the format, including 4C Omnath.
Functionally Dimir Control with Uro, you use your host of interaction to keep your opponent from killing you then you finish them with any of your huge game ending threats. This plan actually works pretty well against 4C Omnath as all your interaction lines up quite nicely against their threats and they don’t have good answers to your threats. It’s pretty much impossible to outmuscle 4C Omnath, but if you have your interaction at the right times and land a few of your threats, it’s definitely able to get the job done.
This is really what separates Sultai and Dimir vs 4C Omnath – simply stopping them is not enough since a lot of their cards are 2 for 1s, you still need to actively kill them, and Sultai does that rather well. The biggest issue with Sultai, similarly to 4C Omnath, is that the mana is also rather shaky and getting color screwed is a reality. Gone are the days of perfect mana, which in a holistic sense, I think is a net positive for Standard. Furthermore, as is the issue in any deck that blends proactive and reactive cards, drawing the wrong half could be quite problematic.
If I wrote this article yesterday, I would’ve put this deck as a Tier 1 strategy right under 4C Omnath. 4C seemed to not have a great game plan against aggressive decks and although they have real problem cards like Uro and Omnath, the rest of their deck didn’t line up well. But, that was yesterday, and decks change super quickly on Arena these days. Now that Terror of the Peaks and main deck Bonecrusher Giant are picking up steam, Gruul went from having a good matchup to an even and potentially even bad matchup against against them.
Nevertheless, Gruul is the premiere aggressive deck of the format utilizing the Adventure package and powerful cards like Lotus Cobra, Questing Beast, and Embercleave. You’re aiming to kill your opponent before they can inevitably use any of their haymakers on you. I’ve found Gruul to be strong against the other aggressive strategies, which was nice if you need a break from an Uro deck. Surprisingly, mana and colors have also been somewhat problematic for Gruul. The new flip lands have been a welcome addition to the aggressive decks, but the modal double-faced cards (MDFCs) are not exactly what the doctor ordered. You can find yourself having to use a Kazandu Mammoth as a land more often than you’d like and when you’re playing tap lands in your aggro deck, you can be in for a rough game as the previous Standard taught us.
Mono Green Stompy
Got to Rank 3 with Mono-G Stompy tonight. Went 15-2 (5-2 vs Omnath). List felt really good but there's still some tuning to do, especially in the sideboard.
— Rumti (@Rumti5) September 22, 2020
Resident Mono Green expert and Twitch streamer Rumti would be despondent if I didn’t pay respects to Mono Green, so here it is. From as far as I can tell, this deck is extremely similar to Gruul, maybe slightly lower power, but way more consistent with its mono color manabase. Beyond that, there really isn’t much to say about the deck and Standard rotation was kind to the already strong archetype. You host roughly the same amount of creatures and interactive spells as Gruul, so you can’t really go wrong on which green aggressive deck you prefer. Bonecrusher and Embercleave are super nice, but so is better mana and The Great Henge. Rumti will tell you that Mono Green is better than Gruul but I think they’re too similar to tell.
The stream tonight went well. I'd love to play Lucky Clover in the Grand Finals, but if Wizards decides to ban it, I understand.
— Aaron Gertler 🧮 (@AaronGertler) September 23, 2020
As long as Lucky Clover is legal in Standard, you can bet that DreamHack champion and Twitch streamer Aaron Gertler is going to mess people up with it. From what he says, every matchup is good besides Omnath, which feels even. Not that I don’t believe him, but he is simply a master of the archetype. From my experience playing the deck, your aggressive matchups are very good with your combination of Bonecrusher Giant and Branzen Borrower to interact, and Lovestruck Beast to act as a brick wall. Plus, your ability to grind with Lucky Clover and Fae of Wishes makes it a hard deck to combat for many decks.
From my experience, trying to outvalue Temur Clover is a losing proposition as is trying to go under them with the current set of cards available, so going over them is generally the best option. Unfortunately for Temur Clover, 4C Omnath is the king of going over the top of other decks. I have a hard time believing that 4C Omnath is anything but a bad matchup for Temur Clover, and I’m assuming as the list gets more refined and the pilots more skilled, Clover players will begin having a tougher and tougher time. However, with a prospective ban announcement looming over the horizon, getting your reps in with Clover seems like a smart choice, especially if you want to play safe with your Wildcards.
Utilizing a suite of counterspells to put your opponent off balance and them finishing them off with a large threat (similarly to Sultai’s gameplan), this strategy has proven to be effective against the Omnath decks. The big advantages you incur using Dimir over Sultai is an extremely clean manabase, Crawling Barrens, and access to more counter magic including the decks all-star Voracious Greatshark. It’s not the largest sample size, but 6-0 against 4C Omnath at high Mythic is nothing to scoff at.
Furthermore, Ashiok’s Erasure has never looked better, locking down Uro’s, Omnaths, Ultimatums, or whatever other 4 copy card that could be a haymaker at any point in the game. The biggest detriment with playing this versus playing Sultai is losing Uro. Not only are you playing a much fairer gameplan, you lose valuable ramp, lifegain, and a threat. Though based on Wizard’s announcement, the Uro menace will likely not be around for too much longer to make you choose between this and Sultai.
Mono Red Aggro
This may be one of the first metagames in a long time where Mono Red Aggro wasn’t a great week one strategy. Plagued by its weak one drops and every Green Mythic Rare incidentally gaining life, Mono Red is in a very bad spot right now. It still plays extremely powerful cards like Anax, Torbran, and Embercleave, but the rest of the deck is severely lacking in powerful options. I think you’d be better off playing Gruul or Mono Green, but some people can’t resist a clean mana base and Embercleave. Play at your own risk as long as Uro and Omnath are the best cards in Standard.
— Charizard_James Rutherford (@charizardjames7) September 20, 2020
I’m actually quite surprised that Winota hasn’t made a bigger splash, but a 4 drop that cheats the curve and gives you large mana advantages, currently isn’t quite as strong as the other 4 drop in Standard that has a similar function. Furthermore, the card quality in the Winota decks is just so much lower than the card quality in the Omnath deck that I have a hard time justifying this over more consistent aggressive decks although the power level can be higher. If you like playing a Winota and swinging for lethal in the same turn, this can definitely do that for you, but if you’re looking to climb the ladder, I don’t think I can recommend this.
It’s a bad time to be a Dimir player. Starting as one of the most promising decks coming out of the Early Access Streamer Event, Uro came by to smack it down before it got a fair chance. The deck features a cool game plan of aggro and mill, powerful cards in Nighthawk Scavenger, Brazen Borrower, and Rankle, but the deck isn’t at all effective against Uro. Furthermore, your matchups against other aggressive strategies that feature bigger and better individual creatures leave a lot to be desired. Maybe once Uro is (inevitably?) gone Rogues can see it’s time in the sun, but we’ll have to see.
That concludes my first metagame snapshot! With the potential bans looming on the horizon, the next snapshot will likely differ significantly from this one but, if you’re looking to compete this weekend, you now have all the information you’ll need! In the meantime, follow me at DoggertQBones on Twitch to see me navigating through the new Standard!