M12 is legal to play starting on Friday July 15. That means some players will have M12 cards in their decks on Friday and Saturday. Will you be prepared for them? Don’t get caught up in all the set analysis hype or even the articles that say, hey these decks have been doing well. None of that will help you compete in Standard with M12 legal because the format will simply be different than that. Does Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle.deck gain anything from the new set? Likely not much, but if you are playing that deck you need to consider not only what cards you could add but what cards you might have to play against.
No matter what deck you are planning to play, for example, you should take into consideration the existence of Goblin Grenade. Last week, I may have been a little hasty in the deck list that I recommended, thanks @JoshJMTG. However, when Goblin Grenade was spoiled, I was genuinely scared and concerned with just how good a red deck could be. I remember getting wrecked by this card out of nowhere. Five damage for one red mana is a ton and we have not had a card this potent in Standard for years. This card is so powerful that no matter how bad the goblins are for the next year, players will be losing to this card. So, with that in mind, let’s focus on building a deck to utilize Goblin Grenade where it will really shine: Goblins. We need lots of goblins! Here is a list of all the Standard playable Goblins.
Of the M12 goblins, here are the ones that are reprints in the above list. Goblin Arsonist, Goblin Chieftain, Goblin Piker, and Goblin Tunneler. Then we have two new ones: Goblin Bangchuckers and Goblin Fireslinger. Once we whittle down to the truly playable ones we are left with something like the following.
Not only does this deck have an effective twelve lords, but it’s full of sick burn too! When was the last time Goblins were actually good? Onslaught. When I think of Goblins in its height as a tier one Standard deck, I always think of Onslaught Goblins. Even the Legacy Goblins deck didn’t even really exist until Onslaught because of Goblin Warchief and Goblin Piledriver. Sure, this deck has no Goblin Piledriver, but this deck has crazy efficient burn and, oh yeah, freaking Goblin Grenade! I would be looking to this or a more Red Deck Wins version with Grim Lavamancer as the go to aggro deck in Standard for the M12 metagame.
Mono Red not your thing? Well then, jump on board the Vampire ship with me. This archtype is full of aggressive creatures, disruption, and efficient kill spells. What more could you want? Smallpox. Smallpox? Yes, I like giving my vampires more diseases and so should you. Anyone played this card before? It’s sick. Now, think about the four abilities. Yes, this two mana card has four abilities and yes that is like a command for two mana except you don’t have to choose two, you just get all four. How insane is that? Well, let’s see…
Each player loses 1 life = great because I am playing an aggro deck so I don’t care about my life total.
Each player discards a card = either I discard a Bloodghast or a land.
Each player sacrifices a creature = either I sacrifice a Bloodghast or nothing and you sacrifice something.
Each player sacrifices a land = I can run on less lands than you can.
Where is the down side to this card? What if you had two Bloodghasts, one for each of the middle two abilities, how sick would that be? Sure that’s not going to happen often, but it will happen. Smallpox is so good the deck list I am about to advocate basically replaces Phyrexian Obliterator with Smallpox. Yes, that’s right, one of the best creatures ever printed is being replaced. That should grab your attention and tell you how strongly I believe Smallpox is busted.
I think if Vampires is to survive as a tier one or two deck, it needs to adapt and become disruptive in a different way. The first step to that is Smallpox. The second step to that is Despise. Despise is going to do everything you want it to do in almost every match up. Obviously if you ever have to play against Pyromancer Ascension with Despise in your deck, that could be bad but even they might have Jace Beleren. That’s the worst it will ever be. Against a control deck you take their win condition or their awesome planeswalker. Even against an aggro deck where you would side them out, you can take their best creature. I think it would be especially potent against Valakut though because you can take their Primeval Titan.
Let’s see this new Vampires list.
I did keep the red mana because I feel it is important for some burn to still be in the deck. Also, Manic Vandals, and Arc Trail out of the sideboard are very important to a variety of matchups. Although no one has played in the post M12 metagame, I really feel that this list is solid and I encourage you to try it out too.
The third and final deck that I want to talk about today is a control deck. My team has been working on this deck a lot recently and it has gone through many changes already. The deck is reminiscent of Super Friends and yes, Caw-Go before Stoneforge Mystic was in the deck. If you think about it, the starting point of the format is the decks that were viable at the beginning of the season. Back then Valakut was king and Caw-Go was built to beat it. This version has a similar goal except not only does it need to beat Valakut, but also Splinter Twin and RDW. It just happens to have a great matchup against any aggro deck also.
This deck tries to disrupt the early game with counters and Day of Judgment and then follow up with planeswalkers. Tectonic Edge and Spreading Seas are there to disrupt your opponents’ mana, specifically Valakut but it also helps against many other opponents as well. Squadron Hawks are still good against aggro and control decks, though not as broken they are still card advantage and do a great job of getting you to the midgame. There have been many other large creatures in the deck but in the end, the nod goes to the sphinx of card drawing. Playing the Consecrated Sphinx is like playing Jace, the Mind Sculptor because if your opponent doesn’t answer it right away you just gain such a huge advantage that they cannot ever catch up. In previous versions, there were Dismembers but they were constantly underperforming so they were moved to the sideboard. The rest of the sideboard is up in the air but there will be Celestial Purges for sure. Most likely there will be Spell Pierce and Into the Roil as well but it will depend on what your metagame looks like.
In conclusion, these three decks are sure to make an impact on Standard and should help you get a start on the metagame. I expect the blue white deck to catch on rather quickly because it is well positioned and has good matchups just like before. Goblins is fast and Vampires is disruptive and both of those things seem particularly good in this metagame. There is one final card in M12 that I think will have a large impact in the next three months and that card is Ponder. I expect the lowest impact Ponder will have is to give consistency back to Pyromancer Ascension and Splinter Twin, with the possibility of it being played even more than that.
It’s a brewers format so until next time, unleash that brewer’s spirit!