Standard, where are you taking us?

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It's quite interesting how a new set affects the landscape of Standard. Not only are their hundreds of new cards added to the pool of playable options, but suddenly cards already legal become better or worse based on the existence of these new cards. Some of the new cards are so powerful they demand to be played, and others are so subtly powerful, that they need discovered.

A lot of the articles recently have been on the topic of Black White Tokens. If you have not ready those, they are definitely worth your time, because that deck is going to be a powerhouse. Both Patrick Chapin and Michael Martin wrote great articles for Star City Games, so check those out.

This is once case, where the deck and cards in it, will live up to the hype. Black White Tokens is an archetype that players love, and has proven success in the past. This will lead to players using the deck. There are really no weak links in the deck and it can be quite difficult to disrupt a strategy that plays multiple creatures from one spell repeatedly. This new token deck doesn’t have a broken card like Bitterblossom to lean on, but it will be just as influential in new Standard as it was previously.

My purpose today is not to talk about the token deck, however. What I want to do is create a picture of what Standard will look like and Black White Tokens is one piece. Since I believe the hype is justified, we will state our premise that Black White Tokens will be a Tier 1 deck and a driving force in the metagame. What implications does that have? Well, if that premise is true, then the other viable decks must adapt or stop being played. For example, is Blue White Humans really playable if the token deck can capitalize on the set up time it’s given to set up itself and then use an unending stream of token blockers to clog up the ground while it chips away at your life total? I am not saying that Blue White Humans is now suddenly unplayable, but it will certainly need to take things like this into consideration going forward. What about the other blue white deck, Delver? Can Delver really win on the back of its namesake when your opponent is creating an army of blockers that are not easily Vapor Snagged out of the way?

The metagame will adapt. Decks will change to fight the new decks. For example, the Invisible Stalker plus equipment plan is a great one against tokens. The token deck would have to rely on something like drawing Oblivion Ring to be able to beat Invisible Stalker. It’s not that Black White Tokens necessarily invalidates other strategies but it forces them to react to a new way to play this game of Standard. I think that the blue white decks will stick around. Decks that good typically don’t just become unplayable with the release of a new small set.

What about the other big tier one deck, Wolf Run? This is a ramp control deck that usually runs some number of sweepers. Sweepers are going to be excellent against tokens. Previously, sweepers were not as much of a problem because tokens had Thoughseize. Now, we have no good hand hate, so sweepers pose more of a problem. With Sorin, Lord of Innistrad being accompanied by his other planeswalker friends and Intangeable Virtue, sweepers won’t be as good though. Why waste time killing an army of three 3/2 tokens, when they are just going to replace them with a bunch more on their turn?

The puzzle is complex.

New aggro decks like Zombies, will be played probably. Who needs to attack when between the two new three drops Geralfs Messenger and Diregraf Captain players can just drain your life total with out actually getting damage through in combat. Zombies have intimidate and can come back from the graveyard, making them hard to deal with in combat. What if players start playing Phyrexian Obliterator again? How can tokens compete with a threat like that? The green creatures that run parallel to the zombies are strong also but they require as much of a commitment to green as zombies do to black. And then there are werewolves. We will see just how good they are in a world filled with tokens. Aggressive decks are interesting and complex with options as to how to build them. It seems like each of them aim to play a different game than the others.

What sense can we make of all of this? Well, hopefully this information has given you an insightful peek into the future of Standard but I do have a new piece to add to the puzzle of Standard. Massacre Wurm. Honestly, when I remembered the existence of this card, I was surprised that it has not seen play this season. Consider Elesh Norn for a moment. Many players considered Elesh Norn to be a trump comparable to that of Cruel Ultimatum. Massacre Wurm is one mana cheaper. Six is a lot less than seven, though triple black is more difficult than double white. Even with his difficult casting cost, Massacre Wurm has the potential to wreck a lot of players days in the upcoming weeks. We could try to fit in the six drop into a Wolf Run list similar to Conley Woods’ winning Grand Prix list, but I think the wurm might generate his own new archetype based on the way aggro will be built. Massacre Wurm is the perfect finisher for a control deck. It kills your opponents creatures and ends the game quickly thanks to his second ability.

The other black card that goes well with Massacre Wurm is Glissa the Traitor. Mabye it’s just a natural inclination to pair green and black together, or maybe it’s just my friends undying love for Rock decks that leads me down this line of thought, but these two colors seem poised to control the new format. The following list is just an idea based on a theoretical metagame, but it should be a great starting point for how to react to the new strategies.

The Heartless Rock


4 Woodland Cemetary

Certainly this is not a final version of this deck, but the idea intrigues me. Maybe running these cards in Wolf Run is just better, but this version certainly does a better job of controlling creature decks. Even something like replacing the Grave Titans with Massacre Wurm could be a great start. When working on this deck, I debated the inclusion of Green Suns Zeinth as well. It seems like the perfect card for the deck, but it doesn't have synergy with Heartless Summoning so I cut it from this particular list, but it is worth testing.

Speaking of Heartless Summoning, I plan to play a fun deck based on the card this Friday. I am a little burned out on Delver decks and the format in general, so I wanted to try something new and crazy. Let me state first that this deck is not meant for a competitive level event, just for FNM. The goal of the deck is honestly to be able to play Myr Superion. If you are looking for something fun, yet still competitive though, this may be the deck for you.

Heartless Summoning and Grand Architect provide a ridiculous amount of mana. I cannot wait to play this deck because it looks like so much fun. There may be tweaks before the event, but this is basically what I'm going to run. If you have been enjoying Heartless Summoning or Grand Architect, post in the comments below and tell me about it. I would love to hear the crazy stories about these cards. Enjoy FNM and Magic in general.

Until Next Time,

Unleash your heartlessness on Standard!

Mike Lanigan

MtgJedi on Twitter

4 thoughts on “Standard, where are you taking us?

  1. O-ringing equipment doesn't seem like the best way to deal with Invisible Stalker. Also speaking of Rock decks, I think that Birthing Pod could have a place in such a deck, I know I've seen one at FNM, something like 2 Green Sun, 4 Birthing Pod, 2 Mimic Vat and an assortment of fun ETB and LTB effects. Geralf's Messenger would fit perfectly in there, the other card I'm excited for the deck to get is Grim Backwoods, as I often feel like I want my Mimic Vated creature to die more often than it ends up dying.

  2. Heartless Architect is really fun but an aggro matchup may prove to be too difficult if we do not get our accelerators early in the game! Lack of mass sweeper!

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