Getting Creative in Standard

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Some recent deck developments have left me astonished about the creativity in deck building taking place in Standard right now. Many professional players have said Standard is a deck builder's paradise, but it is easy to forget that based on the majority of players’ eagerness to netdeck. You think Standard seems stale what with six Rakdos mirror matches in one event, but like me, you just need to look closer. There is a lot of innovation happening in Standard, maybe more than any other format.

In fact, preparing for Standard events this season has been very different from week to week. One week a deck can be a great choice and the next it's completely invalidated by another strategy. The best cards are still being played by a lot of players, but finding new cards to play along with them or using them in different combinations can create the feel of a completely new deck.

Think about both Rakdos and Bant. Each of them has undergone a variety of successful iterations since the first week of Ravnica Standard. For a while Rakdos was hated out of the metagame, but then players started adding Hellrider and Thundermaw Hellkite to completely change the way the deck plays out. Bant similarly has changed immensely from its original version. The point is that even though both decks have been around for a while, even they have changed a lot over the course of the format.

In addition to the expected decks evolving from week to week, there have been many new decks popping up. For a couple weeks we had the Craterhoof Behemoth reanimator deck that forced the metagame to adopt graveyard hate or be run over. Right around that time the Izzet Staticaster plus Nightshade Peddler Jund deck showed up. Those are just a couple examples, but the point is that innovation in Standard is being rewarded now more than ever.

This past week gave us the two newest examples of Standard creativity. First of all, at Grand Prix Nagoya the Japanese proved their innovative abilities once again. The event was won by a brand new deck. Well, basically a brand new deck. It’s a reanimator deck so some of the enabling cards are the same as in other reanimator decks, but the other half of the deck is entirely different. Here’s what took the metagame by storm in Japan.

Yuji Okita
1st place at GP Nagoya

Now that’s a reanimator deck! Not only do you have the normal graveyard enablers like Mulch and Faithless Looting, but he also uses Chronic Flooding on his own lands to do it! The premise is equally awesome. Fill your graveyard with creatures, which all happen to be humans, then cast Unburial Rites on Angel of Glory's Rise to bring them all back. This play is reminiscent of Patriarch's Bidding because it puts your entire graveyard into play. The core of the deck is actually the same as the Peddler Jund deck I was playing a couple weeks ago, which should make matchups against non-Rakdos aggressive decks good.

I really like what this deck is doing. The game plan is inherently powerful and there is a lot of consistency. In addition to being a win condition in this deck, Angel of Glory's Rise is naturally good against anyone trying to amass an army of zombies.

The long-term effectiveness of this strategy may be in question because there are many spells designed to beat graveyard decks. The success of this deck and the Craterhoof deck proves that you need to be prepared to fight against your opponents’ graveyard. So even if a reanimator deck doesn’t do well for a few weeks due to players oversideboarding for the matchup, make sure you leave some card in your sideboard to deal with this type of strategy.

Angel of Glory's Rise is not the only crazy thing happening in Standard right now though. Players are actually casting Door to Nothingness to win games!!!


This insanity people call a deck is a lot to handle at first glance so let me give you the scoop in case you're not familiar with it. At heart this deck is a five-color ramp deck. Cards like Rangers Path and Chromatic Lantern help advance this game plan. Your cards to ramp into are any of the creatures, Sphinx's Revelation and Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker.

The roles of the other cards are harder to nail down. The real goal of the deck is to ramp into Omniscience, which should win you the game if you have eight free mana.

  1. Cast Omniscience
  2. Flashback Increasing Ambition (This is the part that requires mana, as Omniscience doesn't reduce flashback cost.)
  3. Find Temporal Mastery and Door to Nothingness and cast both.
  4. Take your exta turn and activate Door (usually off of a Chromatic Lantern.)

The hard part is surviving until you have that much mana. Fog, Supreme Verdict, and even Sphinx's Revelation help in this area. From the sideboard there's a ten-to-thirteen card package you can bring in against the aggressive decks to transform into Bant Control. Normally this is a deck I would dismiss as too crazy to be playable, but it's actually viable. LSV 4-0’d a daily with this deck so I full-heartedly believe other players will adopt this deck.

The third deck I want to mention today is a new version of an old deck. It uses a lot of inherently powerful cards that already see play in Standard. We have not seen or heard much about this deck for quite some time, but I think it is well-positioned right now to race the other decks in the field. If I wanted to play something unexpected this weekend, this is one deck I would definitely consider.

UW Hexproof

Well, well, well. As I said, this is certainly nothing new, but it would be new for the current metagame. Considering how many people are sporting red and black aggro cards, I think this is a great way to race them. It may even be correct to swap the one Moorland Haunt for a second Vault of the Archangel for this purpose. This is a deck that will utilize the lifelink part of Azorius Charm more than most decks as well.

Splashing black seems like the best thing at the moment because the removal is much better than the red ones. You also get maindeck Cremate, which is not only a cantrip to fuel Runechanter's Pike, but also works well against a lot of strategies right now. I could see making room for Detention Sphere somewhere in the 75 because that card is the essence of versatility.

The sideboard is more like some suggestions rather than a finalized 15 extra cards so keep that in mind. Lingering Souls from the sideboard is some sweet spice and additional help against any control strategies. Note the lack of counterspells main deck, an important change from similar decks. The prevalence of Cavern of Souls obviously decreases the effectiveness of counters as removal so I moved them to the sideboard. I don't want to talk too long about a deck players are very familiar with but I do think this deck is in a great place right now and I think this list is close to perfect.

That's it for this week folks. Three interesting decks to attack the metagame from different angles. Do you have a different angle of attack? Share your rogue deck ideas in the comments. You never know what might spark an idea for one of my articles!

Until next time,

Unleash the Creative Force!

Mike Lanigan
MtgJedi on Twitter

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