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Standard Going Forward

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With Standard decks being filled with Cloudfin Raptor, Frostburn Weird and Daring Skyjek, many were looking for a spike in power level from Born of the Gods. The first wave of spoiled cards showed some promise, but now that we have the full spoiler it doesn’t look like things will be changing too much.

Bile Blight and Drown in Sorrow simultaneously add and detract from Black Devotion. Both cards answer Pack Rat well. Both cards give the Pack Rat player better game against opposing aggression. Where Soldier of the Pantheon and Firedrinker Satyr once posed major problems, now they must mind two different manners of potential two-for-ones.

Not being a fan of Black Devotion, I’d rather discuss what changes to the format might combat its title as de facto best deck. For starters, the aforementioned Bile Blight gives Esper another tool against most of black’s threats. Temple of Enlightenment will make Esper more consistent- both by offering better mana and card selection.

That said, Esper remains vulnerable to Thoughtseize. Not to mention it doesn’t get any more interesting to play. Born of the Gods doesn’t offer much of anything to non-black decks, but there are some changes that can be and are being made to existing decks to combat Black Devotion.

Fighting the Best Deck

For starters, white decks actually do get a powerful tool in the form of Brimaz, King of Oreskos. Brimaz dies to Devour Flesh and Hero's Downfall, but it notably dodges both of black’s new removal spells in addition to being able to generate tokens to offer to opposing Desecration Demons. Boros and Selesnya strike me as weak to Black Devotion, but I do believe that an Azorius midrange deck like I discussed last week has potential.

The exact creature suite will depend on how big of a card Drown in Sorrow turns out to be, but I’d start with at least 3 Brimaz and the full compliment of Boros Reckoner for sure. Some number of Ephara, God of the Polis and Heliod, God of the Sun will enable the deck deck to go long against removal-heavy decks and Detention Sphere will give the deck outs to any number of Pack Rats and Desecration Demons.

The only tool that Blue Devotion gained from Born of the Gods is Thassa's Rebuff. The deck doesn’t currently maindeck any counterspells, but Thassa's Rebuff might change this. Even still, this likely doesn’t have a very dramatic impact on any of its matchups.

The biggest change to the Master of Waves deck comes not from any new card, but rather the recent trend of playing more and more Domestications split between the main and side. Stealing Nightveil Specter or Frostburn Weird from non-blue decks gives the blue deck an insane swing in devotion. If there is an upswing in Esper then this trend could cease, but its power against creature decks is not to be argued.

Green almost certainly got the shortest end of the stick in Born of the Gods- at least in terms of monocolored cards. Courser of Cruphix is likely to be playable, though Drown in Sorrow will really push out the sort of decks that it’s at its best against, and slower decks really won’t care much about a 2/4 with potential to generate incremental card advantage. Swordswine Centaur would’ve been really awesome in Theros, but it just won’t have the same punch with the new removal spells available. Aspect of Hydra intrigues me, but for the most part the mono-green cards disappoint.

I actually feel like Satyr Wayfinder is the standout green card from the set. It’s a shoe-in in the Golgari Graveyard deck of Conley Wood’s design. I’ll admit to having zero experience with the deck myself, but another self-mill card that also buys a little time with a chump-block couldn’t be bad. Considering that the deck is insanely cheap and I’ve never run into it on Magic Online it might just be bad, but it looks to be worth exploring to me. If you’re finding yourself bored with Standard, this is where I’d look to spice things up.

Red decks take a substantial hit from Drown in Sorrow as well. It kills basically everything from the aggressive decks and a fair percentage of the devotion deck’s monsters. In particular, it kills all of the Burning-Tree Emissary's, which will definitely slow the deck down. If the format slows down I could definitely see red decks adopting Ember Swallower. It survives much of the removal in the format in addition to having an often game-breaking ability. Flame-Wreathed Phoenix is an alternative card choice, but not one that I’m thrilled by. Most decks can ignore at least one of the card’s modes- ever the weakness of the punisher mechanic.

Flame-Wreathed Phoenix is likely to show up in Standard events, but I’d wager that it will be a weak link. For the most part, red gained Fated Conflagration to combat Planeswalkers and post-board creatures out of control decks. A boon to be sure, but not the most exciting one.

Gruul gained more than mono-red, though I’m still not sure if it gained enough to reasonably eschew Chained to the Rocks. Fanatic of Xenagos dodging Drown in Sorrow is a pretty big game- though it can always be Bile Blighted before its non-tribute trigger resolves. Xenagos, God of Revels packs a wallop and is another Fires of Yavimaya effect for the deck, but I just don’t see how you can score remotely consistent wins against Blue Devotion without solid answers to Master of Waves.

Born of the Gods might be a bit disappointing to some, but I think that we all knew that a dip in the power of Standard has been a long time coming. I see the format slowing down, and I don’t see much in the way of new decks coming out. I’ve personally been enjoying this Standard, but if you don’t then Born of the Gods is unlikely to offer the shake-up you’re looking for.

Top Born of the Gods Cards

Drown in Sorrow
Bile Blight
Ephara, God of the Polis
Brimaz, King of Oreskos
Temple of Enlightenment

Worst Born of the Gods Cards

The green ones.

~

Next week I plan to take a closer look at where Red Devotion is going in the format. While Black Devotion is likely to be the best deck, I don’t think it will be unbeatable. I was able to earn 35 QPs battling Red this season and many of these came from battling Pack Rats. I’m not about to let Infest and Last Gasp change this.

Good luck to anybody battling in the pre-release this weekend, and better luck to anybody trying to brew something new and exciting post-Born of the Gods. Thanks for reading.

-Ryan Overturf

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