Insider: Khans Standard Part 2

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This weekend marks the start of a new Standard season and I couldn’t be more excited to start playing. There are a ton of decks that I want to play and others that I am still developing.

The main thing that most players are missing right now is that Rabble Red is the deck to beat. I’ve talked about the upcoming format with a lot of local players and every conversation starts with me saying how good red is and them asking if it’s really going to be a deck because it lost so many cards in rotation. The short answer is that yes it is still a deck and quite a powerful one also.

Sure the deck lost some cards that rotated out but there were cards waiting to fill in those holes. The deck seems not to have lost a beat and if you’re not careful, the beat you’ll be hearing is the footsteps of your opponent walking away with your match slip. The deck is real and you need to take is seriously. Take a look at the list I’ve been using as a reference.

Todd Anderson posted this list over on Star City last week and although it might not be the most tuned list, it’s definitely on the right track. This version is fast and consistent. It also punished any misstep from the opponent and it has all the tools to beat every deck.

The main aspect about this deck that you need to focus on is that it has multiple ways to break through any creature blockers you can muster. Between the pump spells, burn, and bestow creatures, the blockers you cast will rarely survive to block a second time.

This deck is the real deal and I think it’s the deck to beat at the beginning of this format. Come prepared to battle against this deck, or you won’t survive the day.

One way that you can fight against Rabble Red is with Sorin, Solemn Visitor. His +1 ability really punishes any type of red deck and allows you to profitably race them. Giving your whole team lifelink is not something that Wizards prints all the time. This is especially potent because all of your creatures also get the +1/+0 bonus.

New Sorin is much better than initial impressions have suggested and I think he will be an important card in the new format. Because there are so many great ground creatures like Courser of Kruphix and Polukranos, World Eater, flying has become a great ability. The fact that Sorin churns out 2/2 flyers is much better once you compare the other threats players are likely to be casting against you.

Apparently other Magic players agree with me also because this card has doubled in price this week. The Mardu deck I’ve been working on uses our friendly neighborhood vampire as a key piece of its strategy. Here’s where I’m at in development so far.

The baseline for this deck is that Butcher of the Horde is too powerful not to see play. When I see a 5/4 flyer for four mana, I eagerly read on to see what the drawback will be. We all know by this point that Butcher has none.

I’m slowly getting used to the fact that the only downside to this card is the casting cost. I’ve seen many versions of decks trying to play Butcher but they have not tried to build around his strengths. Most of the initial lists have few creatures which does not synergize well with the sacrifice ability.

The lists that do have creatures have focused on playing as many one-drops as possible to make the deck hyper aggressive. These hyper aggressive versions have no way to break through all the ground creatures and are forced to sit back much of the time while the opponent builds their board state. Red aggro has the tools to push through on the ground but black does not.

In addition to the plethora of amazing ground creatures, Drown in Sorrow and Anger of the Gods will be around to destroy your chances as well. This version is an attempt to push through to the next level and create a deck that will flourish in the new metagame.

One key component to this Butcher of the Horde deck is Tymaret, the Murder King. This legendary creature saw virtually no play over the past year, but don’t let that fool you. Tymaret is a strong tool that has been waiting in the bulk box for players to use patiently since Theros was released. You can sacrifice him to Butcher and bring him back later or you can start sacking your team to burn out your opponent. Either way, Tymaret is one of the cards that should be more highly valued in the new format. He’s really cheap right now so I would pick up at least a set as an extremely safe investment.

Herald of Torment is a key piece of this deck's puzzle as well. Not only is it a great creature on its own, but bestowing it onto one of your creatures, Goblin Rabblemaster perhaps, creates a huge advantage for you as well.

The goal of this deck is to be strong at each stage of the game. You can come out of the gate quickly and overwhelm your opponent but you also have plans for a longer game in multiple ways. The format seems to be filling up with midrange decks and this deck fights well in that type of format. The final decklist may change from what I have posted here today, but this is a great start. A Mardu deck like this is going to be a solid choice but it will need to adapt to the metagame.

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about some sweet new Standard decks. I’ve still been working on improving them, and here are the updates I am currently working with.

Rattleclaw Mystic is one of the new cards that made its way into the deck. Some other players are utilizing Voyaging Satyr in this spot, but I think Rattleclaw does a better job fighting from behind than the Theros satyr. Both are comparable, but I think Rattleclaw has the edge because of the giant mana advantage he can provide on his own. Voyaging Satyr relies not only on Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, but also having a lot of devotion to do broken things. Rattleclaw does his thing without any other cards to rely on.

The other card that made its way into the deck is Hooded Hydra. I’m not certain that two copies is the correct number for this creature but after playing against him at the prerelease and testing him out a bit, I believe he belongs in this deck. Not only can he help throw your opponent off by allowing you to have multiple morph creatures in your deck, but he helps improve the deck no matter what turn it is. The versatility of this guy is extremely good and I look forward to casting him a lot.

This deck is solid and consistent. I expect it to be a major player in the upcoming format. If you are testing for an event, make sure to include this in your gauntlet.

There are many takes on this deck. This version focuses on filling the graveyard in order to make lots of zombies with Sidisi, Brood Tyrant as well as create giant monsters with Nighthowler. Other versions focus on reanimating Ashen Rider. Both versions are solid but I prefer this one because it is more resilient to hyper aggro decks like Rabble Red.

Speaking of Ashen Rider though, you can still get this guy for under $2, which doesn’t seem like it will last long. The foils are up to $10 and due to their minor Legacy play, I’d expect those prices to continue to trend upward as well. I stocked up on Ashen Rider and you should too.

With lots of players working on graveyard decks, it’s necessary to know what cards you can run into that will counter your strategy. Luckily, most of the great ones rotated out with Return to Ravnica block. Here’s the list I came up with that may affect you in Standard.

Graveyard Hate

The primary offender on this list is Anafenza, the Foremost. This is a great card on its own and should see play. You are more likely to run into this card than any other on the list. Regardless of the disabling graveyard strategies, the three mana for a 4/4 and the +1/+1 counter to another creature make this a solid card. The fact that is disrupts graveyard decks is an added bonus.

The rest of the cards on the list should only see play if graveyard strategies like this one start to dominate the format. As long as you have some removal spells, there is not much you have to worry about in terms of disruption.

These are just some of the decks you are likely to play against in the new format. Over the next couple of weeks, we will be looking at some more. I can’t wait to see how the format develops and what new decks arise.

Until Next Time,

Get ready to Unleash the Khans Force!

Mike Lanigan
MtgJedi on Twitter

11 thoughts on “Insider: Khans Standard Part 2

    1. The Dredge deck is the one I’ve tested the most and it’s been really consistent. When you dont have Sidisi against aggro, it can be hard to win, but other than that, it can win any matchup. It is kind of slow sometimes though. The one I’m most excited about is Mardu though, but I haven’t had time to test it out. Maybe this weekend though.

    1. Recently I removed the third swamp for an Urborg. I’ve played many decks with less basics than the number of fetches to great success. In this deck you can even tap your unused fetch while there’s an Urborg in play. If you are nervous about it though, you can cut a forest or tri land for another island or swamp.

  1. mike- nice lists, i’ve been testing with the abzan list and suggest cutting 1 murdous cut and 1 commune for 2 whips….it makes the match up with aggro much more tolerable especially on the draw…my2cents

    1. I’m slowly coming on board with adding the whip. Originally I greatly disliked the whip in this version but I think one main and one board might be the way to go. Glad to hear its working out for you though.

  2. What do you think about putting some fetches in the Mono green deck ? Is the shuffle effect with Courser/Hydra for selection and thinning worth it ? Considering we will have 11 dorks, we shouldn’t really have mana issues.

    1. I think the right answer is 6 fetches, but it might be the full 8. We do want some number of them in the list but I havn’t had time to actually test them in there.

  3. Update: I’ve been running a Singleton Doomwake Giant in the Mono Green list instead of the Soul and it’s really been performing well.
    Now going to test out Eidolon of Blossoms for added Constellation effect & draw.
    Also, 6 fetches seems to be a good number for me.

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