Insider: Magic News & Standard Developments

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Magic News

This past weekend we delved deeper into the Eldrazi war through coverage of SCG Louisville. Although we saw new members of the Gatewatch like Merfolk and Kiki Chord win early battles against the Eldrazi, ultimately our heroic teams were outmatched as nearly 50% of the meta was different versions of the horde.

Thematically, a split meta with 50% on each side seems like it would lead to a close war, but that level of dominance from one archetype doesn’t lend itself to a very balanced format. Some other decks, like Lantern Control, Affinity, and Abzan Company can fight back with a vengeance---but even if Affinity won the day, Eldrazi players definitely came out ahead at this event.

All seven versions of Eldrazi that made Day 2 can be defeated, but that doesn’t make this menace free from banned list backlash. Yesterday Sheridan provided some great analysis on this topic by laying out different plans for what a ban could look like and how the archetype might adapt. I agree with most of what he talked about, and recommend reading it if you haven't yet.

I think Wizards could go further than banning just one card from the deck though. We have seen a precedent before that fast mana is not okay for Modern. All sorts of fast mana cards are banned in Modern, like Cloudpost and Chrome Mox. So then, why are cards like Simian Spirit Guide or Mox Opal legal for play in this format?

It’s likely everyone will agree with the removal of Eldrazi Temple and/or Eye of Ugin at the beginning of April, but I think we should take a further step to stabilize the format. As long as the goals for the format are still sticking to the turn four rule, I think banning more cards would set up a more stable format.

Additionally, it seems like Ancient Stirrings will get banned at some point as well. That card is just as powerful as Aerial Responder or Preordain in certain strategies, maybe even more so.

We’ve had so many topics of discussion lately in Magic. In addition to all the Modern shenanigans, tons of sets were announced for release recently. Here’s what the upcoming schedule looks like.

April 8th – Shadows over Innistrad
June 10th – Eternal Masters
July 22nd – Eldrich Moon
August 26th – Conspiracy 2

In addition to the four sets per year we’ve become accustomed to, Wizards is adding two additional sets to the mix! With products like Modern Masters, players have almost adjusted to five sets a year, but adding another set to the roster this year seems to be shoving product in our faces unnecessarily. Since there is only about a month in between each of the summer releases, we will barely have time to draft those formats before another set is on the shelves.

The repercussions of a schedule like this will be felt by retailers. This many products fall outside what most player can financially handle and I would guess the sales numbers will be down across the three sets as a whole.

My initial thought is that the trajectory of each set will decline more than the last. Eternal Masters being the first summer set bodes well for its sales, but unless Eldrich Moon is a home run, not only in terms of set design but also Standard necessity, that set should flounder quite a bit.

Conspiracy falling at the end of the summer after those two releases seems like it will turn into a flop. Players do like to draft Conspiracy and play multiplayer so maybe they are trying to make this similar to a Commander release, but even if another multiplayer draft format draws the less competitive crowd, I think we will still see numbers on that set struggling.

More Magic is usually a good thing. I hope this doesn’t break that mold. Three summer sets sure is a lot to keep up with for players interested in cards from all three sets. I would have loved to see Conspiracy released in between two different sets to give more time. Something like the end of October or early November would have been great. Scheduling released so close together leaves less time for players to enjoy each product.

Standard Developments

Last week I wrote about how Standard is shaping up in the wake of the Magic Online Championship Series. One of the main developments from that event was the Bant Company deck that I wrote a good deal about. The deck seems strong against the field and hard to dismantle.

Over the past week I spent some time comparing the two decks. I even went back and looked at the article I wrote back in October 2105. It’s hard to believe that article could still contain relevant information, but sadly not much has changed in Standard since that time. Most of the decks now are simply newer versions of the ones we had almost five months ago.

Let’s take a look at that deck.

That is the list I posted back in November. I think it may have been missing the one Surrak, Dragonclaw I’ve been playing, but other than that the list hasn’t changed.

I’ve gone back to this deck many times since that article and each time it has been successful. There is a hole in my testing against Rally decks as I haven't played that matchup many times, but other than that, Temur Company has posted great numbers against the field.

Some other players have been working on this strategy as well. When I was first working on the concept, the idea of adding white for cards like Mantis Rider was brought up. After testing that list out a bit, I found I didn’t like the four-color mana base. It restricted my ability to play the double-color spells I’d been relying on like Harbinger of the Tides and Scatter to the Winds, which frequently comes in from the sideboard.

Some players on Magic Online have been doing just that though. Take a look at Temur White.

Do you like three-mana creatures? What about cheating two of them into play from Collected Company? Well then, I have a deck for you! This list has already 5-0'd a couple leagues, which speaks to its potency.

While the creatures in this deck are undeniably powerful and generally undercosted, the deck can still run pretty clunky. With so many three-cost creatures in your deck, you will be unable to deploy them in a timely manner. Certainly this deck has some of the best Collected Company plays of any deck in Standard, but if your opponent can stop your Company, this deck would likely have a difficult time winning.

While these two lists contain similar cards, they play very differently. The four-color versions sequence like normal aggressive decks, whereas my list plays tempo as much as possible.

My goal is to stall you, slow you down, counter some spell, and play the game on your turn. Then at some point my deck will turn the corner and attack for a huge chunk of damage. You need to know when you are the aggressor and when you need to be slowing your opponent down, but most of the time you want to switch between both roles. Often the sequence goes counter, Company when they pass with no play, then untap into a haste creature.

Not that an aggressive deck like Temur White is a bad thing, but I think the way my version plays the game lines up well with what the format is doing right now. Post-board access to so many counters gives you great game against the ramp decks as well.

Eldrazi in Standard

If you’re not a fan of Collected Company, you might want to join the ranks of the Eldrazi in Standard. I want you for the Eldrazi Army!

This deck was posted on Twitter by Caleb Durward. My initial impression is that the numbers aren't optimized, but with an obscure deck concept like this I wouldn’t want to mess with numbers too much until I started testing it.

With that being said, I do think this deck needs more two-drops. Elvish Visionary, Arashin Cleric, Duress and Silkwrap are the only possible plays before turn three. That’s a total of eight cards that can be cast early, which isn’t that bad, but the two-cost creatures work well to sequence before Eldrazi Displacer because then you can untap and blink one of them.

Obviously the best part about this deck is blinking Siege Rhino. Honestly, it doesn’t get better than that, although there are other creatures in the deck that pair well with Displacer as well.

If we want to make room for other blinking options, the first spot I would look to cut is Read the Bones. I’m not sure how well that card is helping this deck. It seems fine to cast late in the game, but mediocre early. I would look to add more Elvish Visionaries for my draw engine rather than a sorcery.

Matter Reshaper initially seemed out of place in this deck to me. I spent some time thinking about its purpose, and it seems to serve many functions. The first part of the puzzle is that it’s an excellent blocker. It trades with many aggressive threats in the format and gives you a bonus when it dies.

Even if you brick on hitting a creature off the death trigger, you have tons of hits that are lands. Ramping up a land from your chump blocker sounds quite appealing for a deck that wants a million mana.

This deck has access to both great removal and powerful threats. That seems like the perfect combination for victory. I’m not certain this is the best build of the archetype, but I think the concept is great. Siege Rhino is already a beating; if we make it even better, we should be able to leave each match the victor.

Our other Eldrazi cohort is a tempo deck that utilizes some solid two-cost flyers. Both Bearer of Silence and Dimensional Infiltrator are secretly amazing. They fulfill roles that no other card in Standard can. In addition to their interactive abilities, they are both efficient flyers. That combination is not something we see often. Either of these guys combined with Ghostfire Blade provides a short clock for your opponent to work with.

This deck also has Fathom Feeder to trade with any creature, as well as the typical Eldrazi beaters at the top end. Although I would like another way to exile cards from my opponent’s library, Wasteland Strangler is another removal spell with a body attached most of the time.

The nice thing about this deck is that it’s streamlined quite a bit from initial versions. Other than tweaking some of the numbers, I think this deck is pretty close to optimal. I believe this archetype was created by Conley Woods, but either way he has been a strong proponent of the deck. There are some great sideboard options as well in blue and black so you should be well set up to compete against any opponent.


Don’t feel overwhelmed with the Abzan, Rally, and four-color deck metagame. There are plenty of great deck ideas to work with. A lot of the meta is still yet to be explored as well, so keep those cook pots brewing with great Standard ideas.

Until next time,
Unleash the Force!

Mike Lanigan
MtgJedi on Twitter

4 thoughts on “Insider: Magic News & Standard Developments

  1. “All sorts of fast mana cards are banned in Modern, like Cloudpost and Chrome Mox. So then, why are cards like Simian Spirit Guide or Mox Opal legal for play in this format?” “Additionally, it seems like Ancient Stirrings will get banned at some point as well.”

    I hope your wrong on Ancient Stirrings. I love the card, but understand it is the glue in Lantern Control, Green Tron, and Eldrazi. I think there are more valid ban targets.

    Mox opal would be a serious hamstring to Lantern control, besides the assumed target of affinity.

    Simian Spirit is the new (well somewhat) Lotus petal and shows up often where degenerate speed is vital. I find this card to more of a target than any of the aforementioned. It makes the turn 1-2 kill attainable.

    Nice read. Enjoyed it.

  2. I’ve been toying with Jeskai Prowess. It seems to be doing quite well, as most decks don’t have an answer for prowess triggers off of Stormchaser Mage (and it flies!). Add in the extra +1/+1 counters from Jeskai Ascendancy, and it gets +2/+2 for each spell, and it untaps to block (if necessary).

    My question revolves around R/G Eldrazi ramp decks in standard. Do you think this archetype (ramp) is going to be something that continues to grow or is it still going to be second fiddle to the CoCo/Rally decks out there?

    1. Rally seems to still be king but exiling their permanents early from the ramp deck could get them there. Ramp will be scary after rotation though. Good luck with jeskai prowess. It’s a blast and most players aren’t prepared.

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