Insider: Predicting Standard Shifts in the Wake of EMN

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We've been living in Reflector Mage's world for a while now. And Collected Company's world. And Nissa, Voice of Zendikar's world. Reflector Mage and Collected Company aren't going anywhere, but as soon as Eldritch Moon drops we won't be living in Nissa's world anymore. Spell Queller and emerge threats are about to significantly shake up Standard.

Spell Queller

Fliers have been an enemy to the Tokens deck as a metagame call for some time, and a flier that can also just counter Nissa or Gideon is bad news. Truly, Spell Queller makes me somewhat apprehensive of putting four mana spells in my deck at all. This format is going to have a lot of instant-speed action, and tempo will be at a premium.

When it comes to topping out a curve, we're going to be seeing plenty of these guys:

Distended Mindbender elderdeepfiend

The spoiling of emerge has already caused Matter Reshaper to double in price, and once we know what the good emerge decks look like we will see more price movement.

A card that I identified on the free side that we are almost guaranteed to see more play from is Sanctum of Ugin. Matter Reshaper means colorless matters, and Sanctum of Ugin lets you convert lands to spells. Your best spells at that. I can't guarantee that the card will be a four-of in the decks that play it, though there will definitely be a lot more Sanctums in Standard for some time.

With the heightened importance of tempo and a lot of pressure against four-mana spells, I would expect Humans to continue to be a strong contender in Standard, even if a lot of writers aren't selling them right now. The deck still packs a huge punch and the new Thalia is a real boon.


A card that has been getting buzz from Michael Majors and Gerry Thompson is Kozilek's Return. When it comes to beating the Humans deck with Eldrazi, K-Return is far and away the most important card in the Izzet build of the emerge deck. It is definitely possible to build the deck in a more low-to-the-ground way to beat Humans, but K-Return is easy mode for this matchup and will also be the best way to beat Collected Company decks.

Returns are currently sitting at $5, and if the preferred build of emerge ends up featuring the mythic rare you can expect significant growth in this card. It is particularly nice that the trigger from the graveyard doesn't actually cast the spell, and as such gets around Spell Queller.

One thing that Majors and Thompson have observed about K-Return is that often you would rather just have it in your graveyard than cast it. Part of this is that there are a lot of three-plus-toughness creatures in Standard.

The other part is that emerge decks would like to be casting a three-drop on turn three and an emerge threat on turn four. Actually casting Kozilek's Return throws off this game plan slightly, which is problematic when the opponent is on creatures that don't die to the front side of the sweeper.

One card I have been very impressed with thus far just generally could also be an answer to this problem:


A lot of players see Collective Brutality as a madness enabler, but I think that it's actually just a great spell to cast. "Kill your Duskwatch Recruiter // Krallenhorde Howler and Duress your Collected Company" sounds like a great use of two mana and two cards. Not to mention that having a two-mana removal spell is a reasonable rate against Humans, and the lifegain can matter in that matchup. Not to mention that against Humans you'll often enough have cards in your hand at the end of the game.

The card is currently available for under $2, and I imagine that it will be seeing a good amount of Standard play. As such, I would expect to see that price at least double up depending on when it has a breakout in Standard. A strong week one or Pro Tour performance could easily lead to tripling up.

This next one is a little more speculative, though I think it's worth consideration. Bant Company with Spell Queller is getting a lot of hype going into Eldritch Moon Standard. It so happens that there once was a deck with a great matchup against Collected Company decks that also has a curve that matches up pretty well against Spell Queller.

Cryptolith Rite is right around $2 right now, and that's because it's barely played in Standard anymore. The deck has been pushed out of the metagame, though a build of the deck could be very powerful once Eldritch Moon launches.

Theoretically, a Cryptolith Rite deck could be a great home for Distended Mindbender or Elder Deep-Fiend. Not only is Catacomb Sifter a great threat to curve into your emerge threat, but the deck will also just be great at generating mana and casting these spells. A Rite deck is also the most likely home for Decimator of the Provinces. One issue is that it might be difficult to fit Sanctum of Ugin into this deck, though you can't have everything.

Sketches of Cryptolith Rite decks have appeared in articles already, and if they end up being the best build of emerge then expect gains here.


Eldritch Moon is exactly what you look for in a set as a competitive player. It has obviously powerful cards, though the best way to build around them is also unclear. There's a lot to figure out in Standard right now, which is something to be mindful of while investing.

There are sure to be sub-optimal builds of emerge and post-Spell Queller Bant Company---identifying the best builds early on will be the best way to profit off of breakout cards. Keep your ears low to the ground. Exciting things are happening.

Thanks for reading.

-Ryan Overturf
@RyanOverdrive on Twitter

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