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Insider: What’s Happening in Standard

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The emergency banning of Felidar Guardian put the Standard metagame, and in turn the market, into disarray right before SCG Atlanta, the first major tournament after the release of Amonkhet.


This event, like all the SCG events that occur the first weekend a new set is legal, is looked at by players around the world for the first indication of what the new metagame will look like. The upcoming Pro Tour will further define the metagame, but even the pros are using the SCG data, so it’s important to understand what happened last weekend to have an idea of what the demand for Standard cards is going to look like over the next few months and beyond.

Magic Online also provides a wealth of decklists for players to copy, and the savvy pros know it stays a step ahead of the paper metagame, so it’s also important to pay attention to what’s occurring there. There are a few major storylines that occurred last weekend in the SCG events and some that are unfolding now online, so today I’ll shed light on what’s happening in Standard.

Zombies Rising

Amonkhet looked like it had the tools to bring Zombies into the top tier, and initial results are very promising that the deck indeed has broke through, putting a White-Black version into the top 16 of the Open and with a mono-black version having great results in online leagues.


Cryptbreaker has seen major gains this week, but could continue to grow if the deck truly reaches the top tier – like after a big performance at the Pro Tour. Cryptbreaker also has a lot of eternal and casual appeal, so there’s a lot to like here.


Dark Salvation can be had extremely cheaply but is on the rise as a very effective removal spell and source of value in Zombie decks.


Zombies has brought Diregraf Colossus into Standard playability and has sent its price upwards.


Metallic Mimic is used in mono-black Zombie decks, and it’s also seeing renewed demand from the resurgence in Red-White Humans.

Aetherworks Marvel Returns

Aetherworks Marvel was the centerpiece of the best deck in Standard before Emrakul, the Promised End was banned, but it never had the chance to prove it could survive without the 13/13 once the subsequent printing of Felidar Guardian put a more powerful combo deck into the format. Now Aetherworks Marvel can reassume the role of the most powerful deck in the format, and early results show that it’s a very real contender in the new metagame. A Temur Marvel deck won the MTGO PTQ, and has been very popular in leagues since. Bant Marvel won the SCG Classic, which is a major victory for the deck and gives it a lot of exposure.


The key card to pair with Aetherworks Marvel is Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, which has seen its price online triple in the last week. The paper price fell flat but looks like it is starting to move up, so now might be the time to move. There’s also a lot of casual and eternal appeal for the card in the long term, so there’s a lot to like about it and the potential for it to keep rising through rotation.


Sphinx of the Final Word has seen a major spike online with the price more than quadrupling. It’s seeing play in various places, both in the sideboards of all variety of Marvel decks, and in new blue control decks.

Black-Green is Back

Black-Green decks struggled against the combo format, but now the colors that were once best in Standard have a chance to shine again. The aggressive energy version of the deck with Winding Constrictor has been popular, but what might be more exciting is the return of the delirium build, which reached the top eights of both the Open and the MTGO PTQ.


The return of Black-Green has helped sustain demand for Fatal Push, which has now seen its price driven over $8. (!)


The various Black-Green decks have replaced Ruinous Path with Never // Return, so along with demand from Zombie decks, the price has doubled online in the past week, and in paper is up to $2.

Mardu Wins Again

Mardu Vehicles won the SCG Open and put four more copies in the top eight, so it’s the clear deck-to-beat in the new metagame. It’s not surprising, seeing as it was the other top deck in Standard besides Four-Color Saheeli, but it is indication that new Amonkhet cards haven’t unseated it. The deck has even gained new cards of its own, including the powerful Glorybringer. It has also adopted Cut // Ribbons as a removal spell and finisher, which had done great things for its price.


Gideon, Ally of Zendikar has seen its price bounce back up this week. Part of this is because of the success of Mardu, but it’s also due to the price being deflated because of the potential for a ban. It’s on the shortlist for cards to be banned during the next announcement after the Pro Tour, but I suspect that after the Felidar Guardian fiasco, we won’t see them make another ban, but rather ride out any storm until it rotates out of Standard.

Control’s Comeback

Amonkhet has put all the pieces in place for a comeback from blue control strategies.


The most important of these new tools is Pull from Tomorrow, which provides a massive dose of card advantage and may supplant Torrential Gearhulk as control’s expensive finisher of choice. It will change the way these decks are built, with less focus on instants and more focus on various forms of cheap interaction. Its price has doubled in the last week.


Another new control tool is Commit // Memory which is being played in higher and higher numbers as players realize just how flexible and powerful it is. Its price doubled in the past week.

--Adam

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