Ever since I dove into MTG Arena about a month ago I’ve been playing more Magic than ever. Arena is primarily Standard and Limited (there are also some wacky formats like Pauper and Singleton), so I’ve been playing a lot of Standard.
I’m still leveling up my collection and hunting down constructed playables and wild cards to expand the range of decks I can build. However, I’ve gotten to the point where I have a spiky Boros Aggro deck that allows me to play competitive events. As I continue to play the format and experience new games, cards, and match-ups it’s pretty easy to figure out the types of decks I’d like to build next. I have a little idea notebook where I scribble down new lists and concepts, and it is getting loaded with ideas.
Standard is so deep right now. People are playing everything and the kitchen sink at the IRL events on the weekend, and the scary thing is that the format is even deeper than that! Obviously, the focused decks are performing well—Boros, Golgari, Izzet, and Azorius—but there is a lot more to Standard than meets the eye.
Standard Picks By Color
Let’s go straight up WUBRG through Standard and look at the best sleeper cards that have yet to fulfill their potential…
Remorseful Cleric is a pretty sick little flier that more people should be playing with in Standard. I play one in the maindeck of my Boros deck. I love the way the card is evasive and makes a great place to put Aurelia’s +2/+0 buff.
The thing that really sets the card apart from simply playing a singleton Sky Terror is the ability to nuke opposing graveyards, which matters a lot against Arclight Phoenix, Crackling Drake, and the many, many Golgari graveyard synergies.
As the format continues to adapt and evolve, Remorseful Cleric has become a very well positioned Magic card. It’s also a card that gets better as some of the Boros builds move toward Mono-White or Selesnya (which are both topics I’ll discuss in a moment).
History of Benalia is perhaps the format defining card in Standard right now, and any cards that “play nice” with History are likely very well positioned (whether people realize it or not!). Benalish Marshal packs a huge punch and turns those Knight tokens into a bonafide nuisance the turn it hits the table.
Marshal is also a Knight, which means it will receive the Chapter III +2/+1 bonus from the History. Mono-White has access to everything it needs and has fantastic mana.
Another great Boros and Tokens card that is fairly effective against control decks and Red decks alike. Never underestimate the ability to continue to produce material when your draws go cold, or a steady stream of life gain.
A solid “fun-of” inclusion in many white-based aggro decks. Shalai, Aureila, and Lyra Dawnbringer are all absurd premier threats, and Bounty Agent can pressure early and then assassinate a big Angel. I’m not saying there is going to be a run on Bounty Agent, but the card is a bulk rare and is Standard-playable in multiple decks.
Standard has not seen the last of Venerated Loxodon. I’m a firm believer that green-white is the way of the future in Standard, as it has access to most of the big Angels and a better early and midgame. Loxodon is an absurdly powerful card that doesn’t go cold in the midgame (since it helps you convoke up the curve and will pick up lots of incidental buffs).
Divine Visitation is one of the unsung mythics in the set. At $5 it’s a “can’t fail.” The Commander and Casual appeal will carry this card beyond its natural tag. With that being said, I also think this enchantment will have an effect in Standard beyond what it is now. Green-white is the dark horse of Standard.
Honor Guard is the current “hotness.” He is a real pest for opposing black-green decks since he shuts down all of their ETB effects (which is a lot). He’s well worth the mana, and blocks down random 1/1 and 2/2 from the aggro decks.
Blue is kind of stinky in Standard if you are not playing a do-nothing control deck. However, Control Magic is something worth looking at. At least out of the sideboard, I could see this being a great card when blue decks diversify into decks with actual threats.
Keep in mind that it is a CMC 2 Control Magic for opposing tokens as well, which is a really swingy effect.
Warkite is a great card in an aggressive deck. I love the fact that it can move blockers out of the way and shrink them, so that incidental removal like Shock or Dead Weight can finish them off. Is there anything more annoying than shrinking a Lyra Dawnbringer?
Heed my words, this is a very good Magic card. It is seeing less play than it probably should right now, but I think there is a lot of potential for a powerful flash threat that interacts with the board and surveils once we have another set of blue guilds to work with.
The card is secretly very good. Grim Haruspex was playable and that card didn’t trigger from itself dying like Reaper does. Just be careful that you don’t kill yourself with him! He’s still a very useful card against red decks and in grindy black-green mirror matches.
He’s so close to being good right now, but there support just isn’t there. It’s not Seeker’s fault, as the card is certifiably insane. I’m betting that he’ll get some help once his Orzhov buddies show up in the next set!
I guess I’m in a positive mood because I’m not seeing Red. Not surprising that people have discovered most of the good red tech, since it is the only mono-colored deck to have sustained success so far in Standard.
Pelt Collector is a good one-drop in a format where having a one-drop is a huge advantage, and there are not a ton of good ones. The fact that it scales to stay relevant as the game progresses is gravy.
A great anti-aggro card and also a solid threat in the various green decks. I’m particularly interested in getting this creature into a Selesnya Tokens deck soon.
A potential combo card. I could see this creature being useful in various Golgari graveyard decks. They are already going through the trouble to play multiple self-mill cards. Shaper mills more and gives you a ton of mana to work with, which is exactly what a midrange deck loves to do.
A few cards that could improve greatly once the next set comes out with on-guild colored support cards.
Two bodies, haste, and a lingering ability? The card is clearly great and the question will be whether or not it gets some help in the next Ravnica set.
The card is really powerful and it’s possible that with a whole new set of cards this mythic will finally go somewhere. The buy-in cost is so low that it probably can’t hurt to pick up at least a couple copies just in case.
A Wonderful Format
Standard is just such a deep format right now that it opens up a lot of potential places to find value. It also doesn’t hurt that the format is actively good, as I wrote about last week, which leads to more people wanting to play. There is a reason all of the staple mythics are $30—people want to play the format in paper alongside Arena and MTGO.
Enjoy the format and the boons of trade and sale that come with it!