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Buckle in gamers! I'm back from the pre-release with more on Dominaria United. Last week I touched on my Top 10 Constructed cards from the set, though my list focused mostly on Modern and Pioneer. This week I'll be focusing on the new, post-rotation Standard metagame and the archetypes I think are poised for success.
1. Grixis Vampires
Grixis Vampires is likely the deck that stands to gain the most post-rotation. The vampire package from Innistrad: Crimson Vow stays in Standard in its entirety, providing a strong core to build from. This is supplemented by removal spells like Infernal Grasp and Voltage Surge. The rest of the deck is filled in by midrange value cards like Fable of the Mirror-Breaker // Reflection of Kiki-Jiki and Kaito Shizuki. Even with the pathway lands rotating out of the format, access to Xander's Lounge, slow lands, and now both Sulfurous Springs and Shivan Reef, gives the mana base more than enough to support three full colors.
As with frankly all black decks of the format, gaining Liliana of the Veil will be a helpful tool to grind out any deck that struggles to commit to the board. Ultimately, the archetype provides a perfect blend of disruption, card advantage, and threats for just about any situation.
Standard Vampires by ANDYAWKWARD
2. Jeskai Control
Jeskai Control on the other end of the spectrum picks up several powerful cards including two wraths in the form of Temporal Firestorm and Temporary Lockdown. Two copies of Witness the Future serve as win conditions as the first can shuffle the second back into the deck. Eventually, the opponent will deck out from the game going too long while you loop the second copy of Witness and some number of permission spells.
Teferi, Who Slows the Sunset plays exceptionally well with the new mana rock, Timeless Lotus, jumping from five mana, to upwards of 10 or 15. With an absurd amount of mana at your disposal, Silver Scrutiny will be able to draw more cards than you'll know what to do with, and Light Up the Night can be a one-shot Fireball to the opponent's face.
3. Mono-Black Midrange
In lieu of a fancy mana base, Mono-Black Midrange keeps things basic with 21 Swamps, four Field of Ruin, and a Takenuma, Abandoned Mire. The primary goal here is to land sticky threats like Graveyard Trespasser and Tenacious Underdog while taxing the opponent's resources with Liliana of the Veil. Sorin the Mirthless, Invoke Despair and the new Evolved Sleeper are all sources of card draw that helps break parity with Liliana's discard. What sets the deck apart is its strong curve, which is where most decks tend to struggle in small post-rotation Standard environments.
Mono-Black Midrange is very straightforward in what it wants to do and is very successful in doing it. Magic: Online user Mogged took down the first Standard Challenge of the format with the list below:
Mono-Black Midrange by Mogged
4. Mono-Red Aggro
The more things change, the more they stay the same. The perennial Standard deck of red-based aggro is back with plenty of new toys to play with. New mainstays like Radha's Firebrand and Squee, Dubious Monarch, give the deck a lot of aggressive tools to choose from, almost all of which offer some sort of late-game support. Thanks to Firebrand's pump effect, Squee's recursion, and old favorites like Bloodthirsty Adversary buying back burn spells from the graveyard, there's a lot to love for red mages even if the game isn't over quickly.
Reading between the lines, red aggro also seems well-positioned in this Standard thanks to the reliance on pain lands. If our opponents are so kind as to deal damage to themselves, we might as well finish the job for them. The highest placed burn deck placed 30th in Saturday's challenge (with every deck ahead of it on some form of Bx midrange plan), but I expect to see many more Lightning Strikes at the top tables in the coming weeks.
Mono-Red Aggro by _SHATUN_
5. UR Delver
The last time we were on Dominaria, Adeliz, the Cinder Wind was the fresh hotness, essentially giving prowess to each wizard you control. Balmor, Battlemage Tactician is Adeliz, but better in almost every conceivable way. While lacking haste, Balmor costs a full mana less and pumps all creatures you control, not just wizards. He also gives your creatures trample to push through all that extra damage.
Doubling down on the UR spells archetype, we have eternal format all-stars Ledger Shredder and Delver of Secrets // Insectile Aberration providing aggressive and evasive clocks. Squee, Dubious Monarch also makes an appearance as the deck does a great job of fueling the graveyard for his inevitable return. Moreover, Balmor with instant speed spells like Consider can buff the token Squee makes into a very real threat.
UR Spells is an archetype near and dear to my heart, and I hope to see it flourish in this new Standard.
UR Spells by _AGAINST_
This Standard is shaping up to be a lot of fun, and I'm excited to dive into it. While it seems black decks are the best option for week one, it looks like there's plenty of depth to explore more. I'm interested to see what new archetypes emerge as players get their hands on these new cards and new strategies. Don't worry, if anything absolutely wild shows up, you can count on me to cover it in a future article.
If you want to keep up with me, you can follow me on Twitter at @AdamECohen That's all for now, and I'll see you all next week!