The Changing Standard Environment

Posted in Event Coverage on August 6, 2003

By Josh Bennett

In honor of Magic's Tenth Anniversary and the release of the new Core Set, Eighth Edition has been made legal for this year's World Championships. A number of tournament staples have been sent to the wayside, and plenty of interesting cards coming back. This has given the Worlds competitors a bit of a puzzle to unravel in the Standard Constructed environment.

Decree of Justice
The last signpost was Grand Prix – Bangkok, where the Japanese showed their stuff by putting three players in the Top 8 with their surprise Goblin-Bidding deck. Tsuyoshi Fujita steered it all the way to the number one spot. Unfortunately, the addition of Eighth Edition has thrown a monkey wrench into the proceedings.

Right now it looks like Scourge is having the biggest impact. Wake decks are sporting Decree of Justice and the mighty Wing Shards. Goblins is back with a vengeance thanks to Goblin Warchief, Siege-Gang Commander, and Sulfuric Vortex. Stifle is on-hand to ruin everyone's day, and Eternal Dragon is finally getting its day in the sun.

Meanwhile, Eighth Edition's force is being felt in the omissions. Psychatog had disappeared almost entirely thanks to the loss of Force Spike, Counterspell and Engineered Plague. Llanowar Elves is gone and so apparently is red-green, bowing before the speed of Goblins. The departure of Duress and Corrupt have forced a reworking of Mono-Black Control. Tight Sight is significantly less tight without Early Harvest. The pros have done what they can to crib off established decks. R&D's Randy Buehler predicts that the "additions" in Eighth won't be felt until the Odyssey Block rotates out.

If there are six big decks right now, they're probably Wake, Blue-Green, Goblins, Goblin Bidding, Slide and Reanimator. Wake is being played by a lot of the top-billing pros. The Dutch decided that it was the best deck, as did the Germans. Blue-Green is also putting up big numbers, but mostly by lesser names. Goblins was the talk of the tournament yesterday, with the rumor being that many players would default to it and rely on its speed. The Japanese have retooled their Bidding deck, and a cadre of East Coast U.S. players have tried their own twist on it. Slide is pretty much what you'd expect, as is Reanimator. After that there's all kinds of zaniness going on. It remains to be seen if someone will take something completely unexpected to blow the lid off the tournament.

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