The New Standard Metagame

Posted in Perilous Research on November 20, 2014

By Jacob Van Lunen

Jacob Van Lunen began playing Magic in 1995. He has participated in organized play at every level of competition and was a member of the winning team at Pro Tour San Diego in 2007, thanks to an innovative draft strategy. As a writer, Van Lunen has had more than three hundred Magic strategy pieces published

Welcome back to Perilous Research,'s exclusive Magic Online column. Over the last few weeks, the Standard metagame has changed drastically. Today, we'll examine what happened to Standard and take a look at the decks that emerged on top of the metagame as a result.

A few weeks ago, Jeskai Tempo strategies were all the rage. Now, Jeskai Tempo is nowhere to be found when we take a look at the decks that have gone undefeated in Magic Online dailies. It seems that the green strategies that were once easy prey for the Jeskai decks have adapted to make the matchup more favorable. As a result, the players looking to beat green decks have changed to Heroic strategies. The Heroic decks are very strong against green opponents, but they're also quite weak to Crackling Doom. Now we're seeing Mardu decks that play four copies of Crackling Doom, green strategies that either play Chandra, Pyromaster or Doomwake Giant to abuse the prevalence of one toughness in the format, and Heroic strategies that have nearly unbeatable nut draws and very good matchups against the green decks.

Let's take a look at the archetypes that have gone undefeated in Daily Events over the last few days:

BillieJK's 4–0 Temur

Download Arena Decklist

Temur Monsters is now an established part of the Standard metagame. The deck aims to apply pressure on the opponent much more quickly than the other green decks. As a result, the Temur deck is low enough to beat Jeskai opponents and can often overrun Heroic decks while they're trying to assemble a Voltron. The deck aims to go into the air with Stormbreath Dragon and Ashcloud Phoenix against the other green decks. Against control strategies, the Temur deck can play an aggro control strategy where it applies pressure with one or two good threats and controls the game with countermagic.

Atams's 4–0 Red-Green Monsters

Download Arena Decklist

Red-Green Monsters has been doing exceptionally well as of late. The archetype has been the winningest deck in high-level events like the Magic Online Championship series. Recently, the deck has taken some pointers from its Temur counterpart and become a significantly more aggressive entity. Chandra, Pyromaster is particularly well-positioned right now and seems to be making a fiery imprint on Standard as the format progresses.

Rory_Draxler's 4–0 Mardu

Download Arena Decklist

Most of the Mardu decks we're seeing these days include Hordeling Outburst, but this particular list eschews the card in favor of Bloodsoaked Champion and a better hand disruption package. The deck is extremely good against Heroic decks, where it can rip apart a hand and back up the disruption with Crackling Doom. Against green decks, it aims to punish them for playing a lot of mana creatures by nabbing some big spells out of their hand and using removal spells to leave them with a lot of stuff that doesn't do much to affect the game.

Stasisgel33's 4–0 White-Blue Heroic

Download Arena Decklist

White-Blue Heroic burst into the Standard metagame when Tom Ross started winning every match he played with it. The deck has a very high skill cap, so a player of Ross's caliber will have a lot of success with it. The deck is very good at engineering boards where green opponents don't stand a chance and, when on the play, it does very well against control decks and red strategies too. The deck's biggest weakness is Crackling Doom and the popularity of Mardu strategies playing four of the card may pose a problem for this strategy in the coming weeks.

The new black-green decks are very exciting. They make huge plays involving Doomwake Giant, they often play like a combo deck with Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx and Voyaging Satyr, and they use See the Unwritten to take over games they had no business being involved in. See the Unwritten is often "draw four cards, all creatures your opponents control get -4/-4" plus putting two more bodies on the table. It's pretty absurd. Still, the deck is at the top end of the midrange spectrum and can find itself being run over by aggressive red decks and Heroic strategies. If those decks get pushed out of the metagame we can expect this to become top dog.

ElFlacoSchiavi's 4–0 Abzan

Download Arena Decklist

Abzan decks are putting up the most 4–0 finishes in Standard events right now. The deck has a lot of sheer power and the only way to contend with it is to go over the top with a control strategy or underneath with something like Boss Sligh or White-Blue Heroic. The deck is essentially a pile of Standard's most powerful cards. This is the perfect strategy for players who have familiarized themselves with the play style of Black Devotion or White-Black Midrange during last Standard season, so it's bound to be more popular than other decks, at least for the time being. The sheer power level of the cards here is likely enough to ensure that this archetype is a big part of the Standard metagame going forward.

LucaAshok's 4–0 Boss Sligh

Download Arena Decklist

Boss Sligh is another Tom Ross creation. It's pretty absurd that two of the top five decks in the current Standard were both designed by the same person. Boss Sligh goes underneath the midrange decks with an unbelievably aggressive strategy. Like all Tom Ross decks, this can be extremely hard to pilot correctly but, when played well, it's a force to be reckoned with. There's more information about Tom Ross, recent Grand Prix New Jersey Finalist, here.

Standard continues to evolve as we get further into the season. In the coming weeks, the Mardu strategies may push Heroic decks out of the picture and reposition the green decks to a place where they can be preyed upon by the Jeskai Tempo strategies. Stay tuned to Perilous Research to keep your finger on the pulse of the metagame!

Knowledge is power!

Latest Perilous Research Articles


January 7, 2016

Matter Reshaper by, Jacob Van Lunen

Welcome to the second week of Oath of the Gatewatch previews! Oath of the Gatewatch already promises to introduce a lot of powerful new tools to our current Standard canon, and today's pr...

Learn More


December 31, 2015

Oath of Jace by, Jacob Van Lunen

Welcome back to the first week of Oath of the Gatewatch previews here on DailyMTG. Today, we'll be exploring the applications of a new and exciting enchantment. Historically, control dec...

Learn More



Perilous Research Archive

Consult the archives for more articles!

See All