Vastwood Standard

Posted in Perilous Research on August 13, 2015

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 to Nissa week here at Perilous Research! Last week, we had our first opportunity to explore Standard in a post-Pro Tour Magic Origins setting. Now, after a week of dust-settling that included a Standard Grand Prix and many other large Standard events, we're beginning to get a clearer picture of the new Standard metagame. Today, we'll be taking a look at the format's newest competitors.

Nissa, Vastwood Seer had a big week in Standard. Decks like Green Devotion, Abzan Control, and other strategies that employed the powerful creature/planeswalker from Magic Origins didn't perform very well at Pro Tour Magic Origins, but the following week offered up a very different landscape wherein these decks were able to put up some great numbers.

The biggest winner seems to be Abzan Control, a powerful strategy that went from tier 1 to not even on the radar and back to tier 1 all in the span of two weeks. Devotion decks have also made some big improvements to their sideboard, and are now much better equipped to handle things like a turn-two Ensoul Artifact after sideboarding.

Let's take a look at the best-performing decks that include Nissa, Vastwood Seer from the last week!

elder088's Abzan Control—4-0 Magic Online Daily Event

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Abzan Control has been putting up great numbers on Magic Online this week. Nissa, Vastwood Seer is excellent at every stage in the game when playing a deck like this. Early on, the card ensures the pilot another land drop while also advancing board state. The card demands a removal spell in the midgame against other midrange strategies. Late in the game, Nissa, Vastwood Seer instantly flips into a tremendously powerful planeswalker that starts generating huge card advantage, all for just three mana. It's hard to argue with Abzan Control's efficiency, and the deck should only improve as the metagame takes shape in the coming weeks.

Loren Eakin's Green-White Megamorph—Top 8 Grand Prix San Diego

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The Brian Kibler special, White-Green Megamorph. This deck presents a lot of quick threats that hope to take over games. Ajani, Mentor of Heroes is a great top-end for a strategy like this. The deck takes advantage of a metagame that's currently quite soft to Dromoka's Command. Finding the best Dromoka's Command deck was definitely rewarding last weekend, and it seems like the card has a lot going for it with the current state of affairs. Post-sideboard, the deck uses Evolutionary Leap to overpower decks that rely heavily on spot removal, and Hangarback Walker punishes opponents who want to win on the ground.

Saruyama's Green-Red Devotion—4-0 Magic Online Daily Event

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Green Devotion decks have adapted to the current metagame by adding Unravel the Æther and Reclamation Sage to their sideboards. The deck can still have some trouble with an early Phyrexian Revoker, especially when it draws multiples of a particular mana creature. Devotion is still the biggest game in Standard, and we can expect it to perform well for the duration of the new Standard format.

Blue-Red Thopters was the breakout deck at Pro Tour Magic Origins, but the deck's strength has waned as players have started to devote more sideboard space to beating it. Still, some players are having success with the strategy.

PeterPea's Blue-Red Thopters—4-0 Magic Online Daily Event

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Ensoul Artifact provides the Blue-Red Thopter deck with a lot of free wins, especially in the first game. The deck is forced to mulligan aggressively, but its best draws offer up the fastest clock available in Standard right now. As players continue to devote more sideboard space to cards that perform well in this matchup, we may see even fewer copies of Blue-Red Thopters going deep in tournaments. Eventually, we'll reach a week where players are unprepared and have foregone their sideboard options for the matchup. That will likely be the point where we see Blue-Red Thopters rise to the occasion once again.

Standard has been bubbling with new and exciting strategies this past week. Grand Prix San Diego and other large tournaments gave us a taste of the new Standard's depth. Let's take a look at the new and exciting strategies that are performing well in Standard right now!

Michael Majors's Blue-Red Tutelage—1st place Grand Prix San Diego

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The biggest story in Magic this last week was Michael Major's Grand Prix victory. There were a few Blue-Red decks built around Sphinx's Tutelage that had won Magic Online Daily Events, but it's quite surprising that the deck is resilient enough to win an entire Grand Prix. The deck aims to stick an early Sphinx's Tutelage and draw tons of cards, decking the opponent while protecting itself with inexpensive removal spells. This deck certainly demands some attention, and I'll be interested to see what types of strategies are employed to prevent this rogue's brew from winning another major event.

Artur Villela's Abzan Constellation—Top 8 Grand Prix San Diego

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White-Green Constellation Decks made some waves at the Pro Tour, but adding black to the deck gives the pilot access to Doomwake Giant, Thoughtseize, Pharika, God of Affliction, and Brain Maggot. The deck aims to power out an army of enchantments to take over the game with excessive card advantage—usually on the back of Eidolon of Blossoms or Starfield of Nyx.

Dan Ward's Black-Red Dragons—Top 8 Grand Prix San Diego

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Black-Red Dragons certainly wasn't on my radar going into the Grand Prix last weekend, but Dan Ward made an incredible run with the deck and, since then, it's been one of the most consistent 4-0 Daily strategies on Magic Online. The deck brings a lot to the table in terms of disruption, removal, and threat density. Adding Hangarback Walker gives this strategy exactly the type of reach that it's looking for when dealing so much incidental damage over the course of the game with cards such as Draconic Roar and Thunderbreak Regent.

Ben Weitz's Jeskai—Top 8 Grand Prix San Diego

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Jeskai was on my shortlist for decks I expected to crush Pro Tour Magic Origins. Unfortunately for Jeskai mages, red decks trounced the more color-intensive aggressive strategy at the Pro Tour. Now that red is being hated out a bit more aggressively, we can expect Jeskai to be a big strategy in the coming weeks. This is likely the deck that benefits the most from Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, and there's a lot to be said for a looter in a deck that's trying to use Dig Through Time to maintain an aggressive stance.

Paul (Soohwang) Yeem's Esper Dragons—Top 8 Grand Prix San Diego

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Esper Dragons disappeared off the face of the planet with the release of Magic Origins. It's hard to make a control deck for a format that's so wide, because our answers need to match up correctly against the format's threats. As the format continues to develop, we'll see more streamlined Esper Dragons decks. The deck's numbers will only improve as the metagame tightens.

William Wingler's Abzan Delve—Top 8 Premier IQ

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Abzan Delve is one of the most exciting decks from the last week. Gather the Pack offers up a lot of draw power and delve acceleration for a deck like this. This deck seems like a great strategy for the coming weekend. Dromoka's Command is the best thing to do right now, and the sheer size of this deck's creatures mean that cards like Bile Blight and burn spells are traditionally weak against the deck. Gather the Pack seems a lot better than it's getting credit for right now, and I expect the card to be a big player as Standard continues to develop.

Todd Anderson's Bant Heroic—Winner Premier IQ

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The mission to find the best Dromoka's Command deck was successfully completed by Todd Anderson, who piloted Bant Heroic to victory at the Premier Standard IQ. Todd's version of the deck is traditional except in its inclusion of Hangarback Walker, which provides the deck with a great Ordeal of Thassa target while also giving the deck a better plan for longevity in post-sideboarded games. Bant Heroic looks to be in excellent position for this coming weekend too, but the rise of Abzan Control and the increasing number of Self-Inflicted Wounds in sideboards could pose some problems.

Standard with Magic Origins continues to evolve with each passing week. It seemed that red decks and Ensoul Artifact strategies were the top dogs only a week ago. Now, the format is getting huge at an alarming rate. Join me next week as we continue to track one of the most exciting Standard environments in the history of Magic!

Knowledge is power!

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