Prophecies Fulfilled

Posted in Perilous Research on November 6, 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, DailyMTG.com's exclusive Magic Online column. Khans of Tarkir Standard has had about a month to sink in at this point, and the format's dominant archetypes are beginning to establish footing. Players have found the right mix of aggression and control to optimally approach the new format. Today, we'll be discussing the current state of Standard and taking a look at some of the most successful decks from the last week's Magic Online events.

When we first entered the world of Khans of Tarkir Standard, green-based decks including four copies of Sylvan Caryatid and Courser of Kruphix were widely expected to be the most successful strategies. These decks did decently in the early weeks, but they quickly found themselves dying in the air to cards like Mantis Rider. Since then, Abzan decks that take advantage of the impressive Siege Rhino have planted themselves in tier 1 with efficient removal and creatures that allow them to operate as both aggressive and controlling decks, depending on the situation.

The current Standard rewards players for having options. Usually, we want our decks to be streamlined. Our aggressive deck should do very well when playing the aggro game, and any defensive cards will only soften the aggressive plan, making our deck worse. Oddly enough, we're at a place in the current Standard where choosing one's role at a given moment is extremely valuable. As a result, the green Sylvan Caryatid/Courser of Kruphix strategies that were expected to be so strong when we first ventured into this format have finally come to power and established themselves as the decks to beat.

Let's take a look at the decks that have been winning on Magic Online. Afterward, we'll discuss the implications of the new format and discuss which decks will likely be best positioned for the coming week's Standard events.

Pignorton's Abzan

Download Arena Decklist

Abzan has established itself as a tier-1 deck. This aggressive version of the Abzan deck is designed to prey on the mirror and other green strategies. Herald of Torment is exceptional in the current Standard because of how strong flying is right now. The deck eschews playing Sylvan Caryatid in favor of two-drops that are strong topdecks at any stage of the game. By playing four copies of Fleecemane Lion and Rakshasa Deathdealer, the deck's Sorin, Solemn Visitor is significantly stronger and the topdeck potential of all nonland cards is premium throughout the mid-end game.

Based's Mardu Format: Standard Commander: 3 Battlefield Forge 4 Bloodstained Mire 2 Caves of Koilos 6 Mountain 4 Nomad Outpost 1 Swamp 1 Temple of Silence 4 Temple of Triumph 4 Butcher of the Horde 4 Goblin Rabblemaster 4 Seeker of the Way 2 Wingmate Roc 3 Chained to the Rocks 1 Chandra, Pyromaster 4 Crackling Doom 4 Hordeling Outburst 4 Lightning Strike 1 Murderous Cut 1 Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker 2 Sorin, Solemn Visitor 1 Stoke the Flames *1 Chandra, Pyromaster *2 Anger of the Gods *2 Banishing Light *2 End Hostilities *2 Glare of Heresy *1 Magma Spray *3 Nyx-Fleece Ram *2 Read the Bones

Download Arena Decklist
0 Cards

Mardu Tokens was popularized by Brad Nelson, the king of Hordeling Outburst. The deck has enough of an air force to punish most green strategies with some draws, but its true strength is against the Jeskai decks. Hordeling Outburst is particularly strong against the other Goblin Rabblemaster decks. It's common for the player on the draw to leave open mana on turn two to take out a high-power three-drop like Mantis Rider or Goblin Rabblemaster; by playing Hordeling Outburst, you put the opponent in an awkward spot where his or her removal spell is unimpressive and, with enough removal, it's easy to pressure Planeswalkers and life totals with the tokens.

Eisenhammer's Temur Format: Standard Commander: 3 Forest 4 Frontier Bivouac 1 Mana Confluence 2 Mountain 3 Shivan Reef 1 Temple of Abandon 1 Temple of Epiphany 4 Wooded Foothills 4 Yavimaya Coast 2 Boon Satyr 3 Courser of Kruphix 4 Elvish Mystic 2 Goblin Rabblemaster 4 Polukranos, World Eater 4 Savage Knuckleblade 4 Stormbreath Dragon 4 Sylvan Caryatid 3 Crater's Claws 3 Stubborn Denial 4 Temur Charm *1 Stubborn Denial *3 Disdainful Stroke *4 Lightning Strike *3 Magma Spray *1 Negate *2 Stoke the Flames *1 Temur Ascendancy

Download Arena Decklist
0 Cards

Temur is an aggressively bent green strategy that aims to get fatties on the table faster than the other green decks. The deck maintains aggression by countering the opponent's big creatures/board sweepers once it's ahead on the board. The deck can end games out of nowhere by using Crater's Claws. The deck is better against decks with reach than other green strategies because of its natural speed and countermagic, but it tends to struggle against the most streamlined green decks. Some versions of the deck play Ashcloud Phoenix to improve the green matchups. We can expect this deck to become more popular and better if the format moves to a place where more people try to play control decks.

Bakermancanvw's Green Devotion Format: Standard Commander: 10 Forest 1 Mountain 4 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx 4 Temple of Abandon 4 Wooded Foothills 2 Arbor Colossus 4 Courser of Kruphix 4 Elvish Mystic 4 Genesis Hydra 2 Hornet Queen 3 Polukranos, World Eater 4 Sylvan Caryatid 2 Voyaging Satyr 4 Crater's Claws 2 Magma Jet 3 Nissa, Worldwaker 3 Xenagos, the Reveler *1 Hornet Queen *1 Magma Jet *1 Back to Nature *2 Circle of Flame *3 Destructive Revelry *2 Hornet Nest *2 Lightning Strike *2 Mistcutter Hydra *1 Xenagos, God of Revels

Download Arena Decklist
0 Cards

Green Devotion plays like a combo deck in a lot of situations and the newest versions, once again, include Arbor Colossus and burn spells as a nod to the more aggressive decks in the format. The deck's endgame is the most powerful in the format, but surviving the early turns where it's trying to build a board can be difficult, especially on the draw. As other strategies have slowed down to improve other matchups, the Green Devotion deck has grown increasingly more powerful and is currently one of the decks to beat in Standard.

L1X0's Graveyard/Constellation Abzan Format: Standard Commander: 2 Caves of Koilos 4 Forest 4 Llanowar Wastes 1 Plains 4 Sandsteppe Citadel 2 Temple of Malady 1 Temple of Plenty 1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth 4 Windswept Heath 4 Courser of Kruphix 2 Doomwake Giant 1 Eidolon of Blossoms 3 Elvish Mystic 3 Hornet Queen 4 Satyr Wayfinder 4 Siege Rhino 2 Soul of Theros 4 Sylvan Caryatid 2 Banishing Light 2 Commune with the Gods 3 Murderous Cut 3 Whip of Erebos *3 Drown in Sorrow *4 Fleecemane Lion *1 Glare of Heresy *1 Hero's Downfall *1 Pharika, God of Affliction *1 Reclamation Sage *1 Suspension Field *3 Thoughtseize

Download Arena Decklist
0 Cards

The straightforward Abzan decks often struggle against the good draws from other green decks and Jeskai opponents. This version of the Abzan deck goes slightly bigger to take advantage of cards like Doomwake Giant, Whip of Erebos, and Eidolon of Blossoms. The combination of these cards let the deck win long games against decks, like Green Devotion, that traditionally win when games go beyond turn eight or nine. The variety of cards leads to some lackluster draws and make the deck not mulligan well, but this is likely the most powerful deck in the current format when it starts on seven cards.

Bluemagictime's Jeskai Format: Standard Commander: 4 Battlefield Forge 4 Flooded Strand 2 Island 4 Mystic Monastery 2 Plains 3 Shivan Reef 4 Temple of Enlightenment 2 Temple of Epiphany 1 Tranquil Cove 3 Brimaz, King of Oreskos 4 Mantis Rider 1 Banishing Light 3 Dig Through Time 1 Disdainful Stroke 3 Dissolve 2 Elspeth, Sun's Champion 2 End Hostilities 2 Jeskai Charm 4 Lightning Strike 2 Magma Jet 3 Nullify 2 Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker 2 Steam Augury *2 Banishing Light *2 Disdainful Stroke *1 End Hostilities *3 Anger of the Gods *1 Erase *1 Glare of Heresy *2 Negate *3 Nyx-Fleece Ram

Download Arena Decklist
0 Cards

Jeskai decks were once the most feared strategy in Khans of Tarkir Standard, but as players have learned the matchup and adjusted their decks to handle the reach presented by most Jeskai strategies, the deck has waned in success and popularity. Some Jeskai players have reacted by making the deck a more controlling entity. Most players still approach the matchup as if they're playing defense and before they're even aware that they're up against a control deck, they'll find themselves with a stunted board—and this version of Jeskai can go very big. If everyone is playing a pile of creatures, then End Hostilities/Dig Through Time strategies are likely to be in a very good place right now.

BO11301's Big Abzan Format: Standard Commander: 2 Caves of Koilos 3 Forest 4 Llanowar Wastes 2 Plains 4 Sandsteppe Citadel 3 Temple of Malady 2 Temple of Silence 1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth 4 Windswept Heath 4 Courser of Kruphix 4 Fleecemane Lion 1 Hornet Queen 4 Siege Rhino 4 Sylvan Caryatid 2 Wingmate Roc 4 Abzan Charm 2 Ajani, Mentor of Heroes 2 Elspeth, Sun's Champion 3 Hero's Downfall 1 Murderous Cut 2 Sorin, Solemn Visitor 2 Utter End *1 Hornet Queen *1 Murderous Cut *2 Bile Blight *3 Drown in Sorrow *1 Duneblast *1 End Hostilities *1 Erase *1 Liliana Vess *4 Thoughtseize

Download Arena Decklist
0 Cards

By going big with the Abzan deck with cards like Ajani, Mentor of Heroes and Elspeth, Sun's Champion, the deck is less prone to getting blown out by End Hostilities or the midgame of the green decks. Not having access to Herald of Torment makes it hard to apply pressure around turn four or five in a lot of matchups, but the sheer power level of this deck's cards make it a force to be reckoned with regardless of the format's texture.

Looking at these decks, there are two strategies that seem particularly strong for the current Standard metagame. Blue-White Heroic preys on green strategies by forcing them to leave mana open or use their turns inefficiently and Blue-Black Control seems like it has the card advantage/removal to weather the storm and come out on top against the midrange green decks. Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver seems particularly strong in the current metagame. Going forward, we can expect Blue-White Heroic and Blue-Black Control to be great choices in the Standard events of this upcoming weekend.

Standard continues to evolve and we've already seen tier-1 decks get pushed out of the winner's circle in the first month. In the coming weeks, we'll continue following Standard and the other formats on Magic Online.

Knowledge is power!

Latest Perilous Research Articles

PERILOUS RESEARCH

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

PERILOUS RESEARCH

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

Articles

Articles

Perilous Research Archive

Consult the archives for more articles!

See All