December Standard Compendium

Posted in Top Decks on December 27, 2012

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

Every month, Perilous Research studies Magic Online Daily and Premier Events in an attempt to identify and categorize every viable archetype. The most recent Standard compendium showcases one of the most diverse formats in the history of competitive Magic. The current Standard metagame allows players to choose from multitudes of competitive strategies and naturally encourages innovation from week to week. This column illustrates the diversity of Standard and provides players with an excellent tool for playtesting and pure in-game knowledge.




Welcome back to Perilous Research, DailyMTG.com's Magic Online column. Every second week of the month I break down the entirety of the Standard format, providing decklists for every archetype that goes 4–0 at a Daily Event or Top 8s a Premier Event. Having complete knowledge of the contents of every archetype gives players a huge advantage over less-exposed opponents. Those players will be able to make certain plays against specific opponents with full knowledge of the possibility of outcomes. I strongly recommend reading and rereading this column if you intend on mastering the current Standard format.

Standard is more diverse than it has been in years. There are no longer unwinnable matchups. Every deck seems to be strong enough that it's able to overcome the hate intended for it with tight play. I'm going to loosely categorize decks as Midrange, Unburial Rites, Combo, Aggro, or Control.

Aggro in Standard

Standard was dominated by controlling decks less than a month ago. Then everything changed after Grand Prix Charleston. Black-Red and Mono-Red decks quickly proved themselves to be worthwhile and the format sped up a great deal in a relatively short period of time. Let's take a look at Standard's aggressive offerings. All the following decklists either 4–0ed a Daily Event or Top 8ed a Premier Event.

marc_31's Green-White Aggro

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Aggressive Green-White strategies were mildly popular about a month ago, but the deck began garnishing a massive following the last week of November. The deck is capable of running over its opponent, but the presence of Thragtusk alongside Restoration Angel means the deck plays a mean endgame too.

Thragtusk
Restoration Angel

Trollshow's Red, Splash Black

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Black-Red was the dominant archetype in Standard two weeks ago. Players quickly realized that being more aggressive was the best way to attack the normal Black-Red Strategy (seen below) and this version of Black-Red turns up the heat and preys upon the more creature-heavy format of today.

Ash Zealot
Hellrider

hot_milk's Black-Red

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This is the stock Black-Red list. When playing against a Rakdos deck, you should assume this is the list you're battling against unless you see more than one Mountain or an obviously out-of-place card. This deck is largely responsible for the significant decline in control strategies. It's impossible to answer everything and preserve a life total when the most-played aggressive deck in the format is playing so many haste creatures.

Knight of Infamy
Pillar of Flame

ht991122's Mono-Red

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Mono-Red is the obvious choice when you intend on being faster than your opponent. This deck performs well against the more controlling decks and the stock Black-Red list, but it struggles against midrange decks with Huntmaster of the Fells and Thragtusk.

Gore-House Chainwalker
Stromkirk Noble

_sprite_'s Green-Black Zombies

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Black-Green Zombies was the deck to beat back in October when the format was still young and undefined. The deck's pure power level is extremely impressive and the current state of the format (midrange creature decks) makes it the best aggressive option for today.

Lotleth Troll
Crippling Blight

Midrange in Standard

Midrange creature strategies were nowhere to be found in the previous weeks, but the recent decline in control strategies has opened up the door for a number of midrange creature decks to perform well. These are the most common strategies in the current Standard format.

JohnnyHotSauce's Naya

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This version of Naya can probably be categorized as aggro, but the presence of Garruk Relentless, Zealous Conscripts, and Bonfire of the Damned made me bunch it in with the midrange decks. Naya decks have become increasingly aggressive in an effort to improve all non-midrange matchups.

Champion of the Parish
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

baragalla's Grixis

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Grixis midrange put up decent numbers this past week and a quick look at the deck leaves nothing to be desired. The deck performs well against all creature decks and its post-sideboarded matchup against control decks is very reasonable. I expect this strategy to increase in popularity in the coming weeks. On a side note, have you ever Evil Twinned Angel of Serenity?

Evil Twin
Angel of Serenity

smalltownmagic's Four Color Stuff

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This strategy was first popularized by Conley Woods when he managed to Top 8 Grand Prix San Antonio with a similar list. Smalltownmagic improved on Conley's innovative deck by adding Lingering Souls. This card gives the deck a tremendous amount of longevity in every matchup.

Lingering Souls
Loxodon Smiter

TheShafting's Four-Color Stuff

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Conley's brews are like waterfalls, often spidering out into more archetypes in days. TheShafting chose to make the deck more controlling with this list.

Bonfire of the Damned
Selesnya Charm

Neptoon's Four-Color Navigator

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Deadeye Navigator has a lot of crazy interactions in the current Standard format. Zealous Conscripts and Thragtusk seem to be lost and they need guidance more than any other creatures in Standard. Deadeye Navigator can navigate them to victory with a stroke of his oar.

Deadeye Navigator
Zealous Conscripts

robotbc's RUG Midrange

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This is one of the more interesting decks to come out of Magic Online this past week. More than one individual managed to go undefeated in a Daily Event or Top 8 a Premier Event with a RUG deck that splashes black for the flashback on Forbidden Alchemy. Notice the presence of Silklash Spider! The combination of Nightshade Peddler and Izzet Staticaster makes this deck a powerhouse against creature decks, especially those that play little or no removal.

Forbidden Alchemy
Nightshade Peddler

101DeMoNS's Green-White Midrange

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Brad Nelson has written a bit about big green-white decks and their power against the more aggressive strategies in Standard. This deck performs very well against creature decks that aren't peddling nightshade, but it's unfortunate position against decks like Bant Control and Five-Color Control strategies makes it a risky proposition.

Geist-Honored Monk
Strangleroot Geist

saitology's Jund Midrange

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Saitology has been winning everything with Jund Midrange since the release of Return to Ravnica on Magic Online. The deck seems like it's always in a pretty good spot in the changing metagame and I wouldn't be surprised if it made a ninth-inning comeback in the last weeks of Return to Ravnica Standard.

Olivia Voldaren
Thundermaw Hellkite

schozoidman's WGB Tokens

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