Introducing the Standard Compendium

Posted in Top Decks on November 22, 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

Here in the United States, it's Thanksgiving weekend. In order to allow our writers (and us!) to spend time with loved ones on this busiest of travel weekends, is going into reruns Thursday and Friday. Fret not, dear readers, for we shall return on Monday with new articles! In the meantime, if you find yourself in the United States this weekend, may you have a happy Thanksgiving!

Mike McArtor

The Standard format is taking shape and competitive players everywhere are scouring the Magic Online event results in search of the best deck. Grand Prix Charleston and Grand Prix Bochum are just a few days away and the format's diversity offers a complex problem to be solved. Today, I'm happy to introduce a Magic Online Standard deck compendium. Readers have been asking for this type of comprehensive breakdown since the column's inception. From this point forward, every column on the second week of the month will be an updated breakdown of Standard in its current state.

Leaving no stone unturned, I will dissect every archetype you can expect to see in competitive Standard play.

Before we get into the decklists, we should take a look at some Premier Event results from November 10 through 12 for a snapshot of the Standard metagame in its current form. Here's a breakdown of the decks that managed to Top 8 by archetype.

Let's get into this!

White-Blue Control is the flavor of the week on Magic Online. The deck is being heralded as the deck to beat by some of the most visible Magic Online grinders. The deck plays a very effective control game that accelerates against Planeswalker-based strategies and creature decks that don't play Thragtusk or Lingering Souls. The deck may look like it has trouble applying enough pressure, but a timely Runechanter's Pike makes the deck close games very quickly. This list was initially pioneered by Adam Prosak and Gerry Thompson, and the deck's strong position in the current metagame has made it evangelize followers very quickly. More aggressive tempo strategies and hyper-aggressive black-green, red, and black-red decks are well-positioned against the White-Blue Control deck. Make sure you're prepared for Seraph of Dawn in post-sideboarded games, though. The seemingly out-of-place 2/4 flyer is often worth at least one free game when the opposing deck has no way to interact with it profitably in game two.

Runechanter's Pike
Seraph of Dawn

Here's Todd Anderson's list that won the November 11 Standard Premier event:

Strong Sad's White-Blue Control

Download Arena Decklist

Red-White-Blue Geist of Saint Traft decks didn't perform exceptionally well in the recent Premier Events on Magic Online, but the deck is still putting up great numbers in the daily events and its good matchup against White-Blue Control will likely increase its popularity in the days leading up to Grand Prix Charleston and Bochum. The deck plays similarly to the Delver of Secrets decks from last Standard season, attempting to establish board advantage with Geist of Saint Traft, Thundermaw Hellkite, or Restoration Angel. Once the Red-White-Blue deck is winning the race it becomes extremely difficult to stop the deck thanks to its powerful removal/permission suite.

Thundermaw Hellkite
Restoration Angel

Here's a list that recently 4–0ed a Daily Event.

MagicLair's Red-White-Blue Geist

Download Arena Decklist

Jund Midrange had the best numbers for the first few weeks of the new Standard format. The deck is an update on the absolutely, positively best Innistrad Block Constructed deck. Recently, successful Jund Midrange players have added a few copies of Cavern of Souls to the deck to help the deck's matchup against the new breed of control decks. This deck may feel like old news, but the Cavern of Souls version maintains its incredibly matchup against aggressive decks and also performs well against the new White-Blue Control decks. Unfortunately, the deck struggles with many of the recent Bant Control and Unburial Rites decks that are doing well. Recent Daily and Premier Event results haven't had a ton of the bad Jund matchups performing well, so we could see Jund Midrange make a big comeback at the Grand Prix this weekend.

Cavern of Souls

Here's the latest Premier Event Top 8 version from ProtossX, a player we've seen have a lot of success with this archetype:

ProtossX's Jund Midrange

Download Arena Decklist

Thragtusk seems to be a lightning rod for debate as of late. Many players are complaining that the format is being pushed further and further toward the control end of the spectrum, leaving aggro decks in an awkward place where they cannot effectively compete. However, it seems that the format may be completing an orbit because this week's Premier Events had an oddly large number of successful aggressive decks. The most successful mono-red decks in recent events have played Reckless Waif over Stromkirk Noble—a recent innovation.

Stromkirk Noble

The following list recently Top 8ed a Premier Event:

HermonHero's Mono-red

Download Arena Decklist

Bant Control seems to be a favorite among professionals recently; the deck absolutely crushes faster creature decks. The deck gives its pilot many opportunities to outplay the opponent, but its difficulty can often punish the pilot in control matchups. Still, though, against the creature decks the Bant player can just cast all his or her spells in a reasonable order (Supreme Verdict, then creatures) and it's usually good enough to win handily. Don Juan Quixote has been doing well with this archetype for well over a week.

Supreme Verdict
Angel of Serenity

Here's the list from a recent Daily Event Top 8:

Don Juan Quixote's Bant Control

Download Arena Decklist

There's usually a new oddity being floated around in these decklists. This week offers up an interesting Green-White Midrange deck that looks to be well positioned against the white-blue decks that have been getting so popular. This deck curves out just like an aggressive deck, but the deck designer recognized that almost all the decks in the format (except Red, Black-Red, and Black-Green) are operating in every stage of the game. The Green-White Midrange deck is very bad against Jund Midrange, but all the other standard matchups seem very reasonable. Jund Midrange has dropped significantly in popularity and this may be a good opportunity to cast Trostani, Selesnya's Voice.

Trostani, Selesnya's Voice
Armada Wurm

This is a list from the Top 8 of a recent Daily event:

Kuthoht's Green-White Midrange

Download Arena Decklist

Green-White Humans has been lingering on the sidelines for a few weeks, but the recent dominance of hard control decks encouraged Jonathan Sukenik, also known as Watchwolf92, to dust off the hyper aggressive green-white deck. Cards like Mayor of Avabruck seem especially strong in the current metagame. This deck will likely struggle with the new wave of Thragtusks and Supreme Verdicts rolling in again, but it's worth noting its existence.

Champion of the Parish

Here's Jonathan's recent list from a Premier Event Top 8:

Watchwolf92's Green-White Humans

Download Arena Decklist

Black-Green Zombies was the first big deck when Return to Ravnica first rotated into standard. The deck fell out of favor quickly when the format became dominated by Unburial Rites decks and Jund Midrange. Recently, these decks have become less popular and the format has more control decks than ever. Black-Green Zombies is putting up very good numbers as of late and could be the best aggressive deck going into Grand Prix Charleston and Bochum.

Lotleth Troll
Liliana of the Veil

Here's the list from Optimus that won a Standard Premier Event.

Optimus's Green-Black Zombies

Download Arena Decklist

Standard has a lot of control decks and Unburial Rites decks. Some players have thought about it, and they've decided that Delver of Secrets would be really good in this new metagame. The new breed of Delver of Secrets does well against the control and Unburial Rites decks, but it suffers from very weak matchups against the most aggressive decks in the format.

Azorius Charm

Here's ManuGodineau's list from a recent Daily Event:

ManuGodineau's White-Blue Delver

Download Arena Decklist

Black-Red Zombies has become better positioned for many of the same reasons as the Green-Black deck. Cards like Mark of Mutiny have become necessities in the new metagame of Thragtusks. Don't get caught off guard by main-deck threaten effects when playing against black-red decks in the coming week. A huge part of this deck's strength is the ability to catch opponents off guard with Zealous Conscripts or Mark of Mutiny. I would recommend green-black if you want to play an aggressive deck in the coming week.

Mark of Mutiny
Zealous Conscripts

Here's a Black-Red Zombies list that recently Top 8ed a Premier Event:

Suczi's Black-Red Zombies

Download Arena Decklist

Unburial Rites decks are underperforming in Premier Events, but the archetypes still put up a lot of 4–0 finishes in the Daily Events. The Unburial Rites decks are currently being plagued by excessive sideboard hate and a lot of main deck countermagic out of the tier one decks. This deck could make a big comeback if players start cutting all the hate in their sideboards, but I think we're still a few weeks away from that point and a lot of the cards (Rest in Peace) are also quite strong against other decks.

Unburial Rites
Deathrite Shaman

Here are two of the more recent Unburial Rites decks to do well in Daily Events:

MasamuneK's Four-Color Rites (no red)

Download Arena Decklist

arbor_p's Four Color Rites (no blue)

Download Arena Decklist

Esper Planeswalkers is criminally underplayed, but the deck continues to have success in the hands of its pilots. This deck is strong enough that it was able to dominate Premier Events a few weeks back. This deck seems to have reasonable and somewhat even matchups across the board and could be a great choice for the coming week if you're well versed with this type of strategy.

Jace, Architect of Thought
Tamiyo, the Moon Sage

Here's ovmlcabrera's list from a recent Daily Event:

ovmlcabrera's Esper Planeswalkers

Download Arena Decklist

I hope you enjoyed this in-depth look at the current state of Standard. There's enough information here for you to make an educated deck choice for the upcoming week's Standard events. Be sure to tune in to coverage of Grand Prix Charleston and Bochum this weekend to watch all the exciting Standard action unfold if you're unable to make it to the event. Hit the forums to give your thoughts on the current state of Standard. What do you think is the best deck? What do you think will be the most played deck at the Grand Prix this weekend?

Knowledge is Power!

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