Standard Check-In

Posted in Top Decks on June 17, 2016

By Luis Scott-Vargas

Luis Scott-Vargas plays, writes, and makes videos about Magic. He has played on the Pro Tour for almost a decade, and between that and producing content for ChannelFireball, often has his hands full (of cards).

The fact that Standard is very diverse is no longer remarkable, which makes me happy. The last couple formats have been full of possibilities, and there are great decks of all flavors that you can choose from. Today I'm going to return to the Top Decks roots and go through all the decks that live up to that name, starting with the top of the heap.

Green-White Tokens

Green-White Tokens dominated the Pro Tour, and hasn't slowed down since. It's the uncontested best deck in the format, and never a bad choice. It's also a deck with a ton of play, so I'd recommend picking it up and sticking to it, if you end up liking it.

Seth Manfield's Green-White Tokens

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Game plan: Pressure the opponent with planeswalkers and Sylvan Advocate, while leaning on Avacyn, Den Protector and Westvale Abbey in a long game.

Green-White Tokens truly is the deck that does it all. It has a solid short game with Lambholt Pacifist, Sylvan Advocate, Nissa, and Gideon, but it's still quite strong in the late game. All of its cards are great, and they also happen to work well together. It's hard to ask for more from a deck, and green-white is a good place to be.

Weaknesses: Green-White Tokens can struggle against Cryptolith Rite decks, as Collected Company plus Eldrazi Displacer can out-power green-white in the late game. Otherwise, Green-White Tokens is about as consistent as a deck gets and has few intrinsic flaws.

White-Black Control

White-Black-Control is the best Languish deck in the format, and given that Languish is as close as we get to Wrath of God these days, that's not a bad place to be either.

Saul Alvarado's White-Black Control

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Game plan: Kill everything and Read all the Bones. This deck is a ton of removal spells plus enough card draw and planeswalkers to seal up the game. It's a control deck through and through.

White-black is firmly positioned as the control deck in every matchup, and it does everything it can to keep the board clear. It has more sweepers, more removal, and more planeswalkers than just about any deck you'd face, making it a tough matchup for any creature-based deck.

Weaknesses: Facing down planeswalkers has historically been tough for decks like this, and the eight planeswalkers that Green-White Tokens plays take advantage of that. Avacyn is no joke either, making green-white the deck that white-black wants to see the least.

Bant Humans

Collected Company has collected a wide range of creatures over the course of its run in Standard, and the latest group of beneficiaries happens to be the Humans tribe. Company into Thalia's Lieutenant is a very effective plan, and using Company as the high end in an aggressive Humans deck is a common sight these days.

Oliver Tiu's Bant Humans

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Game plan: Pressure the opponent with cheap Humans, while getting card and board advantage from Collected Company, Duskwatch Recruiter, and Tireless Tracker.

This is the next evolution of the Bant Company decks, and in fact shares a lot of the same creature base (notably Duskwatch Recruiter and Reflector Mage). Bant Humans does a great job of putting the opponent on a clock while still having a good late game, which is something of a common refrain among successful decks. The combination of Collected Company and Ojutai's Command is also a potent one, as both of these instants mask the other, leading the opponent to play into one if they aren't careful. The deck also plays nicely at instant speed as a result, making it that much more likely it can flip its Duskwatch Recruiters and Lambholt Pacifists.

Weaknesses: Bant Humans doesn't fear much, but efficient removal is annoying to deal with. Cards like Fiery Impulse and Ultimate Price can slow down Humans, and make it so Thalia's Lieutenant is less of a threat than it would be otherwise. Sweepers like Radiant Flames and Languish have their moments as well, though in all of these cases Collected Company does a very good job of keeping the pressure on. Bant Humans is a consistent deck, and one without glaring weaknesses.

Grixis Control

Grixis Control is similar to White-Black Control in that it plays a ton of removal spells, but it leans more on creatures than sweepers and planeswalkers. Combining the best cards of three colors gives the deck a lot of options, and it's certainly not short on power.

Jonas Friberg's Grixis Control

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Game plan: Grixis plays more like a midrange deck than a pure control deck, as Kalitas and Goblin Dark-Dwellers are very capable of ending games. It uses its removal suite to keep the opponent's side of the board clear and its creature threats to pressure the opponent at the same time.

Grixis is a deck full of synergies. From the interactions between Jace and Dark-Dwellers (discarding spells to Jace so you can Dark-Dwellers them is a common one) to the ability to cast lots of Read the Bones, Grixis has a lot of angles of attack. Kalitas is also a one-Vampire army, as an unanswered Kalitas soon leads to a board full of Zombies and a very sad opponent.

Weaknesses: The mana base of Grixis is its biggest weakness, as it ends up with inconsistent colors and tapped lands at a higher rate than any of the two-color decks. Westvale Abbey is also a challenge, as Grixis doesn't have a ton of answers when Ormendahl comes calling.

Mono-White Humans

If you are in the market to attack for 2 on turn two, this is the deck for you. Mono-White Humans is the premier aggro deck of the format, and does good work in keeping people honest. You can't leave home without early interaction, or this deck will eat you alive.

Tom Ross's Mono-White Humans

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Game plan: Attack for 2, early and often.

With as many one-drops as lands (eighteen of each), this Humans deck does not mess around. The popular version actually touches red for Needle Spires as an anti-sweeper sideboard card, but still plays as mono-white in Game 1. One-drops aside, this deck does have Always Watching and Kytheon for a more robust second wave of attacks, but it's still an aggro deck through and through.

Weaknesses: Radiant Flames and Languish can be tough, as this deck can't really afford to play around them. Otherwise, having a slow draw is really how this deck loses, so it has to mulligan a little more than most decks.

These aren't all the decks that exist by any stretch, but they do give you a good look at what's being played and what's been winning. Every color is represented, though white is clearly in the lead, and you have your choice of aggro, midrange, or control (with ramp also being quite playable, even if not included in this article).

As usual, my advice is to pick the deck you enjoy playing most—that's going to ensure you have the best time, and you really will play it better. Good luck!


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