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5 Decks You'll Play This Weekend


Although there's no Constructed Grand Prix this weekend, Standard Showdown enters its third week, with an emphasis on the local store level of Standard. Sounds like a perfect reason to write an article about Standard!

The Showdown Lowdown

Here are the 5-0 decks on Magic Online from November 23 to December 6:

W/U Flash 33
R/G Marvel 21
Mardu Vehicles 15
B/G Delirium 11
B/R Aggro 10
U/R Control 9
W/B Aggro 8
Temur Marvel 5
Grixis Amalgam 4
U/B Amalgam 3
R/G Pummeler 3
The Rest 17

That's a well-defined field. R/G Marvel has become a pillar, closing off a lot of the field as the top decks fight each other. And it all very clearly starts with the Azorius Dream:

This version highlights an increasing use of Thalia, Heretic Cathar, who's fantastic at pressing an advantage, but the main reason I'm showing this list is its diverse sideboard; that gives you a good rundown of the directions you could take when making this deck yourself. It also might indicate that the main deck is good against everybody and wants only marginal tweaks in the sideboarded games. That's one of the advantages of having generally useful cards like Spell Queller and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar; they might be better or worse in different matchups, but the floor on their performance is very high compared to other decks.

Decks like this one:

As a combo deck, there are a lot of pieces that aren't as generally useful as Spell Queller and friends. But with a chance at a fourth-turn cast Emrakul, the Promised End, does it matter? Here's the thing that makes this deck so playable, though: it's secretly the superior delirium deck to B/G. B/G Delirium is still popular, but it has a ton of finicky cards at the beginning. Vessel of Nascency, Grapple with the Past, and Grim Flayer are all fine enough, and Grim Flayer's plenty useful later on, but the deck plays a bit underpowered at the start to set up a crushing endgame. R/G Marvel decks can fast-forward through the underpowered setup straight to the endgame while having the same major payoffs in Emrakul and Ishkanah, Grafwidow. Trading consistency for explosiveness makes a lot of sense in a world where Smuggler's Copters don't give opponents much time, and being able to play some of B/G's grindy side while potentially getting a free win makes the deck surprisingly sturdy for what seems like a cheap combo.

Since we're talking about Smuggler's Copter, here's the most successful aggro deck of late featuring our chopper friend:

More firmly Red than Matt Severa's Grand Prix Denver winning list from the weekend, and eschewing the Blue splash that Matt had for the sideboard Ceremonious Rejection, this deck's curve, unlike delirium/Marvel decks' durdlecurve, is scary. Toolcraft Exemplar into Scrapheap Scrounger threatens loads of early damage, but the key here is redundancy; Toolcraft Exemplar, Inventor's Apprentice, and Thraben Inspector give a critical mass of 1-drops and Scrapheap Scrounger, Veteran Motorist, and Smuggler's Copter give a critical mass of 2-drops. The 2-drop slot historically has plagued Red aggro decks, but this one has no such trouble thanks to Motorists and their Vehicles, and every game is likely to have the same basic curve.

Scrapheap Scrounger and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar are a stronger late game than decks of this type normally get. Obviously it's not an Emrakul, the Promised End-level late game, but it's not like a sweeper means the Mardu player has lost. There are a lot of options to push the damage through, and it looks like the deck will be the clock of the metagame — how fast other decks have to do their thing — for the rest of the season.

Two Spicy Metaballs

Standard Showdown encourages spicy meat, so I'll highlight two decks. The first is in a video with Pro Tour competitor Joel Larsson and is presumably piloted here by Pro Tour competitor Joey Manner:

So what is going on here? As with any deck with a bunch of singletons, starting with the four-ofs helps clarify bewildering lists. The four-ofs in this deck are Evolving Wilds, Aether Hub, Servant of the Conduit, Harnessed Lightning, and Bring to Light; combined with Attune with Aether, Traverse the Ulvenwald, Vessel of Nascency, and Pilgrim's Eye, mana can be sculpted in just about any direction. Servant of the Conduit/Aether Hub draws allow for a possible fourth-turn, five-color-powered Bring to Light, which can find removal in Fumigate and Anguished Unmaking, hard-hitting creatures in Goblin Dark-Dwellers, Ishkanah, Grafwidow, and sideboard silver bullets, or even a tutor for Emrakul, the Promised End if Traverse the Ulvenwald is cast with delirium. Nahiri, the Harbinger backs up Bring to Light in that she searches for Emrakul; she also fuels delirium and smooths draws with her discard/draw ability.

Radiant Flames is the most efficient early sweeper, and having a good chance of it equaling three damage on turn three is one of the biggest reasons to try this deck. It's a reward for playing all the mana fixing for Bring to Light, and the deck can keep changing its tutor targets as the format keeps moving. Bear that in mind when Aether Revolt comes out.

On the opposite end of the color spectrum is a deck that is surprisingly spicy by how normal it looks:

Do you remember when Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, and Nissa, Voice of Zendikar were a scary tag team in Standard? Like Pepperidge Farm, Cocosisste remembers. They can't combine with Secure the Wastes anymore, but Verdurous Gearhulk adds another way to pump useful smaller creatures like Thraben Inspector, Selfless Spirit, and Fairgrounds Warden while making Sylvan Advocate (another old Standard friend) scary enough to compete again in an aggressive metagame. Outside Smuggler's Copter and Spell Queller, there aren't many scary flyers, and the Planeswalkers can churn out ground blockers as long as necessary until it's time to turn the corner and pile on the damage.

Unlike the deck above, the sideboard's singletons that can't be tutored for, but four copies of Fragmentize can change completely how the deck plays out. With Aetherworks Marvel decks becoming a format pillar along with all things Smuggler's Copter, there are now enough targets in the metagame to where running Fragmentize is advised for any deck with consistent access to White. When Aether Revolt comes out and there are more options for artifact-based decks, cards like Fragmentize and Natural State are likely to increase in importance, so whether or not we see more of this deck, we are likely to see more of its sideboard.


The format could be blown open again, but it looks solved for now. With the holidays approaching, and with Standard Showdown fighting that tendency at the local level, this is a pretty good time for a format to stabilize; it shouldn't get too repetitive before it changes. There have been a lot worse Standard environments since I started this column, and while I prefer a more diverse format, this is about as good as can be expected in December. Now head to a Standard Showdown near you and shake things up!

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