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The Week in Ikoria Standard


Ikoria: Layer of Behemoths has turned out to be a more impactful set than most predicted. A few companions are getting the top tier attention that they definitely deserve, while the second tier companions and mechanics like Mutate are starting to get some attention. All in all, this Standard format is moving fast and it contains a lot of technology. Let's dive in.

Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast
Agent of Treachery

When Magic's most watched streamer, crokeyz, announces he has once again broken the format, players listen. I watch his Twitch channel to know what most of my MTG Arena ladder opponents will be playing tomorrow. This time his meta-shaking concoction is yet another way to cheat out Agent of Treachery, but this might be the most degenerate Agent of Treachery deck yet. Using Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast, Yorion, Sky Nomad, Fires of Invention, and Mythos of Illuna, this deck can steal three permanents on turn five without the weaknesses of a Winota, Joiner of Forces deck.

Here is your sample turn four and five that lets you steal every good thing your opponent has.

Turn four: Cast Fires of Invention, cast The Birth of Meletis for free.

Turn five A: Cast Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast for free using Fires of Invention, use the [-2] ability to exile the Wall token created by The Birth of Meletis, find Agent of Treachery because there are no other creatures in the deck, steal a creature from the opponent.

Turn five B: Cast Yorion, Sky Nomad for free, exile Agent of Treachery and Fires of Invention (and other stuff if you have it left over from turns two and three).

Turn five C: Now that Fires of Invention is gone, and you still haven't used your mana, cast Mythos of Illuna copying Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast or a second copy of Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast from hand. Use the [-2] on the creature you stole from your opponent, getting another Agent of Treachery from your deck. Steal another thing from the opponent.

Turn five D: On the end step, return the first Agent of Treachery from exile to the battlefield, along with Fires of Invention, and steal a third thing from your opponent.

Nice turn.

Last week was a good week to maximize Agent of Treachery. The aggro deck of the format, Rakdos Lurrus, had been figured out by the powerful "big three" of the format; Jeskai Fires, Bant Ramp, and Temur Reclamation. Aggro didn't seem like a viable strategy, so playing something that goes way over the top like Jeskai Lukka was a perfect call. If aggro makes a comeback, cards like Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast and Agent of Treachery become slow and awkward. A few contenders emerged last week to become the new aggro hotness of Ikoria Standard.

Barich hit #1 Mythic in about ten hours on the first day of the new format with this brutal Black deck.

Obosh, the Preypiercer
Rotting Regisaur

Obosh, the Preypiercer and Rotting Regisaur is a lot of damage. Temur Reclamation and Jeskai Fires don't play many cards that can kill a three mana 7/6. Bant Ramp has Elspeth Conquers Death, but that is five mana, and Rotting Regisaur will usually get a hit in before then. To make those hits more common, Barich is running four copies of Drill Bit and two copies of Duress, showing perfect preparation for a format without an aggro deck (you can find some Murderous Riders and Disfigures in the sideboard).

Even though some of these creatures are hard to kill, they are still creatures, and creatures can be removed. For the truly degenerate, a deck has emerged that doesn't need to interact at all. Zenith Flare to the face is always an option.

Calling the cycling deck an aggro deck might be wrong. It is a deck that can be very aggressive, and if you have ever seen a turn one Flourishing Fox go unanswered you know what I am talking about. Depending on the draw and the matchup, the deck can be go big beatdown, go wide beatdown, or it could play no creatures whatsoever and set up for back to back Zenith Flares.

Zenith Flare

The deck doesn't play any maindeck spells that are rare, allowing the deck to explode in popularity on the MTG Arena ladder. You need a plan to beat this deck in the coming weeks. Maybe you can deal with their creatures just fine, but how do you handle multiple copies of Zenith Flare in the double digits? Holding up a Negate sounds fine until the Cycling player casts Memory Leak and Zenith Flare in the same turn. Many decks are finding sideboard room for Leyline of the Void, Ashiok, Dream Render, and more to keep the graveyard from filling with cycle spells. If you find yourself against this deck, don't forget that you have to kill their creatures too. A hand with Leyline of the Void but no spot removal could be dead to Flourishing Fox very quickly.

I wonder what you can brew more decks with, Lurrus of the Dream-Den or the color wedge Jeskai (Red, Blue, White)...

If pants-on attacking is your style, play this deck. Staggering Insight and Sentinel's Eyes make Sprite Dragon and Tenth District Legionnaire massive, while Gods Willing, Fight as One, Karametra's Blessing, and Alseid of Life's Bounty keep them alive. The deck is as low to the ground as you expect from a Lurrus of the Dream-Den deck, and having a nightmare cat in the companion slot means even if the opponent kills your first wave of threats, another wave is right around the corner. On top of all that, they have to face the annoyance that is Lurrus of the Dream-Den recurring Alseid of Life's Bounty every turn.

These four decks give me plenty to play with this week in IKO Standard, and I haven't even tried to tackle the endless possibilities that are the four and five color Yorion piles. Maybe next week!

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