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Ravnica Standard = Best Standard


Oh man, is there anything that compares to a Ravnica Standard format?

For you old-schoolers out there: do you remember the original Kamigawa-Ravnica Standard? It was glorious! We had big ole dragons with awesome new duals...I mean, back in those days? We didn't even have duals in Standard! Ever! Literally, the Standard ('Type 2' 4Lyfe) format was literally created to get those pesky, rare, and expensive (hah!) lands out of the format.

All of my content these days is filtered by experience. I've seen Magic grow and change so much. And through all of that growth, and all of those changes, one thing has remained the same: Ravnica. Standard. Rules.

Re: Ixalan

Turns out, mixing the colors is just so much more fun than mixing the creature types. As much as I wanted to love Ixalan - and trust me, I really did - when I look back it's crazy how Dinosaurs and Pirates didn't really get there. Drafting was clunky. Tribes couldn't be too good, or we'd be reliving Onslaught, but they couldn't be too bad, or we'd be upset with the power level.

For the record I appreciate how much Wizards cares about looking back at what worked and didn't. And the last tribal block, Lorwyn? Oh snap, did it work. Because Changelings are a thing, and they are terrific. You have any idea how many copies of Avian Changeling I've drafted in my lifetime? Literally hundreds. Because it was a Giant when I needed it. It was a Merfolk or a Goblin or an Elf. It was anything and everything and as a result it made the tribal gameplay so much smoother.

They didn't have to go full Tribal, and yet they did. While I understand not learning the lesson that Changelings are a very important part of a nutritious breakfast (and successful Tribal block), I also get wanting to not repeat themselves. But some choruses deserve another round after the next verse, as it were.

Whatever - decklists!

The Almost-Got-There's

It's a tough beat for those who were having a killer tournament only to see it all go down in flames near or at the final round. Those in Top 8 get profiles and feature matches. The people who did less well, outside Top 8, outside Top 16? There are some great players and decks out there. Let's look at them.

The first deck I ever built was a White Weenie deck, and this certainly does it proud. We're talking the full boat of Legion's Landing, Snubhorn Sentry(!), Venerated Loxodon(!), Knight of Grace, Adanto Vanguard, History of Benalia, and Benalish Marshal. And that's just the playsets.

And among them, Adanto Vanguard is such a standout. This little dude has done nothing but impress and has literally beaten me to death while I was playing Izzet because no matter how many Shocks I had, they just kept paying life. And I slowly, painfully, died from a 3/1 attacker. It was very Legacy-esque feeling, in a way.

But look at ole Snubhorn Sentry! Snubdog! We hardly knew ye! This incredibly innocent-looking creature gets mighty scary when helping to pay for Venerated Loxodon, and you're getting to 10 permanents pretty quickly with the help of Legion's Landing and History of Benalia.

You're still getting in early with Dauntless Bodyguard (best Savannah Lions ever amirite), who of course does a great job early and late, shielding whatever your largest / scariest creature is at the time.

Add a couple of dashes of Conclave Tribunal and Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants, and you got yourself quite a machine. This is the type of deck that does best when curving out, so remember to mulligan aggressively!

So White Weenie is sweet, what else we got?

Look, I'll tell you exactly why we're looking at this deck: 4 Sky Terror. Like, was anyone looking at that card as a beatstick? In sealed and Limited, sure. But I had written it off much like Skyknight Legionnaire - it's cute, but the rate just isn't enough for Constructed. Perfect for Limited, but the ride ends here. Not so much for ole ST though.

Findable with Militia Bugler, is evasive and cheap, Flying and Menace might as well say Unblockable, and you have the other host of awesome Boros cards around it to help. Ixalan's Binding is arguably more powerful than Conclave Tribunal because what gets gone, stays gone. I also like the miser's Banefire, which never fails to provide a rush of endorphins when ripped.

The sideboard is nice too, transforming somewhat into more of "Boros Angels" as they like to call it, rocking Planeswalkers and Lyras all of a sudden instead of quick and deadly. I think we call this the Golgari Shuffle.

Because one thing is true between these past two decks: They're running a ton of Tocatli Honor Guard.

Man, when I first saw the Golgari Explore deck? I thought Standard had just gotten busted. The value on top of value! Like, is Wildgrowth Walker a real card? You gain all this life AND counters? Somehow Seeker's Squire - Seeker's freakin' Squire! - is seeing serious competitive play. Man, a Squire never had it so good!

But Tocatli Honor Guard? She ain't havin' none of it. She can't be Shocked or Dead Weight-ed, she blocks little dorks all day. She turns off Ravenous Chupacabra and makes you start wishing really hard that you hadn't skipped leg day, and also that you packed your Vraska's Contempts. 'Cause you're gonna need em.

That's a nice Jadelight Ranger you got there. Would be a shame if it...did absolutely nothing.

But we gotta go big. We gotta go REAL BIG. Holy cow it's Naya Ramp!

Mother of God.

Three Pelakka Wurm. A Zacama, Primal Calamity in the main deck.

Is that...

My stars and garters...That's Star of Extinction! Main deck!

Star of Extinction

Oh baby, I just gotta drop you for 20 points of delicious damage and ALSO destroys a land. And I know that second part sounds silly, but in my experience, one random Demolish can destroy someone's entire gameplan. "I was bankin on that Glacial Fortress, man!"

And when you really wanna stick it in and break it off - there's a fourth copy in the Sideboard!

There's just...so much going on here.

You've got Azor's Gateway, which officially had it's coming out party last week (there was confetti), Thaumatic Compasses, I mean... March of the Multitudes!

This deck is just stuffed with awesome things to do with a ton of mana. I love it.

So if you're not blowing everything up with Deafening Clarion and Cleansing Nova you're getting awesome value from Treasure Map and ramping with Circuitous Route. I love The Immortal Sun here, as going big and just getting bigger is perfect. Not a Planeswalker in the 75.

Play the Game, See the Ravnica

How amazing is it that this is the week of the Pro Tour and we are still seeing new decks, new ideas, new brews, and new strategies emerge. I mean - Tom Clancy's Rainbow Lich (or "Five-Color Control" for the more mundane) just won a tournament! That's amazing!

Just like people who hearken back to the original Ravnica (like me), or Return to Ravnica, you're in a special time in Magic where the colors mix and swirl, and new decks pop out all the time. This is the first environment with the full-bore effect of Play Design and man does it show. The beauty of having Lava Coil be the perfect foil to Rekindling Phoenix but blanks against Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice. How we all lean on Ravenous Chupacabra only to see Tocatli Honor Guard totally blank it. These subtle but incredibly important interactions are what make a great format shine.

One day you'll get to brag about how you were playing when Guilds of Ravnica came out, how that Standard was terrific, and how we are all lucky to be visiting the guilds one more time.

Until next time Magic players, this is Evan Erwin. Tapping the cards...so you don't have to.

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