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Standard Decks for States


Last weekend, there were a set of StarCityGames Opens in Cincinnati with Return to Ravnica thrown into the mix. The landscape of Return to Ravnica Standard looks to be quite exciting with a fresh, clean slate for innovation.

The biggest breakout deck was R/W/U miracles, which managed to be the victor in the hands of Todd Anderson.

The Roanoke crew did it again, building what seems to be an extremely solid control deck with great game against creature decks. With a whopping five sweepers in the main deck and eight spot-removal spells, it's easy to see that they were well prepared for Zombies and any green-based creature decks. Four Jace, Architect of Thought and two Tamiyo, the Moon Sage are both good defensively and for pulling ahead on cards. Syncopate is a very awkward counterspell, but it is necessary to have another piece of interaction that can be played on turn two, which is a similar situation to the one where old Five-Color Control in Lorwyn Standard played Broken Ambitions. I am a bit surprised by the lack of Sphinx's Revelation as a one- or two-of. I would expect a fair number of people to adopt this deck for States, which is notorious for a creature-heavy metagame.

Sideboarded, it seems that they hedged against other control decks and midrange decks with several counterspells, some graveyard hate, and Geist of Saint Traft (specifically for control mirrors).

If you decide to play this deck, you should play quickly; otherwise, there is a real chance that you will finish the match with a record of 1–1–1.

Next up is the four-color Frites deck played by Chris Weidinger.

This deck is very interesting in its construction. You may question a lot of the one- and two-ofs, but in a deck like this one, you do see quite a few cards per game between Faithless Looting and Grisly Salvage. Angel of Serenity is the best fatty in this format by a fair margin since it can either act as three Faceless Butchers against someone or stow away three smaller creatures for you to cash in at a later date if your Angel is removed. The random copies of Bonfire of the Damned and Vraska the Unseen in the sideboard seem very out of place since they don't really synergize with the deck’s main plan very well.

Zombies performed very well, as expected, with B/R Zombies taking the highest placing in the hands of Joe Bernal.

This deck has an incredible amount of burn, which is also why it maxes out on 1-drop, 2-power guys. He also eschews Cavern of Souls because it’s very easy for him to play around countermagic with so many cheap guys. I really like the looks of this deck, and I suspect it actually is a favorite against R/W/U. I am not completely certain where Rakdos, Lord of Riots comes in, but I suspect it comes in mirror matches and against bigger G/W decks.

Here’s an unexpected deck played by THE JOHNNYHOTSAUCE (aka Andrew Shrout):

Humans might have been supplanted by Delver in the previous Standard, but Andrew Shrout has brought it back with a vengeance. Elite Inquisitor and Knight of Glory are very annoying for Zombies to deal with. Precinct Captain seems to be a card that can get out of hand very quickly. Shrout also chose to minimize the number of spells that cost 3 or more mana (only two Riders of Gavony, three Geist of Saint Traft, two Sublime Archangel, and two Ajani, Caller of the Pride. Boarded, we see the full four Syncopates against control decks and three Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. Bonds of Faith is an interesting removal spell that is never dead in this deck—you can always put it on a Human to do a Giant Strength impression. I don’t quite like Rootborn Defenses because Terminus gets around it.

Ben Wienburg managed to finish 7–2 (falling to Todd Anderson in the later rounds) with a Zombies list very close to the one I suggested previously:

He has informed me that Thragtusk and Sign in Blood both underperformed for him, which is a bit surprising. If Thragtusk is bad, that points to playing a much more aggressive Zombies list such as the aforementioned B/R Zombies that Joe Bernal played. I still think there is hope for this list; perhaps putting the Brimstone Volleys and some number of Highborn Ghouls or Blood Artists in would help.

Another successful archetype that cracked the Top 8 was Selesnya aggro in the hands of Dan Kauffman:

I’m not totally in love with this list, but it does have a fair amount going for it. The mana is pretty good with twelve turn-one green sources and sixteen overall as well as fifteen white sources. I’m relatively sure you could squeeze in another Gavony Township without too much trouble. It’s hard to figure out the exact creature configuration you want (mostly dependent on metagame calls). I also think Ajani, Caller of the Pride is better than Rancor in decks like these since it does not heavily punish you for playing into removal spells.

Again, we see Elite Inquisitors (in the board), alongside Sigarda, Host of Herons, which is a resilient threat. However, Revenge of the Hunted seems pretty bad—it seems only good in green mirrors, and Predatory Rampage seems to make a lot more sense there.

An unexpected Esper Tokens list cracked the Top 8 of the TCGplayer 5k in Hartford, CT:

Yes, this is only a fourteen-card sideboard, but as of right now, the last card is not posted. I’m not really sure what to make of this deck since it is essentially way different than anything else we have seen so far. But with ten token makers and seven anthems, it seems quite capable of outlasting a lot of decks.

I would need to play more with this deck before saying more about it, but it certainly seems to pack a punch and attack from an unexpected angle.

There are still many more exciting decks out there, but these are the decks I would consider the most to play as or against for the upcoming 2012s.

Take care, and good luck in all of your tournaments in the upcoming weeks!

As for me, I am preparing for Pro Tour: Return to Ravnica (in Seattle).

You can contact me here or on Twitter @jkyu06.

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