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Shifting Through Standard

Standard is shaping up in a post Ixalan world; and, while Temur Energy is certainly the top dog, we have had a slew of other interesting deck posting results here and there. This past weekend was the return of Magic’s Nationals events all over the world and they brought with them some fantastic innovation in the realm of Standard. Today I would like to highlight some of the interesting technology found in the posted lists.

If you are looking for potentially a new “best deck”, this variation of energy is the place I would start. The Sultai Energy deck that won the Dallas Open is easily the most powerful thing I have played that is not Temur Energy, but its lack of quality removal leaves a lot to be desired. This deck seemingly takes the best from both decks — Harnessed Lightning from Temur and Glint-Sleeve Siphoner / Hostage Take from Sultai.

The big question for this configuration is if the mana base is consistent enough to allow us to play the powerful cards we are playing on curve. Attune with Aether and Aether Hub are powerful cards, but this is definitely something I would want to spend a good deal of time playing games with before I took it to an actual event.

If you are interested in being as aggressive as possible, this br aggressive deck is likely the best place to start. The scariest draws out of the Mono-Red deck involve playing a threat on one and this deck has twelve decent 1-drops that start applying pressure right away. In addition to playing a curve that is low to the ground, the Black splash provides access to two different 2-drops that can help us generate some card advantage:

Glint-Sleeve Siphoner
Scrapheap Scrounger

While Glint-Sleeve Siphoner is not quite as powerful in this shell as it is in a dedicated energy deck, it still generates an extra half a card a turn, while also providing a threat that has a small amount of evasion thanks to Menace. Scrapheap Scrounger is the annoying threat that just keeps coming back. Between Scrapheap Scrounger and Dread Wanderer, not only can we stretch exile removal like Magma Spray thin, but we can have enough recursive threats to allow us to make attacks that would generally not be ideal with less resilient threats.

Finally — just like the Mono-Red deck — this br Aggro deck gets to play the best aggro top end Standard currently has to offer in Hazoret the Fervent.

Whenever I have played the ub Control decks in this current Standard format, they have left a lot to be desired. They feel like they can properly attack one or two of the popular decks, while coming up short against most of the others. This more midrange ub deck is an interesting take on the colors though. It tries to sidestep some of the awkwardness control decks tend to have, by simply being more proactive. We have not one, not two, but three copies of The Scarab God which seems fantastic. With cards like Kitesail Freebooter we can clear the way through what little removal our opponent’s might have so our powerful God can take over the game.

While the main deck is definitely slanted to beat up on other creature based decks Game 1, the ub colors provide plenty of tools like Duress and Negate to slant toward being control decks in the post board games. If you are someone who enjoys playing the Dimir Colors in Standard this deck seems like a great place to start off.

The remaining three decks we are going to take a look at today all lean on 1 powerful card to be competitive:


With all of the midrange aggressive decks in the current Standard format, having a sweeper that not only cleans up the board, but also gains us some life is very powerful.

This first deck leans on a few different tools to be able to win the game, while still playing Fumigate:

The Scarab God
Anointer Priest
Hidden Stockpile

The Scarab God will be a recurring theme until it rotates out of Standard. Not only is it a single card that can take over a game all on its own, but when we clear the board with Fumigate The Scarab God comes back, with fresh graveyards full of creatures to start reanimating. Anointer Priest is one of a few different Eternalize creatures we have access to. These get to come back into play after they get swept away.

Hidden Stockpile is an extremely powerful card in this deck. Not only does it start replenishing our board state after a Fumigate, but it also gives us a method of putting our resilient creatures into our graveyard in response to removal that exiles such as Cast Out of Ixalan's Binding.

Did I mention I was saving the two most interesting lists for last? The wr Approach of the Second Sun deck is probably the most fun I have had playing Standard since Ixalan released. While Approach of the Second Sun is a combo all on its own, this deck can actually win the game the turn you play Approach of the Second Sun thanks to this powerful enchantment:

Sunbird's Invocation

How the mechanics of this work is that if we find a different copy of Approach of the Second Sun with the Sunbird's Invocation trigger, the copy of Approach that was cast from our deck will resolve first. Then the copy of Approach that we cast from our hand will resolve, see that we already cast Approach, and we will win the game. Even in the event that we do not win on the spot in this manner, our Sunbird’s trigger will often find something like a Fumigate or removal spell to help us keep the board in check while we wait to find our first Approach again manually.

Unlike the wu Approach decks we have seen so far this season, this deck has a variety of win conditions in the main deck and even more post board. Sunbird's Invocation is powerful not only when we are comboing with Approach of the Second Sun, but also when we are just casting our other spells. Turning all of our spells into double spells is very powerful.

Finally we have another unique take on Approach of the Second Sun control that is again leaning on the power of Fumigate to help keep the board clear. This deck uses Hour of Promise to not only ramp up to Approach of the Second Sun sooner, but also to help enable Thaumatic Compass. Post board this deck splashes in The Scarab God as an additional win condition to help fight through things like Lost Legacy.

Wrapping Up

While I am a bit sad that Dinosaurs and Pirates appear to be coming up short in this Standard format, there is certainly not a lack of variety in interesting archetypes that are having success. Which of the decks that put up results at nationals did you find the most interesting? Was it one of the ones I talked about here or something else? Let me know in a comment below!


—Jeff Hoogland

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