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Ten New Core Set 2020 Standard Brews

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Warning!

The decks you are about to see are mostly untested first drafts! They were played live on steam this Monday as my first stab at the new Core Set 2020 Standard format. Most are brews jam packed with new Core Set 2020 cards, while there are a few updates to existing archetypes with new Core Set 2020 twists, but it's important to note that these are first steps and not finished products! Use them as stepping stones for your own deck brewing process, but play them card for card at your own risk!

With that out of the way, let's get started!

Core Set 2020 is one of the most interesting sets in a while, in that it provides a bunch of fun new cards for us to parse and play with, but also a bunch of help to previous Standard themes that never quite got there like Dinosaurs, Vampires, Goblins, and more. Because of the help it gives to themes that had previously fell short, the set ends up feeling much bigger than it actually is because it makes all of those old cards playable in addition to all of the new cards it brings. As such, this is a very interesting time to brew!

Today we're going over all ten decks I played on stream Monday, briefly going over each list and my thoughts on how it was, giving it a letter grade, and talking about what kind of potential it has going forward. I played five to six games with each deck in best of one so the deck's record will be included as well.

Let's go!

Goblins!


Deck Grade: C+

Deck Potential: Medium

Where else would I start?

Goblins was at a very odd place in Standard, with Dominaria reintroducing Skirk Prospector, Goblin Warchief, and Siege-Gang Commander to a format with very little other support for the tribe. There wasn't enough meat for a full deck and Goblin Chainwhirler, the best Goblin in the format, didn't require any help and was an active deterrent to putting a bunch of 1/1s in your deck. There just wasn't enough of a payoff for putting a bunch of Goblins into your deck.

Well now there is.

Goblin Ringleader
Icon of Ancestry

While notably absent from Modern Horizons, Goblin Ringeader makes a surprising appearance in Core Set 2020 as one of the best tribal incentives in a long time. Goblin Ringleader cares very much about how many Goblins are in your deck, while also giving you a huge payoff for making that number as high as possible. With Goblin Ringleader joining Siege-Gang Commander, Goblins in Standard certainly has the ability to grind with the best of them and the new Icon of Ancestry further pushes the power level, providing a boost to your many 1/1s and even more late game draw power.

The issue is that your one and 2-drops are lacking, which means you can fall behind before Goblin Ringleader can really get you going. Wily Goblin just isn't good enough, and while the new Ember Hauler is passable the deck is lacking in the early game. Still, Icon of Ancestry is great and Goblin Ringleader provides a ton of cards and is great against planeswalkers.

There's definitely something here.

Temur Elementals


Deck Grade: B+

Deck Potential: Very High

From an old classic to the new school. Elementals are the tribe of Core Set 2020, with this deck featuring almost primarily cards from the new set.

Risen Reef
Omnath, Locus of the Roil
Chandra's Embercat

They look weird but the elemental crew, led by the seemingly innocent Risen Reef, creates quite the engine. They make a lot of incidental mana quickly, which leads to some fast starts topped off with Omnath, Locus of the Roil and many Chandras. Risen Reef guarantees value immediately, but if it's allowed to live the advantage in both cards and mana it creates is astounding.

Chandra, Acolyte of Flame
Chandra, Awakened Inferno

The other element of the elemental deck is how well it plays with multiple Chandras. Chandra, Acolyte of Flame is probably the best Chandra in the format, and using her token generation ability to power up Risen Reef is a dream come true. She also pressures planeswalkers and allows you to flash back spells which we will get to later. Chandra, Awakened Inferno is quite the top end, throwing emblems at slower decks while sweeping up other creature decks. Chandra, Novice Pyromancer was surprisingly effective but may not be good enough.

Shock
Jaya's Immolating Inferno

You need to have some interaction beyond Omnath and also want spells for Chandra, Acolyte of Flame to flash back, leading us to some burn spells. The idea was to use spells that could be flashed back later for a lot of mana, and while Jaya's Immolating Inferno was impressive Fight With Fire was just too much mana to be reliable. Having access to Shock for spot removal felt very important.

This deck has a long way to go before it hits its final form, but there's something serious here.

Dinosaurs


Deck Grade: C

Deck Potential: Low to Medium

Dinosaurs was one of the biggest flops from Ixalan, as the tribe never really made it past it's few key cards being played in non-dinosaur decks. There just wasn't enough synergy to go around and Enrage was only really good against other Red and Green decks.

Marauding Raptor
Shifting Ceratops

Marauding Raptor certainly is the shot in the arm that Dinosaurs needed, covering basically every single problem the deck had. It's a good, worthwhile early creature that provides mana acceleration, scales well into the late game, and makes Enrage a relevant mechanic. Curving turn two Marauding Raptor into turn three Ripjaw Raptor is awesome, and Marauding Raptor breathes new life into cards like Ranging Raptors and Raptor Hatchling.

However, that's really it as far as upgrades go. Shifting Ceratops is okay but just more of the same, leaving Dinosaurs a slightly better deck than it was but still aggressively mediocre. If Dinosaurs is going to succeed it's probably just going to be a few of the new cards tacked into the Charging Monstrosaur Gruul deck that has been floating around.

Vampires


Deck Grade: B+

Deck Potential: High

Another Ixalan tribe that never really got off the ground, Vampires was always a bit short in the power level department. There just weren't enough reasons to put a bunch of vampires in your deck. Boy has that changed.

Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord

Wowzers is Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord amazing. Sorin singlehandedly breathes life into the archetype, providing basically anything you could ever want in your Vampire deck for an easy to cast three-mana investment. Sorin helps to buff your creatures and push them through blockers, gains life, kills creatures, kills planeswalkers, kills players, is very durable, and can even put things into play for free! It's hard to undersell how much power Sorin brings to the table.

Champion of Dusk
Sanctum Seeker

Sorin also props up some very powerful Vampires that were always just a little too high on the curve to be super effective. Champion of Dusk is a powerful payoff for putting Vampires into your deck, but five mana was a lot to ask for a card that wasn't great if you were behind. How about putting Champion of Dusk into play on turn three while also adding a planeswalker to the board? Sanctum Seeker is similar, having a huge effect on the board while also being reasonable to cast when you don't have Sorin.

The exact mix of threats will need to be figured out, as you can't go too crazy with the bigger Vampires and have your deck not function when you don't draw Sorin, but Sorin singlehandedly makes Vampires a thing in Standard.

Karn And Friends


Deck Grade: D-

Deck Potential: Cute, But Nothing More

Renowned Weaponsmith is actually a very powerful mana creature for artifacts, but while it joins powerful artifact enablers like Sai, Master Thopterist and Karn, Scion of Urza, there just aren't enough reasonable artifacts to fill out a full decklist.

Renowned Weaponsmith
Karn, the Great Creator
Golos, Tireless Pilgrim

The idea was to use Karn, the Great Creator as a sort of artifact factory, allowing you to pull out whatever artifacts you needed from your sideboard to make up for the relative lack of reasonable artifacts in the main deck, but the deck completely lacked in both speed and interaction. We couldn't stop our opponent's from executing their game plan and our game plan just wasn't powerful enough to matter half the time. The upside was that Golos, Tireless Pilgrim was actually very good, which we will see more of later.

This deck was cute, but ultimately ineffective.

Sultai Reanimator


Deck Grade: A-

Deck Potential: High

This was one of the most exciting and powerful decks we played all stream.

Drakuseth, Maw of Flames
Bond of Revival

Drakuseth, Maw of Flames is unbelievably powerful if it gets a chance to attack, and utilizing the haste aspect of Bond of Revival with Drakuseth provided us with an incredibly potent combo. Not much instant speed removal can kill Drakuseth before it gets to attack, and even if our opponents were able to remove Drakuseth on their next turn their board was often decimated. With Tamiyo, Collector of Tales fueling the graveyard and allowing us to re-buy whatever we need it wasn't hard to reset up for another Bond of Revival attack the following turn.

Growth Spiral
Tomebound Lich
Ritual of Soot

With so few cards necessary to facilitate the combo, the rest of the deck is essentially just a Sultai Midrange/good stuff deck that is already packed full of interaction. Tomebound Lich is another fantastic new card for the deck, providing a looting effect to get Drakuseth into the graveyard while also playing defense against the aggro decks and offense against the slower decks.

This deck was impressive.

Mardu Angels


Deck Grade: C

Deck Potential: Medium

While I'm not a huge fan of midrange decks there's no denying their success in Standard, and Kaalia, Zenith Seeker seemed tailor made as a splash in the old Boros Angels deck.

Kaalia, Zenith Seeker
Bishop of Wings

Kaalia is a very powerful Magic card on rate; just compare her to Rogue Refiner, a card previously banned in Standard. She's a 3/3 flying vigilance that draws you a good card, rather than a ground 3/2 that draws you a random card with some energy. Naturally she's harder to cast, but there's a lot of power there worth building around. Bishop of Wings also gave the deck the 2-drop it's always wanted, providing a great blocker, life buffer, and some insurance if your angels die.

Overall the deck felt very midrangy and didn't fare too well, but if the format is right for it something like this could be a thing.

Gate-Shift


Deck Grade: B+

Deck Potential: Very High

It looks like a meme, but this was probably the most powerful deck we played over the course of the entire stream. It felt like we were playing Modern and everyone else was playing Standard. The gates engine is already fairly proven, but the introduction of Field of the Dead tacks on a completely different angle of attack.

Scapeshift
Field of the Dead
Golos, Tireless Pilgrim

Much like Scapeshift in Modern plus Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle, Scapeshift in Standard plus Field of the Dead is going to provide you with an absurd advantage, creating anywhere from 7 to 20ish Zombie tokens out of nowhere, while also providing you with additional Zombies for each land drop as well as cards drawn from Guild Summit. That's insane!

With acceleration like Arboreal Grazer, Growth Spiral, and Elvish Rejuvenator helping to speed things up and Gates Ablaze making a mockery of creature decks, this deck is the real deal. It's unclear exactly which and how many additional threats you want, as well as the exact mix of lands, but we've got a serious contender here.

Chandra Tribal


Deck Grade: A-

Deck Potential: Medium to High

We've seen all sorts of Superfriends decks in Standard, but what happens when you're your own best friend? There's some weird time paradox stuff going on here, but the "Chandra theme deck" was actually very impressive.

Chandra, Acolyte of Flame
Chandra's Regulator
Chandra, Awakened Inferno

Red already had a great cast of planeswalkers in Standard, but the introduction of two new Chandras and a very powerful Chandra-themed artifact sends everything into overdrive. Chandra, Acolyte of Flame is phenomenal, pressuring planeswalkers and flashing back removal spells, but also helping to up the loyalty on all of your planeswalkers at once. Chandra, Awakened Inferno drops in at the top end to mop up small creatures or put your opponent in the emblem fix. Chandra's Regulator was surprisingly effective, not only for doubling up on abilities but giving the Mono-Red deck the ability to control its draw step for a very reasonable cost.

Sarkhan the Masterless
Saheeli, Sublime Artificer

Sarkhan the Masterless and Saheeli, Sublime Artificer have already proven their worth in planeswalker centric decks, making this deck a great collection of removal and proven threats. It can sit back and kill stuff and control the game to an extent, but has no problem turning the corner and winning quickly when needed. Sarkhan, Saheeli, and Chandra, Acolyte of Flame all do a good job at pressuring enemy planeswalker as well.

This is one to watch.

Azorius Fliers


Deck Grade: B+

Deck Potential: Medium to Low

"Operation Dumbo Drop" was perhaps one of our most successful decks we played on stream, as we simply ran over people very quickly in a very short time frame.

Empyrean Eagle
Hanged Executioner
Sephara, Sky's Blade

New cards like Empyrean Eagle and Hanged Executioner were excellent, melding perfectly with Favorable Winds and the already existing suite of cheap flying threats. This provided both a very fast and evasive clock, as well as the ability to play Sephara, Sky's Blade fairly early as well. Spectral Sailor and Loyal Pegasus were also very nice additions to the 1-drop slot.

The problem was that in five games only one opponent actually killed one of our creatures, making this 5-0 result look a lot better than it is. When facing no interaction this deck is going to kill very quickly, but the fear is that the individual power level of our cards is too low once things start getting picked apart. Sephara, Sky's Blade looks mighty foolish when your first three creatures get killed. Venerated Loxodon also didn't really play out as expected, as our flying creatures didn't want to take a turn off to get larger, and they didn't need to get larger because there were no blockers to get through.

If you're looking to dunk on people who are trying out new decks this deck excels at that, but it may fall apart when faced with serious opposition.

So Much More To Do!

There are so many more decks I want to try!

I played this one yesterday on stream and went 4-1 and feel like I'm barely scratching the surface:


This deck was great too!

Core Set 2020 Standard is here and we're just getting started. What do you think? Where's your Core Set 2020 Standard adventure going to begin?