I'm going to let you in on a little secret.
I know it's been a rough few years and yes maybe Omnath, Locus of Creation and Lucky Clover are a bit too good, but Standard is actually in a pretty healthy place right now. Confidence in the format is at an all time low, with public opinion firmly set at "Standard sucks!" despite how it actually plays, but for those playing the games we've got a pretty diverse and interesting format.
Of course we have the ramp deck we're all tired of (seriously when will they take a step back from ramp being good) in Four Color Omnath Ramp, but we've got midrange decks like Adventures and Rakdos Graveyard, control decks in Dimir Control and Grixis Control, aggressive decks in Gruul Aggro, Dimir Rogues, and Mono-Red Aggro, as well as some outliers like Mono-Green Aggro, Lurrus Squad, Cycling, and Doom Foretold.
There's innovation to be had too, as players are discovering the cards that attack this metagame the best. We've seen adaptation and evolution, which is the hallmark of a good and healthy format. Today we're going to look at those adaptations, in the form of five cards that are secretly excellent at solving many of the format's problems.
Wait, isn't Shredded Sails just a mediocre draft common from Ikora drafts? You know, when you couldn't get enough one-mana cyclers for your Boros Cycling deck so you had to play a few two-mana ones?
The elephant in the room is Lucky Clover, of which most decks struggle to answer, especially in Game 1. When the Adventures deck has Lucky Clover on turn two it can feel like they're playing an entirely different game than you. But if you're able to answer it on curve, their deck feels far more fair and manageable. However, Lucky Clover isn't the only good artifact in the format.
Embercleave is on the short list of "most powerful cards in the format" and Shredded Sails answers it at instant speed. When you take out Embercleave, most of the aggressive Red decks in the format become far more bark than bite. Mazemind Tome is similarly important to control decks which don't have a ton of other ways to draw cards or gain life. Stonecoil Serpent is commonly seen in aggressive decks, as is The Great Henge in bigger Green decks. Lastly if there is a White deck to be found, it likely has Glass Casket in it.
Shredded Sails answers all of these at instant speed for only two mana, but that's not all!
Shredded Sails also kills flying creatures too, making it phenomenal against Dimir Rogues. It can also kill random Brazen Borrowers from Adventures as well as perhaps more importantly Shark Typhoon tokens that would try to ambush you in combat.
And the floor? Cycle it for two mana. Shredded Sails is the perfect card for this format.
Speaking of Mazemind Tome, the card has settled in nicely as the card advantage tool for control decks.
There's no home run card right now for control decks. No Dig Through Time or Sphinx's Revelation, no Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, Teferi, Time Raveler, or Narset, Parter of Veils, no Torrential Gearhulk, or Glimmer of Genius. There's good removal and some quality smallball cards, but for the most part it's a strategic advantage that the control decks are going for rather than raw power.
Mazemind Tome fills this role very nicely. It is cheap, it comes down early, and it plays very well with counterspells. Sure, Neutralize isn't the best counterspell ever, but Essence Scatter is very good right now and Shark Typhoon also encourages an instant speed game plan. Furthermore, the spell lands like Hagra Mauling and Spikefield Hazard also help to increase the spell density of control decks.
All of this comes around to control decks needing a solid card advantage core and Mazemind Tome is it.
You may think Gemrazer is a sideboard card, but you'd be wrong. Almost every deck in the format has targets for its mutate ability, with many of them being key components. Plus, you get the tempo boost of adding a large amount of power and toughness to your board and being able to attack with it immediately.
Gemrazer has amazing synergy with Stonecoil Serpent, often making a trampler that is a 6/6 or larger, as well as landfall creatures like Brushfire Elemental and Akoum Hellhound. Trample can also often be the key to push through blockers. And the absolute floor? A 4/4 trampler for four mana.
Tired of getting beat down by Rogues?
Sick of seeing your best cards hit the graveyard before ever getting a chance to draw them?
Feel awful watching rogues fly over your helpless blockers?
Well do I have the card for you!
Another forgotten draft filler card, Chainweb Aracnir is the perfect card to punish Rogue players who are looking to dump as many cards in your graveyard as possible. The "mill vs escape" sub-game being played in Standard right now has a big impact on how the Rogues vs Black and Rakdos matchups play out, but this doesn't help the various Green decks in the format. Enter Chainweb Aracnir.
Amusingly enough, you don't really want to draw Chainweb Aracnir. Rather, you want your opponent to mill it over with one of their various mill effects as they try to turn on Drown in the Loch and Soaring Thought-Thief. Eventually they will hit your Chainweb Aracnir, which gives you a free backbreaking spell to cast. You get a 4/5 reach house of a blocker, that will also kill one of their fliers when it enters the battlefield. And if they counter or kill it? Just do it again next turn!
Chainweb Aracnir is a very creative solution for beating Rogues!
Most of the cards we've discussed today are pretty easy to slot into existing decks. This is because they are either colorless or Green, which is basically the same thing. Our last card is a bit different, as it resides in the most maligned and forgotten portion of the color pie: White.
Rather than being a source great power in and of itself, Drannith Magistrate's power comes from denying your opponent's cards their usual power. There are a ton of effects in Standard that see you playing cards from somewhere other than your hand, with many of them being key components to the best decks in the format.
Drannith Magistrate prevents adventure creatures from being cast, turning them from card advantage adventure cards into much less exciting split cards. With Adventures being the best deck in the format and cards like Bonecrusher Giant seeing play all over the place, this is extremely relevant. Furthermore Drannith Magistrate completely removes the text of Escape to the Wilds, which is one of the best cards in Temur and Four Color Adventures as well as Four Color Omnath Ramp.
Drannith Magistrate also shuts down the escape mechanic, which is a very important part of Standard right now. Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger is the headliner, but other escape cards like Cling to Dust and Ox of Agonas are also prevalent. It also hits other graveyard effects like Skyclave Shade and Lurrus of the Dream-Den, as well as exile-draw effects like Magmatic Channeler.
The biggest question for Drannith Magistrate is finding a home for it, but the utility is there in a big way.
Not Perfect, But Not Bad Either!
Look, I understand Standard isn't perfect right now.
As I was writing this they announced the metagame breakdown for the Grand Finals, and oh boy that's a lot of Omnath and Lucky Clovers.
But I must say that I've been playing all week on the MTG Arena ladder and the metagame has felt fairly wide and diverse. It is certainly possible that after this weekend that Omanth and/or Lucky Clover may see a ban, but there's the beginnings of an interesting Standard format here just waiting to come out.
When it does, don't be afraid to innovate!