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Standard Update


Hey everyone!

The last few articles from me have been primarily about Modern so I’m going to switch things up this week and discuss Standard. B/G Delirium is the deck to beat so I’m going to present my latest list. In addition, there are some wild decks that are ascending the ranks such as 4-Color Energy that are also reasonable choices. At the end I’ll talk about my Jeskai Flash updates as well as a slightly new take on Infect.

Let’s get started with B/G Delirium updates!

Here’s my latest list:

Nissa, Voice of Zendikar
Nissa, Voice of Zendikar has continued to perform well for me and I can’t see cutting it. If anything I can see playing a third in the board for the mirror and against control. Pilgrim's Eye has still been underwhelming, but I have found myself searching for it in games where Emrakul, the Promised End is my end game. In those games I already have delirium, but I need additional types to simultaneously make Emrakul cheaper and have more lands to cast her. There are so many powerful 3-drops so I don’t want to play too many mediocre ones.

Since I don’t want more than one Pilgrim's Eye and Filigree Familiar is worse than Nissa I need another artifact, which means Verdurous Gearhulk makes the cut. It’s nice that I can play this threat on the same turn as Ishkanah, Grafwidow because opponents will be ready with Revolutionary Rebuff out of U/W Flash. It’s a way to push the aggressive plan and is a third way to beef up your spider tokens and pressure Planeswalkers.

Vessels have been great and I may want a fourth copy. I don’t care for Grapple with the Past and instead moved to maindeck Transgress the Mind for U/W Flash and the mirror. Since Ruinous Path isn’t well-positioned I still want more than 4 sorceries and the deck doesn’t have a lot of great 2-drops.

Gnarlwood Dryad
The Sylvan Advocate and Gnarlwood Dryad are better than the extra Grapples with the Past, too because I need protection for Nissa in the early game. The ultimate is great when the board is gummed up and the loyalty will distract your opponent from attacking you making it a better version of Filigree Familiar. I have situations where I want to traverse for both of these cheap creatures so I can play 2-3 spells in the same turn.

Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet has been moved entirely to the sideboard for fear of Reflector Mage and Unlicensed Disintegration. Mindrwrack Demon has the same faults, but I can afford a couple 4-drops. I like Kalitas against the graveyard and emerge decks so it’s a powerful sideboard option.

I decided to pull the trigger on Westvale Abbey, but it goes in the sideboard. It’s great in the mirror because Ishkanah and Nissa will create many tokens. I also want a 24th land in the board for the mirror because my average converted mana costs increase with Noxious Gearhulk and Ob Nixilis Reignited. I don’t want to play Nissa, Vital Force in the sideboard because it conflicts with Nissa, Voice of Zendikar.

I cut the second Dead Weight because the move to Natural State gives me more early interaction against Vehicles. It’s also relevant that Vehicles turns into a midrange deck which makes the small removal spells less important. It’s always important to sideboard against the post-board version of a deck. The original idea was to cut Vessels for Dead Weights against aggro, but I respect the hell of the Delirium-enabler and wouldn't ever board out more than one. I’m conflicted on Natural State against U/W Flash because it seems like an emerging trend for them to board out Stasis Snare.

Noxious Gearhulk is being jammed into maindecks everywhere in anticipation for the mirror, but it’s very weak in nearly every other matchup. It becomes better in the post board games of the mirror where the aggressive starts are more common thanks to boarding out removal spells for hand disruption. I don’t have the second Emrakul because opponents already overboard for the Emrakul games with Transgress the Mind, Pick the Brain, and Lost Legacy. Why should I add an expensive card that walks right into my opponent’s sideboard plan? Ob Nixilis can destroy an Emrakul if you leave the loyalty on a number that isn’t divisible by three. If you think Emrakul is coming down, it might be best to not tick it up from two to three.

Magic Online has had a relatively small amount of B/G Delirium decks going 5-0 in leagues thanks to the hateful nature of the new U/W Flash decks. Once the decks become less hateful it will be time for Ishkanah to be the undisputed queen of Standard once again.

Now that the best deck is out of the way let’s get to the new stuff.

Tamiyo, Field Researcher
This deck is important to Standard because it’s fun and isn’t terribly expensive compared to the other top tier decks. Now that WOTC has moved back to the old rotation schedule I expect high attendance at local events. Personally, this helps me because I like to play FNM-level events; MODOing is too isolated. I prefer human interaction when I battle.

I like this deck because it’s able to pack a big midrange punch. Reflector Mage has pushed out 4-drops, but Bristling Hydra remains a thorn in the side for the pesky ?. It felt like R/G Energy was too much of a glass cannon, but this takes the best aspects of the deck and makes it more consistent. Tamiyo, Field Researcher is great in this deck because it can act as a Frost Breath in board stalls.

The mana is surprisingly consistent thanks to the fash lands, Aether Hub, and Attune with Aether. I expect more wacky decks like this to pop up in the future because of the heavy fast land mana base potential.

I can see Ishkanah, Grafwidow giving this deck a problem Game 1, but there are Spell Shrivels in the sideboard. It’s also possible this deck wants to play Thalia, Heretic Cathar to prevent Ishkanah from causing too much trouble.

World Breaker
I’m seeing a sprinkling of marvel decks pop up that go against the combo nature of the Pro Tour version. This deck will have a great Delirium matchup, but plays more fair cards to make them less susceptible to counters. I think the key to playing the powerful artifact is combining it with three Ishkanah’s to halt aggressive starts.

Chandras of all flavors are great in this strategy because it can be used defensively, but is also another type for Emrakul. The Torch of Defiance can kill a midrange creature and soak up an attack or it can ramp you into Emrakul and World Breaker.

The other key to this deck is the transformational sideboard. It’s clear the control decks will try and counter all of your spells leaving you with weak setup cards in play such as Woodweaver's Puzzleknot. Tireless Tracker and Thought-Knot Seer are powerful by themselves. This is taken further with Chandra, Flamecaller. If you play good cards in your marvel deck it will go well for you.

As you peruse the current top Standard decks you will notice each deck is adapting to counters and Ishkanah, Grafwidow. We have the tools to fight the top decks even though they may be the most individually powerful strategies.


Last weekend I played the SCG Open in Columbus. I got 11th place with Jeskai Flash. It was unfortunate my tiebreaks weren’t good enough to play for top 8 in the last round so I took a draw with Danny Jessup. I was 11-3-1 losing to Dredge twice and Grixis Control. Here’s my updated list:

Rest in Peace
My maindeck stayed the same after the tournament. I expected to have a weak Dredge matchup and will concede on turn one to conceal information. This happened against Jacob Baugh in round 3. Game 2 and 3 were also bad because I played one Rest in Peace and one Grafdigger's Cage for hate. The Cage was horrible because it would die immediately and had no lasting impact on the board. Most games I was trying to hold on for a Rest in Peace to undo all of their progress. It’s clear that Dredge is a very resilient deck and you need to play more hate to have a chance. Runed Halo naming Prized Amalgam was very helpful in stalling to dig for Rest in Peace. Izzet Staticaster was also great at killing Narcomoeba and Bloodghast. You can also blink the Staticaster to activate it twice and kill Stinkweed Imp.

Spell Pierce was great for me. Since the deck is able to pivot from pure control to an aggressive role in a pinch I could force the issue in a key spot to make the pierce relevant. If you flash in a Clique at the end of turn I can bait a Lightning Bolt when they are tapped low. It’s also possible to Clique it away if the game goes long. The counter split in my board is because I only have room for 3 counters. If you cut an Izzet Staticaster or Runed Halo it’s possible to play 2 Spell Pierce and 2 Dispel.

Despite having success with Jeskai Flash the rest of Team Ann Arbor played Infect at SCG Columbus.

Become Immense
This is the best deck in Modern pound for pound. There are plenty of other decks doing degenerate things, but this one does it best and at a consistent rate. I was initially turned off from this deck because it was hard to play. The first league I played with the deck ended at a disappointing 2-3 record. Tricky decks are a double-edged sword.

Now that the deck is more about Become Immense and Blossoming Defense things get a little easier. The cards are more individually powerful. There’s also a sweet Tarmogoyf transformational sideboard that replaced Kitchen Finks to make it easier to swarm with threats against removal-heavy decks. It’s also good against Burn because it acts as a road block.

Dredge is the new scourge of the format and it’s possible to kill them at a faster pace. Since Infect is such a proactive deck I can dedicate sideboard slots to close matchups; if I don’t have something to bring in the maindeck is always a solid plan. Grafdigger's Cage is good against Dredge, but it doesn’t seal the deal. If they cast a Darkblast every turn you will still be in trouble. It’s common for them to board in Ancient Grudge because it deals with your Inkmoth Nexus. For these reasons the hateful Dredge card is now Leyline of the Void to put the nail in the coffin.

That’s all I have this week. I’m preparing for the Modern RPTQ so I’ll have some Jeskai Flash innovations in the coming weeks. Standard is very fun at the moment so I’m investigate that format despite not having a large event coming up.

Thanks for reading!

— Kyle

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