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Standard's Top Performers

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Hello everyone. Now that Strixhaven: School of Mages has been out for a couple of weeks, we can start to take a look at the results from a few recent online events to see what types of decks have performed well in Standard. Let's get started.

Mono-White Aggro

The first deck I have for you stands out as being a mono-colored deck in a multicolored world. Let's take a look at it.


There has been a Mono-White deck in Standard for quite a while. That's because many of White's creatures have abilities that offer you extra value that help you remain in the game longer. Both Selfless Savior and Alseid of Life's Bounty offer your other creatures a means of protection, keeping your threats alive longer. Alseid of Life's Bounty also has lifelink, which can allow you to outlast your opponent as damage is dealt throughout the game. The flip side of Reidane, God of the Worthy, Valkmira, Protector's Shield, also offers a bit of protection by reducing the amount of damage you and permanents you control by one point. It also makes you and your permanents less vulnerable to targeted spells by forcing your opponent to pay an extra mana.

This deck also has a few ways to interact directly with your opponent. Giant Killer has an Adventure, Chop Down, that you can use to destroy an opponent's creature with power four or greater. Giant Killer can also be used to continuously keep an opponent's best threat tapped down, rendering it useless. Skyclave Apparition has proven its worthiness in decks like this since it can remove an opponent's threat from the battlefield and still continue putting pressure on the opponent by attacking. It's particularly good when you can protect it from being destroyed by having Selfless Savior and Lurrus of the Dream-Den in play, as Lurrus offers you a continual way to sacrifice the loyal Dog and return it to the battlefield to be used again.

Strixhaven has provided another means of interacting with your opponent. Elite Spellbinder allows you to exile a nonland card from your opponent's hand when the Human Cleric enters the battlefield. Your opponent can still play this card, albeit for an additional two mana. Since Elite Spellbinder allows you to look at your opponent's hand, you're able to gain valuable information about their potential plans for the next few turns. Use that you your advantage. You can keep the pressure on them by attacking with Elite Spellbinder as well. There will be times that your opponent may have trouble removing a 3/1 flier from the battlefield, and you'll be able to take a chunk out of their life total each turn.

Rakdos Aggro

Next, we have an aggro deck that wants to use your own creatures against you. Let's check it out.


This deck is a holdover from Kaldheim. While it may not contain any new cards from Strixhaven, it's still very powerful. There are a couple of ways in this deck to take control of your opponent's creatures. With Claim the Firstborn, you'll be able to steal an opponent's creature with a mana value of three or less for the turn. The Akroan War allows you to steal any creature for as long as The Akroan War remains on the battlefield. Both of these cards allow you to attack your opponent with their own creature, and both can be frustrating to play against.

Once you've successfully stolen a creature from your opponent and possibly attacked them with it, the last thing you want to do is give it back to them. Luckily, there are a few ways in this deck that allow you to sacrifice a creature for additional value. Village Rites allows you to draw two cards by sacrificing a creature. Woe Strider allows you to scry one card when you sacrifice a creature. Immersturm Predator will gain indestructible when you sacrifice another creature. Finally, Rankle, Master of Pranks can force each player to sacrifice a creature. Doing this is much sweeter when you're sacrificing an opponent's creature you've stolen, as it equates to them losing two creatures and you losing none.

If you do find yourself needing to sacrifice your own creatures, there can be benefits to doing this too. With Tymaret Calls the Dead, you'll be able to mill three cards two turns in a row. You can then exile a creature or an enchantment from your graveyard in order to create a 2/2 Zombie creature token. While sacrificing your own creatures isn't quite as fun as sacrificing your opponent's creatures, the payoff can still be worth it.

Jeskai Cycling

The final deck I have for you has been making waves in Standard since the release of Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths. Let's take a look at the deck.


With this deck, you'll want to try to get out a threat early on. While Flourishing Fox has the potential to become huge due to the amount of +1/+1 counters that can be placed on it, there are times that you can't get the job done with it since it can easily be chump blocked. So, if you can't go big, why not go wide instead? Valiant Rescuer is here to help. By cycling a card on each player's turn, you're able to create a lot of 1/1 Human Soldier creature tokens that you can use for either offense or defense. Improbable Alliance also helps you go wide by creating 1/1 Faerie tokens that fly, allowing you to attack with evasion.

Rather than dealing damage to your opponent via combat, you could simply choose the more direct route. Drannith Stinger will deal one point of damage to your opponent every time you cycle a card. If you want to deal more damage, Irencrag Pyromancer will deal three damage to any target whenever you draw your second card each turn. You can also use Prismari Command, from Strixhaven, to deal two damage to any target and to draw additional cards. This instant can be a great way to trigger Irencrag Pyromancer or Improbable Alliance on your opponent's turn.

Even if you're not able to finish off your opponent via combat or by dealing direct damage to them, your goal should be to reduce their life total enough that you can defeat them by playing Zenith Flare. You'll usually find that you're able to deal anywhere from eight to fourteen damage consistently when you cast Zenith Flare. Even if the damage isn't quite enough to finish off your opponent, since you gain an equal amount of life, you can often buy yourself enough time to cast a second copy of Zenith Flare, sealing the deal.

Wrapping Up

As you can see, the cards from Strixhaven haven't made a huge impact on Standard. That's a good thing, because many of the overpowered cards from our previous sets have needed to be banned. This should allow the cards from Strixhaven to have a bigger impact once rotation happens later this summer.

What do you think of these decks? Do you have any suggestions for improvements? Let me know by leaving a comment below. Also, feel free to share this article with your friends anywhere on social media.

I'm also curious to hear whether you like articles like this one that look at decks in Standard that are performing well, or if you prefer articles like the ones from the past couple of weeks, where I looked at more experimental decks that haven't been tested in tournament play. Leave a comment and let me know.

And, be sure to join me here again next week as I continue my search for innovative decks in Standard. I'll see you then!

-Mike Likes

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