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The Standard Frontier


Hello everyone. Now that Standard seems to be in a decent place, various new decks have sprung up. This week we'll be taking a look at a few decks that have recently done well on Magic Arena. Let's get started.

Selesnya Counters

We'll start this week with a deck that loves gaining +1/+1 counters. Let's take a look at the deck.

Swarm Shambler is an innocent looking Fungus Beast, but it has the potential to cause your opponent a ton of trouble. It enables all of your creatures that are targeted by a spell your opponent casts to create a 1/1 Insect token. For decks that rely on spot removal, this can often be troublesome because it offers a replacement for a creature they likely just removed. Swarm Shambler can also grow bigger as the game goes on, gaining additional +1/+1 counters. That can allow it to get out of range for many burn spells your opponent might want to use on it.

Conclave Mentor helps the +1/+1 counter plan by giving an extra +1/+1 counter whenever one or more +1/+1 counters would be placed on a creature you control. When you combine this ability with Swarm Shambler's ability or with the ability that Luminarch Aspirant brings that provides a +1/+1 counter for any target creature you control at the beginning of combat on your turn, and you'll be able to grow your forces quickly in size. The Great Henge can also help with this, as it not only provides extra mana for you to use to cast additional creatures with, but it also adds a +1/+1 counter to any nontoken creature that enters the battlefield under your control.

If all of these +1/+1 counters weren't bade enough for your opponent to have to deal with, The Ozolith helps you retain those +1/+1 counters if your opponent manages to destroy a creature that had any +1/+1 counters on it when it died. As long as your creatures die at some point other than on your turn prior to your combat phase, you'll have the opportunity for any +1/+1 counters (or other types of counters, as well) to be placed on a target creature you control. Crystalline Giant has the potential of swinging the game in your favor if it dies, by transporting all of its counters to another creature of yours, via The Ozolith.

Bant Mutate

Our next deck features the mutate mechanic, from Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths, is all of its glory. Let's take a look at it.

The optimal way to start the match is with Gilded Goose. This Bird brings along with it a Food token that you can use the following turn to bring out Pollywog Symbiote. Pollywog Symbiote allows you to cast creature spells that have mutate for 1 mana less than usual. This reduction is applied whether you cast the creature for its usual converted mana cost (CMC) or for its mutate cost. This mana reduction can be key in allowing you to mutate multiple times during the course of the game.

There are a great variety of abilities you'll have access to by mutating. With Cubwarden, you'll be able to increase the amount of creatures, as it will create two 1/1 Cat tokens with lifelink. Migratory Greathorn allows you to ramp up your mana, by putting a basic land card of your choice from your library onto the battlefield tapped. Dreamtail Heron allows you to draw a card when you mutate. Finally, Auspicious Starrix places a number of permanents from the top of your library onto the battlefield equal to the amount of times that creature has mutated. Since each of these abilities triggers whenever the creature mutates, if you're able to mutate multiple times, you can get a lot of value.

This deck also features various ways of creating creature tokens. As I mentioned earlier, when you mutate with Cubwarden, you'll create two 1/1 Cat creature tokens with lifelink. Scute Swarm creates a 1/1 Insect token whenever landfall happens. If you control six or more lands when landfall happens, you'll create a copy of Scute Swarm instead. Felidar Retreat also has a landfall ability, which will create a 2/2 Cat Beast creature token. However, if you find yourself with a numerical advantage on the battlefield, you can use the second option on Felidar Retreat instead to put a +1/+1 counter on each creature you control. This allows you to both go wide and go big.

Boros Control

Our final deck this week is a Boros deck. Unlike most Boros decks, though, this deck is more control-based than aggro. Let's take a look at the deck.

While other control decks are Blue-based and attempt to counter key spells an opponent casts, since this deck is a Boros deck, it handles controlling things differently. This deck features lots of ways to get rid of an opponent's creatures (and other permanents) once they've hit the battlefield. Bonecrusher Giant can use its adventure portion to destroy an opponent's creature. Scorching Dragonfire, Spikefield Hazard, and Shatterskull Smashing all are other burn spells that help you keep your opponent's side of the battlefield clear.

There are other ways to deal with noncreatures your opponent has on the battlefield. Skyclave Apparition exiles any nonland, nontoken permanent your opponent controls. Storm's Wrath deals four damage to each planeswalker in play (both yours and your opponent's) as well as to each creature in play. Finally, Ondu Inversion will destroy all nonland permanents.

Once you have the battlefield under control, you can attempt to win the game. The best way toward victory will be by playing Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. Especially if you're playing on Magic Arena, many people will simply concede on the spot when Ugin enters the battlefield. With his -X loyalty ability, you can effectively wipe the board of all threats, leaving the path completely open for you to utilize his +2 loyalty ability to deal three points of damage to your opponent on each future turn.

Wrapping Up

The decks I've brought to you this week are just a handful of new decks that have been made possible by the latest round of bannings. Even though most people feel that bans are bad for the game, the latest round has injected some new life into our current Standard environment.

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. 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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