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Richmond: A First Look at Summer Standard


StarCityGames Richmond was the first high-profile Standard tournament since the release of Magic 2014, and it seems the new core set has already made a huge impact. I’ll take a look at some of the decks that did well and give my thoughts on what the format might look like in the next month or two.

First off, let’s look at AJ Sacher’s winning W/B Humans deck.

I hope someone will come up with a silly name for this deck, like Act IV: Act Harder. Xathrid Necromancer draws an obvious comparison to Rotlung Reanimator, a card that saw plenty of play back in the day. Sacher’s deck really pushes the Human theme as far as it can go with cards such as Champion of the Parish and Gather the Townsfolk. While it doesn’t have Voice of Resurgence or Falkenrath Aristocrat from the red or green versions of this deck, being straight W/B helps make the deck more consistent. With all of the buddy lands rotating out soon, get used to seeing more two-colored decks—unless, of course, Theros can adequately fill the dual-land vacuum.

There are a couple cards I really don’t like in this list, such as Bloodthrone Vampire and Orzhov Guildgate, but I have a feeling they’re necessary. This deck is far less reliant on having a sacrifice outlet than previous versions, but it sure as heck would rather have one in play than not. Sadly, this deck is a bit of a flash in the pan, as it’s almost entirely comprised of Innistrad-block cards. That isn’t to say that Xathrid Necromancer won’t find a home post-rotation, but it certainly will look very different than this. This deck seems like a fine choice until that happens, though.

Next up is runner-up Andrew Boswell’s Jund deck.

Scavenging Ooze
There were actually three Jund decks in the Top 8, and they all had one thing in common: They all played Scavenging Ooze. That’s probably what was responsible for the total lack of any Unburial Rites decks at the top tables. No longer are Jund decks forced to run awkward main-decked Ground Seals. Scavenging Ooze poops all over Reanimator decks and is perfectly serviceable in other matchups as well—instead of being a stone blank. Olivia Voldaren is the queen of midrange and continues to dominate any creature-based matchup. And since it seems that all decks are creature decks these days, it’s really no surprise that Jund continues to do well. If Jund has any weaknesses, it would be against decks that fight it on angles it’s not prepared to deal with. The trouble with that is that there aren’t that many avenues of attack that it can’t handle, and those decks tend to be pushed out of the format by the aggro decks. For now, I think it’s the best deck in the format, and were it not for some bad luck in Game 3, Boswell might have won the tournament.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see this deck survive post-rotation in one form or another. Losing Olivia and Thragtusk is huge, but there will always be a place for a deck that combines value green creatures with the best removal.

Perhaps the coolest deck from the Top 8 was Richard Nguyen’s Elves list.

I’m certainly no stranger to mono-green Predator Ooze decks. This is more of an Elfball combo deck, though, as decks running Elvish Archdruid tend to be. This is also something of a maiden voyage for the new Garruk, a card I’ve heard quite a few people call “unplayable.” It turns out it’s actually insane in this deck. Elves seems to be among the few decks that can give Jund a run for its money due to its explosiveness. Jund doesn’t have very many ways to get rid of a Predator Ooze and can’t do much about a Craterhoof Behemoth entering a crowded battlefield from zones other than the graveyard.

I would expect this deck to have a miserable time against Bant control, a deck that has access to instant-speed Wrath of God, but since blue control decks seem to be at an all-time low, this deck should continue to do fairly well this summer.

Speaking of blue decks, let’s look at potential Hall of Fame inductee Huey Jensen’s R/W/U Flash deck.

Ah, Sphinx's Revelation . . . I can’t quit you. Considering how hostile the format is to playing spells on your opponent’s turn, it’s pretty impressive that Huey is still rocking the Counterspells and the Wrath of Gods. I find it hilarious that this deck doesn’t even bother with Geist of Saint Traft, but those are the times we live in. Runechanter's Pike is another omission that makes sense, with everyone and their brothers packing Scavenging Ooze in their deck boxes. Even Snapcaster Mage seems sketchy, but hey, you have to draw the line somewhere.

If you’re dead-set on playing blue, you could certainly do worse than this deck. Just don’t come crying back to me when you get sick of losing to all the insane anti-blue cards Wizards seems to love printing in every set.

I do think that W/U control decks will make a comeback in the fall. There are just too many awesome cards available for it to not happen.

Fiendslayer Paladin
I’ll wrap up with my list of Top 9 M14 Cards for Standard according to the number of copies played by the Top 16 decks at Richmond, not including cards that were already in Standard. Once the set comes out on Magic Online, I’ll have even more data to work with, so expect me to revisit this list in the future.

  1. Scavenging Ooze
  2. Fiendslayer Paladin
  3. Mutavault
  4. Doom Blade
  5. Brave the Elements
  6. Xathrid Necromancer
  7. Elvish Mystic
  8. Ratchet Bomb
  9. Imposing Sovereign

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you guys again next week—by which time I hope I’ll have had the opportunity to draft the new core set.

Take care,

Nassim Ketita

arcticninja on Magic Online


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