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Exploiting Standard Trends


This is a new and exciting time for Standard. In some previous Standards, trying to find a niche deck that could beat the best deck in Standard was not a better option than just playing the best deck. Standard is ever changing and keeping up has become vital to success. For someone like me who has lost out on the ability to test, quite often I have to rely on results of tournaments and trends from MTGO and Arena.

This Standard format is different from past ones. With a low amount of decks it's easier to gauge what to build toward, beating one deck and their sideboard. However, newer Standard formats have shown us there is a ton of variety and we need to focus more on the trends instead of the decks.

At the start of the format there wasn't a clear direction that pulled players anywhere. Looking at week one, players settled in to Sultai and Esper as some of the more popular choices. Decks that had a wide range and could play a lot of broad answers. While the Red deck was the talk of the town since week one, it has all but disappeared in the following weeks. The deck in many ways reminds me of Mono-Blue where your spells vary between great and unplayable, and that can change based on the deck's spot in the metagame.

Examining the evolution of the metagame can help us figure out what to play in upcoming weeks.

Let's start with the big winner of SCG Dallas in Mono-Blue.

This tempo based strategy ended up over performing this weekend. Almost carbon copies in the Top 8 is pretty impressive, especially considering the players did not work together for this event. Looking a bit outside of Top 8 shows a few more copies who just missed out. Sporting a solid matchup against the Esper and Reclamation decks, this Blue strategy also offers a ton of game against the Sultai decks that populate the tables.

While this deck isn't playing particularly powerful cards, it is well positioned right now based on the way the format has been moving. With a bunch of decks being slow and clunky or relying on expensive spells, a deck that's great at going underneath is a good place to be.

Looking at the results of SCG Dallas and MTGGoldfish we can also see Azorius Aggro picking up a lot of steam. Formerly a deck that wasn't seeing a ton of play has taken a massive foothold as one of the format's premier decks. Being able to fight through the control decks and aggro decks alike make it a solid pickup no matter what the format looks like. While the main deck has some flex slots to move around and the sideboard can be lifted and changed to fight what is expected.

Abe Corrigan won the Classic with a take on the deck that was lower to the ground and leaned on the power of Unbreakable Formation to take advantage of going wide and then be able to push through a ton of damage.

Since we can reckon that creature decks are on the rise and the format is slowing, we have a couple great options to look into. The first deck I want to visit is one Brad Carpenter was playing around with week one.

Goblin Chainwhirler is obviously a fantastic card against the smaller creature decks, but even against the midrange strategies the creature hits hard and stands on its own and the removal is quite useful against a wide range of creatures. While the main deck game against Control is weak post board Cindervines, Duress, and Karn, Scion of Urza can wildly change the fabric of the game. The way the deck is designed it doesn't seem like the Control or Nexus decks get to improve while the Deathwhirler decks get to upgrade. I'm not sure if it's enough overall but the trend is that Nexus and Control will be on the downswing to compensate for the rise of efficient creature decks that line up well against what they are trying to accomplish. Since the creature matchup for Deathwhirler is delightful already there isn't much that needs to change. I would possibly consider some Carnival // Carnage for control decks that also lines up well against the small creature decks and possibly something like Bedevil to help manage planeswalkers more efficiently.

The next deck I'm thinking might be great is one renowned MTGO grinder (yes they still exist) VTCLA has been championing. While it looks slow and clunky, the deck lines up well against the other creatures decks and gets to play some of the best anti control cards as well.

Of course the downside of a deck as such is the clunky mana base to support everything, and some underpowered cards. However the way the deck lines up with the rest of the format gives me hope it will perform well.

Again, I'd like to reiterate the importance of following trends and deck styles as opposed to trying to beat singleton decks. If you try to attack this format one deck at a time, you're going to find yourself just behind when you could be ahead!

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