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The World’s Best Standard Decks

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Magic: The Gathering Worlds has traditionally been a goldmine for deck-tech for a variety of formats. This is the big show, and the best teams in the game show us what they can do. If you’re looking for something to play at your next FNM, you could do worse than to copy one of the 6–0 or Top 8 deck lists, but I like to delve a little deeper. The fact that a deck went 6–0 doesn’t mean that it’s the best choice.

Speaking of FNM, I battled at my local shop with Jeremy Neeman’s W/U/b control deck, which I’ll cover in a bit more detail below. Many players had access to Worlds deck lists, and I ended up facing exact copies of both of the 6–0 Wolf Run decks as well as David Caplan’s mono-Red deck. I have a pretty good feel for these decks, so I’ll go over some of their strengths and weaknesses.

Mono-Red

David Caplan, or “Cappy,” as he’s affectionately known, is an old friend of mine, and he was directly responsible for my deck audible in 2006’s GP: Columbus (a.k.a. GP: Flash Hulk). I was going to play an updated version of Iggy Pop, and I failed to Top 8 a ten-man GPT the week before the event. I was soundly thrashed by Cappy and his U/r/g Threshold deck in a cash tournament the next day, and I decided to play his deck instead. It absolutely crushed every combo deck, including Flash Hulk. I ended up missing Top 16 on tiebreakers, having defeating five Flash decks Day 2. Since then, Cappy has become known as the master of Canadian Threshold, posting strong results in cash tournaments, with his success culminating in a Top 8 in GP: Chicago.

When Cappy started playing “real” formats, I wasn’t sure how it would work out for him, but I’m pleased to see him make the successful transition. I know his 6–0 didn’t come out of nowhere—he’s been putting up very respectable results in non-Eternal formats for a while now. I’m writing this before the Modern portion of Worlds has gotten underway, and I’ll be rooting for him to make Top 8.

Here’s his mono-Red list:

[cardlist]

[Creatures]

1 Spikeshot Elder

3 Grim Lavamancer

4 Chandra's Phoenix

4 Goblin Fireslinger

4 Stormblood Berserker

4 Stromkirk Noble

[/Creatures]

[Spells]

2 Incinerate

3 Galvanic Blast

4 Gut Shot

4 Volt Charge

2 Arc Trail

4 Shrine of Burning Rage

[/Spells]

[Lands]

21 Mountain

[/Lands]

[Sideboard]

1 Manic Vandal

4 Vulshok Refugee

2 Koth of the Hammer

4 Dismember

2 Arc Trail

2 Traitorous Blood

[/Sideboard]

[/cardlist]

This is a hyperaggressive version of mono-Red and doesn’t mess around with 4-drops. Tempo is more important than card advantage, and every point of damage is relevant. Normally, I prefer Geistflame over Gut Shot, but as I said, tempo is what this deck cares about. Your main routes to victory are Stromkirk Noble and Shrine of Burning Rage, so those are the cards you care about protecting. Against any deck capable of removing the Shrine, it’s imperative that you leave up 3 mana as long as the Shrine has a sizable number of counters. Remember that every point of damage is relevant.

Timely Reinforcements is still the bane of red mages, but there are some subtle plays you can make to reduce the value your opponents receive from that card. You have some degree of control over your own life total, so use it! If you have to Gut Shot yourself to prevent your opponent from gaining 6, so be it. Another interaction I came across is flashing back Timely Reinforcements with Snapcaster Mage. I found myself wanting my mono-Red opponent to play a second creature so that I could get full value from my Snapcaster Mage. The lesson here is that you may wish to hold back from playing more threats in this situation. Always keep in mind what cards your opponent has.

I see W/U decks becoming much more popular, so I would recommend having a better plan against them. Hero of Oxid Ridge, Koth of the Hammer, and Shrine of Burning Rage are your best cards for the matchup, so playing more lands and 4-drops might be in order.

Red-Green Wolf Run

Ah, the Valakut of the format. I don’t care much for ramp decks in general, and this deck is no exception. I gave it the old college try when the deck was new, and it didn’t do anything to change my perception. That said, many players have been successful with this strategy, and if you wish to be among them, I’d recommend Kyle Stoll’s build over Jun’ya Iyanaga’s. Iyanaga has way too many durdle cards I don’t like, and more importantly, it doesn’t run any planeswalkers. Here’s Stoll’s list, for reference:

[cardlist]

[Creatures]

1 Acidic Slime

2 Inferno Titan

4 Birds of Paradise

4 Primeval Titan

3 Solemn Simulacrum

[/Creatures]

[Planeswalkers]

3 Garruk Relentless

4 Garruk, Primal Hunter

[/Planeswalkers]

[Spells]

2 Slagstorm

4 Arc Trail

4 Green Sun's Zenith

4 Rampant Growth

[/Spells]

[Lands]

2 Mountain

9 Forest

2 Kessig Wolf Run

4 Copperline Gorge

4 Inkmoth Nexus

4 Rootbound Crag

[/Lands]

[Sideboard]

1 Acidic Slime

1 Viridian Corrupter

2 Tree of Redemption

3 Mayor of Avabruck

2 Thrun, the Last Troll

1 Karn Liberated

1 Ancient Grudge

2 Batterskull

2 Sword of Feast and Famine

[/Sideboard]

[/cardlist]

The Slagstorms are kind of a nonbo with the Birds of Paradise, but whatever. The deck is relatively straightforward to play:

Step 1: Develop your mana.

Step 2: Play bombs.

Step 3: ????

Step 4: Profit.

What I find frustrating about these decks is the lack of card selection—that can lead to some very awkward draws in which you draw the wrong half of your deck at the wrong time. Still, this list is jam-packed with goodies, so that shouldn’t happen too often. Green Sun's Zenith also helps a lot with that problem—another reason I prefer Stoll’s list to Iyanaga’s. I think I would play more Ancient Grudges in the sideboard to fight Tempered Steel and, to a lesser extent, Birthing Pod, in case it makes a comeback.

Last, I want to cover my personal favorite Standard deck at Worlds.

I’ve been playing with Jeremy Neeman’s GP: Brisbane (I got it right this time!) U/B control deck for a while now. And though the deck was a blast to play and I had some success with it, it had some very glaring weaknesses—specifically, Mirran Crusader and Dungrove Elder. It wasn’t a surprise, then, that Neeman decided to sleeve up some Day of Judgments. Decks that try to win with either of those creatures are no longer any trouble.

If you’re a fan of Blue-based control decks, this is the deck for you. Neeman only lost to Wescoe’s Geist Aggro deck, and I can see small dudes and Mana Leaks giving this deck a hard time, but I don’t think the matchup is even that bad. The biggest weakness I found was the mana base, since sometimes you just don’t draw the right colored lands. It makes me glad that Stone Rain no longer exists.

I like this deck a lot more than Cuneo’s unorthodox take on W/U control. His deck seems to have been tuned for a very specific metagame, so I would be hesitant to take it into an unknown field. Cuneo also isn’t playing Consecrated Sphinx, which boggles my mind. I particularly like the adoption of Elesh Norn in Neeman’s deck. Any time I get to tap a bunch of mana, slam down a card, and exclaim, “HAAAAUMPH!” is a good time.

Having played with the deck, I don’t know if there’s too much I’d change. I’m tempted to cut the Black entirely, but Doom Blade is just so good right now. For now, I’ll be interested to see how the metagame develops on Magic Online to see if this deck is here to stay in one form or another.




There are plenty of other decks to look at; these three are just those that I like the most. I’ll be able to shape a better idea of the format once more of the lists are posted. Until next time, may you always hit your land-drops.

Nassim Ketita

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