The Future of Standard

The Future of Standard
By: Spencer “SRdude” Reiss

I think I’ll start off this fine piece of writing by saying that I’m no Kyle Sanchez and that my introduction is only going to introduce things. Speaking of which, I’m not a big fan of reading set reviews, so it’s surprising I’m writing one. The old norm of set reviews involved going over every card in every color one article a time. That’s just a waste of internet. I don’t need to tell you that Knight of Sursi is good in limited but probably wont make the cut in constructed. Instead I’m going to go over relevant cards and share my opinion of them in the post-FS standard environment. I might even make a few decklists along the way. Will the lists I unveil dominate regionals? I don’t know. Some will certainly be good places to start though. Without further ado, let’s begin with-

Where we are right now.

As I write this, the standard meta-game is pretty much maped out. Dragonstorm is currently the format’s topdog, the first deck you have to think about when signing up for a tournament. Behind it is Gruul, a deck many consider to be the primary aggro deck of the format. Behind these two guys lie Dralnu, Angelfire, Izzetron, and Solar Flare. All these decks exert different degrees of control with different cards, but are all fairly similar in goal; using disruption (whether it be in the form of discard, removal, or counterspells) to arrive at an end-game where it attempts to outmuscle the opponent. Behind these decks (what I perceive to be Tier 1) is a mishmash of aggro, combo, and control strategies. You see stuff like BR Ignite Warrens, Boros and Zoo variants, various Pickle decks (both ug tron and U control), as well as some others. It’s a very diverse - if not a little stale - environment to be sure.

Angel of Salvation – My initials thoughts on Angel of (mtg)Salvation is that it’s just a bad fat card. Recently though some expensive fat with nice abilities have been pretty solid as of late. An example would be the insane Bogardan Hellkite. However we all know that dealing damage is a lot better than preventing it. It’s for this reason that I don’t think the Angel will see play, regardless of convoke reducing it’s casting cost. Not to mention there’s quite a bit of competition in the 8 slot for white right now. I’ll take my 6/6 flying, hasty, trampling, first striking, pro red, pro black monster over this any day.

Intervention Pact – Of all the pacts, I’d have to say this is the weakest. It’s a cute trick but will almost never be worth the cost on your next turn.

Judge Unworthy – This card is clearly great in limited. In constructed it has a lot of competition. Control decks would rather play a handful of removal spells over it such as Condemn, Faith's Fetters, Mortify, etc. This said, it might be able to find a nice spot in the sideboard for aggro mirrors though. Maybe in Boros or Zoo?

Magus of the Moat – This card would be sick against Gruul if it weren’t for the fact that they can just Rift Bolt, Char, or hammer. I doubt it’ll see play, at least not in the current format.

Aven Mindcensor – Now this is a guy I can get behind. At first glance he’s an amazing answer to both Dragonstorm and Mystical Teachings, but... actually, that’s exactly what he is. An amazing answer against Dstorm and Mystical Teachings. I expect to see it in the sideboards of Boros and Zoo, as well as any deck with white that has trouble with Dstorm. Between this guy and Pilferer, will Angelfire actually have a decent game against dstorm post-board? It’s a possibility.

Blade of the Sixth Pride – Hmm. Another solid white two drop. Another solid white two drop that dies to Sulfur Elemental. Sulfur Elemental + too much competition means that he probably wont see too much play in standard.

Oriss, Samite Guardian – I’ve heard a decent amount of hype regarding decks built around Oriss locks. The lock is Undertaker + 2x Oriss, Teferi making it a hard lock. Let’s look at it a little closer: This is a three card combo, one of the cards you need twice. Already this is pretty unlikely. Next, what does this combo accomplish exactly? A soft lock that almost every deck in the format can disrupt? That just doesn’t seem worthwhile to me. Even if you built a solid BW base with disruption and removal and a solid finisher, wouldn’t your deck still end up worse than a normal BWC deck? Oriss decks won't dominante standard. In fact it seems like it would be very hard to win even a match with one.

Seht’s Tiger – This is clearly a solid card. It beats Persecute, Castigate, most burn and even four Hellkites. Do note that the Hellkites can just swing in for game next turn. It even stops Demonfire. I bet it has a use somewhere.

Delay – I’ve heard a lot of hype surrounding this card. People are calling it the new Remand. I think this is an unfair comparison considering Remand’s level of absurdity. Delay wont replace Remand but it will definitely be played alongside it. I think this is a fairly obvious conclusion for both Dralnu (or lack there of), Blue based Pickles, and Tron decks that run Teferi. Dralnu is one of the decks I’m really considering for regionals and I don’t mind sharing my current list:

Forsee – Another very powerful blue card. Forsee serves as both a way to replish your hand as well as a great way to dig deep into your deck. With the exception of reanimation decks, Forsee should replace careful consideration in almost any deck that runs it. There’s really not that much to say - it’s just a solid card.

Magus of the Future – There’s probably some really good combo deck that abuses this guy. I just haven’t heard about it yet.

Pact of Negation – This has been toted as the best card in the set. It probably is. However this is a standard review. In the T2 format, Pact of Negation is more of a cute trick. It might be a 1-of in Dralnu, or a 2-of in Dstorm (sideboard card possibly?). However, I don’t expect this card to see too much play in T2. Pact shines in uber fast combo, a deck type that doesn’t really exist in T2.

Venser, Shaper Savant – This guy seems rather good. Like an instant speed Man-o-War that also hits spells. He’s a solid guy who will probably find a place somewhere. Maybe a in a Momentary Blink deck?

Bonded Fetch – I guess I was going to have to get to these guys sooner or later. For those who don’t know, there is a combo deck going around the internet that seems pretty popular (especially on these forums). It’s based around cards like Magus of the Future, Thought Courier, and Bonded Fetch dumping cards into the 'yard with dredge, and then saccing them (as well as any Narcomoebas to Dread Return. When these guys die, Bridge from Below makes some zombies. The Dread Return hits Flame-kin Zealot and you attack with a bunch of hasty pumped up tokens. As well as Dread Return Flame-kin Zealot and two Bridge from Belows in the 'yard, this deck also needs three creatures in play to work. I have seen this deck in action and it’s pretty fast. It kills on turn four with the consistency of Dstorm, only it fizzles less often. Despite this, I doubt this deck will emerge as a top Standard deck. The primary kill element (the Zealot) is rather fragile, while the deck is built around a card that offers remand a 5 for 1, and graveyard hosage is at an abundance. It may be competitive but it won't dominate standard. One version of the “uber dredge then Dread Return” deck that I really like is something based off of Kyle Sanchez’s build. Something like this:

The advantages to this list is that it’s much more durable. It can still “go off” fairly quickly, but when it can’t it can just beat with a Hellkite or Life from the Loam some lands ready for Grave-Troll.

Narcomoeba – See above for my opinion on the NarcoBridge combo decks.

Ichor Slick – This is only a little bit more expensive than Last Gasp, but so much more versatile. I can definitely see people cycling and then madness’ing it out in the late game.

Slaughter Pact – An efficient removal spell with a minor cost. Good, but I’m not sure what decks really want it.

Bridge from Below – See my explanation on Bonded Fetch. Outside of those decks, Bridge is a 1-2 of in non-combo dredge.

'cause the 'yard isn't good enough

Korlash, Heir to Blackblade – Probably the best of the Grandeur cycle. This guy is very good. He’s a fat man who gets fatter and can regenerate. Furthermore he turns duplicates into Kodama’s Reach. Maybe between Korlash and Damnation, MBC can finally return to the limelight.

Street Wraith – This card is clearly good. Rather than reiterate how it cuts a deck down from 60 to 56 cards, I thought I’d present a deck that could actually take advantage of doing so:

52 card Ignite WarrensMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
Lands 20
4 Blood Crypt
4 Sulfurous Springs
4 Graven Cairns
4 Molten Slagheap
4 Mountain

Creatures 4
4 Street Wraith

Spells 36
4 Lotus Bloom
4 Rite of Flame
4 Seething Song
4 Ignite Memories
4 Empty the Warrens
4 Infernal Tutor
4 Brain Pry
4 Chromatic Star
4 Mishra’s Bauble

Basically it’s the RB Ignite Warrens deck that was doing well on MODO recently. Bauble and Wraith slim the deck down to 52 cards, Stars and Brain Pry bring you down to 44. With that somewhat faulty math, you are running a deck made mostly out of fast mana, tutors, and combo finishers. It has good-to-very-good matches against Dragonstorm and Control. Aggro on the other hand……

Tombstalker – This guy seems good, as he’s a big guy with evasion that can come down early. I’m not sure what deck wants him though, maybe something like the Rack? You could start of the game than discard and than cheat ‘stalker into play for cheap. Maybe has potential.

Yixlid Jailer – Another set, another awesome graveyard hoser. We get the picture, Wizards. You don’t like the graveyard.

Magus of the Moon – It’s Blood Moon and it can attack for 2. Is it better than Blood Moon? In certain decks in certain match-ups. I’d prefer it in Gruul’s sideboard to the enchantment, though.

Pact of the Titan – I’ve seen the Djinn combo decks. I think it’s highly unlikely this deck will ever become as good as Dragonstorm. It kind of has a monopoly on the combo market right now.

Steamflogger Boss – This is the card that set off red flags. I’d imagine you had the same feeling too when you saw this. Needless to say it’s absolutely absurd. Everyone knows the Rigger mirror match is all about contraptions. This guy effectively doubles the amount of contraptions you can assemble. Are Wizards crazy? From the look of this broken master, I’d have to say so. Mark my words; Steamflogger Boss will dominate standard.

Is it too good?

Tarox Bladewing – Pretty much everyone knows about the Weird Harvest combo. On turn two or three you can accelerate out a Tarox and then next turn Weird Harvest for two, giving you lethal damage. It’s more like Sneak Attack than Dstorm. As for its viability: I heard chapin liked it, but I don’t know if his deck will be good or not.

Heartwood Storyteller – This guy looks very good. He has solid stats and in a deck full of creatures, he provides a massive card advantage engine. I propose the following:

Yes I know Harmonize isn’t a creature. Who cares? I mean it is Harmonize after all. At first glance the deck seems powerful, maybe something to consider come regionals time.

Llanowar Mentor – This guy is nuts in the old school dredge decks, if a little inefficient for the combo builds. A very solid discard outlet to be sure.

Sprout Swarm – This card allows the Locket of Yesterdays deck from a while back to go infinite. It probably has a bunch of other uses too.

Summoner’s Pact – I don’t see myself ever pact-ing for a creature just to play a guy. However it should have a bunch of uses as a solid tutor. Maybe for a Pickles piece or a silver bullet. Also useful in a combo deck if one pops up.

Imperiosaur – It would be solid if there was a deck to support him. Most green aggro decks run red, white, or blue and MGA is reliant on elf mana. Even as a 5/5 for 4, he faces a lot of competition.

QuagnothScragnoth to Quagnoth, what a leap. Quagnoth is very good. He can’t be countered, can’t be targeted, and can’t even be discard. Now that’s an evasive guy. He’s got a big body to boot. An auto-sideboard against blue, and maybe maindeck material.

Glittering Wish – I’ll start by saying that this card seems very unimpressive to me. What will you wish for with it? A Hierarch? A Glare? A Congregation, or a Grand Arbiter? These are all good cards, but do they make the wish worth running? This card may be what Project X needs to be a real top tier deck, but the inability to be played on MODO will always be a detriment that even this Wish can't get over.

Jhoira of the Ghitu – The most obvious use of this card is Detritivore and the Chronic abuse. Despite that, I think Jhoira’s 2/2 body and the fact that all the cards she’s good in conjunction with (detritivore, the chronic, gargadon) are all good by themselves will probably prevent Jhoira from seeing much play.

Cloud Key – Sort of like an Invasion Block familiar, it might seem play if it can find the right niche. Maybe with this and Sprout Swarm the Walk the Aeons decks will finally become viable.

Dakmor Salvage – Useful as a 1-2 of in various dredge decks.

Keldon Megaliths – I feel this card is a little overrated. The CIP effect is a big drawback on this, as red likes to do stuff each turn. I don’t know how often the decks that would use this hit hellbent but if they do it’s powerful.

Llanowar Reborn – I think this land will slow down aggro too much for its effect to be of much benefit. Maybe it’d be good in the green haste deck, but that deck was never really viable to begin with.

New Benalia – Maybe a 1-2 of in control decks. In decks where coming into play tapped isn’t too hurtful, I can see this being played.

Tolaria West – Now this is a land. First off, the decks that play islands usually don’t do anything on their first turn, so the CIPT drawback isn’t that bad. Second, this card has immense power in the format right now. Just look at what you can find with it:

- Urza’s Factory
- Desert
- Storage lands
- Bouncelands
- Dual Lands
- The Urzatron
- Academy Ruins
- Ghost Quarter
- Zoetic Caverns
- Any of the Pacts

More awesome blue lands?

That’s a pretty long list. The deck is automatically a 2-3 in any Urzatron list, and should probably see play in decks like Dralnu, Solar Flare and Angelfire, and probably Mono-Blue Pickles as well. Hell, I can even see myself playing this in Dragonstorm as a way to find Dreadship Reef or Steam Vents. Okay, Dragonstorm is a bit iffy, but this card is very good. My pick for the card that will have the most impact on Standard.

Dryad Arbor – This card is just so slow for aggro. It can do some pretty sick things in conunction with Dread Return and Life from the Loam.

Graven Cairns – This is in my opinion by far the best of the new dual lands. I’m even going to call this card better than Badlands. Not only does this provide red black mana without drawback, it even allows other decks to produce red or black mana without a drawback. It’s an automatic four-of in any r/b deck.

Grove of the Burnwillows – As of now the only competitive G/R decks in T2 are Gruul and Zoo. Unfortunately the last things these decks want the opponent to do is gain life. If a GR control based deck becomes good than it can make the cut.

Horizon Canopy – This card is more like a combination of City of Brass and Cephalid Coliseum than a Savanah. It should see some play when Temple Garden rotates, and it might be alright in the dredge deck I posted above, but for mana purposes, stick to the Gardens and the Brushlands.

Nimbus Maze – This card is very powerful. I expect to see it replace adarkar wastes in the deck that want 8 dual lands, and it will accompany wastes in decks that want more.

River of Tears – I have very mixed feelings on this card. I hear a lot of people calling it the best of the duals. I definitely disagree on that. In actuality it’s way too conditional. However it does provide mana for Damnation and then mana for Rewind so it may very well act as an additional mana fixer. I should probably be running a few in the dralnu list, but I haven’t really worked on the mana.

Zoetic Cavern – I probably like this card more than I should. It has a fairly narrow use, but running this out in mono-blue Pickles seems so good. Your opponent will rush to destroy it, god forbid it be the lethal briney or the deadly shifter. Much to their dismay they will hit a mere land. It’s land in a mono-color deck that can also make a nice decoy.

In Conclusion

I think Future Sight will have a decent to large effect on the Standard environment. The format for regionals will be varied for sure. I’d advise going with a deck that you’ve tested and tuned and feel comfortable. If I have to make one prediction it’s that regionals will be dominated by players with the best preparation. Like I said earlier, I’m partial to Dralnu at the moment, but that can change at a moments notice. ‘Till next time, have fun and good luck.


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