Standard: Through the Ages is a limited time format available on Magic Online this week. It pits 16 legendary decks from different eras in Magic‘s history against one another, and has been a blast to play. For the original announcement, follow this link. But in the meantime, I’ll give you my personal overview of the format.
First, a few points which may not be obvious at first, but which you’ll find helpful as you play.
- You choose your deck. This means that everybody gets what they want. Consequently, the 16 decks will not be equally represented.
- You can pre-sideboard. I’m not sure if this is an intended feature or a bug, but either way, it’s allowed and is here to stay. You cannot add cards from outside the deck and you cannot add extra basic lands. However, you can swap cards between the main deck and the sideboard, and there are some times when this will help you.
- You can look at the deck lists while you’re playing. You can have this article open or the original format announcement or you can click on “Learn More” or “More Information” directly through the Magic Online client. It can be helpful to check on the fly; for example, that Caw-Blade plays Mana Leak while Faeries plays Rune Snag. Remember that your opponent could have pre-sideboarded. However, referencing the default main deck will give you helpful information in the lion’s share of cases.
- While you might be playing with old cards and decks, the games use the current 2021 rules that you’re familiar with.
While I don’t have access to any data, the anecdotal evidence suggests that you’ll face Caw-Blade and Faeries more than you’ll face the other 14 decks. Battle of Wits is a clear worst deck (although still very cool!).
Personally, my favorite deck is Omnath Ramp.
Standard: Through the Ages - Omnath Ramp
I suggest the pre-sideboarding of -4 Confounding Conundrum, +3 Bonecrusher Giant and +1 Mystical Dispute. Confounding Conundrum is only good in the mirror match, while Bonecrusher Giant is awesome in pretty much every matchup. It’s hard to lose to the non-blue decks based on the raw power level of the strategy when undisrupted and you can often grind out the blue decks with the help of Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath.
Standard: Through the Ages - Cawblade
I think the other best deck is Caw-Blade. It has a very deep sideboard which can set it up well for virtually every matchup. I recommend the pre-sideboarding of -1 Jace Beleren, -1 Disenchant, -1 Sword of War and Peace, +2 Oust and +1 Batterskull.
Standard: Through the Ages - Affinity
Affinity is fun and powerful, and is a big winner from the London Mulligan rule. A potential weakness is that the sideboard is shallow and weak. However, that’s mostly okay because Affinity is a linear deck that rarely benefits from sideboarding much anyway. I recommend the pre-sideboarding of -1 Atog, -1 Glimmervoid and +2 Myr Retriever.
Standard: Through the Ages - Jund
It might not come as a surprise that I was excited to relive the Bloodbraid Elf glory days, and Jund earned me my first 3-0 trophy. I wish it was the slightly-later version with a higher land count and the Worldwake creaturelands, but I’m certainly happy to have access to this deck. There’s no pre-sideboarding necessary, and don’t underestimate Bituminous Blast!
Whether you’re a veteran looking to pick up your favorite deck from the past or a new player who wants to learn what all the hype was about, I encourage you to give this format a try. And don’t limit yourself to just the decks I’ve highlighted here; there’s really something for everyone!