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Carrie On – The Future

Theros spoilers are starting soon, so that means Standard as we know it is almost at an end. This time last year I looked at all the currently big Standard lists, and crossed off each card they would lose. My conclusion? Everything will change… not the most stunning result.

This year I want to look at the decks that define Standard and compare them to currently successful Block decks. RTR Block will make up 3/5 of the new Standard cards once Theros is released and Innistrad block (plus M13) rotates out. This means Block can provide us with key insights into the direction decks might take in the new environment. When the spoilers for Theros are public it will be useful to consider how they can be incorporated into these Block lists.

UWR Flash/Control

The Flash component of the UWR decks is leaving, so the decks with [card]Augur of Bolas[/card], [card]Restoration Angel[/card], and [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card] as their creature base will have to change. There is a second version which is more controlling and runs [card]Aetherling[/card] as its primary and often only win condition:

[deck]Main Deck
2 Aetherling
1 Jace, Architect of Thought
3 Snapcaster Mage
1 Assemble the Legion
2 Dissipate
1 Essence Scatter
3 Izzet Charm
2 Searing Spear
4 Sphinx’s Revelation
4 Supreme Verdict
2 Syncopate
4 Think Twice
2 Turn and Burn
3 Warleader’s Helix
1 Cavern of Souls
3 Clifftop Retreat
1 Desolate Lighthouse
4 Glacial Fortress
4 Hallowed Fountain
1 Island
4 Sacred Foundry
4 Steam Vents
4 Sulfur Falls[/deck]

This deck doesn’t lose much. Importantly, [card]Sphinx’s Revelation[/card] remains, and is the key component to how the deck works and gets ahead of the opponent. The biggest loss from this deck is really [card]Think Twice[/card]—it helps to smooth the early game draws to ensure land drops so Revelation can be cast to maximal effect. However, many lists are no longer running [card]Azorius Charm[/card], which could be used to replace this effect to some extent while providing extra versatility.

Interestingly, there is a variant of this deck in Block:

[deck]4 Azorius Guildgate
1 Boros Guildgate
4 Hallowed Fountain
4 Island
2 Izzet Guildgate
4 Plains
4 Sacred Foundry
4 Steam Vents
2 Aetherling
4 Boros Reckoner
4 Azorius Charm
2 Counterflux
2 Detention Sphere
2 Izzet Charm
4 Jace, Architect of Thought
2 Ral Zerek
3 Sphinx’s Revelation
3 Supreme Verdict
3 Syncopate
2 Turn and Burn[/deck]

As you can see, they have indeed taken to running [card]Azorius Charm[/card]. [card]Counterflux[/card] replaces [card]Dissipate[/card] for the “counterspell” slot. The only thing truly missing a good replacement is [card]Pillar of Flame[/card], which this deck uses [card]Izzet Charm[/card] for. It’s likely Theros will provide some useful utility spells for this deck which can allow it to continue into the new Standard era.

There is also an Esper variant of the deck, so depending on what new spells the deck wants to adopt it could go either way:

[deck]2 Azorius Guildgate
2 Dimir Guildgate
4 Godless Shrine
4 Hallowed Fountain
4 Island
3 Orzhov Guildgate
4 Plains
4 Watery Grave
2 Aetherling
2 Blood Baron of Vizkopa
3 Sin Collector
4 Azorius Charm
3 Detention Sphere
2 Devour Flesh
4 Far and Away
4 Jace, Architect of Thought
3 Sphinx’s Revelation
4 Supreme Verdict
2 Syncopate[/deck]

One caveat is that this sort of deck needs to tune itself to the meta—and we don’t know what that meta is, so if you do want to run this at the first event post-rotation, spread your answers out well, and generally expect aggro, as that is often the first “obvious” deck post-rotation. Speaking of aggro…

RG Aggro

Kibler’s RG Aggro deck tore through the meta at the World Championship, and is a very sweet list:

[deck]Main Deck
4 Arbor Elf
4 Domri Rade
2 Elvish Mystic
4 Flinthoof Boar
4 Ghor-Clan Rampager
4 Hellrider
3 Scavenging Ooze
4 Strangleroot Geist
4 Thundermaw Hellkite
3 Mizzium Mortars
9 Forest
6 Mountain
1 Mutavault
4 Rootbound Crag
4 Stomping Ground[/deck]

It is however losing a whole bunch of its creatures with rotation. I like to think a creature deck running [card]Stomping Ground[/card] will be rebuilt for two reasons:

[draft]Domri Rade
burning-tree emissary[/draft]

These cards are both sticking around and provide powerful effects for RG creature decks. It’s interesting that Kibler’s deck does not use [card]Burning-Tree Emissary[/card]. The reason for this is that it doesn’t play well with [card]Strangleroot Geist[/card], which is the major 2-drop in the deck, but that’s not a consideration post-rotation. [card]Burning-Tree Emissary[/card] is also the other card shaping the Block meta right now. RG-based decks are a major feature of Daily lists at the moment. I particularly liked this one:

[deck]1 Gruul Guildgate
7 Mountain
4 Sacred Foundry
4 Stomping Ground
4 Temple Garden
3 Boros Reckoner
4 Burning-Tree Emissary
4 Dryad Militant
4 Experiment One
4 Firefist Striker
4 Ghor-Clan Rampager
4 Gore-House Chainwalker
2 Legion Loyalist
4 Rakdos Cackler
4 Boros Charm
3 Domri Rade[/deck]

You basically get to play [card]Boros Charm[/card] for free, since you may as well play [card]Temple Garden[/card] as Forests that let you cast [card]Boros Reckoner[/card]. I do wonder if this deck will be interested in the new Hydra that just got spoiled: Polukranos, World Eater. It certainly might be a sideboard option for the mirror match. Using this new Hydra in the main would make the deck weaker to [card]Lifebane Zombie[/card], which Kibler’s list is currently very good at ignoring.

Jund Midrange

Jund will cease to exist in its current form. I mean just consider what this list loses:

[deck]2 Garruk, Primal Hunter
4 Huntmaster of the Fells
3 Olivia Voldaren
3 Scavenging Ooze
4 Thragtusk
1 Abrupt Decay
4 Bonfire of the Damned
1 Doom Blade
1 Dreadbore
4 Farseek
1 Mizzium Mortars
2 Putrefy
1 Rakdos Keyrune
2 Rakdos’s Return
2 Tragic Slip
4 Blood Crypt
1 Dragonskull Summit
2 Kessig Wolf Run
4 Overgrown Tomb
4 Rootbound Crag
4 Stomping Ground
2 Swamp
4 Woodland Cemetery[/deck]

While Jund can change what spot removal and value creatures it employs, the single greatest loss for this deck is [card]Farseek[/card].

[draft]farseek[/draft]

Farseek has been huge in this Standard format and, led to a very Forest-dominated era. It has allows for Modern-like mana bases and 3-color decks to be the norm. This has come to an end and many decks will need to seriously rethink their plans come Theros.

While we are here, the other big, deck-defining cards we lose are [card]Unburial Rites[/card] and [card]Restoration Angel[/card], so play the Junk Reanimator deck I wrote about several weeks ago while you still have the chance!

What is the future for midrange?

According to Block, the future is Selesnya:

[deck]9 Forest
7 Plains
4 Selesnya Guildgate
4 Temple Garden
4 Dryad Militant
4 Experiment One
2 Frontline Medic
4 Loxodon Smiter
2 Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage
4 Voice of Resurgance
4 Advent of the Wurm
2 Call of the Conclave
4 Rootborn Defenses
4 Selesnya Charm[/deck]

This deck reminds me of the Junk list I played in Unified Constructed at the WMC (see last week’s article for a list). My favourite card in that deck was [card]Advent of the Wurm[/card] and it, coupled with [card]Loxodon Smiter[/card] and [card]Voice of Resurgence[/card], made the deck a pain for blue-based control decks to deal with. As I mentioned earlier, UWx control is in the best shape going into the new Standard era, so these cards could easily form the base of a deck to upset that plan.

General Thoughts

That’s kind of it for Block decks, unless you count the occasional [card]Maze’s End[/card] deck, which I guess could show up in Standard, but I sure hope not.

One thing I haven’t really touched on is that I expect the number of 3-colour decks in Standard to dramatically decrease. Along with the aforementioned loss of [card]Farseek[/card], we also lose two whole cycles of good dual lands (M13 and Innistrad) leaving us with just the shocks. We do not yet know what fixing will be available in Theros. I’m sure there will be some, but it probably won’t play as nice with the shocks as the buddy lands did.

[draft]burning earth[/draft]

If mana bases lean more toward basic lands, then [card]Burning Earth[/card] will become less relevant for Standard, but [card]Mutavault[/card] could play a much larger role, even in decks that aren’t using the tribal bonus. I personally like this card in aggro as a creature that easily survives [card]Supreme Verdict[/card], but I’ve also seen it used as a utility card in control. Definitely a card I will making sure I have my playset of.

Finally, although full spoilers for Theros haven’t quite started, what we’ve been shown so far about the set is that it will have a monster theme. Which, to me, suggests midrange. That is kind of a disappointment if that means yet more green decks, even if I do like midrange in general. Still we shall see what actually comes, and baseless speculation is just that.

As always, I’m looking forward to a reshape of Standard and I can’t wait for spoiler season to start in full so I can start brewing. What do you want to see in Theros? Will the reign of midrange continue, or will blue decks be back on top? Thanks for reading. As ever, feel free to add me on Twitter (@onionpixie) and I will see you same time next week.

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