FFfreaky Friday – Standard Primer


A lot of people wanted me to talk about how to go infinite online last week. This struck a chord with me because I had to ask myself this question: Are there any secrets I know that others want in on? There isn’t any special way to profit on MTGO besides playing constructed (But somehow I made an article of it – LSV).

I decided with only two more weeks left before the PTQ season ends that it is time for a Standard primer. I have been playing a lot of Standard the last week and want to share my findings with players hoping to qualify. The metagame online has shifted a lot since Nationals. Many decks have said goodbye and old favorites are coming back.


The little white men have had a tough time earning glory ever since their creation. When Honor of the Pure was released many people thought this deck was going to have the breakout it finally deserved. This, of course, did not happen. It has been a popular deck in the last month at Nationals all over the world but with barely a handful of high finishes.

Kithkin isn’t a bad deck, but it has a hard time closing out tournaments. It’s very draw-dependent deck without the reach or surprises most other decks can produce. Its “God Draw” is can almost never be dealt with, but that doesn’t happen too often. With how the metagame is shaping up, its opportunity for glory is growing dim.

Time Seive

The best part about this deck is that it is probably the easiest deck to hate out in the metagame but no one does it. I see this deck from time to time doing well and it just makes me laugh. [card]Time Sieve[/card] puts all its hope of winning a tournament into praying no one out there takes it seriously.

I would not recommend playing this deck in any upcoming tournament. It is very fun to play and to even watch try to go off on the other side, but it just has way too many things going against it. For starters, the deck is clunky, with a combo clock barely a turn ahead of the agro decks in the format.

And now, with 5CC being played less, it’s even harder to get the job done. Not only that, but with Lark running 4 Glen Elendras, I don’t see the deck resolving any of its big spells. Next!

5 Color Control

This deck has had many metagames it could shine in, but sometimes it just gets hated out. This is exactly what is happening now. So many decks are playing [card]Reveillark[/card]s, Vendilion Cliques, and Anathemancers, it’s tough to be victorious. The deck does have a lot of power to counter these downsides, but many players have shied away from playing this online.

I would not have much faith in this deck performing well any time soon. After US nationals there was a boost of interest, but once that calmed down it has again had a tough time earning good winning percentages.

I do, however, have a deck list with a very interesting take on the archetype. Duotianshi203 is the front runner to win the Player of the Year race on Magic Online and has been playing 5 Color Control in the Standard Daily Events:


This list is better designed to deal with the Jund-based metagame online. [card]Anathemancer[/card] still is a problem, but [card]Kitchen Finks[/card] and [card]Baneslayer Angel[/card] can counter the effect of long game burn.

UW Merfolk

This deck is back and better then ever. It has done well at a few Nationals and PTQs, and is now taking over the four-round Standard Daily Events online. Many of Merfolk’s bad matchups were slowly pushed out the metagame, making it a powerful deck in today’s tournaments.

One of the things that surprised me was when I asked a fellow MTGO player some questions about Merfolk. Aaron Tobey, a.k.a. Ace of Drafts, has played the deck for some time. When I asked how it deals with Volcanic Fallout, he told me the card is actually a good thing to play against.

Many situations arise where the Merfolk player has one or two more creatures in play then the opponent. When the opponent wants to Fallout, they tend to wait until attacks from the Fish player. This sets up a devastating Harm’s Way that usually ends the game.

Merfolk used to struggle with the more aggressive decks in Standard. This has changed recently, though. There are fewer one-drops being played, which gives the deck the time it needs to set up game-winning Cryptic Commands and Sleeps. Harm’s Way also plays a valuable role in winning early beater fights.

This is the list Ace of Drafts plays:


This is a very good deck right now and will be played in the last few PTQs. Be prepared to play against this deck so you don’t get run over by it in the near future.

UBR Faeries

Yes, it’s back again with even more reach and is ready to burn people out of the game. Faeries has finally been forced to reach out for a third color and is once again terrorizing MTGO.

There are a lot of takes on the deck. Some have a more controlling plan with Jace, Thoughtseize, Broken Ambitions, and curving all the way to Cruel Ultimatum. The other lists are more aggressive without any Scions and a much faster curve of creatures and removal. Both are packing Lightning Bolt in the main and Firespout and Anathemancer in the sideboard.

I Talked to Jacob Van Lunen about the archetype and got a bit more info on the deck he’s been winning 8-man after 8-man with. This deck seems like it should be on the rise given the current metagame. UBR Faeries has an incredibly good matchup against Merfolk, 5CC, and all sorts of aggro. The deck struggles a bit with Jund and red decks, but decks playing Bitterblossom, Mistbind Clique, and Cryptic Command have proven time and time again that they have the capability to beat anything on a sunny day.

Jacob Van Lunen’s



Jund Variants

I am very familiar with this archetype. I cast Leeches and Bloodbraid Elves at PT: Hawaii, US Nationals, and even yesterday on MTGO. There are a few different ways to approach this archetype. The more aggressive approach with Ram-Gangs, Sygg, and Sign in Blood is one way, or you can go with a more controlling Makeshift Mannequin version that Conley Woods and I played at Nationals.

I have been playing and tweaking the Mannequin version because of its ability to succeed in this metagame. As I said earlier, 5 Color Control is being pushed out by other decks that are good matchups for The Conley Wood’s Special. I have been having good success with the deck online and it should prove viable until rotation.

The only matchup where I think you are a god is in the more aggressive mirrors. The mirror plays out as a race to have lethal Anathemancers. Other lists tend to be a turn faster than mine and I have to play catch-up to stand a chance of winning. One card that helps do just that is Puppeteer Clique. Puppeteer Clique has been a game breaker and might make its way to the main deck if the format stands still for more then a few days.

While testing the deck, I played Cruel Ultimatum in it. It was a very powerful card, but I found situations when it was castable yet still terrible. It’s bad against Merfolk, Faeries, and the mirror, so I just cannot justify slots and a warped manabase for it. It also was giving me some very awkward opening hands. The splash for Mulldrifter is still the right call and [card]Makeshift Mannequin[/card] has become Anathemancer’s best friend.

This is the list I have been playing online and would suggest to anyone playing in the next few weeks.

Mannequin Jund

Now to the more aggressive Jund archetype. This deck probably makes up 30 to 40 percent of the online metagame and to no surprise. It’s very aggressive and has all the tools to put the opponent in the graveyard before they even have a chance to fight back.

The deck list I have for this archetype is a bit different then the normal lists. Vv1nc3ntt has been playing piloting this list to very high win percentages. It’s more aggressive then the normal lists and keeps away from Fallouts and Finks:

Jund Aggro

UW Reveillark

I have not seen a deck take off like this one online since Cascade Swans. After it won Great Britain’s Nationals, it’s hard to find a tournament without three or four of these running around. It is a very powerful deck capable of stealing games with Baneslayer Angel while being able to control the game from every angle.

I have played against this deck many times now online and every game is a nailbiter. The power and synergies this version has are much more powerful then the older versions that relied on card advantage to win. Glen Elendra Archmage has never been used the way it is in this deck. Its sole job is to protect Baneslayer Angel and sit back while the Angel takes home victory after victory.

Post sideboard, this deck can transform into a more traditional Reveillark list, giving it a bigger edge in the slower matchups. The mana base makes it almost untouchable by Anathemancer, guaranteeing to not get blown out in the late game. This gives the Jund decks a hard time getting through with the last bits of damage. It has Hallowed Burial to stop the aggressive starts and Reveillarks to break the stalemates. If it wasn’t for my list running 4 Shriekmaw, I don’t believe I would have won any matches against this deck.


It’s a powerful deck that will be running the top tables in the next few weeks. I would suggest play testing against this deck and knowing how it works and what it’s capable of if you are seriously trying to win a PTQ. You will face it and if you don’t go prepared you will lose to it.

There are other decks in the metagame that are just not on the radar right now, and I didn’t feel it was necessary to go over them. The decks I’ve listed are what everyone is playing on Magic Online. PTQ players have to understand Magic Online’s metagame because it has been a consisten trend over the years that this week’s Magic Online metagame will be next week’s PTQ metagame.

I hope this helps you in the next few weeks at your PTQs – or if you really just want to “go inf.”

Brad Nelson

FFfreak on MTGO

[email protected]

31 thoughts on “FFfreaky Friday – Standard Primer”

  1. I’d rather run 4 Cascade Bluffs in the UBR Faeries than 4 Crumbling Necropolis. I can’t wait until someone finds a way to fit in Cruel Ultimatum into this deck.

  2. About the merfolk list, until a few days ago, I was convinced that Reveillarks were unnecessary, but I now realize how wrong I was. They should definitely be maindeck, rather than not in the deck at all.

  3. Not sure if you would know, but since you are familiar with playing online… Due to law, in the State of Maryland you cannot earn prizes in Fee Based Tournaments online, would that mean I could not qualify in an online ptq once they are available?

  4. @Ace Yeah we talked a bit about that switch, but since we didn’t get any hard numbers down I decided to post this list. If you want to post an update in the forums that would be great!

    @Nick I do not know that answer but I do know you could email the right department to find out. My guess is no since there is a value to the prize. I suggest moving 🙂

  5. Great Article. I really liked the metagame analysis as well as the deck you recommend playing. Although as much as i like Jund based aggro decks, I think i really like the Lark build. I played a slower, more traditional version of UW Lark at a local PTQ but got a sad 4-4 finish. But this build seems much stronger and faster. If only i had the money to invest in a playset of Baneslayer and a playset of Meddling Mage…

  6. I also like the Lark list…It looks very powerful. I find it kind of funny that the “Reveillark” deck only plays one in the main, but I’m sure its for good reason.

    Are there any powerful Doran decks floating around? He can be very aggresive, and also quite flexible…able to deal with many different game states. Just curious if you think he’s viable…

    Looks great, keep ’em coming!

  7. I also like the Lark list…It looks very powerful. I find it kind of funny that the “reveillark” deck only plays one in the main, but I’m sure its for good reason.

    Are there any powerful Doran decks floating around? He can be very aggresive, and also quite flexable…able to deal with many different games states. Just curious if you think he’s viable.

    Looks great…keep ’em coming!

  8. One thing the article clearly shows: Standard is extremely rich right now. Just think of the decks FFFreak did NOT mention:

    Elves (GW and GB)

    None of these decks is absolutely NOT viable… in the end there are an incredible lot of options available. Fun days.

  9. I think the way the current meta is shaping up, Sligh is positioned well.

    A simple 5 turn clock walks all over most of the popular builds, and reoccuring beats from hellspark/hells thunder prove difficult to answer.

    Playing maindeck magma sprays deals with alot of ugly things being maindecked right now and makes both revilark and makeshift decks sweat a little.

    A resolved baneslayer against sligh is an auto lose, but act of treason could turn that around if it gets to that.

    damage board wipes matter so much less in the face of unearthing and hasty beats.


  10. Someone just mentioned Giantbating and Elves (combo and non) and I wondered what you thought about these vis a vis the format’s players currently? Are these also the kinds of decks that can put you in the top 8 but probably won’t win a tournament or do you think they are clown shoes?


  11. @ xletix & drtednelson The problem with these decks for a ptq environment is that they cannot close the day out. They are not bad decks in general just when playing in an 8-9 round ptq you will face good players. Those players will know how to beat your deck because it plays the same every time. Now other decks do that as well, but are not as fragile as these decks listed.

    there ok if you know the metagame will not see them coming, but right now in what I predict most metagames will be like these are not good choices. But I may be wrong. If you have worked with elves for a while don’t take my word and not play it. I think you have a better chance of winning making the correct plays even if the deck isn’t the blade.

  12. UBR faeries is terrible, why would you put that in your article.

    PS, this article needs more endless ranting on District 9.

  13. This is really helpful, and I like your writing style, it’s very factual and reminds me of Karsten’s old stuff 🙂

  14. @ Doug – Don’t you like being able to cast T2 bitterblossom.

    Maybe that’s just me.

  15. @brad You are right. I would also not play any of the decks I cited for a PTQ at the moment. I just wanted to mention that the numerous decks that you discussed in your article are not even all somewhat viable strategies. Mainly, my point was that Standard currently is a lot better (as in rich in terms of deck types) than what some people give it credit for.

  16. The ability to close out games is huge… I’m glad you mentioned that. There are a lot of viable decks, but when it comes to winning, only three decks make up 50% of the MTGO DE “winning” meta. I think the decks you list here are the only serious tournament contenders. Standard is really good at giving the illusion of being wide open.

    Great job at summarizing the format’s best decks. Keep ’em coming!

  17. i read many articles everyday on many different sites… to make a long story short this is one of the best (if not the best) standard break down article i have read in… months. thank you and i look forward to reading more from you here @ the fireball…

  18. @ace what are you cutting for the reveillarks. When I built my merefolk I kept looking for a good trump since most ubr are trading 1v1 in the early game. I settled on adding 2x baneslayer angel simply because when the dust clears I can win straight up with the angel. In my testing, its been very powerful (I actually won a 10 game set against ubr which is huge in the ny area.) Its also been fantastic against red (also big in the earlier rounds of a ny area ptq.) If i cut the baneslayers and a bannarett I can add 3 larks but im curious about your final list.

  19. I would like to second that sentiment. This is probably one of the most informative articles I have ever read. I learned A LOT when I read this from start to finish.

    You’re still the best, Brad.

  20. I really liked the article, and I’m really interested in going inf in MODO, but is it a good idea to invest a lot of money when with zendikar 2 blocks are rotating out (meaning lorwyn and shadowmoor) ???
    Meaning..paying 15 tix for your reflecting pools for 2 months or 11 tix for a filter…is it really worth it?


  21. sneakyhomunculous

    @ red fairies, being an incerdible matchup against 5cc, I’ve played my share of 5cc vs. the real UB fae (which is btw obviously still infinitely better in the metagame than red fairies) and its always close, adding red unfortunantly is only going to hurt the 5c matchup, i guess you could firespout away there baneslayers and cruel ultimatums, or maybe even lightning bolt their cryptic commands

  22. Pingback: Deck change? « Better Magic

  23. So, my blog is the one that generated the trackback above. Just wanted you to know I wasn’t trying to spam your comments. Kind of wierded out, honestly, that just referencing your article in my blog led to this thing showing up here. Didn’t set out to make that thing appear. Saw the references to channelfireball in my stats and started wondering what was going on.

    Anyway, sorry, especially if it’s inappropriate in some way. 😀

  24. Brad,

    Don`t you consider Jund Charm / Volcanic brew on your Jund list? Jund Charm is pretty effective vs Meddling Mage set to Volcanic + removing graveyard vs Lark?

  25. I’m 17, have benoted bridging xenografts for about 9 coffees and have amended on [i]how to wean off celexa safely[/i] for about 2 years.

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top