If you’re looking for a new deck to try in Standard, I’ve got that covered. If you’re jumping back into the format and want to know what’s changed with the rotation, I’ve got that covered too. Today I’ll outline my early picks for the best new Standard decks post-rotation, incorporating the new cards from Dominaria United.
For a quick frame of reference, check out my recent Standard Power Rankings. It only takes a quick scroll through the list to see that the early days of the new format have been all about black midrange. If you’re playing the good black cards in virtually any reasonable shell, you’re set up for success.
That said, some of this stuff isn’t exactly new. You could’ve played Rakdos, Jund, Grixis, Orzhov, Esper, Mardu Midrange or an Oni-Cult Anvil deck before rotation. They were already good, they’re still good and not much has changed besides a few threats and removal spells swapped here and there. Instead, let’s look at some archetypes that are fresh, and have the potential to really shake up the format.
Standard Mono-Black by Reid Duke
Mono-Black is the simplest, cleanest and (arguably) the most effective of the black midrange decks. In my mind, there’s one new card from Dominaria United that makes it worthwhile to stay mono-black as opposed to choosing one of the many multicolored options.
Evolved Sleeper lets you come out quickly and aggressively, but also gives you a powerful mana sink for longer games where you need staying power. The catch is that it demands a lot of untapped black mana for it to be at its best. You don’t have to be mono-black to use Evolved Sleeper, it’s just much more effective when you are.
Mono-Black is a textbook example of a well-rounded midrange deck. It has staying power, but also presents a much more potent and unforgiving clock than you’d expect.
If you’re looking to get the black midrange experience that’s so prevalent and successful in Standard, then Mono-Black is a great place to start. Along the way, you’ll get to try out a fun new deck that didn’t exist prior to Dominaria United bringing Evolved Sleeper, Cut Down, Sheoldred, the Apocalypse and Liliana of the Veil.
Standard Jund Reanimator by Arne Huschenbeth
Jund Reanimator is another way to get a taste of the black midrange experience, but with something special built in. This deck uses The Cruelty of Gix, sometimes with the read ahead ability, to put something powerful like Titan of Industry onto the battlefield ahead of schedule. Meanwhile, it uses Soul of Windgrace to ramp mana and convert all of the self-mill and discard into pure value.
Arne Huschenbeth called Jund Reanimator “the midrange killer of Standard.” It’s hard for me to imagine a better sales pitch than that. When eight of the top 10 decks in the format are variations on black midrange, then having a black midrange deck that’s advantaged against all the others is highly appealing.
The nice thing about this archetype is that it’s not all-in on the combo. You can totally play a normal game with creatures, removal and Fable of the Mirror-Breaker. And of course, you can sideboard in such a way that you’re tailored for any matchup, and possibly even sidestepping graveyard hate to punish opponents who go overboard.
Standard Invoke Justice by _Falcon_
Invoke Justice is another reanimation-themed deck, but it’s also the first non-black deck I have for you today. Instead of The Cruelty of Gix, this deck uses the namesake Invoke Justice to rebuy any permanent while distributing four additional +1/+1 counters across your team. That kind of board presence at such an early stage in the game leads to some decisive and satisfying wins.
It’s trivially easy to dump a powerful creature like Titan of Industry or Sanctuary Warden into the graveyard with Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, The Restoration of Eiganjo or the new Saga The Elder Dragon War. But frankly, Invoke Justice is powerful enough when cast on just about anything that there’s really no fail case. In fact, sometimes bringing back a Saga like The Elder Dragon War is just what the doctor ordered!
I think this deck is great, and I’ve really enjoyed playing with it. My major suggestion is to incorporate a few copies of Valorous Stance or Destroy Evil in either the main deck or the sideboard so you can answer Sheoldred, the Apocalypse.
Standard Jeskai Control by Eliott_dragon
I think players are still searching for the best post-rotation control decks. However, this Jeskai deck courtesy of streamer Eliott_dragon is a nice place to start. I love the pairing of Teferi, Who Slows the Sunset with The Celestus and Timeless Lotus for big influxes of mana.
In a format that’s all about creatures and removal spells, there’s a lot to like about sidestepping that battle completely and making the opponent’s removal spells into dead cards. While you’re at it, you can pack board sweepers like Temporal Firestorm and Farewell that one-sidedly answer everything your opponent is throwing at you, whether it be Graveyard Trespasser, Sheoldred or an army of token creatures.
I ran into one player on the ladder who had some ideas I really liked. They were playing Bant Control featuring Shigeki, Jukai Visionary, Brokers Charm and Endless Detour. Since Detour is a versatile and highly-useful answer card right now, and since I’m a long-time fan of Shigeki, this is a strategy that might interest me in the future.
Standard Mono-Red Aggro by Shun Fujimoto
Red aggro decks look to be fast and punishing. Kumano Faces Kakkazan is an amazing card and represents one of the best weapons printed for aggro players in recent memory.
While I like this simple, direct take on Mono-Red, I also worry about its lack of great answers to larger creatures – namely Sheoldred, the Apocalypse. Also, since we’re no longer in a world of Den of the Bugbear and Faceless Haven, there’s less incentive to stick to monocolor when tossing in eight dual lands can set you up nicely to splash a color.
In short, I think there’s unexplored potential here. For example, playing Boros would allow you to access a card like Valorous Stance, which can effortlessly take out big blockers, or save a key creature from a removal spell.
Or, check out this Gruul deck with a Werewolf sub theme:
Standard Gruul Aggro by xkscdhx
Again, I’d feel a little more comfortable seeing more answers to bigger creatures. Removal isn’t green’s strong suit, but you could still sideboard a copy or two of something like Rending Flame or Bite Down.
Those are the decks that’ve piqued my interest. What’s been exciting to you so far?