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What’s the Best MTG Standard Deck Before Phyrexia: All Will Be One?

Welcome to the final Standard Power Rankings before Phyrexia: All Will Be One. I included 11 decks for this installment, because I really think that’s the number of serious, commonly-played decks that you should have a plan for. Decks #4-#11 are pretty close in quality and represent the “Tier 2” of Standard. Decks #1-#3 are close in quality and represent the “Tier 1.” They’re the real decks to beat right now. 

Here are the resources I use to inform all Power Rankings, leaning more heavily on what applies best to the given format:

  • Magic Online results. This includes Preliminaries, Weekend Challenges, Super Qualifiers and MOCS Events.
  • MTGMelee results. I typically look at all of the events with at least 30 players.
  • Large tabletop events. When applicable.
  • Untapped.GG stats.
  • Previous rankings. Just because a deck didn’t make a Top 8 over the weekend, doesn’t mean it’s suddenly a bad deck.
  • Public opinion. I discuss things with my teammates, and take a look at what’s getting a lot of attention on Twitch, Twitter, YouTube, podcasts and written content.
  • My own instincts and experiences.

 

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11. Izzet Powerstones

Perhaps the most exciting, break-out deck of this Standard season is what I’m calling “Izzet Powerstones” (although some players now touch into other colors, like black). It’s an artifact-based deck that seeks to ramp up to game winners like Cityscape Leveler and Skitterbeam Battalion. The key card is The Mightstone and Weakstone, which perfectly bridges to the endgame while also providing either removal or card drawing.

The truly awesome thing about this deck is that it didn’t exist at all for the first month of Brothers’ War Standard. Now, it’s one of the major players in the metagame! In my experience, it’s rare and special for a good strategy to remain completely hidden so long into the competitive season. 

10. Mardu Midrange

Mardu Midrange takes the strongest creatures in white and pairs them with Fable of the Mirror-Breaker and black removal spells. In this way, you get to cram the highest possible density of the best cards together, while also being well-rounded with no clear weaknesses. My only complaint about Mardu is that there’s no tri-land to shore up the three-color mana base. 

9. Esper Legends

Esper Legends is an alternative take on a popular color combination. It plays a high creature count with mostly legends, and leans heavily on Plaza of Heroes to shore up the mana base. It just so happens that many of the best creatures in the format are legendary. Curving any of Dennick, Pious Apprentice, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben or The Raven Man into Raffine, Scheming Seer packs a real punch. 

8. Mono-Black Midrange

I already liked Mono-Black in the old format, and it picked up a lot of great weapons in Brothers’ War. Among them are the powerful Misery’s Shadow and Phyrexian Fleshgorger. I find that Standard success hinges heavily on your ability to come out smoothly in the first three turns of the game, so a monocolored deck with all painless, untapped lands and plenty of efficient cards is highly appealing. 

7. Esper Midrange

Esper Midrange was the most popular and successful Standard deck for much of 2022. Post-Brothers’ War, it’s settled in as what I’m calling a strong “tier 2” deck. Raffine, Scheming Seer remains one of the most deadly creatures out there, and Esper can run away with games early, but can also grind people out in the long run. 

6. Mono-Blue

I once called this “Mono-Blue Delver,” but players have wised up to the fact that this archetype can succeed with or without the one-drop creature. It’s heavy on card drawing and disruption, while using just a small handful of potent creatures like Haughty Djinn and Tolarian Terror to win the game. With so many game-ending threats out there, it’s appealing to sit back on counterspells and never leave yourself vulnerable. 

One major appeal of sticking to one color and lots of basic Islands is Thirst for Discovery, which gives you an influx of resources and helps you dig to your best cards. Flow of Knowledge is also a pet card of mine, which is a huge weapon for games that go long. 

Mono-Blue lost a little bit of ground for this installment, possibly due to an uptick in fast aggro. 

5. Rakdos Midrange

As the cleanest, simplest way to leverage the overpowered midrange cards, Rakdos has a lot of appeal. Curve the best disruption and removal that black has to offer into Bloodtithe Harvester, Fable of the Mirror-Breaker and Sheoldred the Apocalypse and you’ll find yourself winning quite a lot of games. 

4. Mono-Red

Mono-Red didn’t take off right away with the release of Brothers’ War. I think it took some time for players to find the right build. However, now that we have tuned and effective versions, Mono-Red is one of the major players in Standard. 

In my opinion, the secret is that you don’t need to be aggressive to a fault. You can pack in a lot of card quality and staying power when you take the mana curve up a little to play stuff like Jaya, Fiery Negotiator. You still maintain those nice curves with Kumano Faces Kakkazan and the intense damage output that makes Mono-Red scary. 

3. Mono-White Midrange

The color white has many powerful options right now. While Mono-White Aggro is a classic Standard archetype, “bigger” versions of Mono-White are even better right now. Ambitious Farmhand, The Restoration of Eiganjo and Reckoner Bankbuster power the deck and bridge you into game-winning Angels and planeswalkers. Lay Down Arms is an awesome removal spell and a significant payoff for staying Mono-White. 

I’ve started to see splash colors appear in White Midrange. For instance, someone might sideboard some permission spells or discard or splash red for Fable of the Mirror-Breaker. My rule has been that if these decks are still mostly white with four copies of Lay Down Arms, I group them in with “Mono-White.” 

I wasn’t sure whether or not this archetype would stand the test of time, but it has consistently risen in the rankings as the Standard season progressed. I feel confident in placing it in Standard’s “top tier.” It’s very possible it should be #2 or even #1!

2. Soldiers

Soldiers is Standard’s big new aggro deck with Brothers’ War. This archetype can pair multiple lords including Valiant Veteran and Harbin, Vanguard Aviator with existing all-stars like The Wandering Emperor. While you’ll always want to include Fortified Beachhead, there’s some flexibility when it comes to your exact colors. Recently, I saw both Mono-White and U/W putting up results. 

Soldiers had an amazing couple of weeks, putting up the most big finishes and the most outright wins of any archetype. Based solely on the month of January, I would’ve given Soldiers the #1 spot and White Midrange #2. 

1. Grixis Midrange

However, I’m still giving #1 position to Grixis Midrange based on its consistent performance across all weeks of Brothers’ War Standard. The popularity of the other archetypes on this list might ebb and flow, but Grixis really never goes anywhere. Grixis gets all of the best removal and disruption across blue, red and black. It’s a brewer’s paradise, with any reasonable configuration of cards within these colors feeling like it can result in a competitive deck. For top-end options, you can choose Invoke Despair, Sol’Kanar the Tainted, Evelyn, the Covetous or any of a number of other creatures or planeswalkers.

Grixis won the World Championship in the hands of Nathan Steuer. It became exceptionally popular and successful right at the end of Dominaria United Standard, and hasn’t slowed down with the release of Brothers’ War

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