The Competitive Metagame Challenge is upon us, and it’s time to finally craft those Theros Beyond Death rares and mythics because the value of that event is through the roof if you’re interested in building a collection on MTG Arena.
Every day I stream on my channel, and I play only Standard. Today I’ll show you my best performing decks, and what I liked about each.
2 Forest 1 Mountain 2 Island 4 Steam Vents 4 Breeding Pool 4 Stomping Ground 3 Temple of Epiphany 2 Temple of Mystery 2 Castle Vantress 2 Fabled Passage 1 Temple of Abandon 4 Brazen Borrower/Petty Theft 2 Gadwick, the Wizened 3 Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath 4 Expansion/Explosion 4 Wilderness Reclamation 4 Growth Spiral 4 Thassa's Intervention 4 Opt 4 Storm's Wrath Sideboard 2 Lava Coil 1 Hydroid Krasis 1 Arboreal Grazer 2 Aether Gust 4 Nightpack Ambusher 3 Mystical Dispute 2 Sorcerous Spyglass
As I write this article I just finished my Friday stream where I completely dominated the ladder with this deck, going 10-1 in four hours and reaching rank 39 Mythic.
This card has overperformed. The versatility is huge! Being able to pick up Reclamation + Explosion EOT and kill your opponent feels similar to Dig Through Time in Pioneer. Of course it’s more expensive, but being able to counter a spell too puts it over the top.
I’ve often mentioned on my stream how Uro is bad in a deck without Cavalier of Thorns, because the five cards it needs to escape are too high a cost. Well, I was wrong. Uro has been outstanding in a deck that needs to ramp up lands, not just mana, as Growth Spiral isn’t enough by itself.
Storm’s Wrath is a huge upgrade to Flame Sweep. While it isn’t an instant and it doesn’t work too well with Reclamation, it does one very important thing: it kills planeswalkers, most importantly Teferi, Time Raveler and Narset, Parter of Veils, which are both very efficient against this deck.
I have been very impressed by this deck and it’s currently my frontrunner for this Metagame Challenge.
10 Forest 1 Blast Zone 4 Breeding Pool 2 Castle Garenbrig 2 Castle Vantress 1 Fabled Passage 4 Island 4 Temple of Mystery 1 Agent of Treachery 2 Arboreal Grazer 4 Cavalier of Thorns 1 End-Raze Forerunners 4 Hydroid Krasis 4 Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath 2 Finale of Devastation 4 Growth Spiral 4 Nissa, Who Shakes the World 2 Tamiyo, Collector of Tales 4 Wolfwillow Haven Sideboard 4 Lovestruck Beast/Heart's Desire - Showcase 4 Mystical Dispute 3 Shifting Ceratops 4 Aether Gust
I’m still unsure of the best way to build Simic Ramp, and I was pleasantly surprised by Wolfwillow Haven. I decided to cut the Elemental package in order to be more solid against removal-based decks, relying only on spells for my ramp.
The deck is now in a perfect place in the metagame, as it goes over the top of everything, similar to Temur Reclamation, thanks to its Finale of Devastation plan.
I’m unsure if a version with Thassa, Deep-Dwelling + Agent of Treachery could be viable, you would definitely need to re-add the Elemental package and I assume you need to cut Finales to find slots for those.
16 Mountain 4 Castle Embereth 4 Anax, Hardened in the Forge 4 Scorch Spitter 4 Runaway Steam-Kin 4 Torbran, Thane of Red Fell 4 Fervent Champion 4 Rimrock Knight/Boulder Rush 4 Bonecrusher Giant/Stomp 4 Light Up the Stage 4 Shock 4 Embercleave Sideboard 4 Experimental Frenzy 4 Unchained Berserker 4 Lava Coil 3 Chandra, Acolyte of Flame
After telling you that my favorite two decks lose to it, it’s time to bring to your attention my favorite Embercleave deck.
I’ve never believed in Gruul or Rakdos. While they might be working for you, I don’t want to risk my game on mana base issues. I don’t think Temples are good in aggro decks, so I don’t want to put Embercleave and Questing Beast or Rankle, Master of Pranks together.
I’ll stick to 20 Mountains.
Anax is huge with Embercleave, it can easily one shot you on turn 4.
Anax is legendary, but that isn’t necessarily a downside. Once you cast the second copy, you’ll keep the old one and get 4 tokens out of the deal, because both Anaxes will check and the one going to the graveyard will have at least 4 power, so you get two Satyrs for each trigger! If you pair these Satyrs with a Torbran, Thane of Red Fell that’s some serious business.
I’ve never liked Cavalcade of Calamity, as I don’t want to put Tin Street Dodger in my Standard deck, but if you’re up for some fast Magic, you can do it, plus Cavalcade can do some serious damage with Anax’s tokens.
I’ve seen some lists playing Phoenix of Ash paired with Rix Maadi Reveler, but I think that’s too much durdling around and dealing too little damage, you need to attack fast and I believe go-bigger versions to be weaker to Cavalier of Thorns. You need to go under these threats.
22 Swamp 4 Castle Locthwain 4 Gray Merchant of Asphodel 4 Woe Strider 4 Burglar Rat 4 Yarok's Fenlurker 4 Midnight Reaper 4 Murderous Rider/Swift End 4 Nightmare Shepherd 2 Bolas's Citadel 2 Noxious Grasp 4 Agonizing Remorse Sideboard 4 Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage 1 Erebos, Bleak-Hearted 1 Erebos's Intervention 2 Treacherous Blessing 2 Legion's End 3 Duress
Mono-Black Devotion has been the deck I receive the most questions about. I have not loved the archetype, and I think the way many people approached the deck was wrong.
I believe that in midrange decks, you can’t play creatures that don’t have an enters-the-battlefield effect or haste, so I don’t think you should ever, under any circumstances, put Tymaret, Chosen from Death or Ayara, First of Locthwain in your deck.
It might feel bad to put Burglar Rat in your Constructed deck, but that little Rat, together with Yarok’s Fenlurker, does disrupt your opponent. Plus, I love to have so many enters-the-battlefield-effect creatures, as this deck has one powerful combo: Woe Strider + Nightmare Shepherd, where you’re able to sacrifice your creature (let’s say Gray Merchant of Asphodel) and get a 1/1 which triggers again, netting you some real card advantage.
I like to play 26 lands in this type of deck because you use all your mana, especially with Castle Locthwain.
I’m not sure about this deck being powerful, but this is the best version of Mono-Black I’ve seen.
1 Island 1 Swamp 4 Temple of Deceit 4 Temple of Enlightenment 4 Temple of Silence 4 Watery Grave 4 Godless Shrine 4 Hallowed Fountain 3 Atris, Oracle of Half-Truths 2 Dream Trawler 2 Ashiok, Nightmare Muse 1 Despark 1 Elspeth Conquers Death 2 Kaya's Wrath 4 Medomai's Prophecy 1 Mortify 4 Narset, Parter of Veils 3 Oath of Kaya 4 Teferi, Time Raveler 4 Thought Erasure 1 Tyrant's Scorn 2 Agonizing Remorse Sideboard 2 Sorcerous Spyglass 1 Despark 2 Devout Decree 2 Dovin's Veto 1 Kaya's Wrath 2 Kaya, Orzhov Usurper 2 Noxious Grasp 1 Elspeth Conquers Death 2 Thief of Sanity
Granted it isn’t ideal to play 12/24 taplands in your deck, but you can time your spells in the right way and make sure not to be derailed by it.
Dream Trawler is the best win condition for the deck, it doesn’t die to removal and it wins the game quickly, while giving you some life, which are super important qualities in certain matchups. Although it can’t be tutored up by Narset, Parter of Veils, which is why we need Ashiok, Nightmare Muse. I was very high on Ashiok at the beginning of the format, but I like it less now. It’s still good, but its impact is often too narrow.
Atris, Oracle of Half-Truths has overperformed. I thought Esper would still need Basilica-Bell Haunt, but it turns out that Atris is almost always drawing two cards, which is crucial for hitting land drops.
Medomai’s Prophecy is a card I didn’t think it would be good, but it turns out to be way better than Omen of the Sea or any type of card draw you could play in Standard. Drawing two cards for 2 mana is not something that Magic offers you easily. It gets hosed by Narset, Parter of Veils pretty well, but that’s the reason we run so many discard spells.
Agonizing Remorse has felt good, and that plus Thought Erasure is the reason why I prefer Esper over Azorius, plus the nice bonus of having a playable 4-mana Wrath of God, as Shatter the Sky‘s downside is too big for me to consider playing in my control deck.
I have toyed around with Hero of Precinct One, but I did not find a list that would satisfy me.
I expect Esper to play an important role in this format, keeping the aggro decks in check, as well as being able to have game against the go-big decks, thanks to discard spells and our powerful 3-mana planeswalker.
Theros Standard looks sensational. While Nissa, Who Shakes the World is still the best card, I’m positive the metagame will be healthy and we’ll finally get to enjoy a real and good Standard starting from week 0!
Good luck in your Metagame Challenge, and Happy Standard!