The first Magic Online PTQ featuring Dominaria Standard is in the books, and it indicates a pretty incredible format. The early PTQs are highly competitive and reveal the early impressions of the format. This one looks open, as Dominaria has brought a ton of tools to the table. Nothing stands out as “broken,” but there are plenty of things that are truly busted. G/W Legends took it down, featuring lots of Dominaria cards. Let’s break it down.
One of the biggest additions to Standard comes from one of Magic’s oldest cards. A 1-mana accelerant was deemed too good for a while, and Standard hasn’t had access to a card like this recently, but the original is back and making an immediate impact. Llanowar Elves constricts some of what Wizards of the Coast R&D can print as far as cheaper green cards, so don’t go expecting to see cards like Nissa, Voice of Zendikar while Llanowar Elves is in Standard. You do have plenty of good options, and an early Elf means that you’re able to both add to the battlefield to get in a little incidental damage and accelerate into your power.
In a deck with 4 Elves, your 3-drop slot is important. You’re leaning mostly on Thrashing Brontodon, as a main-deck Naturalize effect can be valuable in this format. You can’t risk having a dead card, but somehow you get a 3/4 body as well. Your other 3-drop is Rishkar, Peema Renegade as a way to pump up your early creatures and give you some additional ramp as the games go longer.
The thing about Llanowar Elves is that they often die. Having them in the format also means that players will build their decks accordingly, and the old adage “Bolt the Bird” still rings true. If people are going to be killing your Elves, not to mention you just won’t have one in your opener about 60% of the time, you’re going to need some powerful 2-drops.
Merfolk Branchwalker still gives you most of what you’re looking for. An extra land in hand has plenty of value, and a 3/2 creature for 2 is a great rate. You also now have Shanna, Sisay’s Legacy as an incredible 2-drop. Not being targeted by your opponent’s abilities is a decent upside, and you’re getting a rather large threat for just 2 mana as this deck is filled with creatures. Curving Elf into Shanna into anything makes for a sick 3/3 or 4/4 attacker on turn 3. Just try not to get blown out by removal killing your other creatures.
Walking Ballista is technically another 2-drop, but this is also your late-game card. Ballista seems to be the card that’s defining Standard in week one as every deck can play it, it’s a great answer to Llanowar Elves and Glint-Sleeve Siphoner, and it’s an excellent finisher.
Speaking of late games, Shalai, Voice of Plenty protects your team while also giving you late game inevitability. I would much rather spend 6 mana to pump my entire team versus spending 4 to just pump a Ballista.
Lyra Dawnbringer demands an immediate answer or the game will slip away. Not unlike Baneslayer Angel, this completely dominates a board state as 5/5 flying, lifelink, and first strike is winning all fights and races. Cards like this make Ravenous Chupacabra look much more appealing in Standard, so we’ll see how the format shakes out going forward.
Along the list of new threats, you have Karn, Scion of Urza as yet another efficient weapon that can go into any deck. Karn is a card advantage machine that starts on high loyalty. He can dominate a board and requires specific answers to be dealt with. Gaining a bunch of extra cards or just making some extra creatures to go with your few artifacts makes Karn an early frontrunner for best card in Standard.
While this deck isn’t heavy on artifacts, you do have Ballistas, Aethersphere Harvesters, and even some Treasure Maps. Harvester gives you more evasion, more ways to win the race, more artifacts, and another great use for Llanowar Elves when you don’t need more mana. Treasure Map doesn’t provide immediate card advantage, but it does get there after giving you some selection, powering up Karn’s Constructs or drawing more cards.
You’re mostly using your creatures to control the board, but a little bit of removal comes in handy. Seal Away provides a nice tempo removal spell while Ixalan’s Binding can kill powerful noncreatures and creatures alike.
Taking down the first Magic Online Standard PTQ means that this G/W deck is going to be picked up by many, so make sure you know how it works and have a plan for how to beat it going forward!