Last Words on Standard

I have now 3 consecutive weeks of professional Standard events in the books, and unfortunately it’ll be my last since my agenda doesn’t include the format until after the next Pro Tour. I didn’t want all of my time spent and opinions on decks I didn’t end up writing about to go to waste, so here it goes.

Jeskai Black

This is the “best” deck in the format and that’s a good thing because it’s not easy to pilot at all. I love it when the best deck is not something like Jund or Abzan that anyone can pick up and easily win a tournament with. Instead, Jeskai rewards skilled and knowledgeable players.

My reasoning to not run it was that I couldn’t figure out how to have an edge in the mirror. Sure you can have 1 Mastery of the Unseen, 1 Painful Truth, and other 1-ofs, but in the end the matchup can be shaped in so many ways that those grindy cards won’t necessarily always be good, especially if you are flooded with them.

On top of that, everyone is tweaking their decks in the hopes of having a better matchup against Jeskai Black. The optimal way to fight back is to improvise and next-level them with play style and/or sideboard plans that give you access to all sorts of answers. It sounds like it’s unbeatable? Well, yeah, except that I’m not skilled enough to improvise with such a complex deck, which is why I decided to be on the other side of the matchup since week 1.

I still have a few recommendations for updating this great deck, since I’ve talked about, seen, and even played a reasonable amount with the deck:

GW Megamorph

This is what I played this weekend in Indianapolis, and it did the one thing I asked it to do: have a good matchup against Jeskai Black. Brad Nelson claimed he never lost the matchup no matter what version of Megamorph he played. I believe this is true, at least up until next week when people will start running Languish or Tragic Arrogance.

I ran the same aggressive version as Brian Braun-Duin, with 4 Avatar of the Resolute, a flawless mana base, and some sub-optimal sideboard cards since we didn’t have access to Disdainful StrokeBecome Immense and Hallowed Moonlight.

Going into the weekend I really wanted a deck that beat Jeskai Black, yet, those decks came with the cost of having terrible matchups against Ramp and Rally, which I expected both to be the new kids on the block.

Esper Planeswalkers/Tokens a.k.a. Fabrizio Anteri’s brew, and Bant Megamorph had the tools to get them all, but I was unsatisfied with their mana base, making the Jeskai Black matchup not as good as playing straight GW Megamorph.

Instead of having 4 Disdainful Stroke, I had 2 Become Immense as a way to race Ramp before it lands Ugin. This is the same for Rally, except the matchup is so horrendous that 2 Hallowed Moonlight come in as well. Those also incidentally come in against tokens-based-Secure the Wastes decks.

Here is the list I played last weekend:

GW Megamorph

The 4 Valorous Stances were for Abzan Aggro and my 4 losses of the tournament were exactly that matchup. I’m just going to point out that I never drew them except the one time the guy ran Deathmist Raptors instead of Anafenzas. Speaking of which…

Abzan Aggro

I always hated this deck because of its mana base and I even quickly assumed it was the worst version of GW Megamorph. I may be wrong, but every time I play against it, they curve from 1 to 5 without having mana issues, so I have to think that it’s just a better GW Megamorph if their mana is as pristine as in a 2-color deck.

It has now won 2 major events and it probably deserves a spot alongside Jeskai Black as one of the “best decks.” Duress and Transgress the Mind both offer something GW Megamorph has a lack of—answers to combo decks.

In my early testings for the Pro Tour, Shambling Vent was phenomenal in the deck, giving a reliable target for Dromoka’s Command and Anafenza’s ability. You might not play them if you are looking to curve perfectly though.

Hangarback Walker is likely not a 4-of anymore, as much as it’s great with Anafenza, Dromoka’s Command, and Abzan Charm, but Silkwrap being maindecked is too risky. I would play some number of Snapping Gnarlid/Heir of the Wilds instead.

Going forward I wish I could play more of the format, it is incredibly healthy, fun, and has a lot of room for brews.

Thanks for reading and see you at a Grand Prix soon!


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