Owen’s Pick of the Week for Standard

Atarka Red

Woodrow Engle, Top 4 at Grand Prix Oakland

I’ve chosen Atarka Red as my pick of the week before and this deck may have no cards from Oath of the Gatewatch in it but trust me, it’s a great choice. I know you’re thinking in your head that I’m being lazy and just picking a deck just to pick a deck, but that is absolutely false. I chose this deck for many reasons. Woodrow Engle made it all the way to the Top 4 of Grand Prix Oakland, a tournament I’ve spent a lot of time talking about largely because I practiced so much with the Rally deck beforehand, and Ben Rubin got 2nd with his EDH deck. I picked it because Woodrow actually beat me in the tournament—in round 8 I was slain from 2­1. I heard him say that he had read my article about Red/Green Landfall, and based on the content of that article—where I explained in detail that this week would be a great week to just jam 4 Temur Battle Rage and 4 Become Immense—he altered his deck list to great success.

He beat me with the combo. Why did I have to open my big mouth?

I find it so odd that people are still talking about Standard as if it isn’t outright solved. Rally has a favorable matchup against every top deck—with the exception of Atarka Red. The reason why Atarka Red isn’t the best deck is because it’s a coin flip or disadvantaged against many of the other top decks. But as a Rally player, I hate to play against this deck. I have to sideboard in 4 Arashin Cleric and 4 Murderous Cut in the hopes of being competitive, and I only feel advantaged when I have a good hand and I’ve won the die roll.

Oath of the Gatewatch should shake up Standard (or at least that’s what we’re all going to try to believe). The reality is that in the first week of new Standard, there is far more brewing going on than showing off the newest talent available. People try new cards and hope they work—that’s not a recipe for success. The best chance of performing well in a Standard tournament this weekend means having a good version of a top deck and playing well. By that I mean low curve, proactive, focused, and consistent. Atarka Red is the second-best deck in the format, it has a favorable matchup against the best deck, and playing 4 Temur Battle Rage and 4 Become Immense is clearly correct in my eyes.

If your goal is to win match after match I would recommend copying Woodrow’s list card for card, and not including any cards from Oath of the Gatewatch. None of those cards naturally slot into the deck, and if your only goal is to win, then I would go with this tried and true, proven list. You know it works and you can trust it. Why take your chances on something new? Win as much as you can while everyone else scrambles to figure out what the newest, best thing is, and worry about adapting later because you don’t have to—for now.

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