While I’m not the biggest fan of War of the Spark Limited, this Standard format might be the best I’ve ever played. Aggro, midrange, combo, and control are all viable archetypes. There isn’t a clear tier 1, but you can play a wide variety of decks. On top of that, there are so many great cards that it isn’t hard to tune your list to beat a certain type of deck.
We’re in week 4, and already several shifts have occurred. During week 1, Simic Nexus seemed to be the most broken and popular deck. Then Mono-Red came in strong to defeat it. As an answer to Mono-Red we saw midrange decks take over, with Hero of Precinct One in Esper Midrange, and Bant Explore with Wildgrowth Walker and God-Eternal Oketra. The week after, in order to beat on those midrange decks it was time for combo/unfair decks to take over, and the best ones to do so were planeswalker-based decks, Mass Manipulation decks that were exploiting Nissa, Who Shakes the World, and the Command the Dreadhorde deck.
The latter is my pick for the best deck at the moment, especially in light of the recent success of planeswalker-based decks.
3 Breeding Pool 4 Woodland Cemetery 3 Watery Grave 1 Drowned Catacomb 3 Temple Garden 1 Sunpetal Grove 1 Godless Shrine 4 Interplanar Beacon 4 Overgrown Tomb 2 Hinterland Harbor 4 Jadelight Ranger 2 Massacre Girl 3 Paradise Druid 4 Wildgrowth Walker 4 Merfolk Branchwalker 1 Bond of Flourishing 4 Command the Dreadhorde 4 Tamiyo, Collector of Tales 2 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria 4 Teferi, Time Raveler 2 Vraska, Golgari Queen Sideboard 2 Cast Down 3 Duress 2 Kraul Harpooner 1 Liliana, Dreadhorde General 2 Moment of Craving 1 Narset, Parter of Veils 2 The Elderspell 2 Thrashing Brontodon
This is the list that I’ve been streaming to success over the past few days. The original idea came from the Czech Republic, and it’s been quite popular on Twitch the past few days.
Some players opt for just three colors, choosing to leave Teferi at home in exchange for Hostage Taker and Hydroid Krasis. This makes for a more consistent mana base and better Mono-Red matchup, but they lose a lot of ground against the mirror or any unfair deck, which is definitely not what I want to do right now.
The matchup against Mono-Red isn’t stellar, but a deck with the explore package can never be that bad against a Lightning Strike strategy. This deck is excellent against any midrange or control deck, from Bant to Esper, to planeswalkers and Esper Control. The matchup against Nexus of Fate might be tough, but it’s definitely better here since we get access to Teferi, Time Raveler. But again, I’m not expecting Nexus of Fate at the Standard tables for a while. The metagame is very hostile to it.
This deck plays out like a planeswalker deck that has access to the explore package, which helps stop aggressive decks and to pressure planeswalkers. There’s also a combo plan with Tamiyo, Collector of Tales and Command the Dreadhorde to reanimate enough permanents to leave you in an impossible-to-lose situation.
Command isn’t where you want to be. You basically want to play Sultai Midrange. Your goal is to control the board, get to a healthy life total, and eventually win the game with your planeswalkers.
Control Decks (Esper/Grixis)
Kraul Harpooner is insurance against a Thief of Sanity or Nicol Bolas, the Ravager. I like to board in one The Elderspell versus the non-planeswalker decks. Against planeswalker decks I would sideboard the same as this, but instead of the two Kraul Harpooner I would put in the third Duress and the second The Elderspell.
Midrange Decks (Esper/Bant)
You don’t want to change your deck too much because it’s already a good matchup. You could leave in a Massacre Girl if your opponent is playing Paradise Druid, but I wouldn’t keep too many since they often just morph into a planeswalker deck post-sideboard.
Against the combo decks you want Duress, which is actually better in this deck than normal. With Tamiyo, Collector of Tales, it isn’t hard to strip your opponent’s game plan completely. I like The Elderspell versus Nissa, but I never like more than one.
That’s all for this week. I can’t wait to see how the metagame reacts to this deck. We’ll see if something shakes up the format again and puts us back at square one, or if something new emerges!