While we don’t have an abundance of data right now, even the few results we have offer important lessons. Despite the high power level of sets such as War of the Spark, Throne of Eldraine looks set to have a major impact on Standard. I think it’s fair to say there’s been a bit of a push in power level over the last few Standard sets, so it’s unsurprising to see new cards immediately burst onto the scene.
Based on the initial impressions we have of this new Standard format, a few key cards are emerging as pillars of central archetypes. We already knew Knight of the Ebon Legion was very powerful, and even without its vampire brethren, it’s still getting it done post-rotation. Similarly, Teferi, Time Raveler isn’t going anywhere, and is supporting fresh twists on old archetypes.
Finally, Oko, Thief of Crowns has well and truly made his mark on Standard already. Food-based strategies have already put up good numbers, and Oko working alongside cards such as Gilded Goose and Wicked Wolf enables a powerful, proactive gameplan that can be executed very swiftly indeed. Let’s get into some lists!
Knight of the Ebon Legion
Knight of the Ebon Legion hits hard and fast and puts immediate and very real pressure on an opponent as early as turn one. It’s no surprise to see it crop up in new aggressive decks, paired with red for maximum speed and pressure. Martin Juza took advantage of some of the most aggressive cards in Standard with his take on Rakdos Aggro in a recent Fandom Legends event.
Rakdos Aggro by Martin Juza
10 Swamp (339) 4 Blood Crypt 1 Castle Locthwain 8 Mountain (343) 4 Bonecrusher Giant/Stomp 4 Dreadhorde Butcher 4 Gutterbones 4 Knight of the Ebon Legion 4 Murderous Rider/Swift End 3 Rankle, Master of Pranks 4 Robber of the Rich 4 Rotting Regisaur 4 Spawn of Mayhem 2 Lava Coil Sideboard 4 Duress 3 Experimental Frenzy 2 Lava Coil 3 Legion's End 3 Noxious Grasp
This deck gets in very quickly with a stack of haste creatures, many of which provide extra value in addition to clipping in for damage. Dreadhorde Butcher can remove creatures or planeswalkers on its way out, while Robber of the Rich provides steady card advantage. Rankle, Master of Pranks is an evasive hasty beater that can also work to disrupt the opponent–as you’ll often be hellbent with this deck, it can tear apart opposing hands as a juiced-up Hypnotic Specter.
A really important aspect of this deck is how little it has to compromise for interaction. Between Murderous Rider and Bonecrusher Giant, most of this deck’s removal is stapled onto efficient creatures (not to mention Rankle’s sacrifice effect). I don’t know if this deck is “finished,” by any means, but even this week-one offering is a powerful marriage of speed and interaction.
Moving away from the more aggressive side of things, Knight of the Ebon Legion is also appearing in more midrange-oriented strategies. Despite its potency as an aggressive turn-one play, it can also put in work in a slower deck with plenty of mana to sink into it. Both Huey Jensen and Shahar Shenhar favored a slower approach that brought in some powerful green cards instead of the more aggressive red.
Golgari Midrange, bu Huey Jensen
4 Overgrown Tomb 1 Castle Locthwain 2 Fabled Passage 7 Forest (347) 6 Swamp (339) 4 Temple of Malady 4 Growth-Chamber Guardian 4 Knight of the Ebon Legion 4 Murderous Rider/Swift End 4 Paradise Druid 4 Questing Beast 1 Rankle, Master of Pranks 4 Rotting Regisaur 4 Spawn of Mayhem 4 Once Upon a Time 3 The Great Henge Sideboard 3 Assassin's Trophy 4 Duress 1 Finale of Eternity 2 Noxious Grasp 1 Thrashing Brontodon 2 Veil of Summer 2 Witch's Vengeance
Clearly, this deck is more interested in a slower, more value-oriented approach. The suite of powerful black cards–Knight of the Ebon Legion, Murderous Rider, Spawn of Mayhem–is bolstered by green support cards such as Paradise Druid and Once Upon a Time, as well as the excellent The Great Henge. You can follow up a Rotting Regisaur with a two-mana Henge, then immediately deploy something like a Growth-Chamber Guardian!
This deck is a classic midrange list that will have decent game against archetypes of all kinds, especially post-board with a range of anti-control options. Duress and Veil of Summer are still sideboard all-stars, while Assassin’s Trophy is a tried-and-true answer to more or less anything you can think of. I like this deck a lot and wouldn’t be surprised to see it continue to do work in the coming weeks.
Teferi, Time Raveler
Field of the Dead made a grand entrance into Standard thanks to its synergy with Scapeshift and even though Scapeshift has departed, Field of the Dead isn’t going anywhere. Bryan Gottlieb showed us all just how strong this card is, winning the Fandom Caster’s Cup last week–supported, of course, by the Time Raveler himself.
Bant Ramp by Bryan Gottlieb
1 Blossoming Sands 1 Boros Guildgate 2 Breeding Pool 1 Castle Vantress 2 Fabled Passage 4 Field of the Dead 2 Forest (347) 1 Golgari Guildgate 2 Hallowed Fountain 2 Island (335) 1 Izzet Guildgate 1 Plains (331) 1 Plaza of Harmony 1 Selesnya Guildgate 1 Simic Guildgate 2 Temple Garden 1 Temple of Malady 1 Temple of Mystery 1 Tranquil Cove 4 Arboreal Grazer 4 Golos, Tireless Pilgrim 4 Realm-Cloaked Giant/Cast Off 4 Hydroid Krasis 4 Circuitous Route 4 Growth Spiral 4 Once Upon a Time 4 Teferi, Time Raveler Sideboard 2 Aether Gust 2 Deputy of Detention 3 Knight of Autumn 1 March of the Multitudes 2 Negate 1 Planar Cleansing 1 Time Wipe 1 Unmoored Ego 2 Veil of Summer
Teferi plays a critical role in this deck. We all know by now just how good the card is, but making your deck counterspell-proof while trying to resolve big sorcery-speed cards such as Circuitous Route and Hydroid Krasis is only part of the utility Teferi provides. Paired with the all-new Realm-Cloaked Giant, Teferi allows you bounce your own Giant in order to get the sweeper effect again, if needed–and, don’t forget, at instant speed!
Golos, I suppose, is the real centerpiece of this deck, and explains the red and black sources in the mana base. He fetches your Field of the Dead and continues to provide value by being a place to dump all that mana. Even without the one-turn kill potential offered by Scapeshift, this deck is still ready to rumble and clearly has what it takes to meaningfully contest the Standard format.
The Bant list wasn’t the only time Gottlieb crushed it with Teferi, however. Just days previous, he also won another Fandom event, that time with an Esper deck based around Dance of the Manse. While on the face of it, it’s a pretty classic control deck, there are a lot of other things going on here, once again bolstered by the presence of Teferi, Time Raveler.
Esper Dance by Bryan Gottlieb
4 Hallowed Fountain 4 Godless Shrine 4 Watery Grave 4 Temple of Silence 1 Castle Vantress 3 Fabled Passage 1 Island (335) 2 Swamp (339) 2 Plains (331) 2 Murderous Rider/Swift End 3 Dance of the Manse 3 Doom Foretold 1 Dovin's Veto 4 Golden Egg 4 Guild Globe 4 Kaya's Wrath 1 Legion's End 4 Oath of Kaya 1 Planar Cleansing 4 Teferi, Time Raveler 3 Thought Erasure 1 Wishclaw Talisman Sideboard 2 Ashiok, Dream Render 1 Cry of the Carnarium 2 Disenchant 1 Disfigure 2 Dovin's Veto 2 Duress 1 Legion's End 1 Realm-Cloaked Giant/Cast Off 2 The Elderspell 1 Unmoored Ego
Teferi does it all in this deck. There’s all the usual nonsense, making Kaya’s Wrath an instant-speed sweeper and the like, but his interaction with some new Throne of Eldraine cards takes it to the next level. Not only can he bounce a Murderous Rider to get the Hero’s Downfall effect a second time, he can also turn Wishclaw Talisman into a three-mana Demonic Tutor!
Dance of the Manse has a Sphinx’s Revelation-type feel to it in this deck, bringing back Guild Globes and Golden Eggs to draw cards (again, at instant speed thanks to Teferi), as well as winning the game in the long run. Eventually you’ll have eight mana to dump into the card, which will mean your army of 4/4s should seal the deal. If this is what Esper Control looks like in Standard now, Teferi is going to be a hugely important card moving forward.
Oko, Thief of Crowns
Oko, of course, incentivizes and rewards Food-based strategies, and is generally paired with Gilded Goose and Wicked Wolf as a starting point. From there, we’ve seen all sorts of different takes, but the general thrust of them is the same–they’re big mana decks that go over the top with cards like Hydroid Krasis. While there’s a broad consensus on 60-70% of the cards in decks like these, I was very interested to see Caleb Durward’s approach to Oko, teaming the new planeswalker up an all-you-can-eat Food buffet.
Simic Food by Caleb Durward
4 Breeding Pool 4 Castle Garenbrig 4 Temple of Mystery 5 Island (335) 8 Forest (347) 4 Arboreal Grazer 4 Gilded Goose 1 Paradise Druid 4 Wicked Wolf 4 Feasting Troll King 4 Hydroid Krasis 3 Nissa, Who Shakes the World 4 Oko, Thief of Crowns 4 Once Upon a Time 2 Golden Egg 1 Trail of Crumbs Sideboard 2 Aether Gust 2 Negate 2 Questing Beast 1 Return to Nature 4 Shifting Ceratops 1 Thrashing Brontodon 3 Veil of Summer
The core of this deck is Oko’s ability to churn out Food tokens, which can then be fed to the Goose for mana or to the Wolf to blast opposing creatures. Feasting Troll King, too, benefits from the smorgasbord as a huge, recursive threat. There are also tons of just generically good cards, like Hydroid Krasis and Nissa, Who Shakes the World.
You can see how deep Durward went on the Food mechanic, even including Golden Egg and Trail of Crumbs. It makes sense, as without Food tokens you’re playing one-mana 0/2s and weird Prey Upons, so doing all you can to support the engine is probably a good call. I do wonder if Arboreal Grazer would be better as extra Paradise Druids, however.
Garruk, Cursed Huntsman, has to be amongst the most powerful cards in Standard, not just Throne of Eldraine. Even on his own, he’s incredibly strong–but what about when you start exploiting some of the synergies present in other standard cards? If we’re making Wolves, then we should play Tolsimir and Wicked Wolf–and if we’re playing Wicked Wolf, then why not play Oko?
Four-Color Wolves by Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa
4 Breeding Pool 2 Temple Garden 2 Overgrown Tomb 1 Godless Shrine 1 Hallowed Fountain 4 Fabled Passage 7 Forest (347) 1 Plains (331) 1 Swamp (339) 1 Island (335) 4 Curious Pair/Treats to Share 4 Gilded Goose 4 Nightpack Ambusher 4 Paradise Druid 4 Wicked Wolf 3 Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves 4 Once Upon a Time 4 Oko, Thief of Crowns 3 Garruk, Cursed Huntsman 2 The Great Henge Sideboard 4 Devout Decree 1 Find/Finality 3 Negate 2 Nissa, Who Shakes the World 3 Thrashing Brontodon 2 Veil of Summer
This is basically a mono-green deck splashing three colors to make the most of the Wolf synergies between Garruk and Tolsimir, all backed up by Oko and his food engine. Once again, the “Food Package” of Oko, Gilded Goose, and Wicked Wolf shows up here, which doesn’t just support the Wolf theme–it also allows Gilded Goose to help with the mana requirements of this deck. There’s even Curious Pair, to ensure we’ve got Food tokens at the ready!
These cards are all individually powerful, and so exploiting the synergies between them only pushes this deck further over the top. Playing an indestructible Wicked Wolf when you’ve got Tolsimir, for example, means it can take out two opposing creatures–that’s huge! And when your top-end is Garruk and The Great Henge, there aren’t a lot of decks that will be able to keep up. This deck rules.
There’s still lots to learn
This is just a taste of what’s to come in this brand-new Standard format we have. It’s terrific to see new Throne of Eldraine cards making a big impact from day one (this isn’t always the case), and I’m excited to see what new things we’ll see in the coming weeks!