Week in Review – Ugin, Stance, Mentor, and Tasigur Debut

This new column is going to be a new weekly feature, a digest of the previous weekend. I’ll be covering the general metagame, breakout decks, and which decks are rising and falling from week to week. Since this is the first week of a new format, there won’t be any general deck rankings. Let’s begin!

SCG Open Top 64 Archetype Breakdown

Jeskai Tokens: 9
Boros Aggro: 9
Mardu Midrange: 7
Abzan Midrange: 7
Jeskai Aggro: 4
U/B Control: 4
Abzan Aggro: 4
Sidisi Whip: 3
Sultai Control: 3
Temur Monsters: 2
Rhino Reanimator: 2
Azorius Heroic: 2
Golgari Constellation: 2
UW Heroic: 2
Other: 4

Weekly Trends and Considerations

Abzan persists: The more things change, the more Rhinos stay the same. The Top 8 had seven different archetypes and the Top 4 had four. Siege Rhino had three showings out of the Top 8 decks, but all that really says is that Abzan didn’t get edged out by the big additions to Boros and Jeskai.

RW on top: RWx Aggro decks ruled the roost though, putting up nearly 1/3rd of the total decks in the Top 64. Valorous Stance was a huge boon and is seeing play in practically every deck with white. Not only does Stance provide an answer to Siege Rhino and Courser of Kruphix but it helps against the more removal-heavy, controlling strategies as well. Whether you prefer two-colors or going Neapolitan with your deck, all of them share the same core strategy.

They all run a suite of efficient spot-removal and burn spells, aggressively-costed 2-and 3-drops, and the curve dropped. While you may still see a Stormbreath Dragon or Wingmate Roc out of these decks, the majority of the curve sits at 3 or less. The plan against Ugin strategies simply seems to be going under them and winning before the Spirit Dragon takes the field. While there’s a smattering of countermagic in the Jeskai builds, there don’t look to be any major considerations for him.

Ugin: On the flipside, most of the midrange and slower decks in the Top 64 definitely considered Ugin. Not only did plenty of controlling and ramp decks run the massive planeswalker, many even teched against opposing Ugins with Garruk, Apex Predator. Garruk finally has worthy game to hunt to justify his massive mana cost, being one of the most efficient ways to clear out an Ugin and keep a relevant threat in the aftermath.

Go big or go small: While midrange decks were present, it looks like the decks going over the top with Ugin and the boost to more aggressively-positioned Boros and Jeskai decks may push these out of the metagame. Most notably, the Whip decks took a big hit this weekend, and the first Whip of Erebos deck that makes an appearance is in 17th place. At a minimum, they’ll need to adapt to this format as they can no longer rely on outlasting their opponent either via life gain or Whip of Erebos recursion.

I highly recommend teching your reanimator plans either lower to the ground to take advantage of aggressive delve starts, or run Ugin and proper countermeasures to opposing Ugins.

Major Cards from Fate Reforged

Some have pegged Tasigur as the best card from the set while nearly everyone else had him pegged as at least playable and worth a shot in Whip decks.

Not only did it end up being one of the most popular cards of the weekend, but it definitely had a heavy impact in a number of the on-camera matches. Four of the decks in the Top 8 featured Tasigur and the price has already spiked. For once a card has lived up to the hype, how fortunate!

Everyone expected Monastery Mentor to be great and while I don’t know if it lived up to the lofty amount of hype, it certainly showed up and did some work. While the best shell needs to still be sorted out, I’m unsurprised that Jeskai and Boros decks were some of the most popular decks in the top finishers.

Valorous Stance may actually have been the overall best of all the cards, showing up in nearly every single deck that had even a bit of white in there. In essence the Stance is a new charm for these decks, only two modes, and one less mana.

Ugin, the Spirit Dragon has also seemingly lived up to the hype as a major game-changer. As mentioned above, its power against the various Whip decks becomes rather obvious. As was predicted by many, this planeswalker is going to be a major focal point of the new format and any slower deck needs to work out a plan for dealing with Ugin.

Deck of the Weekend

Temur Ascendancy Combo, Matt Toepfner, 11th at SCG: DC

Our deck of the week is the most unique of all the decks from the weekend. We’ve seen Jeskai Ascendancy combo, we’re seen Jeskai Heroic and now we have another Ascendancy combo. Temur Ascendancy! Here the combo is Temur Ascendancy, Voyaging Satyr, Temur Sabertooth, and Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx.

Thanks to Temur Sabertooth and Temur Ascendancy, your Voyaging Satyr can untap Nykthos, return to the hand and then be recast to untap Nykthos again. As long as Nykthos can generate 7 mana you’ll net one mana on each iteration of the loop.

At that point, once you have infinite mana you can play and recast any 4-power creature to draw your deck via Ascendancy or use Eidolon of Blossoms to do the same thing. Draw and put your deck into play, monstrous Polukranos to clear the board, and attack for lethal. If you watched the coverage, you may have seen another build of the deck utilizing Karametra’s Acolyte as an additional mana source to go off with.

What separates this iteration from other cute infinite mana attempts in Standard is that it only utilizes a small handful of less powerful cards. Neither Temur Ascendancy or Temur Sabertooth are outright embarrassing and everything else could realistically see play in a normal Temur deck.

In essence you cut a few assorted critters from Temur Monsters in exchange for this infinite mana combo. While it may end up as a one-tournament deck, it leaves an interesting shell for deckbuilders to refine.

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