Abzan and G/R Devotion continued to rule the roost during the first week of Magic Origins Standard, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t innovation to be found with the new set! Check out some of the more unique strategies that did well last weekend at the SCG Open in Chicago.
It wasn’t too long ago (less than a year, in fact) that Ivan Floch terrorized the Standard scene with a control deck featuring Sphinx’s Revelation and Elixir of Immortality as its only win conditions. Those days are thankfully over, but some new tools may help the deck come into its own despite lackluster results since RTR block rotated. Hangarback Walker and Thopter Spy Network add an intriguing new dimension to the deck that gives it a new layer of resiliency to win long games against attrition decks. Other than that, the tried-and-true method of jamming counterspells and board wipes still seems great against the Courser of Kruphix decks dominating the scene these days, and I expect this archetype to continue to evolve before and after the Pro Tour next week.
Another deck making use of Hangarback Walker, this time in a beatdown strategy, which speaks volumes about the flexibility and power of the card on its own. Cards like Pia and Kiran Nalaar, Secure the Wastes and Brimaz give this strategy a powerful “go-wide” plan that can punish decks relying on generic spot removal to deal with its threats. There are lots of directions this deck could go moving forward, perhaps going heavier into the token theme or moving towards beefier threats to play around sweepers, but I’m optimistic about the resurgence of Chained to the Rocks decks.
As expected, the influx of powerful white cards has finally enabled a monowhite deck to become viable in Standard again. This was one of two decks that placed in the Top 64 featuring Archangel of Tithes and Knight of the White Orchid to power a Nykthos strategy. This deck has the power to beat down if necessary with cheap, efficient bodies, while also thriving in the late game with the big-mana package. This strikes me as the sort of deck that people just wanted to try out in the first week of the format, so we’ll have to wait a few weeks to see if this will actually be good enough to be a contender for the next few months.
This deck looks odd on paper for sure. It’s like the top-end of a RDW deck mashed with a Dragons package, with Pia and Kiran Nalaar bridging the gap between the two. This looks to me like a collection of the most powerful red cards in the format, many of which just happen to play well with one another. Here we also see an appearance by Foundry of the Consuls in the land slot to mitigate flood, a nice addition that I could see many monocolored decks adopting in the future. Will this version of Monored prove to be better than the strictly aggressive version? We’ll have to wait and find out.
Here we have the first appearance of Herald of the Pantheon in Standard, doing basically what it was expected to do: power out Coursers and Eidolons to give Constellation decks some much-needed speed. The numbers in this decklist look strange to me…Nylea, Erebos and Herald of Torment are sort of at odds with the rest of the deck’s strategy. It’s clear that this particular list is rather unrefined and could use tweaking, but the high finish alludes to the power of the strategy. We’ll surely be seeing more of this deck in the future.
This convoluted contraption was the talk of the town on Day 1, as the deck started an impressive 8-0 before settling for a Top 64 finish. Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy is perfect in this shell, allowing you to fill your graveyard early and rebuy important spells later (specifically, Rally the Ancestors). Nantuko Husk and Grim Haruspex is another unlikely tag-team allowing you to sift through your deck and accumulate value when you haven’t found all your combo pieces yet. Who knows if this deck is even good or if it’s just a whacky flash in the pan? I’m definitely trying it out ASAP either way.
This deck had a mediocre showing on Day 2, but the fact that it even made it that far is impressive in and of itself. Ignoring the fact that this list was more or less taken directly from an Ali Aintrazi article, there are some fascinating interactions at work here. For one, Sphinx’s Tutelage is a surprisingly resilient win condition, coming down early and putting a serious clock on the opponent to do something before they deck themselves. Dictate of Kruphix really shines here, giving the deck a draw engine late to enable the Fogs to keep coming and to make the mill clock even faster by giving your opponents more useless cards. I’m sure the numbers aren’t all correct yet, but given some tweaking this strategy could actually be competitive.