Standard is back in the spotlight now that we are done with Regional Championship 1, almost making it feel like back in the day when the format was what the majority of competitive players cared about. To remind players of what the format is like and help them get ready for upcoming RCQs, we are going over three of the best decks in Standard!
This deck is built to beat up on all the Midrange decks, which is good news considering the state of the tournament metagame. And while Blue/red control is an archetype we have seen at multiple points in Magic’s history, no decks have looked like this. This list uses Powerstones and other artifact mana generating cards to skip some of the mid game and jump straight to Cityscape Leveler and Skitterbeam Battalion.
Pioneer and Modern players are starting to see Leveler in Ramp decks (Mono Green Devotion and Tron, respectively), but this eight-mana juggernaut hadn’t broken until now due to its high mana cost. Yet once resolved, this creature will quickly take over any game if not answered on the spot.
As an 8/8 that destroys an opponent’s best card every turn is a very large hurdle to overcome. Additionally, while players have struggled to answer the variety of permanent types plaguing Standard, that is not a problem with Leveler on tap.
Meanwhile, Skitterbeam Battalion just generates a strong board presence with relatively little effort, forcing your opponent to expend cards to stop it. And since it provides so much value by itself, you can justify more one-for-one cards in the deck. Skitterbeam seems a bit like a meme, but after one game of trading resources for a bit, you can quickly see its strength.
Stern Lesson offering both a card selection and a way to get to five mana sooner is huge for this deck. Much like every Standard, red deck, this one also plays Fable of the Mirror-Breaker — so there are eight ways to jump ahead on mana (and this one can’t be stopped by a traditional removal spell).
Speaking of removal, this deck is chock full of one for ones that can stop all the cards designed to go the distance if left unchecked. Considering there are many such cards in the format at the moment, the ability to answer all the key threats you may face before jamming your own cards is a strong and viable strategy.
This deck is the best control deck in Standard. You’re able to actually win games (which is often a bottleneck for the deck’s competitors) and you can answer most everything important your opponent is trying to accomplish. If you’re tired of the Midrange grindfest, this is a strong choice.
Following along with our theme, Mardu is the Midrange deck that beats up other Midrange decks. While not as great against the more fringe decks of the format, if you’re only playing against Grixis Midrange, this is the deck for you. It has many of the same tools as the Grixis deck with a few additional haymakers that make that matchup easy for the Mardu player.
First up is Wedding Announcement, which creates a small army in a can, forcing players to expend resources on the tokens it produces. In matchups like Grixis, once this card flips, the tokens become too relevant to one-for-one you to death.
Also, the added power can sometimes invalidate cards like Cut Down and create situations where your creatures win the head to head or the race. And in some games, Wedding Announcement is just such hard card advantage that your opponent falls behind on cards even while getting attacked with multiple creatures.
Otherwise, Rite of Oblivion provides a powerful, catch-all removal only available to black decks that splash white, allowing for easy answers to cards like Sheoldred. Plus, while on the topic of cards that must be answered, Serra Paragon is the other option this deck runs!
If you can untap with a Paragon or a Sheredold, you are in a great place going into the final turns of the game. Your opponents are going to be hard pressed to catch up if they couldn’t answer those threats in the first place.
There is even some synergy here, as cards like Rite of Oblivion can sacrifice our Wedding Announcement, which we can replay with Serra Paragon to start getting more value if the anthem effect isn’t good enough.
And that’s not the only angel this deck has that’s huge in these matchups. Archangel of Wrath is a nice sideboard card that, while currently isn’t seeing a ton of play, is a card that can get a huge edge in the fair matchups
This is the boogie man of the format. If you have played this Standard format at all, you have played against this deck. It has strong, cheap removal, strong bodies that generate advantage and the ability to change its sideboard for almost any problem presented. This flexibility is the reason you can always expect Grixis to be a fine choice for an event.
While the deck can adapt to anything going on, players can catch it off guard. Like most Midrange decks, if players figure out how to attack Grixis lists in a novel way, they will likely have success for at least that weekend. It’s not until the player/hivemind deems the matchup bad enough that they add some tools to help solve the problem.
Still, this ability to adapt to what people are doing and force them to change again is the hallmark of a great Standard deck. As for the real details, this deck has been covered to death in Standard content, so I won’t waste your time. If you’re looking for a solid deck to crush with, this is the deck for you. It’s strong, it’s resilient and it’s the default safest choice.
Hopefully today’s article helped you pick the Standard deck for you. As we approach San Diego for the Regional Championship, all eyes will be turning to Standard — so at least you’ll be ready to dive in! Be sure to let me know how your events turn out, too, on Twitter.
Mason Clark is a grinder in every corner of the game who has played at the pro level and on the SCG Tour with Team Nova. Whether he’s competing in Standard, Historic or Modern, Mason plays with one goal in mind: to be a better player than he was the day before. Check out his podcast, Constructed Criticism, and catch his streams on Twitch.