Standard is back in full swing with the upcoming round of Regional Championships centered on the format. With all eyes on preparing for high level Standard gameplay, the question on everyone’s mind has to be: am I going to have fun playing?
Standard is incredibly healthy right now. There are Combo, Tempo, Midrange and Aggro decks all doing well despite multiple weeks of results and a decent amount of pressure to solve the format. If you loved the standard of old, this is the format for you.
Today we are going to be going over three of the better looking decks in the format to help give players a jumping off point for the RCs. However, that doesn’t mean these are the only decks you can play. We’ll take a closer look at other contenders as the season continues.
This is the default answer most players will give you for the best deck in the format right now. Even the players who are not on Grixis can’t deny both its solid performances and ability to adapt to the metagame.
Grixis has the tools to beat just about any deck in Standard if it comes with the right set of them for the weekend. This is the eternal struggle for midrange decks with so many options, and it’s something we see Murktide and Rakdos deal with in Modern and Pioneer.
This problem is exacerbated in Standard right now. With the format being so healthy, players can zig and zag on you like they can in older formats with more powerful card pools.
On a related note, Grixis has some of the best mana value to output ratios in the format. Cards like Fable of the Mirror-Breaker have dominated multiple 60-card constructed formats for the last year, but its power really shines in Standard. In this format, the smoothing and card selection is not something you can get from many other cards at such a low cost.
Playing games consistently and casting your spells on curve is one thing players can’t overvalue enough, and when combined with the Reflection of Kiki-Jiki at the saga’s end, you’re left with one of the strongest Standard cards. Now consider that this deck is chock full of cards of that quality.
This archetype is a well oiled machine, as players have refined it for some time now. That also means it’s a bit of an outlier on results.
It’s fully possible there are other decks you can play, even of the Midrange variety, that are just under explored. We’ll need some events to see how that shakes out, but Grixis will be a player in Standard no matter what. All that matters is whether it will be the top dog.
Among the underexplored archetypes, this one has been getting the most attention as players try to figure it out.
Some are leaning into cards like Elesh Norn and Archangel of Wrath combined with other enter-the-battlefield effects to overwhelm players. Some have been playing The Cruelty of Gix to reanimate Atraxa. Both are very strong and compelling strategies, but ultimately ones I am not going to talk about today.
That isn’t because I think they are bad, but because I wanted to highlight a different strategy.
Mardu Tokens is a strategy that looks to go wide on the opponent and invalidate a lot of the best cards in standard. We talked about how Abrade and Go for the Throat cover a lot of threats in Standard. Well, this deck often makes you feel foolish for playing those cards in the first place since your most common targets are tiny tokens.
Mondrak is the card that rewards your token payoffs the most. This card, when your opponents lack exile-based removal, is going to completely run over the game. Doubling all the tokens you can produce means opponents will fall behind in no time.
Of course, the cards you’re using to make tokens don’t need Mondrak to be powerful. This Dominus just super charges them. Wedding Announcement, The Wandering Emperor and Fable of the Mirror breaker are already three of the biggest players in standard, and they benefit immensely from Mondrak. The other secret mode of Mondrak is just turning into an indestructible 4/4 — a huge buyout clause on your synergy heavy card.
Ultimately, that is the trick to this deck. Despite being a tokens deck, you are just playing a bunch of solid cards and with a few Mondrak to turbo charge your draws.
This deck is still in its early phases of development, but VTCLA has given us a great start. Seeing where this and other Midrange piles grow will be an interesting development to track for the coming weeks.
The format is not all Midrange mirrors, because Mono red is back on the menu after not being a huge part of the format for the last year. We finally hit a critical mass of playable red cards and a friendly format environment. Yoman5, a popular deck creator, even split the finals of the weekend challenge playing this deck.
Mono red is trying to go underneath this Standard arms race that everyone is engaging with. Opponent trying to grind you down? No better way to stop them than by killing them on turn four.
This deck has all Haste creatures, which means you can quickly apply pressure to your opponent and put them on the back foot, punishing any stumble. That is the hallmark sign of a good red deck, and it helps when you can also keep up if your opponent tries to interact with your plan.
Squee is the first threat that can help rebuild if your opponent is throwing down speed bumps. Dominaria’s favorite goblin instantly makes your board wider while giving you a great mana sink in the mid to late game, which is something these red decks are always hungry for.
While Squee is not Experimental Frenzy, it’s the best this deck has. And honestly, it’s often more than enough to really put your opponent in a bad spot.
Thundering Raiju is the other big threat in this deck. Raiju coming down and often representing four damage forces your opponent to continuously leave up interaction for these bigger cards while still getting pressure early.
This can lead to incredibly awkward pinches for your opponent’s mana use and development since a single Raiju hit can often be the difference between winning and losing. The extra burn this deck packs, plus cards like Bloodthirsty Adversary, gives you even more reach to close out games.
This red deck doesn’t look as flashy as the other two decks we covered today, but it’s one of the better options in Standard — incredibly fast, punishing and consistent. This mono red deck is especially here to stay if players do not start respecting it.
We are quite early into the Standard lifecycle of All Will Be One, but it is looking to be a great format. So, even if you’re not competing in the Regional Championships, consider giving this format a chance. It’s deep, fun and has a wide variety of decks you can play.
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.