Standard is back on the menu thanks to Dominaria United. After years of waning support, the format will take center stage at the next Regional Championship cycle. Combine that with rotation 2022 in sight and this is the most exciting time of year for Standard.
The format was previously dominated by cards like Goldspan Dragon from the day of its release. So Standard is like a breath of fresh air for so many cards, as they no longer have to compete with the mana engine and pressure that card created.
But what have players been rushing to now that we have a whole new set of cards and that pressure is gone? Let’s find out, together.
This is the first deck people tested when the Dominaria United released on Arena. It matched a style of deck from the pre-rotation format that implements some of the strongest cards added most recently.
No one who saw Liliana doubted her potential ability to be a player in the format. As for how big a player she will end up being still remains to be seen, but as of right now she has come in and made big waves. Rakdos midrange dominated the first challenge on Magic Online, taking four of the top eight spots.
Jaya is the other big planeswalker utilized in this deck. Jaya has impressed early in Standard so far and great when played right after Lily. Jaya starts to build a battlefield while also providing some solid card advantage.
The fallen flame mage is at her best in decks like this, which use a good amount of removal to keep things clear without going all in on removal, like blue/white control normally would. Jaya benefits greatly from creatures backing her up. Both planeswalkers are great in low resource games, which this deck is great at creating.
Rakdos not only makes good use of these new planeswalkers, but also some of the stronger cards in Standard. Fable of the Mirror Breaker has been player since its release last year. It allows for a very powerful late game when you set up two fables while still being great in the early game to help fix our draw.
Along those lines of former all stars, this deck also boasts The Meathook Massacre. It continues stabilizing early boards before slowly whittling the opponents down as the game goes long. Combine all these powerful cards with cheap removal and you have the level zero of the format right now.
Jund Soul of Windgrace has proven to be one of the decks that can out-grind Rakdos and do a great job of invalidating their removal thanks to the deck’s two game plans that work surprisingly well together.
The first and primary game plan is to play a traditional Jund midrange style of deck, much like the Rakdos one above. That means using good removal and good threats with some card advantage. Your colors also allow for extra options with cards like Riveteers Charm, which double as removal for hard to answer permanents.
The other part of the plan is to reanimate Titan of Industry. Typically combining these two goals is very hard to achieve, but thanks to powerful cards like Fable of the Mirror Breaker, you’re able to set this up early and also just get to hard casting the titan sooner.
You have a few other cards that help enable this, but returning even a Soul of Windgrace or a Workshop Warchief is often enough to put you in a great place. When formats are high on value and grinding, having a card like Diregraf Rebirth is a fine place to be.
Soul of Windgrace is one of the standout cards in this deck, allowing you to be able to go long and get some serious value. Windgrace allows you turn your extra lands into real payoff in a way that seems counterintuitive to your plan of casting a lot of spells and returning Titan of Industry.
However, Windgrace’s ability to bring back lands from the yard makes this all work together to form a powerful midrange threat that starts to take over anytime you get into a top deck war. After all, in midrange mirrors when one player hits a land patch, that can be the end of the game. Windgrace and Fable fixing that makes it incredibly hard for your opponents to out grind you.
This Jund deck is the current go over the top deck of the format to combat Rakdos. If you’re looking to play a long, grindy game where you’re heavily favored, this is the starting point. While there will probably be something that can go over the top of this as time goes on, it’s going to be hard for those decks not to get run over by aggressive decks in the format.
Another way to go about beating Rakdos is to take the board and go around the opponent. Naya as a deck showed up at the start of the last format, and it looks to get on the board to quickly pressure the opponent. This list maximizes Jinnie Fay with cards like Black Market Tycoon and Gala Greeter. Both cards are good, early developing plays that then allow you to quickly flood the board with cats and dogs.
While seeming incredibly small ball compared to Titan of Industry from Jund, this deck getting on the board and pressuring the opponent’s life total without being an all in aggro deck gives it the ability to put that pressure without getting outclassed as the game goes on.
Surprisingly for Standard, this is our first time talking about The Wandering Emperor. This card remains one of the best walkers in the format and a great answer to basically all the problems players present.
Trying to quickly Titan of Industry us? Exile it. Trying to go long with a grind deck? Here is an army of samurai tokens. But this card, in combination with Wedding Announcement, have been big Standard players for the last year. Let’s move onto a bigger but not so new white card that is making waves in standard.
Sanctuary Warden is your big top end card in this deck. Warden being a 5/5 flier, often with a single shield counter, makes it very hard for opponents to actually remove her from the board. This leads to her taking over the game and quickly finishing off opponents. Sanctuary Warden looks like a big, silly angel, but when you get her into play, she quickly dominates.
This is one Naya approach to solving the current dynamic in Standard, but the color has a lot of room for evolving with the format and many directions you can take to get there. You can go with both lower and bigger builds of this deck, for example. So, if you’re looking to invest into one color combination and have a lot of agency in how to build and attack a metagame, this is probably the choice for you.
Standard is in its early days, so while things seem midrange dominated right now, that doesn’t mean it will always be that way. Just get out there and explore the format, because we have seen so many interesting and unique decks pop up after only one week in with the new cards. Many more are sure to follow.
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.