A lot has happened in Standard since we published our last tier list, including the recent Kaldheim League Weekend. The metagame has shaken up a bit, and we’re here to break it all down in this week’s tier list.
Before we dive into the list, here’s a quick refresher on the tier list grading criteria:
S Tier: Decks that are above the rest. This is normally the default “best deck in the format” and the deck(s) you should have in mind when building or picking your deck.
A Tier: Decks that are great. These decks are knocking on the door of S Tier, but they may have a small weakness that keeps them out of the upper echelon.
B Tier: Good, solid decks. You wouldn’t be surprised if a B Tier deck takes down an event, but they have bigger weaknesses or liabilities than the decks in A Tier.
C Tier: Decks that are totally fine, but not notable. These decks aren’t exactly tearing up the tournament or ladder scene, but you should expect to face them every now and then.
D Tier: Decks with strong elements, but that generally aren’t great choices compared to the rest of the format.
Without further ado, here’s the list!
S tier remains vacant. While some might argue that decks like Sultai or Mono-White belong in this spot, an S-tier deck by our definition is one that isn’t vulnerable to a metagame shift. Both Sultai and Mono-White can be exploited by other decks in the format (like Rogues, for example), and players can turn to those decks if they want an edge.
Mono-White has seen some evolution over the last two weeks. While it can still run opponents over with the right draw, the deck can now play a much more midrange-y game plan. Additionally, due to the deck’s power and popularity, players have been adopting new tech to try and break the mirror. Archon of Absolution sprang up first as a powerful pro-white answer; in response, players like Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa have started running Scalding Cauldron.
This sort of dedication in sideboards shows just how prevalent pros expected Mono-White to be during League Weekend, as well as how much they respect the deck. Many players have decided they can afford to give up two whole slots against the metagame at large so as to not be left without an answer in the mirrors. This is the deck to beat going into this weekend, and if your deck doesn’t have a plan for it yet, you need to figure it out ASAP.
This deck wasn’t really a thing two weeks ago, but it’s jumped straight into the top tiers of the format, taking over the spot held by Gruul. It’s a proactive creature deck with both a fair game plan and win-out-of-nowhere potential, which is a great place to be in this metagame.
Instead of playing Embercleave, this deck goes over the top with Unleash Fury. In combination with Kazuul’s Fury (see why it’s a Fury deck now?), you’re often able to create a giant creature and fling it at your opponent for the win. You also have cards like Showdown of the Skalds that help find all these pieces and enable them.
While this deck’s mana is a little sketchy and some hands can be awkward, it’s not a far cry from Gruul and it has a much better endgame. This deck may look like a meme, but it plays out like a dream. If you were a Gruul gamer before, try this deck out and you will be pleasantly surprised by how well it plays.
When we last checked in, I mentioned that Sultai Ultimatum’s weakness to Mono-Red and Mono-White was keeping the deck out of S-tier. Since then, things have only gotten worse for Sultai. Naya has adopted the Unleash Fury combo, which only compounds Sultai’s existing problems with aggressive decks.
At this point, it looks as though Sultai might need some updates to keep up with the recent changes in the metagame. We’ve seen players experiment with more midrange versions of this deck playing the Adventure package. While that’s certainly a step in the right direction, Sultai will need to adapt even more if it wants to return to A-tier.
Cycling decks have returned in recent weeks to combat the Sultai menace, and they also have a serviceable game plan versus the creature decks. Improbable Alliance has taken a spot in many main decks, allowing you to clog the board against creatures while also taxing your Sultai opponents’ removal. Furthermore, the deck’s ability to quickly do damage with cards like Flourishing Fox and Drannith Stinger makes its main game plan of Zenith Flaring the opponent out very reasonable and fairly well positioned.
While the deck doesn’t have too many terrible match-ups, it can suffer as more decks prepare for it. It’s a fine choice for now if you’re looking to beat up on Sultai without folding to decks like Mono-White.
While Mono-Red had a rough League Weekend, it’s still a strong deck for laddering on Arena. It’s proven its worth, and players will have to continue to respect it. Most decks have good plans for Mono-Red at the moment, but if they ever take their eyes off the ball, the deck could make a comeback.
While it has good match-ups against a few of the top decks (like Sultai and Mono-White), Rogues has struggled to adapt to the rest of the metagame changes. The deck needs some serious restructuring if it wants to compete, and the addition of Valki is just not enough.
That’s going to do it for this edition of the Arena Ladder Tier List. The format is becoming much more cyclical these days, with the best decks rotating week to week. Standard is a fun and healthy format full of choices and complex decisions about what to play on the ladder and in tournaments.
What deck are you enjoying the most? Tweet it at @masoneclark or @card_kingdom and let us know!
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.