We are a couple of weeks into the new Standard season now, and hot on the heels of the World Championship. We’ve had a few events so far, including a big SCG Online Qualifier last weekend, but there’s still a lot of exploration to do. It’s the perfect time to kick off a new season of tier lists for Standard! Here’s our latest list:
Before we dive into the decks, I want to quickly address how extreme this metagame is. Long story short, it’s incredibly challenging to deal with the endgame of Alrund’s Epiphany decks while also respecting the pressure the green decks put on in the early game. These two decks are the best in the format, and they pull you in two very different directions. It’s possible a permission-based midrange deck could end up being a third tent pole of the format, but that remains to be seen.
Without further ado, let’s dive in, starting with the best decks in the format.
It’s hard to argue against Mono-Green being the deck to beat in current Standard. It didn’t just win the SCG event last weekend — 10 of the top 12 players were on it. That’s an incredible feat, and I expect this deck to continue to perform well over the coming weeks. It has plenty of pressure with resilient threats that scale well into the late game. Green also does a great job sidestepping a lot of the removal that Izzet is currently playing. This deck excels at presenting a clock and fighting through removal — what more could you want from a beatdown deck?
This deck may be less popular than the all-in Epiphany version (which we’ll cover later), but I think it’s slightly better positioned against the green decks. Dragon’s Fire goes a long way in putting this deck in a good position; you have more answers to early threats and more ways to deal four damage, which is crucial given the number of four-toughness threats in the format right now. This deck might fall lower on the list if the other decks can adapt to Mono-Green, but for now, superior removal and Goldspan Dragon have it in A tier.
This deck has become the boogeyman of the format, and players are clamoring for a ban. It can effectively control the board and prolong games, then win by casting Galvanic Iteration on Alrund’s Epiphany. Ideally, you’ll even cast two Galvanic’s, which will result in three extra turns. The deck is the ultimate top end of the format, and nothing goes bigger.
So, you may be wondering, why is this deck only in B tier? For starters, this deck can be a bit weak to Mono-Green. It currently uses Burn Down the House as its board wipe of choice, but it can sometimes be outclassed by Mono-Green, thanks to cards like Ranger Class and Snakeskin Veil. Izzet Epiphany also hasn’t widely adopted Demon Bolt in the 75, making Burn Down the House the only way to cleanly answer four-toughness creatures. These two problems combine to make Mono-Green a challenging match-up.
The other big problem is the high cost of endgame cards and a lack of free wins. To set up its winning line, this deck needs 8-10 mana — and that’s the best case scenario. That’s a very large ask, especially when other decks in the format are applying so much pressure. In contrast, Izzet Dragons gets a fair amount of “free” wins: just answer your opponent’s stuff, play an early Goldspan Dragon, and ride it to victory with a single extra turn. While I can see Epiphany eventually overcoming some of these hurdles, it’s going to take a bit of time.
This is the dark horse of the list in a lot of players’ eyes. Mono-White can apply quick pressure to Epiphany decks with some soft disruption in the form of Reidane and Elite Spellbinder. Against Mono-Green, you hope to fly over with cards like Maul of the Skyclaves, or just play the long game.
Mono-White is really looking to capitalize on the high cost of removal in the format — and, in my mind, that’s a great strategy. That being said, the deck lacks the raw power level that we’ve seen in green and Izzet. It might be a good metagame call, so long as your Izzet opponents aren’t bringing cards like Cinderclasm.
Grixis Epiphany looks like it’ll be a major player in the World Championship this weekend, so I’d be remiss not to include it. It looks to trump Epiphany mirrors by using black disruption spells and Lier, Disciple of the Drowned. Lier lets us reuse our discard spells to strip opponents of “extra turn” cards, and it allows Alrund’s Epiphany to be uncounterable. The removal spells are also great against creature decks like Mono-Green and Mono-White.
This deck wasn’t on my radar before the Worlds decks leaked on Tuesday, so I’m tentatively putting it in B tier. After this weekend, we’ll know much more about this deck — and the rest of the format, for that matter.
The rules of engagement have been set for this Standard format, and they’ll be even clearer after Worlds this weekend. Now, it’s your turn to figure out if you want to go with the crowd or try to pivot and exploit the metagame. Tweet at me at @masoneclark and let me know what you’re playing!
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.