Standard Update: Tribal Decks on the Rise

Emma Partlow and Ahren GauthierStandard

A couple of weeks ago saw the “first” ever Mythic Championship, and what an event it was! History was made as Autumn Burchett took the trophy with Mono-Blue Tempo, and we warned you, the deck is good!

Although the Standard meta at the event was predictable for the most part, there were plenty of successful rogue brews. This week, we’re looking back at Mythic Championship Cleveland to see what’s on the horizon for a few notable tribes in Standard.

Simic Merfolk

Although Nexus of Fate, Mono-Blue Tempo and Sultai Midrange dominated Mythic Championship Cleveland, diversity and deck creativity was still prevalent. An example of this is Raphael Levy’s Simic Merfolk deck, which earned him an 8-2 Constructed record.

4 Benthic Biomancer
2 Merfolk Trickster
4 Jade Bearer
4 Kumena’s Speaker
4 Merfolk Mistbinder
4 Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca
4 Silvergill Adept
4 Deeproot Elite
4 Incubation // Incongruity
4 Deeproot Waters
5 Forest
5 Island
4 Unclaimed Territory
4 Hinterland Harbor
4 Breeding Pool

1 Merfolk Trickster
2 Disdainful Stroke
4 Negate
1 Crushing Canopy
2 Tempest Caller
4 Kraul Harpooner
1 Spell Pierce

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Tribal decks have a long long history in Magic, and Merfolk are one of the oldest and most beloved. Ixalan added the powerful new one-drop, Kumena’s Speaker, Merfolk Mistbinder as key two-mana lord, and Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca as an strong draw engine.

Prior to the release of Ravnica Allegiance, Merfolk lacked a density of one mana threats. Now, Benthic Biomancer is an essential component of the deck. It taps into the existing +1/+1 counter synergies from the Ixalan Merfolk, most notably Jade Bearer and Deeproot Elite, to “go tall” on a single threat while providing card filtering. Biomancer also helps enable a “go wide” strategy when cast after a Deeproot Waters to start the march of hexproof tokens to power up Kumena or beat down with a Mistbinder or two in play.

If you are expecting a room full of Sultai, Merfolk is a great choice. Beware of removal heavy decks, especially Chainwhirlers and Lava Coil decks that can destroy your 2/4 Kumena. Since Levy’s performance at the MC, the metagame has started leaning more toward Gruul Aggro, which is very difficult to win against. Mono-Blue remains popular as well and their evasive threats combined with Curious Obsession and Essence Capture are usually a bridge too far.

Overall, Merfolk is an inexpensive but customizable and fun meta call that could be adjusted to combat shifting opposition, if you’re inclined to put the work in.

Mardu Aggro

Meanwhile, Joe Soh presented an aggressive take of Orzhov Vampires, which resulted in a ninth-place finish at the Mythic Championship.

4 Venerated Loxodon
4 Judith, the Scourge Diva
4 Legion Lieutenant
4 Duskborne Skymarcher
4 Skymarcher Aspirant
4 Vicious Conquistador
4 Dusk Legion Zealot
2 Mavren Fein, Dusk Apostle
1 Cast Down
1 Unbreakable Formation
4 Legion’s Landing
3 Conclave Tribunal
4 Unclaimed Territory
4 Godless Shrine
4 Isolated Chapel
4 Sacred Foundry
2 Blood Crypt
1 Swamp
2 Plains

2 Cast Down
4 Duress
3 Champion of Dusk
1 Ixalan’s Binding
1 Swamp
1 Lyra Dawnbringer
1 Mortify

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The Orzhov Vampires decks of last year’s Standard leaned on cards such as Radiant Destiny and Oketra’s Monument to offer value and to overwhelm the board in previous iterations of the archetype. Now, the inclusion of Judith, Scourge Diva allows a more aggressive approach with protection from sweepers such as Kaya’s Wrath.

Mardu Aggro includes sixteen one-drops (if you count Legion’s Landing), allowing an aggressive curve and offering maximum value from an Adanto, the First Fort. These one-drops also synergize well with Convoke cards, such as Venerated Loxodon and Conclave Tribunal, allowing you to be efficient with your mana, too.

Mardu Aggro is very similar to Mono-White, but relies on Judith instead of Unbreakable Formation. The deck is also relatively affordable at around $180 for the complete deck. If you enjoy playing aggressive strategies, this is a great build to start with.

Mythic Championship Cleveland showed us that Standard is in a promising position. Despite the heavy representation of Nexus of Fate, Mono-Blue Tempo and Sultai Midrange, there’s plenty of room to brew and be successful with your own build. It’s also key to play what you know and enjoy, as this will be the biggest contributor to your win percentage. We’re excited to see where Standard goes from here!