State of Standard: Post Meathook Ban

State of Standard: Post Meathook Ban

Mason ClarkStandard

Wizards of the Coast banned The Meathook Massacre in Standard last week in the company’s first of such actions this year. This has created an interesting wrinkle in the format, since you were either playing Meathook before or trying to invalidate it. While not format breaking, the card acted as a barrier that prevented Standard from having more deck diversity.

But now that it’s gone, we’re going to examine what is happening in the format with the first week of a Meathook-less world in the books.


Esper is the most played deck on Magic Online right now. It lost the least from The Meathook Massacre ban, and since then it has become the bar you must clear in current Standard. 

This deck wins by utilizing a strong curve with the tools to answer most problems decks can present. Going two drop into Raffine is hard for many decks to answer. And if you can’t hack that, your deck is going to have trouble surviving. 

Raffine isn’t the only threat this deck presents, with both Sheoldred and Ao, the Dawn Sky as top end cards that continue that devastating curve while also stabilizing boards. The thing about Esper is it has such a wide array of game plans to surround its impactful and powerful curve. As a result, it is the default deck for many Magic players in this format.

This deck also gets to play The Wandering Emperor which is one of the strongest planeswalkers in a long time. She is not only great removal in this deck, but her plus one to grow a creature is easily utilized in this deck.

Wandering Emperor also works perfectly with cards like Make Disappear, which can be a game ending play pattern if your opponent takes a little longer to deploy their winning threat. That extra time to develop the Wandering Emperor is sometimes all you need.

Post board, you have so many different tools to answer the various threats. In fact, when looking at all the options available, it’s clear this will continue to be the case as the format evolves. Between discard, counter magic and exiling, you are able to solve just about any threat. 


Where Esper is trying to fight bigger spells, Grixsis is trying to control creatures more. It sounds like a bit of an oversimplification, but it’s the truth. When looking at the spells in the deck, this archetype prioritizes creature removal instead of all the bodies we see from Esper midrange.

This small but fundamental shift in removal helps change the matchup spread. While you are giving up some game against decks like The Kami War by doing this, you gain a much better matchup spread versus the more fringe decks of the format. Plus, you have a good time keeping key cards like Raffine in check.

This deck has the multi-format all star, Sheoldred, to help stabilize, which is always welcome. The only other creature main deck is Corpse Appraiser, one of the stronger cards in Standard. Called by some the Rouge Refiner of the modern day, this card looks to generate plenty of advantage and provide that crucial two for one decks like this want. 

Kami War

This deck is the nuclear option. If you are tired of all the Standard midrange arms racing, this is the deck for you. We just talked about two of the most popular and strongest decks in Standard and how they are trying to play slightly bigger than their opponent, using removal that lines up well against whatever they’re facing. 

This deck takes that plan and decides to go way over the top.

Obviously, cards like the namesake Kami War are a great way to burst through all these midrange battles. A huge body that not only removes the opponents’ best card but also slows down the next best card is a huge pay off for the mana commitment. Along those lines, Herd Migration is a powerful, top end card that can completely stall out or overwhelm most board states.

The other great part of these decks is you can change the top end creature threats on a dime, as you have access to all colors. This allows you to customize the games you want to play and battles you want to pick in a way that only a Standard five color deck can do.

End step

Standard is still adjusting to the ban of Meathook, and there are also decks like Mono Blue and Mono Red that are trying to play on a totally different axis than what others are doing in these midrange wars. But as for right now, the bar is high and we are still seeing if these other decks can clear it.