War of the Spark is available today, but its early release online has already given Magic fans ample opportunities to play the new Standard format. The first Magic Online League results are in, and MTG Arena players have been sharing their brews with @arenadecklists on Twitter all week long. While there’s still plenty of room for innovation, we have a great snapshot of what the Standard metagame could look like at this weekend’s events. Before you sleeve up your new Standard deck for tonight, we have a few insights on the new format that we’d like to share.
With more Planeswalkers entering the Standard format than ever before, it seemed inevitable that several would become pillars of the new format. Not surprisingly, we’re starting to see new Planeswalkers crop up in existing Standard archetypes: Teferi, Time Raveler supplements the Hero of Dominaria in Esper Control; Domri ramps out creatures and clears the way for attacks in Gruul Aggro; Tamiyo helps you dig for Wilderness Reclamation or Nexus of Fate while protecting you from discard spells.
A few of the new Planeswalkers may also help bring less popular archetypes to the forefront. Grixis Control has long been overshadowed by Esper decks with more reliable win conditions and board wipes, but Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God may be one of its keys to victory. Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord has also made in impression in Standard and may be a vital addition to an “Aristocrats” strategy.
These Planeswalkers are among the most powerful threats in the format, and players should be prepared to deal with them at every turn. But perhaps the biggest challenge this format presents will be finding the right homes for Planeswalkers. Liliana, Gideon, and Ugin are all great cards, but where will they be at their best? We’ve only scratched the surface of this Standard format, and it’ll be fascinating to see what players come up with in the coming weeks.
As you search for the right spells to complement your Planeswalkers, there are a few from War of the Spark to keep in mind. The set includes some strong pieces of removal out of necessity – players need ways to deal with opposing Planeswalkers, in both Limited and Standard. Enter the God-Eternals and Tyrant’s Scorn give all Blue-Black decks a leg up, while Angrath’s Rampage and Despark have provided additional tools for a variety of midrange-to-control decks.
Dovin’s Veto is also likely to have a huge effect on the composition of Esper Control decks. In the Esper Control mirror, you’ll need to have a higher density of non-creature threats or risk having your only win conditions countered. Chromium, the Mutable may make a comeback, or we may see Esper Midrange decks reemerge.
Finally, Blast Zone could become a key player in this Standard format. Its effect can destroy multiple nonland permanents, including Planeswalkers – and most importantly, it can’t be countered or targeted by discard spells. If your deck can’t run conventional board wipes, Blast Zone may be a great option.
While plenty of players were eager to build new midrange decks around their favorite Planeswalkers, aggro decks are still here to stay in Standard. The old standbys, Mono-Red and Mono-White, are still climbing the ranks on MTG Arena, but some new decks are slowly starting to emerge.
The most notable of these is a new take on Red-White Aggro built around Feather, the Redeemed. With Tenth District Legionnaire and Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin at his side, Feather is poised to pressure the format’s many Planeswalker threats. Early decklists have included combat tricks such as Reckless Rage, Sheltering Light, and the newly-reprinted Defiant Strike.
Of course, not all the best creatures in War of the Spark belong in aggro decks. The God-Eternals are some of the most potent midrange threats in the format, and we expect to see a lot of them in the coming months. Players have already started experimenting with Kefnet and Rhonas, and we won’t be surprised to see Oketra and Bontu before long.
What types of decks are you building with War of the Spark? Preorders are out for delivery today – be sure to tag us on Twitter at @Card_Kingdom when you get yours!