What to Play in All Access Standard

Hallie SantoStandard

With more Magic players battling online these days, we’ve seen an explosion in online organized play opportunities. From MagicFest Online Qualifiers to the Brawler’s Guildhall to independently organized events, there are tons of options for players across the casual-to-competitive spectrum.

One of these events is FNM at Home: a weekly event on MTG Arena that keeps players connected to local game stores. Once you complete the event, you can take a screenshot of your record and send it to your local game store on social media. In return, your store will award you a code for a free set of sleeves for MTG Arena.

This week’s FNM at Home format is Standard – one of the most popular formats for tabletop Friday Night Magic events around the world. But there’s a twist: You can build a Standard deck with ANY cards in the format’s card pool, regardless of whether they’re in your collection! “All Access Standard” gives new Arena users and players on a budget more options to explore Magic’s most dynamic tournament format.

If you’re looking to try All Access Standard tomorrow, here are five decks worth building. Additionally, if you’re a competitive player setting your sights on the Weekly MagicFest Online Championship, you may want to keep these decks in mind, too.

Jeskai Fires

Jeskai Fires has been around since the release of Throne of Eldraine. Our own Anthony Lowry wrote this primer on the deck back in December, and the its core is still intact. Your game plan: control the board in the early game, land Fires of Invention, accrue a board advantage, and end the game with big, hasty threats. If you played Allied Fires in last Friday’s Challenger Deck event, this strategy will be familiar to you; this version of the deck has just been streamlined to hit faster and harder when it needs to.

The newest addition to Jeskai Fires is Elspeth Conquers Death: a five-mana enchantment that’s been popping up in many midrange and control strategies. Elspeth Conquers Death provides a tremendous edge in games of attrition; you can exile your opponent’s stickiest threat and eventually buy back a creature or Planeswalker of your own. And when you can deploy big threats at such an alarming rate, it can be hard for your opponents to mount a comeback.

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Bant Ramp

Jeskai Fires plays big threats, but it’s also highly synergistic. Creatures like Kenrith and Cavalier of Flame work well with Fires of Invention because their activated abilities allow you to use your spare mana effectively. But what if you just want to slam all the biggest haymakers in the format and draw more cards than anyone else? In that case, the deck for you is Bant Ramp.

Bant Ramp emerged earlier this month as a new powerhouse in Standard, full of Planeswalkers and hard-to-kill creatures. (Felix Sloo covered the deck’s early development here.) This is another place where Elspeth Conquers Death shines – when your deck has such a high threat density, its easy to find something to get back. Bant Ramp wants the game to go as long as possible and have the last threat standing, so spells like Elspeth Conquers Death and Tamiyo, Collector of Tales are extremely useful.

Of course, the two biggest stars of the show here are Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath and Dream Trawler. These two creatures work incredibly well in tandem: Uro draws you a card and increases Dream Trawler’s power; discarding a card to protect Dream Trawler gets you that much closer to paying Uro’s escape cost. And while that escape cost may seem prohibitive, especially given Dream Trawler’s mana cost, this deck includes enough card-draw that color requirements are rarely an issue. Ramp decks often run the risk of drawing too many mana-acceleration cards and not enough threats; when your mana-acceleration card is a threat that also gains you three life, you can withstand even the most aggressive starts from opponents.

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Sultai Midrange

Bant Ramp isn’t the only Standard deck making good use of Uro. Its close cousin, Sultai Midrange, also leans on the elder giant to ramp into powerful spells like Nissa and Hydroid Krasis. You may wonder where to draw the line between a ramp deck and a midrange deck, and that distinction belies the difference between these two Standard all-stars: one loads up on threats, while the other includes both threats and disruption.

Sultai includes several different kinds of disruption. It packs four copies of Thought Erasure in the main deck, and some players also choose to include Agonizing Remorse – a discard spell that can’t be countered by Mystical Dispute on turn two. The deck can choose from a wealth of counterspells to answer the current metagame – Aether Gust, Mystical Dispute, and Negate are all common options.

But the #1 reason to play Sultai right now is Casualties of War. When other midrange decks are diversifying their threats to include creatures, Planeswalkers, and enchantments, Casualties of War will often have three or four targets. Casualties can be backbreaking, especially when backed up by all the other disruption Sultai has at its disposal. Sultai may not have as many threats as Jeskai or Bant, but it can grind through games just as well.

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Temur Reclamation

When midrange decks reign and the format’s speed slows to a crawl, one deck tends to reemerge as a strong contender: Temur Reclamation.

Temur Reclamation is a combo deck at its core. Your goal is to play copies of Wilderness Reclamation, sift through your deck until you can find Expansion//Explosion, generate a ton of mana on your end step, and send a lethal Explosion at your opponent. It’s a strong but sometimes tenuous game plan that requires careful planning, resource management, and plenty of practice.

Though Reclamation decks are sometimes vulnerable to aggro strategies, the relative lack of aggro on the Arena ladder has given it some room to breathe. However, Teferi, Time Raveler will still try to cramp your style, so you may want to consider main deck counterspells like Mystical Dispute and Negate.

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Rakdos Aristocats

Aggro may be down in Standard, but it’s certainly not out! If you like turning creatures sideways and dealing direct damage to your opponents, you may want to pick up Rakdos Aristocats this weekend.

Sacrifice decks have been popular in Standard for the last six months, but these latest builds operate at a much faster clip than the Jund decks we saw at the end of 2019. It’s hard to outlast the Uro decks, so savvy sacrifice players have turned to Theros’s lesser-known titan, Kroxa. This deck aims to fill up its graveyard with Mire Triton and Tymaret Calls the Dead so the elder giant can escape early and often.

Of course, putting cats in ovens with Mayhem Devil in play is still a good plan. This deck can draw tons of cards with Midnight Reaper and ensure quality top-decks by sacrificing creatures to Woe Strider. It also usually plays four main-deck copies of Claim the Firstborn to ensure the way is clear for an attack. (You can take an Uro with that!)

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Access Granted

These are just a few decks that we recommend for Standard this weekend, but we’d love to know what you’re playing! Tweet at us at @Card_Kingdom and let us know what you built for All Access Standard.

If you live in the Seattle area, you can also support our game store, Mox Boarding House, when you play in FNM at Home events! Just fill out this brief survey and we’ll send you a code for some Arena-exclusive sleeves.

Good luck, and have fun this weekend!