Let me start with something a bit out of topic. A few weeks ago, the first ever online Grand Prix happened. Well, not exactly, but it’s how it felt. People from all over the world faced each other in Magic Arena for a spot at the Mythic Championship.
I was competing myself but did not do that well. I was out by round 5, killed in the Monored mirror, also known as the coinflip matchup.
I wrote a piece on how I believed Gruul was the deck to play in this tournament. I still stand by that claim, as 4 out of 16 people that qualified piloted the archetype. In the end, I did not have it in me to play the deck. I wish I did, and this is a lesson for the next time I feel I got a grasp on the metagame.
The event as a whole went pretty smoothly. I really enjoyed it, it was all over social media and it felt exactly like it should: a global PTQ with renowned pro players and aspiring newcomers. Of course I would want to see some improvements, but I am very happy with the event overall and look forward to play in the next one!
Now to the theme of the article. This metagame has been like no other. With Arena in the picture, decks get tuned way faster and new archetypes that trump last week’s best decks pop up all the time. You get extremely rewarded for staying on top of all this. And, of course, you get punished for staying behind.
This is no new thing to me as I was playing Hearthstone for years. The daily changes to the metagame, especially in the first month of the expansion were a regular thing. Checking on what popular streamers are playing, keeping up with Twitter and tuning your decks accordingly is the easiest way to keep up wit this meta.
Do not underestimate the power of Twitter. If you do not have an account, make sure to create one right now. If you follow the right people, you will be a step ahead of the curve and will have a much better experience beating your opponents.
People Like Ondrej Strasky, Andrea Mengucci, the Arena Decklists account and others are updating their decks on a daily basis and always post their updates. Make sure to follow them. It is very, very easy to get lost in this newfound stream of information, I get it. But if you learn to work your way inside it, you will be rewarded.
I have already said too much. Let’s get down to the most popular archetypes seen in the metagame:
Monored used to be the number one deck but has been on a decline lately.This deck is both powerful and fairly easy to pilot. It was my personal pick for past events due to being acquainted with it, but also because it is hard to write it off the map. You have to stretch your deck if you want to beat the red menace, and that comes with a cost. Both Martin Juza and Paulo Vitor have written pieces on the deck and why it is so powerful. I wouldn’t have second thoughts picking this up again and taking it to the fight. It is both powerful and resilient. The latest Esper Superheroes lists have found a way to beat it, but I still find myself sweating against red opponents with explosive hands.
2. White Weenie:
This is the second and last aggressive deck this meta has to offer. If going crazy with Experimental Frenzy is not your thing, but you still want to be the beat down, this is the other option. Weenie has been around since forever. This particular iteration with a blue splash seems like the best option to me right now. Going mono-white is an option as well. The deck does powerful things with the right mix. If you do not mind losing half your games to sweepers, by all means go for White Weenie.
3. Jeskai Superfriends:
This was considered, a few weeks ago, the best deck. The reasons this deck does well are multiple. Efficient removal spells that double up as planeswalker killers (even as burn to the face if need be!) and a planeswalker suite that gains you tempo, card advantage and eventually kills the opponent when Sarkhan shows up. Also, this deck utilises Spell Pierce and Legion War Boss to their full potential, both cards that fit the meta perfectly. Though its numbers are not big at the moment, I still think it is one of the top choices. You can only go so wrong curving one powerful card after the other.
4. Four-Color Dreadhorde:
This deck to me is Sultai Midrange adapted to this metagame. You can also see the archetype cutting white altogether for a more steady manabase. The plan is simple. Play your explore package, relsove Tamiyo, always name Command the Dreadhorde, fill up your graveyard, cast Command the Dreadhorde, drown your opponent. Few decks in the format can go over the top of you (namely 1 and it is not even that popular right now). Gameplay is fairly easy, though games tend to go long. If Sultai Midrange was right up your alley, give this deck a try. It is pretty powerful.
5. Esper Superfriends:
This, on the other hand, is Esper Control in its newest iteration. Some cards are below average on power level (i’m looking at you, Dovin!) but the deck functions pretty smoothly overall. The metagame did not have room for a traditional draw-go control deck anymore. So Esper had to adapt. The planeswalker package is as good as it gets. The Elderspell remains a very powerful card even when your opponents expect it. Also, the number of games the deck wins on the spot with Teferi or Liliana ultimates out of nowhere is higher than you think. This is the deck I’m currently piloting. I feel there’s room for improvement though, so expect updates in the archetype the coming weeks.
Newer lists trim on the Planeswalker package for more removal spells and Basilica Bell-Hant, looking something like this:
The new lists fit the meta more, but you cannot go wrong with either. After all, the meta is ever changing and we might come back to a point that the walker heavy version is better.
6. Gruul Midrange:
I think that what I said about Gruul last week still holds true. Not a lot of decks are well equipped to beat it.
This particular list opts for a higher creature count and The Immortal Sun instead of a planeswalker package. I’ve been crushed by it in the past but I’m not convinced The Immortal Sun has a place in the deck.
7. Izzet Phoenix:
The more I continue to scrub this deck, the more it wins. I was never successful with the strategy, it always felt underwhelming when I tried to pilot it. But people keep winning with it. At this point I would trust the hive mind and admit this deck is powerful. It has won enough in high stake tournaments to prove itself as a true contender.
8. Esper Superheroes:
Ah, this is a favorite of mine. This is Martin Muller’s take on Esper Midrange. This shows what a pro player and deckbuilder extraordinaire can do to an archetype to make it emerge victorious once again. The Thiefs of Sanity were not cutting it so Martin got rid of them altogether. Instead he opted for maindecking the good blue cards that were in the sideboard in previous iterations of the deck. This makes much more sense for the current Standard environment. It plays out similar to older Esper Midrange versions. Ben Friedman piloted the deck to a Grand Prix win, whilst Andrea Mengucci wrote a primer on it. This, along with the following archetype are the top runners of the format right now. I highly recommend this one.
9. Bant Ramp:
This deck has been causing mayhem both in Arena and paper events. The general consensus is that Nissa might just be the most powerful card in Standard. Along with lots of mana dorks and powerful spell to dump your mana into, this is a formidable strategy. Multiple mana sinks have been explored. For now, the most efficient are Mass Manipulation and Finale of Glory. After casting the both at instant speed thanks to Teferi, mid combat against my opponents, I was sold. This might just be the best deck in Standard right now.
The final deck I kept out of the article is the Golgari land destruction deck the Japanese came up with for The MPL Spark Split Week 3. Although it seems good in a small metagame of 16 people, I do not believe it can hold its ground against the wide variety of matchups Standard provides.
That’s all I have for you this week
What’s your favorite deck to play?
Do you feel like I left an archetype out that should have been included?
By Kratos or Marios Tsopelas