Just as the War of the Spark metagame was feeling kind of stale and the Esper battles were all over the place, M20 came. 

Usually, core sets don’t impact a format that much, so I was prepared for another season of Esper mirrors dictated by 2 and 6 mana sorcery spells.

But M20 is not your usual core set. Instead of bringing fillers for already established archetypes, M20 came with cards that are screaming “build around me!”

The first week of the metagame has been dictated by Risen Reef and his elemental buddies. The card is all over the place. Whether you build around it or just splash a small elemental package, Reef seems like one of the best engines in Standard. Imagine what a month or two of tuning will do to it.

I’ve been playing quite some Magic after the expansion hit, mostly because i have a big event this weekend. An MTGA invite-only, 2 thousand euro prize pool one to be precise! 

Having qualified, I want to give myself the best chances possible, so a full week of MTGA burnout is what the doctor ordered!

Here are the decks I found to be the best performing, but also the most enjoyable for me:

Temur Ramp:

This is the first archetype I tried, mostly because of the new and exciting cards. Omnath And Reef seemed like a match made in heaven. Chandra seemed like she had some potential as well. My first iterations of the deck had the explore package, but the more I played it the more I grew to dislike it. So I made room for more mana dorks and some burn spells.

This particular list is from this week’s MTGO published lists. I really liked the idea of Mass Manipulation in the deck so I gave it a try. 

Mass Manipulation has been good, it allows the deck to have a trump in the mirror and against Dreadhorde decks. 

What makes me a bit fearful of this iteration of the deck is the lack of removal spells maindeck. If aggressive strategies start popping up more often, you are not well equipped to deal with them. In such a case, I feel like some of the mana dorks have to go to make room for Shock and/or Lightning Strike.

Also the sideboard is a work in progress, as is always true for early formats.

All in all, this has been my favorite deck and I would be happy to submit it for the upcoming tournament. I will continue to work on optimizing the list, as well as testing other mirror breakers such as Flood of Tears, with and without Omniscience.

Gruul Raptors:

I was calling this one Gruul Leonards, but Leonard is now a Clipper, so Gruul Raptors it is.

This is the most obvious new archetype. A deck that builds itself. The real question was, will it be better than the already existing Gruul smash decks?

I believe that to be the case. Marauding Raptor is a heck of a card and it pairs extremely well with Ripjaw Raptor. I wasn’t 100% sold on Regisaur Alpha and Drover of the Mighty but they’ve been good enough. It is possible the deck needs less burn and more Domri’s Ambush. Also maybe less dinos and more Rekindling Phoenix? That remains to be seen. 

This is the most straightforward archetype and one I would suggest but probably not end up playing myself. I’d prefer an unproven, less powerful but way harder to play Risen Reef deck.

Sultai Dreadhorde:

From the already existing archetypes, this was the best performing one for me. In theory, it made sense, and it was one of the few times my theory was correct when put to the test.

When everyone is playing midrange medium power dudes, Dreadhorde is king. The sole existence of the card makes midrange decks go bigger and looks for trumps because if they stay medium sized they just concede to Dreadhorde strats. Mass Manipulation is a way to beat this deck, but if their numbers rise you can always side in some counters and some copies of Veil of Summer. 

This is, in theory, the deck I should play. I’m trying to add some more removal to the deck, so maybe the Cavaliers are too much and have to go for Vraska to come back in. Maybe Ravenous Chupacabra is poised for a comeback as well. Interaction is key right now, you need to deal with the opponent’s Risen Reef as soon as possible or you will be buried under a mountain.

I tried the Reef Dreadhorde versions but, I honestly did not like them. For Risen Reef to come in, something has to go, and that something is the Nissa-Hydroid Krasis package. Some people cut Nissa, some Krasis and some cut both. I don’t get it. Why would you cut the most powerful card in Standard to get a bit of an engine with Reef and elementals, in a deck that already has a more suitable, better engine in Tamiyo and Dreadhorde? Sure, returning Risen Reef is absurd with Dreadhorde, but most of the time I found it to be overkill. Returning your explore dudes along with planeswalkers is enough.

I have made a pact to play as many Nissas as possible until the next set comes out. That also means as many Llanowar Elves and as many Hydroid Krasises as possible. Please don’t cut them from your decks.

Orzhov Vampires:

I was not a believer in Sorin. But Sorin made me a believer. 

This is Huey Jensen’s #1 Mythic Decklist from a few days ago. I was sceptical at first but decided to give the vamps a shot. 

After a few matches I found out that Sorin and Knight of the Ebon Legion are the real deal. I believe this deck to be an upgrade to the already powerful White Winnie deck and one of the better performing decks overall. 1-drop into 2-drop into Sorin popping out a Champion of Dusk is one of the easiest ways to win a game in today’s Standard, and it comes up more often than you think! After all the cards needed for that line are all 4-offs.

Aggro Elementals:

This is probably the worst deck of the five I decided to write about, but it is also the most explosive one. 

Every five or so games you get to do this:

Probably the most fun I’ve had with a deck for a while. 

That said, when your opponents kill your Reef or your Steamkin, or you just don’t draw them, you are playing a bunch of glorified Grizzly Bears. It’s possible some of the bad cards can be cut but I have no idea how to build the deck. 

There’s a ton of new archetypes out there and people are playing like crazy. M20 has not disappointed, a job well done on Wizard’s part to keep the metagame fresh.

Hopefully I will post a piece next week on how I won the 2k event next week with the best Risen Reef strategy possible.

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By Kratos or Marios Tsopelas