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By: ablock, Anthony Block
May 02 2017 12:00pm
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 5 Cards to Check Out Post-Banning

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It was never a matter of “if.” Only “when.” Wizards finally stamped out the menace of Standard.

 

Since Aether Revolt’s release, the Saheeli combo deck not only was competitive, it was a top-tier deck in Standard, alternating its place on the throne of “Top Standard Deck” with Mardu Vehicles. The difference with the combo deck, however, was its constant threat of winning out of nowhere. This put a lot of strain on other cards and decks, always forcing them to play the game the combo player wanted to play, always demanding an answer.

 

This poisoned the diversity of decks in Standard, and the format suffered because of it. It quickly became clear that there were only two, sometimes three, decks that were reliable choices. With Felidar Guardian gone now, this removes the looming threat of being comboed out and opens up a wide array of cards that have otherwise been oppressed by the cat beast. Here are five cards that you should keep an eye on for the future of Standard.

Tezzeret the Schemer


My favorite card in Magic is Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas. I was so happy to see that he would be receiving a new card in Aether Revolt, and was satisfied with his power level. I immediately brewed up a Sultai deck with him as the centerpiece, splashing the green for Tireless Trackers. While the deck was decent, it fell on its face against Felidar Guardian and Saheeli. Making Lotus Petals just didn’t mean much when your opponent would kill you the following turn.

The thing about Felidar Guardian and Saheeli was that they demanded a certain type of answer, be it a counterspell or a good removal spell. The problem with Tezzeret is, yes, you can dilute your deck with these things, but now you are struggling to run the much-needed artifacts he demands. You were often torn between running a run-of-the-mill UB control deck with Tezzeret added (for very little value) or run a artifact-loaded version with minimal interaction, increasing the likelihood to losing to the combo by a lot.

With the cat out of the bag now, Tezzeret has his chance to shine. The main threats to him now remain the two best cards in Standard: Heart of Kiran and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. With Tezzeret’s impressive starting loyalty, he can take a hit from the heart, and even provide ample activations of your own flying 4/4 to protect him. Gideon can threaten him well, but against good defensive artifacts like Pacification Array, it’ll be hard for the white Planeswalker to attack, giving you the time to ultimate Tezzeret.

The Schemer will be one of the many focuses of deckbuilding between now and the Pro Tour, and I suggest you not sleep on this powerful build-around-me card.

Ishkanah, Grafwidow

 

Ishkanah, Grafwidow


Arguably once the best creature in the format when BG Delirium was dominating (you can also argue for Emrakul), Ishkanah fell off pretty hard when Saheeli decks made their mark. The grafwidow is a fantastic board staller and a real clock in the late game. It can stop swarm decks in their tracks, but sadly couldn’t do anything to stop a billion hasted cats from overwhelming the large spider.

Players will now look to delirium decks again with the banning. For the last couple of months, it’s been holding the bronze medal for best deck in standard, lagging behind vehicle and copycat decks. Now Ishkanah can be safely played again, blocking Heart of Kiran with ease and stonewalling many other creatures, including one of the most talked-about creatures in Amonkhet, Glorybringer.

Don’t be surprised if Ishkanah becomes the top creature in Standard. 6 power and 11 toughness spread across 4 bodies for 5 mana is absurd. I expect to see her shine at the Pro Tour in the middle of May.

Torrential Gearhulk

Torrential Gearhulk


While already good, Torrential Gearhulk was still not seeing as much play as it could have been. Six mana is a lot, even at instant speed. Nothing felt worse than getting your defensive gearhulk countered. The fights over resolving Saheeli or Felidar Guardian involved cheap counterspells and removal like Shock and Negate. No more combo means the shackles are broken on big spells.

UB and UR control decks were already pretty popular with a select amount of players. Dynavolt Tower even seemed like the real deal, and could still very well be. I can also see a card like Fevered Visions come back, but no matter what style of control deck you make, Torrential Gearhulk will be the pillar that holds it together. Control decks have gotten a lot of help with Amonkhet, including good new counterspells, cycling cards, and even late-game draw in Pull from Tomorrow.

Blue control decks are on the rise, which means Torrential Gearhulk naturally gets better. New Standard is shaping to be more forgiving than the old when it comes to casting big spells, which makes this construct very happy.

Sorcery Spells

Never // ReturnNahiri's WrathFumigate


Well, it’s not a “card” per se, but these sorceries have seen very little or no play at all. Slow spells get a boost from the banning, increasing their value. Slow planeswalkers will try and make their impact in the new Standard. Cards like Ruinous Path, Never / Return and Nahiri's Wrath can be great answers to them. Nahiri’s Wrath in general has seen zero play since being released, but Amonkhet brings a sort of empty-hand gameplan. It’s unknown how good it will be, but there are pieces there to make it a thing, and if it turns out to be good, then deck builders will want some number of the mythic red sorcery.

Fumigate might be seeing more main board love now than before. The release of new sets brings with it a host of angry aggressive decks in the first couple of weeks. These decks tend to prey and punish deckbuilders that might want to try out new, unproven strategies. If you plan on playing white and doing well, make sure you have a number of Fumigates in your 75 for the first couple of weeks until the format starts to define itself.

Metalwork Colossus

Metalwork Colossus


It’s slow and sometimes cumbersome, but Metalwork Colossus is the type of card that inspires innovation. These decks almost play like combo decks in the sense that they win the game via one big action. In this case, it’s dropping two or three 10/10s on the same turn (thanks to Sanctum of Ugin ) and swinging for lethal the next. In these Metalwork Colossus decks, however, there was no real room for a ton of interactive spells, and this was bad when paired against an infinite combo deck like copy cat. Now, the colossus doesn’t have to worry about it.

Metalwork Colossus plays very well with mana rocks, and there are several in standard that already go into the deck, like Cultivator's Caravan and Hedron Archive. Amonkhet has also released Pyramid of the Pantheon, a one-mana “Build-your-own Gilded Lotus.” With the addition of cycling cards, another mana rock might start to see more play: Corrupted Grafstone.

With these plethora of mana rocks and no more oppressive Felidar Guardian decks, durdling around comes with less risk, and a better opportunity to cast cool cards like the colossus.

The next few weeks are going to be exciting and fun. Standard has been in a bad place for most of 2017, but the emergency banning of Felidar Guardian has sent shockwaves through the Magic community. Players are getting their creative sparks back and are already crafting and testing new cards. The resources are out there. Now it’s just a matter of putting them together to create a new, better Standard format.

5 Comments

Honestly I expected some more by Paul Leicht at Tue, 05/02/2017 - 15:01
Paul Leicht's picture

Honestly I expected some more on the Amonkhet cards here, but I guess there hasn't been enough time for brewers to find the decks?

Basically, yes, but this was by ablock at Tue, 05/02/2017 - 15:07
ablock's picture

Basically, yes, but this was more tuned to look at cards held back by Felidar Guardian. Amonkhet cards never really had a chance to compete against it, so we wouldn't know for certain what would be held back from this set.

I figured it might cover some by Paul Leicht at Tue, 05/02/2017 - 17:58
Paul Leicht's picture

I figured it might cover some decks that will be more competitive post ban using Amonkhet because they are relevant. But maybe they really aren't?

I thought that this was a fun by JXClaytor at Tue, 05/02/2017 - 20:40
JXClaytor's picture
5

I thought that this was a fun article, a neat topic, thank you for contributing Anthony!

Thank you for the kind words! by ablock at Wed, 05/03/2017 - 07:48
ablock's picture

Thank you for the kind words!