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By: BlippyTheSlug, Volker Kirstein
Feb 11 2013 12:50pm
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Das Standard

As some of you may be aware, I relocated at the beginning of February. I am now in the big city, and will be getting myself a DCI number, and starting to play some paper locally. And the local FNM and paper meta seems to be Standard, Standard, Standard. 

I also run a Standard format event, with plans on starting a second one. 

So. Standard. I know absolutely doodly about Standard. I mean, I know what Standard is: the latest 2 expansion sets and core set. And I understand that Standard changes every 3 months, and rotation, and blah blah blah. These are all very basic things that "everyone knows about", and should keep up with.

In the past year and a half, I've drifted away from Standard, concentrating first on Overextended, then Modern. I haven't had a Standard deck in quite a few months, not since mono  Zombies were a thing. And while I have heard both good and bad things about the current Standard, I don't know. I should at least have a glimmer of an idea if I'm going to talk about it, and play it.

So where do I start? Blarg. There's already so much information out there about Standard, from so many sources. Here I thought I was the king of TMI. The sheer volume of material is staggering. And if you read it in a tweet, or see it on a stream, or hear it on a podcast, or read it in an article...  it's gotta be true, right? Everything is so twisty turvy right now. Gatecrash is on the battlefields, and Standard is changing once more. New and unexpected cards and combinations are sure to make their presence known across MTG...

The first thing I noticed when looking at the Standard cardpool was "removal? what removal?" There have been some premiere removal cards in Standard over the past few years: Terminate and Lightning Bolt, also Doom Blade, Go for the Throat, etc. Critter power is a thing. But this could just be my inner cranky old man saying "why back in my day..." What good is instant speed targeted removal against Hexproof critters? What good are single edicts against swarms? Is board wipe a thing? What is this bug crawling across my floor? And I'm starting to ramble. 

I guess I'll start looking at Standard right from the crash of the gate, so to speak. I already spend way too much time/effort keeping up with the Modern meta to really worry about the Standard meta. There are already many people writing about it who know much more about Standard than I do; I just want to familiarize myself with what's out there. Each week, I'll grab a few undefeated decks from a random Standard event, and see for myself what makes 'em tick.

So. Enough with the chit chat. Away we go! 


This looks to be your regular ol' critter aggro/midrange deck, with some few bounce shenanigans from Restoration Angel thrown in for laughs. The main battle plan here seems to be lay down creatures and turn them sideways.  The creatures being all Humans means Champion of the Parish can get to be quite the house, and Mayor of Avabruck makes a handy dandy lord. Thalia's taxing helps in keeping your opponent off his game, as well.



I'm not much of a control player, so can't really comment on the intricacies of this deck. What I'm seeing here looks to be basically "durdle til you win": wipe the board, counter a few spells, draw a ton of cards, rinse & repeat, plop out a planeswalker or two, ultimate it for the win. Am I missing anything?



The term "Junk" refers to the GBW side of the table, and does not mean "trash". This deck uses Grisly Salvage and Mulch to throw huge beaters (like Craterhoof Behemoth) into the graveyard, then plops 'em out again with Unburial Rites. Restoration Angel and Thragtusk shenanigans give this deck range for the long game, as well. Mana dorks are there to smooth the curve along the way. Simple, eh?




Friday Night Standard #11
February 8, 2013
Players: 11
4-0: zemanjaski
3-1: Dolane97, darkerlink1, strad. Players, pairings, and results can be found here.
Decks from all Friday Night Standard events can be found here



zemanjaski's RDW deck is a straight forward in-your-face aggro beater. If you don't have the removal, or chumps, handy, your face will be eaten. Stromkirk Noble gets through quite often in this age of Humanity.

RDW Sligh
(4-0) zemanjaski, FNS #11 on 2/8/13
4 Ash Zealot
4 Hellrider
4 Lightning Mauler
4 Pyreheart Wolf
4 Rakdos Cackler
2 Stonewright
4 Stromkirk Noble
2 Zealous Conscripts
28 Creatures

Other Spells
4 Searing Spear
2 Brimstone Volley
2 Pillar of Flame
8 Other Spells
21 Mountain
3 Hellion Crucible
24 cards




Paper Cuts

I went to another Thursday night game night here in the city, and met some more of the crew: Joe, and Sylvester, and another guy whose name I can't remember. The evening was a blur, although I do remember having a good time! I'll have to keep more coherent notes.

Friday, we had another game night, here at the new digs. I borrowed in turn, a Classic Storm deck (I never drew squat), a Modern Soul Sisters deck (no Martyr?!?!?), and a Legacy Goblin thing. I didn't win a game all night. But I was also running Friday Night Standard for most of the evening, so was distracted somewhat. Still no excuse.

My buddy John also picked up a Simic release pack thing, which was promptly cracked and cherry picked, and passed on down the line. Being low man on this totem pole, I got lastsies. But I now have a few dozen paper cards. I'm going to build a deck around Daggerdrome Imp, just for laughs.

Anyway, after playing with this group a couple times, I immediately began to pick up that some of my favorite deck ideas would pwn face, hard, at these get togethers. Something cheap and nasty, like Bloodcrank, Molten Drawers, or Jund X. Any of these could be put together on the cheap in paper, in a vacuum. They wouldn't know what hit them...

Here we go again. Blarg!



I just can't play standard. I by KaraZorEl at Mon, 02/11/2013 - 13:08
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I just can't play standard. I can't do it. The cards are expensive, the card pool is small, the interactions get out of control (ie, not many ways to hose your opponent). Moreover, in a very refined metagame, it seems rogue decks just don't have a place in standard. Either you play the most powerful cards or you don't. Well, count me out.

On the subject of Standard by BlippyTheSlug at Mon, 02/11/2013 - 13:23
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The only way for a poor cardless n00b like me to "break into" paper Standard, and start out on the road to DCI points, is at the local FNM. That's the plan at this point.

I also plan to convince my new paper playgroup to join me in my quest.

Hopefully, one day in a few years you'll see a gimpy old scruffy homeless looking guy playing in a feature match at a Canadian GP. That'd be me.

Feel free to not play Standard. Your call. :)

Standard... by Fred1160 at Mon, 02/11/2013 - 13:53
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Standard is just as expensive as you want it to be (let that sink in for a moment).
If you find a $1500 decklist that you just have to play, that's your choice.
There are plenty of options out there that do not require a lot of money and are viable.
Remember, this is FNM and not the Pro Tour that I am talking about.

As for rogue decks not having a place in standard, that is just uninformed thinking there.
FNM is a great place to trot out a rogue deck and do well. The catch to any rogue deck is
that it has to be finely tuned and focused. Once you attend a few FNM's in the same place,
you learn what the metagame there will be like. That's when you get the chance to go rogue
and build something that has a chance to win.

My local store has a good crowd on Fridays and I know before I sit down with someone what
kind of deck they are likely to be playing. I know their style and I know their weaknesses.
That kind of information only comes by attending regularly and playing the game.
Don't miss out on Standard just because you are afraid it will wreck your budget.

Yeah I agree entirely with by Paul Leicht at Mon, 02/11/2013 - 15:26
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Yeah I agree entirely with your take on standard. Rogue decks aren't merely piles of cards that no one else thought to include in a list. "Hey these two cards have great synergy together, lets try them out!" They require knowledge of the gauntlet of Nonrogue decks. They also require knowledge of which of those decks are likely to be around. And tuning is an artform that not only includes the sideboard but also main deck tweaks.

All in all, I find people who claim to be rogue builders don't put all that much effort into the building beyond finding the cards they want to play with and putting them together. It isn't rocket science maybe but it is hard work. And then there is the practice to become good with your rogue deck against the field.

And also if a card has been overlooked repeatedly (over the entire course of a cycle's rotation) there is probably a reason why. Not that all these cards that don't make the big cut are bad but they are going to require more work perhaps than the pros want to put in. This means you have to be better at tuning with them than the big decks need.

And as you say, FNM isn't a PTQ or even a high rel tourney. Expect a few net decks no doubt but don't fear to bring something you homebrewed. As long as it has been tested and tuned it will probably do OK.

If I lived in Europe or near by RexDart at Mon, 02/11/2013 - 15:38
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If I lived in Europe or near the US coasts where they play paper legacy, I'd have dumped standard long ago. Rotations are just too much trouble, having a big enough card pool in Standard to be a deck brewer requires dumping large amounts of cash on cards that won't see eternal play, and yet standard remains bafflingly popular.

It's far worse in paper than online too, because changing decks is a logistical hassle in paper, at least online you can sell a deck to a bot (at better prices than the 33%-50% of retail a paper LGS will give you) and buy another deck in 15 minutes. Assembling a paper Standard deck is like trying to track down the pieces of evil DNA you need to create Serpentor, you can't get it all in any one place (unless you want to pay way too much), you're watching 20 eBay auctions at once, you spend 3 weeks doing it, and in the end you just run out of time and put Sgt. Slaughter in there because the tournament starts in 5 minutes. And what you end up with is stupid and obsolete by the time you get it finished anyhow.

That being said, my experience has been that you definitely can play rogue decks at the FNM level and have a decent shot, depending on the store's own peculiar metagame. Since you're in the big city now, I guess you can shop around a bit to find a store that's a good fit for you.

"Standard remains bafflingly by Kumagoro42 at Mon, 02/11/2013 - 19:27
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"Standard remains bafflingly popular".

It's not so baffling, people like new things. Standard is where the things are constantly new (at least at face value). You go to the store, the new set is out, so cool, you have to play with it, stat!
(I think we too often get caught in our own intellectual trips and underestimate the novelty power of this game, which is first and foremost about collecting cards with nice pictures on them.)

Why do you think people are willing to spend big money to buy the new cards during the prerelease, at prices that will be all but halved two days later? Because they have to play a PTQ exactly that day? No, my friend, people are just too eager, to excited, can't help it. It's kind of a bug, but we've been all in that place about something at some point or another.

And once you own those fancy new cards you craved, what can you do? Find a place for maybe one of them in a Legacy deck? See if some of them combine strongly enough for Modern? Or maybe there's a format where ALL the new cards are protagonist? And that's how the Standard events fire every 10 minutes.

This said, I'm currently resisting the urge to buy three copies of Obzedat for my freshly designed Modern Orzhov deck, and a couple Domri Rade for Jund Pod.

I've had the opposite by KaraZorEl at Mon, 02/11/2013 - 21:15
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I've had the opposite experience- at least since Scars of Mirrodin came out. I drew two Koth of the Hammer at the pre-release when he was 40 dollars. I traded both of them away. At the Gatecrash event, Duskmantle Seer was 15 dollars. One game was enough to convince me that he's actually quite terrible. He has no place in any format I can think of. He's like Molten-Tail Masticore and Protean Hydra: mythics that shouldn't be mythics.

Moreover, even while playing standard in the various times I've tried it (and will likely try again), I have always come away feeling disappointed that there are a few decks which are simply matchup proof. There's nothing you can do against these decks. You just sit there, play your cards, and lose. I've never got this feeling in Modern, even while I went 4-0 and 3-1 with regularity.

FNM by Fred1160 at Mon, 02/11/2013 - 17:15
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One thing I'd like to clarify. If I were playing in a PTQ or a Grand Prix or a Star City tournament, I'd want to be packin' some serious heat. I'd find a powerful deck list online and I'd assemble the pieces and go to war with that. I'm not into the game seriously enough to invest that much cash (and, yes, I do have a job).
I go to FNM every week. Most of my deckbuilding is in the form of templating. I enjoy taking deck lists and substituting cards to make it standard legal. This has been more successful for me than you might think.

Last week, I saw the list for Human Reanimator by Brian Braun-Duin. Great deck, wonderful deck. However, I have no intention of shelling out a hundred bucks for Huntmasters, so I put in Attended Knights: 2/2 first strike and you get a 1/1 soldier token to boot. I tinkered with (read "cheapened") the mana base and started playtesting. The only rares in the deck were three copies of Angel of Glory's Rise (and they are still cheap right now).
I took it to FNM and I lost two games all night (both were due to my play mistakes). I got first place and twenty bucks of store credit. But, I do admit that if I were gonna play against Brian Kibler or Pat Chapin, I'd want the full meal deal, Huntmasters and all the trimmings.

I'm not sure but I believe by olaw at Mon, 02/11/2013 - 17:27
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I'm not sure but I believe the main win condition of Esper Control is actually using Nephalia Drownyard to mill your opponent. Ultimating a planeswalker will probably work just as nicely though.

I was wondering the same by Kumagoro42 at Mon, 02/11/2013 - 19:32
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I was wondering the same thing, especially because none of those ultimates actually wins you the game (if not the singleton Memory Adept in late game). Tamiyo just makes your control cards infinitely recursive, which means achieving supreme control but it's not a wincon by itself. And Architect of Thought just gives you one of your other control cards, and one of the opponent's cards, which is hardly enough to win, unless they were playing some Eldrazi-level threat in their deck.

Esper has been my deck of by ricklongo at Tue, 02/12/2013 - 09:35
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Esper has been my deck of choice in standard for the last few months, and from my experience you win by either 1) milling them out with Drownyard, or 2) ultimating Tamiyo (which always win you the game no matter what - usually by a concession right away, but sometimes by generating infinite spirit tokens).

Indeed it is. Given the high by Elbinac at Mon, 02/11/2013 - 22:17
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Indeed it is.
Given the high focus on creature based win conditions, and the current state of poor counter and spot removal, it isn't surprising to see someone load up on sweeper type control elements and try to use a land based win condition.