Kumagoro42's picture
By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Jan 23 2023 12:01pm

 Hello and welcome back to the State of Standard, our periodical rendez-vous with all things Standard, to make sure you know everything that's happening in the format. Since, for the time being, the premier releases have switched to a September-November-February-April format, the updates will be linked to the sets rather than the seasons of the Northern Hemisphere. They'll analyze the meta roughly one month after each set's release.

 The series archive is here.
 Let's start a new ride!


 Prior to the release of The Brothers' War, we left Standard in a black-dominated state thanks to the first warnings of the upcoming Phyrexian Invasion, exemplified by cards like Sheoldred, the Apocalypse and Evolved Sleeper. And while the black decks are still a force in the meta, despite not having inherited anything relevant from Urza and Mishra's nostalgia trip (we can already tell things will look better for black after Phyrexia: All Will Be One hit the shelves next month), it's white the new sheriff in town. According to this matchup matrix that covers Standard matches from October to January, Azorius Soldiers is the winner, with almost 58% win rate over its tier-one competitors. And that's a deck where blue is mostly just a splash to account for tribal lords Harbin, Vanguard Aviator and Skystrike Officer.


 This tribal setup is the main innovation from The Brothers' War, sustained by lands like Fortified Beachhead as well as the overlooked tribal enabler Secluded Courtyard from Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty. Meanwhile, the slightly less explosive Monowhite Midrange from last quarter was given a couple new toys with anti-control Assembly-Worker land Mishra's Foundry, one-mana removal Lay Down Arms, multi-purpose three-drop Loran of the Third Path, and powerful, versatile finisher Steel Seraph.


 Curiously, the Angels these white decks usually run (the Seraph, but also Serra Paragon from Dominaria United and Sanctuary Warden from Streets of New Capenna) aren't part of the other tribal list of the moment, Mardu Angels – or at least aren't the centerpiece. That honor falls to Archangel of Wrath, which is the whole reason why the deck splashes black and red to begin with, except for running two of the most powerful cards in the meta, i.e. Sheoldred and Fable of the Mirror-Breaker. The Angel tribal-ness of it all is expressed by the extremely busted curve of turn-two Giada, Font of Hope followed by turn-three Inspiring Overseer or non-kicked Archangel.


 Mardu Angel is the most prominent three-color list in the Standard meta right now – but a few others are there to challenge the reign of the monocolored or quasi-mocolored decks. They're all midrange concoctions: Jund Midrange is the more successful, a base-black/Rakdos list with Capenna inserts like triple-colored removal spells Riveteers Charm and Unleash the Inferno, and green finisher Workshop Warchief.


 Grixis Midrange and Esper Midrange are still around, too, virtually unchanged since Dominaria United. Both Kamigawa and Capenna maintain a major influence on the meta.


 Against such three-colored colossi, the agile mana and crystalline gameplan of the monocolored decks is meeting with increasing success. Monored Aggro is a thing in most metas of most formats, so that's not particularly surprising. The reprint of Monastery Swiftspear kind of foretold its triumphal return.


 On the other hand, Monoblue Tempo doesn't always come together. It's not one of the most successful lists out there, and it doesn't actually benefit from anything printed in The Brothers' War, but over the past few months it has carved out a niche for itself on the wings and spires of Haughty Djinn and Tolarian Terror.


 Even less relevant is Monogreen Aggro, despite the many new cards from the latest set it incorporated in its lineup – solid, fast stuff like Teething Wurmlet, Simian Simulacrum, and Rootwire Amalgam. It fares better in bo1 Standard on Arena, though.


 Currently 6 sets out of 9:

  1. Innistrad: Midnight Hunt (Fall 1.1)
  2. Innistrad: Crimson Vow (Fall 1.2)
  3. Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty (Winter 1)
  4. Streets of New Capenna (Spring 1)
  5. Dominaria United (Fall 2.1)
  6. The Brothers' War (Fall 2.2)


  1. Phyrexia: All Will Be One (Winter 2) will be released on February 10, 2023
  2. March of the Machine (Spring 2.1) will be released on April 21, 2023
  3. March of the Machine: The Aftermath (Spring 2.2) will be released on May 12, 2023


 Last revised: October 10, 2022

 Total banned cards: 1 (from Innistrad: Midnight Hunt)

 See you after Standard will have braced for the Phyrexian impact!