Kumagoro42's picture
By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Apr 06 2023 10:16am

 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.

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


 Standard is in a state of flux. March of the Machine is coming only two months after Phyrexia: All Will Be One, and March of the Machine: The Aftermath will follow suit just three weeks later. All these sets share a thematic throughline due to them being all based around the New Phyrexian Invasion, which implies a recurring presence of certain mechanics and subtypes.

 Going into March of the Machine, the data indicate three lists at the very top for best-of-three. One has been there the whole time, changing fortune according to how favorable the metagame was to its whole gameplan. It's none other than the never-really-updated Grixis Midrange deck, still going strong on the wings of cards from Crimson Vow, Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, and Streets of New Capenna – namely, Bloodtithe Harvester, monoblack star Invoke Despair, and Corpse Appraiser, the latter being one of the very few reasons to add blue to what's otherwise pretty much a Rakdos build. Of course being heavily black/red also translates into the obligatory presence of this era's number one creature and number one enchantment, i.e. Sheoldred, the Apocalypse and Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, as no deck in the right colors can really justify not running the two them in heavy numbers. The newest cards in the list are a couple of versatile control spells from The Brothers' War, Gix's Command and especially the early sweeper Brotherhood's End, which is a boon for any deck trying to keep aggro at bay.


 Grixis Midrange is a workhorse, a deck for all seasons; but the real protagonist of this pre-MOM Standard, win percentage-wise, is a different shard altogether, one that shares two colors with Grixis but manages to do without the red Fable. Esper Legends at first sight appears like a strange list. Only creatures and lands except for a few copies of Go for the Throat? All legendaries except for the recursive (easy) meta-call that is Razorlash Transmogrant? There's a method behind the madness, though. The selection of Esper-colored legends is strong on its own, but it's held together by the notably extensive land base, featuring Plaza of Heroes for fixing and repeatable protection, as well as a large number of the channel lands from Neon Dynasty, which acts as interactive spells in disguise, made super-efficient by the legendaries themselves.


 Another deck that made strides after the release of All Will Be One is Atraxa Reanimator. Despite its namesake being the terrific finisher/card advantage engine Atraxa, Grand Unifier, which notably features all colors but red, the list is strictly a Rakdos affair, using Fable of the Mirrror-Breaker and Liliana of the Veil to pitch the mighty Phyrexian Angel to the graveyard, and The Cruelty of Gix to reanimate her. The usual Rakdos suspects like Bloodtithe Harvester and the indispensable Sheoldred complete the build, with the Treasures from Atsushi, the Blazing Sky as a failsafe to hardcast Atraxa.


 It's definitely a time for three-color decks, due to all the dual and triple land fixers in the pool, but it's above all a time for midrange strategies. Among all of these Esper and Grixis builds, monocolored lists are still more than viable, but they still have the "midrange" qualifier attached. Monoblack Midrange has been a safe bet in the format since Invoke Despair and then Sheoldred were printed. But even monowhite followed suit, with Monowhite Midrange limiting the number of creatures in the list and instead counting on four-drop finishers and great removal to assure control quality (which, given that most everything else is also midrange-y, turns the whole of Standard into a gigantic war of attrition). Most recently, The Brothers' War gave the color the mono-only Lay Down Arms and All Will Be One added the very powerful Ossification – which also works better, if not exclusively, in lists with no more than one or two colors.


 Green is not much represented at the top these days. The Selesnya Enchantment list born out of Neon Dynasty survives in the second tier of best-of-one, alongside Gruul Aggro, which just gained important new pieces like the Pelt Collector-like Evolving Adaptive, as well as the hard-hitting three-drops Bloated Contaminator and Migloz, Maze Crusher. Naya Humans fares even better there, with Melira, the Living Cure entering the Halana and Alena squad.


 In best-of-three, though, aside from some tier-2 Jund presence, the most notable new list involving green is Selesnya Toxic, the one mechanic from All Will Be One to surface with a dedicated build in Constructed. It's a fast deck centered around what immediately looked like the scariest toxic card of the bunch, Venerated Rotpriest, which partners perfectly with Tyvar's Stand. The toxic department is suitably cheap (the deck features 12 one-drops and 12 two-drops), and boasts some inevitability through Skrelv's Hive. As for Skrelv himself, this is the best showcase for the little Mite, which is showing up everywhere white is played, as the closest thing to Mother of Runes and Giver of Runes Standard has to offer. But nowhere else he's able to push as much potentially game-ending damage as he does in a proper toxic list.


 Currently 7 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)
  7. Phyrexia: All Will Be One (Winter 2)


  1. March of the Machine (Spring 2.1) will be released on April 21, 2023
  2. 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 when the fate of the Multiverse will be hanging in the balance!