Kumagoro42's picture
By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Jun 26 2020 11:00am

 Hello and welcome back to the State of Standard, our seasonal rendez-vous with all things Standard, to make sure you know everything that's happening in the format.

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


 Winter has passed, the World Championship feels far away, and Ikoria has caused a ruckus everywhere with its companions, culminating in the unprecedented decision to rewrite the mechanic. For a time, Standard has been dominated by a few lists directly descended from decks that showed up in Honolulu last February. The most successful was Jeskai Lukka, which moved Jeskai Fires into combo territory, thanks to Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast being able to sacrifice one of the various tokens created via noncreature cards to fetch a copy of the only creature in the deck, the king of thieves Agent of Treachery.


 All the Omens and Sagas, the consumable planeswalkers and Agent itself also create a critical mass of permanents that demand to be abused by a flicker effect, and Yorion, Sky Nomad provides that opportunity without even requiring to be part of the deck. It does require to run 80 cards, but the power of this build was such that even a larger library didn't affect it, and the advantage of a free Yorion retriggering everything was often crucial and more than made up for its downside.


 But now Fires of Invention and Agent of Treachery have been banned, the companions have been nerfed (by essentially adding three mana to their cost), so this list pretty much evaporated. Lukka could be given Dream Trawler as a new target, and that reworked deck did come into existence and enjoyed some success, but it's not the same as casting two free spells per turn while concurrently being able to activate Castles and sacrifice Omens, then stealing all the opponent's stuff again and again. RIP Lukka, your trajectory in Standard almost reflects your narrative in the Ikoria's storyline. On the other hand, Yorion played in a straightforward manner withint a 60-card deck, as just a blinking specialist with a flying body attached, has redefined Azorius Control, which is now all about the flickering.


 The parable of Sacrifice decks has more of a happy ending, one that currently sees them sitting at the top of the meta. After Ikoria released, the original Jund Sacrifice was instantly swayed by Lurrus of the Dream-Den, arguably the most powerful of the companions. But employing the fierce Cat Nightmare from the sideboard meant abandoning all cards with casting cost higher than two, so no more Mayhem Devil and no more Korvold.


 The lost late-game pieces are offset by Lurrus's amazing recursion, which is an overwhelming advantage in a deck that's otherwise bent on sending all its stuff to the graveyard for value. Call of the Death-Dweller and Serrated Scorpion also became two key components, the former for doing more of what Lurrus does, the latter for being prime sacrifice fodder at the cheapest price.


 Going Mardu gives you Cruel Celebrant, but otherwise the deck is perfectly functional in Rakdos. IAnd 'm not talking in the past tense this time because Lurrus decks still exist, even with their signature card now having doubled the required mana investment. More recent builds, like this one by Eli Loveman, renounced Lurrus an reinstated Mayhem Devil, while maintaining the new tech from Lurrus's lists, of which Fiend Artisan is another popular example that was missing from Carvalho's dek. Or they just return to good ole midrange-y Jund Sacrifice once again.

 If the Cat/Oven combo stays on top in one form or the other, an even older archetype is right there on tier 1 with it, possibly even more rampant at the moment, since it was completely unaffected by either the bans or the companion change. And that archetype is Temur Reclamation, the deck that proved so imperishable that only the rotation of Wilderness Reclamation in the fall will be able to dissolve. There's not even much to say about it, it's in large measure the same list that Burchett, Depraz and Leveratto took to World four months ago, it mostly only picked up Shark Typhoon as a good mana sink that can't get countered (or at least can't get countered easily). And now that some of the competition has been either eliminated or toned down, the field has become so open for Reclamation shenanigans that in the first Players Tour Online, held June 13, Temur Rec comprised more than 40% of the meta and placed six lists in the top eight (the other two were Bant Ramp. There was a grand total of 32 copies of Growth Spiral and Breeding Pool in that Top 8! Can't get higher than that).


 Here's the full list of Standard Tiers for Bo3, as identified by the good people at MTG Arena Zone.

 One of the two decks that originated from Ikoria is Boros Cycling. It's a very straightforward list that banks its entire battleplan on the quantity of one-mana cyclers the set has printed, and on the few payoff cards that use the cycling mechanic to go tall (Flourishing Fox), go wide (Valiant Rescuer), burn (Drannith Stinger) or gain life (Drannith Healer), with Zenith Flare as a finishing move that works even if the opponent stopped the rest of the strategy, or even more so.


 The list sort of naturally allows for Lurrus as companion, and it's enhanced by its multiple angles of attack and the built-in catchup mechanism of Zenith Flare, which restores the life total when used as removal rather than just going for lethal. Graveyard hate is of course its doom.


 The other more exquisitely Ikorian deck is Simic Mutate. It's a very Timmy/Tammy list, an all-creature affair with Umori, the Collector as companion (even if, post-nerf, one could argue Umori is not that good of a fit for the curve anymore). Auspicious Starrix can at times create incredibly explosive turns. It's one hell of an elk.


 My personal favorite in the lower tier has to be Monogreen Monsters, though. There's a more midrange version with Vivien, Arkbow Ranger as the centerpiece, and one that's more low to the ground and reminescent of the Stompy lists of old, increasing the early pressure through cards like Gingerbrute and Syr Faren. I, for one, like the Vivien lists more, it goes without saying.


 Monogreen aggro is set up to gain a few good pieces from the imminent Core Set 2021, namely Scavenging Ooze at two and Garruk's Harbinger at three, maybe even the man himself at four (though that slot seems pretty crowded for the time being), plus Ranger's Guile and/or Heroic Intervention for protection. With some luck, the new core set will also change the meta at large; we'll just have to wait and see.



 Currently 7 sets out of 8: Guilds of Ravnica (Fall 1), Ravnica Allegiance (Winter 1), War of the Spark (Spring 1), Core Set 2020 (Summer 1), Throne of Eldraine (Fall 2), Theros: Beyond Death (Winter 2), Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths (Spring 2).

 Set 8 of 8: Core Set 2021 (Summer 2), releasing on July 3, 2020.

 Next rotation, back to 5 sets: Zendikar Rising (Fall 3), releasing around September 2020, triggering rotation of Guilds of Ravnica, Ravnica Allegiance, War of the Spark, Core Set 2020.


 Last revised: June 1, 2020 

 Total banned cards: 6 (Core Set 2020: 3, Throne of Eldraine: 3)

 See you in midsummer, when Core Set 2021 will have brought 2019-2020 Standard to its zenith!