Kumagoro42's picture
By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Jul 07 2022 11:15am

 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!


 In a meta that hasn't seen a new ban since January, all the shaking has been falling on the shoulders of each new premier sets. Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty was definitely responsibile for some of that last spring, and then the release of Streets of New Capenna followed suit. It took the format to the seasonal zenith of eight legal sets, leading to a long, stabilized summer that will culminate with the very end of the cycle, as a new rotation is looming in early September. For now, we can just note how the tier-1 archetypes that accompany this Standard era to its sunset are impacted by the triple-colored nature of New Capenna, facilitated by the kind of superior fixing a late-Standard land base can more easily provide. A situation that may change once Standard loses access to the speed and versatility of the pathways from Zendikar Rising and Kaldheim. The slow lands from the Innistrad sets and New Capenna's triomes and "locales" all remain, but they might not be enough to support three-color decks with the same ease as we're seeing now, especially when paired with aggressive strategies that don't quite agree with taplands.


 It's interesting to note how four major archetypes in the current metagame are triple-colored, but only half of them correspond to the shards supported by New Capenna's factions. Speaking of which, as expected, the names of those factions didn't really catch on – the Alara shards names are still the go-to nomenclature for these color combinations. For instance, we can talk of Esper Midrange, also known as Esper Raffine, or even Esper Aggro, since its centerpiece Raffine, Scheming Seer is the odd Esper card that wants to be surrounded by a bunch of creatures. Although such creatures are supplied indirectly by a number of token-making planeswalkers like Kaito Shizuki and The Wandering Emperor, or by Wedding Announcement – which is basically this cycle's History of Benalia, but more adaptable to different strategies. The rest of the deck, which is in large part an evolution of the Orzhov Midrange lists of the recent past, is mostly one-for-one removal pieces, with some control elements like the unavoidable The Meathook Massacre, given that most sources of creatures in the deck are renewable.


 Also directly descended from the New Capenna setup is Grixis Vampires, which is a tribal synergy build based on Evelyn, the Covetous. Funnily, only one of the Innistrad Vampires tipically makes the cut in these lists: the removal on legs Bloodtithe Harvester. Once again, blue is mostly a splash here, due to the triple-colored cost of the centerpiece and to allow for some high-powered inclusions like, in this case, Expressive Iteration.


 Moving on from the Capenna families, we find a similar, unusually subordinate role of blue in Temur Control builds as well. There are a few two-mana counterspells to capitalize on the double Treasure mana that Goldspan Dragon generates – this is in fact what justifies the "control" moniker of these lists, which can usually keep an aswer open in the opponent's turn. However, the basic foundation of the deck is more reminiscent of previous Gruul Dragons builds. After all, they're fully capable of curving out a turn-three Fable of the Mirror-Breaker into turn-four Goldspan into turn-five Titan of Industry.


 Next come the Jeskai Hinata decks. These existed in the same form last spring already; they didn't actually inherit any new trick from Streets of New Capenna, but still own a large share of the meta. The lists may slightly vary, but they all children of the Izzet lists that have been running Goldspan Dragon, Expressive Iteration and Prismari Command, with the namesake Hinata, Dawn-Crowned added as a way to improve on the tempo of their plays, and especially to combo with Magma Opus. White is just a splash otherwise used only for the versatility of Valorous Stance.


 What all the red decks of this era have in common is the presence of such an exceptional multi-purpose Saga as Fable of the Mirror-Breaker. The Neon Dynasty enchantment fits virtually into any kind of deck, providing a 2/2 blocker right away, potential ramp and double card filtering on the following turn, and eventually another 2/2 creature that, if left unchecked, can easily run away with the game by Kiki-Jiki-ing its way into some powerful cloning. Another Kamigawa addition that's frequently sighted in all these lists is Reckoner Bankbuster, which occupies the hand-refueling role with extra perks that cards like Treasure Map and Mazemind Tome had in the past. These are two elements that cement the idea that Neon Dynasty had the larger impact on Standard of all the post-rotation sets, with Streets of New Capenna mostly providing centerpieces and fixing, while the Innistrad duo ultimately failed to establish lasting strategies.


 This said, the final Standard meta of this cycle is unexpectedly diverse, with aggressive decks like Boros Aggro, Monogreen Aggro and Monowhite Aggro also competing for a share of the top-tier environment, while most of the past archetypes or sub-archetypes are still viable enough to earn themselves placements in high-stake tournaments. It's not a bad finale for an era that's been, overall, much more stable and enjoyable than the previous ones. Here's to hoping that the September rotation will keep Standard on the same route.



 Currently 8 sets out of 8: Zendikar Rising (Fall 1), Kaldheim (Winter 1), Strixhaven: School of Mages (Spring 1), Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms (Summer 1), Innistrad: Midnight Hunt (Fall 2.1), Innistrad: Crimson Vow (Fall 2.2), Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty (Winter 2), Streets of New Capenna (Spring 2). Standard is at its zenith!

 Next: Dominaria United (Fall 3.1) will release on September 9, triggering a new rotation. It will be quickly followed by The Brothers' War (Fall 3.2) on November 18.


 Last revised: January 25, 2022

 Total banned cards: 4 (of which 1 from Zendikar Rising, 2 from Kaldheim, 1 from Strixhaven)

 See you after the new rotation will have brought Standard back to Dominaria!