First Look at Guilds of Ravnica Standard – Week 1 Results

Coming out of the gates the first Magic Online 5-0 decklists definitely painted a picture of a wide open and still to be resolved metagame.  Token strategies appear to be the early favorite, fueled by stalwarts like History of Benalia but really powered up by the new cards coming out of GRN. March of the Multitudes is making a very strong showing early on, and Emmara, Soul of the Accord is the perfect compliment.  With 51 decklists to parse, it is really anyone’s guess as to which of these will emerge as the true tier-0 deck. There are a few familiar faces among the crowd; however it is the new lists that hold the most intrigue when trying to figure out where the metagame is shifting.  One zig when you should be zagging will completely wreck your chances at tournament success.  This first set of results has a lot of false positives when it comes to “good” decks, mostly due to card availability on both the winner’s AND the loser’s side of things.  It is easy to go 5-0 with an improperly tuned list when your opponents are missing 20% of the card pool.
Further analyzing cards themselves, you can see a heavy tilt towards mid range and go-big strategies with Planeswalkers dominating the field.  Of the 51 decklists, 32 contained a Planeswalker card in the main deck.  The top 3 represented Walkers with 8 decks each were, you guessed it, Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, Karn, Scion of Urza, and Vraska, Relic Seekerrecord scratch…  Yes you read that right.  The 6-mana Vraska is represented in 8 different decks where the new hotness 4-mana Vraska, Golgari Queen only appears twice.  Granted the Relic Seeker is usually only found in 1- or 2-ofs, but maybe we can chalk the lack of Golgari Queens up to card availability?  Or, is the ability to kill ANYTHING and starting with 1 more loyalty just that important?  Considering the slant towards mid-range, I would say the latter is the key here, and Vraska, Golgari Queen‘s 3-CMC restriction is just too big of a drawback.  And with all of these very powerful and VERY hard to deal with Planeswalkers running around, I wouldn’t want to be playing a deck that didn’t have access to Vraska’s Contempt or Ixalan’s Binding.
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria is just as pervasive as I suspected, commanding 8 different 5-0 lists, and stemming several different archetypes.  From the classic straight up Azorius Control and Esper Control lists of metas past to new Jeskai Control, Jeskai Tempo, and Jeskai Midrange decks there is a flavor of Blue-White based deck for everyone.  I suspect the best Teferi deck will definitely shake out to be one of the Jeskai varieties, and you can’t deny the powerful feeling of locking your opponent out of the game with the controlling Blue lists.  My take from these early 5-0 lists is that this is going to be the Tier-0 deck after the dust settles.
As I mentioned at the top, March of the Multitudes is going to be a major player in the best Tier-1 lists for a long time to come.  And I really like the lists that include Emmara, Soul of the Accord as a 4-of.  There is just too much value gained being able to tap your creature for “mana” AND get a lifelink body to go with it.
As most people predicted, Red-based aggro strategies are winning A LOT at the onset of the format.  Again, this can be chalked up to card availability for the most part, but it is also the age-old concept that the midrange and control strategies just aren’t quite tuned enough to deal with a constant barrage of threats turn after turn.  One bad draw step or missed land drop and the game just slipped through their grasp.  Not surprisingly, Boros Aggro lists were a big part of this first decklist post.  Tajic, Legion’s Edge, Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice, and the additional ability to remove BIG threats with Justice Strike mean that these decks have the ability to hang even in the late game.  I prefer the decks that go a little bit bigger, including cards like Lyra Dawnbringer, Shalai, Voice of Plenty, or (not pictured) Rekindling Phoenix to the lower to the ground hyper-aggro lists.  It just seems like you run out of gas late in the game and when it becomes a top-deck 1-for-1 kind of match I’d rather have the Angels in my corner.
 
And of course, what is dead may never die.  I called Mono-Red dead.  I said there’s no way a mono-colored deck can exist in a world of huge, swingy, powerful multi-colored spells.  And then The Flame of Keld showed up to the party… And apparently it told the White Weenie archetype about the secret entrance…
Rounding out the “rest of the field” each one of the decks below brings enough to spike a tournament and would be a solid choice to play if that suits your style better.  I know I’m excited to be running the Grixis Control list created by Oliver_Hart!
 There is no denying that Doom Whisperer is a very powerful card. This Dimir deck takes full advantage of the undercosted beater and grinds out value while whittling away the opponent’s resources.
 In yet another display of crippling control power, this Esper deck is definitely powerful. Chromium, the Mutable is an absolute mirror breaker and will dominate a control heavy meta.
 There are 2 versions of Stompy deck represented.  One splashing white for Ixalan’s Binding and the other splashing black for Assassin’s Trophy. I believe the black splash is the correct choice because it gives you access to some of the most powerful cards that standard has to offer.
This is the best shell for a Vraska, Golgari Queen deck that I think is out there. You definitely want to be recurring your own value creatures that give you a control type of edge in order to get you to the long game and allow for your finishers to take over.
 These are quite the tricky group of wizards. Leveraging the jump-start spells to make a few snowball turns that get damage out of control, this deck is an evasive tempo style strategy that can take an opponent by surprise leaving them with few to no answers.
Karn, Scion of Ursa is an engine in his own. Opting to utilize his less touted ability in making artifact creatures, this deck really shows how powerful cards have the ability to take over games.
Moving away from the Magic Online lists and into tournament results, there was both a Team Constructed Star City Games Open as well as the SCG Classic on Sunday to give us an idea of the archetypes that have the staying power to make it through to the end of a long tournament.  Probably the more telling result, even though the tournament carries a smaller billing, is the Standard-only SCG Classic.  Won by Brian Cooper’s Boros Angels deck, this list is a near identical clone of the Magic Online list from earlier.  While I don’t agree with not including Justice Strike in the main, it is hard to argue with results.
Coming in second, Andrew Jessup suited up a full set of Nicol Bolas, the Ravager and Surveiled his way to the finals.  Piloting a true control deck to the finals of a first weekend tournament is a true testament to the premier level of play that Andrew brings to the table, but this is definitely a deck that excites me.  The only changes from the Magic Online list is -1 Fungal Infection for +1 The Eldest Reborn, which I am fully behind.
Rounding out the rest of the top-8 are 3 more Red-based aggro decks, a Golgari midrange deck that “oozes” value (sorry I couldn’t help the pun, even though there isn’t a single Ooze to be found in the decklist…heck, there’s only 1 single Ooze creature type in all of standard!), a Mono-Blue aggro deck (I know!), and a Jeskai Control deck.
Looking at the Team Open, the results are also heavily skewed towards the red aggro end of the spectrum with 4 of the 8 decks.  The finals consisted of a March of the Multitudes mirror.  Easy to understand how a deck full of lifegain could beat out the red damage strategy.  Eric Shoopman prevailed with this list that maxes out on Emmara and Legion’s Landing, and uses District Guide to ensure you’re hitting your land drops for a big March:
The other list that really stood out to me from the Open was Ian Ulman’s 8th place Golgari Midrange deck (an archetype also seen at the top ranked of the Classic).  Being able to recur Ravenous Chupacabras is a very powerful strategy.
One thing you may have noticed is the incredible lack of Nexus of Fate in any of these results. The card that single handedly killed Magic, ruined an entire Standard Season (it did neither of these thing by the way… that was just the forever-overreacting of the vocal minority of the Magic player base).  I am very much looking forward to where the shift in the metagame will take us and how the top decks will react to these results. I suspect by this time next week we will see a more structured and fleshed out metagame with plenty of Planeswalkers at the top.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *