Hi and welcome back to Part 4 of my review of the archetypes I expect will come out of this Standard rotation. Guilds of Ravnica has brought a ton of new and interesting cards into the format; more importantly, it also kicked a bunch of old and oppressive cards out of the format as well. No longer are we beholden to the sets of Standard past. With a reduced card pool to select from we are now freed to explore the depths of recent sets that were too underpowered, or just didn’t have the right support. New sets and new formats give Magic players the perfect confluence to make brewing new decks fun, exciting, and potentially creating an entirely new deck archetype for the format!
I would like to start things off with my personal favorite guild. I’m talking The House Dimir. I started playing Magic when I rediscovered the game back in 2012, the weekend that Return to Ravnica was released! Now I know what you’re thinking: Dimir wasn’t in RtR, they were in Gatecrash. Yes, however when I bought my first few boosters of Innistrad and Dark Ascension to go with my new RtR cards, I was immediately drawn to Diregraf Captain and Undead Alchemist. And so my love for Blue-Black Mill began. When House Dimir was released with Gatecrash the following winter, I was only given more fuel for my milling fires with cards like Mind Grind and Duskmantle Guildmage. Now we are back on Ravnica, and we get House Dimir in the first set in the block this go-round (yes, I know technically it is the ONLY set in the block because we don’t do blocks anymore…). The Mill archetype is a very tricky one to build. It is seldom fast enough and tends to run out of answers if the opponent can create a bunch of advantage out of their spells. Add on top of that the fact that you essentially have to “deal 60 points of damage” to your opponent instead of 20, and you can see why it is so difficult to get a “good” Mill build going. But as long as the term “alternate Win-Con” exists, there will be a segment of the community ready to try it out. And I will be right there beside you. Below is how I would start building UB Mill in GRN Standard:
Moving out of the “you’d have to be crazy to sleeve that up at a GP” side of my brews for Guilds of Ravnica and into a more traditional archetype, I want to pose the question “Are Dinosaurs good enough for Standard?” With things slowing down and midrange becoming the dominant strategy, it is entirely possible that it is time for Regisaur Alpha and friends to make a Jurassic World style comeback and reign terror on us mere mortals. Thanks to not having access to all 10 shock lands yet, the deck is actually better suited to splash White for access to lands that come into play untapped on turns 1 and 2 and give you green mana in Temple Garden and Sunpetal Grove.
Coming back to the Guild themes for GRN, The next archetype I wanted to explore is The Izzet League and their infinite bag of tricks. There are a few different routes to take here, and having Goblin Electromancer included in GRN makes you think there is a Storm-style spells deck in here somewhere. Don’t be fooled; there are not enough cantrips or payoffs to make “Spells” work. There is, however, an abundance of Wizards hanging around and I think enough redundancy in threats to build a pretty solid tempo deck that will keep your opponents reeling.
Merfolk is a tribe that Magic players have been building around since the very first Alpha booster was cracked. Lord of Atlantis has provided many a kitchen table Johnny and competitive tournament Spike alike with an aggressive tempo oriented win con. Merfolk Mistbinder is doing its best “Standard power level” impression of the timeless Lord, powering one of the classic tribal synergy decks. With other Modern archetype all-stars like Silvergill Adept and new kid on the block Merfolk Trickster, this deck could be quite fast and very powerful if left unfettered. The Merfolk tribe lacks some top-end as far as Standard cards goes, which is why the inclusion of Ghalta, Primal Hunger is a necessity for breaking those ground stalls. Considering the Simic Combine has a storied history of providing good tempo hybrid creature mutants, this might also be a sneaky powerful Tier 1 archetype after Ravnica Allegiance drops in January. Again, better suited to splash white for smoother mana, below would be my early build of Merfolk this Standard season.
Speaking of archetypes with die hard fans that cling on until the bitter end, Jund ’em out! Mix the powerful new Golgari cards with the explosiveness of Red and you’ve got yourself a recipe for just the kind of midrange grind that Jund players dream of. And did I mention the bevy of 2- and 3-for-1’s??? Many of the combos revolve around Goblin Chainwhirler but there’s enough power packed in the support cards to steal some wins.
What could be better to brew around than a card says “YOU WIN THE GAME” directly on it? Liliana’s contract rewards you (very flavorfully) for controlling four Demon creatures with separate names. This deck is probably better suited to be sleeved up after The Cult of Rakdos brings some extra demons, because there are ONLY 4 demons in standard at the moment, but, come on… WIN THE GAME!
Ok, so there IS something better than a card that says you win the game on the spot. When a card says “your opponent LOSES the game” on it! Vraska, Golgari Queen’s ultimate plus any unblockable threat equals instant game loss for your opponent.
Thank you for joining me as I explore the lighter, fun side of new Standard. I hope these deck ideas can give you some interesting tools to test out at your next FNM. I know I’ll be there trying to turn libraries upside down!
Eric has been an avid Magic fan and player since re-discovering the game in 2012. He is a Red mage at heart but likes to confuse himself with the varying decision trees presented by mid-range and control decks from time to time.
Eric plays mostly casually with his 9-year-old daughter, but manages to get out for every prerelease and a few FNM’s and GP’s every year.
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