Hello, this week I’ll be looking at the different archetypes in standard and seeing how they all fit together and represent the field.
Aggro, a traditional cornerstone of any healthy metagame. In the current age, this type of strategy is represented by several decks.
RDW – A classic deck that always finds one form or another to exist in. The current builds keep the Goblin Guide and Plated Geopede of last season, but have extended their late game with Koth of the Hammer. A lot of builds are using him to level of Kargan Dragonlords, but some just use him as an extra four damage each turn which ends in pinging mountains. Either way, the rest of the deck is very familiar, burn spells, a few more burn spells, and of course, some burn spells. The strength of this deck is that it’s fast enough to win games before other decks have a chance, which puts it in good stead against the ramp decks and some control decks pre-board.
GOBLINS – Whilst some may see this deck as similar to RDW, there are actually a lot of differences. The power of this deck lies in not only speed, but synergy. Tribal synergy as well as Metalcraft. Having a much bigger creature base than normal RDW, is aims to drop lots of tokens using Kuldotha Rebirth, and pump them with either Goblin Chieftain or Goblin Bushwhacker, either one can force an attack out of nowhere that deals a large amount of damage. But it doesn’t stop there, Spikeshot Elder benefits from this pump, as well as from Basilisk Collar that turns on the Metalcraft, all strung together with Mox Opal to allow for Galvanic Blasts to chew through both creatures and life totals. This deck is a little more robust than normal RDW, and has the ability to play almost in a combo-like fashion as it spills forth hasty goblins quick enough to step on ramp decks, but also have a better presence against other decks using creatures.
ELVES – Another blast from the past, this deck is incredibly simple and abides by the old code of elf decks. Make lots of guys that make lots of mana, then cast some kind of overrun. However Overrun is now Eldrazi Monument and Ezuri, Renegade Leader, which gives you protection from removal, and Nissa’s Chosen adds a certain inevitability to the whole process. And with enough lords in the form of Joraga Warcaller and Elvish Archdruid, it can turn these mild mannered manadorks into beat sticks in no time at all. Of, and Vengevine with Fauna Shaman support for good measure helps to seal the deal. This is a deck that should be able to take on other aggro decks and requires the opponent to draw their disruption in order to stop.
WHITE WEENIES – This deck comes in several forms, the most popular being Quest for the Holy Relicand Argentum Armour. Whilst the deck can clock quickly, it does suffer horrifically to disruption. One Lightning Bolt stall it a couple of turns, a board sweeper is usually game over as it’s a very all in deck. It’s better against midrange decks and things like Eldrazi Ramp who can’t deal with what they’re doing early on.
UG/X FAUNA SHAMAN – Fauna Shaman and Vengevine are an established powerhouse, and this deck is just the newest build. Birds of Paradise as per usual are in here, some decks build to Frost Titans and Molten-Tail Masticores as well as the Vengevine plan, backing it up with Garruk Wildspeaker and Jace The Mind Sculptor. Some come out more like Dredgevine, powering out damage with Renegade Doppleganger, and using Trinket Mage to snatch up card advantage alongside Jace, The Mind Sculptor. Some decks even support the Triskellion combo by splashing black for Doom Blade and Necrotic Ooze. The combo here is simple, Triskellion with Basilisk Collar and Blade of the Bloodchief, it lets you machine gun any number of creatures, with the tutor of Fauna Shaman and Doppleganger, along with Trinket Mage to find the equipment, it takes up minimal space and is a nice option to have. This deck definitely has it’s advantages, and can do some incredible things, but really misses Fauna Shaman-less draws.
VAMPIRES – A throwback from yesteryear, but unlike the coin flip that was Vampire Nocturnus, held together with a few good cards like Gatekeeper of Malakir, this new deck is something much better. Often termed as â€œSacrificial Vampsâ€, the deck now has itself an engine, Viscera Seer and Bloodthorne Vampire provide the sacrifice outlets. Bloodghast and anything about to die provide the food. And Kalastria Highborn and Blade of the Bloodchief send it over the top, allowing you to physically suck the life out of your opponent without needed to use the combat phase. The ability to play the important black sideboard cards like Sadistic Sacrament and Memoricide, along with main deck Vampire Hexmages for planeswalkers, puts this deck in a much better position than it’s previous incarnations, especially with it’s more reliable lord. This is the sort of deck that people underestimate, but has a lot of power, it should be able to beat most decks if built correctly, but the fragility of it’s creatures are a problem.
Control plays an important role in the metagame, offsetting what would otherwise be a very dull and one sided format, allowing for something much more balanced and enjoyable.
UW CONTROL – This deck is reasonably unchanged in terms of how it performs. Control the board with removal, control what hit’s the board with permission, and allow the best cards like Frost Titan and Jace, The Mind Sculptor to get you there. If it wasn’t for Summoning Trap, this deck would be putting up even better numbers, but ramp decks tend to make life hard for this deck.
UB CONTROL – Keeping some of the same core of permission with Jace, The Mind Sculptor and Frost Titan, this deck attempts to answer the problem of ramp decks, with more proactive removal like Doom Blade and the ability to pick apart their hand with tools like Duress and Memoricide. Creeping Tar Pit allows for helpful planeswalker removal and really holds the deck together nicely, and of course Jace, The Mind Sculptor is the most powerful card in standard, so it does a lot of work. Using Preordain like a modern day Brainstorm helps fix the draws and helps you keep a high card quality, whilst Frost Titan works as a removal spell that happens to beat for a convincing six and dodge removal to a degree. This is definitely a better control deck than UW control due to how the meta has shaped up, although not having access to Wall of Omens can leave it vulnerable to some faster decks.
RUG CONTROL – This is effectively the new kid on the block, since people have only just started playing it really, however it is a throwback to Zendikar block, where RUG ramp was rather strong. It does what you’d expect it to, ramp out with cards like Lotus Cobra, Explore and Oracle of Mul Daya, like the turbo land decks of old. And of course, it runs incredible finishers like Avenger of Zendikar and Frost Titan, held together with the unfair power of Jace, The Mind Sculptor. The support of the deck is Lightning Bolts, Mana Leaks, Volition Reigns and Preordain. Whilst it does seem less controlling than the previous control decks mentioned, the ability to dig through the deck with Jace and Oracle allow the pilot to find their answers, not to mention how cards like Frost Titan and Jace are also control spells amongst their other uses. Goblin Ruinblaster is edging his way into main decks too, since Valakuts, Eldrazi Temples and Creeping Tar Pits are all important to kill off. Unlike other control decks, this build has the option to come out swinging and end games quickly by ramping into big threats, helping to shore up it’s match ups against some of the aggro decks who can’t do much in the face of seven plant tokens.
Whilst combo in the traditional sense is very scarce in this metagame, the current ramp decks function like combo decks, hard casting an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn feels quite similar to casting Tooth and Nail in years gone by.
MONO GREEN ELDRAZI – This deck is pretty straight forward. Play lots of ramp spells, including Primeval Titan, and drop a near impossible to deal with threat, namely, and Eldrazi. If they die, search it out again with Eye of Ugin and start again. A pretty simple deck, but it does have a lot of strength, since there’s very little any deck can do against a hard casted Emrakul. The problem with this deck though, is that it can have it’s ramp spells, often things like Joraga Treespeaker, removed, and it can draw into dead cards, since after a while, forests don’t help you out. However All is Dust is a nice tool, and Wurmcoil Engine is a tutor able source of life gain, but it definitely feels like the weaker of the ramp decks.
VALAKUT – You could class this deck as a combo deck easily, since the combo here is Primeval Titan, and your library. Much more streamline than the Eldrazi Ramp deck, this deck likes to win quickly. Ramping quickly to drop a Primeval Titan as quickly as possible, if this guy resolves, you start shooting damage off with Valakut, The Molten Pinnacle, usually several of them. If they somehow survive this and kill your Titan, then Avenger of Zendikar can create a massive and lethal army in just one turn. The power of this deck, is that it’s lands can just play out and win you the game if your opponent doesn’t attempt to clock you, and as the game goes on. Also, there are very few dead draws, as even the ramp spells find you mountains to shoot damage with later on, which leads to very little redundancy, which puts it head and shoulders above Eldrazi Ramp. Summoning Trap is the deck’s biggest trick, and it’s a nasty one. This card is good enough to run in the main deck, since instant speed creatures are strong, but the fact that is has a built in ability to hose control decks, means that you get to run riot. However this deck’s natural foil is black, Sadistic Sacrament, Memoricide, Duress and other discard all hurts this deck, which thankfully keeps it under control.
As we can see, the metagame has a varied number of archetypes, and despite the combo portion lacking greatly, the different styles of these aggro and control decks do make for a lot of variation, and a much healthier metagame than this time last year.
Thanks for reading and thanks for sharing,