Crucible of Words – A Pretty Standard Affair by Cyrus Bales

Crucible of Words – How do you solve a problem like a Mindsculptor? By Cyrus Bales

Crucible of Words – A Pretty Standard Affair by Cyrus Bales


The new standard format is here. Fortunately for the purposes of this article, it’s a pretty easy format to break down and examine, with some clear pillars of the format. In this article I’ll go over the key components of the format and what to expect in coming weeks.


As everyone expected, zombies is going to continue being well represented in Standard. This deck comes in many flavours, but the core of the list tends to be 4 Gravecrawlers and 4 Geralf’s Messenger. From there, some lists are running red and playing 12 one mana two power guys thanks to Diregraf Ghoul and Rakdos Cackler, then supporting it with a massive amount of burn.

Some have taken the green approach for Dreg Mangler and Lotleth Troll. Other builds are running both splashes, which makes the mana a little less ideal, but I don’t think we’ll have a standard tournament this year without a decent zombie contingency.

Lotleth Troll

A ‘quick’ aside about Lotleth Troll; On the surface, this card has bags of potential, but cramming it into zombies does not feel that special at all. Zombies is an aggro deck, it’s late game is generally worse than every other deck in the field, so it wants to have things pretty much wrapped up before then. Lotleth Troll does not help this plan. He’s got the same power as your one drops but for twice the mana cost, but what about his abilities?

Regenerate seems less than relevant in a world of Terminus, Detention Sphere, Tamiyo, the Moon Sage, Tragic Slip, Olivia Voldaren, Dead Weight etc. But the real problem with its regenerate, is that zombies is a mana light deck, and devoting a black mana every turn to keep him on the table is a huge amount of your resources.

Developing your board becomes an issue as well, you don’t want to lose your troll, but you want to put a Dreg Mangler or Messenger on the board, so you end up not attacking with your troll, not really what an aggro deck wants. By the time you do attack with him and have black mana open, he’s too small to have an impact.

Yes, but he can pump himself! Well, sort of. He only interacts favourably with discarding Gravecrawler, a one drop you’ve probably cast on turn one anyway. Any other creature you discard is basically swapping your card for a +1/+1 counter, which seems less than stellar in most situations.

Realistically, this guy doesn’t get much past three power without giving up a lot. Two power on a separate body, or one power on the same body? The choice is not difficult for an aggro deck. Modern may have a lot of tools for this guy, but for standard, it’s lacking a fair bit(having to run Veilborn Ghoul does not feel like a good idea) and for zombies it really doesn’t have a good place.


This man is a key player in the format without question. This is the card that gives the midrange decks the power to pull back a game from aggro and apply the necessary staying power to tackle control. If you have 24 lands in your deck with green mana, you should be playing this guy as a 3-4 of, simple as. Whether you have a Jund deck, or a GW based deck, this card will be a key part of your list.

Geist of Saint Traft

This guy should not be underestimated; there will be some tempo decks with this guy. Whether they play Green-White-Blue or Red-White-Blue, the mana will be good enough to make an aggressive deck using this guy, even straight up UW is good. When a creature is this far above the curve in terms of power, it’s madness for him not see play.

Whether it’s a new Delver type build, or something a little different, people will turning this guy sidewise and probably blinking him out of combat with Restoration Angel to be getting lots of damage. Basically the best clock around, Geist of Saint Traft will be a force in standard this year.

Jace, Architect of Thought and Tamiyo, Moon Sage

The slower element of blue is strong within these two planeswalkers. Curving Jace in to Tamiyo feels like a good place to be, shutting down small guys and locking out their big beaters, allowing you take over the game in no time.

At the moment, the mana available suggests Bant and RWU are the colour combinations for them to shine, including running Terminus as a very suitable sweeper. This will comprise the control element of the format for the foreseeable future.

Unburial Rites

Frites was a deck, and still is. This time it could be more value based thanks to the amazing tool that is Grisly Salvage, an Impulse for black-green! Crazy! I’m sure you could generate a value deck with Deathrite Shaman, Grisly Salvage, Lingering Souls and all the other goodies you could want.

Obviously this is another Thragtusk deck, but it can aim high with Griselbrand and Angel of Serenity to bring back and top the curve with. Shaman allows for a potential turn 3 Griselbrand which has got to be pretty amazing, but he also hoses other people’s graveyards whilst dealing damage and gaining life.

This deck obviously has some enemies in Rest in Peace and friends, but the ability to dig well and the value cards like Thragtusk and Lingering Souls give the deck a solid backup plan until it casts a fatty from its hand.


This deck was banned from the block format, so there’s definitely something to it. Lingering Souls and Intangible Virtue form the core, but there are many options for where to take the deck. Colour wise, there is the ability to dip into a third colour, green for Call of the Conclave and Thragtusk, red for burn spells and Hellrider and even blue for Talrand’s Invocation and friends. You do have to get a little greedy with the mana, but this standard format will be defined by greedy mana bases.

Final Thoughts

That’s pretty much is for Standard. If you’re not doing one of these things, you’ve either completely broken the format, or you’re doing it completely wrong, probably the latter.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for sharing.

Cyrus Bales


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