March Standard Deck Compendium

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The letter H!ello and welcome back to Perilous Research,'s exclusive Magic Online column. Every month, I spend at least one week breaking down the Magic Online Standard metagame. Performing well in large Magic tournaments isn't an easy task, especially in the current Standard environment. There are so many archetypes that you will almost certainly face off against a deck you're unfamiliar with, thus putting you at a pretty big disadvantage. Today, I offer up the latest Magic Online Standard Deck Compendium, a piece that's filled to the brim with all the Standard archetypes that have performed well recently. Armed with knowledge of all these decks, you should rarely find yourself in a spot where you don't know what you're up against. Let's get right into the decklists!

Skulldeath's Junk Rites
Standard – Top 8, Magic Online Premier Event, March 3

Human Reanimator was the Unburial Rites deck of choice last week, but that seems to be shifting right now. The Junk Rites deck is significantly less dependent on its actual combo and performs much like a midrange creature deck in post-boarded games when you're assuming the opponent has graveyard hate. I recommend playing fast and loose here. Use removal spells aggressively and try to prevent the Junk Rites player from establishing a board presence. Izzet Staticaster is well positioned against this archetype, and I would suggest some type of pinging effect or some Rolling Temblors for your sideboard if they're on color and this deck continues to do well.

Li-Chun's Naya Midrange
Standard – Winner, Magic Online Premier Event, March 3

The latest Naya Midrange decks play similarly to the Naya Bonfire decks from last summer, so try to maintain a similar mindset against them if you're familiar with that deck. Naya Midrange plans on winning the board-presence war. This list plays Mizzium Mortars, but it's not unusual for the deck to have some number of Bonfire of the Damneds as well. Cards like Bonfire of the Damned and Mizzium Mortars become significantly stronger if you have a healthy board presence. Again, use your removal frivolously.

BadDrafter's UWR Reckoner
Standard – Top 8, Magic Online Premier Event, March 3

Red-white-blue decks seem to be the winning player's favorite deck, but despite some talented pilots, the deck has been waning in power with the rise of Pacifism in sideboards, Abrupt Decay in main decks, and a level of aggression that seems downright unfair. The deck suffers most in control matchups. The favorable aggro matchup is becoming less favorable and I think this deck may be moved out of tier one for at least the next week or so until the format shifts.

driverseati's Red Gruul
Standard – Top 8, Magic Online Premier Event, March 3

The Saito Gruul deck that performed well early on in the season is evolving into an aggressive red-based deck. The deck plays enough reach and/or cheap spot removal to keep up with the most aggressive Naya Human decks. Cards like Hellrider punish the format for taking Blind Obedience out of sideboards. This is likely going to be one of the more popular aggressive strategies moving forward.

Good old Jund Midrange is still a deck, and it's probably the most successful deck of the last week. You may be surprised that many of the Jund Midrange decks lost Pillar of Flame in the main deck. This is because there was a bug on Magic Online where Pillar of Flame didn't exile the creature it killed. The bug has been addressed and will be fixed by the time this column is published.

FawkesWinsAGain's Jund Aggro
Standard – Top 8, Magic Online Premier Event, March 3

Aggressive Jund decks are picking up steam again. This version is particularly dedicated to the aggressive game plan. The deck should be able to run over most opponents. Boros Reckoner is exceptionally strong here, but try to bait out a Dreadbore or Abrupt Decay before you play the powerhouse three-drop.

Pyr0prep's Selesnya Fatties
Standard – 4–0, Magic Online Daily Event, March 3

Sometimes it's correct to just play gigantic monsters and put Rancors on them. The current Standard format seems like a pretty good time for that. Most decks don't really have more than one or two cards that can deal with a Wolfir Silverheart, and Trostani, Selesnya's Voice seems like it's quickly becoming one of the format's hottest sleeper cards. Jund is probably the only aggressive deck that stands a chance against this, but I still don't love the matchup. As long as the format moves away from control, this deck should become a lot better in the coming weeks.

_Slippery_'s Human Reanimator
Standard – 4–0, Magic Online Daily Event, March 3

Human Reanimator blasted onto the scene at Grand Prix Quebec City two weeks ago. The deck is nearly impossible for midrange or controlling decks to deal with, but it often flounders under the pressure of the most aggressive decks. Expect this deck to increase in popularity when the format shifts to midrange or control decks and expect this deck to dwindle in numbers when aggressive decks seem popular.

cmooney's Mono-Red
Standard – 4–0, Magic Online Daily Event, March 3

Mono-Red continues to put up reasonable numbers. The general consensus among grinders I've spoken with is that Naya Humans, Gruul, and Jund Aggro are all better choices, but Red decks will always exist and it's good to know what they're going to look like if you want to go deep in a tournament. Red decks are easy to acquire and, as a result, will remain popular regardless of metagame shifts.

holynorth's Junk Midrange
Standard – 4–0, Magic Online Daily Event, March 3

This deck is similar to the Junk Rites deck, but the combo has been removed. The deck doesn't offer the same surprise factor punch of the combo version, but it gets a real sideboard and still has a strong matchup against a lot of the field. Obzedat, Ghost Council has dramatically increased in popularity in the last week or so. Selesnya Charm is rare in current Standard lists and Obzedat, Ghost Council is, simply put, unraceable.

yamademon's Cagebreaker Gruul
Standard – 4–0, Magic Online Daily Event, March 3

Every so often you see a card in a decklist and it's like a bolt of lightning hit you directly on the top of your head. This is a slightly less aggressive version of Naya that gets to play with one of the most underplayed/overperforming cards in the current Standard environment. Kessig Cagebreakers is really well positioned: 4 toughness is a tall order for most decks and a single attack should provide you with a sizable Wolf pack. I'm interested in trying Kessig Cagebreakers in other archetypes, too. It seems like a great one-of or two-of as long as people aren't playing removal that actually kills it.

Lister1991's Zoo
Standard – 4–0, Magic Online Daily Event, March 2

This is the most aggressive you can be. The deck has some downright unfair starts and can often kill opponents while they still have two-mana removal spells stranded in their hands. You're going to need a lot of inexpensive removal to beat this deck. Don't be afraid to use your removal at sorcery speed when your opponent is tapped out—you don't want to get blown out by the newest trick, Giant Growth.

Deekaay's Rakdos
Standard – 4–0, Magic Online Daily Event, March 2

The Rakdos Zombie deck had a great week on Magic Online, but I'm not sure if the deck is actually good or if it's just enjoying a respite with the Pillar of Flame bug that just got fixed. The deck will likely suffer against aggro strategies and I don't think it's well-positioned in the coming week unless you expect a lot of Esper or red-white-blue strategies.

All right, I need a seven-drop for my control deck. I want it to crush the format, practically winning me the game. What do you think I should play? If you said Elderscale Wurm, then you're a genius, or you already looked at the decklist above. Seriously, most decks can't kill Elderscale Wurm right now. They simply do not have a card that actually kills a card that permanently prevents your life total from dropping below 7. This may turn into something, but if it ever does we can be sure to see Selesnya Charms and Dreadbores all over. Until then, go turtle some games with Elderscale Wurm!

Esper Control is learning some new tricks and the deck is getting better against the most aggressive decks in the format. It's nearly impossible to win a blue mirror against the Esper deck thanks to Nephalia Drownyard, and players will likely move away from Geralf's Messenger decks now that Pillar of Flame is fixed. This likely puts Esper Control in an awesome spot for the coming week. I'd recommend this deck to anyone playing in a larger Standard event this coming weekend.

The Pro Tour–winning archetype still offers an incredible game plan against just about every deck in the format. Aristocrats gives you a lot of opportunities to outplay your opponent, but the deck is less than excellent against the Jund Aggro deck that seems to be picking up steam. This is still a great choice and it's likely quite strong again now that Human Reanimator is becoming less popular.

I'm a bit surprised we don't see more token decks performing well. The deck seems like it has all the angles you want in the current Standard format. Thundermaw Hellkite is less popular than it has been in a long time and most decks will have trouble against the constant wave of token production. Like all anthem decks, this deck suffers from inconsistent draws. However, if you're running well this deck's optimal draws should put you at an advantage against the majority of the format.

trog3r's Green Golgari Pump
Standard – 4–0, Magic Online Daily Event, March 1

Yes, this is actually a deck that people are winning events with. Everyone loves to tap out these days and it's not unreasonable to toss a couple pump spells out and win the game out of nowhere. In fact, there's enough haste in the format that the pump spells can even be used defensively in a lot of spots. This deck is extremely easy to put together and it offers a clear game plan to those who might be new to the format. This is an excellent startup deck if you're looking to get involved with Magic Online Constructed. You may scoff at this, but do you really want to play against it?


Standard is more diverse than it has been in quite some time. Esper Control seems to be in a great spot in the coming week and we may see aggro players get more aggressive and/or play more reach to combat the control deck in the coming week. Aggressive decks still make up the majority of the metagame. Cards like Vampire Nighthawk and Trostani, Selesnya's Voice are well-positioned right now.

Hopefully, this compendium has given you new insight on the current makeup of the Standard format. With full knowledge of these decks, you should be able to make educated plays against virtually any opponent in the coming week. Remember to focus on what matters in a particular match and fight specifically on that axis, letting your opponent use resources to fight another war while you secure the game with inevitability. The format is open enough that there's a lot of room for innovation.

Don't be afraid to invest in Magic Online and build a Standard deck to join in the action. Also, and this is especially true for Craterhoof Rites players, you should go ahead and download the new Magic Online beta client. It offers a lot of new features, including an "attack with all" command that can save you from some misclicks or just excessive clicking.

Knowledge is power!

Jacob Van Lunen
Jacob Van Lunen
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Jacob Van Lunen began playing Magic in 1995. He has participated in organized play at every level of competition and was a member of the winning team at Pro Tour San Diego in 2007, thanks to an innovative draft strategy. As a writer, Van Lunen has had more than three hundred Magic strategy pieces published.

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