elcome back to Perilous Research, DailyMTG's exclusive Magic Online column. Magic 2014 hits the shelves tomorrow night. There's a lot of speculation about the Standard metagame and how it will look once Magic 2014 becomes legal. Let's take a moment to discuss the implications
I expect Gladecover Scout and Fiendslayer Paladin to push a lot of players toward cards like Unflinching Courage and Rancor. As a result, cards like Rolling Temblor will probably see a significant increase in play. We can also expect Liliana of the Veil, Far & Away, and Devour Flesh to become more common.
Archangel of Thune is my favorite card in Magic 2014 . We have no way of knowing what kind of removal people will be playing, but I expect Doom Blade to be somewhat popular, at least out of sideboards. There are a number of ways to force the Angel through your opponent's removal, though. Cards like Sin Collector and Duress seem like the best options available. I have many fond memories of Baneslayer Angel and the new Magic 2014 mythic rare is eerily similar in the way that it dominates a game.
Kalonian Hydra is one of the more impressive cards. It can't claw you back into a game like Archangel of Thune, but it closes a game faster than just about anything. The card has amazing synergy with Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch and I wouldn't be surprised if we saw an aggressive/midrangey Jund strategy that took advantage of this excellent interaction. The card also combos nicely with most of the other Golgari and Rakdos creatures from Return to Ravnica and Dragon's Maze.
Today, I'd like to take a final look at pre-Magic 2014 Standard. I'm impressed with the current Standard's diversity from start to finish. Here we are, in the last week of the format, and there are still more than ten unique and competitive archetypes. Learning about these decks will help us lay a groundwork for our Magic 2014 creations. Let's jump right in and start checking out some decklists.
BLUEDEVlL's Jund Aggro/Midrange Hybrid
Standard – 4–0, Magic Online Daily #5686178
BLUEDEVlL's Jund Aggro/Midrange Hybrid
Standard – 6th Place, Magic Online Premier #5686241
This is a reasonably exciting new deck. The deck takes elements from the aggressive Jund strategies and couples them with Huntmaster of the Fells and Thundermaw Hellkite. This puts the deck in an incredible position against most decks in the field. I really love the fact that the deck can Burning-Tree Emissary into Farseek. It's important to establish board presence quickly in the current Standard format and that seems like a great way to apply pressure, and put up defenses, all while ramping you into a juicy Bonfire or powerful four- or five-mana spell.
Yuffie's Red-White-Blue Flash
Standard – 6th Place, Magic Online Premier #5686222
My version of Red-White-Blue is still going strong. Sammy T managed to go undefeated on Day 2 at Grand Prix Miami with this main deck. There's still some debate as to whether you should play a third Thundermaw Hellkite or a third Sphinx's Revelation. I currently have the third Thundermaw and I've been very happy with it.
Sources's White-Black-Red Midrange
Standard – 5th Place, Magic Online Premier #5686222
White-Black-Red Midrange strategies are well positioned in the current format. There are very few control decks these days and the deck murders aggressive strategies. I played this deck for a bit and found myself often flooded or unable to draw a fifth land when it was necessary. Faithless Looting does a lot of work solving that problem and I expect these lists to play one to three copies consistently going forward.
Asberic's Prime Speaker Bant
Standard – 3rd Place, Magic Online Premier #5686222
Decks like this have seen a bit of resurgence over the last few weeks. The deck is very powerful, but it found itself being outraced by the Blitz decks that were popular last month. This deck has become a contender again now that Naya Burning-Tree Emissary decks have mostly been scrapped in favor of lists with Voice of Resurgence.
Ztrman's Bant Auras
Standard – 1st Place, Magic Online Premier #5686222
We can expect this deck to get even bigger once Magic 2014 becomes legal and the new legend rule takes effect. Gladecover Scout gives the deck an incredible one-mana creature to dump its enchantments onto and an enchanted Fiendslayer Paladin is an impossible-to-race Geist of Saint Traft against the red-based aggressive decks. Make sure you bring a lot of hate for this deck if you don't plan on playing it yourself. Ray of Revelation is a very good card; don't leave yours at home.
bone55's Angel of Glory's Rise Rites
Standard – 8th Place, Magic Online Premier #5686241
Angel of Glory's Rise made a comeback in the last month as players started taking graveyard hate out of their decks. The newest versions of the deck don't bother using Undercity Informer to "go infinite" and win the game that turn. There aren't enough Esper decks in the field that can actually grind you out once you combo anymore. Having the loop with a Huntmaster of the Fells or even double Fiend Hunter is almost always going to be good enough. Try leaving an Angel exiled with Fiend Hunter to protect yourself from a big Bonfire of the Damned in the appropriate matchups and comboing will almost always result in victory.
hakudou's Naya Midrange
Standard – 7th Place, Magic Online Premier #5686241
Midrange Naya decks went from being a dominant force to practically being nonexistent over the last two weeks. This deck has a lot going for it, but the new wave of Red-White-Blue Flash decks and Jund's resurgence have pushed it out of the limelight for the time being.
sai_2011's Bant Tempo
Standard – 4th Place, Magic Online Premier #5686241
I haven't seen this deck in a while, but I'm very aware of its potential power. I played against a similar deck in the semifinals of the PTQ I won and I had two separate turns where my opponent was one pump spell away from killing me for the match win. I have tested this strategy and I found myself underwhelmed with its consistency. That being said, this version has a lot more creatures and a lot less gimmicks. This version of the deck seems very strong against non-Burning-Tree Emissary decks.
_AmericanO_'s Act 2 Aristocrats
Standard – 3rd Place, Magic Online Premier #5686241
Act 2 Aristocrats is still going strong in the last week of Dragon's Maze Standard. The deck isn't as powerful as it once was and it seems players are taking some serious risks by playing cards like Cavern of Souls in their main deck. That being said, the deck has some of the most powerful draws in the format and most cards in the deck combo with at least two other cards. I could see myself playing this with at least five cards for hexproof in my sideboard in my first post-Magic 2014 Standard event.
Munson_Roy_E's Golgari Mutilate
Standard – 4–0, Magic Online Daily #5686251
We've all seen this deck by now, but it's worth noting that the Golgari deck was not a flavor of the week or metagame call. The deck has real power and it performs very well in the current Standard format. It kills everything and then dominates the game with a Desecration Demon.
FirstWalker's Grixis Control
Standard – 4–0, Magic Online Daily #5686258
Grixis Control is a newer strategy that was initially popularized by Gerard Fabiano and brought out of obscurity by Joel Larsson. I'm still on the fence with this deck and its lack of Sphinx's Revelation, but it seems like it has what it takes to do well in a format where a lot of players don't have the big instant. The deck can easily change its removal suite to include Devour Flesh and Liliana of the Veil once Magic 2014 becomes legal; this would allow the deck to demolish Hexproof, a deck we can expect to skyrocket in popularity. Let's see if a Grixis Control strategy can become the new metagame deck of choice in response to the incoming wave of Gladecover Scouts.
ArsenalMunch's Esper Control
Standard – 4–0, Magic Online Daily #5686258
Esper Control strategies have been struggling for the last few weeks. I really only find myself losing to the deck when my opponent reveals a Terminus on an optimal turn. It's hard to not get outclassed with this type of control strategy when everyone seems to have Thundermaw Hellkites or Burning-Tree Emissary chains. It's not like the old days where you could Blind Obedience and lock out the Rakdos decks, the new wave of aggro and midrange are too multifaceted for Esper to keep up in most cases. That being said, this deck has the potential to crush Hexproof and its other matchups are certainly winnable and perhaps even somewhat favorable. You need to hit your first five land drops every time nowadays, but you're in a good spot if you do in most cases.
Cybertron2's Naya Humans
Standard – 4th Place, Magic Online Premier #5686268
This deck may look strange, but it's actually all kinds of awesome. Rally the Peasants is basically a Dynacharge you can use twice. Titanic Growth is like a Ghor-Clan Rampager; it can't be played as a creature, but it can be cast with Cavern of Souls and it can be used defensively against Pillar of Flame or Warleader's Helix. It's pretty difficult to not get run over by this deck and I wouldn't be surprised if this was the new direction of Naya Blitz once Magic 2014 becomes legal.
deMenor's Bant Control
Standard – 1st Place, Magic Online Premier #5686268
Despite having the best Day 2 retention rate of any deck at the most recent Standard Grand Prix, Bant Control hasn't posted the numbers one might expect on Magic Online. The deck suffers consistency issues and absolutely needs Supreme Verdict to stand a chance against a lot of the decks in the format. On the draw, the deck needs Farseek and Supreme Verdict in many cases. I could see this deck making a comeback if the format slows down in an effort to defeat the aggressive decks. However, if that happens the deck might find itself victim to Nephalia Drownyard.
Digi7aL_WarrioR's Junk Rites
Standard – 6th Place, Magic Online Premier #5686289
Junk Rites still puts up the best numbers in Standard alongside Gruul Aggro. The deck has incredible versatility and easily adapts to the current metagame. Fiend Hunter has become a more common inclusion again, but that slot could easily be filled by Centaur Healer or Sin Collector if the metagame called for it. The deck is going to need more Hexproof hate if it wants to be competitive next week, but I expect Junk Rites to be around until Theros.
marc_31's Gruul Midrange
Standard – 5th Place, Magic Online Premier #5686289
This deck looks pretty strange. Going one step bigger than other Burning-Tree Emissary decks seems to be a common theme this week. This likely means that Burning-Tree Emissary decks will be weak in the coming week. That being said, I've said that before and the Gruul Aggro deck repeatedly proves me wrong by posting the best numbers of any deck in Standard.
e_hawk77's Junk Aristocrats
Standard – 4th Place, Magic Online Premier #5686289
Junk Aristocrats got a huge boost in power when Brad Nelson added Garruk Relentless to the deck. The deck's numbers continue to improve as time passes. I expect this deck to remain a major player in post-Magic 2014 Standard, but it needs to use more sideboard and main-deck slots to battle the Hexproof strategies.
Standard – 3rd Place, Magic Online Premier #5686289
Jund Midrange is still one of the three most successful decks on Magic Online. The deck gained a lot of popularity when Reid Duke won Grand Prix Miami with the archetype. It's now very common for lists to play three or four copies of Bonfire of the Damned alongside a healthy suite of creatures. We can expect this deck to remain strong going forward.
GoathyZz's Gruul Aggro
Standard – 4–0, Magic Online Daily #5686329
Gruul Aggro remains the most successful deck in Dragon's Maze Standard. There are certainly ways to beat the deck, but one small stumble will almost assuredly result in your demise. This deck is going to need to get creative if it wants to battle against the incoming wave of Unflinching Courage, but I'm confident the cards are powerful enough for the deck to find a way.
Dragon's Maze Standard was one of the most diverse Standard environments ever. I look forward to Magic 2014 's introduction to the Standard format and expect some big changes to occur, at least in the first few weeks. Don't miss the Magic Online Prerelease on July 26 for your opportunity to be among the first to have the new cards as a part of your online collection. Next week, I'll be taking a look at the Magic 2014 Limited format in preparation for the release events and subsequent drafting. Then, we'll start looking at the Constructed implications of the new set.
Knowledge is Power!
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.