Death Baron

Three Decks to Tackle Standard

Three Decks to Tackle Standard

Written by Andrew Blackwood

As I mentioned last week, Standard is a big midrange grindfest, and since there hasn’t been a major tournament in a couple of weeks, the metagame is developing slowly. Grixis midrange, red-black aggro, and green stompy keep being popular choices for SCG events while MTGO results indicate that there are a number of viable options for your next Standard event. The SCG Classic had nine of the aforementioned decks in the top 16, with three blue white control decks, a drake haven deck, and three zombie decks making up the rest of the top 16, with zombies even taking down the tournament. I want to dive into this zombie deck, as well as the decks I touched on last time, Flame of Keld Red and Sifter Ramp.

The Undead Menace

Death BaronIllustrated by Nils Hamm

This zombies deck looks quite a bit different than the version that Gerry Thompson used to win PT Amonkhet. Losing Cryptbreaker and Diregraf Colossus was a big hit for the deck. It no longer had the tools to grind with the other decks in the format, and it disappeared from the meta. The introduction of two zombie reprints in Core Set 2019 – Diregraf Ghoul and Death Baron – along with the new Graveyard Marshal and Liliana, Untouched by Death, revitalized the zombie tribe.

4 Dread Wanderer
4 Diregraf Ghoul
4 Graveyard Marshal
4 Scrapheap Scrounger
4 Lord of the Accursed
4 Death Baron
4 Liliana’s Mastery
2 Fatal Push
2 Walk the Plank
4 Vraska’s Contempt
18 Swamp
2 Scavenger Grounds
4 Ifnir Deadlands

2 Liliana, Untouched by Death
1 Walk the Plank
3 Doomfall
4 Gifted Aetherborn
1 Fatal Push
4 Duress

This is the list Joshua Satterfield used to take down the SCG Classic in Indianapolis last weekend. This list is pretty straightforward – it plays zombies on curve, backed by some removal and 12 lord effects. Not only does this tribal aggro deck have a good curve, but it’s essentially safe from Goblin Chainwhirler. The only one toughness creature in the deck is Dread Wanderer, which brings itself back if it does die. I also like Walk the Plank as a cheap way to take care of a blocker, and the trio of Dread Wanderer, Scrapheap Scrounger, and Graveyard Marshal give this deck some real staying power. With 12 ways to recur threats, this deck will not run out of threats easily, which gives it late-game power against control decks. The sideboard is pretty straightforward, as Duress and Liliana come in against control decks, and Gifted Aetherborn, while not a zombie itself, is a great choice against red decks due to the lifegain, and big green decks due to deathtouch.

Lots of Fire

Bomat Courier

Illustrated by Craig J Spearing

Flame of Keld is an interesting card, as its power is locked into its third mode. All that means is that the deck to take advantage of it has to be able to empty its hand quickly so that the third mode comes while the opponent is still figuring out what’s going on.

4 Bomat Courier
4 Ghitu Lavarunner
4 Soul-Scar Mage
4 Earthshaker Khenra
4 Viashino Pyromancer
4 Goblin Chainwhirler
4 Shock
4 Lightning Strike
4 Wizard’s Lightning
4 The Flame of Keld
20 Mountain

3 Abrade
2 Banefire
2 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
3 Chandra’s Defeat
2 Cut // Ribbons
3 Hazoret the Fervent

This deck comes out of the gates fast. It aims to empty its hand as quick as it can to make full use of Flame of Keld, and then tries to set up a lethal turn on Flame of Keld’s final chapter. Goblin Chainwhirler is the only card in the main deck that costs more than two mana, giving the deck a very low curve. Viashino Pyromancer makes an appearance from Core Set 2019, because being a Wizard and dealing two to the opponent is just what this deck wants. Banefire from the sideboard gives the deck a way to close against UW Control decks that play Settle the Wreckage, and the rest of the sideboard lets the deck transform into more of a traditional red aggro deck.

Going Big

Hour of Promise

Illustrated by Jonas De Ro

Last week, I mentioned that I love ramp decks. And man, do I love this deck!

3 Sifter Wurm
2 Banefire
2 Grow from the Ashes
3 Hour of Devastation
4 Hour of Promise
4 Spring
1 Sweltering Suns
1 Fight with Fire
3 Abrade
3 Commit
3 Thaumatic Compass
1 Star of Extinction
2 Gift of Paradise
1 The Mirari Conjecture
1 Arch of Orazca
1 Desert of the Fervent
3 Forest
3 Hashep Oasis
1 Hostile Desert
3 Ipnu Rivulet
3 Island
3 Mountain
4 Rootbound Crag
1 Scavenger Grounds
4 Sheltered Thicket

1 Abrade
2 Arborback Stomper
2 Carnage Tyrant
2 Chandra’s Defeat
4 Magma Spray
2 Negate
2 Sorcerous Spyglass

I’ve been playing ramp decks off and on for the last year, ever since a friend 5-0’d a league on Magic Online and I asked him about the list that was published. My teammate Campbell and I were hooked, and we worked on his list leading up to GP Portland. That GW ramp deck featured removal, ramp, and Sandwurm Convergence as a finisher, with a spicy sideboard plan featuring Carnage Tyrant and Wakening Suns Avatar. That deck took Campbell to her first GP Day 2 and first pro point.

Since then, we’ve kept tabs on various Hour of Promise decks, especially since the printing of Arch of Orazca. These cards combine favorably with utility deserts like Ipnu Rivulet, Hashep Oasis, and Scavenger Grounds. This Temur build upgrades white removal and sweepers for red counterparts, while adding The Mirari Conjecture as a way to rebuy ramp spells and double a big Banefire. The main kill conditions are using Banefire to finish off an opponent after ideally getting in a couple chips with zombies from Hour of Promise, or a hit from Sifter Wurm. Or, in the control matchup, the game becomes about card advantage and library size, and Ipnu Rivulet activiations become the primary win conditions.

Because it’s a pet deck and has a good matchup against midrange decks, I’ll continue working on Temur Ramp for now. Zombies and Flame of Keld red also look like great options to build and tune leading up to GP Orlando in a week.

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