These Satyr’s aren’t the only ones excited about Journey Into Nyx. Standard has certainly been an interesting format for the duration of Theros; however, it will be nice to finally have access to all of Theros block. Spoiler season certainly has me ready to go, after all, how could it not with some of these spicy previews
There is no shortage of cards that I believe are standard playable in this set. But, before we start drooling, lets try to be realistic and set some standards.
Understanding the current format.
Standard meta-game and how it has evolved over time.
Since inception More Recently
Before we can decide which cards we’d like to include in our decks we need to understand what we need to beat. And as you can see from the charts above there are clearly 3 main tests we must pass. Let’s take a closer look.
Test 1: Mono B Devotion
4 Pack Rat
4 Nightveil Specter
4 Desecration Demon
4 Gray Merchant of Asphodel
2 Bile Blight
2 Devour Flesh
1 Doom Blade
4 Hero’s Downfall
4 Underworld Connections
2 Temple of Deceit
Mono black devotion is not only the most popular deck, but also the most winning-est deck of the format with 5 out of the 6 major events as wins. The deck proves to be versatile and consistent and has several lines of play that they can take each game, making it a difficult deck to pilot. They can pick apart your hand and create armies of rats, slowly gain card advantage with specter and underworld connections, or just go over the top with devotion and desecration demon. Mono black devotion contains a difficult suite of cards to interact with, which is probably why the decks that do the best against it really don’t even try to interact with them. You either ignore their plan or just out resource them.
Here are some examples of cards that are good against mono black.
Now let’s see if there are any cards in JOU that might fit the bill.
Although Prophetic Flamespeaker does die to doomblade, he certainly is a house against a deck like mono black if you can get him going. With double strike he has the potential to give you an extra two cards per turn. That is definitely an ability that is the real deal, finding a shell for him is another matter.
Ajani is a card that I’ve heard mixed reviews on; I for one, think that he is excellent and will see a lot of play from day 1. Not only are both of his abilities relevant (and +’s), but he also is a threat that your opponents will have to deal with. He can be a card advantage engine when needed and in other times can either protect him self, or help one of your creatures get in the red zone. Most of the criticism that I’ve heard was in regards to his ultimate, but I really don’t see much of a downside to it, especially since the person you’re playing against will have to get your life to 0 at some point to beat you.
Dictate of Kruphix is the card that I’m most excited about here. Not only does it not die to doomblade, but in the right shell I think this card is the ultimate ignore your opponent card. Putting the game into a state where the value of our opponent interacting with us goes down is definitely a good strategy against a deck like mono black.
Test 2: Mono U Devotion
4 Cloudfin Raptor
4 Judge’s Familiar
4 Tidebinder Mage
4 Frostburn Weird
4 Nightveil Specter
4 Master of Waves
4 Thassa, God of the Sea
1 Cyclonic Rift
3 Rapid Hybridization
2 Bident of Thassa
Although Mono Blue is no longer the #1 deck in the format, it’s nut draw and what it represents certainly has to be respected. Any deck that can curve out and essentially create a game winning board state by turn 4 will often be too fast for most opponents and prove to be difficult to deal with. I actually think this strategy will become more popular with JOU and cards like being printed anyway.
This is going to smooth out the curves of a lot of multicolored decks in the format and in general I expect this to provide room for more aggressive shells. One thing the Mono blue deck provides that other aggro decks might not have access to is some reach and evasiveness with flyers and thassa unblockable + card drawing engines like bident.
Maybe this is more of a deck to emulate, and we’ve already seen how good Prophetic Flamespeaker might be. So, how about some answers for a strategy like this.
While at first glance Dawn bringer Charioteers seems like a limited superstar only, life link and flying has proven to be good vs a strategy like this ( reference to Archangel of Thune’s appearance in sideboards while Mono blue was on top). This card might even end up being relevant in it’s own way with the abundance of viable targeted abilities that exist and the new strive mechanic. We really haven’t seen a very competitive shell for a heroes strategy, but we might quickly be approaching one with having access to the full set.
It’s tough whether to say Eidolon will actually prove to be good in this matchup; however forcing your opponent with almost 30 cards that fit the criteria to take 2 every time they case a spell could end up being a trump in a race scenario. I’m guessing that this guy would fit in a similarish type deck, where you want to curve out with aggressive threats. If you get ahead, he punishes your opponent every time they try to catch up, although he may not be so great at flipping the switch. He’s a solid addition to any red strategy whether in the main or the side board, and I 100% expect to see this guy in competitive play. He’s so good that he might even burst into a legacy or modern list.
This is my favorite card of the three. Not only is this a pit fight, but it also puts counters on your dudes to help them battle and is at instant speed. This card also has the benefit in being in the color green which just so happens to get around cards like master of waves and blood baron where your guys are going to be bigger anyway. I Could definitely see this card having blowout potential against mono blue and I expect this to be at least a two of in every deck that plays green’s 75, whether in the main or side is TBD.
Test 3: Esper Control
2 Azorius Charm
1 Doom Blade
4 Supreme Verdict
4 Sphinx’s Revelation
2 Hero’s Downfall
4 Detention Sphere
3 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
4 Jace, Architect of Thought
4 Godless Shrine
4 Hallowed Fountain
4 Temple of Deceit
4 Temple of Silence
4 Watery Grave
Sphinx’s revelation decks have undoubtedly been a force to be reckoned with since this card has been around in Standard. With the ability to get you out of kill range and refill on cards, the control mages chance of winning drastically increases when this card resolves. These decks are built in a way where the impact of their few threats are going to almost always be higher than yours and that makes going over the top extremely difficult. At the same time, going underneath them becomes a challenge as well, loaded with efficient tempo removal spells and un-counterable board wipes, the only reliable ways to beat them are to continually force them to tap out to answer your threats or grab enough card advantage early enough to not allow them to get to their revelation without dealing with your threats. There’s also the strategy of sticking a threat and attacking their cards before they can play them with hand disruption. What cards in JOU might help us here?
It’s unclear to me just exactly how good atheros is going to be against control, playing him while already ahead seems pretty good as the control player will have to make some hard decisions about whether or not giving you your threats back is worth taking 3 damage. My predictions that this card will not be as good as a lot of people think due to how ineffective it is when you don’t have an overwhelming board state. However, being in the colors that it is in does give you access to 24 one drops that are all certainly playable.
Speaking of one drops, this guy is a house. Not only is he a 2 power beater for 1 mana, but he also can pump your other guys once you’ve gone later in the game. I really think that bestow is an under appreciated mechanic and the value you that get from not only making your current threat more powerful, but also adding some resilience to removal for when the guy he’s strapped on dies. Another interesting part of this card is that it has a drawback mechanic. This is something that I really took into account until now either, but you can actually bestow your opponents dudes in a tight situation to be able to push through those last few points of damage. That makes this guy a winner in any black aggro deck.
The last of the group, brain maggot. I think this card is probably playable off of flavor alone; however, having thoughtseize in the format probably makes this guy even better and he aids to two of our three viable strategies against control. Not only will he hit them in the face every turn, but he can also strip them of valuable cards and protect himself by doing so. Here’s a scenario every esper player will have nightmare’s about:
Turn 1: Thoughtseize
Turn 2: BrainMaggot
Turn 3: Sin Collector
Ouch, that is a ton of hand disruption and if your opponent kept anything but a fistful of lands, they will certainly be in trouble. One thing to definitely notice here is that Sin Collector could very easily be replaced with Lifebane Zombie, making this guy a very viable maindeck card.
I hope you all enjoyed Part 1 of my Journey into Nyx Analysis, I tried to highlight some cards that people might be overlooking and identify what it really is that we need in order to take down the current meta. Ultimately time will paint the full picture for us, but there is no shame in some brewing of your own. I know I will be partaking, just keep an eye out for Part 2 where I can share a few of my own creations.
What are some cards that you are most excited about? What other strategies might exist in breaking up the format?
What direction do you see Standard going in?