War of the spark is fully upon us, both in paper and digital form.
The set looked very powerful on paper. Usually, when so many sets are available in Standard, when a new set comes out it does not have a big impact. Some decks get refined with new toys and maybe a new strategy or two pop up.
That is not the case with WAR. We haven’t seen a set this powerful in a long time. The set has cards that can be powerhouses not only in Standard but in older formats as well.
Let’s see the archetypes that have had the most success up to now:
Arguably the best deck of the previous metagame, Esper has gained a lot of new toys to choose from. It is always hard for a control deck to do well so early in a meta, because there is no knowledge of what other people will bring to the table.
Despite that, Esper looks like one of the best decks already. Imagine what a few weeks of grinding and tuning the deck will do to it. Esper is here to stay, big Teferi is still terrorising other control shards and small Teferi fits nicely in the archetype. If you like what the deck puts to the table, I would have no second thoughts about playing Esper. It is one of my frontrunners for the MCQ Weekend in Magic Arena as well.
Also an old archetype that seems to pop to top tier status with War of the Spark. The reason this archetype became better is Teferi, Time Raveler, as the deck makes better use of the 3 mana walker than the Esper Control variant.
The curve is filled with value creatures, the Teferis provide card advantage and inevitability and Enter the God-Eternals make sure that you will win the creature matchups against other fair, midrange decks. Also one of my frontrunners. The matchup vs control is very grindy, you are behind but only by a small bit. You can easily beat Esper or any other control deck.
Monored has not gained a ton, maybe not even a single card in some lists, but the fact that it has the best card advantage engine in standard puts it to a top tier status, for now at least. Chandra is a welcome alternative to the Experimental Frenzy madness aspect the deck had and I suggest you give her a try. She has been very good for me.
The thing with Monored is, if you want to beat it, you probably can tweak your deck to do so. If that tweak will make you weak against the other decks in general is a good question. If that is the case, Monored will stay where it is. If teching against it does not mutilate your deck against other strategies though, it will have kind of a Dredge role in the format. Which is, appear once in a while and wreck everyone who forgot about the Red menace and the strangle Goblin Chainwhirler and his gang can put upon you.
Azorius Aggro (White Weenie):
This deck was popularuzed entirely on Magic Arena, initially by Crokeyz who took the #1 Mythic Spot with it and then by a plethora of pros and grinders alike. The idea is that Teferi, time Raveler is good enough in the deck that it fixes some of your bad matchups. Combine that with the already explosive shell and you have a recipe for success. Probably the best aggressive deck right now, though Monored’s popularity might keep it in check. This is the deck I would like to play in the Magic Arena Qualifier Weekend, but it is unlikely that I will convince myself to present a deck that loses to a single sweeper. I will probably chicken out and play some other nonsense and regret that I did not play Weenie.
The newcomer. This deck on the other hand, was popularised entirely in paper form, in SCG Richmond. At first I liked the deck but was skeptical. On paper it can present big threats fast but I was afraid of the deck’s ability to perform without an early mana accelerator.
After having played with it, I can say this deck is the real deal. Its threat suite is the perfect combination for the current environment. Teferi, time Raveler beats Simic Nexus and Oketra along with the old lady (Hydroid krasis) beat control as well as other midrange decks. You can tweak the deck to beat Monored without losing a lot (see Sjow’s list that he took #1 Mythic with), but I am sceptical on how it performs against White Weenie. If the deck gets refined in the following weeks, I won’t hesitate to sleeve it up and play it in the big qualifier.
Tamiyo is an extremely good card in this archetype. That was the say in week one of new Standard, and it was one of the most popular decks both in Arena and SCG Richmond. Rightfully so, as a good pilot can make wonders with the archetype. The thing is, there is now a card that bottlenecks your whole game plan. A card seen in multiple top performing decks. The card is no other than Teferi, time Raveler. Combine that with an already bad matchup with Monored and WW (though not as horrific as before because of Blast Zone) and you have an issue. I would recommend Simic Nexus only to a pilot that has played the archetype a lot and knows how to get himself out of difficult situations. If the metagame takes a swing on beating aggro decks though, do not forget about Simic Nexus. All it needs is a little breathing room to retake Standard with a scream.
The last two archetypes I will include have not had any major success yet, though I consider them strong choices that can play with the best of them.
Grixis is a deck that mostly builds itself. A lot of words have been written about a curve of Bolas into Bolas. The only decision you have to make is whether you play the Disinformation Campaign package or go for a heavier removal suite. For now I would advise against disinformation Campaign to have a better chance against aggressive decks. If you are into casting multiple haymakers and draining the joy out of your opponent, by all means go Grixis. The deck has devastating threats and an all around removal suite. Be wary of the Teferis though. Bolas can match a big Teferi in a value aspect but, small Teferi is an issue and must be dealt with pretty fast.
This is the old Gruul Warriors shell with some powerful planeswalkers from War of the spark added to it. If beat down with medium size dudes is your thing, Gruul has you covered. Though not as flashy as other decks, this one packs a punch and can beat almost anything with the right hand. I am not sure of the numbers on Chandra or Sarkhan, or even if they should be included in the deck. I expect this deck to do better in the following weeks as it evolves and becomes more streamlined.
These are the decks that I consider ahead of the curve in the current Standard environment.
Which one is your favorite? How will Standard evolve in the coming weeks? I am very excited to find out!
See you soon!
By Kratos or