The neatest thing about the Standard format, at least to me, is the evolution of decks as weeks go by. Sure some of that evolution is of the forced type, as old sets leave the format and new sets come in. However other bits of it is just a player taking their deck and responding to the metagame and how it changed. Torrential Gearhulk was a mainstay in Blue White control. What is not to like about giant flash monster that can return an instant and block favorably against most of the format? Well Abrade is a card not to like about it. For two mana your opponent easily answers your threat, leaving you with effectively either super expensive card draw or a super expensive piece of countermagic, whatever you were using the Gearhulk for. With the rise of creature decks, we’ve also seen a rise in removal as well, and changing the deck to still feature a solid bit of card advantage while also making your opponent hold some dead cards in whatever removal they draw is really good for you! I mean Seal Away is a super card, but how great is it if you never attack? Fatal Push is wonderful efficient removal, but how good is it if you just don’t have any creatures in play? So Blue White moved away from Gearhulk with Dominaria, and became more of a Teferi, Hero of Dominaria control deck.
Teferi really changed how the deck is played and how it wins. Instead of angling for the best attacks with Gearhulk, we now have Teferi grinding out card advantage. While you hardly ever want to slam him in to play on turn five, the ability to protect itself, either with the plus ability (draws and card and untaps lands) or the minus ability (puts a nonland back in the library, third from the top) allows you to do so, based on the matchup. We have some of the best countermagic in the format, thanks to Disallow which stops a lot more than just spells. Essence Scatter is incredible in this creature heavy format. Syncopate also does great work here, and it’s great in the early game, acting as a Censor without cycling, it’s also the best in the late game, which we can’t say about Censor at all. Exiling the spell is just a nice bonus!
We also have some of the best board management in the format as well. Fumigate is great, gaining you a life for each creature killed, but it is expensive and does not really do anything about indestructible creatures or vehicles. That is where Settle the Wreckage comes in at. This four mana instant exiles attacks, but let’s your opponent put a basic land in to play. It’s a fair trade off for disrupting their game plan so much. Seal Away and Cast Out act as targeted removal in the deck, Cast Out of course being a bit more versatile. Blink of an Eye is a cute one, it can bounce early, then bounce and draw a card in the mid game, and bounce, draw a card, and exile a permanent after Teferi has his emblem.
Pull from Tomorrow may be one of the most interesting win conditions for a deck. After you emblem Teferi, you can pay X to draw that many cards and exile that many permanents. I’d image that after you exile 7 cards winning would be a much easier thing to do. You’re eventually going to run them out of cards, and if that does not happen, the Memory side of Commit to Memory reshuffles graveyards, draws a fresh 7 and of course, exiles another 7 permanents. It is really hard to come back from this! When it’s safe to do so Gideon of the Trials can waltz across the table and put the finishing touches on the game, but really, having an opponent with no board is remarkable.
I’ve even heard of a legend where a player with no permanents isn’t allowed to speak.
This feels like a deck that if you play it on MTGO, you for sure would want a copy or two of Approach of the Second Sun. I wouldn’t advocate for this in paper, but with the clocks on MTGO, you may want a way a win that is not as heavy on the time. Approach would give you that. The two decks of course share a lot of the same cards, and I wonder if it might be worth looking in to even in paper Magic land.
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