Boy, does Kaladesh have some promising cards. Much like most excited Magic players, I’m quick to the set preview lists each day, trying to be the one to break the new Standard format. However, I’m openly honest about how poor my card evaluation skills are. I do think I have an idea about which macro archetypes will exist in the new Standard, and what new cards from Kaladesh will have an impact on old archetypes that are moving in, as well as which new archetypes might be created from new cards. I’m really just trying to showcase some new cards, and get your creative juices flowing, as well as mine.
Let’s start with some archetypes that aren’t losing much and I expect to persist into Kaladesh Standard.
Bant Creature Midrange
I have to start here. A lot of people are touting the new Standard format as the thing that kills the Bant Company decks. While the deck is certainly losing valuable pieces in Collected Company and Dromoka’s Command, the scourges of Standard over the past few Standard formats even, not just the past couple of months, it maintains the bulk of valuable creatures the deck played, including Sylvan Advocate, Reflector Mage, Spell Queller, Tireless Tracker, along with other creatures depending on which Bant Company build you’re looking to maintain, Thalia’s Lieutenant, Duskwatch Recruiter, Lambholt Pacifist, the list goes on.
While losing both Dromoka’s Command and Collected Company is very impactful to the deck, losing Collected Company is good for the archetype, and will allow it to breath. It no longer needs both a critical mass of creatures, and for those creatures to cost 3 or less. The deck opens up, and can now play more planeswalkers if it wants to, like Tamiyo, Field Researcher, or Nissa, Vital Force. Nissa, Vital Force has potential to be an all-star curve topper in this deck, since I imagine that Chandra, Torch of Defiance decks could prey on this sort of archetype. Nissa, Vital Force gives the best midrange deck of the past couple standards a better midrange game, while also being able to snipe planeswalkers.
I could also imagine Key to the City being useful in this sort of deck, especially with the quality of board wipes decreasing again. You can expect big creature stalls (think game 3 of the World Championships between Braun-Duin and Carvalho), so unblockable creatures and excess mana might be the KEY to victory.
I won’t argue that the Bant creature decks got worse, however I will argue that those decks will die. The creatures are just too valuable, too good to be ignored and not played, especially with new creative options being added to them, and some of the deckbuilding restrictions being lifted.
A very popular deck from this current waning Standard, B/G Delirium should continue to thrive. Delirium should be a little easier to get with all of these cool new artifacts hitting the scene. While I imagine the stock of cards like Grim Flayer will drop a bit due to Chandra just being able to flat out kill it without any problem, I do also believe that cards like Noxious Gearhulk will see play in this archetype. It’s exactly what a Delirium strategy in black wants. It has two card types, it’s a value midrange (arguably top of the curve) card that benefits from being brought back from the graveyard, and it assault Planeswalkers due to menace. My only real hangups about this card is that it’s very expensive, and could punish decks that try to play it and no longer have Nissa, Vastwood Seer to help smooth mana, and that it has 4 toughness. I believe that with cards like Grasp of Darkness, Collective Defiance, and Chandra, Torch of Defiance, toughness on a creature will truly matter more than before, and 4 toughness, especially when you’re paying six mana for it, is probably not where you want to be.
Aside from Grapple with the Past being played in this type of deck to generate value and delirium, I can also image cards like Fortuitous Find being played in a B/G Delirium deck. Being able to get back, say, a Noxious Gearhulk and something like Ishkanah, Grafwidow seems pretty insane, and fits nicely into a curve. Turn 1 Vial of Nascency, turn 2 crack the vial or cast a Grapple with the Past, turn three you can cast Fortuitous Find if you were fortunate enough to have discarded a Gearhulk and a creature, and turn 4 start taking over the game. I understand that this is both a magical make believe land scenario and a very rare occurrence of your opponent doing nothing early on, but I feel that this is still a set of plays that can turn the game in your favor.
I mean, if nothing else, it’s a green deck, so we can just play Nissa, Vital Force as well. Card is great, and I expect it to be everywhere.
The next pre-existing archetype I want to discuss before moving onto new archetypes is the emerge archetype, and I’ll focus on Temur, since it’s the most popular Emerge archetype in Standard at the moment.
Now, I’m not big on three color decks in the next Standard, just because we are losing the enemy painlands in favor of enemy fast lands, which beyond turn 3 are just worse than the enemy creaturelands. However a deck like this that can play cards like Grapple with the Past, Vessel of Nascency, and Pilgrim’s Eye to help fix mana while dropping a Botanical Sanctum and Spirebluff Canal in the first three turns can take advantage of three colors in the new Standard.
So, the big things that this deck is losing are Nissa’s Pilgrimage and Gather the Pack. Nissa’s Pilgrimage is difficult to replace with no direct spell to correlate with it. Gather the Pack was already being cut in the deck, and the 1-2 slots it was taking up in the deck could be taken by Wildest Dreams. You get as many cards as you want back with Wildest Dreams depending on the mana you have available, and you’re not limited by card types or Spell Mastery, however it doesn’t fuel your graveyard, so it makes your Kozilek’s Return triggers more difficult to hit reliably.
Cultivator’s Caravan looks like a replacement for Nissa’s Pilgrimage on paper, however it actively makes your Shrine of the Forsaken Gods worse since you’re no longer playing toward having a ton of lands in play. However, it could still facilitate your emerges on time, and probably just turns your Shrines of the Forsaken Gods into Sanctum of Ugins, which might be better anyway once we throw some Hedron Archives in the deck. With a bit of restructuring of the early turns of this deck, it should be able to translate to Kaladesh Standard with little problem, and Kozilek’s Return might actually be better if a lot of people are forgoing 4 toughness creatures for 5 toughness creatures due to Chandra. Also, this is another Green deck, so my girl Nissa, Vital Force could fit nicely in here, as well as Chandra, Torch of Defiance. While they don’t directly help your Emerge strategy, they do both help ramp you with their plus abilities, so if the Emerge archetypes just turn into ramp decks, they could potentially both slot well into the deck.
Pro Tour winning B/W Midrange. A lot of people forget about this deck because it’s just not as flashy or cool as the other decks in the format either flashing in 6 mana worth of creatures for only four mana or the decks trying to fill their graveyards for various reasons, B/W Midrange is the working man’s deck of this Standard. The biggest hit to this deck is the loss of Languish. That more than almost anything else could be the nail in the coffin for most black based control decks, but White was given some neat toys to play with, and that is why this is the deck that I am most attracted to moving forward in Standard. The only issue with how I want to build my B/W midrange deck is that it’s very mana hungry with big turn 5 and turn 6 plays.
I have a feeling that the stock of Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is actually on its way up. He comes in and just SMACKS Chandra, Torch of Defiance right in the mouth much the same way Nissa, Vital Force does. However, Gideon is able to go off and do his own thing and win the game anyway regardless of whether or not your opponent plays with a Chandra. Not to say that Nissa also can’t do this, but she’s just a 5/5. Gideon is a 5/5 and can produce tokens to flood the board. He’s also in a color with Archangel Avacyn and the new probably best of the cycle Cataclysmic Gearhulk. That’s the dream. A turn 4 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar making a token, Turn 5 Archangel Avacyn, and a turn 6 Cataclysmic Gearhulk. You have to sacrifice your token, but you’re left with your Gearhulk, your Gideon, and your Avacyn, which is now flipped and attacking for 11 next to your plussed Gideon.
Outside of that, white still has the best sweepers with either Planar Outburst or Descend Upon the Sinful, depending on how you want to construct your deck, Gearhulk or no. I do think that with cards like Unlicensed Disintegration where having artifacts matter, Declaration in Stone has lost stock in the format. It’s still a decent card though, however I think if we’re looking for early interaction, Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim is the answer we’re looking for.
U/R Fevered Visions
Fevered Visions is dead. Not the deck, but the card. There are just so many ways in a lot of colors to get around Fevered Visions. Where Fevered Visions is essentially a Howling Mine where your deck is designed to have your opponent take 2 damage each turn, with cards like Call the Bloodline, Noose Constrictor, Peace of Mind, heck, even Providence, there are plenty of ways for your opponent to get rid of their hand and gain life. I do think this archetype as a whole has lost value moving forward.
I also think that if I were to build this deck, I would replace the maindeck Fevered Visions with Saheeli Rai and Chandra, Torch of Defiance. Saheeli Rai can take the place of Fevered Visions somewhat, where instead of drawing cards, you’re scrying, and instead of dealing two damage, you’re dealing one. However your opponent is also not drawing cards, and you have the option to use Saheeli’s minus on your Awoken Horror or Thermo-Alchemist, but after thinking, that makes Chandra’s -3 deal 4 very good against your deck.
Since the deck only has a handful of creatures, all of which are weak to Chandra, I do believe that this deck will not have very long legs moving forward. Outside of the planeswalkers, the deck didn’t really get many new tools, and I think it would be difficult for this deck to keep up.
R/G Energy Aggro
Before we wrap here, I want to try my hand at predicting a new archetype. This might be a trap the same way Madness Vampires was a trap when Innistrad first came out. However, I realized that was a draft archetype and not an actual constructed archetype. I do think that depending on which cards are considered strong contextually in the upcoming Standard format, there is a new deck ready and waiting in the wings.
R/G Energy Aggro takes advantage of aggressively costed creatures and the new Energy mechanic. Energy is essentially a type of mana that never empties your mana pool. The deck has some seemingly strong 2-4 drops, and is really only lacking in one drops. These creatures I’m interested in casting include Thriving Grubs, Longtusk Cub, and Voltaic Brawler as two drops, Pia Nalaar and Lathnu Hellion as potential three drops, and Bristling Hydra as a curve topper. You can also run interaction like Harnessed Lightning. I think that Energy has the potential to be a busted mechanic. It was originally intended for Mirrodin, after all, and we know how busted that entire block was. Whether these R/G creatures are powerful enough to create the best constructed shell for Energy remains to be seen, but I’m optimistic.
Until next time, keep your eyes glued to your preview cards, and keep those juices flowing!
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