With my focus primarily on Modern for the past few months, due to some life obligations, I am not going to be able to attend any more PPTQs this season, which is kind of stinky, since I spent so much getting ready for this Modern season. However, it wasn’t all for naught, I feel like I did get much better at not only playing in the format, but reading metagames. For example, I mentioned last week that I thought the U/R Storm deck was the best deck in the format, and for the Modern challenge this past weekend, U/R Storm showed up in force.
Alongside U/R Storm, the Modern Challenge saw the resurgence of Burn, as well as a lot of Eldrazi Tron and Eldrazi and taxes. What does this mean for Modern going forward? If I were to play in a large Modern event online next weekend, I would be playing Death’s Shadow. You can beat the Storm decks quite effectively, Burn is a positive matchup, and you are able to race the Eldrazi decks. That’s my pick for best deck to play next weekend.
Anyway, enough Modern for this article, let’s take a look at Standard. I’ve been kind of reading a bit about Standard more recently, especially with the Grand Prix in Denver over the weekend. This Standard format since the banning of Aetherworks Marvel hasn’t truly had its time in the spotlight. There was the Pro Tour and like one Grand Prix, but I felt like this was a delightful event to get back into Standard.
So if this is the Standard landscape moving forward, which decks should you look to play if you want to get a head start once rotation comes to us? Let’s take a look at some Standard decks and how the Ixalan rotation will affect them.
This is my choice for top deck moving forward. I am somewhat biased though, Temur decks have a soft spot in my cold dead heart. This deck will lose only a small amount of cards post rotation, mainly sideboard cards like Tireless Tracker, Chandra, Flamecaller and Radiant Flames, the latter for which Sweltering Suns already exists as a replacement. It’s also losing some of the landbase, but we’re getting Rootbound Crag in Ixalan as a replacement for Game Trail, and I think that’s a strict upgrade.
Essentially, Ixalan can really only add to this strategy. However, this deck may suffer from being too synergistic. While sure, a lot of the cards aren’t rotating, you can’t really run this style of deck without Attune with Aether, without Harnessed Lightning, without the core creatures like Rogue Refiner or Servant of the Conduit. This is my only concern moving forward, and only time will tell if this is a valid one.
Post Rotation Grade: A
The deck that won the Pro Tour, the red aggressive deck came back with a vengeance after the last few cards that it needed were printed in Hour of Devastation. The namesake of the deck, Ramunap Ruins, allows the deck to have the long-missing reach Red Decks needed to once more be competitive.
John’s list here is actually one of the more resilient ones I’ve seen regarding the Ixalan rotation. The cardpool as a whole for this deck loses some important pieces, but John’s list looks like it’s built with rotation already in mind, replacing some of the rotating one-drops that won the Pro Tour like Falkenrath Gorger with Soul-Scar Mage, and dropping some of the Incendiary Flows and Collective Defiances as well. Even in the sideboard, nothing rotates.
After the Pro Tour, I was hesitant with how the deck would fare post-rotation, but after this past weekend, I’m definitely on-board with this being a competitor after Ixalan. The only concern I have is that the burn suite gets a little worse, but hopefully, the pirate dinosaurs are able to come up with a few viable replacements.
Post Rotation Grade: A-
Mono Black Zombies
While a lot of these Zombies have been around for a while in Standard, it was with Amonkhet that the core zombies found the ancillary cards they needed to not only become a competitor in a constructed format, but to be a Pro Tour winning deck. With so many card advantage engines in a creature-based aggressive deck, it’s no wonder that this deck finally rose to prominence in Standard.
However, I feel like, unless Ixalan brings with it some majorly decent Zombies, a lot of the core cards in this deck are not going to be Standard legal for much longer. Cards like Cryptbreaker, which is a dangerous card that can take over the game all by itself, Relentless Dead, which allows for a lot of graveyard shenanigans, and Diregraf Colossus, usually the nail in the coffin once your early game has been handled by your opponent, are all rotating.
And that’s not even mentioning the supporting cards that are leaving, like Dark Salvation, and even Black’s main answer to Hazoret the Fervent these days, Grasp of Darkness. I don’t think that Zombies can expect to survive post rotation, and if I were someone playing this deck today, I’d make sure I was aware that I would likely need to find a different deck once Ixalan showed up.
This deck has really changed a lot over time. Since the debut of the Vehicles with Kaladesh, Red/White vehicles has been a top dog in the Standard metagame. Aether Revolt saw the deck adding black as the primary strategy, after Lee Shi Tian had 4 colors in his vehicles decks at Pro Tour Kaladesh. Even though it’s not as good now as it was back then, it’s still a very powerful deck, even if cards like Abrade are keeping the deck in check even better than cards like Harnessed Lightning were able too.
Post rotation though, it loses a lot of the power that made the deck a real powerful midrange strategy. Losing Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and Archangel Avacyn are really big hits for this old-timer. While those cards are able to be replaced (waiting for Hazoret to show up in this deck, perhaps after Gideon rotates), the powerful vehicles strategy is going to be knocked down a bit in power level.
While the aggressive core will still persist, with Heart of Kiran, Toolcraft Exemplar, the Unlicensed Disintegration, I think this deck can still be a strong deck post-rotation, knowing that Veteran Motorist might come back with Ixalan bringing some new vehicles to mess with.
Post Rotation Grade: B
I know there are a lot of Standard decks, but these are some of the most popular ones right now, and also some of the best performing ones in the current standard. I’m really excited to start playing Standard again, and am looking forward to what exciting toys Ixalan will bring us in a few weeks.
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