As Theros draws nearer, my geek level for Magic is leaving Level Olivia Munn and approaching Level Patton Oswalt. I always get excited for new Magic cards, but this next year is kicked by passion for Classic. I took 4 years of Latin and five semesters of Ancient Greek in high school. 300 is one of my favorite movies. I get off on Theseus’ Ship comparisons. So when I first saw the card Anax and Cymede, I knew I was in love with this set. Though I might be starry-eyed for the next year, there’s still Magic to be played! With half of Theros (and most of the rares) now upon us, allow me to make a few predictions of the standard format to come. And remember, if I am right but none of you listen to me, you really didn’t learn anything from the Cassandra story, did you?
All Geek to Me
1. Three-color blue decks won’t be nearly as competitive.
The mana got a lot worse. We all know it, but I think some aren’t admitting it. I think the days of UWR and Esper taking the top spots in standard are over. The M13 and Innistrad lands were marathon runner legs to the newborn giraffe legs of the Temple cycle of Theros. These decks would have to rely on many tapped lands, and excepting Sphinx’s Revelation, I don’t think the card quality can balance that scale. Burning Earth and Mutavault are two top standard cards that will make these strategies look exceptionally silly. Aggressive strategies would push those lands to the limit. The three-color control decks would have trouble casting their awkwardly costed and narrow removal spells at the right time.
2. The only control deck will be blue-white.
The one-two-three punch of Azorius Charm, Supreme Verdict, and Sphinx’s Revelation aren’t going anywhere, and neither will some form of UW Control. These three cards make any blue-red and blue-black control deck look pretty embarrassing in comparison. That isn’t to say UB or UR decks can’t or won’t exist, it just means they will have to adopt a more midrange strategy. Think Thoughtseize and Shadowborn Demon in UB or Young Pyromancer and Chandra, Pyromaster in UR.
3. At some point in the next year, a green-red ramp deck will be competitive.
It might now be missing a few role-players to be printed in Born of the Gods or later, but a GR Ramp deck has a good foundation. This deck will feature creature-based ramp, unlike the ramp decks of Zendikar that featured Cultivate and Khalni Heart Expedition. The four cards to form the basis of this deck are the M14 cards Elvish Mystic and Garruk, Caller of Beasts along with two Theros cards in Sylvan Caryatid and Xenagos, the Reveler. It’s hard to say what this deck’s endgame will be. It could be Ruric Thar, a green or red creature with Monstrosity, a giant Clan Defiance, or something else yet unprinted. When this deck does come around, Peak Eruption will make its debut in the sideboard for the mirror match.
There’s basically three tiers here: the top two, the next two and Nyleas. Thassa looks to be an all-around great card. It does a whole bunch of things for midrange and control decks alike, is cheaper than the rest of the gods, and most importantly, doesn’t compete with Jace, Architect of Thought in the 4-mana slot. Purphoros is right up there alongside Thassa. Purphoros’ ability is downright terrifying with all of the token generating cards in standard. A red-white midrange deck with Purphoros, Boros Reckoner and Young Pyromancer seems likely.
Next up are the black and white gods. Each costs four, has a static ability not as good as the first two gods, and an activated ability that threatens to win a long game. I rank Heliod over Erebos because, as I stated earlier, UW control will be much better than a UB incarnation.
In a nutshell, Thassa and Purphoros will see consistent play. Heliod and Erebos will probably come and go until they get a little more support. I’ll be surprised if we ever see Nyleas as more than a one-of as long as Ghor-Clan Rampager exists in Standard.
5. (For real this time:) These cards are the whip:
These are five cards that I have not already mentioned that I think will be consistently very good. I tried to pick one from each color, but the green card that I like most was the aforementioned Sylvan Caryatid.
Soldier of the Pantheon will be the gold standard of aggressive white decks to come. The price is right, and this thing dodges a slew of removal and creature spells. You’ll wish you never returned to Ravnica.
Master of the Waves will get a ton of includes in blue decks. While I don’t think he is a four-of in some type of blue devotion deck, a couple of copies alongside Jace, Architect of Thought will give fits to aggro and control players alike.
As was mentioned in the article that spoiled this card, the many enchantments, artifacts, and planeswalkers were giving black fits. This card makes black playable without red for Dreadbore, and will be in every black deck. Hero’s Downfall and Thoughtseize will be working overtime in black decks in the next year.
Magma Jet is back, and the Red Planewalkers were never happier. Chandra, Pyromaster and Domri Rade will get protection and scrying from Magma Jet to maximize their potency. Creature Summoners would be wise to put three-toughness creatures in their decks to dodge this spell. Speaking of which…
Fleecemane Lion is in obvious competition with Voice of Resurgence. While Voice of Resurgence may have been very good in the grinding days of Boros Reckoner and Thragtusk, this cat will better in a world of Magma Jets and other 1-for-1 removal spells.
My visions have become cloudy. I’ll have to revisit the Oracle. Until next time!
“There is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep.”
― Homer, The Odyssey
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