While I’m not a Standard player myself, I am always keeping up on the Standard meta-game, as it’s good to keep up with what people are brewing with. Also, after the release of a set, it’s good see how certain cards from the newest set are being built around. Now that the Top 32 have been decided at Star City Games’ Standard Open in Baltimore, Maryland yesterday, we are finally getting a glimpse into how Magic 2015 might affect the format.
One Mono-Black Devotion list used 3 copies of Sign in Blood to help with draw power. It’s good to have this card back in Standard, giving Mono-Black a bit of an extra push in card advantage. This list also ran two copies of Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth to help Mutavault tap for black mana. Mutavault is a fantastic card, but being able to also tap for black mana makes it even more valuable. The winning list from Dan Jessup ran 2 copies of Sign in Blood, and one main-decked Urborg.
The winning list also included a copy of Liliana Vess in the sideboard. The classic Liliana can make players discard, or help you search out your library for an answer you desperately need. It’s also nice that she can bring back creatures for all graveyard to fight for you. But her first two abilities are solid enough, especially as she starts with five loyalty. I see her being played all kinds of places. Esper Control has also managed to main-board one copy of Liliana.
Mono-Blue Devotion gained a copy of Polymorphist’s Jest for the sideboard, helping the deck out against aggressive creature-based decks, causing some potential blowouts. It’s a phenomenal card in limited, and in the right match-ups, it’s a really strong sideboard card that could really ruin an aggro player’s day.
One deck that has definitely been helped by Magic 2015 is Black/White Midrange, a list piloted by 3rd place winner Lloyd Kurth. which now has the full play-set of Caves of Koilos and one copy of Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth to make tapping for black mana far easier. The changes are mostly only in the mana base, but mana-fixing is extremely important in any Magic format, and adding the four pain-lands and the Urborg to fix for black mana definitely helps.
One Green/White Aggro list found room for 2 copies of Sunblade Elf in the main board. They’ve also found room for two copies of Ajani Steadfast in the sideboard. It’s hard to say how much play the new Ajani will get due to the presence of Ajani, Mentor of Heroes in Standard already (as you can’t have two Ajani planeswalkers on the board at the same time). The 2nd place G/W Aggro list did not have any Sunblade Elves, but did have the two side-boarded copies of Steadfast.
The new Ajani’s +1 is pretty decent, and his -2 is good if you already have a lot of creatures on board already. He also might see play in a “Super Friends” deck with other planeswalkers, but he’s sort of awkward in that sort of deck because of Ajani, Mentor of Heroes is a big part of that deck, helping you dig for more creatures and planeswalkers. Ajani Steadfast does have a rather nice emblem that makes you very hard to kill. I think he may see Standard main-board play once Return to Ravnica block rotates, but until then, he’s basically only a sideboard option.
The deck that has been affected the most by the new format, though, of course is Mono-Green Devotion. Why? The deck gained three new very valuable cards: Chord of Calling, Genesis Hydra and Nissa, Worldwaker. One copy of Hornet Queen and Reclamation Sage have also entered the main-board, as well as a copy of Darksteel Citadel for the obvious interaction with Nissa. The Hornet Queen, a 2/2 flyer with Deathtouch, is basically played for the three green mana symbols in her casting cost, and the fact she brings in 4 1/1 Deathtouch flyers in with her. The Sage is played because Enchantments are running rampant, and optional artifact & enchantment removal is always good.
The Chord of Calling is fairly obvious, as it’s an instant speed tutor for a creature straight from your deck. It does cost X and triple Green, but because of its Convoke ability, you can just tap down creatures to help cast it, helping you to get your bigger creatures out on the board at instant speed. Mono-Green is never at a loss for mana, so you’ll have plenty of mana to get your bigger creatures out onto the board quite easily.
There is also a full play-set of Genesis Hydra. It’s a card that I’ve liked since it was spoiled, but it’s cool to see it seeing instant competitive Standard play. It’s a great value creature that can tap for either small amounts of mana to get your smaller creatures on board, or be a mana-sink for massive amounts of mana to be able to drop your Nissa or Arbor Colossus on the board.
Nissa, Worldwaker is pretty much a one-mana planeswalker in mono-Green. She’s even better with Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, as you use Nykthos to cast her, but then tap other forests and float the mana, then use her plus-ability to untap those forests. She’s a very strong ramp card. Never mind the fact that she has the ability to make lands into 4/4 Elemental creatures – the ramping element alone is enough to play her. Of course, her ultimate is bonkers, and can win games.
Sadly enough, the Mono-Green Devotion list that fared the best, piloted by Charley Murdock, finished 9th.
There are clearly a lot of good cards in Magic 2015, but in the current format, it’s clear that Mono-Green was the deck most affected by the new set. It may not be until October 2014 before we see more Magic 2015 cards taking the spotlight.
Until next time,
– Elspeth for the Win