The New Standard
We’re seeing the world with new eyes this weekend, as Return to Ravnica flips the Standard metagame upside down. Between updates to existing archetypes and brand new brews, there’s no shortage of interesting events in this environment.
Everyone expected to see the undead menace in force for Cincinnati, and they weren’t disappointed. Most players came assuming B/G would be the color concoction of choice, but a glance at the tables has the Goglari ranking third, behind incumbent favorite Rakdos and the more versatile Jund lists.
Joe’s B/R list started off on a tear, Bumping his way through more than a few control decks while admirably racing aggressive strategies.
Most would-be B/G players decided to take the plunge into red, gaining Falkenrath Aristocrat as a hasted threat and tools to improve their creature matchups. Pillar of Flame and Flames of the Firebrand have been two of the more popular options, but Brimstone Volley and Bonfire of the Damned are also available.
Note that both of these lists elected to sideboard Underworld Connections...
Delver of Secrets Lives?
The bogeyman of the past several months has been stripped of his Ponders and made less powerful—but not powerless. A number of players have struggled to find Insectile Aberration and Geist of Saint Traft a new home.
Eric Rill returned to a familiar Delver Humans shell, first created by Sam Black circa Grand Prix Orlando. Gather the Townsfolk is a respectable spell/creature to help flip Delvers and power-up Champions, but Eric also incorporated Rootbound Defenses as protection from Bonfire and other removal... Plus it’s a way to make more tokens!
Caleb has been trying to make U/R Delver work for some time, and gaining Steam Vents alongside a handful of other tricks may have given him all the tools he needs. This list has a number of experiments in it at the moment, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a more streamlined version begin taking down tournaments soon.
Of course, you don’t have to play Delver to play Geist of Saint Traft. Andrew Shrout took a new spin on the old W/U Humans strategy to a quick undefeated start early on. Sublime Archangel may be an upgrade on Angelic Destiny, and Feeling of Dread is an excellent card for clearing the path to victory.
Where there are people attacking there will be others trying to block them—this is the way of the world.
We did a quick chat with Lauren after Round 1 of the event on SCGLive, but he’s hardly alone in the room—a number of players have realized that Olivia is one of the most powerful trumps in the format, and pairing her with Thragtusk gives the three-color deck a strong path into the later turns, where her power fully reveals itself. It remains to be seen whether base green is correct, but Olivia will be a card in this environment.
Many players turned to Loxodon Smiter and Centaur Healer for aid against the Zombie horde. Trostani has been a surprise start in the archetype, but I’m not sure if the archetype has legs. Its limited weapons against the control strategies that will rise should force G/W to adapt or die, and I anticipate most players adding a third color soon.
There were a variety of control decks in the Cincinnati field, but one stood out among them—mostly because a handful of StarCityGames.com’s favored sons came playing the archetype.
Dubbed Brad Nelson’s brainchild by Gerry Thompson, this grinding control deck worked its planeswalkers alongside a number of sweepers to put aggressive opponents in the stone age before taking the game long, winning with Entreat the Angels and occasionally Tamiyo’s ultimate.
That’s just a glimpse into the Cincinnati Standard metagame—expect the field to continue developing and evolving over the next few weeks!