Now that Standard has had a few weekend to develop between paper and Magic Online, let’s break down some cards from each type and see how they effect the format. These are some cards to watch out for when playing Standard and where you could find them.
Instants are very well-positioned in Standard right now. The ability to handle Smuggler’s Copter before the loot is exactly where you need to be against it, after it put 32 copies into the top 8 of SCG Indianapolis. Here are the best instants of this format:
Glimmer of Genius – This is probably the best draw spell in the format. Because it is a 4 mana draw spell, you are asking for it to do a lot. Scry 2 is definitely a good addition, as it allows for card selection that you will need. The 2 energy it adds is a sneaky add-on to it that comes in handy when activating Aether Hubs in your deck.
Grasp of Darkness – Not much more to say than it is probably the best removal spell in Standard right now. It’s cheap, efficient, and deals with almost creature in the format. Importantly, it’s able to handle Smuggler’s Copter on curve.
Summary Dismissal – I think this is the best counterspell in the format right now. It has a lot of flexibility in how you want to use it, especially when there are more Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger and Emrakul, the Promised End roaming around now thanks to Aetherworks Marvel. Summary Dismissal can also be used as a Stifle against a Haunted Dead trigger, which can let you build your way back into the game.
Kozilek’s Return – This is the best instant speed “board wipe” we have. The ability to trigger this at instant speed is huge and a good way to deal with a swarm of attackers. As an instant speed Pyroclasm by itself, it is fine, but not spectacular.
Harnessed Lightning – Harnessed Lightning is a removal spell that acts as two different cards. It acts primarily as a removal spell like Lightning Strike, but can also be an energy enabler if you so choose. With Electrostatic Pummeler and Aetherworks Marvel seeing a lot of play, this card is a huge role player for the energy aspects in those decks.
Sorceries aren’t great in this current Standard, for the main reason mentioned above, but if they are played they need to be very powerful. These sorceries are:
Cathartic Reunion – This is a huge enabler that allows you to dig through your deck quickly and efficiently. You see this card in multiple styles of decks. In BR Zombies, they use it as a discard outlet, as does the Grixis Emerge deck. However Aetherworks Marvel decks use it to dig into their combo piece.
Fumigate – Even with the rise of Vehicles, all those cars need drivers, which makes Fumigate good right now. Gaining some time as a control or midrange deck can give you the added turns you need to take over the game. It’s not a great card (especially compared to past board wipes) but it’s the best available board wipe we have in Standard right now.
Fragmentize – Because Standard is an artifact-based format, you need the ability to kill them easily. Granted, this is a sorcery, but it’s a cheap and efficient one. Being able to play 2 spells on turn 3 and removing one of your opponent’s threats is a huge tempo swing. It can also hit enchantments, even though that feels like the secondary ability on it.
Artifacts are taking over Standard right now, whether they are racing you off to victory or cheating in spaghetti monsters. These are the best artifacts in the format:
Smuggler’s Copter – Widely believed to be the best card in Standard right now. It fits in almost any style of deck. If your deck can’t efficiently answer it or beatdown through it, then you should re-evaluate your deck choice.
Aetherworks Marvel– This build-around-me artifact is probably one of the best ones we have had since Birthing Pod. Its easy to get going due to Puzzleknots and you can easily win the game if it resolves. Hitting a turn 4 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger on the play to put your opponent back to 1 land while putting out a creature that doesn’t die isn’t beaten easily. It also refuels to reactivate within a turn, potentially.
Enchantments have a pretty important role in Standard right now. Most of these enchantments are just targeting removal, but some others help you dig through your deck and smooth your draws.
Sinister Concoction – Having an enchantment on the field that reads “kill target creature for one mana” is huge when trying to combat Smuggler’s Copter. It has dual purposes by filling up your graveyard for delirium bonuses as well.
Stasis Snare – Back to the instant speed feel. This card is great as it can answer any creature between a creature land, an attacking planeswalker, and a Smuggler’s Copter. The best quality of this card is it can fit in an aggro, midrange, and control shell. It’s very flexible.
Vessel of Nascency – This is the best way to fuel delirium at an efficient cost when you’re in that type of grindy, delirium deck. When you are playing a combo deck such as Aetherworks Marvel, it is also a good
way to dig for the namesake card.
Quarantine Field – This card is probably the best catch-all answer in the format, while still being an answer to Smuggler’s Copter. It may be a little mana intensive, but it is still probably the best all around
removal that white has right now.
Creatures are what Standard is meant to be played with. Some fit different roles but all are designed to kill.
Inventor’s Apprentice – This card is the best red 1 drop we have seen in a Standard format since Goblin Guide. It’s an aggressive 2/3 in Standard that has very little draw backs. It hits decently well while being able to block with its big butt, and turning it from a 1/1 into a 2/3 doesn’t require a lot, especially when the best card in the format is a 2 mana artifact.
Gearhulks – Gearhulks are a powerful cycle that are reminiscent of the Titans a couple of coresets ago. For the most part, Verdurous Gearhulk and Torrential Gearhulk are the most impactful and can be seen in a variety of decks. These gearhulks will be the high-end finishers in their respective decks and do a lot of work.
Scrapheap Scrounger – Probably the most annoying creature in Standard aside from Smuggler’s Copter. It fits in any black deck and can play different roles in different decks. His role in the Emerge and Zombies decks are another source to trigger Prized Amalgam. But, in BR Aggro, it is there to be able to be a recurrable threat (also, it turns on your Inventor’s Apprentice).
Kalitas Traitor of Ghet – Kalitas is the best way to combat a lot of these Zombies decks. Backed with a lot of removal, it can very easily take over the game. He will be in every black-based control and midrange deck. His power level is on the higher end of Standard cards, so it won’t be long before we see Kalitas back in the spotlight.
Planeswalkers are the most powerful cards in Magic, but with the flying scooter around, Planeswalkers are at an all time low in playablity. There’s only 1 Planeswalker I think you should be playing right now:
Tamiyo, Field Researcher – Tamiyo is probably the best Planeswalker to play right now, as she protects herself from Smuggler’s Copter and is able to control the boardstate very well. Being able to tap down Copter for a couple of turns can allow you to be able to clog up the ground enough to beat through it with a Verdurous Gearhulk, among other options.
I hope that this article helped you better understand the Standard format that we’re going to be seeing at the Pro Tour this weekend. I’m excited to watch and play, and I hope you are too!
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