Standard is going through a little bit of a rough patch. You may be scratching your head, fretting over what to play this weekend at Grand Prix New Jersey (or Barcelona!) – I know I am. You spend any bit of free time scrolling through decklists, seeing what 5-0’d this league or that. Every option seems viable, but when you go to test out the 75 you end up falling short. The last week has been filled with sleepless nights. “Felidar Guardian…no, Heart of Kiran…” you talk aloud in your sleep. The upcoming deck decision is slowly seeping into your unconscious, driving you mad. Don’t worry, my lovelies, I’m here to help. I’m here to bring closure and (hopefully) bring you to victory this weekend.

“Standard is a Two Deck Format”


I hate to say it, but this seems to be the case. As I sift through the various Temur Tower decks and Marvel builds, nothing compares to the sheer power of Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and Heart of Kiran or that of the value of the various creature and planeswalker threats of 4-Color Copycat. Did you not know this already though?

Here’s the part where I want to give you some innovative answer, some new spark of ingenuity to direct your decision-making this weekend. But alas, I cannot. Mardu and Copycat stand atop the food chain, towering over various builds of Marvel and Tower. My inner Mike Flores is screaming for me to sleeve up four copies of Aetherworks Marvel this weekend, but I’m going to shake my head in protest.

So Roman, what can I learn here? I already knew Copycat and Mardu were the best!

Before you stray from my clickbait article, stay for a minute, there’s something we can still learn from this situation.

This isn’t the first time in recent months where standard has felt like a two or three-deck format. Last Standard season was dominated by U/W Flash, G/B Delirium, and several Marvel decks. Last year, Collected Company was rampant. It can be disheartening playing in these seemingly unhealthy Standard environments, where one or two decks seem to be king.

I remember back during Theros block Standard, Mono-Black and Mono-Blue were the uncontested decks of that Standard season. I wasn’t a truly competitive player at the time, but I was starting to travel to more SCG Opens and Grand Prix, whenever time permitted me to. Jund Monsters was my weapon of choice. I’m not sure if it was just because it was easiest for me to acquire the cards for the deck, that I wanted to play more of a “rogue” deck for the season, or that I tended to drift towards green and red creatures, but it was the deck I became attached to. The deck, however, was clearly not as powerful as Mono-Black and Mono-Blue, and I rarely won with my Polukranos, World Eater and Stormbreath Dragon.

Later down the line, during the start of Khans block, I built G/R Monsters. I showed up to the first SCG Open of the season ready to battle, and ended up with a dissatisfying 6-4 record, losing to multiple copies of Elspeth, Sun’s Champion along the way. If there’s some takeaway from newbie Roman’s Monsters decks was that it put me into a poor mindset, where I overvalued cards I had a personal attachment too, rather than play the best deck.

For the majority of Khans of Tarkir block Standard, I always chose Abzan Aggro as my deck choice – I just liked beating down with big green creatures. There were many tournaments where I should’ve chosen a different deck, but was too attached to my Abzan Aggro to make the change. But what does any of this have to do with Mardu and 4-Color Copycat?

This past week I’ve been experimenting with a variety of decks for the Grand Prix, and although part of me wants to go rogue and cast Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger on turn four, deep down I know playing Mardu or 4-Color Copycat is my best bet for qualifying for the Pro Tour. Aetherworks Marvel, you’re a really cool card, but for this weekend I’m going to have to pass. Perhaps we’ll meet again once Gideon, Ally of Zendikar gets the ban hammer.

So if you’re having trouble deciding what to play this weekend at the Grand Prix, or any competitive standard event for that matter, I’d recommend one of the top dogs in the format. Join or die. Crush or be crushed. I’m going to maximize my chances of grabbing my blue envelope. But who knows, maybe the winner’s trophy will fall into the hands of someone taking the road less traveled. And their deck might just happen to have some Aetherworks Marvel in it.

Don’t like either of the top 2 decks in Standard and don’t want to heed my advice? Read this article by Austin Mansell for a look at why he’s playing something a little out of the ordinary at GP New Jersey.

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