This past weekend showcased the first major Standard tournament of the Amonkhet season, and for the first time, Saheeli Rai and Felidar Guardian weren’t in attendance. While there was diversity in the metagame (32 different archetypes going into day 2) there were clear winners and losers after the dust had settled.

The Winners

Mardu Vehicles by Andrew Jessup at SCG Atlanta – 1st

Creatures (18)
4 Scrapheap Scrounger
2 Walking Ballista
4 Thraben Inspector
4 Toolcraft Exemplar
2 Archangel Avacyn
2 Thalia, Heretic Cathar

Non-Creature Spells (17)
4 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
4 Fatal Push
4 Unlicensed Disintegration
4 Heart of Kiran
1 Cut//Ribbons

Lands (25)
1 Mountain
4 Plains
2 Swamp
2 Aether Hub
2 Canyon Slough
4 Concealed Courtyard
4 Inspiring Vantage
2 Shambling Vent
4 Spire of Industry

Sideboard (15)
1 Anguished Unmaking
1 Magma Spray
2 Oath of Liliana
2 Nahiri, the Harbinger
2 Sorin, Grim Nemesis
1 Cut//Ribbons
1 Fumigate
1 Painful Truths
2 Release the Gremlins
2 Transgress the Mind


After the Felidar Guardian ban, this was the most obvious deck to go to. Even though we’re in an entirely new Standard format, Mardu Vehicles is still top dog. It’s hard to combat the sheer power level of this deck – 3/2s for 1, 4/4s with flying and vigilance for 2, and of course, Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. There’s a lot of room to explore this format, but with Copycat combo out the door and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar still around, this may just be the most powerful deck in the format (at least pre-Pro Tour). Not to say that’s the worst thing ever, Mardu is still beatable and people are always going to be playing a variety of different decks, so even if there is one dominant deck there’s still a lot of room to try new things in this format – Felidar Guardian put too much constriction on what you could actually be doing.

This deck hasn’t changed all that much since last format. We have two new card additions – Cut//Ribbons and Canyon Slough. Cut acts not only as a way to clear creatures early on, but a nice game-ender if the games go longer. With 28 decks making it into Day 2 of the SCG Open, I wouldn’t be surprised if Mardu has a huge target on its head after this weekend going into the Pro Tour, but I’m sure a variety of different decks will appear – maybe a whole new archetype altogether!

B/G Delirium by Brennan DeCandio at SCG Atlanta – 5th

Creatures (15)
1 Noxious Gearhulk
3 Walking Ballista
4 Grim Flayer
1 Manglehorn
2 Tireless Tracker
2 Gonti, Lord of Luxury
2 Ishkanah, Grafwidow

Non-Creature Spells (22)
3 Liliana, the Last Hope
1 Ob Nixilis Reignited
4 Vessel of Nascency
3 Fatal Push
3 Grasp of Darkness
2 To the Slaughter
2 Never//Return
4 Traverse the Ulvenwald

Lands (23)
6 Forest
8 Swamp
4 Blooming Marsh
1 Evolving Wilds
4 Hissing Quagmire

Sideboard (15)
1 Manglehorn
1 Tireless Tracker
2 Appetite for the Unnatural
1 Scarab Feast
2 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
2 Liliana, Death’s Majesty
2 Lost Legacy
2 Never//Return
2 Yahenni’s Expertise

I’m actually a little surprised by this one. With Mardu being such a big deck going into the weekend post-Copycat, B/G Delirium wouldn’t be my first choice to bring to this tournament, especially the Delirium strategy over a Winding Constrictor one. The deck has a lot of utility and again a powerful quality of cards, which was what put 14 copies into day 2. Ishkanah, Grafwidow combined with a bevy of removal spells may be enough to stop Mardu in its tracks.

Bant Aetherworks by Sam Lowe at SCG Classic Atlanta – 1st

Creatures (5)
1 Linvala, the Preserver
4 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger

Non-Creature Spells (33)
4 Woodweaver’s Puzzleknot
4 Aether Meltdown
4 Cast Out
1 Censor
4 Glimmer of Genius
2 Negate
1 Pull from Tomorrow
4 Aetherworks Marvel
4 Attune with Aether
3 Fumigate
2 Nissa’s Renewal

Lands (22)
4 Forest
3 Island
2 Plains
4 Aether Hub
4 Botanical Sanctum
2 Canopy Vista
3 Prairie Stream

Sideboard (15)
1 Sphinx of the Final Word
4 Tireless Tracker
1 World Breaker
1 Blessed Alliance
2 Dispel
1 Forsake the Worldly
2 Immolating Glare
2 Negate
1 Fragmentize

While I don’t particularly like Aetherworks Marvel strategies, I think this particular build of the deck can combat Mardu with its main deck copies of Aether Meltdown and Fumigate. I also like the four copies of Tireless Tracker along with the other bigger threats in the sideboard such as the Sphinx of the Final Word and World Breaker – this gives reach against Torrential Gearhulk decks. I think Descend upon the Sinful is still a busted card to consider when playing a Marvel strategy, especially when most people are attacking with a 5/5 Gideon and Vehicles.  I’ll keep my eye on this list going forward, I think it combat a lot of the more powerful decks in the format, but again it’s a Marvel strategy – you’re going to throw away games due to inconsistency and drawing your Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger.

Decks to Keep on the Radar

B/W Zombies by Zac Caudillo at SCG Atlanta – 14th

Creatures (30)
4 Scrapheap Scrounger
4 Cryptbreaker
4 Diregraf Colossus
4 Dread Wanderer
4 Lord of the Accursed
4 Plague Belcher
2 Relentless Dead
4 Wayward Servant

Non-Creature Spells (10)
2 Liliana, the Last Hope
4 Fatal Push
2 Grasp of Darkness
2 Dark Salvation

Lands (20)
10 Swamp
2 Aether Hub
4 Concealed Courtyard
4 Shambling Vent

Sideboard (15)
2 Binding Mummy
1 Anguished Unmaking
4 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
2 Collective Brutality
1 Dark Salvation
1 Never//Return
2 Transgress the Mind
2 Plains


Although I’m not a fan of this type of strategy (I’d rather not be playing 3 mana 2/3s) I think this deck has some reach against the other decks in the format. Cryptbreaker is the powerhouse of this deck – cheap, efficient and effective of staying ahead on cards. This was the only zombies strategy that appeared in the top 16, with a few others popping up in the top 64. I’m not convinced Zombies is the best strategy to play, but I think it’s resilient and has  a lot of recurring threats such as Dread Wanderer, Relentless Dead, and Scrapheap Scrounger.

Jeskai Control by Matthew Wright at SCG Atlanta – 16th

Creatures (4)
4 Torrential Gearhulk

Non-Creature Spells (29)
4 Cast Out
4 Censor
3 Disallow
2 Essence Scatter
4 Glimmer of Genius
4 Harnessed Lightning
3 Magma Spray
2 Negate
2 Pull from Tomorrow
1 Sweltering Suns

Lands (27)
5 Island
1 Mountain
4 Aether Hub
4 Inspiring Vantage
4 Irrigated Farmland
2 Port Town
4 Spirebluff Canal
3 Wandering Fumarole

Lands (15)
2 Sphinx of the Final Word
2 Aether Meltdown
2 Dispel
2 Essence Scatter
1 Magma Spray
2 Negate
2 Linvala, the Preserver
1 Nahiri, the Harbinger
1 Sweltering Suns

I’m also not a fan of control strategies in this Standard format, since I think there are more cheaper and powerful things you can be doing with your mana, but I think the right build of U/R or Jeskai can prove to be a contender if it has a favorable Mardu matchup. Torrential Gearhulk is still busted and now control strategies have new tools to play with such as Magma Spray for dealing with Scrapheap Scrounger and Sweltering Suns which can help against aggressive draws or cycle in matchups where the 3 damage isn’t relevant. I still think these decks can run out of steam, but maybe with Pull From Tomorrow they can have a resurgence.

Although Mardu made up the majority of the top 8, there still were a multitude of archetypes that advanced to day 2. Mardu still seems to be the most powerful deck, but I don’t think it’s unbeatable by any means. Even if there’s one dominant deck, it’s unlikely you’ll be playing against it every single round at whatever event you attend, but you do have to keep it on your radar and prepare for the worst. With the Pro Tour coming up soon I’m excited to see what teams stay on the Mardu strategy or come up with something  entirely new that shakes up the metagame.



Looking to beat Mardu Vehicles? This article from Austin Mansell goes through the ins and outs of battling against the powerful aggressive deck.

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