In less than 24 hours we’ll have the pleasure of watching pros from around the globe battle it out in Nashville, Tennessee to claim the trophy at Pro Tour Amonkhet. While the first three rounds of Day 1 are booster draft, the following five rounds are Standard. Although Pro Tours are notorious for new decks emerging due to the heavy testing pros do leading up to the event, we can usually get an understanding of the format from preliminary events and MtGO league results. Let’s take a look at the breakdown of Amonkhet Standard as we await the pro tour coverage.
Mardu Vehicles by Dylan Donegan at Grand Prix Richmond PTQ – 1st
1 Anguished Unmaking
2 Nahiri, the Harbinger
2 Oath of Liliana
1 Painful Truths
1 Release the Gremlins
2 Sorin, Grim Nemesis
2 Transgress the Mind
Enemy number 1. This is the most notorious deck in the format leading up to the Pro Tour, putting both five copies in the last Pro Tour top 8, as well as in the first SCG Open of the Amonkhet format. This deck is currently unmatched on sheer power level and its diversity of threats as well as various sideboard options are what makes it the most played deck in the format. However, no deck can really handle a turn 4 Ulamog, the Ceaseleass Hunger off of an Aetherworks Marvel, so somewhere maybe there’s a finely tuned Marvel deck that can beat Mardu. If I were qualified for the Pro Tour, this is the deck I would probably be playing. The mana is a little shaky, but it’s definitely the most powerful, consistent deck in the format.
Temur Marvel by yerffej03 on MtGO
Non-Creature Spells (24)
2 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
4 Attune with Aether
4 Harnessed Lightning
2 Pull from Tomorrow
2 Kozilek’s Return
2 Nissa’s Renewal
4 Woodweaver’s Puzzleknot
4 Aetherworks Marvel
With the disappearance of 4-Color Copycat, Aetherworks Marvel decks have made a resurgence. Temur stands out as my favorite, specifically for having access to Magma Spray, Harnessed Lightning, and Aether Meltdown as ways to combat Mardu Vehicles and Zombies. I do think the deck suffers from inconsistency and without drawing a Nissa’s Renewal you can have hands that are actually mulligans if you have an Ulamog or two stranded in them. I’m not convinced this deck is favored versus Mardu, since post-board Mardu gets access to hate cards such as Anguished Unmaking, Nahiri, the Harbinger, Transgress the Mind, and Release the Gremlins, and at the same time I don’t think Marvel decks can afford to bring in too many copies of Negate while getting beat down.
Mono-Black Zombies by GPJedi on MtGO
This is an interesting archetype that originally put some copies into the top 32 of the SCG Open. It’s actually kind of cool to see a competitive tribal deck in Standard, and this is definitely a solid contender for the Pro Tour. The deck can have an aggressive curve with Dread Wanderer and Relentless Dead and also has some evasive threats such as Plague Belcher and Lord of the Accursed (giving your team menace). I’m not sure this is a better choice than Mardu, however – I like that Mardu has access to a bevy of planeswalkers and spells post-board. While Zombies is surely an interesting deck that has a lot of resilience, I’m not sure how well it’ll fare at the Pro Tour. I’m curious to see it in action against Torrential Gearhulk decks and how it fares against Mardu post-board.
U/R Control by truthordare on MtGO
4 Torrential Gearhulk
This is a deck that has been prevalent in the online metagame. Torrential Gearhulk is still a busted Magic card, and this deck looks to have both a reasonable Mardu matchup and solid G/B Delirium and Aetherworks Marvel matchups. This particular version of the deck has both 4 Magma Spray and 4 Harnessed Lightning which I think is vital for fighting the aggressive decks of the format. I do think decks like this can have clunky draws and have hard time beating resolved planeswalkers. With the presence of Aetherworks Marvel decks and G/B Delirium, I think this could be a solid choice.
G/B Delirium by Mad-Ramon on MtGO
Non-Creature Spells (23)
2 Liliana, Death’s Majesty
2 Liliana, the Last Hope
4 Traverse the Ulvenwald
4 Fatal Push
2 Grapple with the Past
3 Grasp of Darkness
1 To the Slaughter
3 Vessel of Nascency
This deck gained some traction at the start of the season with Brennan Decandio’s (being the G/B master he is) list making top 4 of the SCG Open. However, this deck hasn’t been putting results up online. I don’t think it has any inherently good matchup. I feel like it has a hard time dealing with Marvel, save for their copies of Transgress the Mind and maybe To the Slaughter if they don’t play Whirler Virtuoso or Rogue Refiner, and also can get run over too easily by Mardu. I could also see the Torrential Gearhulk matchups being shaky as well. This deck has the tools to fight every deck in the format, but I’m not convinced it’s doing as powerful or consistent things as every other strategy. If I had to play G/B, I’d rather be on an aggressive strategy, either the energy version or playing copies of Gifted Aetherborn.
Well, there you have it. Standard as we know it. My pick going into the weekend is Mardu Vehicles, but I would like to be proven wrong. Perhaps a new deck will emerge from the shadows and take the Pro Tour by surprise. Maybe Mardu will put 5 copies in top 8! Unlikely, but it would be funny. Standard is definitely in a much better place than it was with Felidar Guardian around. I wish there was one Midrange deck out there since the biggest decks are aggro, ramp, and control. But I’m excited to see what different decks the pros will be on. Tune in to the Pro Tour, and I’ll be discussing its results next week!
Follow us on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/spellsnare_
Like us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/spellsnare