Standard was the name of the game last weekend, as not 1, not 2, but 3 Standard Grand Prix took place across the globe. Due to the magic of time zones, results from GP Manila and GP Amsterdam came in early, and it was quite the shocker. The boogie man of the format, Temur Marvel was hardly present in either top 8. Just one lowly copy in both the top 8’s of Amsterdam and Manila. Several new takes on Vehicles were popping up, shifting to Esper or just jamming blue into the Mardu shell to facilitate Spell Queller and Metallic Rebuke as answers to Marvel.
Spell Queller was also further represented in Manila as Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar finalist Ryoichi Tamada took down the event with U/W Flash, a deck most thought dead since the banning of Smuggler’s Copter and Reflector Mage. Aggressive B/G variants had good showings in both events as people were looking to beat down and go under the legendary 4 mana artifact. A couple copies of the Infect-esque R/G Pummeler deck made top 8 appearances as well as the resilient Mono-Black Zombies. With a wide berth of decks present in both event’s top 8’s, we’re left with one question:
Could the format finally be settling into place and developing into something fun and healthy?
NOT IF THE U.S. OF A. HAS ANYTHING TO SAY ABOUT IT!
Grand Prix Omaha finished a bit after the Asian and European Grand Prix, and it must have missed the memo that said Temur Marvel was no longer dominant. The Midwest top 8 was represented with only one meager little deck that didn’t feature Islands, Mountains, Forests, and a whole lot of energy enablers. Sam Pardee heard the good word from the Netherlands and was bashing people with snakes and Grim Flayer, but the rest of the top 8 was casting Rogue Refiner. 6 Copies of Temur Marvel and 1 copy of Temur Energy made up the remaining American top 8.
**Note this is not a true story, and Austin is just mocking Temur Energy as an archetype, one he believes to be wholly worse than conventional Marvel. He is rude.**
Brad Nelson took down the event with an impressive 16-0-2 record on the weekend. You can see his decklist here. Ulvenwald Hydra was the tech he and Paul Dean (who also top 8’d) employed to much success. The big fatty that often outsizes an opposing Harnessed Lightning (and is Dispossess-proof threat) while tutoring up a threat in Lumbering Falls or an Eldrazi ramp land in Shrine of the Forsaken Gods, and shined all weekend long for the duo. Expect to see the long forgotten bulk Mythic more regularly.
So taking in this massive dump of results from the past weekend, what’s a grinder to do? Well if you are serious about the game, and not drunk with nostalgia, ignore all my whimsical advice from last week and pick up Brad or Sam Pardee’s list! Either finalist’s list will put you in a good spot going forward, and that is personally where I’d want to be if I was out there grinding PPTQs. My good-timey feely diatribe from last week might not even be able to withstand the allure of these two fine tuned lists. Old Spikes Die Hard.
Marvel is most likely still the best thing to be doing and the Bard’s list looks the best at doing it in this developing metagame. Cutting Whirler Virtuoso may have seemed crazy at one time, but the emphasis on a more tempo and spell heavy build makes sense when you’re trying to crush the mirror. We saw Yuuya do something similar after all at Pro Tour Amonkhet. The instant speed game plan seems even better with the rising stock of Spell Queller, which tries to punish you for tapping out. End step that Glimmer of Genius and if they try to Quell your Spell, untap and punish them with a resolved Aetherworks Marvel.
Post-board, we can do the typical “morph into a midrange deck” per normal, but part of the greatness of this deck is its ability to rely on Ulvenwald Hydra over something more conventional like Torrential Gearhulk. Our six mana threat doesn’t walk right into the Dissenter’s Deliverance that your opponent is likely playing, and it does a great job bridging the gap to start hard-casting Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. This deck is a well oiled machine and I would definitely not fault you for picking up this exact 75.
Alas, try as I might, I am not a Marvel Man. I was born to cast Traverse the Ulvenwald, and for me, it would most definitely be Pardee Time. While Sam’s or GP Amsterdam champion Lukas Blohon’s lists might be called G/B Delirium, these are beat down Winding Constrictor decks for sure. Durdling might be near and dear to my heart, but if you wanna go under Marvel, you better curve Winding Constrictor into Rishkar, Peema Renegade. I like both Sam’s and Lukas’s very similar lists and would strongly recommend copying one of their 75’s if you’re interested in playing green and black spells.
Who knows, maybe I’ll settle on one of these streamlined lists instead of my Abzan nostalgia happy good times.
Looking for a Standard deck to go under Temur Marvel through aggressive and powerful attacks? Check out a recent installment of our 2017 Deck of the Day column, where we featured a R/G Energy beatdown deck.
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