It’s the eve of Pro Tour Hour of Devastation and what better to talk about than what’s on everyone’s mind? Standard. Standard has had its ups and downs the last year. We encountered our first bans in years thanks to Emrakul, the Promised End and friends Smuggler’s Copter and Reflector Mage. Then came the time to ban Felidar Guardian, Saheeli Rai’s all-too powerful cat companion. Lastly, it was Aetherworks Marvel, the busted combo piece that fed Ulamog’s ceaseless hunger.

With Hour of Devastation, however, Standard is in a good place. Since the banning of Marvel, many new innovative decks and strategies as well as some old favorites have all been viable, and it’s been interesting to see what decks have been coming out on top. As the Pro Tour approaches, let’s review the top decks of the format before the PT shakes up the metagame.

Mono Red Aggro by Tom Ross at SCG Atlanta – 1st

Creatures (24)
4 Bomat Courier
4 Scrapheap Scrounger
4 Ahn-Crop Crasher
4 Earthshaker Khenra
4 Falkenrath Gorger
2 Soul-Scar Mage
1 Hazoret the Fervent
1 Kari Zev, Skyship Raider

Non-Creature Spells (13)
2 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
4 Abrade
4 Built to Smash
3 Magma Spray

Lands (23)
11 Mountain
3 Foreboding Ruins
4 Ramunap Ruins
1 Smoldering Marsh
4 Sunscorched Desert

Sideboard (15)
2 Aethersphere Harvester
1 Eldrazi Obligator
2 Hanweir Garrison
2 Harsh Mentor
1 Chandra’s Defeat
1 Invigorated Rampage
1 Magma Spray
1 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
3 Blazing Volley
1 Kari Zev’s Expertise

Boss Sligh is back baby. This is as mono-red as it gets – 2/1s and 1/1s with haste for R. It’s refreshing to see Mono Red as the spotlight aggro deck of the format. There are a lot of cool little intricacies in Tom’s deck that I like, such as Soul-Scar Mage’s interaction with Abrade and Magma Spray, Bomat Courier and Scrapheap Scrounger getting trample from Built to Smash, the sprinkling of black-red lands to splash for Scrapheap Scrounger’s activated ability, and finally the 11 deserts which can be used to sacrifice to Ramunap Ruins for those final points of damage.

Since the format is still being ‘solved,’ Tom’s sideboard has access to a variety of spells, but what stands out to me are the copies of Aethersphere Harvester and Blazing Volley. Harvester dodges a lot of removal spells in the mirror, profitably blocks Glorybringer, and can battle for huge life swings when attacking with lifelink and simultaneously getting Built to Smash‘d. Blazing Volley is a cool sideboard card for the mirror since it wipes out Falkenrath Gorger, Bomat Courier, and Earthshaker Kenra and has a little extra reach when you have an active Soul-Scar Mage. Definitely keep this on your radar, I think this is the best deck aggressive deck going into the Pro Tour.

U/W God-Pharaoh’s Gift by Andrew Lukas at SCG Classic Atlanta – 7th

Creatures (22)
3 Cataclysmic Gearhulk
4 Angel of Invention
4 Champion of Wits
3 Mausoleum Wanderer
4 Minister of Inquiries
4 Thraben Inspector

Non-Creature Spells (15)
4 Gate to the Afterlife
3 God-Pharaoh’s Gift
4 Refurbish
4 Strategic Planning

Lands (23)
4 Island
5 Plains
4 Ipnu Rivulet
2 Irrigated Farmland
4 Port Town
4 Prairie Stream

Sideboard (15)
2 Crook of Condemnation
3 Void Winnower
4 Dispel
1 Forsake the Worldly
1 Linvala, the Preserver
3 Declaration in Stone
1 Fragmentize

If you haven’t heard about this deck by now, where have you been?? God-Pharaoh’s Gift is all the rage, since putting up a first place finish in the Standard MOCS last Saturday and subsequently putting up both online and paper results later in the weekend. The goal of the deck is to bin multiple creatures with Minister of Inquiries and Champion of Wits, then either Refurbish or fetch a God-Pharaoh’s Gift with Gate to the Afterlife, then proceed to make 4/4 hasty Zombie tokens with relevant enter the battlefield effects such as Angel of Invention’s Fabricate, and Cataclysmic Gearhulk’s Tragic Arrogance-like effect to win the game. Mausoleum Wanderer also acts as a counter spell and beefy flier.

The deck does take time to set up its recursive engine, however. With this deck on the rise I wouldn’t be surprised to see copies of Crook of Condemnation or more copies of Cast Out in sideboards. Overall, I think this deck is powerful and when it puts the combo online it can be very hard to beat. However, God-Pharaoh’s Gift can crumble to a combination of various sideboard cards, such as Negate, Dissenter’s Deliverance, Cast Out, Crook of Condemnation, and Abrade.

U/W Monument by Jonathan Rosum at SCG Classic Atlanta – 2nd

Creatures (24)
4 Bygone Bishop
4 Cloudblazer
4 Hanweir Militia Captain
4 Selfless Spirit
4 Spell Queller
4 Thraben Inspector

Non-Creature Spells (11)
2 Stasis Snare
2 Metallic Rebuke
4 Oketra’s Monument
3 Dusk // Dawn

Lands (25)
4 Island
7 Plains
1 Irrigated Farmland
4 Port Town
4 Prairie Stream
2 Shefet Dunes
3 Westvale Abbey

Sideboard (15)
3 Angel of Sanctions
2 Nimble Obstructionist
3 Sunscourge Champion
2 Stasis Snare
2 Essence Scatter
2 Negate
1 Jace, Unraveler of Secrets

While not a new deck, U/W Monument continues to put up results whether it be online or in paper and is definitely one of the strongest decks going into this weekend. The deck is consistent and highlights the power of cards like Oketra’s Monument and Westvale Abbey. I definitely like the appearance of Sunscourge Champion in the sideboard for Mono Red and having access to the flexible Nimble Obstructionist, which can stop a Torrential Gearhulk’s flashback ability in a flash.

 

There’s not much more to say about Monument than what’s already been said since it started appearing a couple weeks ago. It’s just a consistent deck that pops out multiple bodies and ways of drawing cards, in forms of clues and Cloudblazer triggers. I do think we’ll see some copies of Crook of Condemnation or Cast Out for the God-Pharaoh’s Gift matchup, maybe even four Sunscourge Champions or Blessed Alliance for Mono Red. I’d be interested to see how this deck will fare at the Pro Tour with the right preparation for the other big decks going into the format.

I’ll be excited to see how the Pro Tour plays out this weekend, and I don’t doubt that these three decks will all see action on the big stage, but I’m interested to see which sees the most play. What deck do you think will take the trophy?

Until next time,

Cheers

For a look at some more decks that might show up this weekend at the Pro Tour, read my article from last week, found here.

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