Hello everyone! After my two week vacation, I’m feeling great and am ready to dive right into the Magic world! Today we’re not going to focus on one specific deck, but a variety of ways you can up your Standard game, starting with the three large ways to approach a format.

I. Play the best deck

 

This one is pretty simple, but it is an approach that has worked out great for many people in the past. For this example and the rest of the article, I am going to be using the results of the Pro Tour to describe my reasoning and give examples.

Ramunap Red by Paulo Vitor Damo Da Rosa at PT Hour of Devastation – 1st

Creatures (26)
Ahn-Crop Crasher
Bomat Courier
Earthshaker Khenra
Falkenrath Gorger
Hazoret the Fervent
Kari Zev, Skyship Raider
Village Messenger

Non-Creature Spells (10)
Chandra, Torch of Defiance
Abrade
Shock

Lands (24)
14 Mountain
Ramunap Ruins
Scavenger Grounds
Sunscorched Desert

Sideboard (15)
Aethersphere Harvester
Chandra’s Defeat
Chandra, Torch of Defiance
Glorybringer
Oath of Chandra
Pia Nalaar
Sand Strangler
Savage Alliance

After Pro Tour Kyoto, the top deck was Ramunap Red. The deck is fast, consistent, and can have some explosive starts. All of these factors led to it being a great choice for the weekend. Even though people would come prepared, Ramunap Red still had a good weekend, simply because of how consistent and powerful the deck was.

II. Beat the best deck

 

The second thing one can do is chose a deck that beats the best deck. This is what happened at Grand Prix Minneapolis, as Zombies and B/G Constrictor dominated the field. What people did was realize that playing the best deck would get them targeted, and so chose to instead be the ones targeting the best deck, thus increasing their chance to improve their record.

Mono-Black Zombies by Steve Locke at GP Minneapolis – 1st

Creatures (21)
Cryptbreaker
Diregraf Colossus
Dread Wanderer
Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
Lord of the Accursed
Relentless Dead

Non-Creature Spells (14)
Dark Salvation
Fatal Push
Grasp of Darkness
Liliana’s Mastery

Lands (25)
Ifnir Deadlands
Scavenger Grounds
19 Swamp

Sideboard (15)
Aethersphere Harvester
Grasp of Darkness
Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
Liliana, the Last Hope
Murder
Never // Return
Scrapheap Scrounger
Skysovereign, Consul Flagship
Transgress the Mind

G/B Constrictor by Corey Baumeister at GP Minneapolis – 2nd

Creatures (21)
Catacomb Sifter
Rishkar, Peema Renegade
Sylvan Advocate
Verdurous Gearhulk
Walking Ballista
Winding Constrictor

Non-Creature Spells (15)
Fatal Push
Grasp of Darkness
Aethersphere Harvester
Nissa, Voice of Zendikar
Oath of Nissa

Lands (24)
Blooming Marsh
Forest
Hissing Quagmire
Swamp

Sideboard (15)
Crook of Condemnation
Dispossess
Gonti, Lord of Luxury
Lost Legacy
Never // Return
Skysovereign, Consul Flagship
Transgress the Mind
Yahenni’s Expertise

III. Beat the deck that beats the best deck

This step is called level 3. It means that instead of trying to beat “the best deck” you try to beat the decks that are sure to emerge (literally, sometimes) because of the prevalence of such a best deck. In this scenario, this would be a deck that preys on Zombies and B/G Constrictor. At Grand Prix Denver, this did indeed happen.

Temur Energy by Brad Nelson at GP Denver – 1st

Creatures (24)
Bristling Hydra
Glorybringer
Longtusk Cub
Rhonas the Indomitable
Rogue Refiner
Servant of the Conduit
Whirler Virtuoso

Non-Creature Spells (14)
Abrade
Attune with Aether
Harnessed Lightning
Magma Spray
Skysovereign, Consul Flagship

Lands (22)
Aether Hub
Botanical Sanctum
Forest
Game Trail
Island
Lumbering Falls
Mountain
Sheltered Thicket
Spirebluff Canal

Sideboard (15)
Abrade
Chandra, Flamecaller
Chandra, Torch of Defiance
Confiscation Coup
Negate
Radiant Flames
Tireless Tracker

Brad Nelson, Brian Braun-Duin, and Corey Baumeister, who finished 1st, 2nd, and 4th respectively, all played Temur Emerge. This is a deck that had been doing well on MtGO, and boasts a positive matchup against the decks that beat Mono-Red, so they elected to play it. And their choice definitely payed off.

With this approach comes some risk of course, which is often dropping percentage points to “the best deck.” I haven’t played enough Temur Energy to confirm that this is the case for this specific deck, but for other decks on “level 3,” such as U/W Approach and R/G Ramp, it is certainly true.

While these 3 approaches are not the only things you can do, they are what I would recommend to someone trying to decide what to play. Often, I go for choice number two, with my second being choice number one, as I feel that trying to outmaneuver the field as extensively as number three often leaves you too weak to the best deck, which people are still bound to play.

Another thing to consider is how to prepare. For example, I usually prefer to lock in my deck choice a week or two before the event and practice as much as I can with it. This will allow you to excel with a deck and play it to the best of your ability, but still with the knowledge of how to approach each relevant matchup and the format as a whole.

Others prefer to test all the decks they can until the last minute in the hope of finding something broken, which they will then play, although without knowing the ins and outs of the deck as thoroughly as someone who has been playing their deck for weeks.

 

In reality, either way is fine, and different people chose different things. I often have very little time to test for events, so I am forced to lock my deck in early. I believe it to be the best choice, but many will disagree and I could even be wrong. After all, I did win a PPTQ with an incomplete deck which I had to patch at 1:00am the night before my event, and ended up winning. Fate works in mysterious ways…

As always, I hope you enjoyed, and good luck in all your Magic adventures. My next event is Grand Prix Washington D.C., and as I am true to my word and it is two weeks before the event, here is the list I am playing:

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