Shifting Standard With AJ Hale
Last Friday the Standard format had a massive shift. Return to Ravnica block had been such a dominant block for so long that it's departure left a massive vacuum in its wake. The likes of Sphinx's Revelation, Mizzium Mortars, Jace, Architect of Thought & Boros Reckoner defined the standard format this past year. However; after the first standard results that trickled in this last weekend from big name tournaments around the globe, it was a great relief to see Khans of Tarkir stepping in to fill the void with a whole heap of exciting cards. Let’s look at what cards were dominant last weekend!
Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker turned up in multiple decks proving that he's the best planeswalker to cross the red zone since Gideon. Sarkhan isn’t subtle but he does go to 5 loyalty on his first turn and can get in for four damage immediately. His only worry is Hero’s Downfall, but practically every creature in the format also has this weakness.
Sorin, Solemn Visitor. I remember not being initially impressed with Sorin but the key to the vampire lies in the fact that he gives lifelink till your NEXT turn; not just till the end of turn. This has amazing synergy with Brimaz (who becomes a 4/4 vigilant, life linker on your turn and your opponents) and makes that follow up Siege Rhino even more formidable.
The Charms. Jeskai, Abzan, Mardu, Jeskai and Temur Charm all saw play in various decks. Once you get past the coloured mana cost; they have amazing flexibility. My favourite so far are Jeskai Charm. It found a home in the Jeskai Tempo deck where it was often used to clear away a blocker or deal four to the face. Mardu Charm also gets the tick as it can grab a card from an opponents hand in their draw step.
Butcher of the Horde made a splash in the Mardu decks. It’s good to see a good four drop demon continue to rule standard. While not as strong as Desecration Demon it can be more aggressive and interacts favourably with Goblin Rabblemaster. The Butcher has a huge number of abilities and all of them are extremely relevant.
Courser of Kruphix/Sylvan Caryatid. I’m possibly cheating here by combining these two but they certainly define green decks in the format (and there are quite a few). These two friends appeared in GB Devotion, Temur Monsters, Sultai Delve, Abzan Mid-Range and GR Monsters. Sylvan Caryatid is the best mana dork in the format and in my opinion the second best two-drop mana dork of all time (Wall of Roots still edges it out). In this format; it only fears Crackling Doom and Anger of the Gods, it proved its worth last season and it won’t change this one.
On the other hand who could have seen what Courser would do to standard. I remember thinking the card was sweet to begin with (reminding me of one of my all-time favourites Oracle of Mul-Daya) but it has so many things in its favour. Its four toughness keeps aggressive deck back, the life gain extremely relevant, as well it gives card advantages to decks that never had it before. Paired with the Scry lands it gives additional deck manipulation. It’s difficult to see what could change the format to sour players on this double act.
This overview just scrapes the surface so many cards have emerged this week, Goblin Rabblemaster, Mantis Rider, Siege Rhino, Monastery Swiftspear, Murderous Cut. It’s an exciting time for standard and this weekend will be one to watch.
Unsure with what to sleeve up this standard season? Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir next weekend will bring metagame contenders to the table! For now, lets look at the winner of the past weekends SCG New Jersey Open. Jeskai tempo is shaping up to be a front runner for sure!
Kevin Jones / SCG New Jersey 1st place / Jeskai Tempo