This past weekend was SCG Worcester and yesterday we analyzed the Top 32 results. This was the first large Standard event to feature Magic 2020 and the London mulligan. These results were a wild ride with old archetypes getting new toys and some showing up for the first time. Today we will cover the best pieces of Magic 2020 technology that were featured in the Top 8 of SCG Worcester. As always, all decklists are available here.
Esper Hero: Disfigure and Tomebound Lich
For some time now, Esper has been one of the best decks in the format. If you cannot end the game quickly, Thought Erasure and the Teferis will be hard to beat in the lategame. So it was best to try and get under the deck or go way over it. That will be a bit harder now. Disfigure has given them a much needed method to deal with one drop creatures while remaining tempo-even. Lich is a more all-around card though. It nets card advantage, it gains life while blocking small creatures, and in the lategame it trades with even the largest creatures. It is difficult to say whether it is better than Elite Guardmage or not so I understand why they ran both.
Boros Feather: God’s Willing
Boros Feather only gained one card from the new set but it was exactly what the doctor ordered. The key concerns for this style of deck has always been opposing removal and blockers. When your strategy is to target your own creature, the opponent responding with removal will be a two-for-one. And pumped up creatures do not have an impressive effect if they are just chump blocked. Sheltering Light will help with many forms of removal but is very underwhelming. Well God’s Willing has returned from the Theros block to help Feather deal with both removal and blockers. It was a keystone of the old Heroic decks and will easily be a four of in Feather going forward.
Bant Ramp: Voracious Hydra
Ramp was already an extremely powerful archetype pre-M20 so it did not exactly need any new toys. It would put together an absurd amount of ramp effects and then overwhelm the opponent with a large X spell. They could use Krasis to draw cards, gain life, and beat you down. Or they use Mass Manipulation to flip your board state against you. Now with Voracious Hydra, they can do a lesser version of either effect. It is yet another powerful X spell but this time they have to make a choice. Make a big creature and devour one of yours or make a massive creature. It does not net card advantage like the other X spells but it makes up for it in versatility. Buckle in, this deck is not going anywhere.
Orzhov Vampires: Knight and Sorin
It has been a long, long time coming but vampires are once again competitively viable in Standard. The shell has been there since Ixalan with a solid one drops and a two mana lord to boost them. It was close but not quite there. M20 has finally given them the push they needed. Knight might just be the best one drop in the deck as if the games goes on long at all, it has a ton of growth potential. Sorin is the real gain though. The first ability is just so much value in a vampire tribal deck. The second ability allows you to convert unwanted vampires into free Lightning Helixes. And the ultimate allows you to slam early Champion of Dusk with no mana investment; so that you can immediately play out the spells you draw. It is a shame that this awesome deck will have such a short lifespan. Enjoy it while you can.
Temur Elementals: Most of the Spells
This deck was not even close to viable pre-M20. The only spells that were available were Living Twister and the burn spells. Now they have a load of powerful elementals and payoffs for sticking to that creature type. Just within the elemental subtype we have a mana dork, a two mana lord, and a big nasty take on Kessig Malcontents. There are even multiple planeswalkers that support the tribe. The best card though, judging by social media groaning, is Risen Reef. Coiling Oracle was a good card for its time. Imagine how much Elves would enjoy it if their Oracle granted the ETB ability on every Elf that came after. You have to pay one more but that is what Temur Elementals has right now. This is a very powerful deck and if Temur mana is anywhere near consistent post-rotation, it will stick around into 2020.
Mono-Blue Aggro: Spectral Sailor
This is a small but effective boost. Pteramander is a fine card but was clearly worse than Siren Stormtamer. Spectral Sailor shows up and fills the gap. You do not have to tap down your precious interactive mana as you can stick on an opponent’s endstep when the opportunity arrives. Then in the lategame you can continue to hold up mana and any time you end up not needing it, just cash it in for a card. It even helps to up your pirate count for Lookout’s Dispersal. A special shoutout to the sideboard Cerulean Drake as it helps them to deal with the very difficult Mono-Red matchup. These two should help it stay relevant up until rotation but this deck is gone with Tempest Djinn.
Mono-Red Aggro: Ember Hauler and Chandra’s Spitfire
The eventual winning decklist was Mono-Red Aggro with two key updates. The deck has been reconfigured to make way for the two “new” creatures. Ember Hauler was solidly playable during its last tenure in Standard so I am not surprised to see it here. It is a simple bear that converts directly into Shock once the body is no longer needed. This is especially useful for triggering spectacle at a low cost and has allowed it to replace Viashino Pyromancer. Cutting this wizard also means moving from Wizard’s Lightning to Skewer the Critics. The other new addition is Chandra’s Spitfire and though it can be inconsistent, the value is there. A 4/3 flyer for three is a good rate and sometimes it will jump to a 7/3 or larger. We do have to be careful though as the deck is starting to get heavy on cards that really want us to deal damage pre-combat. As long as you do not have too many in hand though, this new build runs like a well-oiled machine. It loses a lot at rotation but we all know that Standard Red is Never Dead.
Despite the controversy, I really enjoyed these decklists. The new tribal decks are awesome and I am holding out for Dinos to make an appearance before they go extinct (rotate out). We have a couple months to go, so what are you working on? Do you think anything from Magic 2020 is being overlooked? We would love to hear about it in our discussion group. Or if you would like to take a swing at writing content for the site you can contact us directly here. We will be back tomorrow with another article for you to enjoy. Until then my friends.