Standard is a newsworthy format. Last week we saw that Izzet Control is likely the deck destined to dominate the format. This week we’ll see which less-played decks could surprise your opponents at tournaments and leave them unprepared.
The format is currently divided into two big categories: control decks, like Izzet, Azorious, and Grixis, and creature-laden aggro decks, like Mono Green, Mono White, and Werewolves. Due to the absence of mass removal when playing against the former, you need to put as much pressure as possible on the board, and finish the game with direct damage. Against aggro you need a lot of removal and some good blockers.
Which deck can do all of these things? Mono-Red, of course!
The creature pool is mixed and includes aggressive drops, such as Bloodthirsty Adversary and Falkenrath Pit Fighter (a creature with an excellent ability for late game), that put pressure initially, and Thermo-Alchemist that is a prolonged threat over time that your opponent will have to manage quickly. Slower drops, such as Reckless Stormseeker and Moonveil Regent, provide solidity to the deck and restarts in case of mass removal. Finally, there’s Goldspan Dragon, which needs no introduction.
You need removals when playing against decks with creatures, and this deck has 15 that can help. Many are also direct damage to your opponent, like Roil Eruption that can do up to five damage.
Lands that attack are important, as the now established Faceless Heaven is present in almost any deck that plays snow lands. Den of the Bugbear is an important alternative, and the most nostalgic will remember the good Goblin Rabblemaster.
Let’s move on to a different type of deck — a tribal deck, specifically zombies! It’s the right compromise between aggressive and midrange decks. It can make aggressive starts (for example, turn one Champion of the Perished and turn two Jadar, Ghoulcaller of Nephalia is a strong start) and still have a plan for the late game (a card like Ebondeath, Dracolich that can be annoying for control decks).
In addition to having a large pool of creatures, this deck also has the right number of removals so it plays well even against aggressive decks. If cards like Infernal Grasp and Bloodchief’s Thirst are strong spot removals, the real strength of this deck in aggro mirrors lies in Crippling Fear, a mass removal only for the opponent that will often be the difference between victory and defeat. Playing a card like this can overturn a compromised board or solve boards where your opponent had too many blockers that prevented your attacks.
Remember that playing blue in an aggro deck offers the opportunity to play countermagic in sideboard, which is important because your opponent will often be forced to play around you, either risking making a wrong play or making it too late.
All in all, this is a good deck for lovers of the archetype or for those who want to have fun with something totally different but still competitive.
Even though the format is currently defined and has Izzet Control as the star with Mono Green trying to keep up, I’m convinced that the format can remain varied and that you can play many decks and still get good results. Mono White aggro, for example, can be a valid alternative as well as the various Ramp Decks (Selesnya and Sultai) or the less played but still strong Control strategies (Azorious and Dimir).
In short, in this Standard format you can easily play what you like!