The Evolution of Standard with Strixhaven

The debut of Strixhaven on MTGA and its influx of new cards has inevitably changed Standard.
Last week we analyzed the impressive
Prismari Midrange, and now we’ll look at how the format is evolving, which cards and decks have been most affected, and how this expansion has shifted the format’s balance. 

 

 

 

STRIXHAVEN STANDARD – SULTAI ULTIMATUM

 

Walter Scuderi - STX Standard - Sultai Ultimatum

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Creature (6)
2
Elder Gargaroth
1
Polukranos, Unchained
1
Quandrix Cultivator
1
Valki, God of Lies/Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor
1
Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider
Sorcery (19)
2
Alrund's Epiphany
4
Cultivate
4
Emergent Ultimatum
2
Extinction Event
1
Pelakka Predation/Pelakka Caverns
2
Sea Gate Restoration/Sea Gate, Reborn
2
Shadows' Verdict
2
Witherbloom Command
Instant (10)
3
Eliminate
3
Heartless Act
2
Jwari Disruption/Jwari Ruins
2
Mystical Dispute
Artifact (1)
1
Mazemind Tome
Enchantment (14)
4
Binding the Old Gods
1
Elspeth's Nightmare
1
Kiora Bests the Sea God
4
Omen of the Sea
4
Wolfwillow Haven
Land (32)
4
Barkchannel Pathway/Tidechannel Pathway
4
Clearwater Pathway/Murkwater Pathway
4
Darkbore Pathway/Slitherbore Pathway
4
Fabled Passage
3
Forest
3
Island
1
Ketria Triome
2
Swamp
3
Temple of Malady
4
Zagoth Triome
Cards 82
Sideboard (15)
3
Duress
2
Elder Gargaroth
1
Heartless Act
2
Kaervek, the Spiteful
2
Koma, Cosmos Serpent
1
Mystical Dispute
2
Negate
1
Witherbloom Command
1
Yorion, Sky Nomad

 

This deck, with its solidity and ability to have answers to almost all decks, has been the deck to beat for months, and it continues its reign as the ruler of the Standard. 

 

 

Not many Strixhaven cards are being tested in this archetype’s versions. Quandrix Cultivator is a new card that you may want to include in both mono and multi-copy. It is an excellent 4 mana accelerator that also adds a decent body to the board and its enter-the-battlefield effect works like a charm with Yorion.

 

 

Whiterbloom Command is a versatile cheap removal that is useful against MonoW because it allows you to kill the Seasoned Hallowblade. It is also strong against MonoR because it can kill a first turn play like Fervent Champion, Fireblade Charger or the new Hall Monitor, and drain 2 life. It is a great addition to a deck that is already almost perfect.

 

 

Few other cards have been tried. For example, you may play a Professor Onyx, which is a strong 6-mana play and a card that works very well with Vorinclex. You will also find Eureka Moment in some versions, and its ability to draw two cards as an instant and put a land in play is advantageous.

 

 

Even though Strixhaven hasn’t added much, this is still the deck to beat. It’s the most difficult to play but also the most solid and has the greatest presence in the ladder.

 

 

 

STRIXHAVEN STANDARD – MONO RED AGGRO

 

Walter Scuderi - STX Standard - Mono Red Aggro

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Creature (27)
4
Anax, Hardened in the Forge
4
Bonecrusher Giant
2
Conspiracy Theorist
4
Fervent Champion
3
Fireblade Charger
3
Hall Monitor
4
Robber of the Rich
3
Torbran, Thane of Red Fell
Sorcery (2)
2
Shatterskull Smashing/Shatterskull, the Hammer Pass
Instant (4)
4
Frost Bite
Artifact (4)
4
Embercleave
Land (23)
4
Faceless Haven
19
Snow-Covered Mountain
Cards 60
Sideboard (15)
1
Ox of Agonas
3
Phoenix of Ash
3
Redcap Melee
3
Roiling Vortex
2
Scorching Dragonfire
3
Soul Sear

 

Mono Red Aggro, the second most played deck in the ladder, has always been one of the decks to beat since the printing of Embercleave, one of the cards that can really change a game on its own. There are only two new cards that have been played/tested: Hall Monitor and Conspiracy Theorist

 

 

Hall Monitor is a 1-mana play with haste and can inflict some damage if played early. However, it shines when you use its ability to prevent a creature from blocking. This is important, for example, in games against Sultai Control, as it does not allow Elder Gargaroth to block in the decisive turn.

 

 

Conspiracy Theorist is a slow card that can be helpful in the late game. In turn 2, you would probably prefer to play Robber of the Rich instead, but in some spots the Theorist would work better.

 

Overall, despite only getting a few additions, Mono Red is still a very strong deck. As long as Embercleave remains in the format, it can’t help but be one of the decks to beat.

 

 

 

STRIXHAVEN STANDARD – BOROS WINOTA

 

Walter Scuderi - STX Standard - Boros Winota

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Creature (38)
2
Alseid of Life's Bounty
3
Basri's Lieutenant
3
Blade Historian
4
Bonecrusher Giant
4
Elite Spellbinder
2
Kenrith, the Returned King
4
Luminarch Aspirant
4
Professor of Symbology
4
Selfless Savior
4
Skyclave Apparition
4
Winota, Joiner of Forces
Land (22)
4
Furycalm Snarl
4
Mountain
4
Needleverge Pathway/Pillarverge Pathway
10
Plains
Cards 60
Sideboard (15)
2
Drannith Magistrate
2
Fire Prophecy
2
Giant Killer
1
Inkling Summoning
2
Ox of Agonas
2
Redcap Melee
1
Reduce to Memory
3
Reidane, God of the Worthy/Valkmira, Protector's Shield

 

Here’s the real surprise of this new Standard! A disappearing archetype has regained strength thanks to a new card, Blade Historian. Your opponent is now almost always in trouble when you attack with a Winota on the board. Giving double attack to all creatures on the board is incredibly powerful, even countering Kenrith’s ever-present trample. 

 

                   

 

Professor of Symbology may stand out less, but it has been given a huge upgrade. This card is a non-human 2 drop that triggers Winota. However, this effect could have been achieved by other cards. This most important thing about this card is its Learn ability and its versatility. We’ve written about the ability’s strength in Limited formats, but this card shows the importance of Learn in Constructed. You may have a mediocre hand, maybe without a 3 drop, but, with Professor of Symbology, turn three is always assured. This card allows you to always have a turn 2 and a turn 3 play in a deck that doesn’t take into account what pieces it puts on the board. The important thing is to play them to trigger Winota.

 

 

Elite Spellbinder is a card we’ve discussed a lot, and it was safe to assume that it would be used in a lot of decks. The card’s ability to delay a specific card from being played by our opponent should not be underestimated.

 

I recommend trying this deck, which despite being less competitive than Sultai Control or Mono Red, is a lot of fun and still provides a viable alternative if you want to play something completely different.

 

 

 

STRIXHAVEN STANDARD – OTHER DECKS

 

                                     

 

Last week we discussed UR Control, an archetype that had disappeared from the competitive scene, and how new, fun, competitive cards, like Magma Opus, Galazeth Prismari and especially Prismari Command, have given the deck new life. 

 

                                       

 

Other decks in the format are unchanged, either because the expansion has just been released (so we need more time to understand if some new cards can have an impact) or they’re already tier 1 due to the power level of Throne of Eldraine or Ikoria. For example, the highly performing Dimir Rogue hasn’t added a card to the main deck in two expansions. The deck’s balance is perfect, and it’s hard to take away some cards to add new releases. 

 

                                       

 

Same story with Jeskay Cycling, where it is impossible to replace a card and adding new cards is not beneficial since the Cycle ability is not reproposed. Some lists rarely play Prismari Command in the sideboard, both for the card’s versatility and teamwork with Rielle, that allows you to draw four cards discarding two. But there is really almost no space in the main deck due to the nature of the deck itself.

 

                                       

 

Adventures decks are largely unchanged. The Temur version asserts itself in the meta, both with Lukka and without, but it is difficult to insert new cards (though we are trying Prismari Command in the sideboard), which has made Naya less appealing and less played. There is also nothing new and noteworthy about GR Adventures and Mono White. The latter only added Elite Spellbinder to the main deck.

 

                   

 

The lack of Mono Green in the format is surprising because there are new cards that could make it as competitive as Augumenter Pugilist or Gnarled Professor. Hopefully something will come out later.

 

While there are some notable changes, it’s still too early to assess the new expansion’s impact on the Standard. These cards can only be properly evaluated once this closed format is rotated and the cards have more space to show their capabilities.

 

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We hope you found this helpful! Please check back regularly for continued updates, guidance and analysis to up your Magic game!

 

Image Copyright: (c) 1995-2020 Wizards of the Coast LLC, All Rights Reserved

 

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