With Phyrexia: All Will be One released, we can observe changes within the main lists. So today, we're taking a look at the Standard Metagame, bringing you the top five decks right now.
What is a Metagame?
In case you're not familiar with the term, it's important to clarify this point before we move on, or the article won't make any sense.
The Metagame is nothing more than the presence of archetypes in the “playable field”. For this, their presence in tournaments is observed and the deck's representation in the Metagame is improved.
Does this automatically make the deck stronger? Probably not.
Usually decks have favorable and unfavorable matchups, so when a deck starts to become very present in the format, the decks that have unfavorable matchups against it will start to be less played and automatically those with favorable matches will show up more often. That's why it's very difficult for a deck to be the "strongest", after all, in a healthy Metagame, there will be a balance between predators and prey.
But at certain times, some archetypes become so dominant that there are no games where they aren't favored, and this inflates the presence of these decks with no changes in the Metagame.
In these moments, Wizards acts and bans a key piece to reduce the potential of the deck or end the archetype. One recent case in Standard was Wilderness Reclamation, which was the key piece of an extremely efficient deck.
The Five Best Decks on the Standard Metagame
With Phyrexia: All Will be One, the Metagame has shaken up, but Midranges continue their hegemony, although Aggro has been on the rise recently, having a representative among the top three most played decks.
Opening the list, we have the deck that was the king of the 2022 World Championship, Esper Midrange.
Its structure took on a more creature-focused format, in what some came to call it Esper Legends, made possible by the addition of Plaza of Heroes, an excellent mana fixing for the deck.
The addition of Skrelv, Defector Mite granting protection for creatures provides added consistency against decks that target resource trades, as well as providing an evasion that can be decisive. The deck has an interesting variation of pieces, being able to use more aggressive structures with Harbin, Vanguard Aviator, or a more versatile plan with The Raven Man and Loran of the Third Path.
Looking to attack the opponent's hand or deal with enchantments / artifacts, or even a more resilient version with Unctus, Grand Metatect, gaining card selection, increased power and being able to protect your creature against Go for the Throat.
Although it has fallen in favor, it is still an excellent option, its creatures are extremely efficient and Raffine, Scheming Seer manages to increase the board pressure and find the cards that are needed, in addition to plays like Ao, The Dawn Sky and Sheoldred, The Apocalypse that need to be answered once they're on the battlefield.
With a variety of threats along with a good mana curve, Esper Midrange manages to attack and protect itself with quality.
The fourth most played deck is one of the versions focused on bringing to the battlefield the strongest card in the format, Atraxa, Grand Unifier.
The key to the deck's good performance is that it conserves the midrange structure, making use of cards like Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, Bloodtithe Harvester, Reckoner Bankbuster closing the game with The Cruelty of Gix reanimating the best option among graveyards.
It's a deck with a very consistent game plan, Liliana of the Veil allows you to keep the strategies of putting Atraxa in the graveyard while attacking the opponent's hand. Sheoldred, The Apocalypse allows for a plan B, being a strong threat who wins games on her own.
There are other versions that run green for Glissa Sunslayer or blue for Corpse Appraiser, to fetch resources and feed the graveyard, and counterspells to guarantee the reanimate resolves.
Mono Red Aggro
One of the decks that has been performing well in the last MTGO challenges is Mono Red, the best placed aggro in the format.
The lists consist of a very straightforward plan, with good cards for the first two turns. Here we seek to fill the board with threats and make them even more impactful with Mechanized Warfare.
With all creatures having haste and a plethora of damage spells, it's a list that punishes slow starts from Midranges while also punishing their Pain Lands.
This version aims to increase the damage of the pieces, whether creatures or burns, revolving a lot around Mechanized Warfare, but there are versions that resort to Shivan Devastator or Thundering Raiju for a higher curve, without Chandra, Dressed to Kill.
Regardless of the list, it still has a direct game plan and a considerable amount of direct damage, managing to close matches rapidly.
Bloodthirsty Adversary is a card that can unbalance in tighter games, managing to be a 2-for-1 if you have access to five mana.
Mono Red Aggro is an excellent option for ranking up in Magic Arena, given that its matches are faster, and its strategy is excellent for Best of One.
Mono White Midrange
Here we have a deck that flirted with the top, but ended up dropping one spot as the Metagame stabilized.
This is a list that has gained interesting additions in recent releases. Lay Down Arms and Ossification are very efficient removals that allow, for few mana, a punctual solution against some threats.
The inclusion of The Eternal Wanderer helps control larger boards and conserve resources.
The deck runs fewer lands than the default for Midranges, but due to the various draw spells like Spirited Companion and Reckoner Bankbuster and also the land search with Ambitious Farmhand or The Restoration of Eiganjo, Mono White manages to reach its land drops with no problems, having a great late-game.
The Wandering Emperor and Wedding Announcement remain key cards, forcing the opponent to spend resources before they get out of hand. Sanctuary Warden and Steel Seraph are excellent finishers.
Skrelv’s Hive is an interesting addition to the sideboard, with a Metagame heavily based on trades, the enchantment can allow for greater resilience, increasing pressure on the board and placing poison counters that can shorten the game.
And the current champion resumes its post.
After a period of dominance by Mono White Midrange, Grixis returns to the position of the most played deck in the format.
Its core structure is maintained, permanents that can generate more than one effect and instants and sorceries to deal with the opponent's threats.
The biggest addition to the deck with ONE were the fastlands, allowing for greater consistency in working with all three colors.
Fable of the Mirror-Breaker and Bloodtithe Harvester are very efficient and versatile cards. The vampire allows you to get a threat that in the future can become a removal. In addition, your blood tokens are excellent for securing land drops, looking for land that produces a missing color, or recycling spare lands on later turns.
The saga has a ramp effect plus mana correction, card selection, excellent for adjusting hands or looking for the missing land color, and presents two must-answer threats with a single card.
Invoke Despair is a powerful staple, being the only way for Grixis to deal with enchantments from the battlefield. In addition to the possibility of being a 3-for-1 removal, the card can still function as a "burn" by directly attacking the opponent's life while replenishing resources in your hand. Despair allows interesting turns, either by leveling the board, or by scavenging resources while punishing the opponent's life total.
Although for its cost it may seem absurd to be included in a three-color deck, the manabase is mostly black, allowing the use of four copies with no further problems.
As a resource-trading deck, it tends to be very efficient against other Midranges and Control, presenting some difficulty against opponents that run Thalia, Guardian of Thraben for taxing their interaction.
Aggro often causes problems when the deck doesn't find the necessary removals or struggles with mana colors. Brotherhood’s End becomes a key player in these matchups along with the life gain from Sheoldred, The Apocalypse. Mono White Midrange can be a headache with excellent removals and card advantage.
Some versions run Wandering Mind, Blue Sun's Twilight and Sheoldred's Edict, making the deck more control-oriented.
The midranges lost their hegemony, making room for Aggro, with Mono Red leading and Soldiers keeping close to the next tier.
Other decks show consistency near the top, like Mono Blue Tempo and Selesnya Aggro, which emerge as interesting options to play.
The Standard Metagame is healthy, featuring an interesting diversity of decks, with Grixis and Esper as top consolidated options, but without occupying the entire format.
While we can see a variety of cards in high-level matches, set after set, Standard spaces are being occupied by Midranges and this is perhaps the point of attention. The adaptability of these decks has been cutting off the possibilities for different strategies to evolve, making the games feel too similar.
As we are close to the end of this Standard cycle, I don't believe in Wizards acting without having exclusive dominance of a strategy or deck. March of the Machine approaches to bring the format's maximum pre-rotation power level, and who knows, enabling some changes in game strategies, I'm still anxious to know how it will behave afterwards.
Thanks for reading.
Any questions, feel free to leave it in the comments. Until the next time!
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