Wilds of Eldraine officially arrived at Magic Online and Magic Arena last week. Since then, players have experimented with different ideas and strategies in Leagues and ranked matches.
This weekend, we had the first Standard Challenges with the new set, as well as a Japanese tournament with 128 players through MTGMelee, which brought great news to the competitive scene!
Wilds of Eldraine in Standard: The First Week's New Decks
In addition to the classic archetypes that appear frequently in major tournaments, some without any additions from the new set, the first week brought a dozen proposals and strategies, some running already established shells, and others that seek to capitalize on some recent additions.
The big news of the weekend was the Domain Cascade, played by Rex_ludex in Saturday's Challenge. Despite the name, Standard doesn't have any cards with Cascade, however, Invasion of Alara has a mechanically similar ability:
Invasion of Alara has excellent interaction with Adventure cards, which allows casting the Adventure instead of the creature without paying the cost. And the most explosive effect on this card type today is in Bramble Familiar.
Casting Fetch Quest for five mana is an excellent bargain, casting two, as the only cards with a mana value of four or less are Bramble Familiar and a copy of Go for the Throat, It's basically cheating the rules, especially if they bring in any of the various payoffs in the list.
Another interesting addition is Lukka, Bound to Ruin, which if cast on the fourth turn, allows you to play any of the seven-mana creatures on the next turn.
Among this weekend's new features, Domain Cascade is the strategy with the greatest potential to establish itself in the Standard Metagame in the coming weeks. Combo strategies with features outside the spectrum tend to create some of the best decks in competitive formats.
Despite being disregarded in spoiler season due to the absence of some of its classic staples, Dimir Faeries had some great results in this weekend's tournaments.
In many ways, the current version seems to try to do everything that its 2007/2008 version did with Lorwyn, just on very different scales: where there was Thoughtseize, we have Ego Drain. Where there was Spellstutter Sprite, we have Spell Stutter, and where Bitterblossom was the card that established the archetype, this version attempts to do the same with Sleep-Cursed Faerie.
It's likely that this comparison made many readers jump out of their seats, but look: like its predecessor, the current version of Dimir Faeries relies heavily on the interaction between its main cards, having one or more faeries in play is the ideal formula to enhance your spells.
Therefore, Sleep-Cursed Faerie is the best option we have in Standard today to make the archetype work, since it is a one-drop that protects itself from the main removals, in addition to avoiding Cut Down.
The other faeries serve to complement the package. Omnipresent in all lists are Faerie Mastermind and Halo Forager, both cards that have extra added value. The others appear in different numbers on each list, with emphasis on the four copies of Faerie Dreamthief, which increases the consistency of amplifying the value of your spells, while it is also a bad threat to spend a removal on it, since it is a 1/1 that can be reused from the graveyard to draw a card.
The first week after a new release brings some peculiar choices at the expense of consistency. One of them is the reduction in the number of Sheoldred, the Apocalypse in favor of other cards. In Dimir Faeries, Sheoldred seems the ideal threat for the late-game, as she foregoes interactions with the rest of the list, being an efficient threat on her own.
This is the archetype I've been playing with in Magic Arena the last few days. So, you can expect a guide soon!
Golgari / Jund Midrange
Another post-Eldraine novelty was the rise of and/or midrange variants this week.
In Jund's spectrum, Hall of Famer Wily Edel piloted a version that adds to the already known shell with a new adventure package, with Mosswood Dreadknight and Questing Druid being efficient threats that offer two-for-one effects, and Virtue of Persistence as an early-game removal and a bomb in case the game goes on for too long.
The player jakobpablo reached the Top 8 of last Sunday's Challenge with this Golgari Midrange variant, with a slight splash to red just to cast Questing Druid's adventure. Their list also includes Blossoming Tortoise and its interaction with utility lands.
malseman, third place in the Japanese tournament with 128 players, went even deeper into the Adventures theme, with Sentinel of Lost Lore to generate more value, in addition to the Blossoming Tortoise package alongside utility lands, and Gruff Triplets as a hard-to-kill threat if it comes into play.
The event also featured a more Control-oriented version of the deck, with fewer creatures, more Planeswalkers, and having Sheoldred, the Apocalypse as the main wincondition.
With so many different proposals that, in some way, are connected, it is clear that a Jund Midrange and/or Golgari can be refined to enter the competitive scene. Perhaps focusing on a specific mechanic instead of trying multiple different proposals is the ideal way to improve the archetype's performance.
Naya Pia won the first major Standard tournament post-Wilds of Eldraine. It attempts to capitalize on Pia Nalaar, Consul of Revival along with various effects of casting cards from exile, including some of the new Adventures
Its main strategy is the famous "go wide", where it produces several and amplifies their power with Wedding Announcement and Virtue of Loyalty. It also has several one-ofs, like some cards for long games, and the combo between Chandra, Hope's Beacon and Light up the Night.
Ironically, given the amount of "draw" effects present in red today, this archetype is the closest we have to a Turbo Xerox in Standard, which makes it possible to have such a high number of one-ofs. However, this lack of focus in its approach to strategy also comes with a price, as demonstrated by the less than impressive results of players who ran the same list in Challenges.
Reanimator lists gained another important feature with Collector's Vault, which allows discarding the payoff that is stuck in your hand while speeding up your mana to cast The Cruelty of Gix. The new artifact guarantees a clear step-by-step combo to bring back Atraxa, Grand Unifier from your graveyard, with an ideal sequence for the first four turns.
The new artifact also interacts with Lich-Knights' Conquest, spell that, despite not offering the same versatility as The Cruelty of Gix, allows more than one creature to be reanimated at once, bringing an unbeatable board position if the opponent has no answers in the turn it is cast.
However, this spell requires more deckbuilding concessions than The Cruelty of Gix, and unless we see some combo that turns its casting into an instant win, I'm guessing it will be sidelined by more efficient versions.
Mono White Aggro
While Azorius Soldiers remains with the same core and displays convincing results, Mono White Aggro has become closer to its Pioneer variants thanks to the inclusion of Spellbook Vendor, which emulates the same efficiency as Luminarch Aspirant guaranteed in the last season, and the price of one mana to enchant a creature is mitigated by the fact that they help you filter the top when they attack.
Mono Red Aggro
Mono Red Aggro also retains the same core, in addition to gaining Goddric, Cloaked Reveler and Charming Scoundrel, both cards that interact with each other and amplify the pressure against the opponent.
Squee, Dubious Monarch is another creature whose interaction with Goddric improves the space of both cards on the list, and even Phoenix Chick, if its controller puts a permanent into play and attacks with three creatures, makes Goddric a huge threat, and amplifies the synergies available in the archetype.
Masuyu Takahashi presented, last Saturday, an excellent variant of Orzhov Aggro, where several low-cost threats open the way for cards that generate accumulated value every turn, such as Wedding Announcement, Adeline, Resplendent Cathar and Lord Skitter, Sewer King, which can dominate the game if they aren't dealt with.
Another strong point of this list is its attrition package with Planeswalkers and Phyrexian Missionary, little used in the format, which improves greatly when the target of its ability are threats that demand an immediate answer.
Questing Druid and Picnic Ruiner join Monastery Swiftspear and Migloz, Maze Crusher to recreate in Standard a strategy as old as the game itself: increase the power of your creatures and protect them to the point where they win the game.
Picnic Ruiner is lethal if enchanted with Audacity and/or if its power is increased with Monstrous Rage, while Questing Druid, Ancestral Anger and Wrenn's Resolve guarantees the necessary gas to stay in games where it doesn't get an explosive free win.
Additionally, this list is very budget-friendly, especially in Best of One. Therefore, it is likely that we will see an increase in this strategy in Magic Arena's ranked games.
Virtue of Loyalty has also found a home in Midrange variants of the format, with the most notable of these being the Azorius version above, where Three Blind Mice joins Teferi, Temporal Pilgrim, The Wandering Emperor and Wedding Announcement to create a proactive strategy.
What about Beseech the Mirror?
The great promise of Wilds of Eldraine, Beseech the Mirror had timid appearances in this week's events, with few specific copies in certain archetypes.
The signs indicate that, while Beseech the Mirror seems more broken as the legality of cards in a format expands, in Standard, it does not yet appear to bring the problems predicted during the preview season, and the fear of "eight Sheoldreds" has not yet come true.
Standard is an ever-changing format, and the first two weeks of a new expansion bring a variety of ideas and options until the Metagame stabilizes to create a more consistent overview of which decks are the best.
This week, the three main highlights are Domain Cascade, Dimir Faeries, and Jund Midrange. Next time, some of them may solidify as the lists are refined, while others will fall into decline. Adaptation is essential for competitive Magic, and it comes due to constant progress in the Metagame.
Thanks for reading!