The State of Standard

by Acropolis Games MI

Zendikar Rising-

The State of Standard

Top 5 cards for Standard

Zendikar Rising signals an important time of year for Magic the Gathering.  A brand-new set with brand new cards introduced into the slew of MtG formats, most notably Standard.  Historic also being a newer format will also be interesting to see how things shake up.  Today I’m going to talk about the state of Standard after rotation, and my top 5 cards in Zendikar Rising for Standard. 

First, I don’t think there has been a more anticipated rotation in my 8 years of playing magic. The last two years has been a series of mistakes that warranted numerous bannings. A lot of cards are still banned and one big question mark remains.  Wizards of the Coast announced this week they are already monitoring the Standard meta game, which could mean that they could already ban something next week.  That is not a good sign.  Uro, Titan of Wrath certainly would be the target since it has been a card of contention within the magic community for the past 6 months. With the printing of Lotus Cobra and Omnath, Locus of Creation, Uro only became a stronger card for a stronger deck.  Omnath is also an objectively strong card that is already making a buzz in other formats as well.  I think Zendikar offers a significant number of interesting cards for Standard.  It is a little premature to start banning anything so soon after rotation in my opinion, but if Uro get axed in Standard I wouldn’t be upset nor surprised.  There will be three more sets that come out before the next rotation as well which could improve the stock of many good cards from Zendikar that won’t find a home in this current Standard meta. 

Other archetypes seem to be a fair position relative to each other.  Gruul lost a few cards, but the main shell is still there and there’s still Embercleave. Control lost some planeswalkers, but benefits a lot from the spell/land cards new in Zendikar.  Mono Red aggro lost Runaway Steamkin but got an anti-Uro card alongside some new aggressive cards.  Mono Green is still a very solid go big strategy as well.  If Uro gets banned it will be very interesting to see how the meta shakes up.  Oh and, Jund sacrifice is dead without Mayhem Devil and Priest of the Forgotten Gods. 

Before I mention my top 5 Zendikar cards for standard, here are a couple honorable mentions that I think might come alive after more sets are introduced. Forsaken Monument is a card that I could have seen thriving back in the Eldrazi days.  We’re not expecting any Eldrazi soon but if any of the future sets give us more color+colorless lands, and significant colorless creatures and spells, Forsaken Monument could be an all-star.  Thieving Skydiver is one of my favorite cards.  If I thought equipment and artifacts were going to be a big problem in the current meta, it would have made my top 5.  But if more artifacts get printed in the future, Thieving Skydiver could be a huge game changing card to have.  And the last honorable mention is a duo, Luminarch Aspirant and Swarm Shambler.  Swarm Shambler is already seeing a little play in mono green, but if a real counter deck emerges, with Conclave Mentor and other like cards, we could see a Standard “Hardened Scales” deck like we did back in Aether Revolt. 

Number 5- The five mythic Spell/Land cards.  I know five cards tied for five, but I picked them simply because of the flexibility these cards have.  They can come in untapped unlike the other similar cards.  They can add towards a Scourge of the Skyclaves strategy.  They are spells when you need them, and there are plenty of ways to return lands to your hand.  I imagine we will see these pop up in decks for the next 2 years.  

Number 4- Nullpriest of Oblivion, now this card has not made a splash yet I think.  However, this card has high potential. First, there is quite a bit of cleric support, and this card is a cleric.  Second, one of the biggest problems with reanimation spells in Standard in recent history is usually the high converted mana cost of the cards.  This card is a 2-mana creature with fair, good stats.  So you have your four reanimation spells you’d usually slam in your deck now as a low cost creature, that is hard to block, and can gain you life to prolong the game. Exactly what you want in a Standard reanimation deck.  A couple notable Standard cards to reanimate: Dream Trawler, Gray Merchant of Asphodel, Gyruda Doom of Depths, Harminous Archon, Kogla the Titan Ape, Massacre Wurm, Phylath World Sculptor, and Archipelagore.

Number 3- Lotus Cobra.  Lotus cobra is a great reprint.  We don’t have the iconic fetch lands in Standard, but we do have Fabled Passage.  A great way to ramp in a format where ramp is really good.  Ugin the Spirit Dragon is a great card to cast as soon as possible.  It is easy to kill, but mana ramps in a very nutty way that can get you an absurd amount of mana very fast. Also, with Azusa, Lost but Seeking in standard, the two can pair together very well.

Number 2- Felidar Retreat.  Landfall is a really good ability, I put this card so high in my list because of a few reasons.  Since it is an enchantment, it will be typically harder to deal with after it resolved.  It can be included in aggressive decks, midrange decks, and control decks.  It turns top deck land flooding into board progression.  You’ll definitely see this in many decks in the future and enchantment removal in almost every sideboard. 

Number 1- Omnath, Locus of Creation.  This card is just amazing.  The only obstacle is the mana cost. With the new dual lands, the variety of spell/lands, and cards that help like Lotus Cobra and Uro, casting Omnath is hardly a challenge.  The card replaces itself if it resolves and is a healthy 4/4 power and toughness.  The three landfall abilities can be utilized in a variety of ways, including casting another Omnath after the second landfall trigger, which is not always a bad idea since it draws a card regardless of legendary rule.   


Thank you for reading my first MtG article.  Your very own Acropolis Games’s Magic Guy.  Feel free to join me on Twitch during the week to see me play new and old decks.  


Jacob Powell

Acropolisgames.net

www.twitch.tv/jkeepowell




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CHad Haeussler

Lotus Cobra in a landfall set seems like turbo mana. I think it will allow way to much mana to early. It will be interesting to see how Wotc addresses the issues.

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