Preparations for Game Day

With Shadows Over Innistrad entering the Standard rotation, Magic: The Gathering players can expect many changes to the metagame going into this weekend’s Pro Tour. The StarCityGames Columbus Invitational closed April 17, and the results were very telling of what is to come.

Because of the new two-block paradigm, many threats that were present in Khans of Tarkir are no longer present in Standard. Say goodbye to fetchlands and Siege Rhino, which warped the last Standard around its massive lifeswing potential.

Looking at the decklists from the SCG Open, White seems to be the color of choice in SOI. With incredible unconditional removal potential in Declaration in Stone and a strong anthem effect in Always Watching, White’s strategy of dropping small creatures and controlling the board just got a few new fun tools. Add in the massive bomb Archangel Avacyn to protect your creatures and swing for massive damage, and the deck becomes very strong.

Other SOI cards that made the cut include the uncommon werewolf, Duskwatch Recruiter. His ability allows players to easily refill their hands, and then drop creatures at a cheaper cost for his transformed side, Krallenhorde Howler. The cost of the search effect allows you to get value out of the turn after playing the two drop, but still cast no spells, letting it flip. Tireless Tracker, a three-drop, 3/2 Human, essentially says, “Landfall- Investigate.” Even though fetchlands are no longer in Standard, almost every deck runs a playset of Evolving Wilds, meaning this ability is triggered often. Whenever those Clue tokens are sacrificed, Tireless Tracker gets a +1/+1 counter, meaning she becomes a real threat, fast.

Five of the Top Eight Standard decks at the SCG Open were Bant Company and another was Mono-White Humans. A large number of the decks in this weekend’s ProTour Shadows Over Innistrad are also Bant Company. With little variation, all Bant decks saw Bounding Krasis, Reflector Mage and Archangel Avacyn as protection are also included. Flip-walkers Jace and Nissa are both in most lists for the obvious card advantage, ramp and powerful Planeswalker effects. Sylvan Advocate provides an efficient beater that just gets bigger as the game goes. Some people are calling this two-drop, 2/3 elf with vigilance “mini-Goyf,” and they’re not far off for Standard.

Decks that go with the Mono-White Humans list have been playing a few different SOI cards including Thalia’s Lieutenant, Thraben Inspector and Town Gossipmonger. Lieutenant and Gossipmonger benefit from a large board state, something White has no problem doing, and Inspector gives White some much-needed card draw through Clue tokens. Gryff’s Boon also gives some recurable evasion to get through with that massive Lieutenant.

Though Bant and Mono-White decks have been claiming the top spots, there were also a significant amount of Red/Green Ramp and Black/Green Aristocrats-style decks registered for the Pro Tour. Cards like Cryptolith Rite and Season’s Past have been featured in both decks to great effect.

Surprisingly, there has been little play of some of the most sought-after cards from Shadows Over Innistrad. Sorin, Grim Nemesis, Nahiri, the Harbinger, and Arlinn Kord all Planeswalkers commanding hefty price tags, haven’t made a big splash at any tournaments since their release.

It’s still early in the new Standard and there’s still a lot of room for movement in the meta. Eldritch Moon, which releases later this summer, could also have a lot of swing once it drops.

Have a new standard brew you want to try out? Come down to Friendly Fire Game Center Friday Night Magic events, every week with Standard starting at 3:30 p.m. and a booster draft right after at 7:30.

Nicholas Shigo has been playing Magic for about ten years. When not poring over his multiple unfinished Commander decks, he is also an avid Dungeons and Dragons player.
Nicholas can be reached at nicholas.shigo@gmail.com or on Twitter @NicholasShigo