The Standard format has been through a lot throughout 2023. In the past few months alone, we’ve seen oppressive domination, surprise bans, a rotation overhaul, and sets galore. While somewhat mired by controversy, this has made Standard an incredibly interesting MTG format once again with plenty of the best decks to choose between.
With the recent arrival of The Lost Caverns of Ixalan, this interest has reached a new peak. Thanks to new powerful cards and emerging archetypes, Standard feels fresher than ever! So much so, that it doesn’t really need any bans or changes at the moment. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for some other MTG formats.
Considering there are new decks and cards to enjoy, there’s never been a better time to get into Standard. Whether you’re looking to do exactly that, or just build a new competitive deck, you’re in the right place. Today, we’ll be covering all the best MTG decks in the Standard format right now!
10 | White Weenie
Thanks to recent movements in the meta, White Weenie is no longer the Standard deck it used to be. Currently, the deck has been relegated to “Tier 2” status, in fact, due to a streak of poor performances. Despite the lackluster competitive results, however, this deck is a lot of fun, and most certainly unique.
Recently, A classic archetype within multiple formats, Standard’s current White Weenie deck is based around humans. Harnessing Hopeful Initiate, Coppercoat Vanguard, and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, can be incredibly punishing. Alongside being capable of dishing out damage, the deck also features Anointed Peacekeeper and Brutal Cathar to keep control.
For The Lost Caverns of Ixalan, this deck did receive a little bit of spice in the shape of Kellan, Daring Traveler. More interestingly than this, however, is the deck’s decision to not feature any non-creature spells. Completely lacking any Instants or Sorceries, this deck is most certainly unique, however, it can still pull its weight.
9 | Rakdos Anvil
Returning to Standard after a brief break, Rakdos is once again one of the best MTG decks around. This is all thanks to a new card from The Lost Caverns of Ixalan; Ojer Axonil, Deepest Might. Capable of massively multiplying the damage you dish out, this card has reignited many previously faltering strategies.
To make use of the damage amplification from Ojer Axonil, Deepest Might, the new Rakdos Anvil consistently pings opponents. Unsurprisingly, given the deck’s name, one of the main ways to do this is Oni-Cult Anvil. Alongside this, Voldaren Epicure and Vraan, Executioner Thane also offer consistent ping damage.
Thankfully, while this unique deck revolves all around one card, it’s not quite as vulnerable as you might expect. Since Ojer Axonil, Deepest Might can be revived through its transform cost, you’ll rarely be left stranded. Even if they do get exiled, you’ve still got three more copies of this vital card to fall back on, making it surprisingly hardy.
8 | Gruul Dinosaurs
Since Dinosaurs were a major typal theme in The Lost Caverns of Ixalan, it’s no surprise this deck is here. Curiously, however, this deck isn’t quite as top-heavy as you might expect. Instead, the best performer from the recent Standard open is an aggressive list that caps out at three mana.
Within this aggressive list Pugnacious Hammerskull is undoubtedly the star. Capable of crashing in for six damage incredible early on, this card only needs a Dinosaur companion to attack with. Thankfully, Itzquinth, Firstborn of Gishath fills this role while also offering extra removal for a minimal added cost.
Alongside the Dinosaurs being there to dish out damage, this deck includes aggressive cards like Kumano Faces Kakkazan. While this Standard staple helps to keep up the pressure, this Dinosaur deck does have a semi-alternative win condition. Thanks to Voldaren Thrillseeker, this deck can win by throwing 8/8 Dinosaurs into your opponent’s face.
7 | Boros Humans
Placing in the top 16 of the recent Standard Open, Boros Humans has undoubtedly made its mark on Standard. Despite this impressive result, however, the new Boros Humans is basically just White Weenie 2.0. Subbing in a few new cards from The Lost Caverns of Ixalan, and an Instant too, this deck is a direct upgrade.
To get into those upgrades, the main new cards are Inti, Seneschal of the Sun and Anim Pakal, Thousandth Moon. Both fueling the deck’s aggressive sensibilities, these Boros cards put in a lot of work. Whether you’re looking to Trample in for damage or build an immense board of Gnomes, Ixalan has you covered.
Alongside the new Boros cards that give this deck its name, there are a few extra additions. The most notable of these are Warden of the Inner Sky and Get Lost. As the only non-creature spell in the entire deck, Get Lost provides some useful extra removal against Standard’s biggest threats.
6 | Golgari Midrange
Golgari Midrange is quite similar to Dimir Midrange from before Wilds of Eldraine cards became legal. This deck plays a bunch of efficient Creatures, Sheoldred, the Apocalypse as top end, and some removal spells to round things out. The main draw towards playing green instead of another color is definitely Mosswood Dreadknight.
Mosswood Dreadknight is a very powerful Creature. As a two-mana three-power Creature, the card is relatively efficient. However, it also comes with an Adventure stapled to it that lets you draw a card and lose a life for two mana. Sure, that isn’t super exciting, but here’s the kicker: if Mosswood Dreadknight dies, you can cast it from your graveyard as an Adventure until the end of your next turn. This allows you to pay two mana to draw a card, then replay the Creature from exile again for two mana. Outside of exile effects, this card is very difficult to deal with.
Beyond Mosswood Dreadknight, the deck utilizes some other strong beaters, such as Glissa Sunslayer, to put additional pressure on the opponent. Golgari midrange has a lot of tools to fight against aggressive decks and outgrind opposing midrange decks. On the other hand, Decks that go way over the top such as four-color ramp, can be problematic.
5 | Azorius Soldiers
Azorius Soldiers, much like mono-white aggro, is capable of applying a decent amount of early pressure. However, this deck leans a bit heavier into the disruption package. The goal of the deck is to assemble a bit of early pressure, then keep the opponent on the back foot with interaction such as Make Disappear. Both Resolute Reinforcements and Zephyr Sentinel have Flash, which allows you to act reactively by casting Counterspells or proactively by developing your board, depending on what the opponent does.
While Azorius Soldiers certainly has its weaknesses and gained very little from the new set, this deck’s tempo-style gameplan can be quite strong against some of the slower decks in the format, such as the various multi-color Leyline Binding decks that have been performing extremely well thus far. Definitely be weary of hyperaggressive strategies like mono-red aggro, though, as fighting through quick starts backed up by burn spells can be a pain.
4 | Mono-Red Aggro
Mono-red aggro, unsurprisingly, is a great place to start as players are experimenting with new cards. This deck is certainly the fastest deck in the format and does a great job punishing the slower four and five-color decks. By pairing cheap, Hasty Creatures like Monastery Swiftspear and Bloodthirsty Adversary with burn spells, this deck can cross the finish line very quickly. Mono-red aggro also got some new additions from Wilds of Eldraine. Charming Scoundrel can attack as a two-power Creature with Haste, but it can also generate a Treasure token or pitch away excess Lands later in the game, depending on the situation. Goddric, Cloaked Reveler has the ability to attack as a four-power Dragon with Flying, giving the deck some extra reach.
Mono-red aggro is especially strong when players aren’t fully prepared for it, so it’s possible that the deck starts to die down a bit in the coming weeks. After all, it can be weak to decks with high-toughness Creatures like Esper midrange, and Sheoldred is quite difficult to beat without a timely Nahiri’s Warcrafting. Still, the deck’s blazing starts can beat anyone who stumbles even a little, and getting to outpace the slower decks in the format makes it a great choice in certain metagames.
3 | Azorius Schooner
Newly introduced by The Lost Caverns of Ixalan, the Azorius Schooner continues to push Standard in a new direction. Offering a surprisingly fast-paced, yet still controlling Azorius strategy, this deck revolves around a powerful new vehicle. Somewhat given away by the deck’s name, this new powerhouse card is Subterranean Schooner.
Providing not only damage but a reliable Explore effect, Azorius Schooner is a real force to be reckoned with. Combine this with a plethora of counterspell-providing creatures, and you’ve got a well-rounded and controlling package.
To turn this board control into a win, there are buffs from Wedding Festivity and Virtue of Loyalty. Alongside Subterranean Schooner, these cards make the deck’s meager creatures into a real force to be reckoned with. Thanks to this, it’s no wonder that Azorius Schooner has been placing so well in tournaments recently.
2 | Domain Ramp
Four and Five-color ramp strategies are nothing new to Standard. Being able to play lots of colors to maximize Leyline Binding is quite strong, and there are plenty of powerful threats to ramp into. Atraxa, Grand Unifier is one of the most powerful threats to put into play in Standard, and this deck has the tools to cast the powerful Phyrexian ahead of schedule. Both Courier’s Briefcase and Invasion of Zendikar help push out threats early. Archangel of Wrath can help stabilize the board until you can cast one of your haymakers.
Speaking of ramp and haymakers, one new card in particular helps fill both parts of the curve. Bramble Familiar acts as a two-mana mana dork, which is decent on its own. However, there’s still more to the card, as Bramble Familiar has an Adventure attached as well. Instead of casting the two-mana Creature, you can cast a seven-mana Sorcery that lets you mill seven cards, then put an Enchantment, Creature, or Land card from among them into play. Both Atraxa and Virtue of Persistence are great hits. The fact that Bramble Familiar and Virtue of Persistence can be useful both in the early game and the late game makes them great upgrades for this strategy.
1 | Esper Midrange
Love it or hate it, there’s no beating Esper Midrange in Standard right now. This resurgence in power follows the deck gaining a few new toys in The Lost Caverns of Ixalan. Specifically, Subterranean Schooner and Deep-Cavern Bat have propelled the deck to new heights.
Enhancing the already dominant control-focused midrange strategy, Deep-Cavern Bat is undoubtedly the latest Standard star. Providing a glimpse at your opponent’s hand and temporary removal, this bat is an early-game menace. Not only does it disrupt your opponent’s plans, but the knowledge it provides is invaluable for a control deck.
Most recently, Esper Midrange made waves as the victor of the Players Convention Aichi 2023 Standard Open. Following this win, the deck has massively surged in popularity, becoming even more dominant in the format.