20, Jun, 23

Breakout MTG Bulk Rare Creates Powerful New Archetype!

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Article at a Glance

Before the Standard bannings, there was a lot of concern from the MTG community that there simply wasn’t enough room for innovation. Fable of the Mirror-Breaker decks were not only dominant, but they were repressing other viable strategies. By covering so much of the metagame, it seemed like if you weren’t playing Rakdos Midrange or heavily prepared to fight against Rakdos Midrange, your deck didn’t stand much of a chance.

Since the Standard bannings, we have seen the metagame open up a lot more. Various aggro decks that struggled against Rakdos have been putting up solid numbers for the past few weeks. At a minimum, it feels like the bans helped create a bit more of a balanced metagame. Aggro, Midrange, and Control are all well-represented. Standard still has some issues, but for anyone looking for balance and innovation in their format, Standard is currently a decent place to look.

New Archetypes on the Rise?

Aven Heartstabber

This weekend’s Magic Online Standard Challenges featured a few new archetypes in addition to the wide range of well-known decks the format has to offer. In 7th place on Saturday, we saw Dimir Aggro. This deck is very unique but still plays some of the most powerful cards in Standard. In the two-mana slot, the deck plays a bunch of value-centric Flying Creatures that are difficult for the opponent to block. This includes both Ledger Shredder and Aven Heartstabber, which can function similar to Baleful Strix in the right shell. Aven Heartstabber is exceptionally cheap and has not really had a home until now, but it works super well with the rest of the deck.

The nice thing about Aven Heartstabber is that it replaces itself even if it dies. This incentivizes the opponent to leave it alone. However, this deck pairs it with Kaito Shizuki, which can draw you a card every turn you attack with a Creature. This puts the opponent in a bind where you get card advantage whether they kill your two-drop or not. Gix, Yawgmoth Praetor works quite well with these Flying two-drops as well, forcing your opponent to interact or risk getting buried in card advantage. This deck is very value-oriented but can still provide a reasonable clock backed up by interaction like removal and Make Disappear. Definitely keep this deck on your radar!

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Beyond Dimir

Evolved Sleeper

Another breakout deck from this weekend was Mono-Black Midrange, which got 4th place in the same Challenge. Potentially bringing some bad flashbacks to MTG Arena players, this deck is relatively simple, planning to play cards up the curve from Evolved Sleeper to Sheoldred, the Apocolypse. By staying in one color, this deck never has issues with color fixing or tapped lands, which is a nice bonus. Additionally, the deck plays 26 lands, which may seem strange at first glance. However, between Evolved Sleeper, Tenacious Underdog, and Phyrexian Fleshgorger, there are a lot of cards to sink extra mana into. This helps prevent both mana flood and mana screw and greatly reduces the rate that the deck mulligans.

Despite Invoke Despair being banned in Standard as well, Mono-Black Midrange is still going strong. Part of the reason is that the deck gets access to excellent pieces of interaction. Both Cut Down and Go for the Throat are great at dealing with early pressure, and Go for the Throat is especially good at dealing with opposing copies of Sheoldred. This deck also makes great use of Liliana of the Veil. Liliana is particularly strong in helping fight against decks like Five-Color Ramp that require a lot of resources to function at full capacity but can go way over the top of Midrange decks if unimpeded.

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Old and New

Bloodtithe Harvester

Despite the banning of Fable of the Mirror-Breaker and Invoke Despair, some people are still having success with Rakdos Midrange, just with a handful of changes. Rakdos Midrange got 5th place in Saturday’s Challenge, and what’s unique is it is made up of almost entirely black cards. Besides Bloodtithe Harvester, the deck makes use of Brotherhood’s End and some red sideboard cards, but that’s it. Still, the fact that some players are choosing to play this over Mono-Black Midrange shows just how powerful Harvester truly is.

In addition to splashing red for Harvester, some players have chosen to splash white, mainly for Wedding Announcement and The Wandering Emperor. By playing Orzhov, the deck also gets to play both Phyrexian Fleshgorger and Steel Seraph alongside Touch the Spirit Realm. While all these cards are decent on their own, Touch the Spirit Realm can be Channeled for two mana and, to your opponent’s surprise, return a three-mana Steel Seraph or Phyrexian Felshgorger to play as the full-mana version. This is a super cool interaction, and because the cards are each good on their own, it makes a lot of sense to run together.

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Multiple Commonalities

Phyrexian Fleshgorger

While it is nice to Standard in a better place and showcasing new archetypes, there is a bit of concern with the overlap of these archetypes. A huge reason why all these archetypes have been successful is that they all utilize Sheoldred, arguably the best card legal in Standard. There was some speculation that Sheoldred might get the axe, and when it didn’t get banned, it was obvious that people were going to make use of the card. Aggro decks performed extremely well the first couple weeks after the bans, but decks like Mono-Red Aggro that are weak to Sheoldred have been on a steady decline since. Esper Legends is still dominant, and it feels like Sheoldred may have a stranglehold on the format for the time being.

The good news is that there is still room for adaptation. White decks are packing answers to Sheoldred like Destroy Evil and are still very much a part of the metagame.

Sheoldred can certainly take over a game if unanswered, but it is still a four-mana Creature that can die to cheap removal spells. People are even adapting further by playing threats that can dodge some of the common answers to Sheoldred.

Part of the reason Phyrexian Fleshgorger and Steel Seraph are so popular at the moment is that at three mana, besides being strong Creatures with Lifelink against aggressive decks, they don’t die to Cut Down, Go for the Throat, or Destroy Evil. Zigging when others are zagging can be a great strategy, and small adaptations like this can make the format enjoyable over time. Hopefully Standard continues to showcase a shifting metagame.

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