How to Approach the Fluctuating Metagame

Luis Salvatto

Luis Salvatto


What deck should I play in Standard tournament?

I read this question over and over. But there is no real answer since all the metagames are different and mostly cyclic. Therefore, the best deck for today is not the best deck for tomorrow.

Mono Red

Let’s start with a solid one: Mono Red.

This is the deck that Shahar Shenhar picked for MPL Spark Split Week 4.

Despite choosing 3 or 4 《Experimental Frenzy》, there is no place for too much innovation. All the cards are solid.

Runaway Steam-KinLight Up the StageExperimental FrenzyChandra, Fire Artisan

Red tries to close the game super fast with 《Runaway Steam-Kin》 and 《Light Up the Stage》, but also has a super card advantage engine in the form of 《Experimental Frenzy》 and 《Chandra, Fire Artisan》.

Tibalt, Rakish Instigator

Red gained a spicy Planeswalker, with a very good static ability. Preventing gain life until the useless 1 loyalty Planeswalker leaves the battlefield is super annoying for control. And sometimes creature decks don’t have that window to finish 《Tibalt, Rakish Instigator》 before they try to gain some life.

Esper Midrange / Control

So… if you want to beat Red, just pick up Esper (midrange or control).

Thought ErasureTeferi, Hero of DominariaVraska's ContemptDespark

Mono Red is that good. Even if you try to build a deck to beat it without losing too much against all other decks, it is not easy at all. But those Esper decks have the ability to deal with Frenzy, in hand or in play, and also with Chandra without taking damage in the way (《Teferi, Hero of Dominaria》 or 《Vraska’s Contempt》/《Despark》). This deck also contains other important aspects against Mono Red like sweepers, creatures to trade, and some gain life sources.

Unfair Decks

Mass ManipulationCommand the DreadhordeNissa, Who Shakes the WorldHydroid Krasis

Though, when you pick up the “fair” decks, (let’s be honest, Teferi isn’t fair at all but…), you will start struggling against absurd value cards like 《Mass Manipulation》, 《Command the Dreadhorde》, 《Nissa, Who Shakes the World》 + 《Hydroid Krasis》 etc.

Those decks are really good overall, and destroy the fair decks, but they have real problems dealing with Red.

My conclusion to this situation is that you need to read your metagame correctly and try to answer the most played deck. Of course this is not a format like Modern, there is no 90/10 matchups, but you can pick the right deck that beat the most played deck.

The Elderspell

Some specific cards can break a game by itself and it happens a lot in this Standard and I’m not talking about big mana spells only. For example, 《The Elderspell》 can destroy an entire deck, so be careful with the decks like Jeskai Planeswalkers, everything seems perfect until you lose all your board for 2 mana and 1 card.

Other Options

To complete the entire map, there are two other decks in the radar, White Weenie (or Azorius Weenie) and Simic Nexus.

Gideon BlackbladeTeferi, Time Raveler

White Weenie still has an insane curve and powerful cards. Nowadays this deck got good 3 drop Planeswalkers, but the deck didn’t improve too much. It’s still a real contender and when the people don’t expect that velocity, White Weenie will win a tournament.

Blast Zone

Simic Nexus is similar. At this moment (first days of June), it is a really good option since there is not so many Esper decks in the field. Despite having access to 3 《Blast Zone》, this deck has hard time to deal with baby Teferi and sometimes you just lose against the 3 mana Planeswalker.

A friend of mine won the qualifications to Mythic Championship III and IV, Vegas and Barcelona, with this list:

Tamiyo, Collector of TalesNarset, Parter of Veils

At the begining of this Standard, I fell in love with the Simic Nexus with 《Tamiyo, Collector of Tales》, and then, with 《Narset, Parter of Veils》. Two powerful Planeswalkers that give consistency to the deck. Needless to say, Tamiyo is just absurd in the deck. Narset has two roles, first, it puts really good pressure against control and 《Hydroid Krasis》 decks with 3 mana. Second, it suits your gameplan perfectly. You can play a 《Wilderness Reclamation》 on turn 4, and then turn 5 《Narset, Parter of Veils》 + 《Nexus of Fate》 which sounds great.

My Choice

As I said before, the metagame is about timing, so my advice is to play a deck that you feel respond to the metagame, and build a sideboard properly.

Wildgrowth WalkerHydroid KrasisNissa, Who Shakes the WorldCommand the Dreadhorde

Here is my choice for the last two weeks:

This deck was inspired by Sebastian Pozzo‘s decklist, he made day 2 of the Mythic Championship qualifier on MTG Arena.

This deck has two insane combinations:

I had hard times to deal with Mono Red, but overall it is a good and fun deck.


Goblin Chainwhirler

Those are my thoughts about how to approach this fluctuating metagame, the key is to adapt the metagame changes as soon as possible, but the real thing, try to not lose to Red, because it is the best deck in my opinion.

Thanks for reading!

Luis Salvatto (Twitter / Twitch)

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Luis Salvatto

Luis Salvatto From a top 8 finish at the Nationals 2011 in Argentina, time passes by to a magnificent win at the Super Sunday Series Championship 2015, another win at Grand Prix Rotterdam, and a top 8 finish at Pro Tour Shadows Over Innistrad bringing him back to the pro scene. After, he has 2 more Grand Prix top 8's and the golden rookie has now evolved in to a player representing South America. He is joining Hareruya Pros with his teammate from the same country of Argentina, Sebastian Pozzo. Read more articles by Luis Salvatto