Adapting to the New Standard

Grzegorz Kowalski


Hello! The last banned and restricted announcement hit Standard with a big power. Some archetypes we played for a year don’t exist anymore. Companions are nerfed by a lot. That’s a great opportunity for people who like to explore new possibilities.

New future is coming, and I’ll try to help you understand how Standard is gonna look like. The real test for the new format will be upcoming Players Tour, but to be ready for it, we have to start working today! In this article I’ll show you my ‘New Standard Power Rank’.


First of all, let’s see what changed:

New Companion Rule

Once per game, any time you could cast a sorcery (during your main phase when the stack is empty), you can pay 3 generic mana to put your Companion from your sideboard into your hand. This is a special action, not an activated ability.

Lurrus of the Dream DenUmori, the CollectorYorion, Sky Nomad

Straight up nerf. In easier words, every Companion costs three more generic mana. You can pay that mana separately, for example pay three on turn four, to make your 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》 ready for turn five. That way you put it into your hand, which makes it vulnerable to discard spells. The special action part means you never trigger something on the battlefield that way, it can’t be countered, and the cost can’t be modified. You always pay exactly three mana, and put a Companion to your hand as a result.

Banned Cards

《Agent of Treachery》 is banned.
《Fires of Invention》 is banned.

Agent of TreacheryFires of Invention

That’s also a big part. 《Agent of Treachery》 wasn’t a big issue itself. Seven mana seems accurate for this kind of effect. The real problem was caused by cards from Ikoria. 《Winota, Joiner of Forces》 and 《Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast》 were both too strong as a ‘Mana Cheat’ engine. If you look at the recent history of magic, most cards that were ruining Standard (and other formats) cheated on mana in one way or another.

Once Upon a TimeDig Through TimeBirthing PodAetherworks Marvel

《Once Upon a Time》, Delve spells, Phyrexian mana. Do you remember 《Aetherworks Marvel》 into 《Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger》 Standard? Seems familiar to 《Winota, Joiner of Forces》 into 《Agent of Treachery》.

Yorion, Sky Nomad

Same goes true for 《Fires of Invention》. The enchantment was strong even before Ikoria, as it generated four free mana on turn four, and up to ten free mana on turn five (and the effect didn’t stop there). With 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》 as a Companion it reached the whole new level of absurd. You could phase it out until end of turn as a second spell for free, and then use your saved mana for more spells.

Decks that won’t Exist Anymore

With the Companion rule change, and two bans along the way, we have a brand new Standard. Before I’ll start with winners and losers of the changes, let’s talk about decks that won’t exist anymore:

Jeskai Lukka Yorion

Fires of InventionLukka, Coppercoat OutcastAgent of Treachery

The most obvious one. Both core cards are banned.

Jeskai/4C Winota

Legion WarbossWinota, Joiner of ForcesAgent of Treachery

Deck won’t exist in the current form, although 《Winota, Joiner of Forces》 is still legal. I expect some kind of aggressive Boros Winota deck to show up. Instead of looking for 《Agent of Treachery》, you’ll be interested in finding more power. 《Kenrith, the Returned King》 and 《Haktos the Unscarred》 are humans!

This is a prototype I’ve tried on best of one, while testing for ‘The Arena Open’. Deck obviously needs a lot of work, but I’m sure there is something in it!

Mono Red/Rakdos Obosh

Fervent ChampionObosh, the PreypiercerAnax, Hardened in the Forge

《Obosh, the Preypiercer》 is almost unplayable. Adding three mana to an aggressive Companion is too much to make it worth. 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》 might survive it in some kind of Azorius Control. 《Obosh, the Preypiercer》 is dead.

Umori and Lurrus Oriented Decks

Umori, the CollectorLurrus of the Dream Den

Stuff like Gruul Umori, Mono white Lurrus Auras etc won’t be playable, as you can’t rely on your Companions anymore. However, Boros Cycling can still play Lurrus, as deck works without it pretty well, and the ‘Six Mana Cat’ is LITERALLY free to use. It will make lower impact, and you’ll cast it rarely, but it still would be worth one sideboard card slot in my opinion.

The Winners

In the random order, I’ll sum in up later and show you my final power rank

Bant Ramp

Uro, Titan of Nature's WrathNissa, Who Shakes the WorldHydroid Krasis

The old one. Without 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》. Just 60 the best cards in the colors. The final build obviously depends on how the metagame will look like, although we have enough great and flexible cards to adapt to almost anything. 《Nissa, Who Shakes the World》 and 《Hydroid Krasis》, welcome back!

Azorius Control Yorion

Dovin's VetoTeferi, Time RavelerElspeth Conquers Death

This is the only deck that still might play 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》, as three mana won’t make insane difference. Obviously it’s still a big nerf, here however we often use 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》 as a free card in the late game, not as a five drop like in Jeskai Fires or Bant Yorion.

Temur Reclamation

Growth SpiralWilderness ReclamationExpansion+Explosion

This gets a little tricky here. This was the best non-Companion deck before the nerfs. On the other hand, I kinda believe metagame might become more aggressive, which is not a great news for Temur players. Deck loses good match ups, and might get a few bad ones in return.

Old Fashion Mono Red

Torbran, Thane of Red FellEmbercleave

Believe in the 《Embercleave》. 《Fires of Invention》 ban almost equals 《Deafening Clarion》 ban. That’s the best news for Mono Red players. We can see a huge come back. To me it’s the biggest winner of the announcement. Sleeve your 《Embercleave》 and 《Torbran, Thane of Red Fell》 again!

Temur Adventures

Edgewall InnkeeperLucky CloverEscape to the Wilds

Historically speaking deck was great against hard control, and linear aggro, while being bad against everything in between. If my prediction is good, we will see a lot of Azorius Control and Mono Red, and that’s the best place for Temur Adventures to shine.

The Losers

Boros Cycling

Drannith StingerValiant RescuerZenith Flare

While I still believe deck will be good, we just lost our great match up, and got a nerf on 《Lurrus of the Dream Den》. Even though nerf is not a big deal for the deck, Cycling might simply become a worse aggro than Mono Red (and certainly loses its direct match up).

Bant Yorion

Teferi, Time RavelerYorion, Sky NomadShark Typhoon

Even though deck might be played without 《Agent of Treachery》, and with our ramp 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》 nerf isn’t as crucial as in other decks, I’m looking forward to play 60-cards version. Adding 20 more cards is a real cost you pay in consistency.

Temur Elementals

Risen ReefCavalier of ThornsGenesis Ultimatum

Without 《Agent of Treachery》 deck loses its main purpose. Playing 80 cards with 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》 doesn’t make sense anymore, and the Elemental synergy is not strong enough to justify playing a fair game with 7 cards hand.

New Standard Power Rank + Sample Decklists

1. 60 Cards Bant

I would start with Strasky’s decklist from Magic Fest Online Weekly Championship and then adapt to whatever people will play. Obviously we can’t play 《Agent of Treachery》 anymore, so there is my fix:

2. Mono Red

3. Temur Reclamation

4. Azorius Control Yorion

5. Boros Cycling


Those are my first thoughts on bans. Now it’s time to test and see if I was right. Players Tour will verify! See you soon in next article!

Thanks for reading,

Grzegorz ‘Urlich’ Kowalski (Twitter / Twitch / Youtube)

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Grzegorz Kowalski He made top 8 in GP Lille 2012 and GP Brussels 2015, and GP Santiago 2017 has achieved second place. His extraordinary skill is also demonstrated on Pro Tour, experiencing countless top prize and money finish. He is one of the top players who travels the world and continues to fight. Read more articles by Grzegorz Kowalski

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