Welcome friends. Today I am going to talk about Standard, not about a specific deck, but how it could have looked like if some things would have gone the right direction. I want to talk about how diverse Standard was and the reason that statement is not entirely true.
Sounds confusing, right? No worries, this whole article will try to explain my thoughts about this.
Let me start by showing you how diverse Standard actually was:
In my opinion a healthy and diverse format ends up in a rock-scissors-paper situation, in which, for example, rock stands for midrange, scissors for aggressive decks and paper for control. Each of those strategies consists of multiple decks and overall you end up in this circle, where one beats another, but loses to the third: rock beats scissors, scissors beats paper and paper beats rock.
So do we have multiple decks for each section? I would answer plenty.
Aggressive strategies I have played against so far:
As you can see, plenty of decks to choose from, which shows how diverse Standard could have been. Could have been?
Big Problem and Outlier
Well, in my opinion, this format has had a big problem, namely 《Growth Spiral》 decks. These kinds of decks are quite good at winning against each non-《Growth Spiral》 deck, which means we do not longer have a circle.
Besides breaking this circle, we have had a big outlier there, namely Temur Reclamation. Despite everyone claiming to have a good matchup against it and beating it regularly on the ladder on MTG Arena, Temur Reclamation still managed to put up great numbers.
One reason certainly was that this deck is only as powerful as its master. This deck is not easy to play and people who put in hours to learn it have improved their win percentage by a lot. This could be said about any deck obviously, but in my opinion, it is especially true for Temur Reclamation, as I do not remember too many Standard decks that had such a high ceiling.
What else did Temur Reclamation do differently than any other deck though? Quite simple: it cheats on mana. As soon as 《Wilderness Reclamation》 resolves, the deck has just way too much mana. Not only more mana than most decks, but also how it can easily change given special circumstances was, what made this deck so strong. As an example, approximately a week ago people have started playing 《Wilt》 as an answer to 《Wilderness Reclamation》 (and to Jund Sacrifice). What happened then? Temur Reclamation started winning by playing more 《Shark Typhoon》s and 《Nightpack Ambusher》.
A few weeks ago, 《Fires of Invention》 was banned, as it allowed to cheat on mana and was way too dominant. This allowed for a bit more diversity, but the fact that cheating on mana is still the trend means more must be done.
The power creep with the last few sets has been very high, so banning only 《Wilderness Reclamation》 will most likely and sadly not make Standard a better place. Banning multiple cards would probably do the trick, but I am not a big fan of banning and think it would do more harm on the long run, than help. By banning multiple cards, I would assume that over 5 cards still need to go, but only time would be able to tell.
I remember that at some point in time Wizards of the Coast announced a faster rotation system for Standard and I think this is something that should be able to make Standard more interesting and healthier.
I hope I was able to give you a small overview of potential decks one could play, but for now I can only suggest playing decks including 《Growth Spiral》. Hopefully Core Set 2021 can shake up the format a bit. After all we are getting some new pets and some cool reprints.
Maybe a dog and/or cat tribal deck can find its way into Standard? I am certainly going to try to build a deck around 《Ugin, the Spirit Dragon》, as I have had very good experiences with this card. 《Growth Spiral》 is still legal, so I will most likely start in UG and see how this ends up in some sort of ramp/control shell.
If you do not enjoy playing Standard, there are still plenty of other great formats, after all it is still Magic and I personally really look forward on trying Jumpstart against my friends.
Thank you for reading and stay safe!
A little spoiler: I have spoken multiple times about an article explaining a single mtg card and it is finally happening, very soon. Watch out!
Immanuel Gerschenson (Twitter)