Core Set 2019 – Standard Winners

Grzegorz Kowalski

Hello! Grzegorz Kowalski here again, and today I have something new for you.

It’s a weird time, because we are three weeks after new set released, but we didn’t have Pro Tour yet. Pro Tour 25th Anniversary will be different from average Pro Tour. It’s a team tournament, where each player from the team pick a format from Standard, Modern, and Legacy. I’ll be playing Standard, next to Michael Bonde, and Makis Matsoukas, because of that I’m focusing on new decks, and trying to understand each of them, before I meet my friends in Minneapolis for a testing bootcamp.

Michael Bonde

Michael Bonde

Makis Matsoukas

Makis Matsoukas

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I want to share what I learned with you today, and show you the most exciting decks that came up (or got significantly upgraded) with M19 release.

Grixis Midrange

Nicol Bolas, the RavagerNicol Bolas, the Arisen

Grixis Midrange – I think this is the biggest winner, out of new decks. We have two versions of Grixis. One is good old Blue Black Midrange, that splashes only for powerful 《Nicol Bolas, the Ravager》. The second one is a regular Grixis, based on Energy, with Red cheap removal over 《Fatal Push》, and 《Whirler Virtuoso》 as an Energy payoff card.

I’m still not sure, which version is better, but I’m aware how powerful is combination of 《Nicol Bolas, the Ravager》, and 《Liliana, Death's Majesty》 or 《The Scarab God》. With 《Glint-Sleeve Siphoner》, 《Champion of Wits》, and 《Torrential Gearhulk》, this deck provides infinite value, and has probably the best late game in current Standard.

M19 cards: 《Nicol Bolas, the Ravager》

Mono Green Stompy

Vine MareThorn LieutenantVivien Reid

Mono Green Stompy – This deck was quite popular recently, but addition of M19 made a huge impact. We got two good maindeck options, and powerful Planeswalker for sideboard. 《Vine Mare》 answers the biggest problems of Mono Green from the previous Standard, and turns majority of bad match ups, into a good ones. It’s our MVP against Black based decks, like Grixis, or Mono Black Zombies, they can’t block or kill it, which makes a horse four turn insensitive clock.

《Thorn Lieutenant》 doesn’t have such a big impact, but is a solid two drop anyway. For only two mana makes our Mono Red match up even better, and even if gets killed, always leaves a 1/1 body, which might be relevant for 《Ghalta, Primal Hunger》, or 《Rhonas the Indomitable》 in the future.

《Vivien Reid》 is a great sideboard option. Now we don’t have to play bad cards like 《Crushing Canopy》, and 《Lyra Dawnbringer》 isn’t that threatening for us anymore, since we can kill the Angel right after they play it, leaving on the battlefield powerful and permanent source of card advantage.

M19 cards: 《Thorn Lieutenant》, 《Vine Mare》, 《Vivien Reid》

Mono Blue Storm

Sai, Master Thopterist

Mono Blue Storm – For me this is a new deck, and a real child of M19. I know that some people tried it before the Core set, but let’s be honest, 《Aetherflux Reservoir》 wasn’t good enough for competitive play.

Now, with 《Sai, Master Thopterist》 things are different. He buys time, provides card advantage, turns on 《Mox Amber》, generates mana (with 《Inspiring Statuary》) and in the end, is a decent finisher if our plan A doesn’t work. All of this we get in one card for just three mana. Insane deal.

I’m highly convinced, that we didn’t discover the right build of Mono Blue storm yet, and if someone will manage to do that, he will break the format. Maybe it will happen during the PT? Who knows.

M19 cards: 《Sai, Master Thopterist》, 《Tezzeret, Artifice Master》

Red Dragons

Sarkhan, FirebloodDemanding DragonSpit Flame

(Almost) Mono Red Dragons – This deck is too ambitious for me. My conservative brain can’t stand behind (R)(R)(R) three drop next to (1)(U)(R)(B) four drop. It doesn’t mean deck is bad though. We can see it regularly making 5-0 at MTGO, or winning some small tournaments. I don’t really get it, and for me it’s just a worse version of Red Black Midrange, but is definitely more fancy, so if you like this style, feel free to try, maybe I’m just underestimating it.

Format is still new, and I didn’t have enough time to play with every deck enough games, to get a full understanding of each.

M19 cards: 《Demanding Dragon》, 《Nicol Bolas, the Ravager》, 《Banefire》, 《Sarkhan, Fireblood》, 《Spit Flame》

Mono Black Zombies

Graveyard MarshalDeath Baron

Mono Black Zombies – Another deck born thanks to M19. With addition of 《Graveyard Marshal》 and 《Death Baron》 we finally have enough good zombies, to make this tribal a real thing.

Very good mana curve, powerful three-power two drops, and twelve lords (《Liliana's Mastery》 counts) make zombies a good aggressive deck, that can beat other creature strategies pretty easily. 《Death Baron》 and his Deathtouch ability give a hard time to everyone, who wants to kill you with ground creatures. Can you imagine trading 《Dread Wanderer》 for 《Steel Leaf Champion》?

M19 cards: 《Diregraf Ghoul》, 《Graveyard Marshal》,《Death Baron》, 《Liliana, Untouched by Death》


This is what M19 gave us. I’m sure core set has bigger impact on current Standard, than most of us thought is would have. Where do we go from now? I think Mono Blue Storm has the highest ceiling, and if someone finds a good build, it might break the Standard portion of Pro Tour.

If not, I feel like meta game will be healthy and balanced. We still have decks like Mono Red or Red Black Midrange, and even though they didn’t get much from the Core set, they’re still a part of the metagame. On the other hand, Tier2 decks got a lot of support, and I believe this time it will not be a “《Chainwhirler》 PT”. Good job from game designers, in terms of balancing Standard.

It’s all I have for you today. Because it’s my last article in this season, I would like to thank you all for reading my write-ups, supporting me, appreciating the content, as well as constructive criticism that helped me make my articles better. It was a great time, experience, and pleasure to write for you. I hope to see you again in the near future again!

Thank you!

Grzegorz Kowalski

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