What’s next for Standard and Modern

Oliver Polak-Rottmann

Oliver Polak-Rottmann

Pro Tour: Aether Revolt and GP Pittsburgh are in the books, so we have the first results with the new set in Standard, but the format is far from being solved. GP Vancouver is next weekend, so Modern will get its first taste of Aether Revolt and after that GP Utrecht and the RPTQ, which are both Standard, are also coming up. With all these tournaments around the corner, and of course your local tournaments, it is important to evaluate the formats and pick the right deck to play.

Pro Tour: Aether Revolt

Let’s start with Pro Tour: Aether Revolt. First of all congratulations to the Brazilians very own Lucas Esper Berthoud. He won the tournament with Mardu Vehicles, which also was the Breakout-Deck of the tournament. Every team had Mardu Vehicles in the gauntlet, so it was nothing fancy nor did his list have any special features. He still won in spectacular fashion without dropping a single match in Standard throughout the tournament. His opponent in the finals didn’t drop a match in Standard either until the finals, also on Mardu Vehicles. The deck had the best conversion rate in the tournament and a lot of Pros decided to play it as well.

So what happened here: Before the Pro Tour Black-Green was very popular, but it did not have the right build and was kept in check by Jeskai-Saheeli. Everybody in this tournament was gunning for those two decks and therefore almost a quarter of the field joined the tournament with control decks to beat this two strategies. The control mages got eaten up by Mardu and Mardu has the big advantage of punishing bad draws of your opponents, both Saheeli and Black-Green. Besides that, 《Unlicensed Disintegration》 is one of the strongest cards in the format and does exactly what an Aggro-Deck wants to do.

Unlicensed Disintegration

The tournament was quite evenly split in 25% pieces for each strategy: Mardu, Black/Green, Saheeli and Control. Of course there are different BG Archetypes and UR/Grixis and Jeskai Control but they are mostly the same regarding gameplay. With these results, I then had to think about which deck to play at GP Pittsburgh.

Before we start on that topic I want to share my list I played at Pro Tour: Aether Revolt:

Oliver Polak-Rottmann “Grixis Control”
Pro Tour: Aether Revolt

5 《Island》
2 《Mountain》
1 《Swamp》
2 《Smoldering Marsh》
2 《Sunken Hollow》
3 《Evolving Wilds》
4 《Aether Hub》
4 《Spirebluff Canal》
3 《Wandering Fumarole》

-Lands (26)-

4 《Torrential Gearhulk》

-Creatures (4)-
2 《Shock》
4 《Anticipate》
4 《Harnessed Lightning》
2 《Negate》
3 《Disallow》
3 《Unlicensed Disintegration》
2 《Void Shatter》
2 《Radiant Flames》
1 《To the Slaughter》
4 《Glimmer of Genius》
3 《Dynavolt Tower》

-Spells (30)-
3 《Thing in the Ice》
3 《Transgress the Mind》
2 《Dragonmaster Outcast》
2 《Fatal Push》
1 《Release the Gremlins》
1 《Negate》
1 《Painful Truths》
1 《Radiant Flames》
1 《Jace, Unraveler of Secrets》
-Sideboards (15)-

We were expecting a lot of Black-Green and Jeskai Saheeli and prepared for those Matchups and I eventually faced 2 Mardus and 2 Tower-Control decks and after a weak Draft I quickly was out of the tournament. I do still think that Grixis Control is a valid choice in the current format, just not if you expect a lot of Mardu, and you certainly should run Dispels for the Control Mirrors.

GP Pittsburgh

So let’s head to GP Pittsburgh where I expected a lot of Mardu and a fair amount of Black-Green. With only a week between the two events and time spent travelling, I was not able to find a deck that can both reliably beat Mardu and Black-Green so I had to join forces with Black-Green and therefore asked the “Rock”Specialist Brad Nelson for his updated list, which we both ran at the event.

Oliver Polak-Rottmann “BG Good Stuff”
GP Pittsburgh

7 《Swamp》
5 《Forest》
4 《Aether Hub》
4 《Blooming Marsh》
4 《Hissing Quagmire》

-Lands (24)-

4 《Walking Ballista》
4 《Winding Constrictor》
4 《Servant of the Conduit》
4 《Glint-Sleeve Siphoner》
3 《Tireless Tracker》
2 《Rishkar, Peema Renegade》
2 《Gonti, Lord of Luxury》
4 《Verdurous Gearhulk》

-Creatures (27)-
3 《Fatal Push》
3 《Grasp of Darkness》
3 《Aethersphere Harvester》

-Spells (9)-
3 《Transgress the Mind》
3 《Lifecrafter's Bestiary》
2 《Harsh Scrutiny》
2 《Natural Obsolescence》
2 《To the Slaughter》
1 《Gonti, Lord of Luxury》
1 《Fatal Push》
1 《Murder》

-Sideboards (15)-

This is mainly the decklist he piloted to a Top16 finish at the Pro Tour and followed it up with another one at the GP. The deck is very well tuned for the Mardu Matchup and has tools to win the Mirror, but after the Black-Green dominance at the GP you should step up there. 《Nissa, Voice of Zendikar》s are stong and hardremoval for 《Verdurous Gearhulk》 is important to have in your 75, therefore you should up the number of 《Murder》s. 《Harsh Scrutiny》 is a decent card for the Sideboard as you can really take advantage of this card in the Mirror. Stealing 《Verdurous Gearhulk》 or 《Winding Constrictor》 can push you ahead in the game as it is so Mana efficent. I am not saying it is the best list for this archetype, but it is a valid deckchoice. It is a little soft to Saheeli and Control, so possibly not the best pick for the upcoming events.

So the big question is: Where to go from here? You certainly want to beat Black-Green, you do not want to fold to Mardu and you want to have game against the different flavours of Saheeli. My first impression tells me to play control again and switch up the removal suit a bit. 《Torrential Gearhulk》 and 《Dynavolt Tower》 are hard to attack for Black-Green and you can adapt the rest of the deck too your expected metagame. I am not sure if it is better to splash for 《Fumigate》s or to go with Grixis again with 4 《Fatal Push》es Maindeck and 《Unlicensed Disintegration》. I always preferred the 1-on-1 removal as you cannot get blown out by a 《Metallic Rebuke》, 《Transgress the Mind》 or 《Heroic Intervention》.

So my advice is to run either Black-Green with a good plan in the mirror or a 《Torrential Gearhulk》 shell, unless you really want to punish your opponents with Mardu. In that case have a good control sideboard plan against Black-Green.


Next stop is Modern. I am not really a Modern Expert and I was fortunate enough to cover this up by playing a deck I really liked and piloted in a reasonable way. Infect just is not that great anymore. It is less the loss of 《Gitaxian Probe》, which is huge and was probably the best Ban to weaken the deck without fully destroying it, it is more the fact that 《Fatal Push》 does it’s job of pushing the infectious creatures out of the format.

Sram, Senior EdificerHidden HerbalistsRenegade Rallier

My current understanding of the format is, that there are several new decks that people know about: The Sram Combo Deck, the 8-Burning-Tree-Emisarry-Bushwhacker Deck and 《Renegade Rallier》 Combo. All of them will first appear on the big stage at GP Vancouver. The format might be half a turn slower than it used to be with Dredge, Infect and Death’s Shadow Zoo and therefore Big Mana Strategies like Tron or Scapeshift might be valid choices as well. And then there is 《Fatal Push》. I have seen so many Decklists online from B/G/x-Shells using Push, now the newest invention is Sultai-Aggro with 《Tarmogoyf》s, 《Grim Flayer》 and 《Stubborn Denial》. We also have older strategies with Lantern and Affinity and I am pretty sure some Modern players came up with great brews which we will see this weekend.

So we have a completely new format and no one seems to have the format figured out by now, at least not “officially”. Wizards did a good job with the latest bannings and the current new set to give Modern a brand new meta. I am really looking forward to play in the GP and I do have a spicy list, which I will run at the GP.

I do not want to give my decklist away this time, as it is a fresh new format and I got the decklist from a friend who happens to be a Modern specialist and he wants me to do well 🙂 If everything goes the right way, I might write my next article about the new deck I am going to play this weekend.

The last thing I want to give a shout out is the return of Nationals. We still have to wait for a final announcement on how it is going to be, but I am sure Wizards does their best to sculpt it to our satisfaction. As someone who won the old Nationals, I can tell you it was the best tournament of the year and will have a great boost on your local community.


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