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The Current State of Standard: Farewell

Lucas Giggs
31/01/2024 · 8 min read
meta

Introduction

On Twitter, there's a running joke that players are doing called "The Current State of..." And they put the format they're talking about and some screenshots showing some unusual play for that format.

I've decided to borrow this name, but to start a new series of articles, showing the real current state of a format, and which decks are standing out. I think it might be a good time to talk about it, especially because we're about to receive another new edition, and a new edition usually shakes up the formats. This week I'll be talking about the current state of Standard, and depending on the feedback, I may return to other formats on other occasions.

The Top Five Deck

Esper Midrange

Esper Midrange. Builder: Arianne.MTGO - Magic Online
Top4
(7 - 2)
77%
in MTGO Standard Challenge 64 #12607236 [124 Players] 21-Jan-2024
MTG Decks Maindeck (60)
Creature [16]
3  Dennick, Pious Apprentice   $0.79
4  Deep-Cavern Bat   $0.99
1  Loran of the Third Path   $4.99
4  Raffine, Scheming Seer   $6.49
2  Tishana's Tidebinder   $14.99
2  Lord Skitter, Sewer King   $2.99
Instant [12]
3  Cut Down   $2.29
3  Go for the Throat   $1.49
3  Make Disappear   $0.99
3  Virtue of Loyalty   $21.99
Enchantment [4]
4  Wedding Announcement   $20.99
Planeswalker [2]
2  The Wandering Emperor   $29.99
Land [26]
1  Plains   $0.01
4  Darkslick Shores   $5.99
1  Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire   $8.49
1  Otawara, Soaring City   $29.99
2  Raffine's Tower   $15.99
4  Restless Anchorage   $1.79
4  Shattered Sanctum   $23.99
1  Takenuma, Abandoned Mire   $12.99
3  Caves of Koilos   $0.99
3  Underground River   $6.99
2  Seachrome Coast   $4.99
Sideboard [15]
1  Anoint with Affliction   $0.35
1  Cut Down   $2.29
3  Destroy Evil   $1.49
2  Duress   $0.35
2  Knockout Blow   $0.49
1  Loran of the Third Path   $4.99
1  Negate   $0.49
1  Parasitic Grasp   $0.35
1  Tishana's Tidebinder   $14.99
2  Disdainful Stroke   $0.35
Buy this deck:

$144.14 Tix @cardhoarder   $3.60 / Week @cardhoarder   $422.01 @tcgplayer   $566.23 @cardkingdom  


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Esper continues to be the main deck, at least it is one of the ones that most produces results on Magic Online. Much of its strength comes from the fact that it can easily adapt to the expected meta. It can play with more removals, more counters, with or without Wedding Announcement, with or without Sheoldred, etc. It has a very solid base that revolves around Raffine, one of the best creatures of Standard. It has a distant cousin, UB Midrange, a deck that draws heavily from this source, benefiting more from card advantage with Gix and Preacher of the Schism. However, it has a weaker performance in grindy matches since, without white, you can't play key cards like Virtue of Loyalty and The Wandering Emperor.

One could say that the deck doesn't have very bad matchups, as it is capable of adapting to any meta, but we could also say that this is where its weakness lies. It can't attack all decks, so if you play with more light removals to fight Bant Toxic and Monored, consequently it might become more vulnerable to decks that play big, like Domain Ramp and Rakdos Breach. It's a choice based on what you expect from the played meta, and that also varies from player to player.

Rakdos Midrange

Rakdos Discover. Builder: jakobpablo.MTGO - Magic Online
Top8
(6 - 2)
75%
in MTGO Standard Challenge 64 #12607236 [124 Players] 21-Jan-2024
MTG Decks Maindeck (60)
Creature [25]
4  Bloodtithe Harvester   $0.49
4  Deep-Cavern Bat   $0.99
4  Geological Appraiser   $0.35
1  Gix, Yawgmoth Praetor   $24.99
4  Preacher of the Schism   $4.49
3  Sheoldred, the Apocalypse   $99.99
1  Aclazotz, Deepest Betrayal   $5.99
4  Trumpeting Carnosaur   $3.99
Instant [6]
1  Anoint with Affliction   $0.35
3  Cut Down   $2.29
2  Go for the Throat   $1.49
Enchantment [3]
3  The Cruelty of Gix   $5.99
Land [26]
3  Sulfurous Springs   $4.99
2  Mountain   $0.01
4  Haunted Ridge   $9.99
3  Cavern of Souls   $44.99
4  Restless Vents   $0.49
1  Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance   $5.99
3  Blackcleave Cliffs   $4.49
1  Takenuma, Abandoned Mire   $12.99
5  Swamp   $0.01
Sideboard [15]
1  Abrade   $0.35
1  Anoint with Affliction   $0.35
1  Breach the Multiverse   $6.99
1  Brotherhood's End   $6.99
1  Cut Down   $2.29
2  Duress   $0.35
2  Extract the Truth   $0.35
2  Gix's Command   $1.99
3  Liliana of the Veil   $13.99
1  Go for the Throat   $1.49
Buy this deck:

$117.29 Tix @cardhoarder   $2.93 / Week @cardhoarder   $557.93 @tcgplayer   $687.55 @cardkingdom  


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Rakdos Breach was the most prevalent Rakdos until recently, but the midrange discover verion (with a quite aggressive bias) has been standing out more in the latest tournaments. Ixalan contributed a lot to this, since cards like Inti, Preacher of the Schism, and Restless Vents brought a very solid base of creatures and an important mana fixer, which is also a threat in the late game. Lately, I would even say that it has been achieving more results than Esper, but the fact that it's not as adaptable a deck as the latter, I believe that today it is behind it.

The fact that it is a midrange deck that doesn't include blue makes it somewhat vulnerable against some decks where having counters would be important, like Domain Ramp. Not necessarily because it would be able to counter an Atraxa in a deck that uses 4 Cavern of Souls, but other cards like The Wandering Emperor, Herd Migration, and especially Sunfall are very tricky for Rakdos to navigate around. The discard plan with Duress and post-side Liliana, along with the main deck's Deep Cavern Bat, can be useful, but discard doesn't remove the top of the deck, and the topdecks of this deck are simply some of the best in the format.

Domain Ramp

Domain Ramp. Builder: O_danielakos.MTGO - Magic Online
2nd
(8 - 2)
80%
in MTGO Standard Challenge 32 #12607224 [68 Players] 20-Jan-2024
MTG Decks Maindeck (60)
Creature [11]
4  Topiary Stomper   $3.49
4  Archangel of Wrath   $0.69
3  Atraxa, Grand Unifier   $27.99
Sorcery [9]
4  Herd Migration   $0.49
4  Sunfall   $7.99
1  Depopulate   $0.79
Enchantment [8]
4  Leyline Binding   $15.99
3  Up the Beanstalk   $2.99
1  Temporary Lockdown   $6.99
Battle [3]
3  Invasion of Zendikar   $0.49
Planeswalker [2]
2  The Wandering Emperor   $29.99
Land [27]
1  Island   $0.01
1  Mountain   $0.01
3  Plains   $0.01
3  Forest   $0.01
1  Boseiju, Who Endures   $49.99
4  Jetmir's Garden   $24.99
4  Spara's Headquarters   $19.99
4  Ziatora's Proving Ground   $12.99
1  Swamp   $0.01
4  Cavern of Souls   $44.99
1  Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire   $8.49
Sideboard [15]
2  Chrome Host Seedshark   $4.99
2  Lithomantic Barrage   $1.79
2  Negate   $0.49
1  Temporary Lockdown   $6.99
1  Obstinate Baloth   $0.39
1  Nissa, Ascended Animist   $4.49
3  Knockout Blow   $0.49
1  Abrade   $0.35
1  Tranquil Frillback   $6.99
1  Tishana's Tidebinder   $14.99
Buy this deck:

$257.77 Tix @cardhoarder   $6.44 / Week @cardhoarder   $640.61 @tcgplayer   $797.39 @cardkingdom  


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It used to be the main deck of the format, but at the end of the season it has lost some of its strength, mainly due to the meteoric rise of Bant Toxic, a match that is almost impossible to win. But it is still very much present, after all, as mentioned before, it has one of the best late games of the format, with very powerful cards that have a big impact on the board, with sweepers, card advantage, and the best creatures of the format.

It has a well-balanced match against Esper Midrange, but it is favorable against the other midranges. The fact of not having a good match against Bant Toxic, a deck that has become quite popular lately, has led to a decline in the environment; besides, other decks such as UW Soldiers also gained great tools to fight against the deck, with Tishana’s Tidebinder being one of the main cards.

Monored Aggro

Red Deck Wins. Builder: Demian77.MTGO - Magic Online
1st
(10 - 0)
100%
in MTGO Standard Challenge 64 #12607236 [124 Players] 21-Jan-2024
MTG Decks Maindeck (60)
Creature [25]
4  Bloodthirsty Adversary   $16.99
3  Charming Scoundrel   $3.49
2  Feldon, Ronom Excavator   $0.59
4  Kumano Faces Kakkazan   $1.29
2  Monastery Swiftspear   $0.79
3  Phoenix Chick   $0.69
3  Squee, Dubious Monarch   $1.29
1  Thundering Raiju   $0.79
3  Goddric, Cloaked Reveler   $0.79
Instant [12]
4  Play with Fire   $4.99
4  Witchstalker Frenzy   $0.59
4  Lightning Strike   $0.39
Land [23]
3  Mishra's Foundry   $1.79
2  Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance   $5.99
18  Mountain   $0.01
Sideboard [15]
2  End the Festivities   $1.49
2  Furnace Punisher   $0.35
4  Lithomantic Barrage   $1.79
3  Urabrask's Forge   $5.99
2  Nahiri's Warcrafting   $0.69
2  Chandra, Dressed to Kill   $13.99
Buy this deck:

$43.57 Tix @cardhoarder   $1.09 / Week @cardhoarder   $149.24 @tcgplayer   $195.03 @cardkingdom  


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Monored, now and then, appears to pull off a trick and has even achieved some interesting results. It has a very aggressive curve, burn spells for reach damage, and an intriguing sideboard plan with Urabrask’s Forge and Furnace Punisher. It has a very interesting ability to change its game plan against decks with lots of removal, this versatility makes it seldom a bad option for tournaments.

For that very reason, I rank it as the 4th force; it has a fair game against the midranges, especially Esper and UB, has a good matchup against Bant Toxic, but struggles greatly to win against Domain Ramp and isn't so favorable against BG and even UW Soldiers, which used to be a favorable matchup.

Bant Toxic

Bant Toxic. Builder: Razzleflabben.MTGO - Magic Online
1st
(9 - 1)
90%
in MTGO Standard Challenge 32 #12603451 [86 Players] 06-Jan-2024
MTG Decks Maindeck (61)
Creature [17]
4  Crawling Chorus   $0.39
3  Jawbone Duelist   $0.35
4  Skrelv, Defector Mite   $5.99
2  Annex Sentry   $0.35
4  Venerated Rotpriest   $6.49
Instant [19]
3  Bring the Ending   $0.35
2  Charge of the Mites   $0.35
3  Experimental Augury   $0.69
3  Fading Hope   $1.49
4  March of Swirling Mist   $7.49
4  Serum Snare   $0.49
Enchantment [3]
3  Skrelv's Hive   $4.49
Land [22]
2  Adarkar Wastes   $8.99
1  Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire   $8.49
3  Mirrex   $9.49
1  Otawara, Soaring City   $29.99
3  Razorverge Thicket   $2.49
4  Seachrome Coast   $4.99
1  Plains   $0.01
1  Island   $0.01
4  The Seedcore   $1.29
2  Yavimaya Coast   $1.49
Sideboard [15]
1  Charge of the Mites   $0.35
2  Destroy Evil   $1.49
3  Negate   $0.49
4  Knockout Blow   $0.49
2  Disdainful Stroke   $0.35
2  Annex Sentry   $0.35
1  Skrelv's Hive   $4.49
Buy this deck:

$20.19 Tix @cardhoarder   $0.99 / Week @cardhoarder   $178.41 @tcgplayer   $235.08 @cardkingdom  


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I played with this deck and I must confess I didn't like it much, I found that the power level of the cards in general is very weak, but it needs to be respected, even more for having such a favorable match against one of the main decks of the format: Domain Ramp, even taking away the predominance it had in the environment until recently. Venerated Rotpriest is the soul of the deck and it in combination with March of Swirling Mist is a lethal combination that wins several games unexpectedly.

But making a Doomed Traveler with toxic is not exactly my idea of winning games, at least not in Constructed. Although it has an excellent match against Domain, against other midranges it ends up not being very favorable, especially post-side where cards like Brotherhood’s End and Gix’s Command are very effective against this deck. Still, being such a new deck and already having such a big impact on the environment, made it into my top 5 Standard decks.

Two Tier 1 Candidates

Azorius Soldiers

Azorius Soldiers. Builder: remf.MTGO - Magic Online
Top4
(7 - 2)
77%
in MTGO Standard Challenge 32 #12605628 [73 Players] 13-Jan-2024
MTG Decks Maindeck (60)
Creature [26]
3  Lunarch Veteran   $0.79
4  Resolute Reinforcements   $0.79
4  Recruitment Officer   $0.59
4  Zephyr Sentinel   $0.39
2  Harbin, Vanguard Aviator   $0.49
4  Knight-Errant of Eos   $7.99
1  Loran of the Third Path   $4.99
1  Warden of the Inner Sky   $1.79
3  Tishana's Tidebinder   $14.99
Instant [4]
4  Make Disappear   $0.99
Enchantment [6]
4  Wedding Announcement   $20.99
2  Invasion of Gobakhan   $5.99
Land [24]
4  Seachrome Coast   $4.99
3  Plains   $0.01
4  Adarkar Wastes   $8.99
2  Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire   $8.49
4  Fortified Beachhead   $0.69
2  Otawara, Soaring City   $29.99
1  Island   $0.01
2  Cavern of Souls   $44.99
2  Mirrex   $9.49
Sideboard [15]
2  Tocasia's Welcome   $5.99
2  Protect the Negotiators   $0.35
1  The Wandering Emperor   $29.99
1  Surge of Salvation   $1.29
2  Loran of the Third Path   $4.99
1  Destroy Evil   $1.49
3  Lantern Flare   $0.69
2  Get Lost   $7.49
1  Tishana's Tidebinder   $14.99
Buy this deck:

$182.71 Tix @cardhoarder   $4.57 / Week @cardhoarder   $394.79 @tcgplayer   $516.15 @cardkingdom  


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The deck has been achieving very good results, and I only didn't put it in my top 5 because most of these results were accomplished by two people, a couple, actually: remf and ThaisM have been playing many challenges with this deck alone and despite some not so good outcomes, they have several top 8/top 4 finishes. The deck, much like Monored, has a very interesting ability to change its game plan, either playing a more aggressive game, curving early with its low drops, with counters to protect and Knight-Errant of Eos to generate an interesting card advantage while placing a respectable body on the table. The late game is also very good, involving soldiers and a lethal attack with Harbin, Vanguard Aviator. This versatility is one of the points that catch my attention the most about this deck, but unfortunately, not many players have chosen to play with it. It could be a more explored option, as there are many paths to follow, all with a very solid foundation.

Golgari Midrange

Golgari Midrange. Builder: tzio.MTGO - Magic Online
Top8
(4 - 3)
57%
in MTGO Standard Challenge 32 #12605628 [73 Players] 13-Jan-2024
MTG Decks Maindeck (60)
Creature [22]
4  Mosswood Dreadknight   $2.29
4  Deep-Cavern Bat   $0.99
3  Glissa Sunslayer   $4.99
3  Sheoldred, the Apocalypse   $99.99
4  Sentinel of the Nameless City   $1.79
1  Aclazotz, Deepest Betrayal   $5.99
2  Preacher of the Schism   $4.49
1  Tenacious Underdog   $0.59
Instant [6]
2  Go for the Throat   $1.49
2  Bitter Triumph   $2.29
1  Cut Down   $2.29
1  Tear Asunder   $3.49
Sorcery [5]
1  Virtue of Persistence   $20.99
1  Duress   $0.35
2  Dig Up   $0.99
1  Gix's Command   $1.99
Enchantment [1]
1  The Cruelty of Gix   $5.99
Planeswalker [1]
1  Nissa, Ascended Animist   $4.49
Land [25]
4  Restless Cottage   $1.99
1  Takenuma, Abandoned Mire   $12.99
1  Boseiju, Who Endures   $49.99
4  Llanowar Wastes   $2.79
4  Deathcap Glade   $22.99
6  Forest   $0.01
5  Swamp   $0.01
Sideboard [15]
2  Liliana of the Veil   $13.99
2  Duress   $0.35
2  Cut Down   $2.29
1  Tear Asunder   $3.49
2  Path of Peril   $4.99
1  Tranquil Frillback   $6.99
1  The Cruelty of Gix   $5.99
1  Gix's Command   $1.99
1  Breach the Multiverse   $6.99
1  The End   $0.49
1  Anoint with Affliction   $0.35
Buy this deck:

$139.23 Tix @cardhoarder   $3.48 / Week @cardhoarder   $513.80 @tcgplayer   $643.61 @cardkingdom  


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A midrange that also has a lot of potential to become a real tier 1, but in my opinion, a bit inferior to its brother Rakdos Midrange. It has very good cards like Glissa and Nissa, and even the Blossoming Tortoise package with manlands makes it have a very interesting late game, but it suffers a lot against decks that play larger than it, such as Domain Ramp and even its own Esper Midrange, since being a midrange without blue makes it a bit weakened in comparison to its similiars. Maybe it's the closest to entering the top 5 and even more, maybe it would even be fairer to put it in place of Bant Toxic or Monored. However, the results haven't been very helpful, and the fact that it doesn't have a favorable matchup against any tier of the environment renders it an overly average deck.

Final words

As we bid farewell to the current Standard format, I'm struck by its remarkable diversity and the vibrant metagame it has cultivated.Each of the five decks I've highlighted, along with other emerging contenders, stand a real chance of triumphing in competitive play. This is a refreshing change from the lackluster interest of years past and speaks volumes about the health of the meta.

Now, with eager anticipation, we turn our eyes to the influence that Murders at Karlov Manor will have on Standard and beyond. Farewell for now, and may your next draws be ever in your favor!

Until next time!

If you liked this article maybe you will also find interesting on of the following ones 5 New Takes on Pioneer Decks with Wilds of Eldraine by Mogged, The Lost Caverns of Ixalan: Best Pioneer and Standard Cards, The Brother's War Standard Meta Guide, Top 10 best Standard Cards from Wilds of Eldraine by Mogged

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Lucas Giggs
MTG Streamer
Hi, my name is Lucas de Almeida Hervás. I'm 31 years old, married, and I live in Indaiatuba/SP, Brazil. I've been playing Magic the Gathering since 2009, but I've been making a living off of it since 2019 through leagues and tournaments on Magic Online. For those who don't know me, I'm 2.17 meters tall, hence the nickname "the tallest Magic player in Brazil."

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Published: 2024-01-31 00:00:00

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