The last two weeks of Standard have quite honestly been the most exciting and fun I’ve seen in MTG: Arena thus far. The Core Set 2019, which I’ve personally had zero expectations from, has shaken up the meta, de-polarized it and turned it into a magic christmas land where anything goes and no deck dominates supreme.
There has been a lot of movement and changes in meta share of different decks, and for the first time since we’ve started releasing the Meta Snapshot, Mono-Red aggro has been dethroned (by a dirty red deck, but still, a girl can dream). Green continues to gain ground as it’s Core 2019 additions prove to be highly effective against other popular decks, opening the way for the other midrange decks as well. God-Pharaoh’s Gift decks, both in the standard Azorious and the various Supplier variants have made a showing but their popularity has decreased slightly due to the abundance of main-deck Abrades.
A deck that’s slowly been appearing on the ladder, but hasn’t quite broken into the top 10 yet, is Bant Turbofog. We’ve decided to give it a special mention due to its performance and popularity at this weekend’s Pro Tour.
This is David Williams’ Pro Tour version of Bant Turbofog, one of the oldest recurring control types. The deck relies on
Root Snare and
Haze of Pollen as
Fog effects (which the deck is named after), until they manage to lock down their opponent by taking near infinite turns and finally killing them with
The deck is rather powerful against aggro and midrange and will almost certainly find its way into the metagame and should that happen, inevitably earn the title of the most hated deck in standard.
As we've predicted in the last Snapshot, Rakdos aggro has not only regained its popularity, but found its way to the very front of the pack. Due to its resilience, tenacity and incredible early and mid game, this
aggressive midrange deck is now finally the most popualr archetype in both, Arena and paper Magic.
The deck itself remains more or less exactly what it was before the Core Set. A somewhat slower Hazored trading a bit of its speed and consistency for the incredible black sideboard options and Scrapheap Scrounger.
Stompy is probably the old archetype that has gained the most with Core Set 2019. Both directly through cards, and indirectly in terms of meta shift that allowed them to break back into it in full force.
Green or Green-black stompy aims to overwhelm the opponent quickly by deploying highly efficient creatures quickly, often breaking the mana curve and requiring an immediate answer from the opponent. Ghalta, Primal Hunger, Greenbelt Rampager and Steel Leaf Champion make up the core of the deck, assisted by Llanowar Elves, vehicles and insanely powerful green-black sideboard options.
Thorn Lieutenant and Vine Mare are both incredible Core Set 2019 additions to the deck. Each card in its own way extends a middle finger to the 1-for-1 trading control generally aims for, while simultaneously smoothing out the curve and increasing the speed and consistency of the archetype.
Esper control remains largely unchanged. By far the most popular variants are essentially a Dimir control list splashing white for
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, with an occasional splash for another white card. There has been a slight increase in the popularity of a “full” esper control that commonly includes
Settle the Wreckage,
Fumigate and sometimes even
Approach of the Second Sun, but they are still vastly less popular than their alternatives.
Esper control relies on early 1-for-1 trades before stabilizing through the use of Teferi, Torrential Gearhulk and sometimes The Scarab God. Chromium, the Mutable provides the archetype with another excellent sideboard option against control mirrors, and some are even utilizing the somewhat controversial Nexus of Fate.
Grixis has made quite an entrance with Core Set 2019. On the wings of
Nicol Bolas, the Ravager, this tricolor combination is rising to be the most popular one in MTG: Arena, and it’s hardly surprising. Grixis has access to some of the best cards in the Standard pool as a whole, which allows its sideboard options to transition between aggressive midrange and grindy
control without breaking a sweat.
The archetype is extremely diverse as players created different variants (Rb aggro, UB Midrange, Grixis goodstuff...), but at its core are The Scarab God and Nicol Bolas, the Ravager, aided by Glint-Sleeve Siphoner, Vraska’s Contempt and a combination of removal/disruption spells. The main difference between archetypes seem to be their focus in game one, where it will target either control or aggro, and then sideboards for the opposite matchup.
A full blown dragon, control and even aggro variants of Grixis are showing on the ladder but various midrange lists are the most popular right now. It will be interesting to see how the archetype develops in the coming weeks.
Mono-red aggro derives its power from an explosive and consistent early game that transitions seamlessly into mid and sometimes even late game. Currently, the two most popular lists on the ladder are
the original Hazored list and the, previously less popular,
Flame of Keld list. The Hazored version uses hasty, evasive creatures in the early game and
Rekindling Phoenix and
Chandra, Torch of Defiance to seal the game.
Currently the more popular of the two, Flame of Keld is a glass-cannon list that packs burn and small creatures to unload their hand as fast as possible and refill it using Bomat Courier and Flame of Keld, the latter doubling down as finisher.
UW control is based around stalling the opponent through use of counterspells and removal, eventually stabilizing with a board wipe (either
Settle the Wreckage) and locking the opponent down with
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. The deck’s win condition is generally
Approach of the Second Sun or some form of beatdown (
History of Benalia or
UW Control gained back some of the popularity the archetype lost in the first weeks of the new standard meta. It's ability to clear the opponents board and not simply rely on 1-for-1 removal allows it to be tter deal with hexproof and otherwise hard-to-deal-with creatures.
One could say there are as many GPG variants as there are colors of the pie, and they’d be quite on point. While each individual combination wouldn’t quite make the list, the most popular 3 combined (UBx, BGx and UW) compile a very significant portion of the
The best way to break down GPG lists however is not by color, but rather by the means of cheating this powerful reanimation engine into the game. Refurbish was by far the most common option, relying on a relatively small number of creatures and a ton of spells like Strategic Planning and Chart a Course to fill its graveyard. The list works as a pseudo-control list and hasn’t changed at all with the Core Set addition. You can find a guide and a deck list variant here.
A teeny weeny zombie called Stitcher’s Supplier has made it incredibly easy to cheat GPG into the game via Gate to the Afterlife and single handedly weaving a horde of different lists utilizing it to build a more aggro/midrange variant of the archetype. Golgari, Dimir, Sultai and even Abzan have all made quite an impression and will hopefully refine into beautiful new reanimation decks before the rotation.
The little snake that could, Winding Constrictor, has had some good times but has really suffered in Dominaria meta. It’s strategy built around counters has a significant counter-synergy with the oh-so-popular Soul-Scar Mage and Goblin Chainwhirler combination and is rather sensitive to board wipes.
Dimir midrange is probably the most surprising list that made the top 12 to me personally. It’s popularity fluctuated in the Dominaria standard and the deck really only made it top in Arena towards the end, its popularity prompted by its success in
paper GPs. Nevertheless, UB Midrange lists are quite popular, and albeit some of them splash red for the baby Nicol, their core remains unchanged.
Glint-Sleeve Siphoner, Champion of Wits, The Scarab God and premium black removal are the bread and butter of UB Midrange lists, sometimes complemented with an odd counter spell here and there. The real power of the list (as with most black ones) comes from the hand disruption and reactive options available in games 2 and 3.
Historically a mono-white strategy revolving around a flood of low cost, small bodied creatures, anthem effects and synergies revolving around those. The strategy’s been more or less soft-banned from Dominaria Standard due to prevalence of
Goblin Chainwhirler, but is slowly making a come back with Core 2019.
A new Weenie archetype that's emerged in the last week or so, is a Knight tribal that curves into mid-game angels.
|Meta Snapshot: Core Set 2019||Meta Snapshot II||August 05, 2018||v786_640159|
|Meta Snapshot: Core Set 2019||Meta Snapshot||July 22, 2018||v786_640159|
|Preliminary Meta Snapshot: Core Set 19||Preliminary Snapshot||July 12, 2018||v786_640159|
|Meta Snapshot: Kaladesh||Snapshot II||July 01, 2018||v744_635428|
|Meta Snapshot: Kaladesh||Snapshot I||June 17, 2018||v727_633495|
|Preliminary Snapshot: Kaladesh||Preliminary Snapshot||June 07, 2018||v727_633495|
|Snapshot - Dominaria III||Snapshot III||June 03, 2018||v667_618725|
|Snapshot - Dominaria II||Snapshot II||May 20, 2018||v667_618725|
|Snapshot - Dominaria I||Snapshot I||May 06, 2018||v667_618725|
|Preliminary Snapshot - Dominaria||Preliminary Snapshot||April 26, 2018||v667_618725|
|Meta-Snapshot II||Snapshot II||April 16, 2018||v607_607936|
|Preliminary Meta-Snapshot||Preliminary/Snapshot||April 01, 2018||v607_604597|
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