When Amonkhet released last week, Standard was shaping up to a be a two-deck format defined by the battle between the Four-Color Copy Cat combo deck and Mardu Vehicles. The announcement that nothing would be banned meant that this would have been the reality for the foreseeable future, but after two days of criticism and pleas from the community, Wizards relented and made the emergency decision to ban Felidar Guardian. In an instant, Standard was transformed from a two-deck metagame to a format with over 20 viable decks, as evidenced by the incredible deck diversity in various events last weekend. Today I'll examine an example list from each of the decks that performed well in events last weekend in an attempt to provide a complete look at the emerging metagame.
The clear best deck after the banning of Felidar Guardian was very clearly Mardu Vehicles, which was left unscathed as the lone top-tier deck in the field. With just two days to prepare for tournaments after the banning, it's also no surprise many players turned to a deck they already knew and maybe even had constructed.
Mardu Vehicles has adopted some Amonkhet tech, specifically Glorybringer as a huge threat and answer to planeswalkers and creatures alike. It doesn't have any particular synergy with the strategy, but it's a very high-power level card that well-worth the cost. It helps Mardu embrace its role as a midrange deck, especially in post-sideboard games, and it's another threat that avoids artifact removal.
Cut // Ribbons is also being included in Mardu Vehicles as an efficient piece of creature removal that comes with some built-in card advantage that gives this aggressive deck an additional way to sneak in damage and close out the game.
Red-White Humans looked like a real contender at the beginning of the season when Aether Revolt was released, and its blazing speed allowed it to race even Saheeli Rai combo decks, but the rise of Walking Ballista and Black-Green Constrictor spelled a quick end for the deck filled with one-toughness creatures. Black-green has seen a massive decline since due to the rise of Copy Cat, and even though it has recovered some popularity after the ban, Humans also has some new Amonkhet tools in its arsenal.
Honored-Crop Captain hits hard as a three-power two-drop, and its ability to pump attackers functions as a pseudo-anthem that takes some of the load off Thalia's Lieutenant and Metallic Mimic. It's a Human that does exactly what the deck wants to do and is thus a perfect fit here.
Glory-Bound Initiate is another two-drop that hits for three, so it's a decent card on its own, especially with exert allowing it to grow and fight past blockers. It's stellar with Always Watching, which this deck includes a set of to enable this synergy and pump the rest of the team.
Amonkhet has brought many new potential decks to the metagame, and they'll have a lot more room to flourish with Felidar Guardian banned. Among the most promising of these new decks is White-Black Zombies, which uses the best of the new Amonkhet Zombies with those already in Standard.
Dread Wanderer gives the deck a playable aggressive one-drop, and its graveyard value makes it a great discard to Cryptbreaker and an inexhaustible threat in the late game.
Lord of the Accursed provides Standard Zombies with a much-needed lord as incentive to flood the battlefield with Zombies. Its activated ability to give menace to the team will push Zombies through blockers and helps the deck stay aggressive, so it's a very valuable tool that's sure to end any stalemate.
Wayward Servant is the primary reason for Zombies decks to move into white, because its ability to Drain Life from the opponent is very potent in a deck filled with creatures and token-producers. It helps kill the opponent quickly, and its lifegain is useful for offsetting that paid by Cryptbreaker.
Another look at Zombies avoids white mana altogether, which makes Westvale Abbey possible. Instead of Wayward Servant this deck uses Metallic Mimic as an additional lord-style creature, but it goes even bigger with Liliana's Mastery as a massive source of battlefield presence and anthem-effect.
An alternative to focusing on the Zombie tribal theme is to instead pick and choose the best of them, like Dread Wanderer, and combine them into an aggressive deck that uses the best of other black creatures and tools, like Glint-Sleeve Siphoner and Liliana, the Last Hope.
One of the best new cards for the strategy is Bone Picker, which is a bit clunky at full cost but extremely efficient at its reduced rate when a creature has died, which isn't unlikely in an aggressive deck full of expendable creatures. Bone Picker is especially strong with Walking Ballista, which can trigger it by killing an opposing creature or just sacrificing itself on-demand.
A simple modification to the aggro manabase can support Unlicensed Disintegration and take advantage of its instant speed and the extra three damage it can deal.
Cut // Ribbons is another great addition, and its ability to help kill an opponent from the graveyard is especially useful in this aggressive deck.
Glorybringer has had many players reminiscing about the glory days of Stormbreath Dragon in Standard, and excited about the possibility for a remaking a new Red-Green Monsters-style deck. This aggressive energy build keeps that deck in mind with its combination of strong threats up the curve and a dose of disruption.
Rhonas the Indomitable is easily turned on in this deck full of large creatures, where it provides a very efficient threat for the strategy.
The most unique from last weekend must be this deck built around improvise that reached the Top 8 of the Pro Tour Qualifier on Magic Online. The deck doesn't really take advantage of Amoknhet, but it's a testament to the sort of the strategies that might have existed in Standard had Felidar Guardian not warped it completely.
Winding Constrictor was once a pillar of Standard, but the rise of Copy Cat nearly completely eliminated it from the metagame. Winding Constrictor is now back in the picture, and the way to get the most mileage out of it is in an energy-based deck full of cards with counter synergies.
Never // Return has replaced Ruinous Path as this deck's answer to planeswalkers, and it doubles as an additional threat that this aggressive deck can always put to good use.
All variety of Black-Green decks are back in the picture as competitive options, and that includes a return to a delirium shell. Manglehorn has been added to the list of great Traverse the Ulvenwald toolbox targets.
Scarab Feast is an effective sideboard card against graveyard strategies that also easily cycles to help fuel delirium, and Tom Ross even found it to be good enough to play main deck.
The banning of Felidar Guardian has opened up room for decks like Green-White Tokens, which tap out to play big threats and Overrun the opponent. Another reason this strategy was relatively weak in the combo era was it lacked great removal spell to disrupt things like the combo, but Cast Out is a new addition that gives the deck a versatile answer to all sorts of other problem permanents it will confront.
Temur Marvel was the best deck in Standard with Emrakul, the Promised End, but the deck took a massive blow with its banning, and the arrival of the Felidar Guardian combo sounded its death knell. Now with that combo gone, Aetherworks Marvel has some room to breathe and find its place in the metagame.
The deck gained a fantastic tool in Censor, which buys valuable time for the combo and helps combat disruption, but with cycling has a low opportunity cost. It helped carry the deck to first place in the MTGO PTQ last weekend.
Some Aetherworks Marvel decks splashed into white for cards like Fumigate or Descend upon the Sinful, but there's new incentive for white with Cast Out as flexible disruption that easily cycles when not needed.
This Naya version of Aetherworks Marvel looks similar to the classic build that included Ishkanah, Grafwidow and splashed for Nahiri, the Harbinger, and it too benefits from the addition of Cast Out.
Temur Tower had a strong case for being the number three deck in the old two-deck metagame, so there's no reason why it shouldn't be a contender now, especially as it has gained great new tools in Amonkhet.
Three Commit // Memory in this build show just how powerful and versatile the card truly is, and it's something control players will be wise to play increasing numbers of going forward.
White-Blue Control takes full advantage of great new control tools in Amonkhet, like Censor and Cast Out, but another fantastic cycling disruption spell is Forsake the Worldly, which cleanly deals with enchantments or artifacts like Heart of Kiran.
The centerpiece of this deck is a full four Pull from Tomorrow, which allows this deck to refuel and dominate its opponents on pure card advantage. Playing a full four copies allows the deck to reliably chain multiples together and keep the cards flowing indefinitely.
Irrigated Farmland is another boon to the strategy as a great land early or a fresh card later in the game.
Blue-Red Control decks were the first to emerge after Amonkhet, where they fought alongside the combo deck, but now it can focus on fighting against the rest of the field with cards like Magma Spray, which is especially useful against Scrapheap Scrounger and Dread Wanderer.
Jeskai Control combines the best of white and red cards with the new blue control tools to create a deck with no lack of power and access to most of the best control cards Standard has to offer, but at the price of a less reliable mana base than two-color builds.
An alternative three-color build is Grixis, which gains access to the all-important Fatal Push for stopping Heart of Kiran.
Shifting the control deck to a green core gives access to the quality card selection of Traverse the Ulvenwald and Vessel of Nascency, along with old favorite Ishkanah, Grafwidow.
This delirium-based deck is the perfect home for Liliana, Death's Majesty, which finds plenty of potential targets for its reanimation ability, even Shefet Monitor.
Blue-Red Thermo Alchemist decks were a real presence for a short period last year, but they faded away after Mardu Vehicles rose to prominence. The deck is back, and is a fine home for Glorybringer.
The Blue-Red Emerge deck has been something of a curiosity that hasn't quite made it to the top-tier, but new additions from Amonkhet show promise in the strategy.
Drake Haven is a perfect fit in a deck full of discard, and it can replace Fervered Visions as something that provides a big advantage but doesn't give the opponent free cards. Bloodrage Brawler is an efficient threat with very little drawback in this deck, so it's a great fit that will help the deck end games faster.
What are you dueling with in this wild west of a Standard format?