The Prakhata Club is highly selective and only the best of the best are allowed in. Even the B-list celebrities of Standard are turned away at the door by the Prakhata Club Security. Today I will reveal who tried to get into the club and was denied and who was allowed in. I recommend staying clear of the cards that were denied entrance to the club. I would also recommend trying to fit as many as possible of the A-List cards mentioned here into your deck.
The chopper has proven itself so far to be the best card in Kaladesh, but I believe it is also the best card in Standard. It just does so much for such a low cost. In aggressive decks it's a three-power evasive threat that attacks on the third turn. It pumps a first-turn Toolcraft Exemplar. It acts as a madness outlet for Fiery Temper out of R/B Aggro and for Voldaren Pariah out of U/B Zombies. It pressures planeswalkers, gets pumped by Depala, Pilot Exemplar and dodges sorcery speed removal. It's very early, but I'm ready to give Smuggler's Copter the full five stars and put it into the same category of format-defining colorless cards that fit into a wide array of Standard decks, an elite category that includes: Cursed Scroll, Rishadan Port, Tangle Wire, Masticore, and Umezawa's Jitte. When Kaladesh finally rotates out of Standard, I predict that we will look back on Smuggler's Copter as very much deserving a spot in this elite group.
Verdict: Smuggler's Copter is not only allowed entrance into the club; the roflcopter is the kind of guest that attracts all the other A-List guests to the club.
While Smuggler's Copter is the best card in Standard, the most powerful card is Emrakul, the Promised End. Emrakul decks only need to run one copy of Emrakul in their deck as long as they have Traverse the Ulvenwald or Nahiri the Harbinger to find it. If they are an Aetherworks Marvel deck, they likely run the full playset alongside a full playset of Ulamog the Ceaseless Hunger. I'm not convinced the Aetherworks Marvel deck is here to stay, but Emerge and Delirum decks almost certainly are and Emrakul is the reason those decks have inevitability. If you don't have a plan to beat Emrakul, then the only viable alternative is to kill the opponent before they can cast her. While Kaladesh has some sweet new options, don't forget about Emrakul.
Verdict: I highly doubt Emrakul will ever be denied access to the club throughout her entire life in Standard.
Jon Finkel made Top 8 of Pro Tour Shadows Over Innistrad with a Black-Green Control deck with a primary game plan to establish inevitability by looping Dark Petition and Seasons Past. The deck stuck around for a while thereafter, but unfortunately Seasons Past no longer provides inevitability due to the existence of Emrakul, the Promised End.
Verdict: A control deck with a late game plan that loses to every other deck's plan that wants to go long is not my idea of a good strategy. Season's Past, you are not allowed into the club.
I'm fairly convinced this is the best of the Gearhulks and also very likely the best thing to do at five mana in green in any deck with a board presence. Nissa, Vital Force is a powerful card, but there is almost no beating a resolved Gearhulk if your game plan is to interact in combat. Board sweepers are much better against the Gearhulk than they are against Nissa, but there aren't very many of those outside of Kozilek's Return and you can at least make the Gearhulk big enough to survive the five damage and often another creature big enough to survive too.
Verdict: Green hulk, welcome to the club. If you're here to smash, good luck finding what you came for.
Steve Rubin ran circles around people at the World Championship with a U/G Crush of Tentacles deck that won the late game with Part the Waterveil. Its strength was preying on the other Emerge decks by going over the top of them. While Emerge is certainly still a strategy, I no longer feel that going over the top in this way is a viable strategy. The aggro decks are too resilient now and they are much more popular than before.
Verdict: The time this deck and its namesake card need to set up simply is not there anymore. Sorry, but you're not on the guest list.
Ramping into Eldrazi used to be a Tier 1 strategy but has since fallen a bit out of favor. At Pro Tour Eldritch Moon there were a few strategies that succeeded at ramping into Eldrazi, especially with the welcomed addition of Emrakul, the Promised End. At that point World Breaker was no longer a centerpiece and became a role player. Some Black-Green Delirium decks also ran a singleton copy as a target for Traverse the Ulvenwald. While World Breaker was practically non-existent in the first weekend of Kaladesh, I predict we will see some Smuggler's Copters getting broken and blocked by this giant Eldrazi pseudo-spider. It might even involve ramping into it on turn four via Servant of the Conduit into Chandra, Torch of Defiance.
Verdict: World Breaker, I'm going to take a chance on you and let you into the club. You're better than people realize right now.
Collected Company is gone, but most other pieces of Bant Aggro are still around, including a functional mana base thanks to Botanical Sanctum. Most planeswalkers have trouble interacting with Smuggler's Copter, but Tamiyo is one of the few that can interact with it just fine since she taps two nonland permanents, which can be a vehicle and a creature if she so desires. I'm a fan of Tamiyo and I think she is poised to become one of the best planeswalkers in the format.
Verdict: Tamiyo, come right on in and do as much field research as you desire.
At Pro Tour Shadows Over Innistrad Westvale Abbey made a huge impact. It added a way to switch on a dime from a "go-wide" strategy to a "go big and kill you in the air immediately" strategy. Moreover, being indestructible meant only exile effects and bounce effects could stop it. This made it very difficult for non-white decks stop it. It has since fallen a bit out of favor, mostly because of Reflector Mage, but I expect to see way, way, WAY less Reflector Mages than before due to Collected Company rotating out of Standard. With that said, the name of the game is no longer to go wide, nor is it to play a deck without exile effects. Although if enough people play instant speed cheap removal to try and combat Smuggler's Copter, I can see Westvale Abbey secretly exploiting a hole in the metagame.
Verdict: For now, though, Emrakul rules the skies and all the white aggro decks run plenty of removal that exiles, so Westvale Abbey is not getting into the club tonight. Good effort, but no.
Radiant Flames is a reasonable card right now, but it fails to deal with Smuggler's Copter. I'm therefore very hesitant to recommend playing that card. Kozilek's Return, on the other hand, can do excellent work, even against the copter. It can clear out the crew for three mana and then ambush an active Copter for five damage at the beginning of combat in conjunction with an emerged Elder Deep-Fiend, another card I like a lot right now.
Verdict: Kozilek's Return is the best board sweeper in Standard. Period. Welcome in and have a good night!
Without Languish around any longer, aggro decks have a full extra turn to attack and set up for a potential wrath. Combine this downside with the fact that Fumigate gets bricked by Selfless Spirit and Archangel Avacyn in addition to being unable to kill Smuggler's Copter, and you have yourself a fairly unexciting Magic card. Sure, you gain some life if it works, and that makes it a little better than Planar Outburst, but neither is allowed into the club. If you want to be on the board wipe plan, get on Kozilek's Return and big colorless Eldrazi that can flash it back.
Verdict: Denied. Fumigate is not where I want to be right now.
I hear you have a helicopter that flies. Guess what? I have delirum and four spiders ready to block all your vehicles along with your whole crew. Ishkanah is also just great in general as it poses six power worth of attackers spread across four bodies, making it resilient to any one-for-one removal spell. Declaration in Stone is not fun to play against, but even then it's a 2-for-1 since you're left with Ishkanah after they blow up your Spider Tokens. It is pretty bad against Kozilek's Return, so I wouldn't go crazy with it, but playing one to tutor for with Traverse the Ulvenwald sounds about right. I like it in Emerge and also in Delirium decks, each of which are fine choices right now.
Verdict: Come on in, spiderwoman. You're on the guest list.
The Black Avacyn showed up in Sam Black's Blue-Black Zombies deck at Pro Tour Eldritch Moon. The deck primarily preyed on Bant Company decks, which no longer exist, while having a tough time against Green-Black Delirium and the various Emerge decks that were played in that tournament. While these bad matchups still exist, the Black Avacyn has a new partner in crime in Smuggler's Copter. Now when you attack on turn three with Smuggler's Copter, crewed by Cryptbreaker, you can loot with the Copter and madness Voldaren Pariah onto the battlefield. I'm not sure if the deck will be mono black or remain u/b, but splash blue for Jace, Vryn's Prodigy is no longer necessary. You might even find more utilize from red, green, or white as a secondary color. You even get Scrapheap Scrounger to alongside your Prized Amalgams.
Verdict: Much like with World Breaker, we haven't seen the deck yet, but I'm willing to grant entrance into the club based on the ceiling that the Pariah brings alongside the format's MVP.
Sylvan Advocate almost made the list, but decided not to show up at the door of the club this time. Despite being an auto-include near the top of the list for the past six months, Sylvan Advocate didn't want to run the risk of getting denied entrance. Undeterred, Tireless Tracker was a bit more ambitious and decided to show up.
"Sure, the format is faster now, but I'm still great!" Actually, Tireless Tracker, you're wrong. Not only do you get run over by vehicles but you rarely have an opportunity to gain value before merely trading off for an opposing… one-drop? Yeah, par for the course is three power for one mana nowadays.
Verdict: Paying three mana for a 3/2 or even four mana for it and getting a clue is simply too slow. Sorry Sherlock, but we're tired of seeing you here at this club. It's time for you to backtrack from where you came.
There aren't many six-cost midrange cards I like right now, but Linvala is one of the most interesting choices. You can play your own vehicles and not have them count toward Linvala's creature count or you can simply keep opposing creatures at bay with something like Deadlock Trap or untapped creature-lands threatening to block. Either way, gaining life is big right now in this aggro-bent format and having fewer creatures on the battlefield than the opponent is not hard to pull off right now for similar reasons. And the payoff of not only gaining five life but also getting a pair of highly relevant bodies, both of which can block Smuggler's Copter, is a huge upside.
Verdict: I'm not sure where the best home is for Linvala right now, but maybe a white-blue control deck with Dovin Baan? Either way, the card seems really good right now and she's on the guest list.
There's a simple test you must pass to make it onto the guest list: If I use Depala, Pilot Exemplar or Veteran Motorist to crew my Smuggler's Copter and attack your planeswalker the turn after you cast it, will your planeswalker die? If yes, then you're not on the guest list. This includes: Liliana, the Last Hope, Nissa, Voice of Zendikar, Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, Saheeli Rai, Arlinn Kord, and most other planeswalkers.
Jace, Unraveler of Secrets got so excited when Jace, Vryn's Prodigy was about to rotate out of Standard. Vryn's Prodigy was the biggest thing holding back five-mana Jace from being played (due to planeswalker legend rule). However, Jace, Vryn's Prodigy was replaced by a new two-mana pseudo-creature that loots each turn and will similarly keep Jace, Unraveler of Secrets from being relevant, but for a different reason. This time it's because you can't bounce a vehicle with Jace and if you bounce anything else, they can just replay that creature and use it to crew the copter to kill Jace since Jace goes down to three loyalty when you bounce something.
Verdict: The planeswalkers certainly aren't altogether unplayable, but I feel that most of them are sideboard cards now instead of maindeck inclusions. Standard is just not about planeswalkers anymore. Now it is about vehicles and eldrazi, more specifically Smuggler's Copter and Emrakul, the Promised End.