The 2016 TCGplayer Standard State Championships took place last weekend all around the country, and thousands of players came to battle with their masterpieces. We have been excitedly compiling the results and uploading hundreds of Top 8 decklists to our deck database, which you can find here, which I've been constantly refreshing in anticipation of new additions. The decks within paint a vivid picture of the Standard metagame; all of the familiar established archetypes that have been successful in major events over the past few weeks are there, but there are also new and unique decks that reveal Kaladesh contains paths not yet explored. I've looked through all of the decks, and today I want to share the decklists that stood out to me for their creativity and effectiveness
This Five-Color Eldrazi deck that won in New Jersey, for instance:
This deck plays the core curve of colorless creatures that has defined Eldrazi Aggro decks since their inception - Eldrazi Mimic, Matter Reshaper, Thought-Knot Seer, and Reality Smasher. It supports them with all of the best Eldrazi in every color, which is made possible by a robust manabase of five-color lands that also produce colorless mana in Aether Hub, Corrupted Crossroads, Crumbling Vestige, Holdout Settlement, and even Unknown Shores. Splashes include Kaladesh's Scrapheap Scrounger, which is an excellent addition to the deck as an aggressive two-drop that has a lot of creatures to fuel its return, and Ruination Guide, which conveniently pumps Scrapheap Scrounger in addition to the Eldrazi. There are also some fun utility splashes across the color pie including Eldrazi Displacer, Bearer of Silence, Eldrazi Obligator, and even Vile Redeemer! Fleetwheel Cruiser functions like an extra set of Reality Smasher, and it has great synergy here as colorless creature by triggering Eldrazi Mimic and being pumped by Ruination Guide.
Stretching the mana base to add splashes was a common theme last weekend, and many decks found success by amending existing strategies with powerful options afforded by extra colors. An extreme example is the Four-Color Energy Aggro deck that won in Alabama.
This deck is based on the fact that some of the best mana-fixing cards in Standard - Aether Hub, Attune with the Aether and Servant of the Conduit - naturally lend themselves to an energy-centric strategy. These support the most efficient and aggressive energy creatures - Voltaic Brawler and Longtusk Cub - along with powerful splash creatures in other colors. Whirler Virtuoso creates two creatures for the price of one, so it's great against removal and it can convert any extra energy into value. Spell Queller provides excellent disruption against every deck in the format, and Reflector Mage backs up Harnessed Lightning to give this deck a healthy amount of creature removal. What's especially exciting is Woodland Wanderer, which will consistently come down as a 6/6 creature that will dominate the battlefield both offensively and defensively. Tamiyo, Field Researcher is another powerful threat made possible by splashes, which goes further to enable key sideboard disruption like Negate and Ceremonious Rejection.
Another style of four-color is to take a more midrange approach, including using Oath of Nissa to help splash planeswalkers.
A green-white base splashes into Arlinn Kord, Nahiri, the Harbinger, and Tamiyo, Field Researcher, which are supported by great defensive battlefield presence like Sylvan Advocate, Fairgrounds Warden and Thalia, Heretic Cathar. This midrange plan buys time for a powerful Thalia's Lancers-enabled endgame of Gisela, the Broken Blade and Bruna, the Fading melding into Brisela, Voice of Nightmares.
Another theme running through the TCGplayer Standard State Champs results is the success of control strategies, which had a big showing at the Pro Tour before falling in popularity. Last weekend a variety of Jeskai and Grixis control decks found success, but what stands out is the arrival of alternate control decks in other colors.
For example, Esper Control made its way into two Top 8s, and finished as high as second place with its finals appearance in New Jersey.
This decklist combines Torrential Gearhulk and other blue card advantage with the quality disruption in white and black, specifically the versatile and powerful Anguished Unmaking as a fantastic card to cast from the graveyard.
A surprisingly popular deck last weekend was Abzan Control, which earned five Top 8 finishes, and finished third place in Virginia.
Abzan Control is a familiar good-stuff midrange deck that plays all of the best cards in its colors, a mixture of versatile creatures, powerful planeswalkers, and efficient disruption that has game against any type of strategy. This deck is defensively focused, specifically using white removal like Blessed Alliance and Fumigate to contain a format full of aggressive threats.
A more aggressive take made its way to the top four of the event in Missouri.
This deck plays proactively with Smuggler's Copter and Grim Flayer, but it dips into white for the powerful Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and removal like Declaration in Stone. White also provides some strong sideboard cards like Fragmentize to fight against Vehicles.
Mardu midrange decks have also found a foothold in the format in the form of "Solar Flare" style reanimator decks that use Refurbish to get Kaladesh Gearhulk into play ahead of schedule.
This deck's main plan is to use Cathartic Reunion or Tormenting Voice to discard Combustible Gearhulk, Cataclysmic Gearhulk or Noxious Gearhulk, and then put one into play on turn four with Refurbish. It that fails, it can simply start casting gearhulks. Later in the game, Ever After can return two creatures to play to generate massive value. The deck otherwise has a robust midrange plan with a large removal suite that includes pinpoint removal in Declaration in Stone and Ruinous Path, a sweeper in Radiant Flames and even a planeswalker in Nahiri, the Harbinger, which also supports the main reanimator plan as a discard outlet.
An alternative midrange strategy is to ignore the urge of splashing and forgo the benefits of extra colors by staying firmly in two, which the Florida champion used to fantastic success in his White/Black control deck.
This deck looks remarkably similar to the White-Black Control deck of last season, using a curve of planeswalkers topped by Sorin, Grim Nemesis supported by all of the best removal spells available, including Oath of Liliana as a card advantage engine. Familiar removal spells like Grasp of Darkness and Ruinous Path are supplemented with cards like Immolating Glare and Murder, which are concessions to Smuggler's Copter and a world where many threats are flash creatures. Creatures are also an important part of this deck's strategy, and it uses Archangel Avacyn and Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet as threats that will inevitably win the game if the opponent does not answer them.
While white-black was very successful last weekend, it enabled more than just midrange control decks of various flavors. A unique example is this white-black deck that uses the token theme provided by the colors to enact a proactive and synergistic strategy.
Syndicate Trafficker is backed up by Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim to give the deck plenty of sacrifice outlets to trigger Zulaport Cutthroat, which in turn is backed by Marionette Master as an alternative way to kill the opponent by sacrificing artifacts. Fuel for all of this sacrifice comes from token-generators like Servo Exhibition and Weaponcraft Enthusiast or the expendable Scrapheap Scrounger. Angel of Invention is another source of creatures, but it also helps to gives this deck the backup plan of an anthem that helps it win by going wide with tokens, or simply by making a large flyer and winning in the sky.
A more traditional take on white-black is this midrange creature approach that reached the finals in Michigan.
This deck combines early aggressive presence with the powerful endgame of melding Gisela, the Broken Blade and Bruna, the Fading Light. It's capable of early aggressive starts, especially when Scrapheap Scrounger can come back from the graveyard. Always Watching is particularly strong with Gisela, the Broken Blade, which will take over the game when combined with vigilance.
Another variation of the Brisela, Voice of Nightmares endgame is putting it in a green-white shell.
Green contains some of the best midrange creatures in Standard in the form of Sylvan Advocate and Tireless Tracker, and they are good company for a deck looking to buy time to leverage Thalia's Lancers. Green also provides Blossoming Defenses, which can protect Gisela, the Broken Blade from removal.
One of the most fun and synergistic decks to come out of the championship weekend was Red-Green Werewolves, which saw two pilots playing an identical decklist to two Top 8 finishes in Rhode Island, with no sideboards necessary.
Aggressive werewolves like Kessig Prowler, Duskwatch Recruiter and Lambholt Pacifist are backed by tribal payoffs including Silverfur Partisan, Spirit of the Hunt and Howlpack Resurgence. Notice that the deck has a high land count, but flooding shouldn't be a problem with many werewolves providing ways to spend extra mana.
It's easy to dismiss decks that we haven't seen before because we don't understand them or they look too casual or unrealistic, but a strategy that I urge everyone to take note of is White-Blue Panharmonicon, which broke through to the top 8 in Utah.
The premise of this deck is simple: use Panharmonicon to get more value from all of the best cards with enter-the-battlefield abilities. The creature base contains a cast that has already proven itself to be competitive, like Thraben Inspector and Reflector Mage, and the powerful Drowner of Hope along with Eldrazi Displacer, which doesn't trigger itself but can blink other creatures to gain extra value. Cloudblazer gives the deck the ability to draw cards and beat opponents with sheer card advantage. This deck has the makings of a winner, and players have found success with similar strategies online in recent days, so it's something I have my eyes on.
If two colors of enter-the-battlefield abilities aren't enough, check out the Esper Panharmonicon deck that reached the top 8 in Mississippi.
This deck uses Prophetic Prism - which has its own great synergy with Panharmonicon - to enable even more cards that can generate value, like Noxious Gearhulk and Restoration Gearsmith. A fun addition here is Essence Flux, which can blink creatures to get extra triggers from Panharmonicon.
Standard has evolved into a rock-paper-scissors world where Black-Green Delirium, Aetherworks Marvel, and White-Blue Flash are battling for supremacy, but the results of the TCGplayer Standard State Championships and other events around the world show that much more is possible in Kaladesh. It is now, when most decks have become predictable, that unique decks have the opportunity to prepare for and attack their opponents, and their success is apparent. We have entered the time where players are experimenting and trying different variations of established decks, and when deckbuilders are discovering and refining new and complex strategies. I'm excited to see what direction the metagame takes and what other new decks will emerge.
What are your favorite decks from the 2016 TCGplayer Standard State Championships? Take a look through the decklists, and then share your thoughts in the comments. I look forward to hearing about any ideas you have, and l'll answer any questions!