I need to start this week with a correction for last week's tier list. Monday night I wrote my article without having fully absorbed Golos Fires, and that was a huge mistake. Golos Fires is the archetype I ended up on after additional testing and discussion with folks to help them prepare for Mythic Championship V.
One of the big things about this article series and my approach to Magic in general is that it's important to admit mistakes in order to move forward in the proper direction. Golos Fires I believe to have a significant edge in the mirror and additional game against some of the otherwise tough matchups because the wishboard grants you access to a lot of very powerful and flexible tools.
More on this later—let's take a look at this weekend's events first.
Both of these events had surprisingly diverse Top 16s, with some really oddball surprises coming through. Temur Reclamation, Dimir Mill Midrange and Temur Walkers are all decks that rose up since last week, taking advantage of what appear to be good matchups against Golos without giving up too much game elsewhere, which is the holy grail of this format.
However these are small early successes, and while these decks are promising I want to see more from them going forward to declare them major players. Combining both events we can get a more holistic view of the metagame.
Taken together, the various Golos flavors make up more than a third of the metagame. This is a domineering metagame share, and anyone playing a competitive event should be either playing it or trying to beat it. You will not see much success with a subpar Golos matchup. Golos is the defining focal point of this format until October 21st when the Banned and Restricted update presumably removes Field of the Dead from the format.
Instead of the usual Hot Take Tier List format, I'm going to make the Golos Take Tier List for the week, talking about each and every deck in terms of Golos.
Decks to Beat
This is the vanilla flavor, the bread and butter Golos deck. You ramp into Golos or a board wipe, and then you take over with Zombies. Kenrith, the Returned King is starting to make its way into every flavor of Golos because of its ability to spend your vast amounts of mana to revive Golos, Tireless Pilgrim and Agent of Treachery while also slamming the door against aggro by gaining a huge amount of life with your excess mana.
So you want to have a pre-board edge in the Golos Mirror but are too scared to play Fires of Invention? This is the Golos deck that wants to win the arms race against Bant Golos but doesn't want to be as soft to things like Disdainful Stroke. It's also a little bit less soft to things like Mono-Red Aggro because you have Risen Reef to actually contest the board.
Yarok, the Desecrated may not gain as much life as Kenrith, but Yarok is hard to remove and works with both halves of Find // Finality incredibly well.
I earnestly believe this is the single most powerful deck in Standard. You have the Field of the Dead and Golos, Tireless Pilgrim engine but you get explosive velocity from Fires of Invention. Fae of Wishes allows you to build a sideboard that has answers for a lot of spots, but also gives this deck an unreal level of both inevitability and closing power.
The key evolution of this deck since its arrival has been to compress the wishboard to allow you real sideboard cards. I worked with Autumn Burchett and Aaron Barich for MCV prep and one of the big discussions we had was what wishes were necessary and then how to spend the remaining sideboard slots. The biggest downside of this deck is a greater weakness to Disdainful Stroke, which continues to rise in popularity.
Decks People Will Play, but Shouldn't Decks That Don't Beat Golos
Selesnya Adventures is a very efficient and powerful deck, but now is not the time for Venerated Loxodon and Giant Killer. While this deck has a significant edge against Not Golos, Golos is the focal point of the format right now. Adding copies of Questing Beast and Gideon Blackblade to the deck does help against Golos, but you can't quite support Vivien, Arkbow Ranger and overall I think the deck is just a tad too slow into Golos's key turns.
However, if Field of the Dead does get banned on the 21st as many assume, this deck looks very good.
People may be confused to continue to see this deck here over and over but I think the deck just has a weak endgame against Golos. Food players' answer to this problem seems to be adopting Deputy of Detention and Disdainful Stroke which are very powerful against Golos. But Teferi, Time Raveler and Veil of Summer remain problem cards for that strategy from the Bant versions that remain the most popular form of Golos. I also think this deck catches a lot of splash hate from several decks looking to just hate on Golos in our next category, but like Seleasnya Adventures this archetype benefits greatly from a Field of the Dead ban.
The Jeff Hoogland special. This deck is designed to put a three-mana planeswalker into play on turn two and then try to close out with hasty threats and Sarkhan the Masterless. This strategy can be remarkably effective against Golos decks because of the lack of interaction in the archetype, but against many other decks in the format the sacrifice of resources and general lack of card quality can hurt the deck significantly.
These decks lean on a combination of planeswalkers and Sarkhan or Cavalier of Flames and Cavalier of Gales to function as a pseudo combo deck and beat Golos. The problem is they can still struggle against Golos depending on the builds of each deck, and they catch a ton of the splash damage from the rest of the format. Questing Beast, Disdainful Stroke and Oko, Thief of Crowns are all fairly problematic for the deck to deal with. Not beating Golos hard enough while getting beat by anti-Golos tech is not a great place to be.
This deck is honestly fairly appealing against Golos, but its own consistency is lacking. There's also a real issue with spot removal decks like Golgari or Selesnya Adventures, as Gruul has no real card advantage. Outside of Golos and Jeskai very few decks are actually worried about one big hasty thing per turn and Oko, Thief of Crowns is a giant pain for this deck to deal with.
Golgari Adventures is the deck I originally said I'd play last week because I think it's reasonably positioned vs. Golos and has a lot of game against the rest of the field. This weekend's builds leaned into Vivien, Arkbow Ranger and Nissa, Who Shakes the World to apply additional pressure and have more haste power to follow up opposing board wipes. These builds look very promising compared to the decks slanting too hard into just beating Golos.
It's back! This is a style of Reclamation deck not seen in a while, but it returned this weekend well positioned against Golos and ready to fight the creature decks with maindeck Flame Sweep. The deck is very aware of its weakness to Teferi, Time Raveler and packs three Mystical Dispute on top of the two Quench and the single Sinister Sabotage. Answering Teferi on the draw is super important to this deck because of how relient it is on casting spells at instant speed to take full advantage of Wilderness Reclamation.
This is very much the early stages of Temur Reclamation but I think that this has what it takes to be a major player even before Field of the Dead gets banned.
However, until that ban occurs this is the deck I'd play. Chance for Glory, Unmoored Ego and Shared Summons allow you to crunch through basically any late-game and the base plan of Golos, Tireless Pilgrim with Fires of Invention means you're going to be well ahead on board because of all the traction you can get with these free spells. Cheating on mana this hard is always powerful, and the addition of Deafening Clarion (or in some builds, Solar Blaze) gives you a power turn on turn four that resets the board going into your five-mana turn, leaving you with plenty of space to take over the game. You haven't lived until you've cast Kenrith, the Returned King for zero mana with seven-plus lands in play.
I know many of you are expecting a metagame breakdown for MCV and I'll be writing one later this week, but I still wanted to do a metagame breakdown for those preparing for events this weekend. This is the last metagame analysis before the Banned and Restricted update on October 21st, and hopefully the last time I get to use this Golos-centric tier list format. As a final parting note, I've been invited to play in this upcoming ELEAGUE, so tune in next Wednesday to watch me play!
Adam "yoman5" Hernandez is a streamer, brewer and competitive player with a keen sense for what makes a deck tick. He writes about changes in the Standard metagame and the art of deckbuilding.
Connect: Twitch Twitter PodBean