Throne of Eldraine week one is finally in the books, and it's been the wildest rotation Standard has ever seen. People had access to the format almost two weeks early, and the metagame saw a metric ton of churn before the big release weekend events. My own tier list had the decks to beat as Bant Ramp and Bant Golos, but by the weekend Bant Ramp had started to lose popularity despite Jessica Estephan's Top 4 with the deck, and Bant Golos's popularity skyrocketed. Fast forward to Sunday evening and we had the results in from the winner's metagame of both the SCG Classic and the standard MOCS event:
While the Classic was run over by Adventure decks with more than half the Top 8 wielding a playset of Edgewall Innkeeper, the archetype was nowhere to be seen in the MOCS, where Bant Golos was half of the Top 8 and more than half of the Top 16. These two tournaments tell pretty different stories, but we can combine them into a composite metagame for the weekend:
This paints a pretty stark picture of the metagame. If we just go by these results, we could set some pretty traditional tiers.
Tier 1: Bant Golos, G/x AdventuresTier 2: Mono-Red Aggro, Jeskai Fires, Bant RampTier 3: Everything Else
However, that's a bit misleading, because it's the metagame for last week. As much as people may complain that Bant Golos is too good, we'll definitely continue to see some shifts. An almost 40% metagame share simply cannot hold without being exploited, especially where there are now some pretty clear pillars in the format. While it may be earlier for this to happen than in previous formats, we're already at the stage where players can pick on the "established" metagame. As I see it, the current pillars of the format are these four macro archetypes:
1: Golos, Field of the Dead and five-mana board wipe2: Aggro with Edgewall Innkeeper3: Mono-Red Aggro4: Small wipes, Fires of Invention and closing power
This may look a bit abstract, but when attempting to metagame, it's more important to focus on what these strategies do and how to attack them than it is to look at specific 75s. The entire tier list this week is going to focus on these four pillars and why decks do or don't line up well against them.
Let's not beat around the bush: this deck is currently #1. It's the biggest metagame share for a reason. Thanks to Once Upon a Time, the deck allows you to play a very consistent game of ramping into either Golos or Realm-Cloaked Giant // Cast Off and then drowning your opponent in card advantage and/or Zombie tokens.
My own choice for the weekend, Selesnya Adventures, took the Classic trophy in the hands of Aaron Barich. She took the build I had been advocating for and adjusted it to almost preboard for the Golos matchup, correctly identifying that it would be the most popular deck of the weekend. Maindeck copies of Questing Beast, Gideon Blackblade and Unbreakable Formation allow this deck to more efficiently close the game against Golos, forgoing otherwise dead removal spells like Conclave Tribunal. In terms of lining up against the format, I think Selesnya Adventures continues to stay strong against both Fires decks and Mono-Red, and with a more even matchup against Golos, the place to look is the Adventures mirrors and pseudo-mirrors. Unfortunately Golgari versions get access to Legion's End, which is very potent against Edgewall Innkeeper and a few other cards that make up for Golgari's inability to match Selesnya's wide boards.
Golgari Adventures took the mantle of Golgari Aggro and did very well over the weekend. This archetype takes the strong midgame of Questing Beast and Rankle, Master of Pranks and combines it with a more efficient early game in the Adventures package. Previous versions of black-green or Jund adventures decks leaned on Lucky Clover, which was simply too clunky and too slow. These more recent builds are much more efficient, actually pressuring the opponent early and making the removal suite much more effective as a result. Legion's End and Assassin's Trophy cover a lot of bases against Adventure mirrors, Mono-Red, Fires of Invention and Field of the Dead. Golgari Adventures looks poised to take this weekend down, and I wouldn't play any deck that doesn't have at least a reasonable matchup against it.
Yes, it Top 4'd the Classic. No, you shouldn't play this deck. Look at the four pillars. It's only good against one of them, and it's the one with the least metagame share: Fires of Invention. I understand that people love tempo decks, but this deck lacks the tempo necessary to truly pull that off. You can't out-tempo Edgewall Innkeeper decks or Mono-Red Aggro. Your cards cost too much, and double spelling is far too difficult. One-for-one is just not how you want to trade against these decks, and while you can potentially keep Golos decks off-balance for just long enough to win, you're going to get wrecked in most games where they draw Arboreal Grazer.
Mono-Black Aggro did Top 8 the MOCS, but I'm not sold that it's actually a top-tier contender. We can play the good cards from this deck in Golgari Adventures, and I don't know how well positioned Priest of Forgotten Gods actually is. Spawn of Mayhem is the biggest draw to this archetype, but we don't actually need to be monocolor to play it. I could be undervaluing Castle Locthwain, but I remain wholly unimpressed by the way it lines up against the top pillars.
This one may come as a surprise to people. It won the MOCS, and it Top 4'd the Sapphire split of the MPL. Why am I down on it? I think it's not actually well positioned against Bant Golos or the Adventures decks. As the Golos decks race each others' endgames to win the mirror, they're incidentally also gaining percentage points here. This is a shot I may regret calling, but I think it's largely a case of the wrong week. Most of the pillars just don't care about Oko and can overwhelm your small interaction package. Hydroid Krasis alone cannot carry this deck in the upcoming metagame.
Jeskai Fires has started to come down on the more all-in versions and play a more consistent game. The deck has adopted more defensive tools to live long enough to pull off its game plan in Fae of Wishes // Granted, Deafening Clarion, Prison Realm and Realm-Cloaked Giant // Cast Off. Folks are also starting to play Shimmer of Possibility to make sure that they have access to either Fires or their defensive tools because the biggest problem for the Fires decks was drawing the wrong portion of their deck at the wrong time.
My biggest concern with the builds from this weekend going forward is that the wishboard is too large. People will be packing Duress, Negate and Disdainful Stroke, and not having access to real sideboard cards will hurt this deck when people are targeting it harder. Learn from Karn, the Great Creator in Modern. Play the wish targets you will use most, but cut the cute stuff to fit real sideboard cards to fight back. I do think that this archetype isn't being talked about to the degree it deserves and will probably enjoy another quietly successful weekend while it refines further.
Aaron Barich put this archetype back on the map in the middle of last week, taking and maintaining #1 Mythic for several days. This is one of the most favored decks against Bant Golos and will have a lot of success if Golos continues to be such a large portion of the metagame. Jeskai Fires is one of the decks Aaron noted as worrying, because the combination of Deafening Clarion and an actually quick clock means that Mono-Red doesn't get the time it wants to finish burning the opponent out. The matchup against Venerated Loxodon and Lovestruck Beast // Heart's Desire is a bit worrying, but Experimental Frenzy goes a long way in these matchups, and if people lean towards Golgari, Lovestruck Beast is a little less good at attacking. I do think Mono-Red may still be a tier below the top decks, but it's continually getting no respect and that will be to its favor this weekend.
Gruul decks don't have the best mana, but they do have access to some incredibly well positioned threats. This is easily the least polished of these archetypes and part of why it's not very respected, but I do think that the core of hasty threats and Bonecrusher Giant // Stomp is very well positioned. If someone can figure out how to make the mana work and how to balance the last slots after the core build I think this archetype has a lot of potential to spike the weekend. It's got large bodies and racing potential vs Mono-Red Aggro, hasty threats to close against Golos decks after a wipe, Shock and evasive creatures against Adventures decks, the ability to almost go toe-to-toe on power with Jeskai Fires and resilience to Deafening Clarion.
If I had more time before submitting this article, I would want to look at Jund Adventures, but not the kind with Lucky Clover. Gruul decks have been popping up here and there on Arena, and I think that combining the good threats in red and green with Order of Midnight // Alter Fate, Assassin's Trophy, Legion's End and Find // Finality might be a very powerful place to be this weekend. Keep an eye on my Twitter as the week goes on because if I find the right build, I'll put it there. As is, I want to work from Kellen Pastore's build because Massacre Girl is an excellent mirror-breaker when you're set up well against the rest of the field. It's potentially incorrect to cut a Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage, but I think that a second Thrashing Brontodon will give the deck a boost against both Jeskai Fires and Mono-Red Aggro.
While I haven't had a chance to play with this revised build just yet, here's how I would sideboard.
Here you want to cut these clunky spot removal spells and bring in the planeswalkers to pressure their ability to execute. If you have another Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage or Ashiok, Dream Render in your build, bring those in as well. Noxious Grasp comes in to answer Kenrith, the Returned King or Deputy of Detention. If you see Time Wipe in addition to Realm-Cloaked Giant // Cast Off you can consider Duress.
In the mirror you need to be able to answer Questing Beast, Rankle, Master of Pranks and Edgewall Innkeeper. Murderous Rider // Swift End is the only card capable of answering all of them but it's also the most clunky and expensive. Legion's End can also nail Order of Midnight // Alter Fate to stop recursion. Massacre Girl and Find // Finality may seem out of place here, but when both players are grinding these one-sided board wipes can be a large advantage.
Noxious Grasp is just Terminate in this matchup. Leverage that hard. Legion's End, Massacre Girl and Find // Finality are all huge trump cards in this matchup. Beware of cards like Veil of Summer, however, as they're still much faster than you at deploying to the board and can use these pieces to disrupt your removal.
This matchup is still pretty good for the Adventures decks, we just have Duress to bring in as Golgari. Not a whole lot to say about this matchup besides run them over and abuse the fact that they can't answer Edgewall Innkeeper.
If you have Veil of Summer in your build it's excellent here as well, because Legion's End is their best way to beat Edgewall Innkeeper besides Disfigure. Take out Priest of Forgotten Gods wherever possible, as even with Innkeeper it's a pain to grind through. Epic Downfall is to answer Spawn of Mayhem, Rankle, Master of Pranks and Ayara, First of Locthwain.
Answer Oko, Thief of Crowns, answer Wicked Wolf, answer Hydroid Krasis. We can apply pressure in this matchup and need to focus on answering these three cards that stop us from running them over. It's possible we don't need all three Duress and can keep in either the fourth Murderous Rider // Swift End or another Once Upon a Time.
If you have extra Davriels pack them all in this matchup. They're naturally going to be constrained on resources with Fires of Invention, and stripping cards away makes it very difficult for them to play their game plan. Focus on taking their sweepers with Duress as those are the cards that actually beat you (not Fires of Invention).
I'm less certain of this plan, but Order of Midnight // Alter Fate can't block or apply a good clock and I think trading them out for efficient removal, Thrashing Brontodon and Duress allows you to trade resources and focus on answering Experimental Frenzy, their core angle to win postboard games.
If the opponent is playing Voracious Hydra or Growth-Chamber Guardian you can consider leaving in some number of Legion's End. This matchup is hard to write a good sideboard guide for because a standard list doesn't exist. Epic Downfall is very strong here and Massacre Girl can actually be a great angle of attack because Gruul Aggro struggles on card advantage and mostly relies on hasty threats to close out against sweepers. Unlike Bant Golos, we have the spot removal to clean up any remaining hasty threats and they can't simply jam Questing Beast into Massacre Girl after she wipes their board.
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.
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