It has been a looooooong time since Standard's felt so good to play this far into a season. There's a clear top tier of archetypes—Golgari, Jeskai, Izzet, mono-red, mono-white that splashes a little red—but each archetype has its own room for specialization and innovation. All of the decks can be built to attack an expected metagame, and one approach isn't more or less likely to succeed than another. Nick Prince wrote about this aspect of Guilds of Ravnica Standard last week. Selesnya Tokens isn't carving up tournaments or anything, but the information Nick has gleaned from sticking with the same archetype and observing how certain cards perform in certain matchups over a substantial period of time paid off in the form of a Classic trophy. From a design standpoint, this has to be the ideal way to get ahead in a Standard format. It just hasn't been like that in a while.

My question is: why is Standard only like this when Ravnica sets come along? It's not just the mana, there's more in play here than just good mana. Every time a Ravnica set's been legal, Standard's had better cards and more of them. The sea-level rises and the waves get less choppy. It's truly annoying that there wasn't a decent Standard since Battle for Zendikar (!), but I plan on enjoying Guilds of Ravnica Standard as long as I can, because HOO WHEE are the decks going to be good once Ravnica Allegiance drops. Things will probably be fine, but there's a good chance Teferi, Hero of Dominaria will get really annoying again. I'm crossing my fingers for another Naya Blitz deck to keeping Teferi, Hero of Dominaria in check. Here's hoping.

#10: Entrancing Melody

Entrancing Melody is a clever piece of Owen Turtenwald tech that gives the Izzet deck a solid piece of interaction in every phase of the game against every deck. It steals a knight token all the way up to Lyra Dawnbringer, Niv-Mizzet, Parun, and beyond.

#9: Chart a Course

The upside to a Standard environment like Guilds of Ravnica Standard is that even playing against the top tier archetypes feels novel because they have so much wiggle room for innovation. The downside is that it can feel tedious to keep up with every deck's iterations. Be that as it may, archetypes still retain a lot of their core elements as the metagame evolves. You still can't play Izzet without Chart a Course.

#8: Rat Colony

Fair enough! Who can resist the siren call of (checks notes) a pile of x-1s?

#7: Crackling Drake

Apparently last week's Modern Open winner had three Crackling Drakes maindeck. Huh.

#6: Lightning Strike

Once a feature of the Mono-Red Aggro deck but getting more and more overlooked all the time for Lava Coil, Lightning Strike's waning presence represents the other half of the results of continued innovations on archetypes. I have no idea why it sold so well last week, but a quick search for it in recent decks comes up nearly void for tournament play. Shrug.

#5: Arclight Phoenix

Last weekend, Arclight Phoenix decks comprised the entire finals of the Modern Open and won both Standard and Modern Classics outright. I suppose the card's legit.

#4: Pyxis of Pandemonium

Why?

#3: Quasiduplicate

There can be only one culprit for mass Quasiduplicate sales:

#2: Galecaster Colossus

I'm a million years past deadline and I have no idea why this card is here. It's good with wizards. Did a wizard get spoiled? Is some wizard stuff happening in Ravnica Allegiance? Who can say?

#1: Mission Briefing

In a bizarre twist of events, Craig Wescoe wrote about Dimir twice in one month.

Bye!

Jon Corpora
(pronounced ca-pora)
@feb31st