Last weekend, I played my first matches of Guilds of Ravnica Standard. The format's novel, but, uh, yeah. The results of Saturday's Magic Online PTQ aren't exactly comforting:
MTG PTQ!— Pascal Großmann (@PascalGMTG) October 14, 2018
Grats to Tixis for taking it down!
1. BG Mid
2. BG Mid
3. MonoW Aggro
4. BG Mid
5. BG Mid
6. Jeskai Drakes
7. BG Control?! (Ritual of Soot / Dead Weight)
8, BG Mid
A lot of BG! Felt like I was a favored against it myself on Jeskai, but results indicate otherwise. (1/2)
That's a lot of Golgari! Graveyard stuff is really good at the moment, and the Golgari cards get to play a value game that can grind any deck to dust, backed up by recursion that's tough to interact with. My kingdom for a Tormod's Crypt.
Onto the Top 10.
Now that Standard's more or less crystallized around a few decks, Ionize's spot in Standard decks is a little more clear. It's not super great; much worse than Sinister Sabotage. The blue/red decks don't nickel and dime opponents to death, they take huge chunks of life at a time with cards like Crackling Drake and Expansion // Explosion, so Ionize's particular upside is rendered moot. The card selection on Sinister Sabotage is simply a more valuable commodity.
Post-Innistrad Standard has typically always had a Cancel with upside. Sinister Sabotage joins the ranks of Dissolve, Dissipate, and Disallow as the 1UU card you have to play if you're playing a Standard control deck. I don't love that particular cookie-cutter aspect of Standard (and it's not just Cancels with upside), but if you're aware of the patterns, then you can capitalize on them.
If the past two week's results are any indicator (they are), mono-red, in its current iteration, is not good enough to play. Risk Factor in particular will do a good job at beating up less experienced players who don't realize what the optimal mode is, but as the Risk Factor decks move through the rounds of a given tournament, the card becomes more of a liability. It's cool that a card like that exists, but it still remains a trap.
I go back and forth on Ritual of Soot. It feels like the only real answer to the Golgari decks, but the typical Ritual of Soot deck doesn't have the closing speed to capitalize on sweeping a Golgari deck's battlefield away—the Golgari deck can just Find // Finality back two threats and rebuild. Finding a reasonable answer to the Golgari decks (without just playing the deck yourself) is tough, but in my experience, Ritual of Soot is alright. Not astounding, but alright.
Jeskai's the most appetizing control deck to me. It just gets access to a lot of really good cards. Deafening Clarion is just a cheaper, more versatile Ritual of Soot, and Chemister's Insight breaks grindy mirror matches wide open. The baseline power level of the cards in the deck is just really high.
I got this card in sealed once. It was pretty good! I have no idea why anyone would buy this card, though. Maybe Commander stuff? Maybe Standard elves? I don't know.
Plaguecrafter is really good, especially in the context of Guilds of Ravnica Standard, with all its grindy graveyard-recursive incremental value engines. This card is absurd, and I don't plan on playing in too many more Standard tournaments without it. Did we really need a super-charged Fleshbag Marauder? Probably not! Am I psyched to cast it anyway? Oh yes.
It's the second coming of Sphinx's Revelation... kind of. You probably didn't need the reassurance that Expansion // Explosion isn't quite as good as Sphinx's Revelation, given that it can't prolong games with a small life cushion and give you extra cards simultaneously, but what it can do is nug an opponent for 10 out of nowhere and put you in a prime position to win the game. It's bonkers against the midrange decks running around all over the place, and against control, the threat of it can always keep opponents from tapping low.
Given the way the Magic Online PTQ broke, it still looks like there's no way to beat Golgari decks, but Jeskai decks might be the key to loosening Golgari's vicegrip on the format.