Hello everyone! The Khans of Tarkir Prerelease is behind us and I hope everyone had a great time. I played in two flights, choosing Mardu in the first and Temur in the second. My Mardu deck was pretty bad and was just not aggressive enough for Mardu. I had no bombs and no way of dealing with my opponent's threats. Looking back, I should have probably not even played Mardu with my pool. I had some strong blue and green cards and my Temur may have been better.
For my Temur flight, my deck was awesome. I had a powerful RG deck with lots of removal and I splashed blue for Surrak Dragonclaw and few bounce spells. I easily won all of my matches and split in the Top 4. Overall I was very happy with the prerelease and the set looks like tons of fun. I'm really looking forward to drafting the set to prepare for GP Orlando and PT Khans of Tarkir in the next few weeks.
Speaking of the Pro Tour, it's less than three weeks away which means that I really won't be discussing much Standard tech before then. Many pro players are a part of teams and aren't allowed to reveal any potential decks or Standard interactions they are discussing. While I can't really share much with you guys, I'd love to give you my general thoughts on the format and how it's shaping up. Today I'm going to be discussing cards that I think have become better with the release of Khans and cards that were very strong before the rotation and have gotten worse. Without further ado, here are the cards.Top 5 cards that worsened after the rotation
5. Hall of Triumph
Hall of Triumph didn't see too much play before and was mostly played in White Weenie and single-colored devotion decks like Monoblue and Monored. Once M15 was released the Hall saw play in Rabble Red. What Hall has going against it is its legendary supertype. You generally want to play as many Glorious Anthem effects as you can in your aggro decks but with Hall of Triumph, drawing two is redundant.
With Khans of Tarkir focusing on three colored decks, Hall of Triumph will have little use in Standard. We're going to be seeing slower, more midrangy decks with different colored creatures and Hall of Triumph just won't work in those decks. Even in single-colored devotion decks that survived the rotation, such as monogreen, you're not going to want Hall. The smaller creatures in green devotion will be composed of mostly mana creatures and there isn't really a point in pumping them up. Even the aggressive decks will be a bit slower and would not want to use up a precious three-drop slot with Hall. I do think Hall is a great card but just not in this Standard format.
4. Satyr Firedancer
Satyr Firedancer was a staple in RW Burn decks and with the core of that deck being gone, Satyr Firedancer no longer has a place in Standard. It's a very fragile creature that forces you to play a lot of burn spells to make it good. While burn is usually a viable strategy in Standard, you are going to be playing against creatures such as Polukranos, World Eater, Surrak Dragonclaw, Siege Rhino, and Savage Knuckleblade. Creatures are huge now and playing a strategy revolving around Satyr Firedancer probably isn't going to work.
3. Eidolon of the Great Revel
Eidolon of the Great Revel is an amazing card and when it saw print in Journey into Nyx, it immediately found homes in RW Burn, Red Deck Wins, Monored Devotion, and then in Rabble Red when M15 was released. Eidolon was so good that it even saw play in Modern and Legacy Burn decks. Naturally a card that is good enough for Legacy is surely a Standard powerhouse right?
I actually think that Eidolon will hurt you much more than it will hurt your opponent. First of all, Standard decks with Khans just cost more mana on average. Creatures cost three to four mana and even removal spells like Utter End and Murderous Cut cost more than three. Delve decks will just find Eidolon's ability laughable and most midrange and control decks will just go over the top on you. Eidolon's ability is just so easy to play around these days. It would be pretty embarrassing to have Eidolon in play and for your opponent to cast a Siege Rhino. Not only will you have to suffer a six point life swing, but you will probably have to cast other cheap spells and lose even more life just to deal with the Rhino. Unless something changes, we'll have to leave Eidolon for Modern and Legacy.
2. Chained to the Rocks
Oh, how I want Chained to the Rocks to be good. With everyone playing giant, expensive creatures, it seems like Chained to the Rocks is the ultimate tempo-gaining removal spell. The problem is with Return to Ravnica rotating out of the format, casting Chained to the Rocks has become much harder. Before we had Sacred Foundry in addition to the Mountains we were playing, but in Khans Standard, two color manabases will consist of Mana Confluences, Battlefield Forges and Temple of Triumph in addition to Mountains and Plains. You're going to want to run a decent number of Mountains in order to make Chained to the Rocks castable and I just don't see that happening unless you choose to run Evolving Wilds in your deck. If you are playing a three color deck, don't even think about playing Chained to the Rocks because it will be nearly impossible.
Chained to the Rocks is a great removal spell, but right now it just seems way too unreliable to cast in Standard. I think there is still hope with Evolving Wilds in the format but you are probably better off playing Banishing Lights and Suspension Field to Remove large threats, or even adding black for Utter End.
1. Thassa, God of the Sea
This former Standard powerhouse is now much, much weaker thanks to enablers like Tidebinder Mage, Nightveil Specter, and Frostburn Weird leaving the format. Now, if you want to build a Thassa deck, you have to rely on single devotion creatures like Master of Waves, Vaporkin and Omenspeaker. Of course, Jace, the Living Guildpact and Bident of Thassa do a good job of providing enough devotion for Thassa, but getting to five devotion is now much harder than it was a year ago. Additionally, there are so many ways to get around Thassa's Indestructibility. Between Banishing Light, Deicide, Utter End, and Suspension Field, it's going to be really hard to keep a Thassa on the table. While Monoblue Devotion might be unplayable in this new Standard format, there is no doubt in my mind that one of the cards in the deck, Master of Waves, is still a real card. I think that there is a deck that exists with Master of Waves, but it probably does not include Thassa, God of the Sea.Top 5 cards that improved after the rotation
5. Reaper of the Wilds
I've always liked Reaper of the Wilds and it was my go-to card for every BG deck I built for Theros Block Constructed. While I really wanted it to see more play in Standard, it was competing with four-drops such as Polukranos, World Eater, Xenagos, the Reveler, and Desecration Demon. Your four mana spells have to be powerful in order to make the cut in Standard, and Reaper was just not on the same level as these four-drop powerhouses.
Reaper of the Wilds is best in a midrange deck, and as we all know Jund is the midrange deck that just never seems to go away. Reaper of the Wilds fits perfectly into a Jund shell. It is very resilient to removal with the ability to gain hexproof, and with the format moving from mass removal effects like Supreme Verdict and Planar Cleansing to spot removal like Utter End and Hero's Downfall, Reaper of the Wilds is going to be very hard to Remove from the battlefield. The fact that you get to scry every time a creature dies is just gravy. You are likely going to be playing a lot of removal yourself and the extra scrys will help you get rid of chaff and get you to what you need.
4. Purphoros, God of the Forge
Don't get me wrong, Purphoros was a strong card in Return to Ravnica/Theros Standard, but it was mostly played in red devotion decks with the hope of making Purphoros into an indestructible creature. I think that after the rotation Purphoros will change roles entirely and go from shining in a monored deck to being an all-star in a two or three color token deck. The best part about Purphoros is not his Indestructibility or his power and toughness, but rather his interaction with your other creatures. With Elspeth being one of the best cards in the format and token-producing cards like Raise the Alarm, Hordeling Outburst, and Sorin, Solemn Visitor seeing print, Purphoros has the potential to do some serious damage. I'm looking forward to trying out Purphoros in a RW shell with Goblin Rabblemaster and Brimaz, King of Oreskos. Even if the tokens you make just die to chump attacking, you have the ability to deal tons of extra damage with Purphoros on the battlefield.
3. Prognostic Sphinx
Prognostic Sphinx was another one of my favorite cards from Theros block that I wished saw more play. Unfortunately the Sphinx just wasn't good in a format full of Supreme Verdicts and Desecration Demons. The ability to scry three is very powerful when you're playing a midrange deck with situational removal spells. You will always know what you will draw every turn and having that information will surely give you a huge advantage in your games. It's not too hard for your opponent to stop you from attacking with your Sphinx. They can just throw a removal spell at it at the beginning of combat, forcing you to discard a card and tap the Sphinx. You will likely be trading a land or something irrelevant for their best instant speed removal spell, and over the course of the game that will add up. Additionally, they will be tapping out during your combat step, which gives you better information on how to play out your second main phase.
There are a lot of really good multicolored creatures in Khans of Tarkir and many of them are better than Prognostic Sphinx. However, most of these creatures require you to play three colors and with Prognostic Sphinx only needing Islands to cast him, I think he will be the finisher of choice in most two color blue decks. 3/5 is big and he does get around most other flyers. Being able to survive Stoke the Flames is also very relevant.
2. Dictate of Heliod
Dictate of Heliod is another spell that fits perfectly in the token strategy, but it's a great card in any White Weenie deck. Most swarm decks have played Obelisk of Urd, a sweet Anthem effect that can hit the battlefield as early as turn three. The downside of the Obelisk is that you have to be playing only one creature type which can really limit how you build your deck. Dictate of Heliod doesn't care about creature types and with all of the different tokens you can make, like soldiers, goblins, vampires, and cats, Dictate of Heliod seems much better than Obelisk. It's also an instant which can be a huge surprise against most decks. Casting Anger of the Gods or Drown in Sorrow into five untapped mana has never been scarier for your opponent. Being able to cast this on your opponent's end step can let you win the game out of nowhere, or at least force your opponent to deal with the Dictate before dealing with your creatures. If their only removal is Banishing Light or anything else that's sorcery speed, you have the potential of dealing a ton of damage or even winning the game.
1. Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver
I'm really looking forward to building control decks with Ashiok. It's just so good right now. It virtually starts on five loyalty (you will always plus him the turn you cast him), which lets him survive most turn four attacks and Stoke the Flames. Even if your opponent attacks it down to one or two, once you untap with it you can give it another two loyalty and then use your untapped mana to protect your Ashiok with either removal spells or your own creatures. The longer the game goes, the longer he will dominate the game, especially when you start putting your opponent's creatures into play under your control.
Ashiok also messes up your opponent's scry. If they scry a card to the top of their library, you can just mill it away. Ashiok also works very well with your opponent's Courser of Kruphix. If they are showing a land or useless card, you can always choose to not mill with Ashiok and force them to draw that dead card.
Last year at Pro Tour Theros, I lost to Shota Yasooka playing a very interesting UB Control deck featuring Ashiok and Master of Waves. The only permanents he had for blue devotion were Planeswalkers but even casting a Master with just an Ashiok and a Jace in play produces a lot of tokens. Shota's deck never really caught on but with Master of Waves needing a home and Ashiok providing a point of devotion already, it's a good place to start.Wrapping Up
While there are no decklists here today, I hope that I have provided you with some useful information for Standard going forward. What are your top sleepers for the new format? What cards do you think took a hit? If you disagree with my lists or think I missed anything, feel free to leave a comment. Thanks for reading and see you at GP Orlando!
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