In my article I would like to go over many different reasons why I think this is a very important question to be asking right now: Will Courser of Kruphix be the most powerful card in Standard with the release of Khans of Tarkir? This may be a somewhat controversial question, and I would like to talk about a number of points that may lead to a conclusion. I will admit that when Courser of Kruphix was first released I didn't think much of the card, or realize many of the synergies that make it the magic card that it is. Courser of Kruphix was already one of the most played cards at the Theros block Pro Tour in Atlanta, and it seems that the card has only gotten better, considering some of the recently spoiled lands from Khans of Tarkir.
It was only a couple of days ago that fetchlands were spoiled as rares in Khans of Tarkir, though because of how significant this news is, the vast majority of the magic community likely already knows this information. I am excited to see how having five additional fetchlands will impact modern, though at this point the existence of fetchlands in modern is a relatively known quantity. I am more interested in looking at the Standard application of fetchlands.
The last time fetchlands were Standard legal was in Zendikar block, where they were certainly cornerstones of Standard manabases, especially given the existence of the landfall mechanic, which is specifically very good with fetchlands. Right now there aren't shocklands or a single mechanic to look to, which make the fetchlands more powerful in Standard. However, this is not to say that fetchlands won't play an important role in Standard. It is clear that mana fixing will be extremely important in the upcoming Standard format as Khans of Tarkir looks to be a set similar to Shards of Alara, which was a multicolor-based set.
This brings me to the card Courser of Kruphix, the card that I haven't been able to get out of my head since the news that fetchlands will legal in Standard. Courser of Kruphix has already been seeing play in Modern because of how favorably it works with fetchlands. Let's go over some of the points that make Courser of Kruphix so good.-->
Courser of Kruphix was already a heavily played card in Standard, before the printing of fetchlands. There are multiple reasons why just about every green deck in Standard seems to play four copies of Courser of Kruphix, and many of those reasons are widely known. The fourth point of toughness is very relevant in a format where Lightning Strike and Bile Blight are some of the best cheap removal spells.
It is time to say goodbye to Mizzium Mortars, Dreadbore, Detention Sphere and many of the other cheap removal spells that were able to effectively deal with a Courser of Kruphix. Even when an opponent does have a removal spell to trade one for one with Courser of Kruphix, there is still card advantage to be gained if there is a land sitting on top of your deck, assuming that you have not already played a land for the turn. Now many players will likely not crack all of their fetchlands in the hopes of drawing a Courser of Kruphix just to maximize its value.
There are two basic properties of Courser of Kruphix which inherently make it better in Standard right now. The first is that Courser of Kruphix is an enchantment, which means that it is the perfect fit in a constellation based strategy. While it is true that this can be a drawback against an enchantment removal spell, it seems to be a greater upside. The second is that it is a green creature that costs three mana.
While it is certainly possible that Khans of Tarkir could deliver another strong three-drop in green, right now there is no creature that comes close to being able fill the role of Courser of Kruphix. What green creature could be played instead of him? Being able to play Elvish Mystic on the first turn and Courser of Kruphix turn two will certainly be a situation that can come up quite often.
In my opinion green creature-based strategies have gotten a lot better because Return to Ravnica block is rotating out. Supreme Verdict can no longer destroy an early mana accelerant and a Courser of Kruphix, which in my experience was often enough to significantly set back the green deck. While the recently spoiled End Hostilities certainly may see play, it is no Supreme Verdict. Perhaps Anger of the Gods will start to be included in more archetypes, but that is another card that cannot answer a Courser of Kruphix.
Initially I expect many players to latch onto green mana ramp strategies. This sort of Monsters archetype has traditionally relied on early mana accelerants and Courser of Kruphix, to help sit up large fatties later on in the game. While Monsters certainly sees some play now the fact that Lifebane Zombie is rotating out makes these types of strategies less vulnerable to disruption.
Before a Lifebane Zombie could often nab a Courser of Kruphix, especially when the black player was on the play, and Lifebane Zombie picked off copies of Polukranos, World Eater quite easily. Polukranos, World Eater still seems like it has a ton of potential, and the existence of the black strategies may have stopped him from living up to his full potential, with Return to Ravnica block being legal.
There are definitely multiple directions in which a Monsters deck can be taken. With access to Sylvan Caryatid and the new tri-lands to go along with more traditional manafixing it is not difficult to see a very solid manabase with three or more colors. It is also very possible to go more of a mono-colored devotion based strategy, which goes over the top with large creatures like Hornet Queen. I think the first place to start with the Monsters archetype is straight red/green though. Here is a list I have put together which seems to be both powerful and consistent.
This list is still a work in progress as I haven't had much time to test it, due to there being cards that were spoiled very recently in it. For that reason there is not a sideboard yet, but I do want to continue to work and develop this deck a bit more. As the deck is constructed right now I still think it is a very straightforward and strong strategy to deploy in Standard with Khans of Tarkir.
So a bit about the card choices here, since the deck is straight two colors Elvish Mystic is an easy inclusion. I could see there being spots when maybe there aren't a bunch of ways to cast Elvish Mystic on the first turn if the deck were more than two colors, and in that situation it might be that you don't need Elvish Mystic. With that being said in this type of deck with 14 green sources available on the first turn Elvish Mystic is the best accelerator.
It should be obvious why there are four Sylvan Caryatid, but there are also three Rattleclaw Mystics. Rattleclaw Mystic may not be at its best here because there are no six-drops to ramp into in this list and the deck doesn't need blue mana, but it is important to have redundancy in the mana accelerators. The important big threats include the two most obvious fatties in Stormbreath Dragon and Polukranos, World Eater. Many players may argue that playing less than four Polukranos, World Eater is correct but I don't really mind drawing multiples, as my opponent generally must answer him immediately. The other large creature here is Polis Crusher, which I expect to start seeing more play because of the presence of enchantments, and being able to monstrous him later in the game is a big deal.
I expect many magic enthusiasts will be talking about Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker. Let me just say that this card is the real deal. In fact, this list should probably be playing four copies. Being able to have another 4/4 flyer with haste is huge, and this card also happens to be able to answer some of the best threats in this deck: Stormbreath Dragon and Courser of Kruphix. I think in general Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker will be better than Nissa, Worldwaker, as Nissa, Worldwaker dies to opposing Sarkhan, the Dragonspeakers and Stormbreath Dragons.
There are also six two mana burn spells in the list. To be honest I'm not exactly sure how many burn spells the deck wants, or which is better, between Lightning Strike and Magma Jet. I expect time will help indicate which burn spells should be in the deck. Another option worth considering is Stoke the Flames as it is able to deal with Courser of Kruphix.
The manabase here is pretty straightforward. I'm not sure it is necessary to play off-color scry lands, but if I was playing them they would need to be red. The manabase is very consistent and yes, there are four off-color fetchlands. The reason they are here is the ability to filter your deck and the interaction with Courser of Kruphix is so good.
Remember that with a Courser of Kruphix in play you actually aren't losing any life because of cracking a fetchland, because of the one life gained from Courser of Kruphix. In this sort of deck where in the late game all you really want to draw are the fatties, being able to fetch and shuffle away mana accelerants or excess lands that were revealed on top of your deck is huge. Being able to manage both fetchlands and Courser or Kruphix harmoniously will be one of the most skill intensive interactions in Standard, moving forward.
Yes, it's true that it is sometimes hard to compare cards on power level, but with the information currently available it is my opinion that Courser of Kruphix will in fact be the most powerful card in Standard, with Khans of Tarkir. It will be interesting to see what cards get spoiled in the next couple weeks, so as to have a better idea of exactly what cards will be in the new Standard format. Perhaps I'm wrong about Courser of Kruphix, and I would be interested to hear other opinions on this. Of course time will allow the format to unfold, and it will become clear which cards will be the most dominant.
The advice I would give to my fellow Standard players is pick up a playset of Courser of Kruphix if you don't already have one. While Courser of Kruphix is relatively expensive right now I anticipate its value will only rise. Regarding fetchlands I am going to go out on a limb and predict that as far as Standard goes the green ones will see the most play. Of course all the fetchlands will see some play though, and it will be intriguing to watch and see what their price tag will end up being.
Thanks for reading,