Quickly after the release of Modern Masters 2017, and the revitalization of the Modern format, Wizards has set it sights on improving the much maligned Standard situation. A breath of fresh air is on the way with the impending release of Amonkhet.
Amonkhet is heavily Egyptian flavored with jackals, pharaohs, mummies, and gods. Lore-wise, Nicol Bolas is suppose to play a pivotal role in running the plane. So far, it appears that the set oozes with style and theme, which Standard could certainly use.
In anticipation of hopeful innovation in Standard, and the break of Copy Cat and Mardu Vehicles, I have compiled a list of notable deckbuilding pieces that will help diversify the metagame.
I’ve picked a single card from each color, which has been a lot harder than I originally thought. As with many of my other card lists, I didn’t focus on the big splashy marquee mythics (but didn’t intentionally avoid them either). I’ve picked out a couple cards that I think may be the force of new, innovative decks.
At first glance, this card looks like an Oblivion Ring-esque white removal spell. Surely nothing to get too excited about. However, on closer inspection, I think this card will be widely played.
The big difference is the flash to give the removal instant speed. Getting off sorcery removal is relevant in a format with copied cats and crewed vehicles occurring on the opponents turn.
That leads right into the second point, that Cast Out can target pretty much anything currently relevant: vehicles, tower, marvel, cats, planeswalkers, etc. Most match-ups will have tempting target.
Enchantments themselves are tough to remove for some decks. Many decks don’t pack maindeck enchantment removal and the potential rise in red decks could make this moreso.
Don’t have a good target or getting stuck on three lands? Single white cycling lets you toss this card, again at instant speed. This thing does a whole lot for white, with enough versatility in many scenarios to see good play.
Curator of Mysteries
This is my type of card — utility and value all bundled together. At first glance, you get a 4/4 flyer in blue with no downside. Good enough stats in a lot of cases.
Going deeper, you get relevant upsides. Scrying via discard and cycling is very relevant in the new format. Furthermore, its got cycling itself, which can interact with one on the board or, as I plan to do, pair with Drake Haven for some cycling shenanigans.
I’m kinda cheating by calling out another card, but I think the synergy here will wed these cards in the decks that work. Curator will be leading an army of wind drakes through the air, while the graveyard fills with cycled cards. Who needs Astral Slide?
Lord of the Accursed
One of my good buddies is a huge Zombie tribal fan and this card is right in his wheelhouse. We have attempted to brew multiple Zombie variants throughout the Standards of old, and this new lord will pick up where we left off.
First, the 3rd point of toughness will be relevant against several bits of removal, including Magma Spray’s comeback. Second, the added ability for some Zombie evasion will be relevant given the 2/2 token theme Zombies typically employs.
Further, its nice that its priced at 2B instead of a 1BB, as it makes splashing another color all the easier (likely U or W given the current sets). With embalm and the other Zombie cards, Zombie tribal will be a thing, at least for the first few months of Standard.
This choice might seem strange given some of the other green bombs people have been raving about. I went with Monitor because I think it might be a big enabler in multicolor and ramp decks.
The closest comparison is probably Krosan Tusker. They are both green, both 6/5’s, and both cycle and pick up lands.
Very similar, but Monitor mostly beats Tusker in each of its functions. While the cycling is one more mana, it puts the land (or desert) directly into play, fixing mana AND ramping at instant speed. You also pick up a card in the process.
Its also a mana less to hard cast, which becomes relevant in ramp decks that sometimes just want to lay down a big beast to start swinging. Monitor does a lot of different things without asking for too much. Fix mana, ramp, beatdown — what more do you want from a green uncommon?
Hazoret the Fervent
Red has several possible build-around cards, but I think Hazoret is also one of the better God cards. Plus, I think it could work in several builds.
Obviously, the indestructible text makes this worthy of second look. Without Path to Exile, Hazoret is going to need to be the prime target for Cast Outs and spells slinging -1/-1 counters.
I really like the topdeck potential of this card. In a traditional aggressive red deck, where your hand is often dumped early, ripping Hazoret and then swinging immediately for 5 can win the game.
Even more, it can chuck extra lands around for damage reach. Not to mention that it enables some hellbent strategies, as well as enabling its own ability to attack. A good inclusion in much of what red likes to do, I think Hazoret will quickly find a home.
Nissa, Steward of Elements
I’m adding Nissa as she’s multicolor, so its technically a separate category right? I’m also excited about building around this card, so I want to include it.
First, its the first X-costed planeswalker, which is a unique design space. It’s also a very Simic-y flavor to be dealing with counters that are influenced by ramping strategies that might accompany Nissa.
Nissa will set-up two decisions when drawn – play as a 3 drop and then immediately scry and hope to survive another turn or hold onto to it and try to abuse the ultimate for 10 damage out of nowhere.
Scry is relevant to smooth out draws and avoid mana floods. The 0 ability synergizes with the scry, but can also add to the ramp with throwing another land into play. The ultimate finally builds an instant offense, which blue green definitely appreciates.
Overall, I’m pretty excited to get a jolt of new life in Standard. Magic sorely needs its flagship format to be back in a better place. It seems Amonkhet has printed some decent answers to the Big Two, while also bolstering some alternative strategies that can add variety to the top 8 lists that will be coming out soon. Hopefully its release will also drop the price on some fetches as well…