Theros Standard

red god Stephen Mann

Seeing as we know roughly half of the cards in Theros, I believe there’s an adequate amount of information spoiled to start looking seriously toward the new standard environment.

In recent years, as new sets become spoiled, it’s often the most powerful cards that are spoiled first. With just half the set spoiled, we have three different planeswalkers, the cycle of gods, a new Thundermaw Hellkite, and Thoughtseize. Every mythic rare has already been spoiled, making most of the remaining unknown cards commons or uncommon. What this means is that most of the potential build-around-me type cards should have already been spoiled, making this the ideal time to start brewing for the new standard format.

Today, the first post rotation standard deck I have in mind is mono red based around Purphoros, God of the Forge.

4 Burning-Tree Emissary

4 Boros Reckoner

4 Ash Zealot

4 Frostburn Weird

4 Legion Loyalist

4 Chandra's Phoenix

4 Purphoros, God of the Forge

4 Rakdos Cackler

 

4 Magma Jet

4 Lightning Strike

 

17 Mountain

3 Mutavault

 

This particular version is trying to successfully and reliably reach the devotion threshold, using Purphoros as a 6/5 indestructible attacker more than using either of his other abilities. Devotion has single-handily caused hybrid mana to be an even more desired asset, raising the stock of both Burning-Tree Emissary and Boros Reckoner to new high heights come Theros Standard. No creature in the deck, besides Chandra’s Phoenix, has colorless mana in its casting cost. The theory is that for every mana spent, you add to your devotion, so that by turn four for should almost always have reached the devotion threshold for Purphoros.

 

The second mono red deck based around Purphoros is attempting to utilize all of his abilities.

 

4 Burning-Tree Emissary

4 Boros Reckoner

4 Ash Zealot

4 Young Pyromancer

4 Chandra's Phoenix

4 Ogre Battledriver

4 Purphoros, God of the Forge

 

4 Lightning Strike

4 Magma Jet

4 Mizzium Mortars

 

17 Mountain

3 Mutavault

 

This particular build benefits from the synergy between Purphoros/Ogre Battledriver and Young Pyromancer. While this version can less reliably reach Purphoros’ required devotion, it has more raw power and combo potential to it. Young Pyromancer with either Purphoros or Ogre Battledriver can end any game quickly if left unchecked. There’s a lot of potential here, but the biggest challenge is going to be the balance between having enough spells for Young Pyromancer and enough creature permanents for Purphoros. It’s possible that the best way to go is in a more combo centric direction, adding in 12-16 more spells, cutting most of the creatures and using Purphoros solely as an enchantment. Maybe even adding Guttersnipe to the deck. Here’s a potential list:

 

4 Guttersnipe

4 Young Pyromancer

4 Chandra's Phoenix

4 Purphoros, God of the Forge

 

4 Lightning Strike

4 Skullcrack

4 Magma Jet

4 Mizzium Mortars

4 Shock

4 Flames of the Firebrand

 

16 Mountain

4 Mutavault

 

 

The next deck I wanted to look into is a spin-off of a deck I posted about last week based around Xenagos, the Reveler. There hasn’t been much talk about Satyr Hedonist, but I feel he may have a home here. It's straight card disadvantage, but I feel the spells you ramp into, especially Garruk, make up for that disadvantage.

 

 

4 Xenagos, the Reveler

4 Garruk, Caller of Beasts

2 Mizzium Mortars

 

4 Elvish Mystic

4 Sylvan Caryatid

4 Satyr Hedonist

4 Zhur-Taa Druid

3 Polukranos

4 Stormbreath Dragon

4 Ember Swallower

 

4 Stomping Ground

10 Forest

9 Mountain

 

 

This is a classic ramp style deck, half cheap acceleration and half large threats. But thanks to the new Monstrosity mechanic, this ramp deck is unlike the ramp decks of the past. This ramp style deck only really requires you to draw one piece of acceleration to have a successful game plan as most of the “larger threats” in the deck cost only four mana. The nut draw with this deck would be something like:

 

Turn 1: Elvish Mystic

Turn 2: Satyr Hedonist

Turn 3: Xenagos, the Reveler make a 2/2 Satyr

Turn 4: Cast Ember Swallower.

Activate Xenagos’ +1 for RRRR

Sacrifice Satyr Hedonist for RRR

Tap Elvish Mystic and activate Ember Swallower

 

After everything is said and done, you’ll end up with Elvish Mystic, a 2/2 Satyr, Xenagos at 4 loyalty, and a 7/8 Ember Swallower. You’re opponent will have 1 land… It’s certainly not impossible to accomplish and at worse you always have “Plan B” AKA turn 3 a Garruk, Caller of Beasts. Ultimately, I see a lot of potential here and hope there’s something there as this looks pretty fun to play.

 

Moving from more aggressive decks, we come to control. If the Ravnica block Pro Tour in San Diego has anything to show us it’s that control will be quite a force come post rotation. I think Burning Earth will keep control decks at a 2 color minimum and will keep most people from trying out the Maze’s End deck that might otherwise have a place in the meta. Going straight blue/white as opposed to blue/white/red or esper depends mostly on the presence of Burning Earth post rotation, as blue/white is likely weaker than blue/white/red or esper. I expect in the beginning almost all red decks will have access to it in their 75, but as time goes on and people begin to further adapt to it they’ll cut it. This will most likely, over time, cause people to get a little riskier with their manabase and cause Burning Earth to reestablish itself in the meta, a cycle that will go on until the rotation of Burning Earth.

 

Here’s my take on Blue/White control post rotation:

 

2  Aetherling

4  Archangel of Thune

 

4  Azorius Charm

4  Detention Sphere

4  Jace, Architect of Thought

4  Sphinx's Revelation

4  Supreme Verdict

4  Syncopate

2  Celestial Flare

2  Dissolve

 

4 Hallowed Fountain

4 Azorius Guildgate

8 Island

8 Plains

2 Encroaching Wastes

 

Most of the esper block decks only have black for Blood Baron of Vizkopa, Far//Away, and Sin Collector. Archangel of Thune happens to be a potentially fantastic replacement for Blood Baron and Celestial Flare works well as Far//Away’s replacement. The biggest loss in my opinion, is Sin Collector, and now Thoughtseize, for the mirror matches.

 

I’ve seen most lists have 2-3 Syncopate, but that just seems wrong. Against aggressive matchups, it acts as an Essence Scatter that can also hit problem planeswalkers like Domri Rade and Xenagos, the Reveler and against the control mirrors it acts as a Negate for Sphinx’s Revelation. The Encroaching Wastes may not be necessary; it depends mostly on the amount of Mutavaults being played post rotation, as it’s their only real target. For now, the manabase seems stable enough that they’re probably worth the addition.

 

The last of the recent spoilers that caught my eye is Fleecemane Lion, the new Watchwolf on steroids. This is the type of card that seems to fit perfectly into the  latest Pro Tour winning deck, Craig Wescoe’s Green/White aggro deck:

 

9  Forest

9  Plains

1  Selesnya Guildgate

4  Temple Garden

 

4  Dryad Militant

4  Experiment One

4  Loxodon Smiter

4  Voice of Resurgence

4  Fleecemane Lion

3  Scavenging Ooze

 

4  Advent of the Wurm

4  Call of the Conclave

2  Rootborn Defenses

4  Selesnya Charm

 

With its wealth of 3/3’s for two mana, I expect this to have a good matchup against red aggressive strategies, something that is surely going to be a highly desirable thing come post rotation.

 

I’ve noticed, as I’m sure most of you have as well, that a monstrous Fleecemane Lion is nearly impossible to kill post rotation. The list of cards that can do the job are Merciless Eviction,  Devour Flesh/Far//Away (when it’s the only creature on the battlefield) and Renounce the Guilds (when it’s the only multicolor permanent you control). With its already impressive base stats, I fully expect Fleecemane Lion to be a powerhouse come Theros standard. It’s basically a 4/4 Emrakul when you activate its monstrosity cost.

 

Finally, I’ve decided to post a Maze’s End deck, just in case Burning Earth isn’t as prevalent as I think it may be. At worst, it’s a fun to play with and it just might catch enough people off guard in the first few days of new standard to be good enough.

 

2  Azorius Guildgate

2  Boros Guildgate

2  Dimir Guildgate

2  Golgari Guildgate

2  Gruul Guildgate

2  Izzet Guildgate

4  Maze's End

2  Mountain

2  Orzhov Guildgate

2  Rakdos Guildgate

2  Selesnya Guildgate

2  Simic Guildgate

2  Swamp

 

4  Into the Wilds

 

4  Devour Flesh

2  Dreadbore

2  Far // Away

1  Merciless Eviction

4  Mizzium Mortars

2  Diabolic Tutor

2  Sphinx's Revelation

4  Urban Evolution

3  Warleader's Helix

4  Magma Jet

 

Into the Wilds is a powerful card that the block iterations of this deck didn’t have access to at Pro Tour San Diego. A turn 4 Into the Wilds allows you to combo off turns faster than its block counterpart. The 1 maindeck Merciless Eviction is a catch-all against things such as Pithing Needle. Magma Jet seems like a great addition in this deck; allowing you to scry away excess guildgates and help you in your goal to play a different guildgate each turn. I added the 2 Diabolic Tutors to help with the decks consistency, it may make it a bit slower, but I feel that the added consistency is worth it. Mostly the deck plays out like a black/red control deck. You just want to kill all their creatures and make all your land drops, which shouldn’t be too hard to do with 28 lands!

 

These are just some of decks that I see potential in and while there’s still over 100 more cards to go before the entire set has been spoiled, I don’t expect any of them to spawn any completely new archetypes. These decks will likely be the new meta for the first few weeks before the Pro Tour shakes up the format. Hopefully one of these decks caught your eye and you’ll give it a spin in the first FNM of the new standard format!

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