A new Standard is upon us with the return of opening weekend Standard opens by StarCityGames (Thank you!) at Indianapolis. Now that we have some results, let’s look at what will be successful in Standard going forward.

Ravnica Allegiance has widely increased the power level of all colors with almost the same mana base as Innistrad/Return to Ravnica Standard. If history is to repeat itself we will be looking at a Standard metagame full of aggressive two-color decks and midrange/control three-color decks. The Standard Open in Indianapolis was dominated by three-color decks, but today I want to highlight some aggressive decks that may have slipped below the radar.

Mono Red

Mono Red by maxxattack

Creatures (16)
Ghitu Lavarunner
Runaway Steam-Kin
Viashino Pyromancer
Goblin Chainwhirler

Spells (22)
Lightning Strike
Light Up the Stage
Skewer the Critics
Wizard’s Lightning
Experimental Frenzy
Lands (22)
22 Mountain

Sideboard (15)
Fiery Cannonade
Fight with Fire
Lava Coil
Treasure Map

It turns out that all you need to register is a bunch of bolts and a bunch of mountains. While Skewer the Critics is the namesake bolt that has piqued everyone’s interest, the card I’m excited about is Light up the Stage. For the low cost of a single red mana, you can plan out your next turn in advance, play lands, and end up massively ahead on both tempo and card advantage. Mono Red wins by taking the initiative against you and never letting go. Light Up the Stage plays right into that strategy.

None of the Mono Red players broke into the top 8 of the SCG Open, but a few came close. It may be that adding a second color will push red aggro back into the top tier.

Azorius Benalia

Azorius Aggro by Max Magnuson

Creatures (29)
Snubhorn Sentry
Hunted Witness
Healer’s Hawk
Tithe Taker
Dauntless Bodyguard
Benalish Marshal
Deputy of Detention
Venerated Loxodon

Spells (10)
History of Benalia
Legion’s Landing
Conclave Tribunal
Unbreakable Formation
Lands (21)
Hallowed Fountain
Glacial Fortress
13 Plains

Sideboard (15)
Tocatli Honor Guard
Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants
Spell Pierce
Baffling End

Here’s an example of a new guild from Ravnica Allegiance sliding into a preexisting archetype. Max Magnuson finished third in the SCG Indianapolis Standard Open amid the sea of three-color midrange decks. History of Benalia defined the metagame at Pro Tour Guilds of Ravnica, and it looks like it can adapt for a new metagame. Ravnica Allegiance offers new mono-white cards to mix into the deck, like Tithe Taker replacing Adanto Vanguard.

But the big upgrade comes from Hallowed Fountain enabling Deputy of Detention and the usual sideboard suite of cheap counterspells. Adding blue to an aggro deck usually slows it down slightly in return for more interaction, and that seems to be the case again here. Unbreakable Formation is also a promising addition, especially if the deck is slower, as resilience against sweepers will be more important than the extra damage previously provided by Pride of Conquerors or Heroic Reinforcements.

Mardu Aristrocrats

Mardu Aristocrats by jakedurshimer

Creatures (30)
Footlight Fiend
Hero of Precinct One
Pitiless Pontiff
Priest of Forgotten Gods
Judith, the Scourge Diva
Midnight Reaper
Elenda, the Dusk Rose

Spells (6)
Theater of Horrors
Carnival // Carnage
Lands (24)
Blood Crypt
Sacred Foundry
Godless Shrine
Clifftop Retreat
Isolated Chapel
Dragonskull Summit

Sideboard (15)
Drill Bit
Lava Coil
Ethereal Absolution
Angrath, the Flame-Chained
Theater of Horrors
Midnight Reaper

The incredibly popular archetype has returned to Standard, and it looks very punishing. While Mardu Aristocrats may look like a three-color combo deck, the strategy is pure and simple. Beat down until your opponent can’t afford to let your creatures die, thanks to ping effects from Judith, the Scourge Diva and Footlight Fiend.

While the creature core of the deck generally looks the same, players will have to choose their remaining spells carefully. Cards like Mortify and Light up the Stage are powerful enough to make most people’s versions of the deck, but ther are some interesting niche options. Try casting Status // Statue on Judith with some of her triggers on the stack, for example. If the deck leans more on afterlife cards, Divine Visitation or Teysa Karlov could supercharge the mechanic. A deck like Aristocrats could take weeks to refine.

Izzet Drakes

Izzet Drakes by Brad Carpenter

Creatures (12)
Arclight Phoenix
Crackling Drake

Spells (27)
Chart a Course
Discovery // Dispersal
Dive Down
Lava Coil
Spell Pierce
Beacon Bolt
Lands (21)
Steam Vents
Sulfur Falls
Blood Crypt

Sideboard (15)
Disdainful Stroke
Entrancing Melody
Fiery Cannonade
Treasure Map
Shivan Fire
Niv-Mizzet, Parun
Ral, Izzet Viceroy
Star of Extinction

You can’t keep Arclight Phoenix down. Now that Pteramander has joined the mix, the deck should be even stronger. Brad Carpenter finished sixth in the SCG Open with this list.

The deck does have its detractors, as you can expect for any deck playing “Limited filler” as opposed to the most powerful collection of spells in the format. “Bad card” decks have a long history of success in Magic, however, and they’re exactly the kind of decks I enjoy most. Izzet Drakes gives new players an option that’s completely different to most Standard decks. And the deck has plenty of power for experienced tournament grinders as well.

The SCG results may suggest to you that aggressive decks are dead in Standard. But aggro decks have some powerful new tools that haven’t shown up yet, like Hero of Precinct One. What about tribal decks? Can Merfolk finally shine? With our first standard MagicFest three weeks away, there is plenty of time to find out.

Daniel Roberts (@Razoack) is a UK based player writing about all things Standard. Playing since the release of Gatecrash, he loves nothing better than travelling to European GPs with friends and losing in the feature match area. His best record is 12-3 at GP Barcelona 2017, but he’s aiming for that one more win.

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