Core Set 2020 has hit the shelves, and it adds many powerful options to the Standard card pool. Cards such as Marauding Raptor, Shifting Ceratops, and Mu Yangling, Sky Dancer are obviously powerful and have garnered attention. But today we’re here to explore the some different options.

Let’s take a look at some deck ideas using some of the less hyped cards of the set. For example, this oddly-Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle-like utility land.

Field of the Dead is an interesting card, providing threats as long as you can keep putting lands into play. Value lands like this are nightmares for opposing control decks. A land that generates repeated value as a game goes long does a lot of work without occupying a “spell” slot in your deck. And lands are difficult to interact with.

However, if we treat Field of the Dead as a combo piece, things get a lot more interesting.

Bant Ramp

Creatures (8)
Arboreal Grazer
Golos, Tireless Pilgrim

Planeswalkers (4)
Teferi, Time Raveler

Spells (22)
Growth Spiral
Grow from the Ashes
Root Snare
Cleansing Nova
Flood of Tears
Mass Manipulation
Lands (26)
Breeding Pool
Temple Garden
Hallowed Fountain
Hinterland Harbor
Field of the Dead
Field of Ruin

Enter Scapeshift. The Modern staple has been in Standard for a while now but had no impact on the format. But with new tools Dread Presence and Field of the Dead, it looks like it has the opportunity to finally break out.

Standard could support a Golgari version with many swamps for Dread Presence, or a multicolor Gates deck that easily satifies the seven-different-names clause of Field of the Dead without needing to combo with Scapeshift. But combo kills are much more fun.

With a prohibitive casting cost and no immediate effect, you probably wonder why I like Drakuseth, Maw of Flames for Standard. Well, apart from being large and evasive, the attack trigger is ridiculous—more Inferno Titan than Glorybringer. If we can manage to get one attack against a creature deck, the game is effectively over.

The problem is that we could be likely to lose by the time we would reach turn seven. But what if we could cheat Seth into play? Reanimation is not a strategy usually employed in Standard, and in recent times the only archetype that has done that effectively was the God Pharoah’s Gift deck. However, with Bond of Revival and the new Blood for Bones, we have enough spells where we can reliably bring back the beefy dragon.

Jund Reanimator

Creatures (30)
Stitcher's Supplier
Llanowar Elves
Glowspore Shaman
Merfolk Branchwalker
Wildgrowth Walker
Ravenous Chupacabra
Doom Whisperer
Drakuseth, Maw of Flames
Cavalier of Flame

Spells (7)
Bond of Revival
Blood for Bones
Lands (23)
Blood Crypt
Overgrown Tomb
Woodland Cemetary
Dragonskull Summit
Memorial to Folly

I’ve based this upon a previous Gruesome Menagerie shell from Guilds of Ravnica Standard, but the same principles apply. Your early game consists of filling your graveyard with your value creatures while developing your mana. If we can then cast an early Bonds of Revival to bring a hasty creature it puts us massively ahead. Counterspells are currently at an all time low in Standard, especially maindeck; so the time is ripe for a strategy like Reanimator. Even if we can’t successfully reanimate Drakuseth, we have an infinite value engine with Molderhulk and Memorial to Folly.

Thunderkin Awakener interests me for Modern, actually. When this was first spoiled I instantly knew the deck it would fit into. Originally brewed by a friend and continually adapted since, it can take games from the unprepared. Behold:

Modern Twelve-Ball

Creatures (30)
Birds of Paradise
Noble Hierarch
Thunderkin Awakener
Eternal Witness
Ball Lightning
Lightning Skelemental
Hellspark Elemental

Spells (8)
Collected Company
Lightning Bolt
Lands (22)
Wooded Foothills
Verdant Catacombs
Stomping Ground
Overgrown Tomb
Blood Crypt
Fire-Light Thicket
Cavern of Souls

Not only has the deck received four new “Ball” effects in Modern Horizons, but Thunderkin Awakener is the perfect finisher to bring back all of these Ball Lightnings for a second round! Designed to punish players who use their life total too liberally with fetchlands, hitting a double Lightning Skelemental to deal twelve and make your opponent discard four cards is devastating. The deck may not be top tier or as powerful as Hogaak, but it’s certainly a lot of fun.

Three decks from Core Set 2020 for three different types of players—the set looks like a hell of a lot of fun. I can’t wait to see the first successful Standard lists to see how the metagame adjusts. Will Mono Red be the premier aggro deck of the format with powerful hate cards such as Leyline of Sanctity and Grafdigger’s Cage? Will anything dethrone Esper Control?

Magic Fest Denver will be a tournament to look forward to. Hopefully Standard moves from strength to strength.

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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