Coming up this weekend, the SCG Tour stops in Richmond for a team Constructed trios event. The formats are brand new Standard, a freshly banned Modern format, and the new Pro Tour format in Pioneer. This week I want to digest each format a bit and pick the known top deck and a sleeper choice that I can see being powerful.


Working our way down the line of formats, let’s start with modern. Modern has been pretty aggressive with Oko running rampant in the last few months. Now that the powerful planeswalker has been banned, Primeval Titan decks have taken charge of the format.  Theros Beyond Death boosted these Primeval Titan decks with cards like Dryad of the Ilysian Grove and Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath.

Amulet Titan

This leads me into my clear favorite for the format:

Amulet Titan

Creatures (16)
Sakura-Tribe Scout
Asuza, Lost but Seeking
Dryad of the Ilysian Grove
Primeval Titan

Spells (14)
Amulet of Vigor
Once Upon a Time
Summoner’s Pact
Pact of Negation
Engineered Explosives
Lands (30)
Bojuka Bog
Boros Garrison
Breeding Pool
Castle Garenbrig
Cavern of Souls
Field of the Dead
Gemstone Mine
Ghost Quarter
Golgari Rot Farm
Gruul Turf
Radiant Fountain
Selesnya Sanctuary
Simic Growth Chamber
Slayers’ Stronghold
Snow-Covered Forest
Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion
Tolaria West
Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
Windswept Heath

Sideboard (15)
Cavern of Souls
Field of the Dead
Radiant Fountain
Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
Engineered Explosives
Force of Vigor
Mystical Dispute
Ramunap Excavator
Reclamation Sage
Tectonic Edge
Tireless Tracker

Amulet Titan deck was already on the rise before the bans. Even though the deck started to adapt and play some numbers of Oko, Thief of Crowns, that wasn’t a critical part of the game plan. With the new Dryad of the Ilysian Grove, it allows Amulet decks to beat Damping Sphere because you can still generate colored mana under Sphere’s effect. With these decks having both Azusa, Lost but Seeking and the powerful Dryad you can power out a Titan really fast and get the Field of the Dead or Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle engine going to accrue a bunch of value.

Blue Moon

With the rise of these land-based strategies, a certain deck has been flying under the radar and is now poised to shine. That deck is Blue Moon, and that’s exactly where I’d start to try to get a leg up on the metagame. The format overall has slowed down a bit, which gives decks like Blue Moon the chance to shine. It offers a plethora of counter-magic and tempo-oriented spells.

Brazen Borrower pulls a lot of weight here, attacking in the air while the spell side Petty Theft helps trigger Thing in the Ice while clearing the board of opposing permanent(s) that can’t be recast through Blood Moon. The deck has access to spells like Lightning Bolt, Magmatic Sinkhole, Roast, and Flame Slash to deal with creatures. Blue brings some of the more powerful Planeswalkers available: Jace, the Mind Ssculptor and Narset and Narset, Parter of Veils. I strongly recommend this deck in the near future if you’re playing Modern.


Pioneer has been put in the spotlight leading into the first Players Tour of 2020. Many decks will be shown off over the next two weeks. One deck that has been leading the field so far: Niv to Light.

Niv to Light

This deck revolves around playing many multicolor spells to draw of Niv-Mizzet Reborn while tutoring for whatever it needs with Bring to Light.

Niv to Light

Creatures (19)
Sylvan Carytid
Paradise Druid
Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath
Kunoros, Hound of Athreos
Siege Rhino
Hostage Taker
Niv-Mizzet Reborn
Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves

Planeswalkers (4)
Teferi, Time Raveler
Nahiri, the Harbinger

Spells (10)
Bring to Light
Abrupt Decay
Oath of Kaya
Utter End
Supreme Verdict
Cut // Ribbons
Lands (27)
Fabled Passage
Botanical Sanctum
Mana Confluence
Breeding Pool
Temple Garden
Blooming Marsh
Blood Crypt
Concealed Courtyard
Frontier Bivouac
Nomad Outpost
Stomping Ground
Temple of Plenty
Watery Grave

Sideboard (15)
Rest in Peace
Infernal Reckoning
Rakdos’s Return
Mystical Dispute
Detention Sphere
Thought Erasure
Kambal, Consul of Allocation
Kunoros, Hound of Athreos
Blood Baron of Vizkopa
Slaughter Games

That deck has been growing in population and putting up some serious numbers.  It’s really resilient thanks to Pioneer’s deep well of multicolor guild ccards from two separate Ravnica blocks. That’s pretty important when considering the ability on Niv-Mizzet Reborn and the massive card pool that you get to use with it. The cool part about the card and deck is that every gold card in future sets is an option to have in the deck. With multicolor removal spells, discard spells, and threats, the deck can go toe to toe with just about any archetype.


A deck that also looks really powerful that I can see being a relative sleeper is built around Soulflayer. This deck had some hype in the beginning of the format before attention shifted elsewhere. It didn’t get any new inclusions from Theros Beyond Death but seems to have grown in popularity nonetheless.

This deck is a powerful graveyard based “combo” deck that tries to use cards like Grisly Salvage and Gather the Pack alongside a discard outlet like Lotleth Troll to put as many keyword creatures in the graveyard. Questing Beast and Rankle, Master of Pranks allow the deck to morph into a fine Golgari beatdown deck when needed. The sideboard leans into more of a midrange deck with Thoughtseize and removal spells.  I think this deck will be a main contender and start to proving its worth going forward.


This format had the biggest shake up by the addition of a whole new format now.  Theros Beyond Death brought back devotion, and that’s a good place to start with a proven strategy.

Mono-Black Sacrifice

The sacrifice engine can fit into both mono-black and Jund versions built around Korvold, Fae-Cursed King. The variety of options make it a good bet to see a lot of play week one, but I prefer Mono Black.

Mono-Black Sacrifice

Creatures (28)
Murderous Rider
Ayara, First of Locthwain
Gray Merchant of Asphodel
Nightmare Shepherd
Yarok’s Fenlurker
Cavalier of Night
Woe Strider

Spells (6)
Bolas’s Citadel
Dreadhorde Invasion
Lands (26)
21 Swamp
Castle Locthwain
Witch’s Cottage

Sideboard (15)
Legion’s End
Deathless Knight
Midnight Reaper
Noxious Grasp
Epic Downfall
Tymaret, Chosen from Death

Now that Gray Merchant of Asphodel has been reprinted, this strategy can grind on yet another axis. You have Ayara, First of Locthwain and Bolas’s Citadel in the deck, which now practically enables you to “storm” off. The addition of Woe Strider also helps find the best cards with another sacrifice outlet, while also bringing value out of the graveyard.

Azorius Control

The sleeper pick for week one Standard has to be Azorius Control. In Theros Beyond Death the deck got a lot of tools to be able to contend with the full metagame. A card like Dream Trawler is huge: it acts as an actual finisher for Azorius, similar to Prognostic Sphinx from the original Theros.

You also have Omen of the Sea and Birth of Meletis to fill the early turns with value plays that ensure you hit your land drops. Birth of Meletis does its best Wall of Omens impersonation, and Omen of the Sea gives the deck a flash Preordain for two mana, plus the extra scry value on the sacrifice when you have nothing else to do.

The deck also got a four-mana wrath in Shatter the Sky. Letting an opponent draw a card if they own a creature with 4+ power is a small downside to pay for the first four-mana wrath we’ve had in some time. I see this deck being good till the next rotation at least, and may be the best deck for a while.

If you can pick all the decks for your team what would you play?

Zack a veteran grinder at this point plays most of his magic online nowadays. That doesn’t mean you won’t find him occasionally slinging spells at an Open or Grand Prix. Catch him streaming on Twitch to find where he’s at with all the formats.

Don't Miss Out!

Sign up for the Hipsters Newsletter for weekly updates.