Courtesy of Frank Karsten’s latest online tech article, here’s a list of the current most frequently played decks on Standard Online. I’m trying to decide what I want to build and play in the upcoming Regionals event, which takes place on June 9th. I don’t want to play any one of these decks verbatim, but they’re useful in terms of “decks to beat” and as inspiration for how certain decks are built. More in the extended, including the list and comments
Edit: I’ve added a bunch of links to interesting archetypes and deck concepts from the Standard forum on Wizards’ message boards.
Dragonstorm – This combos out a killing shot with a multi-storm-counted Dragonstorm putting Bogardan Hellkites and Hunted Dragons into play. Defenses against this include Trickbind (killing the storm copies) and Shadow of Doubt (to prevent them searching their library), although both can be shut down by Gigadrowse. I’ve been pondering Angel’s Grace in non-blue-containing decks, since it’s uncounterable, and all the Dragonstorm decks from now on will sport Pact of Negation. The idea there would be that the Grace lets you live through the storm turn, and then you’re going to go ahead and Wrath or Damnation on the following turn, sweeping the board. It’s a bit of a crisis play, but it could be pretty solid. After all, once the Dragonstorm goes off, the deck can’t do much else. A well-placed Bitter Ordeal could also gut a Dragonstorm deck, but that’s definitely a later-game play.
R/G aggro – Fairly straightforward critter and burn. I suspect I’ll make one of these for a friend to use, unless they want to go one of the other aggro routes.
Dralnu de Louvre – As Frank notes, this version has no maindeck Dralnu. This U/B control deck runs only 3 Mystical Teachings — I expect that to jump to 4, after PT Yokohama. It has 16 counterspells, 2 discards, 6 removal (!), 5 card draw, and 3 (+2) creatures (it has an Urza’s Factory and a Draining Whelk). It also has an Extirpate. I’m a little surprised this can do well, given the lack of removal and the reliance on counterspells.
Solar Flare – Frank describes Solar Flare as a “hybrid good stuff” deck. The design he shows us here is W/U/B and features 4 counterspells, 5 discards, 4(+3) removal (3 Angel of Despair), 6(+4) card draw (Court Hussar), and 7(+2) creatures (Factory, Phyrexian Totem). Karsten notes that Solar Flare is weak against lots of burn. Looking at it, it feels as if it should be weak against lots of things…there’s so little of everything in this deck, it feels like it can’t possibly be sixty cards.
Izzetron – This deck attempts to complete the Urzatron, then use it to power out a big Demonfire or Bogardan Hellkite. The version shown is U/R and runs 10 counterspells, 8 removal (including some bounce and Electrolyzes), 9 card draw, and 7(+1) creatures (4 Sulfur Elementals). It also has 10 color-generating lands and 6 signets.
Angelfire – This W/U/R deck can shift modes between aggressive and control-style play. It runs 4 counterspells (Remands), 8 removal (Lightning Helix, Wrath), 8 card draw, and 16 creatures. It also runs a full quad of Boom // Bust as well.
Dredge – This G/B/sometimes U design uses Dredge to power out a bunch of things, among them a superpowered Svogthos, the Restless Tomb. It’s an interesting design, full of creatures and graveyard manipulation.
Mono Green Aggro – Straight-up creature and enchantment rush. This runs 19 creatures (7 accelerants, 4 big creatures), 3 creature generators, 2 card draw, 8 creature pump enchantments, and 7 enhancing instants.
Mono Blue Pickles – The Pickles deck attempts to achieve a lock with the Brine Elemental / Vesuvan Shapeshifter combo. The all-blue version runs 3 Teferi, 4 Shapeshifters, 4 Brine Elementals, 16 counterspells (and 2 Willbenders), 2 card draw, and 2 bounce. Note that the second-place deck at PT Yokohama was U/B Pickles. Just on the face of it, I’d imagine mono-blue Pickles being overrun by aggro decks on a fairly regular basis.
Panda Connection – A W/B design, Panda Connection begins as aggro-disruption, but can theoretically sideboard into control mode. In my limited reading of the forums, I saw a lot of criticism of Panda as a poor design — sort of half-assing both the aggro and control styles of play. This version (noted by Frank as “pre-Planar Chaos”, which makes it pre-pre-Future Sight) runs a W/B Savannah Lion to Ghost Council curve with Soltari Priests and Hypnos in the middle, as well as Dark Confidant. It sides into Phyrexian Arenas, Wraths, and Angels. According to Karsten, the key card of the deck is Martyr of Sands, which provides life gain for survival.
UW Tron – A W/U urzatron deck. This one packs 8 counterspells, 5 removal, 7 card draw, and 4 creatures (in this case including 2 Brine Elementals and a Shapeshifter). Like the tron design above, this one runs a lot of Signets — 7 of them. Once again, I have to admit to being a little unclear how this one lives through an aggro deck.
KarstenBotBabyKiller – There’s no commentary on this one; maybe Frank’s shy? It’s an aggro design powering removal and card advantage with snow-covered lands, then finishing the game with Demonfires (four of them!). At least, that’s how I assume it works, having not seen it in action. It also runs Ohran Vipers for card advantage.
W/B Control – This is creature control using Wrath of God and Phyrexian Arena. It runs 4 Arenas, 4 Wraths, Story Circles, Faiths Fetters, Castigates, Hide/Seek, and Martyr of Sands (one presumes that’s for life gain). The win conditions appear to be the two Angel of Despair and the singleton Demonfire.
W/B/R Arena Control – This is sort of an “everything good in these colors” design. It runs 4 Arenas and 4 Wraths, with a total of 17 removal and 5 discard, as well as 6(+1) creatures. There are 3 Demonfires in there (I included those in the removal count). I’ve also seen this one referred to as “Firemane Angel” control. I find it interesting that so many control decks run Arena for card advantage, even in the absence of much dedicated life gain (although 4 Lightning Helix represents decent life gain).
Zoo – A straightforward W/R/G design, Zoo cranks out efficient creatures and burns stuff out of the way for the kill.
U/G Pickletron – Karsten seems a little unsure how this one works. It certainly is a wacky combination of cards. Let’s do the breakdown – 7 counterspells, 4 bounce, 1 removal-ish thing, 6 card draw, 4 mana accelerants, and some critters, including Thelonite Hermits (actually, Hermit + Shapeshifter would let you crank out a whole lotta Saprolings). How does this deck win?
U/G Aggro – Also an older decklist. This build runs Ohran Vipers for card advantage, as well as Elves and Birds for mana acceleration. It also has seven counterspells and four Psionic Blasts as direct damage.
Mono-Black Rack – This deck tries to empty the opponent’s hand and then punish them with The Rack. To that end, it runs a lot of really, really cheap discard, both in critter and card form. It’s interesting that it doesn’t bother to run the all-powerful Hypno — perhaps because it’s too slow and too much of a target? Shimian Specter, while devastating, is even slower.
Satanic Sligh – I might call this “Rakdos Sligh” instead. This B/R design features speed and burn, much like R/G aggro. It lives on Dark Confidant, which provides the card draw needed to keep the burn coming.
Null Harvest – This fairly shaky combo deck goes off by literally playing everything in your deck. The combo is Null Profusion (every time you play a card, draw a card), Early Harvest (untap all your basic lands), and Summer Bloom (lets you place additional lands into play), as well as various recursion cards. The actual win condition is going to be a massively stormed Grapeshot or a superpowered Psychic Drain. Many versions of Null Harvest keep these win conditions in the sideboard, then use Research to grab them and put them into the deck as the combo goes off.
Narcolepsy – Another combo deck, Narcolepsy works by dredging cards into your graveyard including Bridge from Below, then sacrificing critters in play to flashback Dread Return, yielding even more critters in play and zombie tokens from the Bridge. Zombie tokens can flashback additional Dread Returns — and if you have multiple Bridges in your graveyard, each actual creature sacrificed yields a lot of zombies. You reanimate a Flame-Kin Zealot to give the zombies and their pals haste and go for the kill. Apparently, this is driving a lot of folks to play Leyline of the Void.
Instant Soup Mix – Draw-go using Jhoira to suspend everything. This deck archetype begins with a Teferi base, including the eponymous wizard and a full suite of counters (4 Remands, 4 Delays, others) as well as card draw and Mystical Teachings. Jhoira is used to make sure that you don’t have to cast anything on your own turn. One neat trick with Jhoira is suspending an Aeon Chronicler for 2 and pulling 4 cards off of it (since Jhoira suspends for 4). You really, really want Teferi to come out first in a control-control duel, as an opposing Teferi completely shuts Jhoira down.
HIYH – This deck runs counters and critters with flash in an attempt to live entirely on your opponent’s turn. The goal is to be able to be completely reactive when you need to be, and then flash out little critters to beat the opponent down when they’re not doing anything (or sometimes when they are — this U/G design runs four Mystic Snakes). The idea appears to be that even getting one 2/2 out is good enough, as you’re going to keep the other player from doing anything else.
Ignite the Warrens / Goblinstorm – A single thread for decks that try to storm out big Ignite Memories or Empty the Warrens turns — many of the decks include both. Decks can look more or less like Dragonstorm, and appear to have many of the same vulnerabilities.
Counter-This – This was actually created as a joke by Frank Karsten. The archetypical design is an R/G concoction that basically throws every available card that says “uncounterable” or “split second” into it. It has the ability to walk through a counterspell-heavy deck, but dies horribly to any kind of aggro or burn.
Eclipse – A mono-black, hyperspeed design, Eclipse uses a bunch of supercheap (or free!) creatures and deck thinners to fill your graveyard and power out a Tombstalker as early as possible using its Delve cost. I think anything with decent removal would ruin this design.
Suicide Black – Suicide Black is black critter rush backed by Dark Confidant for card draw. The “suicide” in the name comes from the fact that there really is no long-term plan for this deck — it’s a fast win or none at all. Various designs mix different amounts of creatures and discard-based disruption, to taste.
DJ Illuminatus – This bit of wackiness hopes to get a Djinn Illuminatus into play, then play infinite Pact of the Titan to summon infinite Giants, then play Surge of Zeal to give them haste for the win. Other than the five cards of the combo (2 Pacts, 2 Surges, 1 Djinn), this is a Teferi control deck. Teferi is a must, since it lets you Mystical Teachings for the Djinn and keeps your opponent from countering some vital part of the assembly, or Trickbinding the deck to death, or otherwise disrupting things such that you don’t win on one turn (and thus lose horribly on your next turn as you fail to pay infinite upkeep costs for all those Pacts).
The Seer’s Tower – Another combo deck, this one uses slivers to draw through your entire deck in one explosive turn that ends with you pinging the opponent to death (seriously).
Burning Heir – A more recent R/G aggro/burn design.
Aetherplay – This design uses Aethermage’s Touch to bring big critters with comes into play abilities in sooner than usual, and then blinks them with Momentary Blink or ditches and brings them back with Resurrection and Body Double for bonus comes into play effects and beatdown. One sample build is W/U/B/R and runs 4 Hellkites, 4 Angel of Despair, 4 Skeletal Vampires, 2 Clones, 4 Looter il-Kor (run through your deck and dump cards in your graveyard), and 4 Body Double. The push-blink-replay engine is 4 Touch, 3 Blink, 3 Resurrection. The only other spells are 2 Remand and 4 Compulsive Research.