The New Tribes of Standard

It is no secret that Standard has had a bit of an image problem as of late. A combination of stale meta game and a metric ton of bans has meant that Standard has been pushed to the back of the mind for many. This is especially upsetting for me as I am a huge fan of the format, and I watched players I know locally move away from Standard and into other formats like Modern and Commander. Luckily, the dark times seem to be passing, and the format appears to finally be in a stable place. Of course, the fact that we are going to be head back to one of Magic’s most beloved planes has certainly helped out. Yes, Wizards of the Coast are definitely hitting Dominaria preview season at full speed and you better believe the hype is real.

Now, nostalgia is great, but it doesn’t always guarantee that the set is going to be any good. Luckily for Standard, Dominaria seems to be just have right blend of power, flavour, and value that we are all so desperate to see from Magic’s home plane. It is true that some of the current top decks are sure to have new toys to play with, Dominaria also promises to introduce different and exciting archetypes – the ones I’m most excited about are all the new tribes we will get to play with.

It makes sense to follow up Ixalan, a block that built around tribal warfare, with more tribes to benefit from cards like Unclaimed Territory and Radiant Destiny. Currently there are four tribes of note when it comes to Dominaria, Elves, Goblins, Wizards and Knights, and today we will be looking at what decks based around these tribes could look like in the new Standard meta. We will be only looking at cards that have been officially spoiled as of the writing of this article, and by that we mean cards that have been released in Wizard’s card image gallery. So there is the possibility of more synergies for these decks that we have yet to see. So now we have all that out of the way, let’s have a look at the tribes of Dominaria.

First off, our resident pointy eared menaces, the Elves of Llanowar. I have always had a soft for elves, ever since I came back to the game a few years back. These classic green creatures have had an impact in both Modern and Legacy, and whenever they make a return to Standard an ‘elf deck’ always seems to spring up. Now currently there are only two elf cards that have been officially spoiled, but it has already lead to speculation of what a new elf deck could look like. We are finally seeing the return of the classic one cost mana dork in the form of Llanowar Elves. It wasn’t too long ago that WotC decided that have a one drop that could ramp you up into a three drop on turn two was too powerful for Standard, and they said they wouldn’t gives us one again. Luckily, they seemed to have changed their minds, at least for the return to Dominaria. So we can get three mana on turn two, it what can we cast with it? How about a 5/4 that can’t be blocked by creatures with power two or less. Costing three green mana, Steel Leaf Champion certainly restricts your colour options. But the payoff is sure to be worth it. I could easily see games been won by simply resolving this little guy super early on and then riding his momentum to victory. Whether there will be enough new elves to make the deck viable is yet to be seen, but with cards like Rishkar, Peema Renegade and Greenwheel Liberator still in the format, Standard elves could soon be seen swarming onto the tournament top tables.

Now if I have a soft spot for elves, I’m practically giddy when it comes to Goblins. As a full blooded red mage, these little terrors have been a pet deck for me in Modern for the last couple of years. So as you can imagine, when I found out we were going to be getting some sweet goblin reprints for Standard I was a little bit excited. First up we get token generation and shock engine in the form of Siege-Gang Commander. Bringing five power and toughness for five mana over four is already a good rate, but it’s gives also gives you the ability to overrun your opponent’s blockers by throwing spare goblins at them for two damage a pop. You could even use the Commander in combination with Squee, the Immortal to machine gun your opponents life total away over several turns. But what if you don’t want to play five mana? Well how about four, or even three mana? Well thanks to the reprint Goblin Warchief that shouldn’t be a problem, reducing the cost of all your goblins to help your pile on the pressure.

Next, we move onto Wizards. Know apart from the obvious in joke of having Wizards been a playable tribe during Magics 25th anniversary (we see what you did there), it is surprising how many Wizards are already seeing play in the Standard format. Soul-Scar Mage, Champion of Wits and Siren Stormtamer are some of the thirty-two Standard legal cards current available to budding brewers, and that’s before we even get to all the support the tribe is due to receive with the release of Dominaria. New Wizards such as Adeliz, the Cinder Wind and Naban, Dean of Iteration could easily make their way into this new deck, giving the tribe some much needed hitting power. But that’s not the only reinforcements the deck will be receiving. Wizard’s Lightning and Wizard’s Retort go from decent Magic cards into Standard reprints of Lightning Bolt and Counterspell in a Wizard deck. Now I don’t know about you, but any deck that can play Bolt and Counterspell certainly seems to be worth considering for Standard.

Finally, we look at a tribe I am personally very excited to seem make waves in Standard. Knights are the quintennial ‘White Weenie’ creature type, and it appears that they will have a notable presence in Dominaria. Cards like Knight of Grace and Knight of Malice are great call backs to White Knight and Black Knight respectively, but they’re not the only creatures that would slot into this new deck. History of Benalia is one of the new Saga Enchantments the spends its first to counters giving you 2/2 white Knights, then it gives your team a pump to deal some major damage. It is also worth noting that Sagas are not Legendary, so you can chain them together in order to really pile on the pressure. Lastly, but by no means least, we have the best Savannah Lions ever printed. Dauntless Bodyguard is a great early drop that can still find use in the late game, protecting one of your valuable creatures from a removal spell. With all these Knight at our disposal, I believe it is only a matter of time before a White Weenie deck splashing Black sees competitive play.

But what do you think? Do you believe that any of these new tribes will have an impact on the Standard meta game? If so, which are you most interested in trying out for yourself? Why not let us know in the comments below, and while you are there why not subscribe to the site to keep up to date with all the latest from us here at Master of Magics. In the next few weeks and months I will be cranking out some Standard deck techs based on all the goodies Dominaria has to offer, so be sure to check back to see what brews we have in the works. But until next time remember, Good Luck and Have Fun.

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