Hi All, I was lucky enough to earn a Top 16 in the Standard Grand Prix event that took place during Channel Fireball’s double GP weekend earlier this month. I previously provided a narrative walkthrough of the matches played in the event, but promised to follow up with a more strategic piece on the deck with more insights as to why I chose to play this deck, specific card choices, game plans in different match-ups and sideboarding tips.
Before we begin, I’d like to clarify that this is mostly, as per the title, strategic reflections influenced by the GP. I am not claiming to be an expert on the deck, I’m simply sharing my views, hoping they will be helpful to read through, whether you’re new to the deck, or more experienced than myself, but looking to hear another point of view.
Secondly, the article assumes that we are using the same list that I played in the GP. It might be helpful for you to have this open in another tab in case you need to keep referring back to it and save on the scrolling. I’ve provided a link immediately below which will do this.
Now let’s get to it!
Why this deck?
There are a few elements at play here so let’s go through them one by one:
(Obvious) powerful proactive cards
A few years ago, I played a deck in Standard that was called ‘Mythic’, which comprised of some of the most powerful Mythics and Rares in the Bant colours at the time. Noble Hierarch, Lotus Cobra, Knight of the Reliquary, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Baneslayer Angel, Rafiq of the Many, Gideon Jura. There were a few incidental synergies, but the deck was good mostly on the merit that the cards were just so powerful. Playing History of Benalia, Gideon of the Trials, Karn, Scion of Urza and Lyra Dawnbringer at worst forces your opponent to fight through powerful cards – at best it simply runs them over.
It’s like Mardu Vehicles but with a better manabase
At Pro Tour Aether Revolt, Mardu Vehicles established itself as the ‘deck to play’. It combined fast aggressive threats, solid removal and a good curve topper in Gideon, Ally of Zendikar with a questionably reliable manabase. I have previously enjoyed playing this deck because I liked elements of the core strategies, sideboarding tactics and improved my proficiency with it over time. While Battle for Zendikar was still in Standard, I felt that the ability to run Gideon made up for the weak manabase, but I haven’t felt that Mardu as a deck had the power to compensate for its manabase weaknesses since Zendikar’s Ally rotated out. However, BW gives offers me a deck which I feel is similar in core strategy with a less risky manabase. Something familiar, something that plays to my preferences and something I have a reasonable idea of how to play effectively.
Is it good against control? and red aggro?
This is (again) very much in relation to my own personal preference. My starting point for deck choice in the current Standard is making sure the answer to both above questions is ‘yes’. When Dominaria was released, I predicted that these kinds of decks would represent the largest cross section of the field of most Standard events, particularly PPTQs. Having an advantage against most of your expected field of opposition is a good place to start, so this deck felt like a good choice to take to the PPTQ. In the run up to the GP, I noticed green decks were on not only the rise but also and had a good matchup against WB. However, in spite of more Ghalta, Primal Hungers and Winding Constrictors being sleeved up, I still thought that red-based aggressive decks plus blue control decks would still be more represented at the GP.
Plays offence and defence well, just like a good midrange deck should
We’ll cover this in more detail as we look at cards and sideboarding strategies, but one theme you’re likely to notice is that many of the cards have good offensive and defensive applications, which allows you to apply them effectively in a range of scenarios. You can build a decent midrange decks by mixing cards that are good offensively and cards that are good defensively, but being able to build your deck when so many cards can do both makes it infinitely easier and mitigates against ‘drawing the wrong half of your deck’.
Building the deck I played
Following on from these core principles, I then came to think about the best way to build my deck. This is covered in more detail in the Standard section of my previous article on GP Birmingham. However, the TLDR is:
- I thought about playing BW for the PPTQ season. This is covered in more detail in this article
- I won a PPTQ, but decided to drop Benalish Marshall from the 75 and play more black cards to be more versatile
- I thought the deck that Zan Syed used to win the Starcitygames Standard Classic the week before the GP was a good ‘next step’ and the section below will help to explain why.
Both of these cards represent good early-game pressure, particularly against control and combo. Playing Toolcraft on turn one one can lead to ‘free wins’, and Scrapheap’s activated ability makes it resilient against removal and less worthwhile to ‘trade’ with in combat. Both can crew Heart of Kiran. Unfortunately, Walking Ballista, Goblin Chainwhirler, Steel Leaf Champion are common early plays that can simply halt these creatures and render them useless. They are also not good at blocking.
This card is also a form of early-game pressure and is particularly troublesome for decks making use of white spot removal like Seal Away. First strike makes this card harder to trade with in combat which has both offensive and defensive applications. It’s also a Knight and will get +2/+1 from History of Benalia.
This card goes over the top of creatures like Steel Leaf Champion, Rekindling Phoenix and Glorybringer. It clocks your opponent effectively while keeping you in the game with Lifelink. Sometimes, if this card goes unchecked you can get a ‘free win’ out of it. Unfortunately, you can only have one in play at a time and it’s a bit slow and clunky against control decks.
This card is ubiquitous. It kills Llanowar Elves and Bomat Couriers before they can impact the game (hopefully), but it can also make combat more complicated for your opponent, finish off planeswalkers or simply be a huge threat in the late game! It’s the jack of all trades, and while paling in comparison to Toolcraft in terms of ‘fast pressure’, or unable to ‘roadblock’ big creatures like Lyra can, it’s versatility allows the potential for huge impact in a variety of in-game situations.
Another card with decent offensive and defensive capabilities. Gideon also maximises your ability to attack with Heart of Kiran on turn three with the bonus of also shutting down the opponent’s best threat. He also forces the opponent to commit more to the board to overcome you. If you’ve sideboarded mass removal, you’ll be happy. Finally, he can crash in for damage if he’s the last threat standing and the emblem will laugh at Approach of the Second Sun (or Revel in Riches).
I feel this is the deck that gets the most value out of Karn in the current Standard metagame. The +1 ability helps you accrue card advantage as you transition into the mid or late game. Karn has quite high loyalty and can take a reasonable hit before being defeater (which can mean incidental lifegain). While not quite Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, he can be a decent curve-topper when on the aggro plan. The -2 ability combines very well with Heart of Kiran, Scrapheap Scrounger and Walking Ballista so you’re frequently getting a 3/3 with this ability as opposed to a 1/1. Don’t confuse this with the old Karn that is liberated from the loincloth – you don’t need to use the same copy of Karn to return cards with the -1 ability as you did to exile them with the +1 ability. Future Karns can pick up cards you’ve exiled with old ones your opponent manages to kill off, ensuring you keep all that value from earlier in the game.
Quick, evasive, hard-hitting and immune to Seal Away and sorcery speed removal – sign me up. It also helps that it can be crewed with loyalty. Unfortunately, like Lyra this is a one at a time card and people play a lot of Abrade because of this card, but it’s positive points far outweigh this. It can be quite effective at defending Planeswalkers when you need to. If your opponent is attacking one of your Planeswalkers with Lyra Dawnbringer and there’s no hope for your superfriend, I’d recommend crewing the Heart with the loyalty to prevent the opponent gaining life!
Two knights and a Trial of Solidarity for three mana isn’t negligible threat generation and fact that the tokens have vigilance is huge because, you guessed it, offensive AND defensive applications all in the same card! This card isn’t legendary so you can chain them giving you the ability to ‘go wide’. On the offence chaining multiple copies is another potential route to a free win, and defensively you’ve got a good way to protect yourself and your planeswalkers against aggressive decks. Its unfortunately not perfect for crewing Heart of Kiran. Additionally, opponents can play to a way that makes ‘chapter 3’ irrelevant by the time it comes round, but if they go to great lengths to do this, you’re probably fine with this.
Early game interaction to stop Llanowar Elves or enemy Heart of Kirans getting out of hand, but can also remove blockers if you’re wanting to push through for damage. This last point is one of the reasons I don’t like Seal Away in the deck. Push has its limitations not being able to take down everything, but consider that History of Benalia’s ‘3rd chapter’, Walking Ballista, combat, the deserts and even the Heart of Kiran trick mentioned above all enable revolt so you can take down 3 and 4 drops.
Taking down small creatures for 5 mana doesn’t sound like a good deal, but when you consider you got to include this one for free it’s pretty much all upside. Paying one life for mana is not going to matter most of the time. You can kill Winding Constrictors by putting two -1/-1 counters on it – its own ability adds the third counter for you.
These deal unconditionally with most things your opponents will commit to the battlefield. Arrest is a bit less flexible, but able to come down on turn three. Cast Out at one mana more also cycles when not relevant. Again, these can hit blocking creatures where Seal Away can’t so it gets the offensive and defensive award too.
Standard metagame (going into GP Birmingham)
In someways, committing to a decision on the expected metagame and understanding your own gameplan in each of these matchups should influence your sideboarding. So the three are interlinked. For example, if I don’t think there will be many decks that use the graveyard, I will not be putting graveyard hate in my sideboard – if I don’t expect anyone to play slow control decks with counterspells, I probably won’t put many cards like Duress in my sideboard.
Standard is wide open and you can play against a number of things, but to bring focus to my plan, I had the following decks in mind being the most likely choices of my opponents. I’ve provided a link to an example decklist for each which opens in a new tab in case you are unfamiliar with these other decks.
- UW Control (Top 8 – GP Birmingham)
- Mono-Red (Top 16 – GP Birmingham) or RB Aggro (Top 32 – GP Birmingham)
- WB Vehicles (mirror)
- Mono Green Stompy (Top 8 – SCG Classic Baltimore)
- BG Constrictor (Top 8 – GP Birmingham)
- UR God Pharaoh’s Gift (5-0 – Competitive Standard League)
Game plans and Sideboarding
Deciding on a perceived metagame is just the start. Let’s look at each of these match-ups. I’ll walk through my pre-board game-plan for each, what I think they’ll sideboard against me, and how I’d use my sideboard/adapt my game plan for games two (and three).
- Plan for game one: My deck can quite easily apply pressure quickly using a diverse range of resilient threats which forces my opponent to have the right kind of answer for each threat relatively quickly, and each one demands a different type of answer. Seal Away hits Scrapheap Scrounger, but not Knight of Malice or Heart of Kiran. Settle the Wreckage is great if I attack with many creatures, but a tough pill to swallow to remove a solitary attacker. Fumigate is great if my only threats are creatures, these are things the deck is built to be able to play around without much strain. As long as the opponent isn’t able to clear the board of your threats, the match-up feels quite favourable.
- How I think they will sideboard: Essence Scatter isn’t particularly good against you. A lot of the time your creatures can slip under it and your non-creature threats are actually harder to deal with once resolved and more powerful. For these reasons, I think they will sideboard it out and switch Disallow for Negate to be more mana-efficient. Slowing down your battlefield is much more viable for them so expect cards like History of Benalia, Lyra Dawnbringer, Sorcerous Spyglass and ‘Disenchant effects’ being boarded in. If they run Fumigate in the maindeck, it’s not as good as it looks and they should take it out. Tapping out to get rid of a Toolcraft, Scrapheap and History Token is often not worth letting me resolve Karn. They will also cut some of their ‘four mana card draw’ spells if they run them, as they often won’t have the chance to play them while they are trying to stabilise against you.
- Plan for games two and three: Fatal Push and Thopter Arrest are the weak cards, Cast Out still has value as it can answer Teferi, Hero of Dominaria random Seal Away’s and either flashed-in Gearhulks or Lyra – worst case it can be cycled away. Bring in Duress, Doomfall for disruption. Remember, if you’re torn between playing a threat or piece of disruption, most of the time you want to prioritize getting a threat on board, and sometimes it’s better to save the disruption for when you can play two spells in one turn. For example, Duress can be very helpful if you want to ‘push through a threat’ or think they are ‘sitting on Settle the Wreckage’ so I like it on turn five as well as on turn one. Having said this, nabbing a Search for Azcanta can be big game, that card helps them find the right answers for your threats. The actual game plan doesn’t change much from game one, just expect more roadblocks from their side. You have Treasure Map you can bring in to help improve your lategame a bit, but, while your opponent is trying to force it, remember, you aren’t playing to have a lategame if you can avoid it. You want them dead as quickly as possible – the map serves as a little Insurance. Fragmentize and Invoke the Divine deal with Search for Azcanta, their Cast Outs/Seal Aways, Sorcerous Spyglass and the latter also kills Torrential Gearhulk if they run it.
Based on my sideboard
- Out: 3 Fatal Push, 1 Thopter Arrest, 2 Lyra Dawnbringer, 1 Gideon of the Trials
- In: 2 Duress, 2 Doomfall, 1 Treasure Map, 1 Invoke the Divine, 1 Fragmentize
Mono-red or BR Aggro
- Plan for game one: Despite your Toolcraft, Heart, Scrapheap plan, they have a much higher density of aggressive cards, so you should assume that they are the beatdown and that your job is to slow them down enough to take over the game with bigger threats. This can be done by gumming up the ground with History of Benalia Tokens and even Karn contructs. Lyra Dawnbringer is generally going to be a free win, they will have to use multiple burn spells or an Unlicensed Disintegration to not lose. Gideon can be effective, but if they go wide he won’t necessarily save the day. Fatal Push compliments this plan quite well as it can support you in making your board larger than theirs, Cast Out should be saved for Hazorets or Chandras if possible.
- How I think they will sideboard: They will almost assuredly ‘go bigger’ and if they don’t have an answer to Lyra Dawnbringer, they will almost always bring one in to stop your ‘free wins’. They will likely cut Earthshaker Khenras and Ahn-Crop Crashers (if they have any) as well as any non-Abrade ’damage spells’. They will probably add Glorybringers to better pressure your Planeswalkers and creatures as well as more copies of Chandra to keep the gas flowing.
- Plan for games two and three: Toolcraft and Scrapheap are the weakest cards. Even though they will cut a bit of speed for their post-board plan, you are much better going into full-defense mode. This means boarding in Fumigates, Settle the Wreckage and Angel of Sanctions. The sideboarding here, and in all the match-ups where you remove all the Toolcrafts and Scrapheaps is more about improving the deck by taking out bad cards rather than ‘having the best sideboard answers possible’. I respected the red decks a bit by putting Sunscourge Champion in my sideboard. The BR version will have artifacts making Invoke the Divine an appealing card to bring in. Aethersphere Harvester is a legitimate way for the opponent to pressure your planeswalkers/lifetotal while you roadblock them with History of Benalia so you can hedge and bring it in against Mono-red. If you find yourself with too much to bring in, I like to cut one or two Hearts as drawing multiples while needing to be on the defense can be a liability.
Based on my sideboard:
- Out: 4 Toolcraft Exemplar, 4 Scrapheap Scrounger, 2 Heart of Kiran
- In: 2 Fumigate, 1 Settle the Wreckage, 1 Sunscourge Champion, 2 Angel of Sanctions, 1 Fragmentize, 1 Invoke the Divine (against Mono-red if you can try 1 Golden Demise instead of 1 Fragmentize as it’s less likely to have Artifacts)
- Plan for game one: In the mirror match, I would say that you would prefer to not be the beatdown, because being the aggressor is a much harder position to play from. For example, if you are the one who has first committed to a ‘faster plan’, one History of Benalia can roadblock your Toolcrafts and Scrapheaps, while also potentially applying pressure against you. If your Heart of Kiran meets a Fatal Push or is halted by Gideon of the Trials, then you’ll find it hard to play to your damage-dealing role, and your opponent will have a lot of card and resource advantage by virtue of the fact that your cards are useless and theirs are not. In essence, I think there’s a lot to be said for being the one who can chain the most History of Benalia and also stick a Lyra Dawnbringer – or, flipping this on its head, who draws the least Toolcraft Exemplars and Scrapheap Scroungers. I would only Cast Out your opponent’s Lyra Dawnbringers or Planeswalkers as the other threats can readily be dealt with by so many other cards in your deck – and if you can relieve a Cast Out by using a combat step to take out one other Planswalkers, all the better.
- Plan for games two and three: As you can likely tell from the above, the Toolcrafts and Scrapheaps are coming out. Angel of Sanctions, Doomfall, Settle the Wreckage and the Disenchant effects also come in. Remember, Invoke the Divine and Fragmentize hit Cast Out as well as Heart of Kiran, so you can use them to free a Planeswalker or even cut short the number of History lessons your opponent will be giving you if you need to do this. Fumigate isn’t great as the Planeswalkers and Heart become the real threats, Treasure Map to improve your draws is going to be more relevant, given both players will probably force a longer game.
Based on my sideboard:
- Out: 4 Toolcraft Exemplar, 4 Scrapheap Scrounger
- In: 1 Treasure Map, 2 Doomfall, 1 Settle the Wreckage, 1 Invoke the Divine, 1 Fragmentize, 2 Angel of Sanctions
Mono Green Stompy
- Plan for game one: In this matchup most of your game-one wins (if you get any) will revolve around the presence of two cards, Gideon of the Trials and Lyra Dawnbringer. This deck tends not to have any way of dealing with a Lyra Dawnbringer so she’s a reliable way to win. The other consideration is to make sure you can survive to cast her and attack with her. For this, you probably need to draw Gideon of the Trials. Fatal Pushes and Walking Ballistas are fine against their weaker draws, but once Steel Leaf Champions and Ghalta show up, Gideon will likely be needed for the heavy lifting. This match-up is very tough, they have so many threats that hit much harder and demand a much prompter answer than yours.
- How I think they will sideboard: Crushing Canopy is quite strong against you and likely outweighs the benefits of Blossoming Defense. It does the same thing against Cast Out and Thopter Arrest but also hits your flyers, most importantly Lyra Dawnbringer. Aethersphere Harvester also halts the Heart, pressures Planeswalkers and gives Llanowar Elves something to do after it’s accelerated threats out.
- Plan for games two and three: Toolcrafts and Scrapheaps again are your weakest cards and we’ll be bringing in Fumigates, Settle, Doomfall, Angel of Sanctions as well as any Disenchants. The latter are important for Hearts and Harvesters they might use to power out Ghalta, such vehicles also dodge Fumigate and Doomfall pretty well so you want to make sure you don’t fall behind to them. I shave a couple of Heart of Kiran to make room.
Based on my sideboard
- Out: 4 Toolcraft Exemplar, 4 Scrapheap Scrounger, 1 Heart of Kiran
- 2 Fumigate, 1 Settle the Wreckage, 2 Doomfall, 2 Angel of Sanctions, 1 Fragmentize, 1 Invoke the Divine
- Plan for game one: They’ve got the big green creatures, but also removal spells like Fatal Push, Ravenous Chupacabra and even Vraska’s Contempt. This makes them a bit less hard-hitting but more verstatile than Mono-green (for example, they have a few answers to Lyra Dawnbringer). Fortunately, I’ve found this match-up to be a little more forgiving than Mono-green. They only hit very hard if they can capitalise on Winding Constrictor synergy early on, or they combine Verdurous Gearhulk with Walking Ballista to Plague Wind you. This means that something like a single Fatal Push of yours or Thopter Arrest can buy you more time and relieve the pressure a bit. If both players are playing cards, provided they don’t ‘hit hard’ as described above, their deck will often run out of resources quicker, and they have no flying blockers so if you can stick Heart of Lyra once they’ve used their removal, it’s a reliable path to victory.
- How I think they will sideboard: This depends slightly on their maindeck configuration. I think the cards they will want to increase in their deck would be Thrashing Brontodon, Fatal Push, Aethersphere Harvester and Vraska’s Contempt depending on what they have at their disposal. They’d look to shave Adventurous Impulse, Blossoming Defense or potentially Rishkar, Peema Renegade (though it is probably still good enough on the play). Vraska, Relic Seeker can also be troublesome and has the potential to go over the top of your endgame so if they have this, they’ll probably bring that in too. If they know about how we generally sideboard against green decks, they could shave a Walking Ballista as it loses a lot of value, but Ballista + Gearhulk is still huge for them!
- Plan for games two and three: You guessed it, Toolcraft and Scrapheap are weak, the usual removal package comes in. I would definitely bring in Invoke the Divine as it can hit the Gearhulks as well as any Aethersphere Harvesters, but I don’t think Fragmentize is good enough as it has much fewer targets (Mono-green often has Heart of Kiran, but this deck doesn’t). Walking Ballista is much less of a worry than in game one as there’s less for it to ‘pick off’ given the absence of your 1/1s and 3/2s.
Based on my sideboard
- Out: 4 Toolcraft Exemplar, 4 Scrapheap Scrounger
- In: 2 Fumigate, 1 Settle the Wreckage, 2 Doomfall, 2 Angel of Sanctions, 1 Invoke the Divine
UR God Pharaoh’s Gift
- Plan for game one: I don’t have much experience against this deck, but I think the safest plan is to simply try and apply pressure as quickly as possible. Giving them time means more resources to ‘combo off’ and you have very few answers to their strategy in the maindeck, just a single Scavenger Grounds or timely Cast Out on their God Pharaoh’s Gift or Gate to the Afterlife. This means the Toolcraft, Scrapheap, Heart plan is the way to go.
- How I expect them to sideboard: (Disclaimer: I have never played this deck, so my understanding is very limited!) Abrade seems key to help buy them enough time. Sweltering Suns and Padeem, Consul of Innovation are also possible. They don’t care too much about their board dying if yours is going to as well, creatures in their graveyard enables them to search for the God Pharaoh’s Gift. Padeem blocks your ground threats and might give them free cards. In consideration of this, I’m not very learned with their deck, but they will likely cut Bomat Courier and could shave on Skirk Prospector as the speed element is not as essential as before – they will look to potentially overwhelm you with the combo inevitably instead of just putting all their energy into trying to combo off as quickly as possible.
- Plan for games two and three: We want to continue to put as much of a clock on them as possible. I think I would simply add ways to interact with them over the slower cards in our deck. This means cutting Lyra Dawnbringer and Karn for the Disenchants and hand disruption spells.
Based on my sideboard
- Out: 4 Karn, Scion of Urza, 2 Lyra Dawnbringer
- In: 2 Duress, 2 Doomfall, 1 Fragmentize, 1 Invoke the Divine.
Bonus – BR Vehicles/Midrange
As I found out at the GP, there was a reasonable concentration of BR decks going ‘bigger’ to be better in the mirror. These decks don’t have anywhere as near as many fast, aggressive cards as the ‘aggro’ version mentioned above and rely on slower, but more powerful threats like Rekindling Phoenix, Chandra, Torch of Defiance, Glorybringer and Karn, Scion of Urza.
- Plan for game one: Against these decks your Cast Outs will be a much more stretched, they are still often ‘the beatdown’ but there’s a bit less of an urgency to preserve your health total in the early turns as compared with the faster aggro version. Remember, Walking Ballista will be useful for making sure you can either kill Egg tokens from the Phoenixes or pressure their Planeswalkers before they generate too much advantage. Glorybringer is a bit tougher to deal with than Earthshaker Khenras and Kari Zevs, but Lyra is a good trump to it (if they don’t have Unlicensed Disintegration). Because this deck doesn’t clock as fast as its aggressive counterpart, you can legitimately race them. The only problem is that the Goblin Chainwhirlers and Pia Nalaar can turn things round for them against Toolcraft Exemplars. This is the risk you take. Having a ‘midrange-off’ against them is also possible and something that they will likely force you to do if they can’t beat you with their initial curve. Your defensive mechanisms give you a slight advantage here. Cast Out can deal with any of their threats and you are slightly better set up to protect your planeswalkers from anything (except maybe Glorybringer). However when committed to this plan, drawing Toolcraft Exemplars and Scrapheap Scroungers will cost you. In summary, their best topdecks are better than yours, your defense is generally better than their offence, you have more ‘bad topdecks’ than they do.
- How I expect them to sideboard: I fully expect them to try and ‘go even bigger’ which means more Glorybringers, Chandras and cards like Arguel’s Bloodfast and Doomfall helping to support a longer game for them. I would think that they cut things like Magma Spray or Cut//Ribbons and maybe some number of Soul Scar Mage and Bomat Courier if they are running those.
- Plan for games two and three: The ‘midrange off’ seems the most likely way the game will head. I don’t think an early Arguel’s Bloodfast warrants the Fragmentize as much as Heart of Kiran. If they want to spend their mana drawing cards and paying life while you add to the board, that’s not bad for you. It’s obviously a different story in the late game. I’m not sure how good the Sunscourge Champion is, but I think you want to maximise your chances to protect your health-total or Planeswalkers and get to that lategame where I think you’re a small favourite. The same things I explained above in the ‘midrange-off’ situation in game one applies, the only difference is they have more ‘better topdecks’ but your defence is even stronger and you won’t have as many bad topdecks anymore.
Based on my sideboard
- Out: 4 Scrapheap Scrounger, 4 Toolcraft Exemplar, 2 Heart of Kiran
- In: 2 Doomfall, 2 Fumigate, 1 Settle the Wreckage, 2 Angel of Sanctions, 1 Invoke the Divine, 1 Sunscourge Champion, 1 Fragmentize
Changes going forward
As you’ve probably noticed, I didn’t use those Golden Demises much. Why did I run them? I think there’s an element of ‘expect the unexpected’ in the deckbuilding. One weakness of the deck would be ‘go-wide’ token decks and it was maybe paranoia that it still shows up now and then that convinced me to use these slots on ‘other match-ups’ like this just in case. I’m fairly content that they don’t strictly ‘waste sideboard space’. I have the right number of slots for other match-ups. Having said this, there are ways we can likely improve our position against the current most popular decks if we dismiss the Golden Demise slots.
I think one thing this deck probably needs the most is a 25th land for when you are doing the ‘go bigger plan’ in post-board matches. One thing that can go wrong is not getting enough lands to implement this plan, which happened in the GP!
I’ve seen a few lists running Ravenous Chupacabra and Liliana, Death’s Majesty in the sideboard. I think having this additional ‘engine’ gives you even more options in the late-game, which you plan for against any aggressive or midrange decks. However, I’m wary of how this affects the rest of sideboarding. Here’s a list I can suggest to incorporate this plan which I’ll likely be trying out in the near future to see if it improves the deck.
I’d look to experiment with the following list, considering that BR Vehicles/midrange is going to likely be very popular over the coming weeks and maybe longer.
You probably have to drop Settle the Wreckage at risk of having too many expensive cards after sideboarding, but hopefully your opponents will play around it anyway!
I hope you found this advice useful, particularly if you were thinking of picking up the deck. The BR Vehicles deck stole the show at Birmingham and is probably a more consistent machine across the field, but I think WB is still very viable and I can’t not advocate for it after the way it performed for me at the GP (including against numerous BR decks). Although BG is on the uptick, UW control is too and I think this is a good deck to play if you expect a lot of the latter to show up at a tournament. I’ll be trying out a lot of different Standard decks over the coming weeks as I prepare for the Standard RPTQ with my team-mates and the rest of the competitive players around Leeds who are also going. The upcoming Pro Tour Dominaria will certainly shed light on what’s out there and things that we might have missed. Overall, I’m quite excited for Standard and I can’t wait to find out how right or wrong deckbuilding conventions so far have been!