Updating Standard with Ixalan (Part 1)

by Zen Takahashi on 13 September 2017, Wednesday

Zen Takahashi


Updating Standard with Ixalan (Part 1)


Hello everybody!

Ixalan spoilers are now in full swing, and the set looks great so far! It is rich in flavor and seems to be largely based on creature types, which is awesome to see as I love tribal decks. 

While the set does look to be slightly weaker than previous sets, such as Kaladesh, the release of Ixalan is sure to make a big impact on Standard as four sets will be rotating out when it comes out on 29th September. 

Over the next two articles, I will be analyzing the top fourteen decks in Standard and determine whether they will survive rotation, and which Ixalan cards spoiled thus far may make an impact in these decks. 



Temur Energy

Loses: Lumbering Falls, Game Trail 
Gains: Rootbound Crag 

Temur Energy is currently the most popular, and arguably the best, deck in Standard and will be losing close to nothing in rotation. In fact, the only cards in the main deck that it loses is a one-off Lumbering Falls and a one-off Game Trail – the latter which will be upgraded by the printing of Rootbound Crag in Ixalan. 


Rootbound Crag

As the deck is built around the energy mechanic, it is unlikely the deck will change with Ixalan, as there are only a few flexible slots. However, since it is essentially losing nothing and is already the most popular deck, I expect Temur Energy to be the deck to beat for the first few weeks after rotation. 


Ramunap Red 

Loses: Falkenrath Gorger, Village Messenger, Incendiary Flow, Collective Defiance
Gains: Lightning Strike


Lightning Strike

Ramunap Red is the second most popular deck at the moment, and also loses very little. Losing both Falkenrath Gorger and Village Messenger is an issue as you may be short on one drops now, but it is not a big deal and hopefully Ixalan will bring another one. Losing Incendiary Flow and Collective Defiance will largely be offset by the printing of Lightning Strike in Ixalan. 

Ramunap Red (XLN) (Standard - Others)

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Mardu Vehicles

Loses: Thraben Inspector, Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, Archangel Avacyn
Gains: Ruin Raider, Huatli, Warrior Poet 


Ruin Raider Huatli, Warrior Poet

Mardu Vehicles is set to lose some key cards – mainly Thraben Inspector and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. It is possible that losing Thraben Inspector will kill the archetype, as the one drop was crucial for turning on various artifact-matters cards such as Toolcraft Exemplar, Unlicensed Disintegration and Spire of Industry.

That being said, the deck still has some of the most individually powerful cards in the format, and this high power level may be enough to keep the deck around. Ruin Raider is also a big addition to the deck as it is very good at crewing Vehicles, while Huatli, Warrior Poet seems like a powerful replacement for Archangel Avacyn as it is a major threat against control decks, while its top ability can help you stabilise against aggro decks and its bottom ability can steal games. 

I like going back to Cultivator's Caravan, as your Spire of Industry is now less reliable and you have one mana cards of all three colors. It also helps you ramp into Huatli, Warrior Poet on turn four. 




Loses: Cryptbreaker, Relentless Dead, Diregraf Colossus, Grasp of Darkness, Dark Salvation
Gains: Walk the Plank, Unclaimed Territory 


Walk the Plank Unclaimed Territory

Zombies will definitely not survive in its current form, as it loses arguably the three best cards in the deck – Cryptbreaker, Diregraf Colossus and Dark Salvation. If the deck is to survive, it would have to be built more aggressively, as it essentially loses all the cards that allowed the deck to grind and play the long game. 

White-Black Zombies (XLN) (Standard - Others)

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Personally, this deck does not look very good and I feel like Mono Red is just a strictly better aggro deck. However, I will definitely try it, and if Ixalan can bring a few good Zombies, then the archetype could come back in full force. 



White-Blue Approach

Loses: Blessed Alliance, Blighted Cataract, Prairie Stream 
Gains: Opt, Glacial Fortress


Opt Glacial Fortress

White-Blue Approach has been gaining a lot of traction recently, and the only significant card it loses is Blessed Alliance, which can be replaced by Aether Meltdown and/or Farm // Market.

The addition of Opt from Ixalan is huge for this deck, as your game plan is largely to dig for Approach of the Second Sun, and once you have cast it, you want to sift through your draws as quickly as possible so you can recast it for a second time to win the game. Opt being an instant is very relevant, as in the early turns you want to be keep up mana to represent Censor and Supreme Will.


White-Blue Approach (Standard - Others)

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Blue-Black Control

Loses: Grasp of Darkness, Flaying Tendrils, Choked Estuary, Sunken Hollow 
Gains: Opt, Duress, Spell Pierce, Walk the Plank, Vraska's ContemptDrowned Catacomb


Duress Spell Pierce Vraska's Contempt

Blue-Black Control was largely unseen in Standard until a couple of weeks ago, where Robin Dolar piloted the deck to a win at GP Turin.

While the deck does lose Grasp of Darkness and Flaying Tendrils, it is also the deck that is likely to be gaining the most from Ixalan. Opt is a wonderful addition to any control deck, while Duress, Spell Pierce and Vraska's Contempt all help deal with Planeswalkers – something control decks have always struggled with.

Depending on the popularity of Vehicles and Hazoret, the Fervent, Walk the Plank may also prove to be not that much worse than Grasp of Darkness – especially if some of the big Dinosaurs see play. 

Blue-Black Control (XLN) (Standard - Others)

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Loses: World Breaker, Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, Weirding Wood, Sanctum of Ugin, Shrine of Forsaken Gods, Kozilek's Return (GR Ramp), Thraben Inspector (GW Ramp), Descent upon the Sinful (GW Ramp)
Gains: Carnage Tyrant, Verdant Sun's Avatar, Wakening Sun's Avatar, Gishath, Sun's Avatar


Carnage Tyrant Verdant Sun's Avatar Gishath, Sun's Avatar

Similar to Zombies, Ramp will not survive in its current form. Up until now, the Ramp decks have been based around casting big Eldrazis, such as World Breaker and Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, and utilizing cards that go well with it like Kozilek's Return, Shrine of Forsaken Gods and Sanctum of Ugin. With all these cards rotating out, the Ramp decks will have to reconfigure their win conditions.

Thankfully, Ixalan will be bringing in a lot of big Dinosaurs that you can ramp into. Wakening Sun's Avatar looks especially good to me, as wrath-ing the board is a good way to stabilize. It is possible that the Ramp decks cannot function without having an extremely powerful top end like Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, but these Dinosaurs are lower in mana cost and the ramp spells in the current Standard format are not very good, so I think you can build around that by creating a more midrange style deck that has a few ramp spells to help cast some bigger creatures that will allow you to go over the top of other midrange decks or control decks, while sacrificing some percentage against the aggro decks. 

As it stands, I do not have a list since there has not been enough cards spoiled thus far to build around this idea, but I am sure over the next couple of weeks we will see more Dinosaurs being printed and we will be able to start brainstorming decklists. 

I hope you enjoyed this article as I covered seven of the top fourteen decks in Standard and determined whether they will survive rotation, and which Ixalan cards spoiled thus far may make an impact in these decks. In my next article, I will be covering the other seven decks, so watch out for that in the next week! 

Until next time!

Zen Takahashi
@mtgzen on Twitter 

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