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Standard Theorycrafting with Ikoria


#MTGIKO is around the corner and approaching fast so it's that time of the year where we can try new decks and ideas to see where they fit in the meta! Sure, we'll have failed experiments and unrefined decks but somewhere along the way is a diamond in the rough! Also, the wedges are under new names but for the sake of this article, I'll be calling it the old wedges like Jeskai, Sultai, and etc!

Let's start with the popular decks that I think found a decent amount of upgrades that are already in the upper tiers of standard. (Please note that Bant and Rakdos Sacrifice aren't on here as they didn't get a ton of new stuff).

The Usual Suspects

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When looking at the Jeskai (Raugrin) Fires list we now have access to Raugrin Triome as this now gives the deck a land we can cycle and some solid mana fixing. Even better, the deck often has free mana sitting around when they've resolved a Fires of Invention so we can really capitalize on this. Outside of that, the real upgrade was just Inspired Ultimatum as I think that is a wonderful card to have to close out a game and/or catch us up when we're behind as sometimes we are just left empty-handed looking for a threat. 

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Sultai (Indatha) got more than just a few lands and this is a rough shell of what the deck could be but there's a strong chance we add more creatures as I think the card Dirge Bat should be in any deck that can cast it. At it's worst, it's a four mana 3/3 with flash and flying but it can be even more useful later as we can do some combat shenanigans like swinging or block with one of our animated lands or creatures and picking off a planeswalker. If our creature count goes up, I would also increase the amount of Dirge Bats being played. We also have another win con in Shark Typhoon. Sultai (Indatha) has the simic colors in it so the wedge can definitely ramp and hard cast this enchantment reasonably, but more often than not, we can just cycle the card and snipe a planeswalker or do a surprise block. I think Shark Typhoon will be sweet at all phases of the game. Another addition is Chevill, Bane of Monsters aka Kraven the Hunter. This card seems like a sleeper as its great against most of the aggro decks and blocks quite well with the deathtouch tag on it. For right now, it can definitely be in your sideboards. Lastly, we got Heartless Act which is the new "Doom Blade." I think the card itself is a removal spell standard has been needing for quite a while. The only thing this card doesn't kill is a Hydroid Krasis but it can shrink it. If the ability counters take off then maybe this won't be as great but as of right now, this card seems like premium removal.

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There has been a recent uptick for the Elementals recently, so naturally we had to take a look at what new cards this deck has benefited from. As always, the lands are just an auto include if you're in the wedge colors. As of right now, some cards I like are Parcelbeast which is also an elemental but because we want to be mutating this, it's time we change the amount of one drops that we play. My mind went right to Arboreal Grazer but the issue is the grazer itself doesn't make mana like Gilded Goose. This will be relevant as I think we can totally try Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy in this deck. Often times we just generate a silly amount of mana and Kinnan can dig for our cavaliers and other powerhouses. Kinnan will also reward us for having mana generators as we will now generate an additional mana every time we use Leafkin Druid

Okay, so we've looked at a few pre-existing decks but let's see some newer decks thanks to Ikoria...

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So naturally, my mind wandered right to Jeskai (Raugrin) Control as the archetype just got a ton of new support. We got Fire Prophecy. I think this card is worth trying out for the first week or so as the ability to take an unwanted card and tuck it to the bottom to draw a new card attached to removal is huge. Sure, it doesn't exile like Scorching Dragonfire nor does it hit Planeswalkers but that second half of the card is enticing and worth a shot. We also just got what I believe to be potentially the best Ultimatum for Standard, Inspired Ultimatum is exactly the control bomb that we want. Yes, it's at sorcery speed but Teferi, Time Raveler could change that. Not only that, but we also have Narset of the Hidden Way to pitch it to. Speaking of Narset of the Hidden Way, I wasn't huge on Narset of the Ancient Way initially. Its power level seemed weaker than a decent amount of walkers but as I sat down and thought about it, the card started to appeal to me. The +1 gets us closer to casting our Ultimatum and the -2 is a MAY ability on the discard so we could just -2 to draw a card or we can pitch some late-game cards that we're stuck with to ping walkers and creatures down which is huge. Also, the -6 isn't that far off when Narset starts at 4 loyalty. Lastly, we got Shark Typhoon to help us pick off opposing Teferi, Time Ravelers and is a spell I can see us casting for six mana. The dream is to have Shark Typhoon out and then cast Inspired Ultimatum. I also have a singleton Whirlwind of Thought. The card seems great as Jeskai(Raugrin) has cards that reward noncreature decks. This card will be huge when it comes to grinding out opponents but we must be cautious as it doesn't do anything upon entering the board.

I know people in the community are just in love with Simic Flash (I'm using the word love loosely)...

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Well, meet Simic Flash's cooler counterpart! Dimir Flash has a ton of sweet cards thanks to Ikoria. Slitherwisp may be the deck's absolute best card for a tempo deck. In a tempo deck, we're going to try to play a threat and protect it and just go to town but the issue is we run out of ways to interact normally but Slitherwisp refills our hand whenever we cast a creature with flash. It also hits the opponent for one damage on top of the card draw! The thing isn't even legendary so you can stack these. Speaking of stacking things, Dirge Bat as I had mentioned before should be in any deck that can cast it but it feels right at home in Dimir Flash. The card does everything the archetype wants and the issue with Simic was how medium the removal can be. Dirge Bat solves that and at it's worst is still a four mana 3/3 flying threat. Oh, let's not forget all star Sea-Dasher Octopus. This card is just a strict upgrade over something like Curious Obsession. Because we want to curve into this, we are playing Spectral Sailor in the main deck but holy cow Octopus is such a sweet value engine. Of course, the deck also got the new counterspell, Neutralize which is huge as we can cycle in the event we draw dead with a Teferi, Time Raveler on board. 

If you know me, you know how much I've been plagued by green cards since 2019 so here is a 4C super friends deck that I'm working on...

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The manabase may be a bit greedy and maybe we should play Fires of Invention but for right now I'll test this. I was grinding the mythic ladder with Esper Bolas last season and it worked wonderfully for us for the most part. The only downside was Interplanar Beacon made it hard to cast any of our sweepers but made casting our walkers easier while also healing us. Maybe the addition of ultimatums and tricycle lands can add even more power to the deck while allowing us to cast our spells more consistently. 

Right now, everyone is talking about Song of Creation and are trying to figure out how to break it. I'm not sure I "broke" it but I think this is a fun starting point

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Arclight Phoenix at a point had its life in standard but then disappeared after awhile. Maybe Ikoria changes this as we have some crazy new toys to play with. First off, Blitz of the Thunder-Raptor seems amazing in this deck as we load our graveyard up with cheap spells. Even better Blitz hits planeswalkers and exiles! Cathartic Reunion returning means we get to pitch phoenixes that are stuck in our hand but the new synergy between us discarding and Rielle, the Everwise is absolutely insane. Rielle will allow us to draw two more. Even better, if we have Song of Creation. We discard our hand and just draw a new one. Of course, if they remove our Rielle or have a Narset, Parter of Veils then we're very sad so keep that in mind!

Another new card we've got is Ominous Seas. Maybe this card is just being extra cute but with how much we'll be able to draw there is a very real possibility that we get an 8/8 kraken. Of course if the card isn't needed, we can always just cycle it away. With all of these new ways to reload and discard our hand, maybe The Royal Scions will see more play. I'm throwing a few copies in as it just seems great with Rielle and Ominous Seas

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I'm extremely excited to see if humans have what it takes to be in the meta. They probably don't but the fact that General's Enforcer makes our legendary humans indestructible is powerful. We have an indestructible Tajic, Legion's Edge with Tajic blanking non-combat damage to our creatures. We also have the sweet new human lord General Kudro of Drannith who will be working overtime as removal, graveyard hate for Uros, and an anthem effect. We're also packed to the brim with multicolored spells so you know we had to bring back Hero of Precinct One!

A few things to note are that we have Footlight Fiend and a few other nonhumans in the deck as I think Winota, Joiner of Forces rewards us for not going all in on humans. I'm not entirely sure how good Dire Tactics is but for right now I'm going to throw a few in the deck along with Bastion of Remembrance. It's always nice to have a drain effect as we don't have Zulaport Cutthroat. This will allow us to go the extra mile against sweepers. 

This last deck is more of a meme but it can be quite menacing ...

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Thats right. Pestilent Spirit may finally be in a decklist. Don't worry, I definitely am contemplating Blazing Volley for a 4 mana Plague Wind. Thanks to the spirit, our spells like Fire Prophecy and Scorching Dragonfire  turn into hard removal spells. The deck itself also has a ton of cards with hybrid mana symbols so I figured I throw in a few Gray Merchant of Asphodel to get reach! The archetype actually got some sweet new cards like Labyrinth Raptor. This card seems amazing as it forces opponents to sacrifice one of two creatures blocking our threat. Even better, if we have Sonorous Howlbonder, the opponents need to block with three creatures! I also think Hunted Nightmare is really powerful and might actually have a home in a more powerful deck. Anywho, the menace deck is more of my meme deck that I'll probably do a video on at some point.

There are a lot of things to try and there'll be tons of things I'll probably miss as Ikoria is an amazing set that is absurdly powerful. It's kind of hard to get a read on what will become a staple since everything is oozing with potential. All we can hope for is that there a few new decks injected into standard and I know its wishful thinking but maybe something dethrones green! 

Feel free to let me know what you think will become a standard powerhouse in the comments.

Thanks for reading and I'll see you at the next one!

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-Your Friendly Neighborhood AsianAvenger

Twitter: @TheAsianAvenger || Twitch: twitch.tv/TheAsianAvenger || Email: theasianavenger@mtggoldfish.com

 


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