Standard Fare - Dragons of Tarkir Week 1 [Karttik Patel]

Another SCG Invitational is in the books and a new Standard format lies before us begging to be solved. Hi, my name is Karttik Patel and I am a grinder living in Sugar Land, Texas. Magic is my favorite hobby and I love sorting though decklists and other information and boy do we have a doozy this week. With the Richmond Invitational this past weekend we caught out first glimpses of a Standard newly influenced by Dragons of Tarkir. As is only fair, let's start with the winner.

Standard - Abzan Control
Jacob Wilson
1st Place

Creatures (16)
2 Sidisi, Undead Vizier
2 Tasigur, the Golden Fang
4 Siege Rhino
4 Courser of Kruphix
4 Satyr Wayfinder

Spells (20)
1 Murderous Cut
4 Abzan Charm
1 Utter End
1 Garruk, Apex Predator
4 Hero's Downfall
1 Ultimate Price
4 Thoughtseize
2 Bile Blight
2 Elspeth, Sun's Champion





Lands (24)
4 Sandsteppe Citadel
4 Temple of Malady
4 Temple of Silence
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
4 Windswept Heath
2 Plains
2 Forest
2 Llanowar Wastes
1 Caves of Koilos

Sideboard (15)
1 Virulent Plague
1 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
1 End Hostilities
1 Nissa, Worldwaker
2 Drown in Sorrow
1 Bile Blight
2 Read the Bones
2 Fleecemane Lion
1 Ultimate Price
1 Back to Nature
2 Duress


Here we see that one of the best decks from before Dragons is still quite a contender for the title. Abzan Control was the go-to non-blue Control shell with access to all the powerful cards we have grown to love like Siege Rhino and the powerful removal that the color black can offer. The thing that set Abzan Control apart from other builds of Abzan was the tendency to cut the less powerful creatures such as Sylvan Caryatid and Wingmate Roc and instead played some number of Wrath effects in the main and a much more powerful late-game. This new take on Abzan Control moves back toward more creatures and Wraths in the sideboard but keeps thee powerful top end of Elspeth, Sun's ChampionGarruk, Apex Predator, and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. This is done with the inclusion of cards like the new Sidisi, Undead Vizier which allows you to either find the perfect way to stabilize or, once you have done so, to find one of your game ending Planeswalkers. Tasigur, the Golden Fang also allows you to reclaim some of the cards you may need again from the graveyard. This all adds up to a powerful and resilient strategy that I would be happy to play in any tournament.

Standard - Sultai Reanimator
Reid Duke
2nd Place

Creatures (26)
1 Hornet Queen
1 Reclamation Sage
4 Satyr Wayfinder
1 Soul of Innistrad
4 Sylvan Caryatid
1 Torrent Elemental
4 Courser of Kruphix
1 Dragonlord Silumgar
4 Sidisi, Brood Tyrant
2 Sidisi, Undead Vizier
1 Silumgar, the Drifting Death
2 Tasigur, the Golden Fang

Spells (11)
2 Hero's Downfall
4 Murderous Cut
2 Whip of Erebos
3 Thoughtseize




Lands (23)
3 Forest
1 Island
2 Swamp
3 Llanowar Wastes
4 Opulent Palace
3 Polluted Delta
3 Temple of Malady
1 Temple of Mystery
1 Windswept Heath
2 Yavimaya Coast

Sideboard (15)
2 Doomwake Giant
2 Bile Blight
1 Disdainful Stroke
Hero's Downfall
1 Negate
2 Sultai Charm
1 Pharika, God of Affliction
1 Drown in Sorrow
1 Duress
1 Treasure Cruise


Reid Duke finished 2nd with this metaphoric breath of fresh air. Sidisi Whip had fallen out of favor for quite some time but it seems the new Sidisi, Undead Vizier continues to breath life into the format. If I had to give my opinion on what made this deck a good choice after Dragons I would have to say it is most likely because with the new Sidisi you are able to skimp a little on cards you had to play multiple of before to make sure you could find it in a timely fashion. These cards include Whip of Erebos and Hornet Queen which can be tutored by Sidisi. This excess of space allows for a more toolbox like creature base which can be target to certain matchups. These Whip strategies are very powerful and are insane in the midrange mirrors and can be tuned to beat aggressive strategies as needed. However, the real bane of this kind of strategy is the control decks of the format. A few key midgame counterspells or well placed removal spells can hinder the strategy enough for the control deck to gain an insurmountable amount of card advantage. Going forward this deck could be a powerful and proactive way to attack the format but I would steer clear if you expect a large amount of blue based control decks at any given tournament.

Standard - Mono Red Aggro
Michael Braverman
5th Place

Creatures (20)
4 Foundry Street Denizen
3 Goblin Heelcutter
1 Goblin Rabblemaster
4 Lightning Berserker
4 Eidolon of the Great Revel
4 Zurgo Bellstriker

Spells (19)
4 Lightning Strike
4 Stoke the Flames
4 Wild Slash
3 Dragon Fodder
4 Hordeling Outburst 

Lands (21)
21 Mountain

Sideboard (15)
4 Outpost Siege
2 Hall of Triumph
3 Arc Lightning
4 Roast
1 Scouring Sands


This couldn't be a proper article about a new format without a Mono Red decklist. Braverman performed exceptionally well with his take on this deck. A few problems that I personally have with the decklist are my aversion to playing 4 Zurgo Bellstriker, a lack of ways to make your goblin tokens good, and Eidolon of the Great Revel in the maindeck. That being said top 8ing an Invitational is not easy and only one of us has done so. I do however love the idea of Goblin Heelcutter in the three drop slot over a set of Goblin Rabblemaster and the inclusion of 4 Lightning Berserker. I had a feeling that Lightning Berserker was the hotness and it's nice to be able to confirm that so early in the format. the sideboard plan of boarding in Outpost Siege and one more Mountain is inspired and incredibly elegant. Many people try to fit in a transformational sideboard that attacks on a completely different axis. Braverman here is able to simply shift his plan of attack on the same axis so as not to conflict with his main deck while still demanding specialized answers from his opponent (i.e. enchantment destruction). In my opinion mono red is a fine choice going forward and will likely be a part of the metagame for quite a while. That being said if you do decide this is what you want to play it is imperative that you understand that because this deck tries to compact a game to as few turns as possible, opening hands and the die roll are exponentially influential to your tournament performances in my opinion. Or in other words mulligans and playing on the draw will suck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Standard - R/G Aggro
Ross Merriam
8th Place

Creatures (30)
4 Elvish Mystic
4 Goblin Rabblemaster
3 Heir of the Wilds
4 Rattleclaw Mystic
Stormbreath Dragon
4 Thunderbreak Regent
4 Boon Satyr
3 Surrak, the Hunt Caller

Spells (7)
2 Draconic Roar
4 Crater's Claws
1 Roast


Lands (23)
6 Forest
6 Mountain
2 Mana Confluence
1 Rugged Highlands
4 Temple of Abandon
4 Wooded Foothills

Sideboard (15)
3 Hornet Nest
3 Destructive Revelry
3 Wild Slash
1 Nissa, Worldwaker
3 Xenagos, the Reveler


I will be honest, this is the deck I was most excited about coming out of the Invitational and as such this section of the article maybe slightly biased and should be taken with a grain of salt. Merriam's decklist has many new cards and interactions that get me excited. I learned fairly quickly (at the prerelease) that Surrak, the Hunt Caller is absurdly powerful especially when teamed up with dragons. The R/G Aggro strategy is one has been relegated to sporadic top 8s and PTQ success. However with the powerful interaction between turn 2 or turn 3 Boon Satyr into turn 3 or 4 Surrak, the Hunt Caller for 9 damage is just insane and will shoot this deck up in popularity. The inclusion of Thunderbreak Regent for its resilience and interaction with Surrak is also absurd and in my opinion much more than simply gimmicky. This is all secondary to the fact that this deck can cast a turn 2 Rabblemaster and gets many free wins off its explosive starts. If I had to play in a Standard GP tomorrow I would undeniably be playing a variation of this strategy. In summation, this deck is fairly easy to pilot and low impact on endurance when looking at 15 round tournaments. However, just as any green-based aggressive strategy, mulligans hurt us more than most other strategies as we need to hit a healthy balance of low drops lands and top end.

In summation, these were the decks that caught my eye and seem poised to shape the format going forward. That being said, this was only week one of the new Standard and with the Pro Tour not far off, the format has plenty of room for innovation and change. I hope you enjoyed my article and what I have to offer as a writer. As a writer and fellow magic player, I believe in a free flow of ideas so feel free to comment below about what you thought I got right or wrong. And what you would like me to write about in the future.

Until next time,
Karttik Patel

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