From vampires to dinosaurs, from the skies down to the earth, and further on down to the underworld, Core Set 2020 has barely left a stone unturned. Ahead of the Red Bull Untapped Final, let's go through the most promising of the new developments. Here's our top 10 best new Magic The Gathering standard decks.
This deck is set up to play every single one of its nonland cards during the opponent's turn. Every creature spell has flash and each other spell is an instant. That means nothing will interfere with Nightpack Ambusher generating wolf tokens and everything will add a +1/+1 counter to Brineborn Cutthroat.
It also means a consistent ability to react to whatever the opponent is doing. If they cast some important spell, the deck's 15 counter effects can stop them right there. Otherwise, one might add more creatures to the board, or if no better option presents itself, activate Spectral Sailor at the end of the opponent's turn to pull ahead on cards. It really is a beautiful design.
2. Blue Tempo
Blue Tempo is not a new deck – in fact, it won the Mythic Championship back in February. But the strategy had mostly fallen off the radar in the meantime. Thanks to Core Set 2020, it's back with a vengance.
Blue Tempo players have picked up many of the same cards that already created the Flash archetype, but Spectral Sailor and Brineborn Cutthroat arguably play a more important role here... or several roles. In addition to being useful tools in the blue arsenal, they're also pirates by trade, and that has unlocked tribal synergies. The deck now features up to 16 pirates and up to four copies of Lookout's Dispersal.
24 dinosaurs throw a lot of fighting weight around. Usually, larger creatures tend to move at a slower pace, but this deck uses various options to speed up the stampede. Newcomer Marauding Raptor makes other dinosaurs cheaper, Regisaur Alpha makes other dinosaurs faster, and Otepec Huntmaster does both.
The second big addition from Core Set 2020, Rotting Regisaur, already features a discounted mana cost on its own. The original bargain deal and star of the deck, Ghalta, gets cheaper the more power is already on the battlefield, and thus benefits from the recent updates, too. Now it's entirely possible to attack with upwards of 20 power on turn four.
It is rare for strong Magic cards to slot neatly into one deck and one deck only. Rotting Regisaur is no exception as it found its way into Stompy as well. Standard's big green creature deck is just as monothematic now as it was before, and it received a very relevant power boost with the dinosaur, with Barkhide Troll, and Vivien.
Just consider the opening of Llanowar Elves on turn one, Rotting Regisaur on turn two, and then on turn three, another land plus Ghalta, Primal Hunger. No other deck in the format can count to 20 power this quickly.
From the beefy ground dwellers we turn our attention to the white and blue skies. High up in the air, you don't find many heavy hitters. Instead, this deck features a total of 16 flying creatures that all cost one mana and bring one power to the table. As if that weren't plenty already, Deploy even creates another two.
By itself, a squadron of angry birds is hardly competitive. But this deck has Empyrean Eagle, Favorable Winds, and Rally of Wings to turn them into a relevant attack force. Alternatively, four flying creatures can help summon the mighty angel Sephara to the battlefield. Here, it's particularly useful that there are so many and so many inexpensive fliers around. They allow Sephara to come down as early as turn three.
Harness the power of the elements – and the full power of Core Set 2020 – with a deck that's made up predominantly from new cards. The Elementals work in three magical colours – green provides a growth in mana resources (Cavalier of Thorns, Leafkin Druid, and Risen Reef) as well as growth to creatures (Creeping Trailblazer and Omnath). Blue provides a boost in knowledge by getting extra cards from the library (Risen Reef and Omnath). and Red adds aggression and fire (Creeping Trailblazer and once gain Omnath).
Everything combines for a package that can compete on multiple axes. It's possible to be faster than an opponent, to generate more card advantage, or simply to do bigger stuff. The deck also employs two versions of the planeswalker Chandra, who deals in fiery elemental witchcraft herself.
When it comes to casting huge spells fast, there's no better deck than Ramp. It ramps up the mana development quickly and builds a ramp to shoot for the stars. With 39 mana sources, split between lands and creatures, there's a danger of drawing all fuel but no engine, though several recent upgrades have stepped in to help out.
Once again, Risen Reef smooths out many draws with a few extra cards here and there, even if this deck, unlike the previous, only has eight elementals in total. However, eight is also the number of hydras, with the new Voracious Hydra joining Hydroid Krasis. Between the four different X spells, now there's always something to do with excess mana.
This deck is built around the interaction of inexpensive targeted instants and sorceries, with Tenth District Legionnaire, Dreadhorde Arcanist, and Feather, the Redeemed. To target one's own creatures is often a recipe for disaster, because of the inherent card disadvantage and the opponent's ability to intervene with a removal spell. But with creatures like this and spells like Reckless Rage or Defiant Strike, it's proven to be worth it.
Although all of the core existed before, the strategy was still missing one
9. The vampires
Standard already featured several strong vampires, but Core Set 2020 has brought the tribe to the forefront. The new Sorin adds both longevity as well as explosiveness to the archetype. Arguably, his most broken move is to put Champion of Dusk into play on turn three.
As with any tribal deck, the whole thing only works when many creatures of the chosen type find their way to the battlefield quickly. Conveniently, there's a new one drop in Knight of the Ebon Legion too.
Field of the Dead has shown itself to be the biggest update to Standard. When every land past the sixth has a free zombie token tacked on, it becomes possible to concentrate on making extra land drops at the exclusion of everything else. Indeed, the above consists of 28 lands and 22 spells that get lands onto the battlefield.
The key spell among them is the eponymous Scapeshift, which regularly puts eight lands into play at once, which then results in 16 zombie tokens, and wins the game in turn. Teferi, Time Raveler even enables this to be done at the end of the opponent's turn, which bypasses all the typical defense mechanisms.
If you want to see some of these decks – or even some brand new innovations – in action, tune in this Sunday to twitch.tv/redbull for the finals of Red Bull Untapped, live from the Red Bull Gaming Sphere in London