Next week will mark the beginning of 2018, and in the Magic world, 2018 is the year of the team tournaments. Grand Prix Santa Clara will kick off the New Year, and of course, if it’s a team tournament, I’m going to try my hardest to be there. Dem Boyz had a bit of a dilemma for GP Santa Clara with Alexander Hayne unable to make it due to prior obligations, so Steve Rubin and I will be battling with a long-time friend of mine Jonathan “jono mizer” Morawski. I’ve played with Jono since I started playing competitively, and he’s quietly been on the Pro Tour for a couple of years now without falling off. Don’t worry though, we’ll be getting the band back together for GP Indianapolis.
Last year, I played in GP San Antonio with Dem Boyz and the hardest part of the tournament was deciding which decks to play. Sure, it was Unified Modern, which made it a little more difficult in deckbuilding, but getting your team on the same page as to what decks to play in each format of GP Santa Clara may also prove a challenge. I’m unsure what format I’ll be playing as of yet, and for this reason I’ve thought a bit about each format and which decks are viable. I’m going to share what I think the best three decks are to register in each format for GP Santa Clara, starting with Standard.
In a Team Constructed tournament, you can expect to face the “best deck” in each format more regularly. The reason for this is you’re more likely to have three people agree on each deck, and card resources are more readily available when you pool three players. If Bob is a good Affinity player but Affinity isn’t well positioned, maybe Sally, who’s an excellent Storm player, will play Modern while Bob plays a deck he’s also familiar with in Standard or Legacy. I’m going to take this into account when helping to choose decks for GP Santa Clara with my team, and in choosing decks for this article I also considered what the current metagame trends may look like.
Let’s start out with the easy one, Standard:
3) Ramunap Red
Trey Van Cleave, Top 8 at GP Portland
Ramunap Red is definitely the worst deck I’d consider playing in Standard in this event, but it’s a perfectly reasonable choice if you’re going to eschew the energy mechanic. I like this list from Trey Van Cleave as he did something pretty smart in cutting Ahn-Crop Crasher entirely for a full playset of main-deck Rampaging Ferocidon, and he’s playing a full playset of Harsh Mentor. Both of these cards are tougher to beat for Temur Energy and overload their removal. You’re likely to face Energy even more regularly in a team setting than you would in a normal Standard event, because you’ll have three people voting on one deck, and when one deck is obviously the best, you’re so much more likely to face it that preboarding against the deck is a good idea.
From a metagame standpoint, I don’t think Ramunap Red is where I’d necessarily want to be, but the deck is so powerful that I don’t think it’s all that bad a choice. If you win a lot of die rolls for play and draw, this deck might be a good spot to be in.
I wouldn’t recommend Desert Red, a deck innovated by a teammate Ben Stark. Even though it has picked up some and popularity and has had some respectable results, I’m still skeptical of the deck. I haven’t piloted the deck at all, so keep that in mind if you’re a confident Treasure Red player, but if I wanted to be proactive and fast I’d stick with traditional Ramunap Red and let a full 4 copies of Hazoret the Fervent do the heavy lifting.
2) Temur Energy
Shahar Shenhar, 1st place at GP Portland
The boogeyman of the format. Temur Energy has been the de facto best deck in Standard since before Ixalan, and I don’t think anything has changed to say otherwise. So how could I possibly have it at number two? Well we’ll get into that in a bit. Shahar and Reid Duke both played similar builds of Temur Energy in fairly recent events, and both took home first place in the MOCS Playoff and GP Portland. Both players incorporated a single Torrential Gearhulk in the sideboard, not quite committing as fully to the plan as PGO did at the World Championships this year, but still recognizing the value in a mix of counter magic and removal, and having something to go over the top. They’ve cut cards like Glimmer of Genius with control being less represented in the metagame, and tuned the deck for Energy mirrors and Ramunap Red. I like this deck list, and even as I write this I’m second-guessing my decision to leave it out of the #1 spot.
You won’t make a mistake if you play a straight Temur deck similar to this one in the Standard portion of GP Santa Clara—that’s for sure.
1) 4c Energy
Okay, so I’m cheating a little bit here, but I’m doing it to emphasize on how good Temur Energy is and which version of the deck I’m more likely to play if I play Standard. I’m a big advocate of the splash, and that’s mostly because I’m comfortable with it, and I understand my role in every matchup. I like how good Vraska is in mirrors, but also how good it is against the random decks of the format like tokens.
The Scarab God isn’t a huge draw to the deck, but when I have black mana I like to have the option to have a card like it for inevitability. In fact, I could even see cutting a copy of The Scarab God from this list for a main-deck Confiscation Coup. This is how I’d change my deck list since the Pro Tour, and while it’s only a few cards off my Pro Tour Ixalan deck list, I still think it will be quite competitive. I like adding more copies of Vizier of Many Faces as they’re much better than generic beatdown creatures like Bristling Hydra and Longtusk Cub in mirrors, and can allow you to play a longer more grindy game in control mirrors, which should benefit your game plan of going over the top with Vraska, Relic Seeker and The Scarab God. If I play Standard, I’ll likely play this deck and a version close to this list.
Check back later in the week when I cover Modern and Legacy!
What decks didn’t I consider that you like? Got any advice? I’m happy to hear it.