As summer winds down, the release of Guilds of Ravnica and a brand new Standard format loom on the autumnal horizon. Not only will the new season be capped off with a jam-packed goodies release—it will also be highlighted by a major rotation of both Kaladesh and Amonkhet blocks, which means we can expect a complete metagame overhaul.
I’ve played my way through both previous Ravnica blocks, and one of the most straightforward lessons I’ve learned from those experiences was to focus on the guilds. There are ten different 2-color combos in totality, but there are only five in this particular set: R/W (Boros), U/R (Izzet), U/B (Dimir), G/B (Golgari) and G/W (Selesnya). The other half of the combinations are absent, but will get their chance to shine in the next expansion.
Guilds of Ravnica Has Depth but G/W and B/G Are Lowdown, Filthy Good
The set is deep. I want to say “it’s one of the deepest I’ve seen in awhile,” except both Dominaria and Core Set 2019 were crazy powerful, so I guess I should say:
“The trend of above-curve recent releases continues…”
In particular, I’ve been blown away by the green cards from both the Selesnya and Golgari guilds. The Dimir and Izzet cards look sweet, but this early in the season it’s hard to tell how they will play out in Constructed. The green-based guilds, on the other hand, are more straightforward to build and comprehend because they are so “stat fat.” The idea of being stat fat is pretty simple. The card has a lot going on for the cost to play it, and cards that fit this description tend to be the best and most played cards in the game. Makes sense, since they are a great bargain to play.
One of the trade secrets of exploring a new format is the complete lack of subtlety of process:
“Always look for the obvious things first. The nuances come later.”
For me, approaching the format from a “green-centric” point of view had everything to do with looking at the spoiler and being impressed by the Golgari and Selesnya cards. The new multicolored cards made it simple to build around new themes.
On the other hand, powerful decks like U/W Control and Mono-Red Aggro will remain fixtures in my gauntlet, but neither has received an overhaul yet. It’s been more a case of restocking a few rotating cards with viable replacements.
Both Selesnya and Golgari, on the other hand, gain enough new tools to warrant new decks.
Green is So Good That It Doesn’t Even Need Friends
One of the hottest level 1 decks for new Standard is Green Stompy. It’s so obvious and full of stat fat cards that I’ve seen roughly a dozen articles built around the same core cards.
Mono-Green Dino Stompy
The version of the Stompy deck I put together has a “Dinosaurs-matter” theme throughout. I’ve seen other versions of the deck that splash a color for removal or disruption, but the core is the same: Giant beefy green creatures!
When I talk about green creatures with stat fat, two come to mind:
Efficiency is everything, and speaking of efficient…
The new insane cards aren’t even the most insane cards in the deck! Stompy was already a solid strategy that boasted a great red matchup before rotation and it gained multiple bombs. It feels like the obvious “here’s a pile of green cards and all of them are well-above average threats.”
The deck is good for sure, but it is the definition of a glass cannon or one-trick pony. It casts a bunch of efficient creatures and beats down with them. There is not much going on in the way of flexibility or tricks, and a deck like this really banks on its good cards being good enough to push through. It’s a good level one deck for the gauntlet, but it is one-dimensional and thus vulnerable.
The Golgari are one of the great tribes of modern Magic. Black and green are unallied colors that complement each other well with powerful, efficient, grindy creatures with discard and removal.
Guilds of Ravnica has some serious new Golgari cards I’m interesting in trying out.
Obviously, Assassin’s Trophy is the best card in the set and it’s a big reason to play B/G. The downside of giving your opponent a land early is quite a drawback (especially on turn 2), so I really like using a card like Trophy in an attrition-based strategy where I’m planning to run my opponent out of resources.
“The Rock” has always been a grindy deck, and I’ve started my B/G version with the intent of grinding pretty hard. There is a lot of removal and built-in card advantage here and the deck can leverage Karn, Scion of Urza in a long game.
I’m pretty heavy on Karn (which means I want artifacts) but both of these cards are dangerous post-sideboard in this deck. Host, in particular, is a stone-cold beating with Chupacabra and Plaguecrafter.
The deck is sort of the definition of “kill everything, gain card advantage, and win with whatever is left over.”
Selesnya “Good Stuff”
The default tokens deck I started with was Selesnya Tokens.
I mean, I’m just a really creative person to look at these two cards in the same set and come up with the outside-the-box idea to build a G/W Tokens deck. O.K., so there are already several G/W Tokens articles published this week, so instead of pouring on I decided to write about my “good stuff” G/W deck.
I will say that I thought Growing Rites of Itlimoc was very strong in the token decks, and I didn’t see people talking about the card in the articles I read, so that is something to think about. It was easy to flip and does disgusting things when paired with March of Multitudes.
For the record, the tokens deck is nasty if you can’t get out in front of it. Divine Visitation puts a ton of pressure on opposing aggro decks, since if you don’t win the turn they play it, the token player can come way over the top on the next turn.
G/W Beats Stuff
I’ve been impressed with how this deck has played out so far. It’s a good mix of efficiency, synergy, and cards that are downright powerful on their own.
The biggest addition from Guilds of Ravnica is:
But don’t underestimate how important an untapped dual land is for a deck that has 12 1-drops! It’s a huge pick-up for the deck.
We also get these spicy creatures that round out the Stompy shell. Pelt Collector has impressed me, and aside from randomly picking off a flyer here or there, the 3rd point of power on the Harpooner is huge for pumping Pelt Collector up to level three.
I’ve found that the main-deck Lyra Dawnbringer has been pretty insane against a lot of the brews I’ve been playing against. It makes sense, since the “first” brews tend to be the most aggressive ones and Lyra really beats up on fast aggro decks that don’t have/draw an answer on time.
I’m also a big fan of Ajani in these very aggressive G/W beatdown decks. The +1 ability is a great way to make those early drops keep pace and size with midgame blockers (and for value!). There are also a ton of great 2-drops to rebuy, which allows it to be a nice threat against grindy control decks.
Song of Freyalise is one of those cards that has always felt broken to me. It’s also very powerful with Emmara, since you can tap her to make mana, generate a token, rinse, and repeat. It makes it easy to power out the large Angels and planeswalkers consistently.
The Many Levels of Green in Guilds of Ravnica Standard
There is a reason why people have been very optimistic about the new green cards from Guilds of Ravnica—because they are quite good!
It’s always anice to start with the most exciting cards in a new set and see how they will play with potential deck shells. The Stompy strategy looks nasty and puts the opposition to the test quickly, but like all “mono-creature” decks, it’s vulnerable to Wraths and Fogs.
G/W Tokens also looks promising with a shiny new mythic, Divine Visitation, at the ready to power up those token generators.
I have been enjoying the grindy Golgari deck quite a bit. It has a lot of answers to Teferi, which I think is still “the deck to beat” even if the new cards and decks are getting a lot of hype at the moment with the prerelease around the corner.
If anything, green looks to be a very dynamic color. New tools like Pelt Collector, Kraul Harpooner, and Nullhide Ferox power up Stompy builds, while the multicolored Golgari and Selesnya cards, such as Assassin’s Trophy, Knight of Autumn, and Emmara, the Soul of Accord give a lot of play and flavor to guild colored decks.
It’s still a week before the prerelease, so I’m sure that these proto-brews will be getting tighter and better established by the time the article goes live, but I’m always down to discuss brews and different card choices in the comments below. There are a lot of different angles to take Standard green decks out of the gate, and a lot of that will be dictated by how players try to push back against the Stompy decks everybody is excited about.