In my last article we talked about what didn’t work, so now let’s cover what did!
What Has Worked in Throne of Eldraine Standard
- Golos-Field of the Dead / Bant Ramp
- GW Adventurers
Let’s start with the most obvious ‘big’ endgame in the format right now. Golos, Tireless Pilgrim is not only better situated than it was in the previous format, but the shells it’s in have gained some tools while losing little. Scapeshift as a quick board turnaround may be gone, but Golos activations have only gone up for me. Besides that, we largely see Golos in base tri-color decks splashing the remaining colors for the rainbow necessary to activate the ability. The most popular shells I’ve seen are Temur, Bant and Gates, which all have their own quirks built in.
Field of the Dead is typically seen as a 4-of, though shaving one and playing only three is common enough. It largely comes down to how you feel about your odds of naturally stumbling into Field of the Dead over the awkwardness of hitting multiple in the early game. Considering you need at least two in play to really leverage Field as a win condition, I lean toward four in my builds for now.
The secondary creature win conditions range from Hydroid Krasis to Cavalier of Thorns to Agent of Treachery (usually mixed in with Teferi rebuying it) to even Kenrith, the Returned King! There’s a lot of options and this isn’t even the full list, as we’ll look deeper into the giants when we move into the Bant Ramp breakdown.
So why play the deck? Quite simply, it trumps every other deck looking to go to a late-game in the format. It’s also fast enough that even the midgame decks often can’t disrupt you enough to end the game before your main engines come online and take over. These decks do not remotely care about cards like Oko, Thief of Crowns, The Royal Scions, Doom Foretold or nearly any other midrange value care. The cards Golos decks do care about are limited to ones that clock them quickly like Rotting Regisaur.
Even normal control has a hard time fighting you fairly because of Field of the Dead. They can trump every normal win condition you have, but eventually you’ll get value out of Hydroid Krasis and Field and turn the game around. Fires of Invention decks may be the only strategy that can legitimately trump your late game and even that’s questionable as they’re limited to two cards a turn. You can generally match that with a huge spell (or two!) plus three 2/2’s every turn or even trump it with Golos activations.
The most common shell is as follows:
28 Landslide 4 Arboreal Grazer 4 Golos, Tireless Pilgrim 4 Hydroid Krasis 4 Once Upon a Time 4 Teferi, Time Raveler 4 Circuitous Route
The mana base deserves a bit of attention and you really should tweak it for your exact build over wholesale copying an existing list. For the base Bant lists, this usually breaks down into:
- 1 Plains
- 1-2 Island
- 2 Forest
- 1-2 Temple Garden
- 1-2 Hallowed Fountain
- 2-3 Breeding Pool
- 2-3 Temples (GU, BG, WR)
- 4-5 Gates (GU, UR, WR, BG, GW, BR)
- 0-2 +1 Life lands (WU, GW)
- 0-2 Plaza of Harmony
- 2-3 Fabled Passage
- 3-4 Field of the Dead
- 1 Castle Vantress
It depends entirely on your build, so while most look similar to how Bryan Gottlieb built his Bant Ramp deck, if you have cards like Deafening Clarion main or want to try and play an early Oko then you may want to tweak the numbers. The Gates builds obviously play a much higher number of Gates to take advantage of Gates Ablaze and Guild Summit along with sideboard Gatebreaker Ram and Archway Angel.
The point is that these builds all have 18-22 different lands, so naturally you should naturally have your Field online when you end up fetching it out or the turn you Circuitous Route. If you run significantly fewer unique lands, then you may have problems accomplishing this so you need to weigh that consistency against potential Field value.
Speaking of Gottlieb’s build, let’s look at what he used to win a Fandom Legends cup.
1 Blossoming Sands 1 Boros Guildgate 2 Breeding Pool 1 Castle Vantress 2 Fabled Passage 4 Field of the Dead 2 Forest (347) 1 Golgari Guildgate 2 Hallowed Fountain 2 Island (335) 1 Izzet Guildgate 1 Plains (331) 1 Plaza of Harmony 1 Selesnya Guildgate 1 Simic Guildgate 2 Temple Garden 1 Temple of Malady 1 Temple of Mystery 1 Tranquil Cove 4 Arboreal Grazer 4 Golos, Tireless Pilgrim 4 Realm-Cloaked Giant/Cast Off 4 Hydroid Krasis 4 Growth Spiral 4 Once Upon a Time 4 Teferi, Time Raveler 4 Circuitous Route Sideboard 2 Aether Gust 2 Deputy of Detention 3 Knight of Autumn 1 March of the Multitudes 2 Negate 1 Planar Cleansing 1 Time Wipe 1 Unmoored Ego 2 Veil of Summer
One of the more interesting additions was Realm-Cloaked Giant providing a satisfying Wrath effect while still keeping the threat count high. What’s even better is the incidental synergies by playing a full playset. Not only can you use it as a threat after sweeping the board, you can buy it back with Teferi to re-enable your sweeper option, cast another one and keep your 7/7 in play or even search it up in the late game with Once Upon a Time.
Some players have even gone a step further and started running Beanstalk Giant as a ramp spell that doubles as a finisher. What’s more is that in the mirror it ignores Realm-Cloaked Giant as removal and can potentially outclass it in combat. Running them together also provides some adorable moments where your opponent is forced to play into an obvious board clear or else die to a Giant.
Bryan’s list is a great example of streamlining a known quantity (Field of the Dead + Ramp) for a new format and focusing entirely on what this strategy wants to accomplish. It also takes potentially the most broken card in the new set (Once Upon a Time) and puts it in a deck that gets very good use out of it. While a bit soft to aggressive decks if it doesn’t see an early Grazer, this is easily one of the first weekend frontrunners.
8 Forest (347) 7 Plains (331) 4 Temple Garden 2 Castle Ardenvale 4 Edgewall Innkeeper 4 Faerie Guidemother / Gift of the Fae 4 Giant Killer / Chop Down 4 Shepherd of the Flock / Usher to Safety 4 Lovestruck Beast / Heart's Desire 4 Venerated Loxodon 1 Trostani Discordant 2 Flower / Flourish 4 Once Upon a Time 4 Raise the Alarm 4 Conclave Tribunal Sideboard 2 Devout Decree 2 Glass Casket 3 Gideon Blackblade 3 Vivien, Champion of the Wilds 2 Knight of Autumn 3 Questing Beast
Credit to Yoman5 for quickly getting people playing this deck by spreading the good word on Twitter. While I had played around with Edgewall Innkeeper, I completely overlooked the potential that Shepherd of the Flock had with Venerated Loxodon, especially in a deck with real draw. While you downgrade your creatures a tad from the normal builds, you gain a legitimate draw engine and Once Upon a Time helps fix your mana and find your Loxodon, which is huge for a deck with such narrow edges on keepable hands.
This is a list with a lot of potential and one where I think the optimal deck list could be a single card off or multiple playsets off. The core of the deck is solid and abuses the fact that a one-mana draw engine exists along with Venerated Loxodon in exchange for playing slightly below-rate creatures. Of course, their rate is made up for by how well they happen to synergize with what the traditional White Weenie deck wants to do. This feels a lot like a fair iteration of the Humans deck from Modern, where you play around synergy and set up power turns over jamming a single creature every turn and hoping for the best.
Two cards I think have fallen out of favor here that I think have a lot of potential. One is Emmara, Soul of the Accord, which adds another 1/1 generator to the deck, gains some value from attacking into Grazer and plays well with Loxodon. The second is Unbreakable Formation, which was a card I immediately missed the second I ran into a midrange deck with Legion’s End and better creatures than I had. Ideally, you get your engine going and simply create a wide enough board to go around them, but when that doesn’t happen it’s nice to have a card that turns your embarrassing board into free damage. Even if you don’t feel like it adds enough maindeck, Formation retains its role as an amazing alpha strike option as a sideboard option for the mirror or against similarly sized creature decks.
Of course, you could also slow the deck down slightly and play a more midrange game, which is primarily what many sideboards attempt to do. Gideon Blackblade and Questing Beast are both common sights in post-board games and simply bumping up the curve upward isn’t the worst idea.
What was Good for a Few Days
Simic Flash was possibly the most popular archetype for the first few days Throne was out on Arena. Does that mean the deck is good? Ehhhh, it doesn’t feel bad, and please feel free to take that as a quote for your promotional materials. In all seriousness, Simic Flash performing well is a mix of Flash decks always having an advantage before people get used to their tricks, and Brazen Borrower being a very strong card. Not only does it provide the deck with a respectable on-curve threat, it gives the deck a way to play an Unsummon effect while not having to overload on Unsummon.
It’s a natural predator to linear and big-mana strategies, though the lack of good hard countermagic below three mana hurts. Wildborn Preserver also feels very overrated as the deck doesn’t really need that type of mana sink and just jamming a Gaea’s Skyfolk is very underwhelming in a format where Arboreal Grazer is a common play. If you haven’t cut some already, I’d recommend starting it as a singleton and possibly adding from there instead of vice-versa.
The deck has potential when the metagame settles, and you can tweak it specifically to beat a certain subset of decks. However, it’s also possible the format remains too hostile to it and the cards just aren’t good enough to cover the difference. One metagame call I’d make immediately is adding Mystical Dispute over Sinister Sabotage to the maindeck. I know I just complained about not having hard counters in the deck, but frankly I much rather be able to deal with Teferi or Oko on the draw on turn one, or at least be able to cast multiple spells in a turn against blue.
The biggest problem with the deck is simple: without a big threat or at least two free turns of Spectral Sailor activations, you simply are going to lose games where opponents trade 1-for-1 and don’t give up half their life for free against your early game. Without Curious Obsession or the potential of a one-shot from Tempest Djinn later in the game, you simply can’t play that type of game effectively against the format as a whole. The deck as commonly constructed doesn’t have strong-enough cards to simply take good trades and then win by jamming a big threat ala Archangel Avacyn or Restoration Angel.
Too many people are getting wrapped up in the concept of Simic Flash being built around flash creatures. A quick reminder that the most successful deck in this style in recent memory featured Smuggler’s Copter, Reflector Mage and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and only ran 12-16 instant-speed spells in the deck. If the theme doesn’t have enough good cards, there’s nothing stopping you from adapting the theme to what good cards you do have access to!
I’d start by seeing if Gilded Goose–Oko, Thief of Crowns is something we can get working into the deck. A quick reminder that you don’t need to necessarily slam these on turn one either, again, on the draw if you see a Goose on turn one you can potentially leave up Mystical Dispute against any other three-CMC ‘walker and slowroll your own Oko.
4 Breeding Pool 4 Temple of Mystery 1 Fabled Passage 10 Forest (347) 5 Island (335) 4 Gilded Goose 2 Arboreal Grazer 4 Brazen Borrower/Petty Theft 4 Frilled Mystic 4 Nightpack Ambusher 2 Wicked Wolf 2 Unsummon 1 Negate 1 Quenchable Fire 4 Once Upon a Time 4 Mystical Dispute 4 Oko, Thief of Crowns Sideboard 4 Cerulean Drake 3 Negate 3 Aether Gust 2 Disdainful Stroke 1 Veil of Summer 2 Wicked Wolf
It’s possible this is just a worse version of the Simic Ramp decks that currently exist, although I suspect you’d much rather be the one with Frilled Mystic and Mystical Dispute in a mirror based around resolving 4-5 mana threats.
Based on my games of the format thus far, I’d be doing you a disservice if I didn’t recommend Golos or at least UGx Nissa as the top choices. But Golos versions, at least the ones currently popular, are soft to aggro and the GW Adventures deck can just overrun it before it really gets going. Unbreakable Formation also remains an easy out to a five-mana telegraphed sweeper, whereas Deafening Clarion or Gates Ablaze could slide under the protection. So my bonus pick would be simply to play the most straightforward aggressive shell you can.
3 Castle Ardenvale 17 Plains (331) 4 Loyal Pegasus 4 Hunted Witness 4 Giant Killer/Chop Down 4 Faerie Guidemother/Gift of the Fae 4 Tithe Taker 4 Shepherd of the Flock/Usher to Safety 4 Venerated Loxodon 4 Raise the Alarm 4 Unbreakable Formation 4 Conclave Tribunal Sideboard 3 Devout Decree 3 Glass Casket 4 Hushbringer 4 Gideon Blackblade 1 Castle Ardenvale
Regardless of what you choose at its core Standard is asking you a couple of basic questions:
- Can your deck ignore or beat Teferi, Time Raveler?
- Can your deck ignore or beat Oko, Thief of Crowns?
- Can your deck ignore or beat Golos-Field of the Dead?
If you want to go a step further:
- Can your deck interact with or beat Fires of Invention?
- Can your deck interact with or survive 3+ creatures and Venerated Loxodon on turn three?
- Is your deck soft to Gruul Spellbreaker?
- Is your deck soft to Frilled Mystic?
- Is your deck soft to Gruul Spellbreaker?
The top three questions are going to be relevant almost regardless of what deck you choose, but the rest are context-driven, such as Bonecrusher Giant hurting decks leaning on creatures that die to Shock. Do your homework on those and you’ll be fine this weekend.