Team Trios, featuring Standard, Modern, and Legacy, is becoming exceptionally popular in tournament Magic. Featured in both the Premier Play and SCG tournament series, you can compete in or watch Team Trios on practically any weekend you’d like.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to play this format, I hope that you will someday soon, as it’s fun, engaging, and offers a wide variety of experiences. While fielding a team might seem like an intimidating prospect if you’re new to the scene, you really shouldn’t hesitate.
Teams come in all shapes, sizes, and levels of experience. One team might have someone who’s returning to Magic after a long hiatus. One team might have card availability problems in Legacy, while another features Eternal-format specialists who have never played a game of Standard. One team might be entirely new players, while another contains three elites who can’t decide which player to assign to which format. None of these problems needs to stop a team from competing!
There might be a few teams out there composed of single-format specialists who fall perfectly into place and already have decks picked out, but those teams are a very small minority. For the rest of us, we face a challenge in deciding how to allocate our limited time and resources to solve a complicated problem. In today’s article, I’ll offer some advice and recommendations for each of the three formats for teams of varying levels of experience. I offered my suggestions for Legacy and Modern earlier this week, and today I’ll wrap things up with Standard.
You don’t really hear the phrase “Standard expert” in quite the same way that it’s applied to Eternal formats. Standard changes so rapidly that it’s less about mastering one archetype and more about putting in the consistent work to stay sharp and up-to-date. Along those lines, I think there are two very distinct options for the Standard seat in Team Trios. Either you can put your weakest player on Standard and have them copy a deck from a recent tournament, or you can put your hardest-working player there and have them put in the hours to really learn what’s going on.
Expert Standard Players
Compared to Legacy and Modern, Standard is less about archetypes and matchups and more about playing normal, tight games of Magic. Most decks involve creatures, planeswalkers, removal spells, and complicated board states. If you have an elite Standard player, you should take advantage of this dynamic by having them navigate to a long game where they can outplay their opponent. U/W Control and U/B Control are great choices.
Leo Lahonen, Top 8 at GP Birmingham
Leo Lahonen fought through a sea of R/B Vehicles decks to make the finals of GP Birmingham with U/W Control. A plethora of exile-based removal spells to support four copies of the super-powerful Teferi, Hero of Dominaria forms a deck that control players can be excited about.
On the other hand, you could one-up the competition by turning to U/B Control, which grants access to mirror-breaker sideboard cards like Duress and Arguel’s Blood Fast. Vraska’s Contempt remains one of the strongest cards in Standard, particularly with two excellent high-loyalty planeswalkers being printed in Dominaria.
Proficient Standard Players
If you have a strong Standard player, but perhaps one who’s not looking to reinvent the wheel, you can’t go wrong with R/B Vehicles, which is proving itself to be the most popular and successful decks of the new format. Alternative creature strategies like G/B Constrictor have chops as well.
Simon Nielsen, Top 8 at GP Birmingham
R/B gets to play with many of the hardest-hitting threats in Standard while also getting staying power in the form of planeswalkers and Scrapheap Scrounger, and all-purpose removal in the form of Unlicensed Disintegration. Unlike some other aggro decks, beating R/B is not a simple matter. Your Fumigate won’t kill Heart of Kiran or Karn, Scion of Urza. And your Lyra Dawnbringer is likely to bite the dust immediately and deal you 3 damage for your troubles.
G/B Constrictor is an archetype that’s held strong ever since the release of Aether Revolt. Compared with R/B, it’s a little more vulnerable to Fumigate and Settle the Wreckage, but has access to more powerful draws, and easy wins when Winding Constrictor or Glint-Sleeve Siphoner go unanswered.
Beginner Standard Players
This one will come as no surprise, but registering a bunch of basic Mountains is as strong in Standard right now as it is in any other format. Goblin Chainwhirler is a new card that provides a fantastic payoff for staying mono-red.
Paulo Hora, 13th place at GP Birmingham
Unfortunately, Standard Mono-Red is actually not that easy to pilot. You face a lot of tough decisions, including how to manage your Bomat Couriers and when to pull the trigger on your burn spells. That said, it’s still a straightforward strategy that less-experienced players will at least find easy to understand, while still being challenging and engaging to pilot.
If you’re competing in Grand Prix Toronto this coming weekend, or are interested in Team Trios for a future event, then I hope you’ve found these recommendations helpful. You don’t need world-class players in all three formats to have a highly competitive team. But it’s sometimes best to be realistic and conservative when making your deck choices. It’s always best to think deeply about the best way to allocate your resources and configure your strategy.