There’s a lot to say about Magic Origins. It looks like a powerful set capable of making waves in most or all of Magic’s major Constructed formats. (And hopefully it will offer a rich Limited environment as well)! Of all the possible places to start, it makes sense to choose the single card that I predict to have the greatest impact on Standard.
There are tons of cards in Magic Origins that can compete with Languish on raw power level, and some of those may be capable of spawning brand new archetypes that we haven’t yet seen on the tournament stage. However, Languish is a card that can be played in any number of existing and new decks, and has applications against virtually every deck in the format. It’s the one new card that every player entering a Standard tournament next weekend needs to be thinking about.
Languish and the Other Sweepers
Languish falls exactly in the middle of Drown in Sorrow/Anger of the Gods and Crux of Fate/End Hostilities. In some ways, it’s found a clever hiding spot, and might not catch everyone’s eye right away. However, I believe the reality is that Languish is the best of both worlds. It has the strengths of all four cards, with fewer of the weaknesses. I would argue that it’s the most maindeckable of Standard’s sweepers.
Drown and Anger are superb against Mono-Red (and some fringe weenie creature decks), but not great against much else. Crux and End Hostilities are too slow against the fastest decks, and have very high deckbuilding costs if you want to include them in your main deck. Languish, at 4 mana, is fast enough to save you in game 1 against Mono-Red, especially in the context of a good draw. However, it packs a similar punch as End Hostilities against decks like green devotion, and can take out the troublesome Dragonlord Ojutai as well.
Building Your Creature Base
Perhaps the most appealing thing about Languish is that you can choose creatures in a way that makes an otherwise symmetrical effect very one-sided. Conveniently, many of black’s best creatures have 5 toughness anyway!
Here’s a (non-exhaustive) list of Standard’s best black creatures that live through Languish:
Here’s a (non-exhaustive) list of the public enemies that Languish takes care of:
Where Crux of Fate still has a certain appeal to Esper Dragons (they may want a mix of Languish and Crux), the most natural home for the new sweeper is Abzan Control. Abzan Megamorph may’ve been the family favorite before Origins, but the creature-light build of Abzan now has a way to clean up messes in the mirror match, and gets a major upgrade against both red decks and green decks.
Here’s a deck I recommend for everyone’s early-stage Standard gauntlet. The list is modeled closely after the Abzan Control deck I played at Grand Prix Providence, but updated to make use of Languish.
Courser of Kruphix and Den Protector are still too good not to play with. However, the stock of old favorites like Fleecemane Lion and Sylvan Caryatid is at an all-time low. When in doubt, shy away from random bodies that will die to sweepers. The Satyr Wayfinder plus Deathmist Raptor package might still be worth it, but certainly doesn’t play well with or against Languish.
Don’t Concede to Sweepers
I don’t think it’s a great time for decks chock-full of Elvish Mystics and Sylvan Caryatids. Part of the strength of these decks used to be in preying on the slower, less explosive midrange decks. However, if any opponent can ruin your day with a well-placed Languish, suddenly your best matchups are not so great anymore.
This is not to say that green decks are no longer playable, but only that their pilots need to be prepared to face Languish. Focus on planeswalkers and resilient creatures. For faster decks, focus on dash creatures, or at least haste guys that can get in some damage before falling to a sweeper.
Whether you’re playing with it, or simply aiming to beat it with a creature deck, make sure you give Languish its due respect. I predict it will show up in force in both sideboards and main decks. Don’t be caught unprepared!