Looking at the meta, we’ve hit the point where Standard has coalesced into a big 3. Some would argue it’s really more of a big 2: U/W Flash and G/B Delirium . But W/R/x Vehicles has continued to put up results and remains very popular. The good news for people not interested in these options is that they will continue to calibrate for each other instead of an open field. This gives room for the outsiders to sneak back in for a weekend or two and take down a tournament.
Right now there are the 2 decks outside of the trifecta I’m interested in for the next 2 weeks.
U/R Metalwork Colossus
Colossus decks got some love in week 1 of the format and then quickly fell by the wayside. They weren’t as broken as Aetherworks, and they didn’t control the board well enough to consistently defeat the aggro decks. But with quite a bit of tweaking it looks like we have a build that functions the majority of the time and doesn’t fold to W/R Vehicles. Marcos Paulo De Jesus Freitas piloted this to a Top 8 finish at GP Santiago.
So why are we interested in a deck like this? Well, in large part it comes down to the fact that 2 of the big 3 don’t have great answers to a Metalwork Colossus. B/G has no permanent answer outside of Murder + Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet, and Vehicles only has Unlicensed Disintegration. U/W has the best game-1 answers in Stasis Snare/Declaration in Stone, but even then they only have a handful of them. Even if B/G and U/W do have answers, post-board you can bring in any variety of counterspells and Padeem, Consul of Innovation.
Essentially you get to do something extremely powerful a la Aetherworks, but without the vulnerability to Spell Queller or the same inconsistency. Glint-Nest Crane and Prophetic Prism help quite a bit there. Hedron Archive also does a surprising amount of work in this deck, which is why it seemed weird that the original list only had two.
Your matchup against aggression isn’t the best—you need a couple of free setup turns or you’ll probably die before your cards matter. The green Puzzleknot can help buy a turn or so and the 4th Deadlock Trap is acceptable, but that’s really it without making a major change to the deck. If you play this, you do so because delirium gives you a lot of free time and you can battle through discard and Ishkanah. Emrakul, the Promised End is always a challenge, but even then there’s no way they outright kill you with it.
U/W Flash on the other hand can curve out and cause you a lot of problems, but Deadlock Trap can buy multiple turns on its own. Harnessed Lightning with any energy card and Tears of Valakut go a long way toward handling Archangel Avacyn, and Glint-Nest Crane isn’t a real saucy Reflector Mage target. Sure, Colossus can be bounced, but Skyship also produces a number of problems and the clock is anemic withoutArchangel Avacyn or Gideon, Ally of Zendikar backup. You can also go the Chandra, Flamecaller route if you want a few more cards—if you back her with a Dispel she can often single-handedly win the game.
Right now I’ve been trying the following changes:
This allows for slightly faster Colossi and some additional ways to stall out aggro. The Elder Deep-Fiend package is reasonable, but I prefer it come out of the board. My sideboard is similar to the Top 8 build, with the exception of adding Chandra, Padeem, Consul of Innovation, and Dispel over the Puzzleknot and Rejection package. While Ceremonious Rejection is strong against you, it doesn’t do a whole lot against the decks you care about.
The Scrapheap Scrounger/Prized Amalgam/Haunted Dead package can create a powerful value engine. Having a practically unkillable army can grind out both U/W and W/R if you don’t get run over in the first few turns. Unfortunately for the Zombies players, Delirium is one of the stronger counters to this deck because of how well it can compete on the board. Meanwhile I’ve been working on a way to get B/R Zombies to beat B/G Delirium for a friend. The best way I found was overloading on giant flyers and abusing Key to the City. Lightning Axe and Disintegration double feature because they kill Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet and Ishkanah, and Temper doesn’t. I wouldn’t mind fitting Temper back in, but you run out of room pretty fast.
Haunted Dead has also been feeling worse over time, but I’m not sure if it’s worse than Stitchwings. This is the list we’re currently on—I’m not recommending it yet—but I think the Prized Amalgam package is strong enough to compete with the other top decks. Neither U/W Flash nor W/R Vehicles have great permanent answers and Mindwrack Demon has gotten quite good in the current meta. Mindwrack Demon is one of the best cards to threaten Delirium since trample and flying trump Spiders.
Once again the key is to leverage one angle and have enough answers to take out Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet. Ours is flyers and unblockable damage via Key instead of the Scroungers and Prized Amalgams. The sideboard Skysoverigns are there for the same reason—an additional major flying threat that isn’t trumped by an army of Spiders. Losing Fiery Temper in the main deck is unfortunate since it weakens your good matchups, but the versatility of all your removal being able to kill Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet/Archangel Avacyn/Ishkanah makes a big difference later in the game.
While the Colossus deck suffers splash damage from anti-artifact cards, both decks are set up to compete with the current metagame. Both are somewhat soft to Vehicles, which means if your local meta consists of red aggro, you should pick a different option. Otherwise, both decks are positioned to fight both U/W Flash and G/B Delirium with a handful of small tweaks.
If you want to stick with known factors, then play U/W Flash with Revolutionary Rebuff and practice the mirror a lot. That’s probably the best deck in the format by a slight margin, although the mirror bounces between skill intensive and facerolls. It reminds me of the Delver mirror where some games on the draw are practically unwinnable. Best of luck to those braving Standard this weekend.