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Casually Infinite – JOU Standard Winners and Losers

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With all of Journey into Nyx spoiled, the question to be asked is the effect these cards will have in Standard. While decks falling out of favor play a role to speculators, there is often little money to be made in a fall from grace. What we care most about is the ascent of tier-two and -three decks that can suddenly reach top-tier due to the new set. The primary focus for MTG finance is which undervalued cards will see a spike due to these changes. First, we’ll see how top-tier decks fare with the changes then look at some outlying decks and see what potential stars may be on the rise.

Tier-One Decks

Esper/Azorius Control

Very few changes are present for the primary control decks in the format. The addition of Banishing Light adds some ability to combat Detention Sphere in decks running white but it also gives these decks an additional removal tool for dealing with cards that can’t be killed. Athreos, God of Passage could cause some problems for Esper by blanking much of the removal in the deck, but with as many as three possible ways to deal with gods, I don’t see this being too great a problem. I’d expect this to stay a staple in the format through rotation, when the loss of Supreme Verdict will take this deck out of the top tier.

Mono-Black Devotion

I feel like there are a few new answers to some of the threats posed by mono-black in the format, while the deck itself doesn’t gain much of anything. The possibility of Silence the Believers as a one- or two-of exists, but I don’t see having more powerful late game removal as benefiting the deck all that much. Having an answer to gods may be the best use of this card. I’m curious if the unimpressive Oppressive Rays makes a showing to stave off the early Pack Rat or if Reprisal becomes a solid play against Desecration Demon. Either way, this deck has made a strong enough showing that I’d be surprised to see it take a formidable hit by anything in Journey into Nyx.

Mono-Blue Devotion

While many people seem to be of the opinion that mono-blue would never last, it has still made a successful showing across Standard. It hasn’t stood as tall as it did during Pro Tour Theros, but it has remained a top-tier deck landing in top eights with moderate consistency. I do feel that the release of JOU is probably the nail in the coffin for mono-blue. One of the biggest threats the deck has offered is the three-mana god, which was easily activated and always played a big role in the deck. With the addition of new gods at a low casting cost and numerous ways to deal with them floating around the format, Thassa, God of the Sea will suffer from the additional attention aimed at gods. Blue didn’t gain anything that it wants from this set except for a Howling Mine, and that is a risky proposal at best. Maybe the recent Azorious splash will give this deck some good control options, but I still feel that this deck is losing much more than it is gaining.

Gruul Monsters / Jund Monsters

I don’t see anything for Gruul Monsters besides the inclusion of Magma Spray to even raise an eyebrow. Magma Spray deals with Pack Rat, other mana dorks, and other aggro decks. I don’t see this deck having many new tricks but I also don’t see them getting blown out either. The deck is based on big creatures hitting hard. This will still be a thing. Xenegos never really expected to be activated for this deck to succeed and the planeswalkers will likely be just as effective now as before.

 

Non-Top-Tier Decks

G/W Hexproof Auras

I feel this deck takes one of the largest steps forward with the release of JOU. One card is an amazing boon which might be enough to push this into being a top-tier deck. Cards like this play a major role in any deck focused on building up a creature, and this one is as threatening as ever. Of course, I’m talking about Bassara Tower Archer. Having a hexproof two-drop will provide the middle coverage that the deck struggled with. While cards like Voice of Resurgance and Fleecemane Lion will still play a role, being able to get started building your creature when the Gladecover Scout doesn’t start in your hand is a great boon. For the most part, this deck plays towards its goal on turn two and couldn’t really start putting together an oppressive creature until turn four or five. By then, the Desecration Demons were out, there were too many Pack Rats, or your opponent had managed to activate Thassa. Being able to attack with a 6/4 first strike on turn four changes this drastically.

Pickups: Fleecemane Lion, Witchstalker

White Aggro

There have been a couple of different versions of white aggro floating around. Options range from  Boros, to all white, to Orzhov with Xathrid Necromancer. I can’t say which deck will be the one to shine in the end here, but the addition of both Athreos and Iroas opens up white aggro to some truly impressive options. We also see some solid hate cards in the form of Aegis of the Gods and Eidolon of Retoric, which can throw a notable loop into some other decks’ game plans. I expect to see a top-tier white aggro deck in Standard after Journey into Nyx. I’m not sure what the other color will be, but this deck has managed to put up solid showings and usually falls just short of true glory.

Pickups: Soldier of the Pantheon, Precinct Captain, Xathrid Necromancer

Black Aggro

This is another deck that has floated around top eights at SCG Opens but never found its way to glory. The big change here is Athreos, God of Passage. Any aggro deck that can get its creatures back or force damage to its opponent is a real threat. This deck benefits from the same opening plays as Mono-Black Devotion but has some crazy tempo plays that can really punish an opponent. I’m not sure if Master of Feasts will find his way into this deck, but between that and Athreos, I don’t see this deck getting any weaker. It also gained Banishing Light as a possible method for other removal that was otherwise missing, so I can see this deck taking the next step and ending games on turn five pretty easily.

Pickups: Pain Seer, Herald of Torment

Golgari Graveyard

While Pharika may not be the god everyone wanted her to be, I think that some retooling of this deck could make her very powerful. We already learned from mono-blue what a three-mana god can do, and being able to turn your mana dorks into Sedge Scorpions is not an insignificant ability. Let’s not forget the addition of the G/B scry land, which alone managed to push control decks into the top-tier when Temple of Enlightment became available. This deck hasn’t lost anything but has gained a few new tools, so I’d be surprised to see it dropping the ball. I don’t see a lot of solid pickups from this deck, since it is the most recent hype, but if it moves to a truly top-tier deck, all of its major cards could get another minor spike.

Pickups: Herald of Torment, Deathrite Shaman, Nighthowler

Boros Burn

I don’t feel that we’re really looking at many changes for Boros Burn. Magma Spray might fit into the deck, but we didn’t see Shock playing a big role. Eidolon of the Great Revels seems to hurt this deck more than help it; big cards like Keranos feel pretty slow. I’m pretty sure that I’d rather just throw another Lightning Strike or Annihilating Fire than spend five mana and wait to draw enough cards to burn out my opponent. I don’t see this deck reaching top-tier as it doesn’t get much help here and there are a few cards like Eidolon of Rhetoric that can really punish the deck if it gets too far out front.

Chromanticore

While everyone agrees Chromanticore is a powerful card, it has always been the five-color cost that is a deterrent. We’ve seen a showing of Cromanticore decks in Standard, with one even making a top eight in China. One thing that comes for this deck is Mana Confluence. Having a five-color land makes the dream of playing Chromanticore on turn five a reality. With Mana Confluence and Sylvan Caryatid, we can realistically expect to find five colors of mana with some reliability on turn five. Unfortunately, all the problems with Chromanticore, such as dying to Warleader’s Helix and Mizzium Mortars, as well as every kind of color hate like Dark Betrayal, Gainsay, and Glare of Heresy. While I’m eternally hopeful and think that if ever Chromanticore had a moment it is now, I’m still doubtful that this will become a reality.

Have comments? Let me know below!

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Marc DeArmond

Marc DeArmond

Math Teacher at Coupeville School District
@Masticon     -     Email     -     Articles
Marc DeArmond is a currently a Middle School Math Teacher and the host of the Casually Infinite podcast. He started playing Magic back in Unlimited during 1993. His interests are trading up in value and playing limited on MTGO. He is the author of Casually Infinite, which discusses how to continue to play Magic Online without spending money. He is currently a Level 2 Magic Judge.
Marc DeArmond

About the author

Marc DeArmond

@Masticon     -     Email     -     Articles
Marc DeArmond is a currently a Middle School Math Teacher and the host of the Casually Infinite podcast. He started playing Magic back in Unlimited during 1993. His interests are trading up in value and playing limited on MTGO. He is the author of Casually Infinite, which discusses how to continue to play Magic Online without spending money. He is currently a Level 2 Magic Judge.

3 comments

  1. Jere

    Nice analysis, but I think you overlooked a sweet card for Domri decks: Setessan Tactics. A great instant-speed removal for aggro decks as well as he mirror, and not useless against control as a mini-overrun. Not to mention, this is the EXACT type of card Monsters needed against Mono U. What do you think? Like Kibler, I think this card is being very underrated right now. Thanks!

    1. Marc DeArmond

      I agree that it’s a great card. It could It can also find a home in B/G Graveyard decks. I was specifically not looking for under priced cards in JOU because it can be difficult to predict which cards are likely to break out. I’m more interested in finding cards that are proven successes in Tier two decks that get a boost from cards in the new set. I can’t deny that Setessan Tactics could be a pickup but I don’t know if I really see this as a $2 card.

  2. Jere

    I think Setessan Tactics could be very good for the Monsters archetyp, and Pharika has been great as a one of in my Jund Domri list. Domri loves fighting with deathtouch snakes on his side… Great article!

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