What to Play: Standard

I’ve been asked a lot recently about what I’m playing in standard, what people should be playing in standard, etc. Standard is the current PTQ format, it’s the most common SCG IQ format, but most of all it is the predominant format for FNM and is the format for Avacyn Restored game day (which is this weekend!). So what deck will I be slinging this weekend? Esper Control.

Now there are two current schools of thought when it comes to Esper control in the current standard: we have Solar Flare variants and we have Planeswalker control variants. Here is a list of each, played recently at a major tournament:

First, a couple things I don’t like about these decklists.

  • LSV’s list just gets rolled by Sword of War and Peace
  • Dead Weight seems particularly bad, sure it recurs with Sun Titan but by the time you cast your Sun Titan do you really want to bring back a Dead Weight? In all of my testing the answer has been no. At that point in the game I’d rather have an Oblivion Ring, Ratchet Bomb, etc.
  • If we get rid of the Dead Weights we can replace them with Liliana of the Veil, Doom Blade/Go for the Throat, or even Snapcaster Mages. Also known as things that don’t flat out lose to Sword of War and Peace.
  • Mortarpod seems bad, but it does block swords so I guess it’s alright. It can also kill a Birds of Paradise in response to equip. I just think there are better options.
  • I’m not sure I would ever want 3 Despise in any game, if so why waste the sideboard slot.

So what would I run?

I quite like this configuration of the deck. It allows me to have a good matchup against just about every deck and lets me sideboard into cards for the particularly bad matchups. If you end up running the planeswalker build be vigilant of Zealous Conscripts. This is a real card and it will cause you to insta-lose games when they steal your Elesh Norn or Gideon. Also, the hyper-aggro match-ups are not the greatest, but they never are when you are playing control. If you face zombies, make sure to take care of Blood Artist instantly. Otherwise, clones and multiples can really do a number on your life total. The other tough match-up is Boros Humans, here you need to watch out for Sword of War and Peace (which makes your lingering souls useless, side in negate!) and Lightning Mauler into Hero of Bladehold. Other than these few things your match-ups are great, but I must admit I haven’t tested much against the new mono-blue Grand Architect deck. So check that out too if you decide to play the deck. Hope this helps you take down FNM this week!


Jonathon Scott
@jonathonrscott on twitter

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