The Best Deck In Standard

spencer

Often times people will ask me at work what the best deck in standard is. Usually I tell them I am not sure and that there are many viable decks in the format right now.

This has been the case in standard through multiple seasons now. Last year we had a period where there was five or six good decks in standard. This year we are experiencing the same thing. With my weekly decks to beat article I talk about those decks every week. This week I want to talk about my deck though.

Like I said at the beginning of this I get the question a lot. However right now I do believe there is a best deck. During the weekend of December 8th thru the 9th I played over 200 games of magic testing for the Salt Lake City PTQ. I tested a wide range of decks from U/W Control all the way down to Heroic Red. I even tested brews such as Black Red midrange. One deck stood above all others in the testing. “One deck to rule them all” you could say. This deck was “Gruuls Gone Wild”

Gruuls Gone Wild

Creatures 27
4 Elvish Mystic
4 Burning-Tree Emissary
4 Sylvan Caryatid
2 Voyaging Satyr
4 Stormbreath Dragon
4 Polukranos, the World Eater
3 Courser of Kruphix
2 Xenagos, God of Revels

Spells 2
2 Clan Defiance

Planeswalkers 8
3 Domri Rade
3 Garruk, Caller of Beasts
2 Xenagos, the Reveler

Lands 23
4 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
4 Stomping Grounds
4 Temple of Abandon
3 Mountain
8 Forest

Sideboard
3 Nylea’s Disciple
3 Mizzium Mortars
2 Gruul Charm
2 Xenagos, the Reveler
3 Mistcutter Hydra
1 Sylvan Primordial
1 Destructive Revelry

I played this list against every competitive deck in the format at least ten games. I played four games before board and six games post-board. This is how they broke down.

VS Mono Red Aggro
Game Wins: 6
Game Loses: 4

VS Devoted to U
Game Wins: 7
Game Loses: 3

VS White Weenie
Game Wins: 9
Game Loses: 1

VS Big Red Devotion
Game Wins: 8
Game Loses: 2

VS U/W Control
Game Wins: 7
Game Loses: 3

VS Mono Black Ratseize
Game Wins: 9
Game Loses: 1

VS GR Monsters
Game Wins: 6
Game Loses 4

VS Green White Little Kid (GW Aggro)
Game Wins: 7
Game Losses: 3

VS Bant Walkers
Game Wins: 9
Game Losses: 1

VS White-Black Ratsieze
Game Wins:7
Game Loses: 3

Time for some math. This adds up to 75 wins out of 100 games played. For the math impaired this is a simple 75% win percentage in games played. This is also not including the rest of the games the other players testing the deck had those are just mine. They also all had similar if not better results with the deck.

These numbers are quite insane in my opinion. Not one of us had a losing record against a single deck in the format. Lets take a look at some of these matchups really quick.

VS Mono Blue

Going into this we thought that it would be pretty rough. Thassa and Tidebinder Mage were big worries for me before the games played out. However I shortly found that they only way they were beating me was with a Tidebinder Mage, a reactive spell like Cyclonic Rift, and Master of Waves. If they didn’t have all of those things in a timely manner they actually almost couldn’t win.

Even more is that after board I was a heavy favorite in the matchup. You turn into this green red control deck that demolishes them in every stage of the game. It almost feels like they don’t stand a chance.

Sideboard
Out
2 Xenagos, God of Revels
2 Voyaging Satyr
2 Xenagos, the Reveler
3 Dormi Rade
2 Garruk, Caller of Beasts

In
3 Nylea’s Disciple
3 Mizzium Mortars
2 Gruul Charm
3 Mistcutter Hydra

VS Control

Before I even sat down I knew I was going to like playing this matchup. With so many planeswalkers and high impact must answer cards I thought for sure that I was going to be a favorite.

I was absolutely right. The high impact cards were too much to overcome for the control deck. They require a wide variety of specific answers as well. My Strombreath Dragons require a Supreme Verdict and my Planeswakers Detention Sphere. Lets say they cast the Supreme Verdict. This will mean that they probably need to almost tap out since your creatures are coming down so quickly. This will leave you with an opening to resolve something like  a Garruk. Then they need a D-sphere and if they do it then you still got to draw cards off of your Garruk. Cards like more Stormbreath Dragons or Polukranos or even Xenagos, God of Revels. It’s usually just too much for these decks to overcome.

Sideboard
Out
2 Clan Defiance
2 Slylvan Caryatid
1 Courser of Kruphix
2 Polukranos, the World Eater

In
1 Sylvan Primordial
1 Destructive Revelry
2 Xenagos, the Reveler
3 Mistcutter Hydra

VS Mono Black

This matchup is the reason I love this deck. Most players will think they have a good matchup against these big creature decks because they have 2 mana removal spells for your 5 mana Creatures. This is not the case at all. I have way more threats than you have answers for. I am gonna play guy make you kill it. Play a guy make you kill it. Play a guy make you kill it. Until you just can’t kill my guys anymore.

This happens most games. I play a Hydra and they kill it then I play a Xenagos, the Reveler and they kill it leaving me with a 2/2 then I play a Garruk and they look at their and can almost do nothing anymore.

The matchup is this decks best matchup. They don’t even have the specific answers they need like blue-white. Their answers are too wide. Cards like Devour Flesh aren’t going to get them for them and thought seize isn’t that great when your entire deck is threats.

Out
1 Polukranos, the World Eater
1 Courser of Kruphix
2 Sylvan Caryatid

In
2 Mizzium Mortars
2 Xenagos, the Reveler
(Can bring in Sylvan Primordial and Destructive Revelry)

VS Monsters

Mana advantage is the game here. Obviously depending on the build they can have aggressive draws that can kill you fairly quickly that you have to deal with. But when they don’t it becomes a game of mana and attrition that you are almost destined to win.

The key cards for you here are Clan Defiance, Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, and Garruk Caller of Beasts. These cards are going to win you the majority of the games you play in this matchup and they are better in the matchup than anything your opponent can do. You get to draw way more cards and your Polukranos can actually kill their guys because of Nykthos. The matchup is obviously not a blow out from either side but if I had to choose a side I would choose the one with Nykthos.

Sideboard
Out
1 Voyaging Satyr
1 Xenagos, God of Revels
1 Courser of Kruphix
1 Domri Rade

In
3 Mizzium Mortars
1 Xenagos, the Reveler

 

VS White Weenie

This is another just insane matchup. They always felt powerless to win a game. I just played a Polukranos or a Stormbreath Dragon and they could never attack and I would just eat their guys with my hydra.

Their aggressive draws never seem aggressive enough. Unlike the mono red deck that plays a bunch of one drops this deck with sometimes only play eight and if they don’t have one they fall behind to your early monsters really quick.

Banisher Priest can do a lot of work for them if they have things like Brave the Elements to protect it. It gets to take out one of your bigger guys and get in for the beats. The problem is how fragile it is. Dying to Domri Rade almost all the time and never being able to attack if you do have any presence. It is basically only doing that work if you come out of the gates quick and are on the offensive already.

This matchup has key cards from your side as well. You typically want a ramp spell in this matchup to get you to your bigger creatures quickly. Courser is also an all-star in this matchup. Gaining you incremental life and being a brick wall against this deck was very good in testing. It would kill almost anything they attacked with and almost never died in combat.

Sideboard
Out
2 Xenagos, God of Revels
2 Xenagos, the Reveler
1 Garruk, Caller of Beasts
1 Voyaging Satyr

In
3 Disciple of Nylea
3 Mizzium Mortars

All of these matchups ended up in my decks favor. I hadn’t felt this good about a deck since playing Caw-Blade at the first Utah Open held by Oasis Games back in the day. Everything I was doing was more powerful and it felt like my opponent almost never had the answers for what I was doing since my threats were so diverse and versatile.

If there was a PTQ tomorrow I would play this deck again no questions asked. Between three of us that played the deck at the Salt Lake City PTQ last weekend we went. 6-2 Me, 6-2 Matt, 5-3 Joe. This was above 70% in match wins. Slightly lower than we expected but still insane result for just one given event.

I hope that at you can take what I have done with this deck and put up a PTQ win with it in the next few weeks. I honestly believe if you do the testing you will come to the same conclusion I have which is that this is the best deck in standard.

Thanks for reading everyone hope you crush it with this deck!

Spencer Howland
@spencer13h