Ranking the Best Decks of the Season

Ranking the Best Deck of the Season

Hello everyone! Welcome to Standard Weekly!

As we wind down the Phyrexia: All Will Be One standard season, it is time to look at which decks were the standouts of the season. This past weekend, there were two regional championship events, along with a major Regional Championship Qualifier and the F2F Tour Championship. These events serve as an end to the Phyrexia: All Will Be One season and the starting point for the March of the Machine standard season that begins after this past weekend’s March of the Machine prerelease events.

Each of these tournaments had a large number of players, with Dreamhack San Diego having the largest number of competitors with over 900. The four events that I am basing the final season deck rank list on are 10K Open 8-Slot RCQ @ Dreamhack San Diego, U.S. Regional Championship @ Dreamhack San Diego, South America Magic Series – Final Regional Championship @ Magicsur Chile, and F2F Tour Championship – Ottawa Cycle 2 @ F2FTour.com. Below, the discussion of each deck has links to the best-performing decks of that type across the four events.

#5 The Cruelty of Gix

The Cruelty of Gix deck is designed to use its namesake card to cheat Atraxa, Grand Unifier, into play. The deck uses Reckoner Bankbuster and Fable of the Mirror-Breaker to draw and filter cards so that you can get Atraxa into the graveyard so that it can be reanimated by The Cruelty of Gix.

The deck’s early game centers around removing its opponent’s threats with Cut Down, Go for the Throat, Abrade, Brotherhood’s End, and Liliana of the Veil. Liliana also serves as a way to get Atraxa into the graveyard through her discard loyalty ability. Bloodtithe Harvester continues to serve as an early threat as well as removal when needed.

Completing the creature package are Atsushi, the Blazing Sky, and Sheoldred, the Apocalypse. Sheoldred continues to be one of the best cards in standard and should until it rotates out of standard in the fall of 2024. Atsushi is a recent addition to the deck. Atsushi’s value to the deck is its death trigger that allows you to create three treasure tokens. This makes it possible to cast Atraxa, Grand Unifier from your hand when you do not have The Cruelty of Gix to reanimate it.

The Cruelty of Gix – Joshua Willis @ mtgtop8.com

#4 Selesnya Toxic Selesnya

Toxic took home 4th place at each of the regional championships. This deck utilizes the toxic mechanic from Phyrexia: All Will Be One to win games and matches. The key to the deck is getting a critical mass of toxic creatures into play early in the game and then using Bloated Contaminator’s or Venerated Rotpriest’s abilities to finish off an opponent. The deck will remain a competitive force as we go into the March of the Machine season, but it will not benefit much from the new set. A card that I think could be added to the deck’s sideboard is Phyrexian Censor. Its ability to limit a player to casting one non-Phyrexian spell a turn and its ability that forces non-Phyrexian creature to enter the battlefield tapped should help the deck execute its game plan.

Selesnya Aggro – Max Mcvety @ mtgtop8.com

Selesnya Toxic – Guiyote @ mtgtop8.com

#3 Rakdos Control

While the Atraxa decks have made the biggest waves in standard over the last month or so, Rakdos Control has quietly become a mainstay in the format. The deck uses the Grixis control shell but removes blue from the deck. This allows the deck to move into a place that can better deal with graveyard interactions because of the inclusion of Graveyard Trespasser. The elimination of blue also makes Invoke Despair easier to cast. This allows the deck to better interact with an opponent’s board in the mid to late game after an opponent has developed their board. The overall removal package allows the deck to interact well with any deck in standard. Fable of the Mirror-Breaker and Reckoner Bankbuster allow the deck to dig for interaction with the opponent’s board while advancing the deck’s own game plan. Another addition to the deck is a copy of Archfiend of the Dross in the main deck with a second in the sideboard. This 6/6 flyer for only four mana has to be dealt with quickly or it can end the game with one or two attacks. A second addition to the sideboard is Vampires’ Vengeance. This spell deals two damage to each non-vampire creature and creates a blood token. This helps deal with small threats, and the blood token will help Bloodtithe Harvester take out creatures with up to four toughness and sometimes more. I expect the deck to try out new cards from March of the Machine that could create more synergy for the deck.

Rakdos Control – Tommy Ashton @ mtgtop8.com

#2 Mono White Control

Mono White Control has become a fixture in standard over the course of Phyrexia: All Will Be One season. The deck utilizes the best white removal spells along with powerful planeswalkers to win games. The creatures the deck employs are where versions of the deck diverge. Ambitious Farmhand and Loran of the Third Path show up in all versions of the deck, with the number of each included in the deck changing from version to version. Some decks will play other creatures such as Mondrak, Glory Dominus, Serra Paragon, Spirited Companion, and/or Steel Seraph. The spell that brings the deck together is The Eternal Wanderer. Her ability to either wipe the board of threats or bounce continually the best threat your opponent presents makes it difficult for an opponent to win once she enters the battlefield. Some of the best cards from March of the Machine are in White. It seems reasonable to expect cards like Elesh Norn, Invasion of Gobakhan, or Monastery Mentor to find their way into the deck. Elesh Norn would provide the deck with a finisher assuming you can flip her. Invasion of Gobakhan allows you to increase the casting cost of a spell by two mana, while Monastery Mentor takes advantage of the deck’s non-creature spells by creating a 1/1 white monk creature token with prowess each time you cast a non-creature spell. It will be interesting to see how the deck evolves.

Mono White Control – Philippe Gareau @ mtgtop8.com

Mono White Control – Zane Toledo @ mtgtop8.com

Mono White Control – Luis Gutiérrez @ mtgtop8.com

#1 Esper Raffine

Esper Raffine won two of the four events and had eight Top 8 finishes across the tournaments. The deck has remained relatively the same since the addition of Skrelv, Defector Mite. Here are links to the two decks that won tournaments:

Standard event – 10k Open 8-Slot RCQ @ DreamHack San Diego 2023 @ mtgtop8.com

Standard event – F2F Tour Championship – Ottawa Cycle 2 @ F2FTour.com @ mtgtop8.com

There are only minor differences between these decks.  One uses Guardian of New Benalia while the other uses Razorlash Transmogrant in the two-drop spot.  Overall, Esper Raffine will continue to be well-positioned to remain one of the Top decks in March of the Machine Standard Season.

One card I expect Esper Raffine players to try is Rona, Herald of Invasion.  Her ability to become a card-filtering engine makes her a good inclusion in the deck.  Possibly, Rona, Herald of Invasion replaces Guardian of New Benalia or Razorlash Transmogrant.  March of the Machine offers many different legendary creatures that could fit into the deck.  I expect Esper players to try many of them to see if they fit into the deck.

That’s it for this week.  Next week I will start to look at how the cards from March of the Machine will impact these and other decks.  Based on the cards from March of the Machine, I think that at least one new deck will develop around the set’s card.  Phyrexian tribal has the critical mass of good cards to find its way into the format.

I’ll see you next time!

By: Scott Trepanier

Scott began playing Magic the Gathering in 1994.  His preferred format is standard.  Typically, you will see him playing aggro decks focused on quickly defeating his opponent but will pivot to midrange or control when standard is unfavorable for aggro decks.  He began creating Magic content in 2019.