Hello, fellow planeswalkers!  Welcome to Standard Weekly!

Outlaws of Thunder Junction standard season is in full swing.  Two weeks ago, Pro Tour OTJ occurred at MagicCon Seattle.  This past weekend began store championship week.  Thanks to all those who made it out to Caffeinated Gamers last Saturday for the event.

As we look forward, we are about a month away from the release of Modern Horizons III.  This is a straight-to-Modern set release and offers exciting new cards for the format along with the reprinting of the fetch lands we did not get in Modern Horizon’s II.  The set will shake up Modern and potentially older formats.

Then we have the long wait until August for Bloomburrow’s release and standard rotation.  If you have not seen the first look at Bloomburrow you can look at this video, I did about the cards we saw during a panel discussion at MagicCon Chicago.

Wizards of the Coast’s decision to add an additional year to Standard has definitively alternated the format.  Many of the top decks from Pro Tour OTJ would not have been possible without the cards from the four sets that normally would have rotated out of Standard.  This has left us with a format dominated by Esper Raffine decks, Temur Control, Boros Convoke, and Atraxa domain piles in best of three.  Additionally, Azorius Control has an abundance of useful tools that got better with the release of Outlaws of Thunder Junction.  These decks make up nearly 50% of the best-of-three meta on Arena.

Orzhov Bronco, by Kevin Anctil, Pro Tour Thunder Junction

This has left us with a format that normally would see the development of new decks from the cards from Outlaws of Thunder Junction, but these existing decks have crowded out new decks for the time being.  You can bet that you will see the decks I mentioned above at FNM and other events because they will rotate out in August and those playing them will want to get the maximum use out of these cards before rotation occurs.

The Pro Tour did give us a look at what new decks we might see popular after rotation.  Orzhov Bronco, Azorius Artifacts, Four-Color Legends, and Golgari Midrange were the most successful of the new builds incorporating cards from Outlaws of Thunder Junction.

CREATURES: (26)

  • 2 Skrelv, Defector Mite

  • 4 Caustic Bronco

  • 2 Shrouded Shepherd

  • 2 Raffine’s Informant

  • 2 Tenacious Underdog

  • 4 Steel Seraph

  • 4 Anointed Peacekeeper

  • 4 Sheoldred, the Apocalypse

  • 2 Shadow of Mortality

INSTANTS: (6)

  • 3 Cut Down

  • 3 Go for the Throat

Sorceries: (4)

  • 4 Insatiable Avarice

LANDS: (24)

  • 4 Caves of Koilos

  • 4 Concealed Courtyard

  • 4 Shattered Sanctum

  • 4 Shadowy Backstreet

  • 1 Restless Fortress

  • 1 Takenuma, Abandoned Mire

  • 1 Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire

  • 5 Swamp

SIDEBOARD: (15)

  • 2 Pest Control

  • 2 Duress

  • 3 Aven Interrupter

  • 1 Kutzil’s Flanker

  • 2 Touch the Spirit Realm

  • 2 Rest in Peace

  • 1 Knockout Blow

  • 1 Cut Down

  • 1 Invasion of Gobakhan

Orzhov Bronco takes some of the strongest white and black creatures and combines them with Caustic Bronco to maximize value from the deck.  Caustic Bronco draws you a card each time you attack with it.  When you attacked saddled, Caustic Bronco does damage to your opponent equal to the card’s mana value.  When Caustic Bronco is not saddled, that damage is to you.  The other creatures in the deck can saddle Caustic Bronco and it’s possible that drawing Shadow of Mortality can win the game on the spot.  Either way, Caustic Bronco generates value each turn it can attack.

The other significant addition to the deck is Insatiable Avarice.  This is one of the modal cards from Outlaws of Thunder Junction.  The flexibility that these cards give can significantly alter a game.  Insatiable Avarice allows you to search your deck for a card and put it on top of your library and/or draw three cards and lose three life.  This allows you to get access to the card you need from your deck and put it in your hand if you have enough mana to pay for both modes.

It will be interesting to see how the deck evolves over the summer.  It has the opportunity to become of of the most powerful decks in Standard.

Azorius Artifacts, by Josep Sanfeliu, Pro Tour Thunder Junction

CREATURES: (4)

  • 4 Thran Spider

INSTANTS: (2)

  • 2 Three Steps Ahead

SORCERIES: (2)

  • 2 Depopulate

ARTIFACTS (27)

  • 3 Assimilation Aegis

  • 4 Braided Net

  • 4 Fabrication Foundry

  • 2 Glass Casket

  • 4 Simulacrum Synthesizer

  • 3 The Mightstone and Weakstone

  • 4 Unstable Glyphbridge

  • 1 The Irencrag

  • 2 Spring-Loaded Sawblades

LANDS: (25)

  • 4 Deserted Beach

  • 1 Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire

  • 2 Seachrome Coast

  • 2 Fomori Vault

  • 2 Meticulous Archive

  • 1 Otawara, Soaring City

  • 3 Plains

  • 3 Restless Anchorage

  • 1 Island

  • 4 Adarkar Wastes

  • 2 Demolition Field

SIDEBOARD: (15)

  • 2 Get Lost

  • 1 Disdainful Stroke

  • 2 Rest in Peace

  • 3 Negate

  • 2 Chrome Host Seedshark

  • 3 Torpor Orb

  • 1 Urza, Lord Protector

  • 1 The Wandering Emperor

Azorius Artifacts takes advantage of Simulacrum Sythesizer’s ability to create a Construct artifact creature token when you cast an artifact spell with a mana value of three or greater that’s power and toughness each equal the number of artifacts you have in play.  When the deck goes off and creates multiples of these tokens, your opponent’s chance of winning goes up dramatically because there is limited artifact removal in Standard.  The other artifacts in the deck offer a combination of removal and enablers for Simulacrum Sythesizer.  Given the large number of artifacts that entered Standard over the last few sets, we should see this deck continue to evolve.

It has the potential to become a solid deck in Standard that players will need a good sideboard plan to defeat.

Four-Color Legends, by Etienne Eggenschwiler, Pro Tour Tour Junction.

CREATURES: (22)

  • 2 Ertai Resurrected

  • 4 Rona, Herald of Invasion

  • 4 Slogurk, the Overslime

  • 3 Honest Rutstein

  • 4 Inti, Seneschal of the Sun

  • 1 Aclazotz, Deepest Betrayal

  • 1 Tinybones, the Pickpocket

  • 2 Titania, Voice of Gaea

  • 1 Vial Smasher, Gleeful Grenadier

INSTANTS: (5)

  • 3 Go for the Throat

  • 2 Cut Down

ARTIFACTS: (4)

  • 4 Relic of Legends

LANDS: (29)

  • 4 Takenuma, Abandoned Mire

  • 1 Swamp

  • 1 Blackcleave Cliffs

  • 3 Boseiju, Who Endures

  • 2 Cavern of Souls

  • 2 Xander’s Lounge

  • 4 Ziatora’s Proving Ground

  • 1 Blooming Marsh

  • 2 Darkslick Shores

  • 4 Otawara, Soaring City

  • 4 Plaza of Heroes

  • 1 Deathcap Glade

SIDEBOARD: (15)

  • 1 Cut Down

  • 3 Duress

  • 1 Ertai Resurrected

  • 3 Glistening Deluge

  • 1 Path of Peril

  • 1 Jace, the Perfected Mind

  • 1 Liliana of the Veil

  • 1 Long Goodbye

  • 1 Turn the Earth

  • 1 Vorinclex

  • 1 Sheoldred, the Apocalypse

The number of legendary creatures that appear in each set continues to grow.  Having such a vast array of options enables Four-Color Legends to have a diverse set of creatures that can quickly and effectively take out an opponent, but also can grind out victories.

Four-Color Legends takes advantage of several new cards from Thunder Junction.  First, Honest Rustein provides value by reducing the cost of casting another creature and can return a creature from the graveyard to your hand.  Tinybones, the Pickpocket and Vial Smasher, Gleeful Grenadier are other creature additions from the set.  Tinybones is a great card assuming that you can keep it in play.

I expect Four-Color Legends to continue evolving over the summer as deck brewers have the time to explore other creatures to include in the deck.

Golgari Midrange, by Matt Sperling, Pro Tour Thunder Junction

CREATURES: (19)

  • 2 Sheoldred, the Apocalypse

  • 3 Preacher of the Schism

  • 4 Mosswood Dreadknight

  • 3 Glissa Sunslayer

  • 1 Kaervek, the Punisher

  • 3 Caustic Bronco

  • 1 Tranquil Frillback

  • 2 Archfiend of the Dross

PLANESWALKERS (1)

  • 1 Liliana of the Veil

INSTANTS: (8)

  • 3 Cut Down

  • 4 Go for the Throat

  • 1 Shoot the Sheriff

SORCERIES: (6)

  • 1 Pillage the Bog

  • 2 Gix’s Command

  • 3 Duress

LANDS: (26)

  • 4 Swamp

  • 4 Deathcap Glade

  • 1 Takenuma, Abandoned Mire

  • 4 Llanowar Wastes

  • 3 Cavern of Souls

  • 4 Restless Cottage

  • 1 Boseiju, Who Endures

  • 4 Blooming Marsh

  • 1 Forest

SIDEBOARD: (15)

  • 3 Hostile Investigator

  • 2 Tear Asunder

  • 1 Duress

  • 3 Path of Peril

  • 1 Tranquil Frillback

  • 1 Harvester of Misery

  • 1 Cut Down

  • 2 Liliana of the Veil

  • 1 Unlicensed Hearse

Golgari Midrange has been a fringe deck in Standard over the past few standard seasons because cards like Mosswood Dreadknight and Preacher of the Schism provided the deck with additional quality creature options that provide value as the game progresses.  Outlaws of Thunder Junctions improves the deck’s mana base with Blooming Marsh and adds additional creature support in the form of Caustic Bronco, Kaervek, the Punisher, and Hostile Investigator.  Kaervek allows you to exile up to one target black card from your graveyard and copy it each time you commit a crime.  You then can cast the copy for its mana cost and 2 life.  This gives you the ability to make a copy of any black card in your graveyard, including creatures and removal spells.  Kaervek gives the deck recursion and makes you more likely to win with his ability.

Hostile Investigator is a four-mana 4/3 that makes your opponent discard a card when it enters the battlefield.  Then whenever one or more players discard one or more cards, investigate.  This is limited to one trigger per turn.  This is powerful against Esper decks that are consistently discarding cards with Raffine’s ability.

These decks look like the beginning of some new strategies in Standard.  Once rotation occurs, these decks will be positioned to become some of the best decks in Standard.  We will have to see what other strategies get more room to breathe as well.

That’s it for this week.  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.