Hello, fellow planeswalkers!  Welcome to Standard Weekly!

Following the release of The Lost Caverns of Ixalan set last week, we will have our first opportunity to play cards from the set at Friday Night Magic.  The Lost Caverns of Ixalan is a fun set that should have an impact on Standard.  We know that a dinosaur deck will exist in some form, the set’s strong artifacts should lead to an artifact-based deck, and other tribal decks look like they should have some playability.

What should I play at Friday Night Magic?

Given most players will not have all the cards for any of the decks I mentioned above, playing a preexisting deck makes the most sense.  Modifying the deck with cards from the new set is a possible way to play the deck but it is not necessary to have a good night playing Standard.

Here are a few decks that make sense to play during week one of The Lost Caverns of Ixalan season.

Mono Red Aggro

This deck has consistently performed well over the last six months.  Mono Red got help from Wilds of Eldraine and remains in a good place in the meta.  We will have to see over the next few weeks what modifications to the deck will help the deck continue to be a Tier 1 /Tier 2 deck in Standard.  The deck is not putting up the stats that it did early in Wilds of Eldraine season, but it plays consistently well at the beginning of a standard season. Especially against players who are trying to figure out what new cards work well in a deck.

Mono Red Aggro, esmyth, 7th Place MTGO Showcase Challenge (10-21-2023)

CREATURES: (23)

  • 4 Bloodthirsty Adversary

  • 4 Charming Scoundrel

  • 1 Feldon, Ronom Excavator

  • 3 Goddric, Cloaked Reveler

  • 4 Monastery Swiftspear

  • 3 Phoenix Chick

  • 1 Shivan Devastator

  • 3 Squee, Dubious Monarch

INSTANTS: (9)

  • 4 Lightning Strike

  • 4 Play With Fire

  • 1 Witchstalker Frenzy

Sorceries: (1)

  • 1 Nahiri’s Warcrafting

Enchantments: (4)

  • 4 Kumano Faces Kakkazan

LANDS: (23)

  • 3 Mishra’s Foundry

  • 18 Mountains

  • 2 Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance

SIDEBOARD: (15)

  • 1 Brotherhood’s End

  • 1 End the Festivities

  • 1 Jaya, Fiery Negotiator

  • 1 Koth, Fire of Resistance

  • 3 Lithomantic Barrage

  • 1 Nahiri’s Warcrafting

  • 2 Thundering Raiju

  • 1 Torch the Tower

  • 3 Urabrask’s Forge

  • 1 Witchstalker Frenzy

Unfortunately for Mono-Red Aggro, none of the cards from The Lost Caverns of Ixalan look like they fit into this build well.  Should the deck move towards more of a mid-range strategy, then there will be cards from the set that make the cut.

Esper Raffine

This deck currently has one of the longest runs in Standard.  Raffine, Scheming Seer has been a star since his arrival.  Over the summer, there was talk that Raffine would get banned once Wilds of Eldraine arrived, but that did not happen.  As a result, the deck remains at Tier 1 in Standard.

Esper Raffine, Nathan Steuer, Second place at the Content Creator Charity Cup @ Ultimate Guard (11-5-2023).

CREATURES: (14)

  • 2 Sheoldred, the Apocalypse

  • 4 Raffine, Scheming Seer

  • 1 Lord Skitter, Sewer King

  • 3 Dennick, Pious Apprentice

  • 4 Faerie Mastermind

PLANESWALKERS: (3)

  • 3 The Wandering Emperor

INSTANTS: (10)

  • 4 Go for the Throat

  • 4 Make Disappear

  • 1 Destroy Evil

  • 1 Negate

ENCHANTMENTS: (7)

  • 3 Virtue of Loyalty

  • 4 Wedding Announcement

LANDS: (26)

  • 1 Otawara, Soaring City

  • 2 Plaza of Heroes

  • 3 Seachrome Coast

  • 1 Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire

  • 3 Raffine’s Tower

  • 1 Island

  • 1 Deserted Beach

  • 4 Shattered Sanctum

  • 1 Takenuma, Abandoned Mire

  • 3 Darkslick Shores

  • 2 Restless Fortress

  • 3 Underground River

  • 1 Adarkar Wastes

SIDEBOARD: (15)

  • 2 Disdainful Stroke

  • 3 Negate

  • 4 Cut Down

  • 1 Destroy Evil

  • 2 Ertai Resurrected

  • 1 Dennick, Pious Apprentice

  • 1 Sheoldred, the Apocalypse

  • 1 Sunfall

I do expect a few changes to the deck from The Lost Caverns of Ixalan.  First, we got the Dimir creature land.  It’s better than Restless Fortress, so I think deck builders will move towards Restless Reef.  The other card deck builders will try is Malcolm, Alluring Scoundrel.  Adding another flyer to the deck will help with consistency because chump blockers are unlikely to have flying.

Azorius Soldiers/Aggro

People keep giving the deck the title of Azorius Soldiers, but I think the more appropriate title is Azorius Aggro because of the variety of creatures in the deck.  This deck found a place in the meta last fall with the arrival of The Brother’s War and has remained a consistent deck ever since.

Ashton Evans piloted the deck to a second-place finish at the $10K @ Star City Games Convention (Dallas, TX).  Four copies of Azorius Soldiers made the Top 8 at the event.

Azorius Soldiers, Ashton Evans, 2nd Place $10K @ Star City Games Convention (Dallas, TX) (10-21-2023)

CREATURES: (28)

  • 3 Harbin, Vanguard Aviator

  • 4 Knight-Errant of Eos

  • 4 Lunarch Veteran

  • 4 Recruitment Officer

  • 2 Regal Bunnicorn

  • 4 Resolute Reinforcements

  • 1 Werefox Bodyguard

  • 4 Zephyr Sentinel

  • 2 Yotian Frontliner

INSTANTS: (4)

  • 4 Make Disappear

Enchantments: (4)

  • 4 Wedding Announcement

LANDS: (24)

  • 4 Adarkar Wastes

  • 1 Deserted Beach

  • 2 Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire

  • 4 Fortified Beachhead

  • 1 Mirrex

  • 2 Otawara, Soaring City

  • 5 Plains

  • 1 Secluded Courtyard

  • 4 Seachrome Coast

SIDEBOARD: (15)

  • 2 Destroy Evil

  • 2 Elspeth’s Smite

  • 2 Lantern Flare

  • 3 Protect the Negotiators

  • 1 Regal Bunnicorn

  • 2 The Wandering Empire

  • 3 Tocasia’s Welcome

The obvious addition to the deck is Cavern of Souls because it will prevent an opponent from countering a soldier’s spell.  Get Lost is another card the deck may try.  Getting to remove a creature, planeswalker, or enchantment for two mana seems good in the deck.  Another new card worth exploring is Sanguine Evangelist.  Its battle cry ability gives each creature +1/+0 when it attacks.  Typically, Azorius Soldiers has many creatures on the battlefield towards the end of a game.  The additional damage would help the deck win more games.

That’s all for this week.  I hope you enjoy the new Standard Season and that I see you at Friday Night Magic.

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.