Patch 1.00.02, B&R moved up, Standard Meta, Field of the Dead, Azorius Flyers

The News

Patch 1.00.02

Last week I reported on “Patch 1.01.00” which was apparently mislabeled and should have been 1.00.01 instead. This week we see Patch 1.00.02. It is simply an update to bot draft pick order for Throne of Eldraine and improvements to performance on systems with integrated GPUs.

Banned and Restricted Announcement

WotC announced Wednesday their intention to move the forthcoming banned and restricted announcement up four weeks.

Considering timing of the announcement, and the account from which it was shared, a good deal of speculation has happened. Most are assuming that this is preceding a banning of one or more pieces of the Golos Field deck. I am not yet convinced that this is the intention. Though, the deck is likely very high on the internal WotC watch list.

Speaking of Meta

Last weekend we saw the first-of-its-kind event in Arena with the Play Any Card, Win Every Card Event, and it was huge news. We’ve been able to get a good look at which decks are near the top of the meta. Reddit’s u/PyromancerMTGA analyzed the data in the MTG Arena Tool to suss out the field. Unsurprisingly there were many Golos, Knights, Fires, Simic Ramp, and Gruul decks with high win rates.

Having gone 7-2 in the event after losing my first game, I feel satisfied with my pick of Jeskai Superfriends. My only losses came against Simic Flash and Golos Fields, both of which I also beat in the event.

Based on MTG Arena Tool’s data, we can see that aggressive Gruul and Rakdos had fantastic win percentages. But, if we dig a little deeper there are many variations on the Golos Field decks that performed well. They all just happen to have less than 100 games played

While I don’t believe the meta has settled, we have a good look at what needs to be worked around. And barring any bannings, I expect Golos to remain at the top in Best of 3. Best of 1 is more flexible, and the more aggressive Gruul and Rakdos decks should dominate.

Glimmers of Genius: Emma Handy

Team Rankstar’s Tim Chambers is back with another interview this week. This time with Emma Handy, who talks about her life in the Magic community and writing and commentating for StarCityGames. You can check it out here!

The Decks

Bant Golos (Tier 0)

From: @eldrazimimi

1 Arboreal Grazer (WAR) 149
4 Golos, Tireless Pilgrim (M20) 226
1 Kenrith, the Returned King (ELD) 303
1 Realm-Cloaked Giant (ELD) 26
3 Beanstalk Giant (ELD) 149
2 Hydroid Krasis (RNA) 183
2 Agent of Treachery (M20) 43
3 Once Upon a Time (ELD) 169
4 Growth Spiral (RNA) 178
4 Circuitous Route (GRN) 125
2 Time Wipe (WAR) 223
4 Teferi, Time Raveler (WAR) 221
2 Forest (MI) 0
2 Island (MI) 0
2 Plains (MI) 0
2 Fabled Passage (ELD) 244
1 Castle Vantress (ELD) 242
4 Field of the Dead (M20) 247
2 Breeding Pool (RNA) 246
1 Hallowed Fountain (RNA) 251
1 Temple Garden (GRN) 258
1 Temple of Mystery (M20) 255
1 Temple of Malady (M20) 254
1 Tranquil Cove (M20) 259
1 Blossoming Sands (M20) 243
1 Thornwood Falls (M20) 258
1 Azorius Guildgate (RNA) 243
1 Izzet Guildgate (GRN) 251
1 Golgari Guildgate (GRN) 248
1 Boros Guildgate (GRN) 243
1 Selesnya Guildgate (GRN) 255
1 Simic Guildgate (RNA) 257
1 Plaza of Harmony (RNA) 254

1 Arboreal Grazer (WAR) 149
1 Veil of Summer (M20) 198
3 Devout Decree (M20) 13
1 Deputy of Detention (RNA) 165
2 Ashiok, Dream Render (WAR) 228
2 Knight of Autumn (GRN) 183
2 Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves (WAR) 224
1 Realm-Cloaked Giant (ELD) 26
2 Agent of Treachery (M20) 43

After the 12 win event, it was very clear that Golos with Field of the Dead was likely the best deck in standard. It has been the center of many conversations this week, some calling from bans, some about tech on how to beat the mirror. At this point it is undeniable that some version of this deck is the best thing to be doing.

@eldrazimimi posted that she held the #1 spot in ladder for multiple days with the above list. She was even kind enough to put up a rough sideboard guide for the deck.

There are answers to this deck, though they are few. Rather than take the time to discuss this deck at any length, I’ll talk about potential ways to beat it.

Race It

It is very possible to race this deck since there are plenty of aggressive decks in Standard. Most of the very aggressive decks can get under Golos Fields by killing them on turn 4 or 5. Mono Red, Gruul, Mardu Knights, Cavaliers Fires, Mono Black, and Simic Aggro all have ways to push damage through fast and put themselves in a position to win. Unfortunately the Field decks can hold on and survive a lot of the time, especially the ones running a playset of Arboreal Grazer.

Remove Field of the Dead

My strategy this past weekend while playing Jeskai Fires was to remove their Field of the Dead from their deck using Fae of Wishes into Unmoored Ego. It turned out to be an okay strategy as both games I faced the deck, I was able to grab three copies of Field of the Dead from their deck. Then I was even able to destroy their on-board copy with Casualties of War. One game I won, the other I lost to chained Hydroid Krasis since I forgot to stock a Legion’s End in my sideboard. Oops. Alternately, if you’re running Golgari colors, you can Assassin’s Trophy their Fields before they can generate too much advantage. I really don’t like this strategy though, since it doesn’t fully eliminate the problem, and they have an easier time finding their Field of the Dead than you do finding your Assassin’s Trophy.

Fly Over

One of the strategies I’ve been working on this week for beating Field of the Dead is to just fly over it. The deck on a whole is fairly weak to a swarm of flyers, only having the early Arboreal Grazer and late Hydroid Krasis to block them. It is much easier to get lethal pressure across in the air than it is on the ground. My solution has been an Azorius Flyers deck which is still in the early stages of development. I’ll show it down below.

Prevent Searching

Ashiok’s static ability turns off your opponent’s ability to search their library, which in theory eliminates three major players in the deck. Fabled Passage won’t work, Circuitous Route is turned off, and the Golos ETB trigger is nullified. These combined make it much harder for your opponent to find Field of the Dead and reduces their ability to put down more than one land a turn.

12 Win Mardu Knights

From: u/jitterbug

3 Acclaimed Contender (ELD) 1
4 Fervent Champion (ELD) 124
4 Inspiring Veteran (ELD) 194
4 Knight of the Ebon Legion (M20) 105
4 Smitten Swordmaster (ELD) 105
4 Stormfist Crusader (ELD) 203
4 Venerable Knight (ELD) 35
2 Shock (M19) 156
4 Skewer the Critics (RNA) 115 
2 The Circle of Loyalty (ELD) 9
3 Embercleave (ELD) 120 
2 Mountain (ELD) 262
1 Swamp (ELD) 258 
1 Plains (ELD) 250  
2 Fabled Passage (ELD) 244 
4 Blood Crypt (RNA) 245 
4 Godless Shrine (RNA) 248 
4 Sacred Foundry (GRN) 254 
4 Tournament Grounds (ELD) 248 

One of the earliest reports coming in of a twelve win run last weekend was from u/jitterbug on reddit playing Mardu Knights. This is a very aggressive list with decent mana despite being three colors.

The big tech moves here are the exclusion of Murderous Rider, and the inclusion of Embercleave. I have to make the assumption that Murderous Rider was omitted because of the double black in its casting cost. Alternately, Embercleave has become a favorite among aggressive decks this week, as it makes punching through that last bit of damage a bit easier.

I like this list, and would feel very comfortable sleeving it up going into an unknown field. It has the right mix of cards that let it race any of the bigger decks like Field of the Dead, and it can go wider than the green-based decks.

Azorius Flyers

4 Healer's Hawk (GRN) 14
2 Loyal Pegasus (M20) 28
4 Hushbringer (ELD) 18
2 Tomik, Distinguished Advokist (WAR) 34
3 Brazen Borrower (ELD) 39
4 Empyrean Eagle (M20) 208
3 Sephara, Sky's Blade (M20) 36
4 Teferi, Time Raveler (WAR) 221
4 Winged Words (M20) 80
4 Rally of Wings (WAR) 27
4 Dovin's Veto (WAR) 193
9 Plains (ELD) 250
9 Island (ELD) 255
4 Hallowed Fountain (RNA) 251

1 Brought Back (M20) 9
3 Devout Decree (M20) 13
2 Tomik, Distinguished Advokist (WAR) 34
3 Aether Gust (M20) 42
3 Disdainful Stroke (GRN) 37
3 Cerulean Drake (M20) 53

The theme of my week in Arena has completely centered around finding ways to beat Field of the Dead. This isn’t an easy task as there are no answers to lands entering the battlefield.

Hushbringer is a potential answer to Golos, and I decided to try it out. I just needed to fill out a list with other pieces of disruption, ways to get damage past the zombies, and protect against board wipes. I put together something close to the above list, and immediately started beating up on Golos decks. The sideboard just needs to help against the rest of the field, but it’s mostly played in best of 1 so far.

What I like:
Husbringer does a lot of work even outside of Golos. It also turns off Pelt Collector, Arboreal Granger, Gilded Goose, Risen Reef, Wicked Wolf, Venerated Loxodon, Voracious Hydra, Murderous Rider, and all of the Afterlife creatures. That barely scratches the surface of what Hushbringer can do.
Teferi, Time Raveller allows you to play the tempo game with your opponent. You can remove their blockers to chip in the last points of damage, or set up end of turn Winged Words.
Dovin’s Veto protects from board wipes or other potentially catastrophic spells.
If you can get a Sephara, Sky’s Blade on the board, you’re going to be very difficult to beat. She can come down as early at turn three.

What I don’t like:
Loyal Pegasus isn’t the best and sometimes struggles to get going early. I replaced two of them for two Tomik’s and have liked that setup quite a bit more.
Empyrean Eagle has been underwhelming and often sits in my hand several turns as I hold mana for a counterspell.

The Wrap Up

While I’ve seen hate for cards and decks in the past, I’ve never seen such a swift call for bannings as I have for both Golos and Field of the Dead. And while yes, the deck seems oppressive at this point, I’m not sure that banning either of these cards is the answer. Maybe it is, but the set has only been in Arena for two weeks. That is hardly enough time to come up with proper answers in such a complicated system. Furthermore, we’ve only seen the results of one major paper tournament and exactly one Field of the Dead deck made it into the Top 8. That is far from what I would call oppressive.

My view on the deck is that it occupies two separate spaces we aren’t used to seeing together. At one end, Golos Field is the baseline deck usually held by mono red or some other aggro. It’s the deck that you have to be able to deal with in order to play. At the other end, Golos Field is the control deck that has the ability to stabilize and win from seemingly insurmountable odds. Those two decks are rarely the same things, and really have never been that I can remember. Add on top of it, there isn’t any easy counterplay to lands, and people are ready to riot.

My advice; Just take a step back, and if the deck is really all you’re seeing, figure out a way to beat it. From there the meta will form into the wonderful rock/paper/scissors format we’ve all come accustomed to.

Previous Weeks

2019-10-04 (Patch 1.00.01, Ally Warfield Interview, Win Every Card Event)
2019-09-27 (Client Release, ELD Release, Bant Hero, Torbran Cavalcade)
2019-09-20 (Event Update, ELD Previews, Simic Flash, Mardu Knights)

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