The Standard Almanac

SCG Open Series

There have been sixteen StarCityGames Open tournaments since Standard rotated last October. This chart recaps the first- and second-place decks and the creature and removal cards with the most copies played in the Top 16 of each tournament.

Tournament First Place Second Place Top Creature Top Removal
#SCGCIN R/W/U Control Reanimator Thragtusk Pillar of Flame
#SCGPROV Junk midrange Reanimator Thragtusk Pillar of Flame
#SCGINDY UWR midrange Jund midrange Thragtusk Pillar of Flame
#SCGNOLA G/W Humans R/W/U midrange Thragtusk Pillar of Flame
#SCGSTL R/W/U tempo Bant control Restoration Angel Azorius Charm
#SCGDFW W/U Flash Jund midrange Restoration Angel Azorius Charm
#SCGSEA Bant control W/U Humans Thragtusk Supreme Verdict
#SCGBALT Naya midrange Jund midrange Gravecrawler1 Pillar of Flame
#SCGVEGAS Naya midrange Blue Naya midrange Restoration Angel Pillar of Flame
#SCGINVILA Bant control Naya Humans Restoration Angel Azorius Charm
#SCGCOL Mono-red aggro Blue Naya midrange Thragtusk Pillar of Flame
#SCGSD Human Reanimator Naya midrange Gravecrawler2 Pillar of Flame
#SCGDAL Naya Humans B/R Dragon Zombies Thragtusk Searing Spear
#SCGATL Naya Humans Human Reanimator Huntmaster of the Fells Pillar of Flame
#SCGNJ Jund midrange Esper control Boros Reckoner Searing Spear
#SCGCIN Naya midrange W/B Zombies Boros Reckoner Azorius Charm

1 #SCGBALT was a tie between Diregraf Ghoul, Geralf's Messenger, and Gravecrawler.
2 #SCGSD was a tie between Diregraf Ghoul, Falkenrath Aristocrat, Geralf's Messenger, Gravecrawler, Hellrider, Huntmaster of the Fells, Knight of Infamy, and Thragtusk.

Worth noting:

  • Decks with the most first- and second-place showings: five Jund midrange decks, four Naya midrange decks, three Bant control decks, and three Naya Humans decks
  • B/R Dragon Zombies had thirty-one Top 16 finishes but only appearance in the finals (second place in SCG: Dallas)
  • Thragtusk was the most-played creature of the Top 16 (or tied for most-played) in eight tournaments (50%).
  • Pillar of Flame was the most-played removal spell of the Top 16 in nine tournaments (56%).
Creatures of Standard

Here are the most-played creatures in the Top 16 decks since rotation by both total number of copies played and the percentage of decks in which the card appeared.

Note the gap between the top two creatures—Thragtusk and Restoration Angel—and the rest of the pack. Both creatures have appeared in many successful decks:

  • Thragtusk: Bant control, G/W midrange, Jund midrange, Naya midrange, and Reanimator
  • Restoration Angel: Bant control, Esper control, G/W midrange, Naya Humans, Naya midrange, Reanimator, W/U Flash, and R/W/U tempo

The following graph shows the trend in number of Top 16 decks key creatures appeared in tournament-by-tournament this Standard season.

Thragtusk has been a steady presence, appearing in an average of 6.8 decks per tournament and never dropping below 4. Thundermaw Hellkite has been much more volatile. It peaked at 11 decks in Vegas but averaged 4.3 decks per Top 16.

This chart shows the average number of copies played per deck in each tournament.

Tournament Thragtusk Restoration Angel Huntmaster of the Fells Thundermaw Hellkite Geist of Saint Traft
#SCGCIN 3.8 3.5 4.0 0.0 2.8
#SCGPROV 3.5 4.0 4.0 2.0 3.7
#SCGINDY 4.0 3.3 4.0 2.0 3.2
#SCGNOLA 4.0 3.4 4.0 1.9 4.0
#SCGSTL 3.5 3.6 3.3 2.5 3.6
#SCGDFW 4.0 3.6 4.0 2.0 3.6
#SCGSEA 3.7 3.6 3.7 2.0 3.7
#SCGBALT 4.0 3.3 4.0 2.9 3.0
#SCGVEGAS 4.0 3.9 3.9 2.5 4.0
#SCGINV 3.8 3.8 3.8 2.7 4.0
#SCGCOL 3.9 3.6 3.8 2.3 0.0
#SCGSD 4.0 4.0 4.0 2.4 3.5
#SCGDAL 3.7 3.7 3.8 2.2 4.0
#SCGATL 3.7 3.5 3.9 2.0 3.5
#SCGNJ 4.0 3.6 3.3 1.8 4.0
#SCGCIN 3.8 3.1 4.0 2.0 4.0
Average 3.8 3.6 3.8 2.1 3.4
Removal of the Top 16

We turn now to removal spells played in the Top 16 decks since rotation:

Pillar of Flame was played in more decks than was any other card in Standard, and it had the second-most copies played after Mountain (444).

Here are the trends for some key removal spells:

Pillar of Flame and Searing Spear were played side by side in many decks but not in all of them. You can see the tension between players wanting better Zombie mitigation (Pillar) versus instant-speed answers (Spear).

This chart shows the average number of copies played per deck in each tournament.

Tournament Pillar of Flame Searing Spear Azorius Charm Supreme Verdict Bonfire of the Damned
#SCGCIN 4.0 4.0 3.0 3.0 2.0
#SCGPROV 3.7 4.0 4.0 2.6 2.5
#SCGINDY 3.7 3.3 3.5 2.7 3.0
#SCGNOLA 3.6 3.6 3.3 2.6 3.5
#SCGSTL 3.5 3.0 3.7 2.3 2.5
#SCGDFW 3.7 3.8 3.6 2.3 3.0
#SCGSEA 3.3 3.7 3.5 3.4 2.5
#SCGBALT 3.8 3.2 3.7 3.0 2.8
#SCGVEGAS 3.5 3.4 3.0 2.8 2.8
#SCGINV 3.6 3.0 3.6 2.6 3.7
#SCGCOL 3.1 3.3 3.0 2.0 2.6
#SCGSD 3.4 3.5 3.0 3.0 2.3
#SCGDAL 3.2 3.3 3.0 3.5 2.7
#SCGATL 3.1 3.3 4.0 4.0 2.6
#SCGNJ 4.0 3.5 4.0 3.0 2.0
#SCGCIN 3.8 3.0 3.3 3.6 3.0
Average 3.6 3.4 3.4 2.9 2.7

The targeted spells averaged between three and four copies per deck, while the sweepers were close to three per deck.

Counterspells and Cavern of Souls

An interesting story in Standard has been the rise and fall of counter magic. Here are the trends for the most used counter spells and their arch nemesis: Cavern of Souls.

It became clear very early in this Standard season that Thragtusk was the dominant creature of the metagame. One of the best ways to mitigate the impact of the Beast and other high-value creatures was countermagic, and you can see the rise in the use of counters to a peak at SCG Open: Saint Louis.

In response, most creature-based decks began using Cavern of Souls, making it among the most popular cards in the metagame. It has appeared in over 46% of Top 16 decks. You can see the sharp increase in Cavern of Souls around SCG Open: Seattle in mid-November and a corresponding decline in counters as control and tempo decks sought different answers to creature threats.

The Color of Magic

Blue-based decks dominated the Standard metagame prior to the arrival of Return to Ravnica. The following graph reviews the number of decks that played each color in the Top 16 of SCG Open Standard tournaments since rotation.

The following chart summarizes some key info:

  • Highest and lowest number (and percentage) of decks that played each color to date
  • Average number of decks per tournament that played the color
  • Percent of tournaments in which over half (9+) decks played the color
Color High # High % Low # Low % Average 9+
White 14 88% 5 31% 10 81%
Blue 12 75% 2 13% 6 13%
Black 13 81% 3 19% 7 38%
Red 15 94% 4 25% 10 69%
Green 12 75% 4 25% 9 63%

Blue’s dominance of Standard is over; it is by far the least-used color, averaging six out of sixteen decks per tournament. Blue hit a low point at SCG Open: Columbus with only two decks. White remains popular, averaging ten decks per Top 16, but it has found new partners in red and green. Efficient burn and removal options such as Searing Spear and Pillar of Flame have helped red average ten decks per tournament. It owns the overall high with fifteen out of the sixteen decks playing red at SCG Open: Atlanta. Thragtusk has done the same for green with an average of nine decks per tournament.

StarCityGames Strategies

Standard has been an aggressive, creature-driven metagame thus far. Aggro and midrange decks have made up a combined 73% of the SCG Open Top 16 decks. Here is the breakdown by strategy:

Strategy # Decks % Decks
Aggro 97 38%
Midrange 89 35%
Control 37 14%
Tempo 33 13%

And by tournament:

The Standard Metagame

Rotation happened almost five months ago, and we have seen twenty-three major Standard tournaments since then. Here are the deck archetypes with the most Top 16 finishes to date.

The following graph takes a more recent view and displays the deck archetypes with the most Top 16 finishes over the last month.

Boros Reckoner might be getting all the press, but Jund decks continue to place well in major Standard tournaments. Since being shut out of the Top 16 at the SCG Invitational in Los Angeles, Jund midrange has been on a roll.

Jund aggro has also heated up in the last month.

Pro Tour: Gatecrash Revisited

The overall rankings of Pro Tour: Gatecrash were based on the total points scored between Standard and Booster Draft play. Six of the top seven players with the most points scored in Standard did not make the Top 16 and therefore were not represented in my Pro Tour breakdown last week.

This week, I’ll focus on the best Standard decks of the tournament. Let’s start with the top nine Standard Point earners and the decks they played.

Name Standard Deck Standard Rank Standard Points Draft Points Total Points Finish
Daniel Ruiz Martin R/G aggro 1 27 4 31 40
Emanuel Sutor Jund aggro 2 25 9 34 11
Gianluca Spanu Jund aggro 3 24 9 33 17
Joe Demestrio Jund midrange 3 24 9 33 24
Matt Keene Saito Naya 3 24 6 30 60
Hiyoshi Ishida W/B Zombies 3 24 6 30 61
Reid Duke Jund midrange 3 24 6 30 65
Ben Stark Esper control 8 23 15 38 3
Owen Turtenwald Jund midrange 8 23 15 38 5

Jund colors make up over half of these decks, with three midrange and two aggro decks. Digging deeper, we can examine the types of decks played by the forty-three players who earned twenty or more points in Standard.

Jund decks make up a third of the top point earners, with nine Jund midrange and five Jund aggro. Boros Reckoner has fueled the return of R/W/U tempo, with five decks each playing the full four Minotaur Wizards.

Gatecrash in Standard

Gatecrash has been Standard-legal for several major tournaments: Pro Tour: Gatecrash and SCG Opens: Atlanta, Edison, and Cincinnati. Here are all of the new cards that saw play in the Top 16 decks from those tournaments.

Card Total Played # Decks
Stomping Ground 110 33
Boros Reckoner 98 25
Sacred Foundry 82 28
Boros Charm 45 14
Skullcrack 44 13
Burning-Tree Emissary 43 11
Godless Shrine 42 16
Ghor-Clan Rampager 32 8
Experiment One 31 8
Devour Flesh 28 13
Cartel Aristocrat 28 7
Orzhov Charm 23 7
Blind Obedience 20 7
Watery Grave 18 6
Obzedat, Ghost Council 18 9
Domri Rade 13 5
Breeding Pool 11 3
Frontline Medic 9 4
Gruul Charm 6 3
Aurelia, the Warleader 6 5
Crypt Ghast 4 1
Gyre Sage 4 1
Boros Elite 4 1
Orzhov Guildgate 4 1
Wasteland Viper 4 1
Assemble the Legion 3 2
Wrecking Ogre 3 1
Aurelia's Fury 3 2
Glaring Spotlight 2 1
Legion Loyalist 2 1
Firefist Striker 2 1
Naturalize 1 1

What Do You Think? Standard Expense

Magic can be an expensive game. Booster packs, singles, tournaments, and many other expenses compete for your cash. The average cost of a Top 16 deck has hovered between $500 and $600 for much of the current metagame. This brings us to my poll question for this week:

Do you think the current Standard is too expensive?

View Results

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Survey Says

In last week’s article, I asked, “Which creature will see the most play in the SCG Open: Cincinnati Top 16?” You answered, and here are the results of the poll:

The correct answer, predicted by 60%, is Boros Reckoner, and by a wide margin.

The Close

That concludes the Standard Almanac. Join me next week when I review the results of SCG Open: Las Vegas and check in on the state of the Standard metagame. Thanks for reading!

Nick Vigabool
@MrVigabool