After the first weekend of new Standard and its share of constructed decks, here there are the top cards of the Standard format.
- Winding Constrictor [Last Month: N/A]
With the removal of Smuggler’s Copter and Reflector Mage from the format, 2 drops got a bit of a boost. In this case, the winning strategy (along with most of the Top 4) utilized Winding Constrictor as a good on-curve drop that brings more than straight stats to the table. By increasing the potency of Walking Ballista, Rishkar, Peema Renegade, or Verdurous Gearhulk, it turns Constrictor into a must-kill threat.
- Grasp of Darkness [Last Month: N/A]
While Fatal Push may be fighting for the title of best removal spell in Modern, Grasp of Darkness takes that crown in Standard. Any deck that can pay BB without ruining their mana base should just start the playset of these. Grasp can take out Heart of Kiran, Felidar Guardian, and nearly every other relevant creature in the format, and is one of the strongest reasons to play G/B over other G/x decks.
- Heart of Kiran [Last Month: N/A]
While it may not be as dominating as Copter, Heart of Kiran is one of the most potent threats in Standard. It also makes for some interesting racing decisions thanks to vigilance and how big the blow-out possibilities are when you crew it on defense. Toolcraft Exemplar and Scrapheap Scrounger make it a stalwart in Mardu Vehicles. Later, it can tag-team with Gideon for an overwhelming amount of damage that ignores sweepers.
- Walking Ballista [Last Month: N/A]
Hangarback Walker 2.0? Not quite. Despite some respectable week 1 numbers, this card is only truly strong in the B/G Delirium builds that abuse Constrictor. G/W Tokens also utilizes it as an on-curve play that can become an oversized Triskelion later. What’s nice is that the card is rarely ever bad, much like Thraben Inspector, it tends to fulfill many useful niches despite how ordinary it looks. Still, as decks become more refined, it’ll be interesting to see if Ballista retains its starting spot.
- Scrapheap Scrounger [Last Month: 4]
The junkyard dog is back and scrappier than ever. It’s a mainstay of Mardu Vehicles and Esper decks as a 2 drop that’s difficult to kill and can crew Heart of Kiran. Much like Winding Constrictor is the go-to for B/G, Scrounger will only see more play since Jeskai has so many issues with it. B/G also lacks a permanent answer to it, though blocking is a bit easier for those strategies.
- Saheeli Rai [Last Month: N/A]
Between Jeskai and 4c variants, Copy Cat Combo put up 25 decks in the Top 64. Meanwhile, Saheeli Rai and Felidar Guardian were quite possibly the most played creature and planeswalker in the tournament. What’s interesting is how the decks fared, only three made Top 8 and they all got knocked out in the quarters. Obviously this is a strong first showing and everyone was expecting the combo, but considering the sheer numbers present, these results are a bit disappointing.
- Rishkar, Peema Renegade [Last Month: N/A]
Secretly the best card in the B/G mirror besides Nissa, Voice of Zendikar, Rishkar gives you a ton of flexibility between buffing your curve and giving you a late game edge on mana. Normally the mana wouldn’t be so important in these types of decks since Ishkanah is on the bench, but with Walking Ballista, suddenly you have a reason to want 8+ mana. Rishkar is one of the few cards in the deck you’ll be relatively happy to see early or late.
- Gideon, Ally of Zendikar [Last Month: N/A]
Of course this list wouldn’t be complete without Gideon. While Gideon is one of the strongest cards in the format, Heart of Kiran is a serious threat to him. Unlike Copter, you can’t play Gideon into many Vehicles boards now, and B/G can threaten him with Mindwrack Demon. Meanwhile, many of the Saheeli decks simply aren’t threat-centric enough to utilize Gideon well. He’s a strong individual play without an impressive home at the moment.