We’ve had a shaky week so far in Standard and Modern with the release of Throne of Eldraine, and a Banned and Restricted announcement fell swiftly on the new meta games! Unfortunately, it may have come too early. Here’s the announcement:
No changes to any format.
Very unsurprising. I’m not sure why the schedule for this announcement falls only a week after a new set release, and after rotation happened as well, as the formats are too fresh to risk touching. There is a lot of doom saying going around right now that’s got me dusting off my tinfoil hat, but I believe there are ways around what we’ve discovered.
Firstly, I would like to address Standard, specifically the Top 8 from SCG Philadelphia, which features 5 Bant Golos, a Golos Fires, a Sultai Golos, and a Simic Midrange. The format looks a little lopsided, if you get my meaning.
First off, I would just like to mention that there are 19 unique lands in this deck. This blows my mind that there is a deck in Standard that can do that, and as effectively as Bant Golos does. The real MVP of this deck is Field of the Dead. With how quickly this deck can ramp, usually starting on turn four Field of the Dead will begin producing at least one Zombie every turn. On top of this, because Field of the Dead rewards playing unique lands, the best way to do that is in all five colors, which is rewarded with Golos.
Golos does this neat thing where he draws you three cards and lets you play them for free every turn. These factors combined with the fact that Once Upon a Time gives the deck incredible consistency makes it a tough matchup for anyone.
So what ways are there around Golos? Well, there are likely three. The first, is an incredibly aggressive deck to get underneath them. I don’t believe this deck exists in the meta. I think maybe a big red deck could maybe make if it featured cards like Torbran, Thane of Red Fell, Chandra, Acolyte of Flame, and Awakened Inferno. These would allow for an aggressive late game clock to combat the deck, while also playing cards like Flame Sweep and Lava Coil to answer Field of the Dead. Mono-Red Aggro is in the format, but it loses extremely hard to Field of the Dead, as this format’s red aggro deck is creature based, making it harder to kill with Experimental Frenzy.
The next possibility at felling Golos is some sort of one shot combo. Think a copied Expansion // Explosion with Wilderness Reclamation. Bant Golos, while being the king of attrition, is still a deck that is susceptible to combo. Now, Whether or not a combo deck of this sort is viable, I’m not sure, but the format is only a week old and is liable to be brewed still.
And the third angle we could fight it from would be hard hate cards such as Ashiok, and Unmoored Ego. The point of this is to hate out the deck as hard as possible, but this leaves you very weak to other decks. I personally have never had any luck with these strategies, but you never know, maybe it’s a good meta call for a tournament or two.
As for Modern, a lot of people were speculating that Mox Opal might get hit with a ban with the performance of Whirza as of late. However, this first SCG Modern Classic of the season only had one Whirza deck in the top 16, being overshadowed by Burn and Amulet Titan. The Whirza deck didn’t even play a single copy of Emry, Lurker of the Loch, which is the card many people were saying would break Whirza. Maybe people simply came over prepared for Whirza, but I think everything is going to be fine in Modern.
It’s too soon to tell how these formats are going to settle, but I’m glad they did not kick off the season with a ban. Formats deserve to be fleshed out and for the best deck to be discovered, and preemptively banning cards that may or may not end up being too large of a problem is how you kill your game. When a system of Golos and Whirza is established, it’s time to fight the system.