Oh boy did we get some seriously potent bans announced for MTG Arena. Some of the biggest decks have vanished from the Tier One list and aggro/tempo strategies have overtaken control as the dominant archetype. Looking through statistics on MTGGoldfish for both the Standard format and MTG Arena format, four decks stand above others.
Remember, just because a deck is labeled as Tier One or Two doesn’t mean that’s all you should play. Some of the best matches come from wild, unorthodox decks. These are simply what a lot of people are playing and subsequently winning with. Keep in mind, these decks are pre-Zendikar Rising which launches later this month.
Last updated on September 8, 2020, following card bans.
Taking the top spot as the new meta-defining deck, Sultai Ramp is all about control and dumping a ton of lands onto the battlefield. Aether Gust, Eliminate, Heartless Act, Extinction Event, and Casualties of War serve as our removal package, while Agonizing Remorse and Thought Erasure let us pick apart our opponent’s hand. Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath is still the king of value, while Hydroid Krasis serves as our primary threat and win condition. Nissa, Who Shakes the World can also turn our lands into creatures and Teferi, Master of Time gives us some nice synergies with the rest of our deck. Even though the strategy is nothing special or innovative, it’s extremely effective against the current Standard format. Expect to see a lot of this deck when you play either Casual or Ranked.
A staple of Standard for ages, Mono-Red Aggro is a favorite among MTG Arena players thanks to its simplicity and ease of assembly. This deck is no different, as it relies on pouring on as much damage as quickly as possible. Fervent Champion, Scorch Spitter, and Tin Street Dodger all come down on turn one, allowing you to apply pressure right away. Runaway Steam-Kin and Robber of the Rich offer solid utility that can help you keep your momentum against ramp decks. Light Up the Stage is still an all-star in this deck and Embercleave acts as our main finisher if raw, early game damage isn’t enough. Keep in mind, this is not a burn deck so you’ll need to master when to commit your forces to an attack. However, if you’re new to Magic then this is one of the best top tier starter decks out there.
Unchanged: Over the past few sets, Wizards of the Coast has printed some of the best creature cards solely in green. From Questing Beast to Pelt Collector to Lovestruck Beast, these cards all boast superb utility for an aggro deck. While it took some time to fully form, Mono-Green is a force to be reckoned with in Standard. The deck’s ability to make an overwhelming amount of mana to cast fearsome creatures allows it to quickly out-muscle other aggro strategies. Vivien, Arkbow Ranger can boost our team’s power or act as pseudo creature removal. Scavenging Ooze offers graveyard removal, while Shifting Ceratops dodges a lot of removal, making it a perfect counter for control decks. Garruk’s Harbinger ties this all together, giving us some nice card advantage to keep the pressure on our foes.
Mixing tempo with control, Mardu Winota provides players with a strong board presence, while being able to systematically pick apart their resources. The core of the deck is Winota, Joiner of Forces who constantly spews out Human creatures, giving you a constant stream of pressure. Venerated Loxodon, Kitesail Freebooter, and Judith, the Scourge Diva offer utility and disruption, while Basri’s Lieutenant offers a great aggressive option. Raise the Alarm is a cheap spell that pumps out 1/1 blocks to help you stabilize and General’s Enforcer can convert your dead creatures into tokens. Despite being an aggressive deck, there’s a lot of complexity around how these cards interact. Because of this, I don’t recommend Mardu Winota to new players, as it can take some time to really understand all the synergies and options available.
Our final Tier One decklist is an old favorite from when Throne of Eldraine released. Temur Adventures is all about flexibility and having answers for nearly every type of threat. This is due to the dual nature of Adventure cards, as they allow players to deploy potent creatures or turn them into useful instant or sorceries to cause havoc on the opponent’s board. Edgewall Innkeeper is our main engine, allowing us to draw for every adventure card in our deck, while Brazen Borrower is a solid tempo card. Beanstalk Giant serves as either early game ramp or a potent finishers. Lovestruck Beast is a nightmare to deal with if the 1/1 it creates isn’t dealt with and Bonecrusher Giant is still one of the best red removal spells in the meta. Just remember, this is a fairly advanced deck so I don’t recommend it for newcomers.
There have been a lot of shifts in the meta as players try to discover the next best deck. Sultai Control is perhaps one of the most popular decks thanks to its sheer level of removal. It will be interesting to see how it handles the more tempo-oriented set of Zendikar Rising. Additionally, there’s an Obosh, the Punisher deck floating around that embraces the aristocrats theme. Temur Flash is also popping up, but I seriously doubt it has the potential to make a huge impact in the format.
Gruul Midrange is quickly gaining popularity thanks to the plethora of strong early to mid-game creatures that can batter their way through your foe’s defenses. Sultai Midrange has fallen from tier one, but that doesn’t mean you should discount this deck. Its focus on removal make it great for aggro match-ups, just be careful when playing against other value desks such as Temur Reclamation or Bant Ramp. Finally, the Yorion, Sky Nomad control deck has fallen into Tier 2. This doesn’t make it bad, just that it struggles against a lot of popular match-ups like Temur Reclamation.