Shadows of a New Standard: UR Thopters

KevinJones

Hey, everyone! Welcome back to Shadows of a new standard. Over the past week I’ve been churning out deck lists for new standard. I’ve shared some and been too embarrassed to share others. I decided to share this sweet list that I’ve been thinking about testing. I’m probably much too cowardly to play this deck the first week since I’ve heard a lot about both Declaration in Stone and Virulent Plague lately. Declaration is likely the best removal spell in standard and will become format defining. Virulent Plague is an often overlooked sideboard card that’s gotten some buzz recently. Both are very good against this deck. The main goal of this deck is to flood the board with flying creatures, mostly Thopter tokens and then you can get in damage with your evasive creatures and ultimately win the game with a Whirler Rogue aided Thopter wearing Stoneforge Masterwork. Or, in the spiciest case, an unblockable Ormendahl, Profane Prince. I’ll show the list and then afterwards we can go over some card choices.

The sideboard is very rough but the general idea is to go bigger when they’re likely to board in a bunch of sweepers and cheap removal spells. The nature of your deck is such that you’ll have a bunch of blockers and angles to pressure them. Both of these things allow you to have the time to draw your high impact cards in grindy games. Decks that give you clues can be punished by your Ghirapur Aether Grid but they’re probably awesome in any long games or matches with board stalls. You can break a Hangarback Walker and get in for a bunch of damage out of nowhere. As for the main deck, I’m just very keen on Whirler Rogue. I think it’s one of the most underrated cards in standard at the moment and it works great with Westvale Abbey and their Declaration in Stones.

Westvale Abbey - Shadows Over Innistrad

Westvale Abbey – Shadows Over Innistrad

Westvale Abbey is a truly fascinating endgame and will revolutionize the way standard is played. So many decks have the option to use the land as an endgame and at such a low cost that it’ll be very interesting to see how the format reacts to that. I’m also unsure how many times the 9/7 indestructible life-linking monster will be unbeatable. The prevalence of bounce effects will likely increase but I could see things like Bounding Krasis making the cost of going all in prohibitive occasionally. It’ll also be interesting seeing whether it’s correct to make the first Ormendahl. If they can kill yours and make their own you’ve just lost a huge investment. While the Profane Prince is legendary the land itself is not. So if your first activation leaves you with some Thopters you can attack and make another prince on defense. The old standard format had several interesting subgames, including but not limited to, keeping them off Wingmate Roc by killing their guy on your turn or before combat and bouncing a Nantuko Husk in response to a Rally the Ancestors to leave your opponent without a sac outlet. Keeping your opponents off of 5 creatures is something savvy players will be doing in this new standard. I’m not saying this will always be correct, it often will be right to let them make the guy and either block and kill your own thing or take a hit and follow up with a Declaration in Stone, Silkwrap, or Reflector Mage. But this is just another thing to be mindful of when playing games of this format. If you can keep your opponent off 5 creatures without sacrificing too much equity in the process it’s likely a good idea.

I had Eldrazi Skyspawner over Gearcrafter originally but I really think that the Crafter making a Thopter gives it the nod here. The fact that the Thopter is more important than the Scion Token because of Whirler Rogue, Masterwork, and just the evasion aspect in general means the the expendable creature is actually the card and not the token, the reverse of how Skyspawner usually plays out. This means you’ll be able to trade your ground chump blocker for an actual card sometimes. That’s a pretty sweet deal in this type of deck since most of your leverage will be gained in the air and most ground creatures will be other than yours. I can imagine this deck being a little weak (read: very weak) to both Avacyn and Chandra. Consequentially, I’m unlikely to battle with this week one. I do like Westvale Abbey a lot, especially here. I think a deck like this has some game against other Abbey decks and just other creature decks in general. Like the formats of standard past this one will be cyclical. The best decks will be changing week to week and I could see this deck occupying a niche that the old UR Thopter decks previously held. Westvale Abbey would dominate the midgame instead of using Ensoul Artifact to dominate the early game.

In conclusion, I’ll say that I think this deck is an interesting and fun option. It has a bunch of cards that are underplayed and underrated. I would have built and tested something like this and thus, would have much more complete information about its matchups and the like, but I literally ran out of room in my bag because I have 4-5 terrible standard decks together to test with. I built so many decks that I ran out of boxes to put them in. So I got a box from a buddy and was able to house the funky UR dragons deck I built last weekend. I will come back next week and share a couple more brews I had that never quite got there and hopefully I’ll have a nice trophy and a story about the deck that got it for me. If you’re in Baltimore at the open this weekend come say, “Hello!” Thanks for reading, see you all next time!

-Kevin Jones

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Kevin Jones

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