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Decks to consider for Grand Prix Birmingham (Standard)

Team LilianaMarket member Pete Marrable is playing the Legacy GP in Birmingham… So, he can safely share all his thoughts on standard without giving his gameplan away. Just do the sporting thing, and pretend you haven’t read this if you meet him at a standard PPTQ in the near future!

With post-Dominaria standard now in full swing I will be taking a look at three of the decks that have been performing well. These are all decks I have played myself in multiple competitive leagues on Magic Online. Hopefully my experiences will give some insights on current viable decks, and help you decide what deck to play for the upcoming GP!

Deck 1: UW Control

As Gio highlighted last week, control has certainly got a lot of new toys from Dominaria! Normally control decks struggle at the start of a format but the power level of these new cards have already put UW control (and its sister-deck UW historic) on the map as one of the current top decks to beat.

Seal Away is what UW has been calling out for – an efficient 2cmc answer to problem creatures. With access to Seal Away, Fumigate and Settle the Wreckage it makes playing around the deck’s removal very challenging for your opponent. I found this regularly led to opponents making unwise or simply not committed-enough attacks.

This allows you plenty of time to set up the win, whether you do this the old-fashioned way with Torrential Gearhulk, or with a certain new planeswalker…

Teferi, Hero of Dominaria is a busted magic card; it allows the UW deck to not have to rely on approach to win the game (which is a bad card a lot of the time). The raw card advantage followed by bouncing all your opponent’s permanents is a much cleaner and safer way to win the game. Importantly, its ability to bounce creatures also heavily punishes decks trying to resolve one large threat.

Another card to have a big impact is Lyra Dawnbringer. The card helps the deck against control’s traditional challenge, mono red, which has very few ways to deal with it. Lyra is solid against almost any creature-based deck, and its ability to race is not be sniffed at either!

You can read more, including a sideboard guide over at Star City Games, where UK player Autumn Burchett explains her recent success with the deck.


Deck 2: Mono red aggro

Despite what I’ve just said about Lyra, the mono-red deck and variants splashing black are very much still alive and kicking, as last weekend’s SCG events results show. However, its power level has certainly dropped due not only to Lyra but also the predominance of white-based decks with efficient exile effects to deal with Hazoret and Rekindling Phoenix.

Nevertheless, the deck has picked up a great new addition in the form of Goblin Chainwhirler, which allows it to operate on a slightly different axis than it did before.

Apart from its obvious use against token based decks, when combined with Soul-Scar Mage it allows the deck to shrink the size of the opponent’s creatures permanently, and consequently, playing four Soul-Scar Mage is probably correct.

The deck can struggle against decks with bigger creatures such as the green midrange variants and Chainwhirler’s combo with Soul-Scar Mage can help out against their bigger creatures, although it does likely take the place of Ahn-Crop Crasher which itself can offer evasion against bigger threats.

Due to the triple red mana cost Chainwhirler does also mean that the deck cannot afford to play the utility desserts. According to Frank Karsten, 22 Red Sources are required to cast Goblin Chainwhirler with 90% consistency on turn three.

Finally, Glorybringer is still a good Magic card, despite the presence of Lyra in the metagame.


Deck 3: WB Vehicles

There are a lot of variations of this deck kicking around on Magic Online, as it’s still being refined and tested but it reminds me of the Mardu Vehicles of old, where it just plays some of the strongest cards going all the way up the curve.

Toolcraft Exemplar into Heart of Kiran is still an incredibly strong start against any opponent, who knew!? Some of these decks now also have a token element with Servo Exhibition / Sram’s Expertise, but also utilizing some of the new Dominaria cards such as History of Benalia. History is great, it provides creatures to defend your planeswalkers or its knight buff can provide big swings when you’re the beat-down.  

Another new card, Benalish Marshal is also key to the more token-orientated versions, by turning your servos into real-threats, as well as crewing Heart of Kiran. When paired with older cards like Shefet Dunes and Pride of Conquerors your tokens can swing for a crazy amount of damage.

Others have been going for a more midrange approach and cutting the pump spells for Planeswalkers, giving the deck extra dimensions with Karn and Gideon.

Karn, Scion of Urza is another amazing new card from Dominaria – I would go as far as to say it could be the best card in the set. The card advantage it provides is very strong and can help you get ahead in grindy games, and it can also just make Constructs every turn and in some versions of this deck they can get very large very quickly!

So, that’s my rundown of some of the top performing decks of the moment, I hope it’s helpful, and I look forward to seeing a lot of you at GP Birmingham.


You can follow Pete and the rest of the team’s progress by following them on twitter @TeamLiliMarket, and of course we’ll keep you posted on our own Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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