This past weekend we got our first look at the impact of Core Set 2020 on the standard metagame. The decks from the Win Condition Cup Qualifier (WCCQ) and Star City Games Worchester (SCGW) events gives a picture of where we can expect the metagames to move. Here are a few takeaways from these events.

First, Mono-Red still has a place in the metagame. SCGW Open was won by Aaron Barich running Mono-Red. The deck used two Core Set 2020 cards that added power to it. Chandra’s Spitfire and Ember Hauler give additional reach to the deck. One problem for Mono-Red has been its lack of flyers. Spitfire does not look like a powerful game ending play, but it has the potential to be. Playing Spitfire then attacking with it on the next turn can provide lethal damage when paired with a Shock, Lightning Strike, or Wizard’s Lightning. Each time you damage an opponent, Spitfire gets +3/+0 until the end of the turn.

Chandra’s Spitfire can easily do four to ten damage on a single turn to end the game. Ember Hauler provides a good blocker that can be sacrificed to do two damage to any target. These new cards with the existing power of the deck will make Mono-Red playable throughout this season.

Mono-Red Aggro Aaron Barich 1st Place at Star City Games Open on 7/13/2019

Creatures (24)
Chandra’s Spitfire
Ember Hauler
Fanatical Firebrand
Ghitu Lavarunner
Goblin Chainwhirler
Runaway Steam-Kin

Lands (20)
20 Mountain

Spells (16)
Experimental Frenzy
Lightning Strike
Shock
Light Up the Stage
Skewer the Critics
Sideboard (15)
Experimental Frenzy
Fry
Chandra, Acolyte of Flame
Tibalt, Rakish Instigator
Lava Coil

Second, Simic has several good deck options that present real challenges for opponents. The three versions that have performed well so far are Simic Nexus, Simic Flash, and Simic Reef Ramp. Each variant takes a different path to victory using the Simic land base.

The top two decks at the WCCQ played Simic. Additionally, Simic Nexus and Simic Flash had five of the Top 16 places at SCGW Open with a Bant deck in the Top 8 and two additional Top 16 finishers at SCGW Classic with two Bant decks also in the Top 8.

SIMIC REEF RAMP, ANDREW QUINONES, 1ST PLACE WIN CONDITION CUP QUALIFIER JULY 2019

Creatures (24)
Llanowar Elves
Leafkin Druid
Incubation Druid
Risen Reef
Voracious Hydra
Hydroid Krasis

Planeswalkers (4)
Nissa, Who Shakes the World

Instants (4)
Growth Spiral

Sorcery (4)
Mass Manipulation
Entrancing Melody

Land (24)
Island
Forest
Breeding Pool
Hinterland Harbor
Temple of Mystery
Sideboard (15)
Aether Gust
Carnage Tyrant
Cerulean Drake
Negate
Thrashing Brontodon
Veil of Summer

SIMIC FLASH, JAMES HAMES, 2ND PLACE WIN CONDITION CUP QUALIFIER JULY 2019

Creatures (19)
Brineborn Cutthroat
Frilled Mystic
Nightpack Ambusher
Merfolk Trickster
Spectral Sailor

Instant (17)
Syncopate
Opt
Unsummon
Essence Scatter
Negate
Sinister Sabotage

Land (24)
Forest
Island
Temple of Mystery
Hinterland Harbor
Breeding Pool
Sideboard (14)
Vivien Reid
Shifting Ceratops
Entrancing Melody
Cerulean Drake
Aether Gust
Negate
Essence Scatter

Andrew Quinones won the WCCQ with Simic Reef Ramp utilizing elementals to gain card advantage and ramp into Hydroid Krasis and Voracious Hydra. The deck also has Mass Manipulation to take away opponent’s creatures and/or planeswalkers in the late game to eliminate their defenses.

The Simic Flash deck utilizes a control package and playing creatures will flash to control the game by limiting what your opponent can do. James Hames second place deck at the WCCQ effectively used the strategy to beat his opponents except for Boros Feather and Simic Reef Ramp. The other Simic Flash deck in the tournament lost to Boros Feather and Esper Hero while defeating the other decks it faced. Overall, Simic Flash went 8-4-1 in the tournament. Simic has explosive play options that make these decks powerful options in the metagame.

Third, Esper Hero is still a force in the metagame. Core Set 2020 only provided additional dual lands for the deck. The decks strength remains the same. Expect to see the deck remain a popular choice.

ESPER HERO, KYLE REICHARD, 5-8 PLACE WIN CONDITION CUP JULY 2019

Creatures (10)
Hero of Precinct One
Elite Guardmage
Hostage Taker

Planeswalkers (10)
Narset, Parter of Veils
Teferi, Time Raveler
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria

Artifacts (1)
Bolas's Citadel

Instant (5)
Despark
Tyrant's Scorn

Sorcery (5)
Command the Dreadhorde
Thought Erasure

Enchantment (3)
Oath of Kaya

Land (26)
Temple of Silence
Swamp
Glacial Fortress
Godless Shrine
Isolated Chapel
Hallowed Fountain
Watery Grave
Drowned Catacomb
Sideboard (15)
Bolas's Citadel
Cry of the Carnarium
Narset, Parter of Veils
Dovin's Veto
Duress
Enter the God-Eternals
Kaya's Wrath
The Elderspell
Ashiok, Dream Render

Fourth, elementals and vampires have proven that they have a place in the metagame. Both decks placed in the Top 8 at SCG Worchester Classic and Open. I don’t think that either has reached its full potential, so expect to see the decks continue to evolve over time.

Temur Elementals Chris Johnson 3rd Place at Star City Games Open on 7/13/2019

Creatures (23)
Cavalier of Thorns
Creeping Trailblazer
Leafkin Druid
Living Twister
Overgrowth Elemental
Risen Reef
Omnath, Locus of the Roil

Planeswalkers (6)
Chandra, Acolyte of Flame
Chandra, Awakened Inferno

Lands (24)
Forest
Mountain
Breeding Pool
Hinterland Harbor
Rootbound Crag
Steam Vents
Stomping Ground
Temple of Mystery

Spells (7)
Lightning Strike
Shock
Sideboard (15)
Shifting Ceratops
Cindervines
Aether Gust
Disdainful Stroke
Flame Sweep
Fry

Orzhov Vampires Ashford Smith 2nd Place at Star City Games Classic on 7/14/2019

Creatures (26)
Adanto Vanguard
Champion of Dusk
Dusk Legion Zealot
Knight of the Ebon Legion
Legion Lieutenant
Sanctum Seeker
Skymarcher Aspirant
Vicious Conquistador
Vona, Butcher of Magan

Planeswalkers (4)
Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord

Lands (22)
Plains
Swamp
Godless Shrine
Isolated Chapel

Spells (8)
Cast Down
Mortify
Legion’s Landing
Sideboard (15)
Plague Mare
Despark
Noxious Grasp
Gideon Blackblade
Duress

Finally, Boros Feather now has the strength to be a Tier 1 deck. God’s Will provides the needed piece of protection for the creatures in the deck. When Feather, the Redeemed is on the battlefield and God’s Will in hand the deck can be unbeatable. Expect to see continued play and to win some tournaments.

BOROS FEATHER, ABBY GIBSON, 5-8 PLACE WIN CONDITION CUP JULY 2019

Creatures (17)
Feather, the Redeemed
Adanto Vanguard
Dreadhorde Arcanist
Tenth District Legionnaire
Tomik, Distinguished Advokist

Planeswalker (3)
Gideon Blackblade

Instants (18)
Gird for Battle
Sheltering Light
Reckless Rage
Gods Willing
Shock
Defiant Strike

Land (22)
Mountain
Plains
Clifftop Retreat
Sacred Foundry
Temple of Triumph
Sideboard (15)
Prison Realm
Flame Sweep
Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants
Fry
Legion Warboss
Demystify
Tocatli Honor Guard

Until next time. Good luck finding your win condition!