The State of Arena 6/19/2020
Welcome back “The State of Arena”! This week we will review the key cards from M21 and how I predict they will actually affect the standard metagame. Be sure to check out the full spoilers at http://mythicspoiler.com/m21/. I will not link specific cards in the article as they can all be found at the aforementioned link. We will look at the Mythics and Rares and attempt to predict how they will affect standard. We will not consider historic at the moment because that format is going to be warped by Jump Start currently being spoiled as this is being written.
Mythics: The cards that typically get the biggest hype are planeswalkers, so let’s look at those first. We got a new Teferi, Chandra, Liliana, and Garruk as well as a brand new planeswalker in Basri Ket and a reprint in Ugin The Spirit Dragon. In total we got 16 new mythics, but truth be told they seldom warp the format. First off, I think people will try to force Garruk (a favorite), Liliana, and Teferi, but I am not convinced that these will immediately affect the metagame, but eventually they might. I think Ugin will slot in at the top end of control decks, but as to what it replaces, is hard to say.
I do not see Garruk replacing the latest Vivien once Nissa rotates, and I do not see how either of them are better than Nissa until then. Therefore, Garruk is a force of favorite but not a player.
Chandra is a 5-mana walker that is good, but is she better than Lukka? If you are playing a burn style deck, maybe, so maybe in a mono red style deck she is a better 5 drop…but mono red usually does not want to play 5 drops (and is it just better to jam obosh instead?). I think it is worth a try, but will not see play outside of fringe fan decks.
Liliana is interesting, and could find ways into a mono black discard style deck, or maybe the devotion deck, but is that top tier? No, it is not, but it is powerful when it works. I think Rankle is the better play at this slot, but likely will be replaced due to fanfare. Ultimately, neither will be a player in the top tier decks. It is just not consistently powerful enough.
Basri Ket might slot into the white weenie deck, but I truly think he is not powerful enough to slot in at the 3 drop. I think glorious anthem is just a better slot, if that deck is going to even be viable, but overall it is cute but not a player in the meta.
Teferi is interesting and powerful, and given the lack of 4 drops in control, he might just be the ticket for that slot. You have to ask yourself if it’s worth replacing the 4 mana board wipes with him or just keeping those and cutting him. He is able to activate his abilities on both your turn and the opponents turn, which makes him very plausible, but does it make him playable? Maybe. I predict he will be forced, played, and maybe busted but can he outdo green? Is he more powerful than wilderness reclamation? Point being, he is likely going to be powerful post rotation. Impactful, but not meta warping until the fall.
Ugin is one of my favorite planeswalkers of all time, he is very powerful, but he is eight mana and likely unplayable in most decks. Funny thing we live in a big mana standard, so maybe he can see some play in those or control decks, but the truth is if you are not ramping him out he is unplayable as games are over by turn 8. I will force him, and build around him, but I am not convinced he will be at the top. (Get him, play him, he’s fun just don’t get your hopes up)
Other mythics that might be impactful, but again we have to consider rotation are Discontinuity, Fiery Emancipation, and Baneslayer Angel. I am not sold, but they are all very powerful. Discontinuity is very powerful, very interesting, but will it be much more than a counter spell? Given that mystical dispute is a 1-mana counter to it, I do not know if it is really playable in standard. However, we will all try to play it for sure. Fiery Emancipation is a sweet, powerful, nasty card but I think it is just a win more card. Baneslayer Angel is a nice reprint, and would slot in like Lyra Dawnbringer did, but I think Dream Trawler is just better in the decks either of them will see play in. The last mythic I will mention is Rin and Seri, the cat dog mythic that is pretty sweet. It will not affect the meta overall, but I had to bring your attention to it! Play it, have fun with it, just do not expect to hit mythic with it ☺
Rares: We get many rares in each set, and as such, it puts a premium on rare wildcards on MTG Arena. Given that, I will cover a few rares that I both like, and think can see play.
Rhada, Heart of Keld is a gold rare that fits into the gruul (red/green) style decks. The question is where? It could slot in the 3-drop slot after rotation, but until then? I think it is a neat card that can ramp you up, but I do not know how good it actually is. It is a nice card, that I think will see some fringe play, but it does not a meta warp card by any means.
Sanctum of All is fun. It is a shrine-based card that will absolutely be a jank build around in standard, but it is a non-competitive card in my opinion for standard. Historic and commander, maybe, but not standard. Still, watch for it, as it should be a fun build around card!
Niambi, Esteemed Speaker is an interesting card. I can bounce things back to your hand at instant speed, but I just do not see it making its way into a competitive deck. We may be able to build a fun azorious deck around it, but that will be about it. A fun card that fans can appreciate.
Containment Priest is a reprint that a month ago would have had every standard player chomping at the bit. However, since the banning of Agent, it lost some appeal. Still, the ability to keep cards from sneaking into play is pretty awesome and it will be sideboard playable as long as it is in standard.
Basri’s Lieutenant is a sweet card that has all the tools. It is a 4-mana card that slots right into white weenie at the top of the curve, or any white based creature deck. It has protection from multicolored cards, has an enter the battlefield and leaving the battlefield trigger. The card is good, play it if you are playing a creature deck with white in it.
Feline Sovereign is another “oh look a good green card” in standard, but seriously it is going to be nice IF cats can see play. I personally like the card especially if dogs (see pack leader) are a thing, but it also pairs nicely given the various enchantments and artifacts seeing play from theros beyond death. Keep an eye on the card, but I doubt it sees a lot of play as tribal has not really been a thing in a while.
Glorious Anthem is a great reprint (if for nothing else than to get it reprinted) and is very likely to be the 3 drop that white weenie needs to push it higher up the meta. Paired with All That Glitters it can make the small creatures get really big and out of hand. I am skeptical that the deck truly overpowers the meta, but I am watching this as a way to push it.
Pack Leader is the dog lord that gives the anthem effect to dogs. Paired with Glorious anthem, look out for the dogs to be set free (who let the dogs out?) and push aggressive white decks to see play. I like it, others like it, so you will see it. Book it.
Transmogrify is a red based Polymorph spell that has the same ability as Lukka does in terms of grabbing a creature from the library. I definitely think that a red based creature deck could see play cheating big mean creatures into play. With Transmogrify and Lukka curving out together, look out for a deck that kills you out of nowhere. I am not sure it will be broken, but I could see things being problematic!