4 Simic Lists From Standard 2020

In the past few weeks, Standard 2020 has offered a glimpse at what the post-rotation format will look like. The cards introduced in Throne of Eldraine will no doubt reshape the metagame, but here are the lists that I've found the most success with climbing to Mythic on ladder. By some coincidence, all of them are based in Simic; all I can say is, Breeding Pool seems like a good investment.

Temur Gates (15-3 in Bo1 Games)

3 Arboreal Grazer (WAR) 149  
4 Hydroid Krasis (RNA) 183  
4 Gatebreaker Ram (RNA) 126  
4 Gate Colossus (RNA) 232

2 Lava Coil (GRN) 108  
4 Growth Spiral (RNA) 178  
4 Gates Ablaze (RNA) 102  
4 Guild Summit (GRN) 41  
4 Circuitous Route (GRN) 125

4 Simic Guildgate (RNA) 258  
4 Izzet Guildgate (GRN) 251  
4 Gruul Guildgate (RNA) 250  
4 Golgari Guildgate (GRN) 249  
4 Plaza of Harmony (RNA) 254  
4 Breeding Pool (RNA) 246  
1 Temple of Epiphany (M20) 253  
1 Temple of Mystery (M20) 255  
1 Gateway Plaza (WAR) 246  

Why play this deck?

This deck is an oldie from the days of Ravnica Allegiance. By agreeing to play a turn behind with 19 lands that must enter tapped, you gain some truly above-rate threats (Ram, Colossus), sweepers (Gates Ablaze), and card draw (Guild Summit). Guild Summit in particular ensures that your late game is better than every other deck's; it's basically a planeswalker that can't be attacked. Arboreal Grazer is one of the newer additions and quite important -- beyond providing early defense and ramp, it allows you to make extra land drops in the mid-to-late game when you're "going off" with Guild Summit activations.

Additions from Eldraine

Unfortunately, this deck gains the least from Throne of Eldraine. The manabase is already stretched tight, but plausibly you could replace a Temple with the blue Castle. Once Upon A Time may also be a consideration, helping you find your Gates or marquee threats. Beyond that, you're not looking to play strong midrangey effects like Oko, so the list should not change much.

Bant Ramp (12-4)

4 Hydroid Krasis (RNA) 183  
4 Leafkin Druid (M20) 178  
4 Paradise Druid (WAR) 171  
4 Incubation Druid (RNA) 131  
2 Voracious Hydra (M20) 200  
2 Trostani Discordant (GRN) 208  
4 Deputy of Detention (RNA) 165  
4 Risen Reef (M20) 217

4 Teferi, Time Raveler (WAR) 221  
4 Nissa, Who Shakes the World (WAR) 169

3 Blossoming Sands (M20) 243  
5 Forest (M20) 280  
4 Breeding Pool (RNA) 246  
4 Hallowed Fountain (RNA) 251  
4 Temple Garden (GRN) 258  
4 Temple of Mystery (M20) 255

Why play this deck?

Almost card-for-card the same as Mengucci's list for the previous Standard, the only cards that rotated were the WG checkland and Llanowar Elves. Blossoming Sands and Incubation Druid are definitely downgrades, but the core of the deck remains the same.

You get access to both Teferi and Nissa, two of the best planeswalkers in Standard (and that means a lot, with the current number of walkers floating around). Teferi gives you game against every deck trying to play at instant speed (Simic Flash, Temur Reclamation), which otherwise would be weaknesses of a green-based strategy. And Nissa remains hard to trump on sheer power level, even if it's coming out turn 4 rather than 3. A hasty 3/3 every turn pressures life totals and opposing walkers, and the extra mana easily finds a use between the Hydras, card draw, and even Incubation Druid adaptations.

Additions from Eldraine

Golden Goose may seem like a fit, enabling the dream of turn 3 Nissa, but I'm not sure that a Lotus Petal-like card is right when you're trying to tap out every turn and sink all of your mana into your X-cost spells. Oko, however, looks like a good midrange candidate, giving you another planeswalker threat that is difficult to advantageously answer. Once Upon A Time helps you find dorks early and payoff late -- I'm not sure what the right number is but I'd start with two.

Simic Ramp (12-3)

4 Incubation Druid (RNA) 131  
4 Paradise Druid (WAR) 171  
4 Leafkin Druid (M20) 178  
4 Hydroid Krasis (RNA) 183  
4 Voracious Hydra (M20) 200  
4 Risen Reef (M20) 217  
2 Cloudkin Seer (M20) 54  
3 Shifting Ceratops (M20) 194  
1 Agent of Treachery (M20) 43

4 Nissa, Who Shakes the World (WAR) 169  
2 Mass Manipulation (RNA) 42

4 Temple of Mystery (M20) 255  
4 Breeding Pool (RNA) 246  
8 Forest (M20) 280  
6 Island (M20) 268  
2 Thornwood Falls (M20) 258  

Why play this deck?

Dubbed "Simic Steal" at times, I think the stealing aspect of the deck is actually minor with regards to how it wins. It's better viewed as a variation on the Bant Ramp list above -- the function of the two decks are very similar, playing 12 dorks, Nissa, and a bunch of ways to spend the mana. You do give up on Teferi as well as the lifegain enabled from Trostani, in exchanged for more consistency on colors and the ability to conquer planeswalkers with Mass Manipulation.

The flexible slots include the Cloudkin Seers (like Teferi, it's a three drop which cycles and affects the board, in addition to triggering your Risen Reefs) and Shifting Ceratops (fights counterspells, planeswalkers, and random flyers in one maindeck package). I'm also a bit skeptical of Agent of Treachery -- yeah, it'll win you a game when you can resolve a 7 drop, but your other threats can be cast when you're short a few mana

Additions from Eldraine

Besides all the cards mentioned for Bant Ramp, Questing Beast may be a good replacement for Ceratops as the 4-drop beater of choice. Being legendary, I would try a maindeck split of 2 Questing / 2 Ceratops. Also, a word of warning for both ramp decks: Witch's Vengeance is extremely strong, taking out multiple Druids or Elementals (including Nissa lands!) for the low cost of 3 mana, and dodging Veil of Summer, one of your premier anti-black answers.

Simic Flash (17-5)

4 Breeding Pool (RNA) 246  
4 Temple of Mystery (M20) 255  
9 Island (M20) 268  
6 Forest (M20) 280

4 Frilled Mystic (RNA) 174  
4 Spectral Sailor (M20) 76  
4 Brineborn Cutthroat (M20) 50  
4 Nightpack Ambusher (M20) 185

2 Anticipate (M20) 45  
3 Essence Capture (RNA) 37  
4 Sinister Sabotage (GRN) 54  
4 Negate (M20) 69  
4 Quench (RNA) 48  
3 Unsummon (M20) 78  
1 Disdainful Stroke (GRN) 37  

Why play this deck?

Fresh from M20, Brineborn Cutthroat and Nightpack Ambusher are the hottest reasons to build a deck that plays entirely on its opponent's turn. With one of these creatures resolved, all you need are a few turns of counterspelling to close the game. You prey on decks dependent on resolving one or two main threats (like all the lists above!), and rewards a deep understanding of the format and when to stop a spell. Be aware that it is a quintessential tempo deck -- reliant on a lot of conditional countermagic, with almost no ability to win a protracted late game (no, Spectral Sailor activations will not get you there).

Additions from Eldraine

This deck stands to gain the most out of these four, in the form of Brazen Borrower. To me, Brazen Borrower reads as a build-your-own Cryptic Command -- since each half of the card is playable on its own, with this and a counterspell in hand you can choose among a wide variety of options, and maintain card advantage by virtue of the Adventure mechanic. We were already maindecking some Unsummons to regain lost tempo, and Brazen Borrower's adventure hits any nonland permanent so you can counter them the second time around (relevantly, Teferi). Hypnotic Sprite plays a similar role, as an early counter followed by cheap evasive pressure.

Conclusion

In spite of some color similarities, Gates, Ramp and Flash represent a wide spectrum of playstyles, all of which were highly competitive in the microcosm known as Standard 2020. I quite enjoyed trying out decks in this underexplored format (ask me sometime about Neoform Mizzet!), and hope that Standard with Eldraine remains open to a diversity of interesting archetypes!

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