Jacob Brown: Approaching a New Standard

Standard is in a weird spot. After being awful for a long, long time, it appears there is finally a good Standard format, but players are still hesitant to fully commit to it.

Hour of Devastation Standard was the best the format has been in a while, but the post-rotation format also looks promising. A lot of Standard decks will get hurt by rotation, such as Zombies, Vehicles and Ramp.

However, there is a deck that is mostly unaffected. After Dan Ward barely missed top 8 of GP Minneapolis with U/W Approach the deck took off, but never became a format staple with the likes of Zombies and Ramunap Red running around.

With little lost and a lot gained from rotation, U/W Approach looks like a deck primed to be great in Ixalan Standard.

U/W Approach, by Jacob Brown

The deck lost Blessed Alliance and Immolating Glare, but just about nothing else. The two drops were very good at delaying an early onslaught, so Aether Meltdown must be included to take their place.

Opt is a solid pickup for the deck, as in a lot of unfavored matchups it’s right to cycle Hieroglyphic Illumination anyways, and Opt gives a scry.

A card I’m less certain on is Settle the Wreckage. The card certainly has a high raw power level, but the cost of giving the opponent a basic land for each attacker might be too much in some matchups.

The core of the deck is pretty much unaffected. We still have four Approach to win the game; four Fumigate to stabilize; four Censor and four Cast Out to provide utility or cycle; and four Glimmer of Genius and Supreme Will to dig. Disallow is another flex spot that can be played with, but having a hard counterspell in the deck makes the control matchups much more manageable.


The goal is to cast Approach of the Second Sun twice and win the game. In fact, it’s the only way you have to win. In order do so, the deck needs to draw a lot of cards and take control of the game. Cards like Fumigate, Censor and Disallow are all very good at helping get the game to a manageable state. After that, cyclers and Glimmer of Genius help dig for Approach.

The deck is pretty straightforward, and very powerful. Being a controlling deck, it preys on many of the format’s midrange decks, such as Temur/4c Energy, G/B Constrictor and God-Pharaoh’s Gift decks. Their goal is to create pressure with a ton of creatures. A well-timed Fumigate all but wins those matchups, and Disallow and Supreme Will control their top end. Game 1s in these matchups are almost always favorable, so all that’s needed from the board for these matchups is counter magic.

The control matchups are harder, but if you can counter/kill their threats you will eventually get to a turn where you can cast two Approach with a counterspell for back up, winning the game. Post board, Kefnet, Caracal and Counterspells replace the removal and the matchup gets pretty easy.

Some of the aggressive matchups are hard, but winnable. The Ramunap Red matchup is pretty rough main board. It’s hard for you to stop the onslaught of small creatures without just dying to an unchecked Hazoret or Chandra. Game 1 is super rough, but can be won through a healthy dose of Fumigates and Cast Outs. Matchups such as this are heavily addressed in the sideboard, with cards like Regal Caracal, Authority of the Consuls and Settle the Wreckage. Overall, the deck has a ton of good matchups, and rough matchups can be won through good play and a strong sideboard.

Tips and Tricks

  • In order to win, the second copy of Approach must resolve after being cast from your hand. However, the first copy doesn’t need to resolve; it just needs to be cast.
  • After Approach has been cast, keep track of how many cards down it is. It’s easy to miscount and cycle into being a card short of Approach and losing.
  • In addition to mainboard Negates out of some blue decks, there are a multitude of other cards to play around. Any black deck has the threat of Lost Legacy naming Approach. Always bring in back-up win cons to avoid getting hosed by the powerful sorcery.
  • Heroic Intervention can stop Fumigate.
  • Bristling Hydra needs to be countered or Fumigated away. It is rare that it’s cast without any energy, so it usually can’t be grabbed by a Cast Out.
  • As stated earlier, Chandra and Hazoret are both hard cards to beat out of the red deck. If there is a possibility to play a spell on their attack step and Cast Out on your turn, always take it. It results in more damage in the short term, but deals with an otherwise unbeatable threat.
  • Electrostatic Pummeler can be a huge problem. Fumigating one away is always a safe bet, and giving it an Aether Meltdown may seem less than helpful, but the -4 attack holds them back a lot.
  • Doomfall is a card that can also come out of any black deck. It usually takes a card that helps you get to Approach (Fumigate, Disallow, etc.) not the Approach itself. This means their plan is to kill before you can cast Approach twice, and a cautious game plan is best.
  • Finally, play to your outs. If you have already cast an Approach, that means there is a card in your deck that says W6: “You win the game.” Fumigate is almost always an out as well, and cyclers can be used to dig. With so many outs, never concede unless you are dead on board.


U/W Approach may not jump out as a contender, but it’s versatile, skill-intensive, and above all else, a ton of fun to play. Even if a U/W durdle deck isn’t your cup of tea, there is nothing better than slamming an Approach to win the game. So spend the $120 dollars the deck costs (I know, it’s nuts) and start Approaching victories in the new Standard format.

Jacob Brown‘s Magic accomplishments include coming in second at the 2016 TCGPlayer States, winning a PPTQ, and winning infinite casual drafts. Contact him at nufan7@comcast.net.

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Jacob Brown