A couple of weeks ago Wumpus wrote an article right here on MTGYOU about the best card in Standard. He came down to the conclusion that Ugin, the Spirit Dragon was the best card in Standard, and it is hard to refute his logic. However, Standard changes and the format has evolved I can only conclude that Ugin isn’t all that he’s cracked up to be. I think there is a new best card in Standard. Say hello to the new best card in Standard: Collected Company.
Ugin is extremely powerful and can totally take over a game, but Collected Company is the engine that powers a number of the most powerful decks in the format today. Any deck running “CoCo” is able to “cheat” creatures into play at end of turn and prevent Ugin from being able to exile them in response. Both the 4 Colour Rally decks and the Bant Company decks look to exploit Collected Company as a major engine to fuel totally different strategies. Regardless of what deck you are running, Ugin is unable to interact profitably with either strategy consistently. Let’s have a look at what each deck is packing and why Ugin just isn’t enough to get there.
Let’s start with the Bant Company deck. If you run down the list of ridiculous creatures this deck has access to, you see very clearly that just about every creature is a “value” creature. By value I mean they enter play and have an effect in almost every instance. So, end of turn you cast CoCo, avoid getting wrecked by Ugin’s Exile ability, cash in the value off a Reflector Mage, Skyspawner, Sylvan Advocate, or just resolve a Jace, Vrynn’s Prodigy. When you untap you can then attack with this collection of potent, often evasive creatures, deal with Ugin and drop it down far enough to be out of danger of getting schooled by the exile ability. The other nice piece here is there are a number of Mega Morph creatures that are potentially colourless meaning you can hit them off of your CoCo, but if you just cast them as Morphs you can avoid the whole exiling ability regardless. Oh, and flip one of these up you can get back a previously cast Deathmist Raptor back creating a very powerful loop that is difficult to handle. Ugin just doesn’t match up very well in this match up and it is hard to justify playing it in a situation where you can’t really use him to full effect.
Here is a sample list:
Next, 4 Colour Rally plays a full playset of CoCo as well, but with a very different plan. You have little to no interest in attacking, but resolving Collected Company and reaping the same value off the enter the battlefield triggers is still a major part of this deck. Once you’ve forced your opponent to sac or bounce their creatures thanks to Sidisi Faithful, Merciless Executioner and Reflector Mage, you can sacrifice your creatures to drain out your opponent with a Nantuko Husk and Zulaport Cutthroat. Since you can do it all at the end of your opponent’s turn there is little they can do about it, even with an active Ugin. The match-up is horrendous…which is why 4 Colour Rally is arguably the best deck in the format at this juncture. Ugin just isn’t an answer…and if the “best” card isn’t an answer then maybe it isn’t the best card.
Here is a sample 4 Colour Rally list:
The third thing is the price tag on Ugin. He’s 8 mana. That’s a lot of mana and really only Control decks and Ramp decks will ever consistently be able to play him. In a format where control decks haven’t got a great toe hold, you’re really only looking at Ramp Decks as a viable home for this guy and that just doesn’t seem like a great option. With things like Ulamog, Worldbreaker, and Dragonlord Atarka being viable options for the ramp deck it would stand to reason that Ugin might not be a great addition to the deck. Conversely, Collected Company fits in just about any deck running Green with a critical mass of creatures costing 3 mana or less. CoCo can thus fit in a wider range of decks making the appeal of the card greater and the impact on the game more varied due to the different applications of the decks that run it.
So, with increased flexibility and the ability to circumvent Ugin’s most relevant ability, namely the ability to exile permanents, Collected Company has supplanted Ugin as the best card in Standard and is on top of the Standard world. Collected Company has shown time and time again that it is a key piece in a variety of decks and is the engine that has spawned a number of extremely consistent and powerful decks leaving no doubt who is on top.
So, thanks for taking the time to take a peak at the best card in Standard today. It is difficult to speak about Collected Company or Ugin solely in Standard as they have both migrated over to Modern in some different builds, but if the focus is strictly on Standard then it seems pretty clear that Collected Company is head and shoulders above Ugin right now. Add in the fact that Ugin will be rotating out in about 6 weeks when we lose Khans and Fate Reforged. Ugin may be leaving, but we will still need to contend with Collected Company until next autumn and shape Standard long after Ugin is gone.
Until next time, have fun playing Magic wherever you play and be sure to stop in next time!