Deck Guide of the Day: Frontier U/R Ensoul Artifact

The Izzet Thopter deck that Team ChannelFireball and Face-to-Face piloted at Pro Tour Magic Origins is one of my favorite of all time, so I’ll take any opportunity to highlight a new spin on the archetype.

Ensoul Artifact is a powerhouse, and we’re about to see a similar card in Standard thanks to Aether Revolt’s Tezzeret’s Touch. While the new version is “safer” in that you can get the artifact back if it’s killed, Ensoul is still king thanks to the mana cost. For just 2 mana, you’re getting a 5/5 creature with virtual haste. On a Darksteel Citadel, it will be indestructible. Enchant a flying creature, and you build a Dragon.

Ensoul Artifact

Hangarback Walker was another major player in that Standard deck. It was cheap to cast early for just a 2 mana investment that would continue to grow. The counters on the Walker would count along with the Ensoul, so a turn 3 enchantment on the Walker would make it a 6/6 creature. The popular removal spells in the format include burn, Murderous Cut, and soon Fatal Push, which don’t interact very well with Hangarback. Other cards that combo well with the Walker are ones that can pump Thopters, or any way to sacrifice the Hangarback for tokens.

Hangarback Walker

Ghostfire Blade is a big time enabler for this deck. A single mana to cast and a single mana to equip for a massive power and toughness bonus makes your artifact creatures tough to deal with. This added speed and sustained extra damage with evasion creatures is critical to the deck’s success. U/R Thopter decks have a ton of reach, and the bulk of that comes from Shrapnel Blast. While the Blast can sacrifice any artifact on the board to deal 5, the combination with Hangarback Walker is the most effective. Any way you slice it, this is a 5 damage burn spell at instant speed that can target both creatures and players. Combined with Lightning Strikes and Wild Slash, U/R Thopters has the ability to burn people out from double-digit life totals without needing many cards or mana.

Ghostfire BladeShrapnel BlastLightning StrikeWild Slash

Thopter producers are going to be quite strong in this deck. Thopter Engineer and Pia and Kiran Nalaar are at the top of the list, but there are plenty more that should be tested. Pia Nalaar may have what it takes, but Maverick Thopterist definitely seems worth a try once Aether Revolt is released. Being able to use your Ghostfire Blades and other Thopters to help cast this for cheap sounds exciting to me, but all of the Thopter producers have their own strengths and weaknesses to consider.

Thopter EngineerPia and Kiran NalaarPia NalaarMaverick Thopterist

Another big benefit to Thopter production is the ease with which you’ll turn on Smuggler’s Copter. With its recent banning in Standard, this is the perfect format to dust them off for, and I don’t think I need to tell you just how dominant this card is.

Smuggler's Copter

The early creatures and pressure come from Inventor’s Apprentice and Ornithopter. Ornithopter may not seem like the most intimidating aggro creature, but with Ghostfire Blades to play and equip turn 2 or Ensoul Artifact to create a 5/5 flying creature with haste turn 2, Ornithopter ends up looking impressive.

Inventor's ApprenticeOrnithopter

Here’s the full list:

Creatures (17):

4 Hangarback Walker
4 Ornithopter
4 Inventor’s Apprentice
2 Thopter Engineer
3 Pia and Kiran Nalaar

Spells (21):

1 Wild Slash
4 Lightning Strike
4 Shrapnel Blast
4 Ensoul Artifact
4 Ghostfire Blade
4 Smuggler’s Copter

Lands (22):

4 Spirebluff Canal
4 Shivan Reef
2 Wandering Fumarole
4 Darksteel Citadel
1 Tomb of the Spirit Dragon
5 Mountain
2 Island

Sideboard (15):

4 Disdainful Stroke
2 Roast
2 Smash to Smithereens
2 Thopter Spy Network
1 Rending Volley
1 Negate
1 Savage Alliance
1 Seismic Rupture
1 Dispel

There are lots of great artifacts available, and only more with Aether Revolt soon to be released. While this deck can’t take advantage of the powerful delve spells of the format or Collected Company, it has great speed and reach that can punish opponents for being too slow or tapping out.

Thanks Everybody for reading,

Andreas

Deck Guide of the Day: Frontier 4 Color Humans Company

This is not the most common build of a Company deck. It did place well in a huge tournament, so you know the list is going to be solid.

Bant Humans combined Standard’s two best decks in Bant Company and Humans Aggro less than a year ago. This combination of strong Human creatures was brutally effective, and Thalia’s Lieutenants made everything spiral out of control quickly. Being able to hit Lieutenants at instant speed is what really made the deck work, and as we’ve seen in Human decks for some time now, Thalia’s Lieutenant takes them to another dimension. With so many powerful Humans, there’s little cost to adding that synergy.

Thalia's Lieutenant

Collected Company is nuts. It’s an instant. You get crazy value, hit 2 Humans, ambush creatures, set up after sweepers, and provide crazy tempo. No need to say more.

Collected Company

Warden of the First Tree is a sick way to get started. This thing grows really quickly, and is excellent on turn 1 and turn 21. It’s a late-game mana sink that wins the game, and provides reliable early pressure. Lambholt Pacifist and Heir of the Wilds both play well with +1/+1 counters. Getting a Thalia’s Lieutenant going will turn these things into massive attackers that end the game in a hurry.

Warden of the First TreeLambholt PacifistLambholt ButcherHeir of the Wilds

There are some attractive tempo Humans as well. Reflector Mage just got the axe in Standard, but it really should have gone while Collected Company was still around. This combination was straight-up oppressive and just made some matches unwinnable. You could cast them in combat, bounce attackers, block, and they can’t even cast their creatures again. Thalia, Heretic Cathar will slow down opposing creatures as well, but it will also do serious work against the fetchlands and shadowlands that dominate Frontier.

Reflector MageThalia, Heretic Cathar

Abzan Falconer plays super well with Thalia’s Lieutenant and anything else that adds counters. Sending all your creatures to the air at instant speed? Yes, please. Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy doesn’t care too much about getting some extra counters from the Lieutenant, but he certainly enjoys flashing back a Collected Company or a Dromoka’s Command.

Abzan FalconerJace, Vryn's ProdigyJace, Telepath Unbound

Dromoka’s Command is still one of the most powerful spells we’ve seen in some time. Burn is more relevant in Frontier, where Atarka’s Command, Lightning Strike, and Stoke the Flames are heavily played. It also adds counters, destroys enchantments, and kills creatures. That is effectively doing it all for just 2 mana at instant speed.

Dromoka's Command

Anafenza, the Foremost is huge, Human, and invalidates entire archetypes relying on graveyard recursion. It also adds counters. Heron’s Grace Champion is the one card that can’t be hit by Company, but it completely changes the race and you can hold it up when your opponents might think you have Company.

Anafenza, the ForemostHeron's Grace Champion

Here’s the full list:

Creatures (28):

4 Warden of the First Tree
4 Thalia’s Lieutenant
3 Lambholt Pacifist/Lambholt Butcher
2 Heir of the Wilds
2 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy/Jace, Telepath Unbound
4 Reflector Mage
3 Thalia, Heretic Cathar
2 Abzan Falconer
2 Anafenza, the Foremost
2 Heron’s Grace Champion

Spells (8):

4 Dromoka’s Command
4 Collected Company

Lands (24):

1 Canopy Vista
1 Prairie Stream
1 Sunken Hollow
4 Windswept Heath
4 Flooded Strand
3 Botanical Sanctum
1 Blooming Marsh
1 Yavimaya Coast
3 Llanowar Wastes
2 Plains
2 Forest
1 Island

Sideboard (15):

3 Transgress the Mind
2 Arashin Cleric
2 Disdainful Stroke
2 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
1 Anafenza, the Foremost
1 Murderous Cut
1 Sorin, Solemn Visitor
2 Dispel
1 Declaration in Stone

Collected Company is still one of the best cards ever, and putting it in a deck full of aggressive creatures and Thalia’s Lieutenant synergy is a great way to go about it. This deck isn’t messing around, and has tons of ways to close a game out quickly.

Thanks Everybody for reading,

Andreas

Deck Guide of the Day: Jeskai Panharmonicon Copy Cat

This deck can be the Splinter Twin 2.0. Mix the Copy Cat combo, which create a 2 card infinite combo, with a shell that draws a lot of cards by blinking permanents and you can have a relly solid deck.

In the deck we have 3 infinite combos:

Saheeli Rai + Felidar Guardian

Panharmonicon + Felidar Guardian + Felidar Guardian

  1. Panharmonicon and Felidar Guardians #1 in play.
  2. Felidar Guardian #2 comes down, blink Guardian #1 and a land.
  3. Net 1 mana and get 2 additional blinks. Repeat process.

Throw in any other creature and you get…

  1. Thraben Inspector or Cloudblazer : Draw the entire deck.
  2. Pilgrim’s Eye : Search out every basic land.
  3. Drowner of Hope : Infinite 1/1 Eldrazi.
  4. Thought-Knot Seer : Deck the opponent if they don’t have an instant speed answer to an X/4 or Panharmonicon. Also allows for an unconditional win when you draw your deck because you can protect Thought-Knot Seer with Eldrazi Displacer.

Thraben InspectorCloudblazerPilgrim's EyeDrowner of HopeThought-Knot Seer

Panharmonicon + Drowner of Hope + Eldrazi Displacer

This is without even trying to find creatures that are good with infinite blinks, all of these you were already jamming in the Panharmonicon deck in the first place. It creates yet another win condition in a deck that didn’t really need more. What’s unique about this take on the strategy is that the Panharmonicon deck was already well situated against aggro, whereas many of the other early iterations of the deck were not. Of course, losing Reflector Mage is a blow, and Vehicles still present a real clock. One of the biggest drawbacks to fitting in the Saheelis is just how useless she is early on, which adds to your clunky mulligans. While Felidar Guardian blocks well, it doesn’t actually trade.

You are also affected by one of the other recent bannings: Smuggler’s Copter was uniquely qualified for this deck because it was a good 2-drop. In case you didn’t notice from the previous format, the 2 drop options for this deck range from situational to complete trash. If you go the Bant or 4 color route then you can jam Servant of the Conduit for mana fixing, but the rest are pretty bad.

This is why I’m willing to try Harnessed Lightning to take out creatures early. Stasis Snare is another option, but that one is yet another 3 drop in a deck full of them. What this comes down to is how much you can afford to sacrifice in your curve, and I’m not willing to make it even worse for a marginally better removal spell. Of course, the fact that Snare stops the combo in the mirror may overwrite that concern and force its inclusion.

Harnessed LightningStasis Snare

Here’s the full list:

Creatures (25):

4 Thraben Inspector
4 Eldrazi Displacer
3 Thought-Knot Seer
4 Felidar Guardian
4 Cloudblazer
3 Drowner of Hope
3 Pilgrim’s Eye

Spells (12):

2 Harnessed Lightning
4 Saheeli Rai
2 Stasis Snare
4 Panharmonicon

Lands (23):

4 Aether Hub
4 Prairie Stream
3 Spirebluff Canal
1 Port Town
2 Spire of Industry
5 Plains
2 Island
1 Mountain
1 Wastes

One option I considered but haven’t explored yet is the use of Ajani Unyielding or Nahiri, the Harbinger to dig and provide some punch. You already clog the ground well, and while Saheeli is a necessary evil, you don’t really have the means to look for your combo consistently. Most of the games you get going with Panharmonicon you’ll win by drawing 6 to 8 extra cards and out-resourcing them, the combo just cleans up quicker. If they can disrupt you, or if you need to find a Panharmonicon or a second combo piece, then these go a long way towards providing some consistent draw power.

Thanks Everybody for reading,

Andreas

Brews for the Weekend: Saheeli Twin CopyCat

When Felidar Guardian was previewed the entire Magic community went nuts over the news that a new “Splinter Twin combo” was Standard playable thanks to Saheeli Rai.

On Monday, January 9th, there was a pressing ban announced, and I thought for sure this infinite combo was going to get the ax. Why else would the B&R schedule get pushed up? I was surprised, to say the least, when I was wrong—completely wrong—and 3 other cards got banned instead.

There’s a lot going on in this deck, but ultimately the plan is to play a fair game with a combo kill. Saheeli is obviously broken with Felidar Guardian, but she does a lot of other nice things here. The most obvious is making more Gearhulks and smashing for a ton, but she can also draw cards off Prophetic Prism or create extra Clues by copying a Tireless Tracker before a land drop.

Prophetic PrismTireless Tracker

Speaking of Verdurous Gearhulk, this deck manages to play a pretty impressive plan B thanks to it. The Gearhulk synergizes nicely with Felidar Guardian in addition to Saheeli, but also smashes in for 10 immediately thanks to Arlinn Kord. It also can put counters on Heart of Kiran for a giant vigilant flyer because you can easily activate the Vehicle before resolving Gearhulk, thanks to all the planeswalkers.

Verdurous GearhulkArlinn KordArlinn, Embraced by the Moon

Nissa, Voice of Zendikar is just a good value planeswalker here, but also combines nicely with Heart of Kiran. She can occasionally go wide and then put a lot of +1/+1 counters on your Plant army, especially when paired with Felidar Guardian. Arlinn Kord isn’t the most impactful the turn she comes down, since she won’t usually have great targets in play yet, but she has a lot of unique play patterns. One is hasty Gearhulks, but another is to play Arlinn and make a Wolf, untap, “Bolt” something, then Felidar Guardian her and haste in for extra damage. She can also sometimes plus and make a creature big enough that you can crew Heart of Kiran without spending loyalty counters.

Nissa, Voice of Zendikar

What I love about this shell is that beyond the fair game it plays, it can assemble the infinite combo a decent amount of the time. Traverse the Ulvenwald can sometimes find Felidar Guardian, but both Ajani Unyelding and Oath of Nissa give the deck extra ways to find both missing pieces. If you already have Felidar Guardian, you can even blink Oath or Ajani for extra looks for Saheeli!

Traverse the UlvenwaldAjani UnyieldingOath of Nissa

One thing you may be wondering is how this list is possibly able to cast all its spells, but the mana base is surprisingly resilient thanks to the fact that the deck is mostly green. It has 11 untapped green sources for turn 1 Oath and Traverse, both of which help you cast your other spells. This is especially true thanks to the planeswalker heavy subtheme, which also helps turn on Heart of Kiran. Prophetic Prism is also key, and the card is less embarrassing now that it pairs with both Saheeli and Felidar Guardian for some extra card draw.

Here’s the full list:

Creatures (11):

2 Tireless Tracker
1 Fairgrounds Warden
4 Felidar Guardian
4 Verdurous Gearhulk

Spells (24):

2 Traverse the Ulvenwald
3 Shock
4 Oath of Nissa
3 Prophetic Prism
3 Heart of Kiran
3 Nissa, Voice of Zendikar
4 Saheeli Rai
2 Ajani Unyielding
2 Arlinn Kord/Arlinn, Embraced by the Moon

Lands (20):

3 Botanical Sanctum
4 Evolving Wilds
1 Cinder Glade
4 Inspiring Vantage
8 Forest
1 Mountain
1 Island
1 Plains

Sideboard (15):

4 Radiant Flames
2 Natural Obsolescence
2 Tireless Tracker
4 Bristling Hydra
3 Dispel

I don’t know if this will be the right build for the Copy Cat Combo, I guess we’ll know what’s right with time. But for now I just know that the Saheeli-Guardian combo is extremely powerful and it will be interesting trying to find the best shell for it.

Thanks Everybody for reading,

Andreas

Deck Guide of the Day: Frontier 5 Color Bring to Light

In a more powered up format than Standard such as Frontier, the added mana fixing and weaponry from the expanded card pool are awesome components for a toolbox style deck. This is the toolbox to end all toolboxes, as, unlike the norm, we have a 70 card main deck and 11 card sideboard. This is some seriously bizarre deck building, as it does give you the option of boarding down to 66 cards in games 2 and 3, but those numbers are still pretty awkward! We’ve seen larger than normal decks work for toolbox packages in the past, however, so perhaps this one is no exception.

The foundation of the deck is Bring to Light. This means that you’re going to need lots of good mana fixing to make sure you can get to 5 different colors as soon as possible. From there, the options are plentiful.

Bring to Light

You have lots of mana creatures in Frontier that can serve as both efficient beatdown machines and color fixing. All of these 2 mana ramp creatures also pack 2 power. Deathcap Cultivator and Rattleclaw Mystic even give you a boon in the late game, especially Mystic which can unmorph for a nice burst of mana. Servant of the Conduit is the current Standard staple that will fix your colors into anything you may need, and then get into the red zone.

Deathcap CultivatorRattleclaw MysticServant of the Conduit

The multicolored creatures from Khans of Tarkir are powerful. Anafenza, the Foremost can shut down entire strategies while attacking for big chunks of damage. Mantis Rider is an efficient and evasive beatdown machine that can even do double duty and block thanks to vigilance. Butcher of the Horde can turn excess mana creatures into powerful abilities that stack well on a 5 power creature for just 4 mana.

Anafenza, the ForemostMantis RiderButcher of the Horde

Siege Rhino. Remember Siege Rhino? How about turn 3 Siege Rhinos? Woodland Wanderer is a nice payoff for having so many different colors early in the game.

Siege RhinoWoodland Wanderer

The best card to hit the most often with a fully powered Bring to Light? That has got to be the Verdurous Gearhulk. In a deck that can power out some large creatures quickly in the game, Gearhulk is the one that threatens to close the door. Throwing some counters on a flying Mantis Rider or Butcher of the Horde, or loading up on a trampling Siege Rhino or Woodland Wanderer are all awesome possibilities.

Verdurous Gearhulk

With Standard mana fixing staple Attune with Aether here to make sure you hit your colors and have a large enough reserve to use Servant of the Conduit as much as necessary, this deck has all of the tools.

Attune with Aether

Here’s the full list:

Creatures (35):

3 Deathcap Cultivator
4 Rattleclaw Mystic
4 Servant of the Conduit
4 Anafenza, the Foremost
4 Mantis Rider
4 Butcher of the Horde
4 Siege Rhino
4 Woodland Wanderer
4 Verdurous Gearhulk

Spells (11):

4 Attune with Aether
4 Bring to Light
2 Declaration in Stone
1 Murderous Cut

Lands (24):

2 Aether Hub
2 Canopy Vista
1 Cinder Glade
1 Prairie Stream
1 Smoldering Marsh
1 Sunken Hollow
2 Bloodstained Mire
1 Flooded Strand
1 Polluted Delta
4 Windswept Heath
2 Wooded Foothills
2 Forest
1 Island
1 Mountain
1 Plains
1 Swamp

Sideboard (11):

3 Abzan Charm
1 Cataclysmic Gearhulk
2 Temur Charm
1 Painful Truths
4 Stubborn Denial

Thanks to a Frontier mana base that allows you to play double digit fetches and plenty of duals and basics to find with them, Bring to Light beatdown is an exciting approach!

Thanks Everybody for reading,

Andreas

Deck Guide of the Day: Frontier Jund

The 3 color mana bases of Frontier is super good when you can utilize two full sets of fetchlands to get your basics. The fact that you can play 4 Bloodstained Mires and 4 Wooded Foothills means that Jund is sure to have an easy time casting its spells. So let’s make sure they’re powerful!

Bloodstained MireWooded Foothills

The creatures are no joke. Sylvan Advocate is a great early blocker that turns into an absolute monster in the late game. Combined with a playset of Hissing Quagmire, Jund can turn the corner and wipe out an opponent in a couple swings. Along that same path is Tireless Tracker. Those will come down early, provide card advantage, and then be the biggest creature on the board.

Sylvan AdvocateHissing QuagmireTireless Tracker

Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet can shut down entire archetypes (remember that Rally the Ancestors is back!), slow down aggressive decks, or just provide value. Tasigur, the Golden Fang enters play early in a fetchland world before providing incremental advantage.

Kalitas, Traitor of GhetTasigur, the Golden Fang

This particular Jund list is heavy on planeswalkers. There are 11 featured here, and it all kicks off with 4 Liliana, the Last Hope. Not only can Liliana kill small creatures or slow down midsized ones, but she can load up the graveyard and provide value that way. The combination of Liliana and a delve creature like Tasigur isn’t an interaction we’ve been able to utilize in Standard, but it’s effective. Finding creatures to bring back while adding fuel is serious synergy.

Liliana, the Last Hope

The other card that combos super well with Liliana’s minus is Kolaghan’s Command. This card should already pretty easily provide value. It deals 2 damage, destroys artifacts, or makes opponents discard a card. All of these make for an easy 2 for 1, but the combination with Tasigur and other powerful creatures puts it over the top. Tasigurs will stay cheap and Kalitas will be able to come back into play over and over to shut your opponents down.

Kolaghan's Command

Chandra, Torch of Defiance hasn’t quite lived up to the Standard hype, but it’s good enough to get a 4 of in Frontier Jund. This is a value machine. It deals a consistent stream of damage to shut down opposing midrange and control decks. It picks off a creature of reasonable size. It can draw cards or add mana. And the ultimate, while it doesn’t end the game on the spot, really does end the game. Nissa, Vital Force is best friends with fetchlands. Tick her up once to protect her, or get in for 5 damage and you’re already there for an ultimate. With a playset of Bloodstained Mires and Wooded Foothills, this can easily mean you’re drawing two extra cards per turn. The minus is incredibly strong with so many good planeswalkers and creatures in the deck, and just ticking her up is a great clock against unprepared opponents.

Chandra, Torch of DefianceNissa, Vital Force

With a full set of Roasts to handle the big creatures in Frontier (Tasigur, Anafenza, Tireless Tracker, Siege Rhino), and Painful Truths to reload while shutting the door with planeswalkers, Jund is still strong.

RoastPainful Truths

Here’s the full list:

Creatures (13):

3 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
4 Sylvan Advocate
4 Tireless Tracker
2 Tasigur, the Golden Fang

Spells (21):

4 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
4 Liliana, the Last Hope
3 Nissa, Vital Force
4 Roast
3 Painful Truths
3 Kolaghan’s Command

Lands (26):

4 Bloodstained Mire
4 Wooded Foothills
4 Cinder Glade
4 Smoldering Marsh
4 Hissing Quagmire
3 Forest
1 Mountain
2 Swamp

Sideboard (15):

3 Reclamation Sage
2 Duress
3 Radiant Flames
3 Transgress the Mind
2 Dead Weight
2 Tormod’s Crypt

Everyone loves Jund!

Thanks Everybody for reading,

Andreas

Deck Guide of the Day: Frontier Bant Enchantment

Enchantment-centric decks came and went in Standard. Aided by enchantment creatures such as Courser of Kruphix and Eidolon of Blossoms, Magic Origins made the archetype a reality.

Starfield of Nyx is a huge reward for playing a enchantments. First, you’re getting a potential Opalescence effect. With enough enchantments in play, your other non-Auras will come alive and start getting in for big chunks of damage. The more common usage, and what will be important when building up to these big attacks, is returning an enchantment from your graveyard to the battlefield each turn. If you’re using enchantments as removal spells or can find ways to put enchantments into your graveyard, this will yield insane value.

Starfield of Nyx

Sigil of the Empty Throne is the other win-condition for a deck filled with enchantments. With enough cheap enchantments, you’re going to be able to crank out a battlefield of Angels to defend yourself before turning the corner. Playing more expensive enchantments to bring back with Starfield of Nyx is also viable.

Sigil of the Empty Throne

Vessel of Nascency and Oath of Jace weren’t quite there in Starfield of Nyx‘s time. They’ll load up your graveyard while helping to find important pieces. The Starfield of Nyx will eventually get these enchantments where you want them and onto the battlefield.

Vessel of NascencyOath of Jace

The only creatures in this deck outside of what Starfield of Nyx and Sigil of the Empty Throne will eventually produce are Elvish Mystics and Herald of the Pantheon. These will make sure you can cast your big enchantments and that you have the mana to dig deep early.

Elvish MysticHerald of the Pantheon

There are tons of white enchantments that will help neutralize opposing threats. Isolation ZoneOppressive Rays, Silkwrap, Stasis Snare, and Suspension Field will all take care of creatures and other threats. Outside of the Rays, none of them are Auras, so you’ll be able to attack with them when the Starfield is active. Quarantine Field doesn’t return from the graveyard quite as gracefully as the others, but it will help take care of threats you might not be able to deal with.

Isolation ZoneOppressive RaysSilkwrapStasis SnareQuarantine Field

Myth Realized is an interesting card that hasn’t really seen the play you would expect after so much hype. A 1 mana enchantment is a nice way to trigger Sigil, or to get enough enchantments in play to turn on Starfield. It also can come down early in the game, load up on counters, and offer a formidable threat.

Myth Realized

Lunar Force represents a soft lock in conjunction with Starfield of Nyx, forcing your opponent to play a test spell into the Lunar Force before they can cast anything of relevance.

Lunar Force

Here’s the full list:

Creatures (7):

3 Elvish Mystic
4 Herald of the Pantheon

Spells (31):

1 Isolation Zone
2 Lunar Force
3 Myth Realized
3 Oath of Jace
3 Oppressive Rays
1 Quarantine Field
3 Sigil of the Empty Throne
3 Silkwrap
3 Starfield of Nyx
2 Suspension Field
4 Vessel of Nascency
3 Stasis Snare

Lands (22):

3 Canopy Vista
3 Prairie Stream
4 Windswept Heath
4 Forest
2 Island
6 Plains

Sideboard (15):

3 Authority of the Consuls
2 Bonds of Mortality
2 Declaration in Stone
2 Hallowed Moonlight
1 Imprisoned in the Moon
3 Negate
2 Suppression Bonds

With mana acceleration, lots of cheap spells, and an end game that can go over the top of pretty much anybody, Bant Starfield is a pretty sweet deck to explore in the new Frontier.

Thanks Everybody for reading,

Andreas

Deck Guide of the Day: Frontier Esper Control

Esper Dragons was a sweet deck that relied on Dragonlord Ojutai to slam the door and then turn the corner with card advantage. Esper Planeswalkers was also a sweet deck, which relied on the Gatewatch to slow down the opponent and turn the corner. Frontier allows you to use more powerful creatures and planeswalkers to turn even the toughest games around.

Torrential Gearhulk is value on legs. A Flash creature is already tough to deal with, and this one just happens to be massive. It beats up on the likes of Siege Rhino in combat and comes with a free counterspell, removal spell, or card draw spell out of the graveyard. Once that value is out of the way, it starts attacking for 5.

Torrential Gearhulk

Ugin, the Spirit Dragon is one of the best weapons a control deck could ever have, and was featured as the top end of old Esper Dragons decks as a way to stabilize the board before winning the game. In a world where Collected Company and Rally the Ancestors are both legal, a sweeper that exiles all creatures is a nice complement to a bunch of removal spells and countermagic.

Ugin, the Spirit Dragon

Void Shatter will exile the spell it hits. Spell Shrivel will also exile, and Clash of Wills allows for some early interaction that can still work in the late game for a land heavy deck.

Void ShatterSpell ShrivelClash of Wills

Transgress the Mind is almost a proactive counterspell that you can tap out for, removing the important card from their hand before they cast it. Collective Brutality doubles as discard and removal, and it will even give you a little reach and life gain in a pinch.

Transgress the MindCollective Brutality

The removal options certainly are plentiful. Not only do you have Collective Brutality, but an excellent sweeper in Languish that won’t impact your Gearhulks. With Grasp of Darkness and Murderous Cut also in the mix, you can deal with most creatures on the cheap. For a solution that can slow down your opponent and then do some blocking, you have Reflector Mage.

LanguishGrasp of DarknessMurderous CutReflector Mage

Liliana, the Last Hope and Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy are great ways to maximize value. Jace is back in a universe where fetchlands exist, and you’re fully maxed out on Flooded Strands and Polluted Deltas to make sure Jace is ready to do as you please.

Liliana, the Last HopeJace, Vryn's ProdigyJace, Telepath Unbound

For card draw and selection, there’s Anticipate and the always powerful Painful Truths. The big payoff, however, is Dig Through Time. Dig can help control when your Jace flips if you want to keep looting, and it’s an instant to be flashed back with Torrential Gearhulk. With Jace to provide flashback as well, you should be able to dig through your whole deck for action.

AnticipatePainful TruthsDig Through Time

Here’s the full list:

Creatures (9):

4 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy/Jace, Telepath Unbound
3 Reflector Mage
2 Torrential Gearhulk

Spells (25):

1 Anticipate
1 Clash of Wills
3 Dig Through Time
2 Grasp of Darkness
1 Murderous Cut
1 Spell Shrivel
3 Void Shatter
3 Collective Brutality
3 Languish
2 Painful Truths
2 Transgress the Mind
2 Liliana, the Last Hope
1 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon

Lands (26):

4 Flooded Strand
4 Polluted Delta
4 Prairie Stream
4 Sunken Hollow
3 Shambling Vent
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
2 Island
2 Plains
2 Swamp

Sideboard (15):

1 Dragonlord Silumgar
2 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
3 Spell Queller
1 Blessed Alliance
2 Disdainful Stroke
1 Hallowed Moonlight
1 Negate
1 Summary Dismissal
1 Declaration in Stone
1 Duress
1 Lost Legacy

There are lots of awesome control options in Frontier and many of them haven’t even been fully tested yet. This is the perfect time to start brewing!

Thanks Everybody for reading,

Andreas

Budget Magic Deck: Burn

Legacy Burn, like all Burn decks, is pretty much a numbers game. The baseline for our spells is dealing three damage to our opponent’s face, which means that we need to resolve about six spells to win the game. As such, probably the best way to look at Legacy Burn is as a combo deck, with our combo saying, “If you resolve six spells this game, you win!” While many of our burn spells can go at creatures, this is usually a last resort for when we are about to die because every time we Lightning Bolt a Birds of Paradise, that’s another burn spell we need to draw, that we can throw at our opponent’s face and be able to close out the game.

Monastery Swiftspear is very good and a great budget option. On Turn 1, the Swiftspear gives us one hasty damage, and as the game progresses, this number goes up; it’s not uncommon to attack for 3 on Turn 2 and then 3 again the following turn, thanks to prowess trigger. Eidolon of the Great Revel is one of our best cards because it gives us a main deck way to hose some really powerful decks. In the worst case, it’s a 2/2 for two that deals our opponent at least two damage when they kill it, although it occasionally deals far more damage if our opponent doesn’t have a removal spell handy. However, the biggest reason we need Eidolon is to fight combo decks. In Legacy, there are various Storm decks that can kill on Turn 2 or 3 consistently, but getting these fast kills requires our opponent to cast a whole bunch of spells. Without Eidolon, we’d have a really hard time beating these decks, since they are usually a turn faster than we are, but with it, our opponent can’t simply cast a ton of spells and win the game, since they are taking two damage for each spell they cast, which is enough to flip these matchups into our favor.

Monastery SwiftspearEidolon of the Great Revel

Lightning Bolt is the best burn spell we do have, since it is instant speed, can hit creatures, and doesn’t require any extra work. Chain Lightning is pretty close to a sorcery speed Lightning Bolt, while there are weird situations where the opponent will have two red mana open to “chain” the bolt back at us, this is actually extremely rare. Rift Bolt is Lightning Bolt with suspend one, and while waiting a turn might sound like all downside it also costs three mana, which means it’s a Lightning Bolt that gets around Chalice of the Void on one, which is actually relevant in Legacy. Finally, Lava Spike is a sorcery speed Lightning Bolt that can’t hit creatures, which makes it the weakest of the bunch, but you can’t argue with three damage for one mana.

Lightning BoltChain LightningRift BoltLava Spike

Flame Rift is awesome, it’s essentially a Boros Charm that doesn’t require splashing a color, which means it’s amazing for building Legacy Burn on a budget. While it might seem strange to play a card that damages both players equally, this almost always works out in our favor because we have way more ways to damage the opponent than most opponents have to damage us. A couple of Skullcrack were the two last cards I put in the deck, and they are pretty lacking compared to the other cards in our deck. The problem with Skullcrack, while it has some upside in preventing life gain against a Deathrite Shaman, is that most of our spells deal three damage for one mana, meaning paying two mana for three damage from Skullcrack actually makes it super expensive for our deck.

Flame RiftSkullcrack

Price of Progress may be the most powerful burn spell in our entire deck, often representing at least six damage for only two mana at instant speed. In Legacy, decks are overloaded on non basic lands (while we play all Mountains, so we don’t take any damage), which makes Price of Progress one of our best ways of finishing off the game. Since it’s instant speed, we can wait for our opponent to cast something at the end of our turn and, while they are tapped down, hit them for a ton of damage out of nowhere. Fireblast might be the scariest burn spell in our entire deck because it essentially represents four damage for free at instant speed. It’s the card that makes Legacy Burn far scarier than the Modern or Standard versions. Fireblast allows Legacy Burn to kill an opponent by surprise from a pretty high life total, and since it’s instant speed and essentially free, it’s extremely hard to play around effectively. Finally, we have Sulfuric Vortex, which is the slow and steady plan for winning the game. It’s very important for beating slower, more controlling decks like Miracles. Even beyond burning out more controlling decks, it also provides some lifegain hate, which is key in some matchups.

Price of ProgressFireblastSulfuric Vortex

Here’s the full list:

Creatures (8):

4 Monastery Swiftspear
4 Eidolon of the Great Revel

Spells (33):

4 Chain Lightning
4 Lava Spike
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Flame Rift
4 Price of Progress
1 Skullcrack
1 Sonic Burst
4 Rift Bolt
3 Sulfuric Vortex
4 Fireblast

Lands (19):

19 Mountain

Sideboard (15):

1 Pyroclasm
4 Pyrostatic Pillar
1 Red Elemental Blast
4 Searing Blood
3 Smash to Smithereens
2 Tormod’s Crypt

If you are looking to play some Legacy on the cheap, Burn seems like a great option. Plus, if you already play Modern Burn, you can throw together Legacy burn super cheap (for like $20)! Likewise, if you buy this Legacy Burn deck, you’ll be well on your way to having a competitive Modern deck as well!

Thanks Everybody for reading,

Andreas

Deck Guide of the Day: Elves

Modern Elves is one of the most powerful decks in the format and it has good matchup against Eldrazi. The Legacy version has many things in common, but with a few critical differences that add power.

The basis of the Elves deck is cheap creatures that can make a bunch of mana. Heritage Druid and Birchlore Rangers are near the top of the list, being 1 drops Elves that can turn all your other Elves (as well as themselves) into mana producers. This is especially important on explosive turns, since both creature’s ability requires tapping Elves and doesn’t care if they’re summoning sick.

Heritage DruidBirchlore Rangers

To combo with the Heritage Druid and Birchlore Rangers, Nettle Sentinels are the perfect engine. What was meant to be a drawback makes this a potent combo card. With Sentinels in play to go with your Druid, every 1 drop Elf you play will net mana. With 2 Sentinels in play, casting a 1 drop Elf will untap the Sentinels, allowing you to tap the new Elf as well as the Sentinels for 3 more mana to easily go off.

Nettle Sentinel

Wirewood Symbiote is great for protecting your creatures, but will also keep the engine going. Returning an Elf to your hand gives you another creature to cast, as well as untapping a creature and recasting the bounced creature. As the glue that holds everything together, many players consider Elvish Visionary the most important card in the deck. It’s cheap, draws an additional card, and is exactly what you want to be bouncing with your Symbiotes when you’re in search of action. Being able to activate your Symbiote on your turn to replay Visionary, and then again on your opponent’s turn, means you can recast Visionary, bounce it again on your turn, and see multiple extra cards per turn. Quirion Ranger is an additional tool for the Legacy version to make sure you can generate tons of mana. Untapping Elves is akin to adding mana to your mana pool.

Wirewood SymbioteElvish VisionaryQuirion Ranger

Craterhoof Behemoth is the card that will actually end the game. Giving all your creatures a big boost and trample makes for tons of damage since you’ll be playing every creature you can.

Craterhoof Behemoth

The key differences between Legacy and Modern start with Deathrite Shaman. Deemed too powerful for Modern, Deathrite is as powerful a mana creature as you can find. He adds reach or life gain in a close game, and disruption against Dredge, Reanimator, flashback spells, and Snapcaster Mages. It’s also a 1/2 Elf that blocks surprisingly well against a handful of decks.

Deathrite Shaman

Green Sun’s Zenith and Glimpse of Nature are 2 more cards that are banned in Modern. In this deck the Zenith is a tutor to get you started with a Dryad Arbor, mana creature, a Heritage Druid or Nettle Sentinels for the engine, a Wirewood Symbiote to keep it going, an Elvish Visionary when short on action, or Craterhoof Behemoth to win the game. The Zenith really does it all in this deck. Sometimes you’ll cash in Glimpse of Nature for a card or two to try to get off the ground, but 1 or 2 Glimpses means drawing through your entire deck, playing more Elves, and generating even more mana off of those to keep going.

Green Sun's ZenithGlimpse of NatureDryad Arbor

Natural Order is your finisher. Some versions of Elves run Progenitus in the main deck while others sideboard it in, but Natural Order usually gets the Craterhoof to end the game as early as turn 2.

Natural Order

The final difference between Modern and Legacy may be the most important. Gaea’s Cradle can generate an explosive amount of mana to kill your opponent in a single turn. The change in the legendary rule is great for Cradle as you can use the first as a “ritual” of sorts before playing another and getting that mana boost as well.

Gaea's Cradle

Here’s the full list:

Creatures (31):

2 Dryad Arbor
2 Birchlore Rangers
2 Craterhoof Behemoth
4 Deathrite Shaman
4 Elvish Visionary
3 Heritage Druid
4 Nettle Sentinel
1 Reclamation Sage
4 Wirewood Symbiote
1 Llanowar Elves
4 Quirion Ranger

Spells (12):

4 Glimpse of Nature
4 Green Sun’s Zenith
4 Natural Order

Lands (17):

2 Bayou
2 Forest
4 Gaea’s Cradle
2 Misty Rainforest
1 Pendelhaven
1 Savannah
4 Verdant Catacombs
1 Wooded Foothills

Sideboard (15):

3 Abrupt Decay
3 Cabal Therapy
2 Choke
1 Gaddock Teeg
1 Progenitus
1 Ruric Thar, the Unbowed
1 Scavenging Ooze
3 Thoughtseize

With its explosiveness and consistence Elves is a really great Legacy deck!

Thanks Everybody for reading,

Andreas