Decklist link. (Available later as well.)
Strixhaven has been unleashed upon the world! While our trip to this magic college might feel like a waste of money, it’s really about the experience and the people we met there (or at least, that’s what I tell myself). The limited environment is an absolute blast. There are drafts with phantom pools (you don’t keep the cards) and “normal” drafts available on MTGO, and traditional and non-traditional options on MTGA. I can’t recommend it enough.
I’m here to talk about constructed formats though, and specifically, Modern. Strixhaven’s impact has been a little less loud than previous sets. Like most sets it has managed to lower the average mana value of the format a little bit, and caused more turn 2 and 3 kills. The two biggest additions are Clever Lumimancer, the foundation of a Red-White prowess archetype (feat. Lurrus of the Dream-Den), and Thrilling Discovery (I’m not thrilled) rekindling the forbidden fire, Dredge. There’s a few more quiet additions to extant archetypes including role players like Prismari Command, Silverquill Enforcer, and Callous Bloodmage.
But what if a splashy Mythic Rare was enabling a new deck? Surely, SURELY that would be news, worthy of an article.
It took a little time for people to figure out just what to do with this big bad dragon. The attack trigger allows you to cast an instant or sorcery with mana value of 5 or less as is, and a 5/5 vigilant, hasty, dragon is a pretty quick game closer. A mana value of 7, is a tall ask for modern but, in modern and other formats there are plenty of ways to cheat this bad boy in. I’m done burying the lead here, let’s look at the list that 5-0’d from “FreakuNasty”
So, what hath been wrought here by the minds of mortals? There’s two core elements to this deck, a Temur Taking Turns deck which has within it a very quick and reasonably consistent “Combo” element. The math on the reasonable consistency will I’ll touch on later. For the taking turns part, Wrenn and Six is the absolute most important card. Landing as early as turn 2 and guaranteeing a flow of lands is huge, but it’s also a win condition, and not a soft one.
Once Wrenn and Six reaches 7 Loyalty, the “ultimate” grants you an emblem. It gives every instant and sorcery in your graveyard retrace in perpetuity. Some conditions may apply, this win condition is not a guarantee of value. With Time Warp, 5 mana, and an ample supply of lands, winning the game is academic. A second Wrenn gives you infinite turns, and Lightning Bolts make it straightforward to actually kill an opponent. A flood of Remands should keep all but the most nimble control/midrange decks in check if needs be.
So, that’s the turns shell. “But, the dragon!” you ask. “I was promised dragons!” As I mentioned earlier, casting a 7 mana spell in this deck, with very little way to cheat on mana, is not the normal plan. Don’t count this out as, it is a very viable way to win. The way this deck is planning on getting the dragon in is Indomitable Creativity, and our good friend, Dwarven Mine.
Another new Strixhaven card, Prismari Command also gets to join in the fun. This deck contains no other creatures, and no other artifacts, so using Indomitable Creativity on either a Dwarf token or a Treasure token will result in a 5/5 dragon ready to devour your opponent. And this is where the genius of this deck is. Getting the dragon into play is not a huge ask for Modern but maximizing this trigger was something that needed solving.
Extra turn spells are some of the best spells you can hit with Velomachus because they will then allow you to attack again with your 5/5 flier. The problem is that other than Time Warp, most of these will cost more than 5 and exile themselves after being cast. Wizards R&D got wise to the power of recasting extra turns spells over and over. However, coming all the way from Shadowmoor, fresh from its price spike last year, comes Savor the Moment.
The previous boost in popularity of the card had to do with the release of Fires of Invention from Throne of Eldraine. 3 mana for an extra turn sounds insane but, skipping your untap for that turn has proven to be enough of a downside that this card doesn’t seem much tournament level play.
Teamed up with Fires of Invention and planeswalkers means that your lands don’t need to untap. You will be gaining resources on the turn you’ve gained. This allows for the deck to now have 8 castable Time Walks for Velomachus.
I’ve sent off to the Quandrix college to get some numbers on how important this discovery is. Just for funzies, let’s take a look at a the numbers. This combo can be executed as quickly as turn 3, and easily on turn 4.
I’m going to use the number 48 for library size. With your initial hand of 7, three draws, 1-2 fetches, and the Creativity pulling out a Velomachus from your library making up the missing cards. The number of Time Walks that still remain in your deck is a much larger effect on the math here than the number of cards. So, don’t worry so much about 49 or 45 cards in deck. It’s not that significant.
|Cards in Deck||Time Warps in Deck||% Chance to hit|
While you’re not likely to know the % chances of whatever OTHER line you’re considering, I’d recommend having the math for important and lines in the decks you play. It’s handy! I used the !odds functionality of MTGbot to get this, and the bot is VERY useful overall to have access to while you’re streaming or playing magic. Thanks DanBopes! (MTG Bot Developter)
Otherwise, this Hypergeometric Calculator can be used, but it’s less user friendly.
It’s pretty easy to see here how important the 8 time walk effects are. Having 1 in your hand is not disastrous. If Velomachus hits a Time Warp, then on your next turn the dragon can now “miss” and you can cast a Savor or Warp from your hand. Two or three attacks is all it takes to close out most games of Modern.
So, we’ve got the core cards of this deck lined up pretty well, but let’s take a quick look at what it has so far.
This is the core engine as I see it. Indomitable Creativity COULD be the card Polymorph or Transmogrify but there’s a couple of important reasons why this choice has an edge. Firstly, it can target artifacts, like a treasure token from our new friend Prismari Command. This is much more difficult for decks with single target removal to deal with. Secondly, If you don’t have access to the treasure, using Indomitable X=2 on two Dwarf tokens, allows you to get the dragon through a single piece of removal. Finally, Indomitable creativity actually exles the card before you cast it. This means it dodges Grafdigger’s Cage, and I’m sure some other hate I’m not thinking of.
So, how can we support the core here?
Growth Spiral is the most important proactive card in the deck enabling the combo to be executed on turn 3. It’s important to sequence your land drops carefully, as you need the 3 mountains in play before you get the Dwarven Mine into play. Admittedly the mana cost is a little… non-ideal, and Explore seems like an easier addition. This ignores the value of Growth Spiral as an instant which plays well with the next card.
Remand is a great piece of interaction for any deck that wants to combo and needs to buy a little bit of time against all kinds of different decks in Modern. This card can really give a Heliod Company player a headache. It’s also solid with a Wrenn and Six’s Emblem.
Lightning Bolt, the most competitively played card in Modern. My favorite removal spell for many years, it’s just great here at helping you get through the early turns against the absolute avalanche of Monastery Swiftspear decks ripping around the format right now. Additionally, it helps you remove a pesky Teferi, Time Raveler some % of the time, since Teferi stops Velomachus’ trigger from casting a spell. As with Remand, this card is great with the Wrenn and Six emblem.
Prismari Command. This card is not a flashy card in general, but has really impressed me in any deck that needs card selection in a hurry, and can make some use of the fast mana. A shock isn’t always useless either, nor is a shatter. I’ve used every combination of modes from this card already. As noted above, the Treasure token as a target for Indomitable Creativity is an important interaction to know if you have no access to a fetch land or are looking to dodge a Fatal Push, Lightning Bolt, etc. on your poor Dwarf Token.
Teferi, Time Raveler. Obviously obnoxious, the only card that splashes into white in the maindeck is certainly useful in this deck. The biggest reason not to add more is the mediocrity against the Lava Dart conglomerate that is running rampant over modern right now. It’s possible more could be sideboarded in the future, or even maindecked if it becomes something that is a reasonable thing to do. As is, drawing more than 1 in a few matchups is really bad, so keep a lid on the enthusiasm for now.
Jace, the Mind Sculptor. If the number of wins that this deck has attained from infinite turns off Wrenn and Six has been shockingly high, the amount of times Jace has been able to do much for me has been astonishingly low. The format at large is hostile to this card in this deck but, it’s here for an important reason. An honest out to Infinite life. If you’re somewhere lucky enough to have in-person play, this is doubly relevant, and even online a very persistent Heliod Player can get to a high enough life total that Velomachus and 3 Dwarves can’t possibly kill them. Normally on MTGO I’m a fan of telling the player with an infinite life combo that I won’t kill them with damage. This saves us both a lot of time. The problem here is, we need to attacking with Velomachus in order to execute our plan. This just makes that statement useless. There are other ways the deck could have game against infinite life which may work better offline, but Jace is a solid card that does it here.
Important note: It’s been brought up multiple times “What if Jace is in your last few cards in the deck? You won’t be able to fateseal, them to death fast enough, surely?” Well, you can, and don’t call me Shirley. The trick here is if you’ve already attained infinite turns, you WILL find a Velomachus or a Indomitable Creativity to get one. Once you have Velomachus simply attack a few turns in a row until you SEE the Jace in the 7 you reveal. That 7 is shuffled and placed on the bottom. Then simply count your library up, and “Push” the 7 cards that contain the Jace up a few times with the next few Velomachus Triggers. As long as you don’t have less than 14 cards in your library, it’s pretty easy. With less it’s still possible but trickier.
So that’s it, all the main deck inclusions. A couple more fetchlands brings us up to 10, a number that seems to be very optimized for play with Wrenn and Six, and we’re off!
Here’s the decklist link again for this list.
Now for the sideboard, the whole reason I wrote the article all the way up to this point.
4 – Aether Gust – Blood Moon shuts down the entire deck pretty brutally, and for this reason, we’re packing all of these that we can plus an island in the mana base.
3 – Veil of Summer – Being forced to discard our important cards is a huge pain the tuchas for this deck, but Veil also helps punch through counter magic from controlling decks, and protect your permanents from bounces or black removal. (Dismember, Cryptic Command)
2 – Flame Slash – While I haven’t had too many problems against the prowess and aggro decks, as long as they don’t hit a literal turn 3 kill, Flame Slash has proved helpful. Lightning Helix seems like it could be reasonable in this slot since you’re playing white but I caution you against that move. A mana value of two, and the need to get the white untapped a chunk of the time, is going to put you in a bad spot more often than you might think.
2 – Mystical Dispute – This little Eldraine rockstar is here to defuse the threat of Teferi Time Raveler (not that we’re completely cold to that) and help you punch through countermagic against control, counter Niv-Mizzet Reborns or Bring to Lights.
3 – Cleansing Wildfire – So far in the testing these are more necessary for Etron than for Gtron. Green tron is mostly just bad at interacting with our combo and remand buys us the time we need. Ceremonious Rejection was also considered for this slot but, I don’t think that’s correct for the moment. It’s possible this can also be brought in as a play against blood moon where we target our own land to fetch a basic, and it’s fairly likely we can fit a plains into the deck in order to cast things like Rip Apart.
1 – Teferi, Time Raveler – Some of the newer control variants have lead to me add this extra guy into the sideboard, and rethink some of my of the balance I have in the deck. I think you need to win early against control, and you’re really not going to have a shot against anyone who can two for one you over and over again.
Here are some sideboard possibilities available for the future as the problems with this deck become clear with more play.
- Teferi, Time Raveler
- Platinum Emperion
- Magmatic Sinkhole
- Ceremonius Rejection
- Force of Negation
- Rip Apart
- Test of Talents
- Anger of the Gods
- Emrakul, the Aeons Torn *This was previously included in my sideboard in this article with these notes.“While this deck has an out against infinite life, Emrakul is an extra card we can use against these decks to bury Heliod more quickly. You also get some value as a sideboard card against Mill. Finally, it can be a card brought in against decks that have a huge amount of removal or discard like Jund where there concern is that you might lose all of your dragons and have no hits for Indomitable.”
Note: Do not attempt to sideboard any artifacts or creatures unless you plan to board out all 4 Indomitable Creativities or you are ok with hitting them.
- Where possible try to get the Ketria Triome and Raugrin Triome into play early. The colour requirements in this deck can be very demanding, and it helps to get that squared away early. This will commonly include turn 1 Ketria Triome to set up for turn 2 Wrenn and Six with either a mountain or Sacred Foundry pairing. The second blue isn’t usually relevant this early but it can be if you need to cast a Growth Spiral, since the Ketria Triome must cover the green mana in this case.
- With a Wrenn and Six in play, casting Savor the Moment as a bad Explore is very valid.
- As with some of the RG Scapeshift decks that run Dwarven Mine, you can sometimes deploy a couple of Dwarves and start whittling down your opponent’s life total. In modern, it’s not unusual for this to get them to 15 or less which means Velomachus has to be a little less lucky. Supporting this strategy with Remands, and cheap planeswalkers is a reasonable road to victory against Control decks.
- Indomitable Creativity can be used on your opponent’s creatures or artifacts. This does give them a chance to randomly flip into the same card, or something worse but, there are times when this is appropriate. (Destroying a Sorcerous Splygass out of ETron is my favorite thus far, and it even became a Walking Ballista that immediately died.)
- As with fetching out a Dryad Arbor in Bogles, it’s possible to have a fetch ready to protect Velomachus against “Edict” effects. The most common of these that will be played at sorcery speed is Liliana of the Veil but you do have to watch out for newer modern staple, Kaya’s Guile.
- Dismember is one of the few cards in Modern that’s really problematic for the combo axis of the deck. If you run into E-tron or a Death’s Shadow deck that might be packing these, trying to jam the combo is going to be a losing line, so try to set up Teferi first if you can. This deck doesn’t have too many ways to incentivize them to tap down but these decks do like to use their mana hyper efficiently most of the time, and all it takes is one slip for the dragon to come down and clean up.
- Mulligans. Remember this is modern, and that this deck, while it does contain a midrange element, has a powerful proactive kill that you can mull for. My rule of thumb is to mulligan to 5 if I don’t find a hand that has a “Plan.” By which I mean, assuming you’re playing against a deck with a reasonably linear plan, you want to be either deploying threats, interacting, ramping, casting SOMETHING on turn 2, which sets you up for 3 etc. Wrenn and Six makes any mull to 5 with a fetch land and another land completely reasonable. If they get Spell Snared, yeah… yeah that sucks. But, you’re going to lose more games keeping mopey 7’s.
In the first challenge this deck appeared, it did so in the hands of MTGO User “Ragingtiltmonster,” placing 22nd in said event.
I have played this deck on my stream and overall I felt that it was… lackluster. Ragingtiltmonster is a fantastic player, and I’m sure they knew better than I did exactly how this deck is trying to operate as opposed to the version this article is concerning.
- No 0 Drop spells against Chalice
- Sideboard Chalice
- Fires as an out to Blood Moon
- Fires + Tamiyo creates a strong synergy for the turns strategy
- Lower Density of Time Walks (⅓ lower, give or take)
- Lower density of instant and sorceries in general
- Non-bo with Fires of Invention and Velomachus
- A LOT less interaction in general (0 bolt, 0 remand, sorcery speed ramp)
As mentioned in this list of qualities, I DO think the fires/turns part of this deck is slightly stronger, and the ability to play through Blood Moon isn’t terrible. But with 80 cards I found it MUCH harder to find keepable hands.
Yorion is also relatively weak in this deck, and the body didn’t not prove itself to be especially valuable without other creatures creating pressure. It is possible my view of how to mulligan was slightly clouded by my experience with the other version, or the small variance of a single league. It’s possible this sort of less interactive version was better in the challenge meta, but I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is and find out. I didn’t over the course of the league really get to do that much with setting up planeswalkers to reset in a valuable way with Yorion since they had a bad habit of dying.
First, a short list of what I see as the top meta decks as per the Challenges and prelims of the last week or two. This is in no particular order.
Note: This is not going to be an accurate representation of decks you’ll run into in leagues, nor is it unlikely to change quickly and radically. Last week, there was an absolute graveyard full of dredge overrunning us all. Now there’s next to none, next week who knows.
- Heliod Company
- Gruul Midrange (While it’s been lacking in popularity for weeks, winning a challenge means the enthusiasts will be out in force, and this is one of the worst matchups.)
- MHayashi Red (Though it doesn’t always play 4x Blood Moon, the version that are successful now, do. This refers to the Soul-Scar Mage, Bonecrusher Giant, Seasoned Pyromancer family of decks.)
- RW Prowess (The hot new blisteringly fast aggro deck.)
- UR Prowess (This deck has been finishing higher overall than RW but isn’t as visible in leagues.)
- RW Burn (The classic)
- E Tron
- Control – UW, UB, and Esper (A consensus doesn’t seem to be in yet on the best colour combination of these three currently.)
- 5c Scapeshift (The deck that’s soaking up a lot of the talented control players.)
- Jund Shadow
- Amulet Titan
- Niv to Light
Heliod Company: Even to Favored
Ins: +3 Aether Gust (+1 Aether Gust on the Play)
Outs: -1 Teferi, Time Raveler -2 Remand (-1 Lightning Bolt on the play)
Heliod Company has seemed like a reasonable matchup so far. Their larger threats are 3 and 4 mana, which are prime targets for Remand, we have 4 bolts to defuse fast Arbor Elf starts, 4 Wrenn and Six which hassle the Elf on the play, and our overall game plan is about as fast as theirs with a strong backup strategy similar in power and consistency. The biggest problem card is Walking Ballista if they can pour a bunch of mana into it. Don’t forget your Prismari Command is a shatter, and don’t worry about Spike Feeder too much. You have to know how their combos all operate to get the better of them here.
Gruul Midrange: Heavily Unfavored
Ins: +4 Aether Gust +2 Flame Slash
Outs: -4 Remand -1 Jace the Mind Sculptor -1 Teferi, Time Raveler
Trying to dodge Blood Moon and Pillage on turn 2 is a nightmare for most decks, and doubly so for this one. Your one hope is to have a Bolt against an Arbor Elf to slow them down. Even if they don’t Moon you, this deck comes out swinging very fast. However, a resolved dragon is relatively difficult to deal with for them. This deck is worth more consideration for sideboard adjustments but I’m really not a fan of Force of Negation against them in general, and I think trying to hedge harder against the Blood Moons isn’t a great winning line. I think the biggest hope is to dodge the matchup in general and hope that, in time, these decks lose a little popularity due to the density of red decks that don’t care about getting Mooned.
MHayashi Red: Even to Unfavored
Ins: +4 Aether Gust, +1 Teferi, Time Raveler
Outs: -1 Jace the Mind Sculptor, -4 Remand
The major card you need to dodge here is Blood Moon. Blood Moon is basically an auto loss/shutout for this deck. However, if you can get the basic island down and gust it for a single turn, you can be in an ok spot really quickly. The general plan in both games is to try to set up to work towards the turns win, forcing them to over commit to dealing with that at some point and exploiting the gap in their resources at that point to get the dragon into play, sometimes just by casting it. Teferi Time Raveler is an unsung hero here, giving you the right opening to get through the Creativity. However, this deck sometimes sideboards land destruction which can be disastrous. Try to keep your head on straight, and be careful.
RW Prowess: Even to Favoured
Ins: +2 Flame Slash +4 Aether Gust
Outs: -4 Remand -1 Jace the Mind Sculptor -1 Teferi, Time Raveler
The new hotness, this blazingly fast deck has certainly been putting up a real volume of results, showing up in numbers in all the more competitive tournaments, and seems popular in leagues. However, this deck has the tools to beat it quite easily unless they find a very specific draw. Destroying their creatures is the most important thing to do but I ask you to look at their deck in the early game a lot like Infect. What I mean by this is, often they will swing with a creature or two on an early turn and you will have a Lightning Bolt. DO NOT FIRE. Instead, wait until after they hit you, THEN attempt to kill the creatures. These decks are playing very high numbers of Mutagenic Growth, or even Gut Shot. You’re also free to shoot down creatures on your turn if they are tapped down. Whatever you do, do it carefully, and don’t worry about the games where they have it all. Aether Gusts really mess them up post-board, and going full taking turns on them is surprisingly common since most of the “smart” prowess players know “The Face is the Place” and will ignore your Wrenn and Six. They’re not usually counting on said Wrenn denying them ever having a turn again after their 4th.
UR Prowess: Heavily Unfavoured
Ins: +2 Flame Slash +4 Aether Gust +2 Mystical Dispute, +1 Teferi, Time Raveler
Outs: -4 Remand -1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor -4 Growth Spiral
The most threatening thing about this deck in comparison to the previous prowess list is the relatively huge amount of development time these decks have had. Right now the only UR Prowess players you’re likely to run into are very experienced. Other than that, the plan of hyper aggressive creatures and cheap countermagic out of the board is a nightmare for our friendly dragon. Good luck.
RW Burn: Even
Ins: +4 Aether Gust +2 Flame Slash
Outs: -4 Remand, -1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor – 1 Teferi, Time Raveler
This matchup is going to come down to a lot of different things but I think hedging post-board against their draws that are creature heavy is correct. This is the #1 matchup I’d like to have Lightning Helix in the sideboard for but, as that card is considerably worse in most other matchups than Flame Slash, I don’t think it’s the right choice at the current time.
ETron: Even (I think. I’ve lost more than I’ve won, thus far)
Ins: +3 Cleansing Wildfire
Outs: -1 Teferi, Time Raveler, -1 Remand, -1 Lightning Bolt
As the sideboarding out suggests, most of our cards have play here. Etron draws come in a few distinct flavours but then get mixed up like that most curséd of ice cream flavours, Neapolitan. Either Karn + Huge mana, or Creature Smashy. You can’t realistically beat both with most of the draws you can have. Additionally, they ARE packing dismember which can kill a Velomachus flat out. Luckily their other removal is smaller, either Warping Wail or Spatial Contortion, so if they leave these up a double target indomitable, or one targeting a treasure is your dragon of choice. Sometimes it’s going to be right to put the hammer down and try to get to infinite turns asap by using Savor as a terrible explore that gets +1 on Wrenn and Six, sometimes you need to use Wrenn as a distraction to get your dragon. In either case, post board your Cleansing Wildfires are intended for use on tron lands since Karn + large amounts of mana will shut you down in a hurry. Reminder Do not fear the Grafdigger’s Cage, and good luck. (It doesn’t shut down Indomitable Creativity but it DOES shut down retrace and your dragon’s ability to cast stuff.. Luckily Indomitable itself is an answer, as are the 3 Prismari Commands)
G Tron: Favored
Ins: +3 Cleansing Wildfire
Outs: -3 Lightning Bolt
They just have a really hard time dealing with most of the things you’ll be doing, and Remand tends to buy you enough time. Tron into Karn on turn 3 will still beat this deck some of the time but I’m very VERY confident about the matchup in general.
Blue Control Variants: Likely Unfavoured
Ins: +3 Veil of Summer, +2 Mystical Dispute +1 Teferi, Time Raveler
Outs: -4 Lightning Bolt, -2 Growth Spiral
You’re going to need to get lucky here as a knowledgeable and prepared control player probably can sequence in such a way you’re never going to be able to punch through. Also, Teferi, Time Raveler shuts down Velomachus from being able to cast off the trigger. The dragon can attack him down, but leaves the dragon vulnerable afterwards, though maybe you just got off with turns. That said, the UB and Esper lists are playing a little too much creature removal due to wanting to have game against all the Swifspear decks in game 1. This gives us an opening of a sort to maybe sneak through a combo early, OR put pressure on them with Wrenn and Six + Teferi in order to open a combo later or cast Velomachus outright, something I’ve done a number of times already. Be ready to pop out an extra dwarf against Kaya’s Guile if you can, and board in the Emrakul against versions that are unlikely to be able to remove it. (UW, UB)
Jund Death’s Shadow: Even
Ins: +3 Veil of Summer, +2 Aether Gust
Outs: -4 Remand -1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Some of their draws are going to be much easier to beat than others, but generally this matchup has seemed winnable. The nice thing about the matchup is that if you can get the dragon into play it’s almost a guaranteed kill as they’ve hammered their own life total. All Jund players know they can’t Thoughtseize the top of your library, and it’s not TOO difficult to sandbag a fetch or a treasure to topdeck an Indomitable and snatch the game away.
*Seal of Fire is more popular right now, so that’s a bit of a pain. It’s also not necessarily wrong to swap some Bolts for the slashes and keep some Remands, as on the play, a turn 2 Remand on a ‘Goyf, or, later using it against a Lurrus is certainly viable.
5c BTL-Shift (elvish reclaimer/Wrenn and Six + Dryad Versions): Unknown
Ins: +2 Mystical Dispute, +3 Aether Gust, +2 Flame Slash, +1 Teferi, Time Raveler
Outs: -4 Lightning Bolt, -4 Growth Spiral
It really doesn’t feel great to board out Bolt against the Elvish Reclaimer/Teferi Time Raveler deck. However, I think you need to worry about the bigger cards more, thus the Aether Gusts. Additionally, if they have the requisite lands in their graveyard, you can’t bolt the Reclaimer, and if they know you’re on Bolt they’ll just plus the Teferi. The newer builds that are on 4 Dryad and 4 Reclaimer are much much worse than the ones that were trying to interact BUT they’re more likely to tap out on early turns. If I had to guess I’d assume this matchup is a little poor but we’re certainly the faster deck. So, sequence well, get lucky, and believe in the Heart of the Cards.
Hammertime: Unknown (Perhaps even)
Ins: +2 Flame Slash
Outs: -2 Growth Spiral
Their explosive hands are beatable, and we’re playing 3 copies of the gross mode of Kolaghan’s Command against them. While it’s possible this matchup is great I’m not really willing to call it one way or the other until I play it a few more times.
Dredge: Unknown (Guessing favored but very luck dependant)
Ins: Up to 4 Aether Gust
Outs: 1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor, up to 2 Teferi, up to 4 Lightning Bolt.
Aether Gust and Veil of Summer are both potential includes as ways to block Thoughtseize or Lightning Axe. The problem is, you do not know if they will board in such a way as to make that useful. The super high variance in this matchup is how many Creeping Chills do they hit early, and how many Narcomoebas exist to block Velomachus if you get one out early. Remand against Ox of Agonas, Conflagrate, etc is very good. Teferi and Jace are not… good but occasionally are good enough in terms of generating either a small buffer for you, or giving you a small boost of velocity through your deck. Perhaps unsatisfying but there is where I am on this matchup at the moment.
Amulet Titan: Even. (Though… I’ve not lost it yet, so maybe favoured.)
Ins: +4 Aether Gust, +2 Flame Slash
Outs: -4 Lightning Bolt, -1 Teferi, Time Raveler, -1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
As with all combo decks, they can just murder you. However, you have the right tools to disrupt some of their early game lines, and resolve your own combo. Arboreal Grazer might cause Velomachus to have to make an extra attack though, and this can create a longer game. However, Prismari Command as shatter is great here to buy you some time.
5c Niv to Light: Even to Favored
Ins: +2 Mystical Dispute, +2 Aether Gust, +1 Teferi, Time Raveler
Outs: -4 Lightning Bolt, -1 Growth Spiral
It’s very tempting to bring in a whole mess of our sideboard cards here. However, I think that would be a mistake. I messaged PieGonti, Niv master extraordinaire about the consideration and he agreed that a light touch is all this deck needs as the Niv deck has an efficiency problem in trying to deploy threats while having removal up. There are a lot of boards that they can put together that you just won’t care about. Remand is the best tool here paired with Wrenn and Six putting pressure on them to interact or deploy something like Omnath or Niv, where you can Remand it and then pounce. When that doesn’t come together, there’s still quite a number of middle of the road options that are damned good.
This deck and the sideboard certainly have plenty of room for improvement, or rather adjustment to the meta as it comes. Rip Apart and Lightning Helix are strong contenders for the main deck or sideboard. Explore or Farseek and more proactive cards actually may improve the matchups more than the current list. For right now, I’m going to play this list as is, maybe play it in a challenge, then try some overhauls. There’s a few ideas for either Goryo’s Vengeance version of the deck. This combines Velomachus with “Savage Beating” style effects. You can cut the blue cards and play some of the red turns spells that cause you to lose the game later while exploiting Gideon of the Trials. Whatever I do, you can bet your bippy I’ll be streaming some of it on my Twitch channel, uploading to Youtube, or talking about it on Twitter. You can find me at all three by searching Manacymbal, so feel free to get in touch and tell me what you think, I’m always ready to teach but even more ready to learn.
Zach leaned back in his chair as his fingers finally came to rest. Every source had been cited, articles and videos linked, matchups addressed. He adjusted his glasses, and looked out the window. It was misty over the lake. As he went to pour a cup of coffee, he thought back to how the article had begun with a simple ask for a sideboard guide, and blossomed into thousands of words and an analysis of all the card choices, every matchup, potential cards, potential futures.
He thought back of first finding the list, first having FreakUNasty show up and share his enthusiasm that others were sharing their enthusiasm, and all the wonderful Magic still to be played. He thought about the card Time Warp and smiled.
“I think I’ll take a walk.”
A big thanks to my chat, for always being a positive source of energy, Cavedan for always being encouraging of anything I want to write, Mordeka1ser and PieGonti as the greatest spike rogues I know, and most of all Freakunasty for the original list and all the support of what I’ve done to develop it.
Zach Ryl is a high energy, high output, endless creator. When he’s not literally cooking, mixing drinks, or studying them, he finds occasional time to stream or pen articles about magic. Follow him on Twitter @ManaCymbal, and hear about fresh brews he’s working on at the Serum Visions Podcast, available through most podcast providers.