New Horizons: Dominaria’s Impact on Frontier

02 May 2018, Wednesday

The new set Dominaria just hit the shelves, and the power level of these new cards is undeniable. A lot of these cards, such as Cast Down, Karn, Scion of Urza, Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, and the like are already on their way to being slotted into the preexisting shells, giving these decks a much-needed shot in the arm.

But since those upgrades are going to be rather intuitive to those who already play their given archetypes, this article is going to focus on the new, off-the-wall archetypes that this supercharged set could spawn. Let’s get right into it!

Mardu Tokens

Benalish Marshal is a card that has excited me since it was spoiled. Being a Glorious Anthem stuck onto a 3/3 body for a rather cheap cost of three mana, the potential this card has to facilitate blisteringly-fast starts is absurd. It’s mostly expected to slot into Mono-White Humans or White-Blue Humans, because these decks are the least taxed by the heavy triple-white requirements on the powerhouse.

However, there actually is another deck that could use the card to great effect, and can meet the mana requirements consistently enough, and it looks a little like this.

Lands (24)
Inspiring Vantage
Concealed Courtyard
Battlefield Forge
Caves of Koilos
Nomad Outpost
Canyon Slough
Plains
Shefet Dunes

Creatures (14)
Goblin Rabblemaster
Benalish Marshal
Kytheon, Hero of Akros
Reckless Bushwhacker

Spells (22)
Legion’s Landing
Raise the Alarm
Secure the Wastes
Fatal Push
Abrade
Sorin, Solemn Visitor
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
Murderous Cut
Sideboard (15)
Trespasser’s Curse
Fatal Push
Duress
Declaration in Stone
Transgress the Mind
Lyra Dawnbringer
Murderous Cut

The four Nomad Outposts are an unorthodox choice, but a necessary one to keep the colors consistent. Pain lands are an option that can be used to cut down on these, but the self-damage can really be relevant in faster matchups such as Atarka Red. Overall, the deck has enough untapped lands to curve out even with a tapland or two in the equation.

   

With the manabase dilemma solved, the synergy of the Marshal in this particular archetype is rather elementary to spot; anthem effects are good when paired with the go-wide strategy this deck aims to facilitate. Time will tell whether or not this deck is good enough to ascend to the top tiers, but the power level certainly is present and evident.

Sylvan Ascendancy Storm

At first, I dismissed Sylvan Awakening as yet another one of those cards that would just take too much and too long to really make a significant impact to the board, relegating it to janky Red-Green-X Ramp variants. I would’ve left it at that too if not for Kevin Finkle, a host of the Magic: the Final Frontier podcast, gave me a heads-up about its very strong interaction with an old combo engine that just needed the right pieces to finally fire on all cylinders.

I’ve been trying to make this card work ever since I started playing the format, and the classic mana-dork version just did not cut it; the one-mana cantrips are simply too low-quality. But with this new card in the mix…

Lands (19)
Aether Hub
Botanical Sanctum
Windswept Heath
Forest
Island
Cinder Glade
Mountain
Prairie Stream
Plains
Spirebluff Canal

Creatures (3)
Thing in the Ice

Spells (38)
Attune with Aether
Unbridled Growth
Opt
Anticipate
Strategic Planning
Sylvan Awakening
Jeskai Ascendancy
Treasure Cruise
Negate
Spell Pierce
Dispel
Crash Through
Sideboard (15)
Abrade
Naturalize
Rending Volley
Negate
Tormod’s Crypt
Dispel
Monastery Mentor
Radiant Flames

I found this deck so effective, that I actually just locked it in for Season 6 of the Untap Open League. The non-inclusion of any mana-dorks might seem misguided at first glance, but when you look at the rest of the deck, this is actually a boon rather than a bane.

   

For one, it enables us to run Thing in the Ice as a mainboard foil against aggressive strategies, but the main upgrade is the shift to more expensive cantrips such as Anticipate and Strategic Planning, which allow us to dig deeper into the deck, and really find all the pieces we need to assemble a win.

    

In addition to all these, we have a plethora of counterspells such as Dispel, Spell Pierce, and Negate to protect our combo pieces or disrupt the opponent as the game state dictates, as well as a post-board Monastery Mentor plan, which adds more surprise factor and resilience against hate cards. Personally, if there is a deck for Mentor in this format, this is definitely the one.

Green-Black Elves

   

Elves has been quite a fan favorite for a low to mid-Tier 2 deck, and this is the first set in a long time that finally brings in more relevant support cards. Llanowar Elves now gives us access to 12 one-mana dorks, and is a great step forward in making the Elves’ game plan consistent enough to compete. In addition to this, the deck also got a great foil to its greatest weakness in Steel Leaf Champion which provides an unbelievably fast clock while being immune to just about all the relevant three-mana sweepers.

Lands (19)
Blooming Marsh
Llanowar Wastes
Unclaimed Territory
Swamp
Hashep Oasis
Ifnir Deadlands
Forest
Westvale Abbey

Creatures (29)
Dwynen’s Elite
Elvish Mystic
Gnarlroot Trapper
Elvish Visionary
Llanowar Elves
Shaman of the Pack
Steel Leaf Champion
Reclamation Sage

Spells (12)
Collected Company
Driven // Despair
Chord of Calling
Song of Freyalise
Sideboard (15)
Watchers of the Dead
Whisperwood Elemental
Phyrexian Revoker
Dwynen, Gilt-Leaf Dean
Thought-Knot Seer
Minister of Pain
Vicious Offering
Duress
Warping Wail

   

Aside from the two powerful Elves though, there are some cards from Dominaria that also give this deck a shot in the arm. Song of Freyalise is generally not the kind of card I would run in a deck with 12 mana-producing creatures, but the III effect is strong enough for me to warrant testing. It could ultimately be low-impact, but the potential is there with an unanswered board. The real powerful addition to the deck, however, is actually Vicious Offering. Having to sacrifice a creature to make it relevant can be rough at times, but finally having a clean answer to the deck’s problem cards such as Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet is too good to pass up.

Conclusion

These are just some of the potential archetypes that the new set could bring about that I saw, and as always, the Frontier format remains open and unexplored, as if asking to be broken wide open. There are more new decks that I’m working on, but they’re currently not in a presentable state yet, such as Esper Vehicles with Zahid, Djinn of the Lamp, or a new Shrapnel Red variant. I’ll be sure to show those once they’re ready, but until then, keep on exploring!

If you made it all the way here, then thank you for reading this article! If you want to keep track of articles from me, you can follow my Twitter account @som_nambulist, where I will be sure to post about any and all future releases. Make sure to check back every Wednesday, as we will always have high-quality Frontier content for you right here, on MatchupGuru.

 


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