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The Four Horsemen of Frontier

Dont like Standard? Don’t worry—Frontier is great and so is this deck!

With GP Barcelona behind us, I’ve played the last of this Standard format. I ended up going 11-4, a fine result but not exciting, as it’s the same list that Owen Turtenwald and Mike Sigrist played, a list we discussed together that was indeed great.

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But with Standard maybe not at its best right now—or maybe you’re just like me and don’t have to play it anymore—let’s turn to a format that I’ve started to hold dear to my heart: Frontier. We had a Frontier tournament here in Stockholm, and 30 people showed up—I would call that a success. With a potential forthcoming league where there will be a tournament at least once every week, it’s becoming something of a mainstay. With that being said, I played a deck called the ”Four Horsemen” from my first article about Frontier, with some minor adjustments. It was great. Maybe even the best in the format.

4 Horsemen

I was trying to figure out what to play for the event when I realized that one of my first brews, Four Horsemen, was missing but one key component—a great removal spell. With Fatal Push now available, not only did the deck gain a great removal spell alongside fetchlands, but also a efficient cheap answer to bring back with Jace, Telepath Unbound. I was game.

Four Horsemen

The deck was amazing, and I went 16-1 in games in a 5-round Swiss event plus the Top 8, only losing one game to Esper Dragons. Not only was the deck great, but fun to play as well. As you can see, I played every round, meaning that when I could draw into the Top 8 with a high seed, I instead chose to play because I believed the games to be so interesting and fun to play.

The ability of this deck to grind out the opponent is almost unheard of. It’s easy to see just a pile of very powerful cards, but many of them work together trying toward the same goal. The power of the deck isn’t only that it plays a lot of good cards, but also that it’s good at consistently casting them on time again and again. Say, for example, that you have delirium and cast your first Siege Rhino. Then you can search for more copies with Traverse the Ulvenwald, then return them with Liliana, the Last Hope or Grapple with the Past.

Not only that, but Jace, Telepath Unbound can flashback both Traverse the Ulvenwald and Grapple with the Past, making it even more absurd. It’s similar to how Death’s Shadow Jund is as good as it is in Modern, because it gets to play so many copies of the best threats—Death’s Shadow and Tarmogoyf—and here you get to replay your Jaces, Siege Rhinos, Ishkanahs, and more. Even post-sideboard with something like Arashin Cleric, you get to be completely filthy by recasting and searching up as many as you want until you can do the same thing with Siege Rhino.

Another reason for my success was my matchups. I mostly played versus Mono-Red, Atarka Red, Abzan, and other midrange strategies, which is exactly what this deck preys upon. Against aggro, it has efficient removal, Liliana, and Siege Rhino, while against other midrange strategies you are just going a bit bigger than all of them. So what’s a potential matchup for the deck? Either something that can out-control it, such as a deck with Dig Through Time, Torrential Gearhulk, a million counterspells, and some way to deal with Emrakul, the Promised End like Esper Dragons or Dark Jeskai. Another archetype would be something the deck has trouble controlling, such as Jeskai Tokens or perhaps 4c Rally, or an archetype that goes over the top of even this deck, such as Ulamog Ramp. But with the efficiency of the cards in this deck, it’s possible to tune it to deal with almost any problem, much like Modern Jund.

Four Horsemen Sideboard Guide

Abzan Aggro

Out

In

Here you board as little as possible since this is most likely your best matchup. You’re doing similar things, but you’re going a little bit bigger without having any trouble keeping up with that they are doing. Silkwrap comes out because of Dromoka’s Command.

Human Bant Company

Out

In

Silkwrap is similarily bad here because of Dromoka’s Command, but Liliana can also be liability because the deck is quite good at pressuring planeswalkers with Collected Company. Flaying Tendrils punishes their quick starts because a lot of their 3-drops have 2 toughness, such as Thalia, Heretic Cathar, Tireless Tracker, and Renegade Rallier.

Ensoul Aggro

Out

In

This is one of the fastest and most all-in decks in the format, so you are just trying to get lower to the ground to keep up. Duress and Negate are actually pretty good against the deck’s best cards such as Tezzeret’s Touch, Ensoul Artifact, Shrapnel Blast, and Smuggler’s Copter. Arashin Cleric doesn’t block their creatures well, so it doesn’t come in. Searching for a Reflector Mage with Traverse the Ulvenwald to bounce an animated Darksteel Citadel is one of the better feelings there is—trust me.

Mono-Red/Atarka Red/Mono-White Humans

Out

In

This board plan looks similar to the one for Ensoul Aggro, but instead of Duress and Negate being good, now Arashin Cleric is a beast because it blocks almost everything. Where Arashin Cleric is big enough to block, the creatures are small enough to be exiled with Flaying Tendrils as well.

Mono-Black Eldrazi

Out

In

Do what you’re doing. You’ll be fine.

Abzan Hardened Scales

Out

In

Abzan Hardened Scales, or Abzan Snek, also runs Dromoka’s Command, but the difference here is that Silkwrap has additional targets in both Hangarback Walker and Walking Ballista, meaning that regardless of whether they kill the Silkwrap, they won’t get a creature back that does them any good.

Esper Dragons/Dark Jeskai

Out

In

(Or you can take out 1 Fatal Push and 2 Silkwraps.)

Some removal is still needed against these decks, even though their creature count is small, mainly because of Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. If you see Ojutai’s Command, you’ll need Silkwrap to exile Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. Otherwise you can Fatal Push him.

4c Rally

Out

In

Abzan Charm doesn’t target much and Ishkanah, Grafwidow is scary to tap out for, so those are out. Also, as long as you can keep their combo in check as well as their graveyard, it shouldn’t be too hard to keep up on the ground and eventually grind them out.

I hope Frontier is growing into as much of a success in your area, and you will be hearing more from me about the format. I’m not sure which decks I’ll look into next, but right now Collected Company and Prized Amalgam both intrigue me. Who knows? There are so many possibilities.

 

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