It’s a brand new Standard format! At Arena Boys HQ, we’re all very excited to dive right in, and Wizards of the Coast very generously provided us with a fully stocked MTGA account so that we could sneak out a recording before Toffel and I headed to London for the Mythic Championship, and Jamin went to Pokemon’s equivalent of a GP (which, unbelievably, he cashed).
Being #sponsored like this, we were keen to take advantage of having infinite rares and mythics, and assembled a classic glass cannon Arena Boys deck that is splashy and goes as big as possible. All offense, no defense. All ramp spells, no interaction. It’s another Arena Boys special!
10 Forest 4 Stomping Ground 2 Sacred Foundry 4 Temple Garden 4 Sunpetal Grove 4 Llanowar Elves 4 Druid of the Cowl 4 Incubation Druid 1 God-Eternal Rhonas 2 God-Eternal Oketra 1 Zacama, Primal Calamity 2 End-Raze Forerunners 2 Elvish Rejuvenator 3 Gift of Paradise 3 Kiora, Behemoth Beckoner 2 Nissa, Who Shakes the World 2 Finale of Glory 4 Finale of Devastation 2 March of the Multitudes
The new Finales all offer a huge power level, particularly if you dump 12 mana into them. The entire deck is built to do just that, although in doing so we uncovered a lot of wider synergies we were able to incorporate into the deck (and, happily, were able to display in the video).
Fundamentally, this deck seeks to use Finale of Devastation to put an End-Raze Forerunners into play and attack for a squillion. This lends itself to a certain type of ramp strategy. While Gift of Paradise is excellent with something like Kiora, in order to support End-Raze Forerunners, you want as many ramp creatures as possible. This means playing Druid of the Cowl and Elvish Rejuvenator, as well as all-stars like Incubation Druid.
The top-end is very straightforward. Either Finale, given enough mana, wins the game more or less immediately. Zacama and the Forerunners can be tutored up or drawn naturally, while March of the Multitudes is another rather obvious mana sink.
Filling out the curve are few dual-purpose cards, such as Oketra, Kiora, and Nissa. Oketra and Kiora provide ongoing value, in case the “go big” plan isn’t working for some reason, while Nissa is the perfect inclusion in a deck like this, providing both extra mana and a way to win the game. She’s the perfect ramp card—part-enabler and part-payoff.
This list doesn’t include interaction, and there is a reason for this. To get a little more real with you for a second, our primary goal with Arena Boys is to provide entertainment, not tightly-packaged correct play and hyper-focused lists. Playing interactive spells that aren’t flashy or sweet runs a little against that. We ran super hot this week and had some incredible games, but overall, I’m not trying to disguise the fact that our deck lacks some much-needed disruption.
If the stars really align, this deck can land a turn-3 Nissa and follow that up with a Zacama or Finale as early as turn 4. This might be a little Magical Christmasland-esque, but it represents the best-case scenario and is emblematic of what the deck is constantly driving toward. You want to play early dorks to provide mana initially before getting juiced up by the Forerunners later, so don’t risk your cheap creatures in combat if you can help it.
This deck has a good deal of consistency, given the flexibility of its X-spells, its tutor effects, and the “hybrid” effects of its midrange cards. Enacting a powerful “plan A” of ramping into a game-ending 8-, 9-, or 12-mana spell is relatively achievable, but the list has an extra dimension with its midrange utility cards.
You can set up shop behind God-Eternal Oketra, churning out 4/4s every time you cast a Llanowar Elves, and wait for the right moment to turn the corner with a Finale. You can grind toward victory with Nissa, or eke out value by drawing cards with Kiora. Ultimately, however, if your opponent doesn’t pressure you significantly, victory is almost assured by virtue of just how massive your end game becomes with the Finales.
Every turn, look for ways to spend every drop of mana you have. Don’t be afraid to use Finale of Devastation to get Llanowar Elves, for example. In such a case, it’s just a bad Rampant Growth, but still provides some use rather than rotting away in hand. Alternatively, dump mana into your Incubation Druid or cast a “value” Finale of Glory to prepare for the End-Raze Forerunners. Don’t always get caught in best-case scenario mentality!
It won’t surprise loyal viewers to learn that Zacama was included because I have a long-standing love affair with the card. She’s not actually all that necessary in the deck. She stretches the mana base and doesn’t add anything to the deck it desperately needs. Zacama, in this situation, is definitely just a “win-more” card.
14 Forest 2 Plains 4 Temple Garden 4 Sunpetal Grove 4 Llanowar Elves 4 Druid of the Cowl 4 Incubation Druid 2 Elvish Rejuvenator 3 God-Eternal Oketra 2 End-Raze Forerunners 3 Gift of Paradise 3 Kiora, Behemoth Beckoner 4 Nissa, Who Shakes the World 3 Finale of Glory 4 Finale of Devastation
A few others cards hit the chopping block too. March of the Multitudes is a worse Finale of Glory in this deck, as convoke is basically flavor text when all of your creatures tap for mana anyway. God-Eternal Rhonas is a bad End-Raze Forerunners—it’s a cool, splashy card, but not as impactful as the big pigs.
Only playing two copies of Nissa, on the other hand, was a huge error. We were fortunate to draw her as often as we did, and I wouldn’t hesitate to play four copies moving forward. You always want to cast her on turn 3 or 4, as she speeds up your entire game plan so enormously. Of course, this means we want to play as many Forests as possible. Don’t forget that her ability stacks with Gift of Paradise, so between Nissa and Kiora you can have a Forest tap for 6 mana!
Similarly, God-Eternal Oketra did some real work and is the perfect way to mitigate the effect of drawing mana dorks in the late game. The 4/4s are highly respectable threats, and going wide like this only makes End-Raze Forerunners all the better. We still don’t need more copies of the pigs, however, as Finale of Devastation is there to find them and bring home the bacon.
After getting crushed by the Nicol Bolas/Jace combo in this week’s last game, I got in touch with MagicNoobz to ask for the list, and was lucky enough to get it! Next week, we’ll be making infinite copies of Bolas ourselves. See you then!