After the shellacking we received at the end of last week’s Arena Boys video (#sponsored), we were keen to redeem ourselves by taking advantage of Standard’s hottest new combo: Oath of Teferi, Jace, Cunning Castaway, and Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God. After getting shipped the list by the generous MagicNoobz, I sweated over trying to make the mana work, first in Grixis-splash-white, then Esper-splash-red.
A clunky, 4-color combo is tricky to pull off at the best of times, and after wasting so much time mucking around with shocklands, checklands, and everything else, I was rescued by my old mate Rei “Rei” Barker. Rei coincidentally had been working on a deck to support the combo, and utterly broke it with his 17 Forest mana base. Wait, what? 17 Forests to power out Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God? Oh yes. We’re really doing it this time.
17 Forest 1 Arch of Orazca 1 Mobilized District 4 Interplanar Beacon 1 Karn's Bastion 1 Spark Double 4 Nissa's Triumph 2 Jace, Cunning Castaway 4 Gift of Paradise 1 Narset, Parter of Veils 4 Chromatic Lantern 1 Vraska, Golgari Queen 2 Ignite the Beacon 2 Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God 2 Oath of Teferi 1 Liliana, Dreadhorde General 1 Karn, Scion of Urza 1 Ajani, the Greathearted 2 Nissa, Who Shakes the World 1 Dovin, Hand of Control 1 The Wanderer 1 Saheeli, Sublime Artificer 1 Mox Amber 1 Ugin, the Ineffable 1 Command the Dreadhorde 1 Tamiyo, Collector of Tales 1 Sarkhan, the Masterless
The central concept of the deck is to manipulate an all-green mana base to support extremely color-intensive mana costs across the W/U/B/R/G spectrum. For that, the principal tool is Chromatic Lantern, which solves all mana problems in one fell swoop. Outside of that, Gift of Paradise helps cast double-cost cards such as Liliana or Sarkhan, while Interplanar Beacon powers out gold planeswalkers such as Ajani or Tamiyo. Additionally, these 3-drop ramp spells get you straight to 5 mana, where most of the action is.
Nissa’s Triumph helps you get away with this by being a “2 mana Divination” (Jamin’s words, not mine—be sure to let him know what you think @Jackomatrus), but also does excellent work in the late game, fetching all three utility lands. Karn’s Bastion proliferates extra loyalty onto your team, Arch of Orazca draws cards, and Mobilized District can be a “free” creatureland.
The most important engine in the deck, however, is Nissa, Who Shakes the World. That’s the other main reason to be so Forest-heavy, as she acts as a personal Heartbeat of Spring. Couple that with Chromatic Lantern, and you too can cast every planeswalker under the sun. Which planeswalkers you choose to include is really up to you—the only limit is your imagination! And your MTGA wildcards. That’s the real limit, actually.
We incorporated the Oath/Jace/Bolas combo, adding extra consistency with Ignite the Beacon. But it doesn’t stop there—we dabbled with the combo between The Wanderer and Command the Dreadhorde. If you haven’t already seen this combo, The Wanderer allows your Command the Dreadhorde to target as many things as you like, as she prevents the damage it does—pretty hot in a deck full of planeswalkers!
It’s absolutely critical to start every game with a castable spell in your hand. After re-reading that sentence, I realize how ridiculous it sounds, but I’m sticking with it. It might not sound like a particularly revolutionary piece of advice, but in this deck you can see how important it is. A single Chromatic Lantern or Gift of Paradise goes a long way in opening up the rest of your deck, and the power level of the rest of the cards is through the roof.
This list is absolutely all over the place. Once again, we decided to go for entertainment rather than serious Magic for winners, but streamlining this deck to do “a thing” once your mana is online is not difficult. Getting a Nissa online is usually a pretty big priority, as she allows you to do some very silly things while also contesting the board, but generally you want to drive towards your late game with enormous haymakers like Nicol Bolas and Liliana.
Many of the planeswalkers in the deck help to contest the board, with Vraska and The Wanderer killing creatures, or Karn and Sarkhan making creatures. That means this list is less of a glass cannon than it might seem initially, although early aggressive starts are an absolute nightmare for this deck, lacking as it does something like Ugin, the Spirit Dragon as a sweeper.
Broadly, however, it’s very “break your mana base in half, then deploy threat after threat until someone stops playing Magic”. Easy game!
This deck is highly configurable, to put it diplomatically. To be more blunt, it’s a glorious pile of sweet and slightly questionable cards. There are a few ways to dial down on what the deck does best, and I’m reasonably certain it’s casting Nicol Bolas or Nissa on turn 5. As a result, I think if you want to “succeed” with this deck you should reconfigure it to do this. But as I’ve already said, you can fill up the non-mana cards with pretty much whatever you like.
17 Forest 4 Interplanar Beacon 1 Arch of Orazca 1 Mobilized District 1 Karn's Bastion 4 Gift of Paradise 4 Chromatic Lantern 2 Jace, Cunning Castaway 2 Dovin, Hand of Control 1 Saheeli, Sublime Artificer 1 Tamiyo, Collector of Tales 1 Ajani, the Greathearted 3 Vraska, Golgari Queen 2 Cleansing Nova 4 Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God 3 Nissa, Who Shakes the World 2 Oath of Teferi 2 Ignite the Beacon 1 Liliana, Dreadhorde General 4 Nissa's Triumph
Gone (but not forgotten) is the Wanderer/Command the Dreadhorde combo and other cute cards like Mox Amber and Spark Double. Instead, we find room to contest the board with Cleansing Nova, which gets the nod over Kaya’s Wrath as it can be cast off a single Gift of Paradise. Some of the one-of utility planeswalkers remain, but this configuration can take a much more defensive posture with early plays like Dovin, and multiple Vraskas working to keep the board clear.
Ultimately, however, you can build this deck in any way you choose. The enormous number of sweet planeswalkers in Standard means that the sky is the limit—you can jump right off the deep end and try to win with anything from Jace, Wielder of Mysteries to Vraska, Relic Seeker!
Next week, we’re going all-in on proliferate with Simic Ascendancy, along with a certain mythic rare we’ve been promising to bring back for awhile now. See you then!