Narset Transcendent starts with a high loyalty and by providing some sweet card advantage. People have compared it to Domri Rade, but stuffing your deck with spells is not the same thing as stuffing your deck with creatures.
To some extent, Narset is as good as what it’s giving rebound to, and as such it does have potential in Eternal formats. It’s a little expensive for Legacy where it has to compete with Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Sure, you could give something rebound, or you could just Brainstorm every turn. Plus, Jace has an ultimate that wins the game.
Modern and Vintage are different, and a few brave souls have started experimenting.
Esper Control, by THESAWCEBOSS
I like the split between Narset and Jace, mostly because there are enough cards that work well with rebound. Cryptic bounce + draw is a fine effect to get two of, and it only takes 5 mana to cast Narset and Path to Exile on the same turn. Importantly, we have a reasonable draw spell in Esper Charm. Getting an extra couple of tokens out of Lingering Souls is worth a downtick as well.
The mana looks fine. I’d like a second Tectonic Edge, but Cryptic Command is blue-heavy and we have other answers to opposing manlands. As for Creeping Tar Pit vs. Celestial Colonnade, Tar Pit is better at eating planeswalkers but Colonnade is better in almost every other situation, and I usually favor Colonnade in decks with both, sometimes cutting the Tar Pits entirely.
I’m curious as to the reasoning behind playing black over red. Electrolyze is one of the best cards in the format to Snapcast back, and I’m sure it’s one of the best to give rebound as well. Perhaps Narset is a way to avoid Snapcaster, a more resilient way to generate card advantage in decks that play sweepers and don’t particularly care about a 2/1 body.
And maybe, just maybe, Narset is an engine piece that isn’t being fully realized.
UWR Narset Fog, by Shane McDermott
Ah, the good ol’ Blood Moon + Crucible of Worlds deck. In a way it makes sense, as Blood Moon is an early prison piece and Crucible of Worlds is more of a gradual card advantage engine that can gain advantage from extra turns and/or help recover from a Wildfire.
Narset strikes me as exponentially better than Chandra, the Firebrand, here. They both copy Time Warp and sometimes Wildfire, but Narset can actually draw cards when it isn’t copying while Chandra can merely ping. I imagine that Chandra is mostly here because the ultimate fires off after a few turns, and it’s better to have one of each ‘walker than to have two copies of the same.
Narset + Time Warp is my favorite thing going on here. Not only does she improve the power of Time Warp dramatically, letting the deck draw into more sweepers and fogs while upticking planeswalkers to ultimate, but drawing extra cards with Narset is a very real way to take advantage of those extra turns. I’ve tested out various Time Warp + Snapcaster Mage brews in the past, but at that stage in the game an extra 2/1 body is relatively worthless and you’re basically casting a Regrowth. For that matter, you have to pay the mana cost on Time Warp both times, and it’s hard to do that while taking advantage of the extra turn unless you’re in some kind of racing situation.
I do have some qualms with the list. The Obliterate looks particularly uncastable, and I don’t like Wildfire and Blood Moon in the same list. In matches where the opponent has time to fetch basics, he can simply sacrifice his worthless Mountains and keep the lands that matter. In matches where the early tempo swing of losing four lands is a big deal, the difference between a 4-mana Wrath of God and a 6-mana Wildfire might be game.
But I confess I haven’t played any games with the deck, and it’s possible that the value gained from copying Wildfire is worth it. Still, on paper I question the distribution of planeswalkers, I question the curve, and I question not playing 2-3 Thirst for Knowledge. Now that’s a draw spell worth copying!
Narset Control, by BRUNOTHENUMEROUNO
If Narset is as good as the spells it’s rebounding, it has potential in Vintage. Obviously, getting two Time Walks or Ancestral Recalls is amazing, and even a regular old Dig Through Time (a Standard-legal play!) or Merchant Scroll could be worth it.
I have no clue if Narset is good enough, but I do like it more than I like Soulfire Grand Master, which is another card people have dreamed of combining with Time Walk. If Soulfire doesn’t rebuy something sweet, you get a 2/2. If you don’t have something to rebound with Narset, it draws cards. The upside to Grand Master is that it combines with counters, which Narset doesn’t do (though it does find you more of them!). I love how, in Vintage, Narset upticks hit a large percentage of the mana base.
It’s too bad that the delve spells require so many cantrips to fuel them, as Sensei’s Divining Top would make for an interesting pair with Narset upticks.
Do you have any Narset brews you’d like to share? Feel free to share them in the comments!