Magic: the Gathering
The Book of Exalted Deedsand
Faceless Havencombo to create a lock where you can't lose the game. The combo consists of turning
Faceless Haveninto a creature and then activating
The Book of Exalted Deeds's ability to give an angel a counter that won't let you lose the game. Since
Faceless Havenhas all creature types, it can become the target of this ability and, after receiving the counter, simply never turn it into a creature again to create a permanent lock for the opponent, since there is no deck in Standard that uses land destruction and there aren't good land interactions in the format. Although the combo seems inconsistent and takes a lot of mana, the deck has ways to speed up mana with
Solemn Simulacrumand tutor the necessary pieces with
Search for Glory, as well as several elements to hold the game like
Skyclave Apparition, and
Portable Hole. Once that's done, the objective of the deck is essentially to hold the game until the opponent loses because they don't have any more cards to draw or use
Emeria's Callto create angel tokens and win the game with them. However, even though you can neither lose the game nor the opponent win, you still follow the rules dictated by the platform you play from and the game clock. If your clock reaches zero before your opponent's clock, your opponent will be declared the winner, it's inevitable. To avoid this possibility, especially against aggressive decks, and to also catch opponents who remove their efficient removals off guard, the deck has an aggression package with
Lithoform Blightare present and are good responses for the combo.
Werewolf Pack Leaderand
Werewolf Pack Leaderinteracts very well with the game plan of the deck, being a great mana-sink in late-game and offers a threat and card advantage engine in a curve where normally the archetype had difficulties in having a good threat on the board.
Ranger Classis probably the best card in the new set which offers a 2/2 body for two mana,
Luminarch Aspirant's ability for two more mana, and a
Future Sightfor creatures per four more mana. With all of its effects being relevant and the mana investment being usable in the long run, the card has the potential to become one of the biggest Staples of the format and the main card in Adventures in the Forgotten Realms for Standard. The deck's clean manabase also allows the archetype to use
Lair of the Hydrawithout major difficulties, giving even more resilience to your game plan even against decks that have many removals.
Lolth, Spider Queenand that allows your cards to interact incredibly well with each other makes the archetype a viable option in this new Metagame. The most interesting part on the list is the interaction of death triggers with cards like
Lolth, Spider Queen, which allow the deck to further abuse its effects, create more bodies on the board, among other options. It's interesting to mention that player Mazuku94 decided to respect the combo of
The Book of Exalted Deeds, using a playset of
Lithoform Blightin his sideboard.
The Book of Exalted Deedswill be banned from the format.
Alrund's Epiphanyare powerful in the current Standard and have a high chance of becoming Staples in the future Standard as well.
Old-Growth Trollas a low-cost, high-powered threat capable of delivering a powerful 2-for-1 effect,
Gnarled Professoras an evasive threat that offers card advantage and
Froghemothas a replacement for
Questing Beastthat offers a big impact on the board when it enters the battlefield
Esika's Chariotto invalidate the 1-for-1 effects that decks like Izzet Dragons often run to deal with aggressive decks, making the deck a major competitor in this format, as its creatures are significantly larger than other aggressive decks while the deck is also less susceptible to losing long games due to its 2-for-1 and card advantage effects. The other decks of the format had a minimal appearance, with the third most present deck being the Mono-White Aggro with 3 copies.
Ranger Classseemed like perfect lists for the new format, as they already contained a good foundation on top of what we see in the current Standard. So, you need to consider how the format will adapt in the coming weeks, before we think the Standard 2022 Metagame is already broken.
Demilich, in what would commonly be slots for
The Book of Exalted Deedsseemed like the perfect option to let Historic's Selesnya Angels find a way to migrate into Pioneer, as the artifact interacts very well with the plan of the deck's lifegain strategy and has the lock combo with
Mutavault. Selesnya Angels' game plan is essentially to be a lifegain tribal that preys on Aggro decks while managing to build up enough pressure to be a problem for Midrange decks, and so I'm not surprised it took shape in Pioneer. However, the deck is fragile against Combo decks or decks that have many removals like Control decks and doesn't usually play well against sweepers, so I don't think the archetype will come to predominate in the format, despite being a great addition to Pioneer, plus it is another deck that was exported from another format.
The Blackstaff of Waterdeepand
Portable Holewas far more impactful for Ensoul decks than I initially expected, and the deck made its presence noticeable this weekend by taking up space in the Top 8 of both events.
The Blackstaff of Waterdeepgives the deck the ability to always have an
Ensoul Artifacton the board, which interacts very well with a significant amount of your cards like
Hope of Ghirapur, among other cards, being a great help in making the deck maintain its consistency.
Bard Classto make some of the legends that the format has like
Kari Zev, Skyship Raider,
Hazoret the Fervent, and
Questing Beasteven stronger threats at the board, as well as allowing an investment in mana to make these cards cost much less than they would normally cost.
Urza's Saga, and possibly, one of the best decks at doing so as the land allows the deck to create bodies to hold equipments and tutor
Colossus Hammerfor essentially no cost, giving the archetype greater consistency while you can just continue playing the game normally using your spells and creatures. What makes Hammer Time a mighty deck in format is the fact that the archetype has an efficient mix between speed, consistency, efficient cards for the deck's proposal and even a combo-kill with
Colossus Hammer, which is not essential to winning the game, but it is something the opponent needs to be aware of in every turn that
Inkmoth Nexusis at the board. A new addition to Adventures in the Forgotten Realms for the archetype was
Ingenious Smithas a means of having yet another low-cost body that essentially functions as a
Militia Buglerfor equipment, allowing the deck to dig the top four cards and reveal an artifact among them. Whether this is a better option than other creatures the deck uses, as in the case of this list, where the player has chosen to substitute
Giver of Runes, is something that still needs to be considered and probably depends a lot on the Metagame that you are facing. However, in case that's a worse option, the fact that this deck won the Challenge even using an under-optimized card demonstrates how powerful the archetype is as a whole.
Urza's Sagaand, although we've seen versions using
The Underworld Cookbookas the main reference, this week it was Whirza's turn to return to the format.
Whir of Inventionto create an archetype that has a powerful toolbox with cards like
Ensnaring Bridge, and
Thopter Foundrycombo pieces with
Sword of the Meek.
Urza, Lord High Artificer, you can tap Sword of the Meek to add a blue mana, and in that way you can make infinite tokens, infinite life, and infinite mana. The Adventures in the Forgotten Realms new feature for this list comes from
Portable Hole, which works as a very efficient removal in the format, as it can respond to any nonland permanent and matches so well in handling a format which has lowered its mana curve, and with the deck's strategy, as it can be tapped to add blue with Urza, essentially being played for free.
Celestial Unicornis a common version of
Ajani's Pridemate, a card which allows the deck to attack from an angle it couldn't previously, and
Priest of Ancient Wayswhich is essentially a
Phyrexian Rager, who gives you one life rather than losing life, and interacts very well with
Celestial Unicornand allows the archetype to maintain its flow of cards. This archetype is an interesting meta call against the
Chatterstormdecks, as it gains a significant amount of life, uses
Suture Priestas a great maindeck hate that interacts well with the archetype's game plan, and has enough elements to put some pressure on the opponent while it doesn't close the combo. On the other hand, this archetype would probably not succeed in a “normal” Pauper Metagame, as it has significantly bad matches against many of the decks that are currently declining like Orzhov Pestilence, Elves, Jund Cascade, decks with
Fiery Cannonade, between others.
Arcum's Astrolabe, which made it much easier to build these decks without restrictions due to their low susceptibility to cards like
Blood Moon. That's how decks like Four-Color Leovold and Snowko came about.
Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath, two cards that have become major Staples of the format since they came out in their respective sets. The archetype also counts
Abundant Growthas the closest card to
Arcum's Astrolabethe format has. The inclusion of the enchantment even allows the deck a slight splash towards red to utilize the much-needed
Pyroblast, which serves as the main response against the numerous blue decks that Legacy has.
Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer,
Urza's Saga. What is created from this junction is an archetype that can play an efficient Tempo plan with its creatures, while also being able to extend the game more efficiently than Delver decks usually do, betting on cheap and efficient answers and having as one of its main Card Advantage engines combine
Retrofitter Foundryto create an army of creatures in the long run, while also strengthening
Urza's SagaGolem tokens. What remains to be seen is whether this combination is more effective than current Delver decks and how this deck can still evolve as it grew in popularity on the last few weeks.
Acererak the Archlichis an awful topdeck because it does very little or nothing on its own, and the best way to solve this is to use
Living Wishto leave it on the sideboard and make room for a significant number of creatures that you can fetch from the Sideboard, thus creating a “toolbox” element and making room to deal with the most different occasions in the game.