Magic: the Gathering
Elite Spellbinder, plus a robust manabase that still has the support of
Jaspera Sentinelmakes Naya Adventures a deck capable of establishing enough pressure against Sultai Ultimatum and able to trade resources valiantly against Izzet Dragons.
Improbable Alliancetokens block very well in the air, the fact that the deck attacks from different angles with a fast game plan and the fact that
Zenith Flareis a perfect inevitability button in virtually every match. Unfortunately, there's not much to be said about the Standard. The format is stable as it cycles through which deck stands out the most each week, and will remain that way until the release of Adventures in the Forgotten Realms.
Time Warpban? The first thing is that Blue-Red Decks are still the best option for the format.
Faithless Lootingthat allow the archetype to function to its full potential. The question remains whether Izzet Phoenix is a good best deck in the format, as is the case with other Blue-Based decks in other metagames such as Legacy. For a deck to be a “good” best deck, it needs to function as a sort of “Fun Police”. In other words, being the deck that dictates the direction of the format, putting pressure on decks that seek to do fancy things like Combo decks, while having a balanced match against fair decks.
Indomitable Creativitydecks. Following the Pioneer molds, Creativity decks have moved from trying to win the game based on putting a
Velomachus Loreholdon the board and win the game with a streak of extra turns to try to approach difficult-to-remove threats and/or the
Sage of the Fallscombo with
The Locust God.
Thoughtseizeand the other discards being poor options for dealing with Izzet Phoenix and the format having taken a turn where reactive disruptions are better than the proactive ones, the Azorius version gained more space as it has a more dedicated game plan and which can set a faster clock while also producing a lot of value.
Spell Queller, creating an extremely robust list that can still use
Collected Companyto close the game quickly or get more value.
Smuggler's Copterwas banned and, despite not being the synergy machine that it was with the vehicle, the deck is still featuring a lot of resilience and a game plan with multiple powerful threats.
Burning-Tree Emissaryand a strong free-win button with
Urza, Lord High Artificerwith
Urza's Sagais almost poetic and predestined, but how about adding
The Underworld Cookbookto the recipe, along with
Emry, Lurker of the Lochfor more interactions with
Mishra's Baubleand other discarded cards, and finally, why not add
Thought Monitoras a creature version of
Thoughtcastand create an extremely synergistic engine, which manages to have value and grind the game effortlessly while the tokens produced by Urza and his saga become gigantic threats?
Ragavan, Nimble Pilfererwhich can take the game on its own if not answered and interacts well with the deck's game plan as it creates Treasure tokens?
Urza's Sagagave the deck a card that serves both as a tutor for its main pieces like
Lantern of Insightand
Codex Shrededer, and also gave a mix of alternate wincondition with the tokens that can be produced by the card and a toolbox aspect with cards like
Pyrite Spellbomb, and more. The deck now adopts a Golgari base to work with, with occasional discards like
Inquisition of Kozilekbeing the primary means of interaction, while
Assassin's Trophyresponds to threats that land on the opponent's board.
Blood Moon's interaction with
Urza's Saga, Ponza seems well positioned to impact the Metagame and serve as a way to police these new synergies. The list above, for example, has an abundance of cards dedicated to interrupting the opponent's low-cost spells, as well as destroying their artifacts. Moreover, the deck has a great interaction between
Liquimetal Coating, where you can turn your opponent's lands into artifacts and then destroy them for one mana. The deck also makes use of
Fury, the least valued elemental from the new Modern Horizons II cycle, but it works very well in this archetype, where your game tends to linger, and you can ramp up enough to play it paying its mana cost as early as turn 3. And a 3/3 Double Strike that potentially clears the opponent's board isn't bad at all. Finally,
Obsidian Charmawhas been appearing on some lists and potentially costs 4 mana in matches where it really matters, being an evasive body that clocks fast while destroying an opponent's essential land.
Force of Will, the deck ends up having a more focused nature on how the archetype works in Pauper, with Dimir Delver, where without free spells, you use several low-cost spells to maintain the advantage over your opponent while attacking with threats and maintain a
Counterspellbackup. Having the consistency of 8 “Delvers” with
Dragon's Rage Channeleris a good way to keep the pressure on your opponent, and since
Mishra's Baubleis the best cantrip in the format, I'm not surprised that this plan game works so well. The deck also has
Thought Scourto speed
Murktide Regentinto play, and the card is a true evasive monster in this archetype, as you'll commonly have 4 or more instants, or sorceries in the graveyard. Another card that stands out is
Unholy Heat, which kills pretty much everything in the format for just one mana when Delirium is active.
Chatterstormwould be problematic for the format, and everyone knew that tinkering with Affinity could be dangerous. If Wizards itself was aware of the risks this posed to the format, why are they taking so long to take an action about it? It's a bit unfortunate that this is happening precisely in the month that ManaTraders decided to do a Pauper event. And it's even more regrettable that the event will take place within this polarized format, as this event and its qualifiers throughout the month were a great way to make players who normally wouldn't be interested in the format to see how the Pauper can be fun, competitive and extremely skill- and knowledge-intensive. However, with the format as it is, the impression is negative: That of a format that has only three, maybe four viable decks and the rest is there in limbo because today's main decks are absurdly broken and/or are trying to prey on the weakness of the broken decks. This will definitely make Pauper look unattractive, and players who are playing the format because of this weekend's ManaTraders Series will definitely have no motivation to continue playing the format. So, for the sake of the format and an event that can introduce many people to Pauper, I was really expecting a banned and restricted announcement this week. Storm is too efficient and too fast, and Affinity is too consistent.
Land Grantto serve as additional “Lands” as it tutors a Forest and increases the Storm count. The deck then uses a base very similar to that of Rakdos Storm, but invests in the use of
Wild Cantoras another manafixer and "free spell" and
Tinder Wallas another "ritual", and it pairs these cards with
Bequethalto draw cards by sacrificing them, which I confess is an interaction I've never seen in the format. This way, the deck tends to be more explosive than the Rakdos versions, it draws fewer dead cards as it has fewer lands AND trades some redundancy for speed, which is essential when it comes to Mirror match.
Jace, the Mind Sculptor), and players tried to use several lists with different types of hates to deal with the archetype, such as Stoneblade versions using a Selesnya base to access
Vengevineand artifact responses on Maindeck.
Geomancer's Gambit, in addition to
Fiery Cannonade. To attack Affinity, the deck has, in addition to the LDs,
Snuff Outto deal with the creatures, as well as
Chainer's Edictwhich will always be a useful removal if that what your opponent does is have an army of 4/4 creatures on the board. The deck also relies on the interaction between
Corrupted Zendikonand the new Artifact Lands to always have access to a blocker against the deck's creatures, in addition to serving as an attacking creature on an empty board. But not only answers if a deck lives, it needs to win the game somehow and
Boarding Partyis an efficient way to set a clock after you have responded to what your opponent has played, and casting it is not so hard when you can ramp using your spells on your artifact lands.
Urza's Sagadecks keep popping up on Legacy week after week in different ways. This week, it was Legacy's turn to follow Modern and decks with
Urza, Lord High Artificeremerged in the format with good results. As the Legacy is a much more mana and spell intensive format, the Legacy version can make better use of cards like
Chalice of the Void,
Ethersworn Canonistto punish the Tempo decks while also serving significantly as answers to other archetypes as well. The addition of
Ancient Tombmake the deck even more explosive and enable great interactions with
Emry, Lurker of the Loch. Another interesting point is the inclusion of
Cavern of Souls, since most of the relevant cards in the deck are Humans, and also the inclusion of
Karakas, which serves as a protection for the main creatures in the deck, in addition to having an excellent interaction with Urza, as you can bounce him and replay him over and over again to create an army of Construct tokens.
City of Traitorsand
Ancient Tomband also accelerations such as
Simian Spirit Guideto cast as soon as possible powerful threats like
Fireflux Squad, or to play effects that are highly punitive to many of the decks that see play in the format today as
Chalice of the Voidand
Imperial Recruiterand includes many cards added in Modern Horizons II like
Flametongue Yearling, which does an impressive job of being a 2-for-1 effect since most Legacy creatures don't tend to have a large body. The deck appears to work as a fair attrition deck that tries to gain an advantage with the most diverse effects and that, given enough time, can close the game with the
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breakercombo, both tutorable with
Chain of Smogcombo with
Witherbloom Apprentice, but which also has a great focus in creating a disruptive base good enough to play a
Griefwithout paying the mana cost and then reanimate it with effects such as
Malakir Rebirth, and
Reanimate. It's worth noting that Legacy is a format where major decks tend to have some difficulty setting up a big board, and therefore it's possible to set a clock with
Griefif you remove the opponent's right pieces with its ability However,
Griefalso counts as a great protection free spell in case your game plan is to combo with
Chain of Smog, which is a combo that the opponent needs to respect throughout the game and can be easily found using cards like
Once Upon a Timeand
Urza’s Sagais being overused in the format, which could be a problem in the future depending on how other decks handle it. Legacy, on the other hand, seems to be stabilizing, and the additions of Modern Horizons II have definitely made a big difference to the format, creating more innovative ideas and establishing archetypes that were previously unfeasible in the Metagame like the new artifact-oriented decks. Pauper was the format that broke with the new set. Normally, I would say that we could wait another week to see the adaptation as new lists have emerged to respond to the main decks, but we are talking about a case where two archetypes are visibly above the others and the format lacks efficient responses to deal with both. Finally, one last point I'd like to mention is that I've been considering making separate Weekly Metagame articles, dividing them between Magic Arena-oriented formats (Standard and Historic) and Magic Online's eternal formats (Pioneer, Modern, Pauper and Legacy), to serve both audiences more efficiently.