This Week in Arena 2019-09-13

Historic Changes, Standard 2020 Decks, Throne of Eldraine Previews, Mastery Pass Countdown

The News

Historic Changes

Breaking News: WotC has announced their revised plans for historic. Wildcards will now be redeemable 1:1 for cards that have rotated out of Standard. Packs will be available outside of the 45 pack bundle. Historic will count toward quest progress, but not daily and weekly wins. They are making some changes to the cards they plan to insert into Historic, but the result of that is to be determined.

This is fantastic news for everyone who was excited about historic, but useasy about the questionable direction WotC were going with the format.

Throne of Eldraine Previews

We’re still a week or so off from having the whole set revealed, but from what I’ve seen so far, Throne of Eldraine doesn’t seem to be lacking in powerful cards.

Let’s start with the three planeswalkers in the set. Each of these looks to have potential in different ways. To start with, three casting cost planeswalkers have tended to be very powerful and find their ways into many different decks. Both Oko and The Royal Scions happen to be three casting cost, and both can hit an unheard of six loyalty the turn they come into play. On the other hand, they are also fairly narrow in what they do.

Oko, Thief of Crowns

Oko, Thief of Crowns comes into play and can either make a Food token, or polymorph a creature or artifact into a 3/3 green Elk creature. Then, on the next turn can use his -5 ability and swap control of an artifact or creature you control with a creature an opponent controls with power 3 or less. Oko can slot fairly well into Simic decks, and as long as you’re playing against someone with creatures, you’re going to happy to play him.

The Royal Scions

The Royal Scions might take a bit more deck building consideration. The first +1 is a simple loot, letting you either dig through your library or dump material into your graveyard. The second +1 fits well into some more aggressive decks, possibly fueling a return of Arclight Phoenix decks. The ultimate at -8 will require some commitment and good fortune to pull off, but drawing four cards and dealing 4+ damage to any target is really nice payoff.

Garruk, Cursed Huntsman

And finally, Garruk, Cursed Huntsman is a big beefy six mana cost planeswalker in the color combination that doesn’t really mind 6 mana cost planeswalkers. This card reminds me of Elspeth, Sun’s Champion, which was a powerhouse control finisher while it was in Standard. The interesting thing about Garruk is that he has a very roundabout way to add loyalty, needing the Wolf tokens to die to increase his loyalty.

Knights are going to be a major part of the set, and as such Knight tribal is definitely a possibility going forward. Joining the likes of Knight of the Ebon Legion, Midnight Reaper, Corpse Knight, Skyknight Legionnaire and the Cavalieres from Core 2020 are a whole mess of Mardu-colored Knights, and cards to support the archetype.

It seems like Throne of Eldraine will be bringing a bit of artifact support, which we’ve been sorely missing since Kaladesh and Aether Revolt rotated out last year.

I’m especially excited about Emry, Lurker of the Loch, which has Affinity, though it isn’t keyworded, and allows you to cast artifacts from your graveyard. Any time we can cast things from our graveyard, there is the potential for broken things to happen. I expect to see artifact decks built around Tezzeret, Master of the Bridge that use Emry and several of the new artifacts in Throne of Eldraine.

Wildborn Preserver

Wildborn Preserver is a 2/2 for 2 that has reach and flash. In addition to an already solid creature, it has the text Whenever another non-Human creature enters the battlefield under your control, you may pay X. When you do, put X +1/+1 counters on Wildborn Preserver. That is a really interesting ability, and I think this card fits perfectly into the Simic Flash deck that didn’t quite take off after Core 2020 came out. This Elf Archer has the ability to grow very quickly, and in a deck with lots of Flash creatures, can instantly get out of damage-based removal. I will be playing a lot of Wildborn Preserver.

Embercleave

Embercleave is a Red Legendary Equipment that costs 6 (4RR) has Flash, and gives a creature +1/+1, Double Strike, and Trample. That’s not a great rate, but it also costs 1 less to cast for each attacking creature you control, and attaches itself to a creature when it enters the battlefield. While this card isn’t directly a Knight tribal card, I expect to see it in a lot of the more aggressive red decks for the next two years, being a combat trick that leaves behind a pretty good equipment.

Clackbridge Troll

Clackbridge Troll is absolutely huge at 8/8 with Trample and Haste for just 5 mana. There is a downside, or rather a few downsides. Though, they don’t even really look like downsides. When Clackbridge Troll enters the battlefield your opponent creates three 0/1 Goat tokens. Also, at the beginning of your combat step, any opponent may sacrifice a creature. When they do, Clackbridge Troll becomes tapped, and you get to draw a card and gain three life. That seems like an awfully good downside to me, and I can bet this card will see quite a bit of play, possibly even as a control finisher.

I could write all day about the new cards, but we need to move onto some other news. There are certainly more cards I’m hyped for, but we’ll have plenty of weeks to talk about them as we play with the set.

Stingy Bots

Reddit user brassboundbook noted this week that the drafting bots in Arena have been increasingly singy with regards to passing rare and mythic cards. With that, it is becoming more difficult to obtain a full playset of any given set as a free to play drafter.

It has been common knowledge that you can complete or nearly complete a playset of any given set as a free to play player by simply rare drafting at every opportunity. The data shown, and corroborated by other members of the community, seem to point to this being true, and drafters will be less able to complete their playsets by drafting in the future.

Mastery Pass Calculator

Reddit user barduck took the time to build and share a mastery level calculator, to see what level was possible from your current level, and how much work it would be to grind the event. You can find the Mastery Pass Calculator here. Just plug in your info like current level, weekly wins, and quests available, and it will tell you what level you can expect to achieve.

The Decks

I wanted to post some decks this week that I’ve had a bit of success with in the Standard 2020 Event. Each of these decks I’ve been able to get two wins with, without more than one failed event. Some are fairly stock, from what I’ve seen (Cavalcade) and some are underrepresented in the events (Reanimator).

Mono Red Cavalcade 2020

2 Goblin Banneret (GRN) 102
2 Scampering Scorcher (M20) 158
4 Scorch Spitter (M20) 159
4 Tin Street Dodger (RNA) 120
4 Torch Courier (GRN) 119
4 Legion Warboss (GRN) 109
4 Chandra’s Spitfire (M20) 132
4 Shock (M20) 160
4 Cavalcade of Calamity (RNA) 95
4 Light Up the Stage (RNA) 107
4 Chandra, Acolyte of Flame (M20) 126
20 Mountain (WAR) 261

From what I’ve seen, Mono Red Cavalcade has been the most popular deck in the event. Carrying over from the popularity of Red Deck over the past year, it’s easy to see why this has risen to the top. There isn’t much to talk about with this deck. Play your creatures. Play your Cavalcade of Calamity. Hope you win.

Simic Flash 2020

4 Spectral Sailor (M20) 76
4 Brineborn Cutthroat (M20) 50
4 Frilled Mystic (RNA) 174
4 Nightpack Ambusher (M20) 185
4 Unsummon (M20) 78
4 Essence Capture (RNA) 37
2 Growth Spiral (RNA) 178
2 Negate (M20) 69
2 Quench (RNA) 48
2 Tale’s End (M20) 77
4 Sinister Sabotage (GRN) 54
8 Forest (ANA) 65
10 Island (ANA) 62
4 Breeding Pool (RNA) 246
4 Temple of Mystery (M20) 255

One of my favorite decks from this most recent Standard cycle is Simic Flash. As you can see, it is fairly easy to port over to the Standard 2020 Event. This deck doesn’t lose much to rotation other than Merfolk Trickster, and while that is a big loss, most other decks lose more. I had the most success with this deck, often stabilizing at low health against Cavalcade and taking over.

Reanimator 2020

4 Wall of Lost Thoughts (RNA) 59
4 Tomebound Lich (M20) 219
2 Agent of Treachery (M20) 43
3 Vilis, Broker of Blood (M20) 122
3 Drakuseth, Maw of Flames (M20) 136
4 Discovery // Dispersal (GRN) 223
4 Thought Erasure (GRN) 206
2 Cry of the Carnarium (RNA) 70
2 Ritual of Soot (GRN) 84
4 Blood for Bones (M20) 89
4 Bond of Revival (WAR) 80
4 Dimir Guildgate (GRN) 245
4 Watery Grave (GRN) 259
7 Island (M20) 268
9 Swamp (M20) 272

I wrote about Reanimator a few weeks back, and have enjoyed playing the deck. Though, it’s certainly not top tier competitive. It’s not surprising that this was the first deck I tried when the event went live. There are a few lost cards, like Stitcher’s Supplier and Chart a Course. At the same time, we have Wall of Lost Thought, Tomebound Lich, Discovery, and even Thought Erasure. Each gives you opportunities to put your big beefy threats into the graveyard. Then Blood for Bones and Bone of Revival pull them out again. This definitely isn’t top-tier in this event, but I had quite a bit of fun playing it and have as many 2-0 records with it as I do 0-1 and 1-1.

Esper Control 2020

3 Basilica Bell-Haunt (RNA) 156
1 The Elderspell (WAR) 89
2 Despark (WAR) 190
2 Legion’s End (M20) 106
4 Thought Erasure (GRN) 206
2 Tyrant’s Scorn (WAR) 225
2 Cry of the Carnarium (RNA) 70
1 Mortify (RNA) 192
3 Oath of Kaya (WAR) 209
3 Kaya’s Wrath (RNA) 187
1 Command the Dreadhorde (WAR) 82
1 Bolas’s Citadel (WAR) 79
4 Teferi, Time Raveler (WAR) 221
4 Narset, Parter of Veils (WAR) 61
1 Liliana, Dreadhorde General (WAR) 97
1 Plains (AKH) 256
1 Swamp (AKH) 262
1 Island (AKH) 258
4 Godless Shrine (RNA) 248
4 Watery Grave (GRN) 259
3 Tranquil Cove (M20) 259
4 Hallowed Fountain (RNA) 251
4 Temple of Silence (M20) 256
4 Dismal Backwater (M20) 245

It just wouldn’t be a proper meta if we weren’t trying to stuff Teferi and Wrath effects together. This deck has been treating me well, and can stabilize early against the other popular decks. If you’re looking for that control list, and Grixis just isn’t doing it for you, try this Esper list out.

The Wrap Up

In a week without much news, there sure was a lot to write about. My excitement for Throne of Eldraine is only building. I expect to be showing off even more cards next week, as most of the set will be available. If the Standard 2020 Event is anything to go by, it looks like post-rotation Standard is going to be even more diverse than it was last year. And it’s going to be a strange time to play, when one of the aggressive decks plays a bunch of counterspells, and the control deck doesn’t.

Unfortunately, WotC has yet to respond to the overwhelming criticism from their Historic announcements from two weeks ago. Between the 2:1 Wildcard debacle and the community split on the 15-20 powerful cards being injected into the format, I hope they can find some middle ground to make Historic a great format, opposed to completely dead on arrival.

Previous Weeks

2019-09-06 (Eldraine Previews, Brawl on Arena, Historic, Red Deck Wins)
2019-08-30 (Big Announcement, State of the Beta, Goblins, Golos Field)
2019-08-23 (MCQW, Kethis Combo, Feather, Steel Leaf Stompy)

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