Dragon’s Maze begins a new cycle in the Standard metagame, and one new card in particular really stood out to me: Viashino Firstblade. As an aggro player, three mana for a 4/4 with haste was too good to pass up. In testing, I wanted to curve Champion of the Parish into Thalia, Guardian of Thraben into Viashino Firstblade. What’s that? You’re at 10? Nice. However, after building the deck as a straight human-based Boros build, there was one card I couldn’t shake from my mind …
Geist of St. Traft doesn’t need an explanation, and with Boros Reckoner seeing less play, it is one of the best ways to send quick damage across the table. Even if it dies in combat, the four in the air is great in a fast deck, and with Silverblade Paladin and Boros Charm, there are also plenty of ways to save it. Since the manabase supports blue easily, I sleeved up some Hallowed Fountain and Glacial Fortresses, all the fast damage cards I could find, and tried to find the quickest way to get my opponent from 20 to zero.
After winning an FNM with the decklist, I took it to the TCGPlayer”s states event hosted at Channel Fireball last weekend. After starting with wins over Jund, USA, and RUG Flash, I lost a reeeaallly tough game against Reanmator in Round 4. In Game 3, I failed to draw a lethal third land for eight turns while he sat at two life. After that, I proceeded to lose my last two matches while being stuck on two lands in both Game 3s. But I felt like I had the advantage in each match; as long as you don”t stumble, the damage this deck can put on really adds up.
Manifest Destiny by Joseph Scalise
The list is fun, powerful, resilient, disruptive and, more importantly, very, very fast. It can race Naya Blitz’s damage very well, but I like this deck more because of the synergy. Yes, there is no “Burning-Tree, Burning-Tree, Burning-Tree, Boar … go,” but you get a lot more resiliency with Geist, strong disruption in Thalia, and a powerhouse finisher in Silverblade. The No. 1 reason the deck is so great is the way that the curve builds on itself, each piece enabling or advancing the one before it.
This is as basic as it gets. The manabase is very strong and consistent. Once you stick a basic land, Sacred Foundry, or Hallowed Fountain, everything is coming into play untapped. Just make sure you hit all three colors, and don’t forget, red is much more important than blue.
Champion of the Parish: Even off of one human, it’s a 2/2 for one, which is worth the investment. Every human after is just icing on the cake. It’s the best one-drop available and a great Silverblade Paladin target.
War Falcon: I wanted another one-drop, and as a leftover from Azorius Aggro, this seemed like the right choice. I tested Boros Elite, Dryad Militant and Stonehewer in this spot, but the Falcon”s evasion is just too strong. War Falcon is especially great when attacking over a Huntmaster of the Fells or Thragtusk. The only nonbo to watch out for is Turn 1 War Falcon into Turn 2 Lightning Mauler (which is neither knight nor soldier), but this almost never comes up because there are many other two-drops to play.
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben: I’m only going to say this once. Thalia. Thalia, Thalia, Thalia … OK, that was four times, but if there was a card I wanted in every opener, it would be her. She is just so powerful against most of the field, and Turn 2 on the play against Jund and Reanimator can just be game over. Taking away a Turn 2 Farseek or Mulch or Grisly Salvage can really lock your opponent out of the game. I beat Junk tokens and Reanimator at FNM by playing her Turn 2 and not allowing them to curve into spells. Her first strike ability is also very relevant and blocks Deathrite Shamans, Rakdos Cacklers, and Lightning Maulers among other things. There are three copies in the maindeck because you don’t want to see too many copies of her, but the fourth comes in for a good amount of matchups, mainly Jund Midrange and Control.
Firefist Striker: Out of every card in the deck, I was most suspicious of this one. It seems very weak in a vacuum, but man is it powerful. We’re not trying to play one off of a Burning-Tree Emissary, but it triggers both War Falcon and Champion of the Parish, and can become a haymaker against decks trying to stabilize behind a fattie. It’s a very good card and battalion is something that can be achieved very quickly in this deck.
Lightning Mauler: This is a very straightforward, damage, damage, and more damage card. What is important is knowing when to pair it immediately versus setting up a stronger attack. Against a deck with a lot of removal, such as Jund, sometimes you just want to get in with damage and pair immediately. Against slower decks, or decks that you have an edge on, it’s good to play it unpaired and slam down Geist of Saint Traft or Silverblade Paladin the next turn. Holding onto Maulers is a very good choice sometimes when you have a one- or two-drop to also play Turn 4 for a lot of damage. It is also good to hold with a cheap creature to surprise kill a planeswalker or get damage in after a wrath.
Viashino Firstblade: The card that sparked the entire deck triggers War Falcon, pairs wonderfully with Silverblade Paladin, attacks through most creature and leaves behind a 2/2. The card is very strong and is a wonderful attack piece in the entire scheme of the deck.
Geist of online slots Saint Traft: This card is a one-man army. If you are ahead on board, I find it better to hold Geist back in your hand and only play it after your current threats get answered. Four damage for three mana is fine in a hyper-aggressive deck like this, but learn what situations it”s better to keep Geist around. Aggro matchups are fine for throwing a Geist away, while against midrange decks you almost always want it to stay on the battlefield. You can play Silverblade Paladin unpaired, swing with Geist of Saint Traft and pair the angel with the Paladin for eight flying damage.
Silverblade Paladin: Another “duh” card, Silverblade Paladin is double-striking goodness at its finest. It can pair with an Angel token and also makes Champion of the Parish very terrifying very quickly. When paired with a Lightning Mauler, it does the same amount of damage as an unblocked Geist.
Searing Spear: I’ll admit it, I didn’t really want this card in the initial list, but it kills so many casino online cards (Augur of Bolas, Olivia Voldaren, and Hellrider to name a few) that it just cannot be ignored. The only important distinction to make is when to go to the face versus taking out a creature; always be mindful of your opponent”s life total.
Boros Charm: Damage and indestructibility. What more could a hyper-aggro deck want? While the third mode does come up every once in a while in order to trade up to a bigger creature, mostly you’re hitting for four or saving the team. This card makes you feel safe. In my opinion, this card is indestructibility first and damage second. Creatures are the way you’re killing your opponent, and you want to keep them around. But being able to dome for four allows you to kill your opponent very quickly.
Pillar of Flame: Voice. Of. Resurgence. End. Of. Story. While Pillar of Flame is obviously strong against Zombies, the one card I do not want to see is this annoying blocker. Pillar is also a one-mana way to deal with Huntmaster of the Fells and can also go to the face.
Purify the Grave: The game against Reanimator is already quite strong: They cannot really deal with the early pressure and have a terrible time against Thalia. But sometimes you need extra tools (especially on the draw), and this is the best answer. It is a very nice card that can take out Lingering Souls or a random fattie. You always want to wait until they spend the mana to cast Unburial Rites before taking a fattie out of the grave.
Feeling of Dread: So, so good. This card allows alpha strikes while also not worrying about the swingback. I actually wanted it in the maindeck, but settled on the Searing Spears because their damage was just better. This comes in to break open the aggro matchups and it breaks them open so well. It turns the tide of battles and can singlehandedly lead to a win against Naya or Monored. They are also very strong for attacking through a Thragtusk, Lingering Souls, or Huntmaster.
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben: An extra one to bring in against Jund Midrange, Control, and Reanimator.
Nearheath Pilgrim: The toughest matchup is Naya Blitz, which comes down to a race to 20. While we can win that race, sometimes they chain Burning-Tree and you’re in a world of trouble. Nearhearth Pilgrim is very strong in that matchup, trading with x/2s and, much more importantly, giving Champion of the Parish and your bigger creatures lifelink. It is a strong addition to the board and can swing aggro matchups in your favor.
Skullcrack: My favorite sideboard card, Skullcrack’s ability to negate lifegain is very, very sweet. It does not hit creatures, which can be annoying, but it takes away the bonus of Thragtusk and Sphinx’s Revelation. This is a very important card against Bant and can end a game if your opponent is banking on that life swing to stay alive.
For the last two spots in the board I am going to give you two different options:
Legion Loyalist: Advent of the Wurm, Lingering Souls, Voice of Resurgence, Huntmaster of the Fells, Thragtusk … notice any similarities? They all make tokens, and they all can’t block a battalioned Legion Loyalist. This card is in a very interesting place and should only be played if you expect a token heavy metagame. However, in said metagame it is so strong and powerful it’s hard not to justify. It is fragile, but I really like this card and wanted it somewhere in the 75. If it’s not your thing, that’s fine, too; I would run Mark of Mutiny instead.
Mark of Mutiny: If you don’t expect or fear tokens, then cut the little gobo and run this in its place. Mark of Mutiny is not an exciting Magic card but it does what it does so darn well. It takes fatties and turns them back on their casters. This is one of the best ways to turn Thragtusk’s advantage around and should be boarded in when your opponent is trying to slam beaters onto the table.
If you love fast damage and you love beating face, this deck is right up your alley. Until next time, where I start getting tricky with some trolls (and possibly one of my favorite legends of all time), may you always have Thalia on Turn 2.
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