ello and welcome to Archenemy Week here at magicthegathering.com. Next Level Bant has taken Standard by storm and I'm here to share my latest budget creation, designed to show Next Level Bant players everywhere who their archenemy really is.
Jund, White-Blue Control, and Mythic are still beating up the Pro Tour Qualifier circuits, so we need to have a plan against them too. I had a lot of trouble working on a new Standard deck for this week. Standard seems to be more and more streamlined every time I delve into the format. This time around, I believe the homogeneous nature of the format gives me an excellent target to aim for.
Master Transmuter has been one of my favorite creatures ever since the first time I played with it in Limited. I wrote about a Master Transmuter concoction last year that used Thousand-Year Elixir to combo out some truly ridiculous turns. Thousand-Year Elixir had rotated out of Standard, but a careful examination of the most popular decks in the format informs us that cheap spot removal is a rarity in competitive Standard decks today. This gives us an incredible opportunity to abuse Master Transmuter.
Let me explain the concept. A format dominated by decks that are more interested in their own plays than their opponents' is very ripe for the invasion of a deck that has the greatest power level once all of its pieces have been assembled. Master Transmuter allows us to do very powerful things in every match-up.
For example, how would your Mythic opponent feel if you dropped a Platinum Angel onto the table in Game 1? How would your Jund opponent feel when you transmute a Sphinx of the Steel Wind onto the battlefield on turn four during their combat step?
The options available here give us a lot of auto-win cards in specific match-ups. The biggest problem with the deck is its weakness to planeswalkers in Game 1. The deck has an incredible plan against almost every type of strategy, but Oblivion Ring can only do so much. White-Blue Control and Planeswalker Control can dominate games quickly when they get a planeswalker early. It's difficult to make a powerful Master Transmuter strategy that puts enough early pressure on these types of decks.
Luckily, Pithing Needle works beautifully out of the sideboard. Pithing Needle provides us with an artifact that can be transmuted and it shuts down a specific planeswalker permanently. One copy of Pithing Needle in the main is fine, but I'd be worried about adding any more. Having dead cards is too big a price to pay these days. The first one is still fine against the field. Naming Jace is nice against a huge chunk of people, against Jund you name Raging Ravine or Sarkhan, the Mad, and against red decks you name Kargan Dragonlord.
I'll explain each of the card choices and why they fit the bill.
Master Transmuter: The crux of the deck. Master Transmuter protects our threats while developing our board into something unbeatable for our opponent. It combos beautifully with Tidehollow Sculler, Sharuum the Hegemon, Prophetic Prism, and Sphinx Summoner. It becomes very difficult to lose a game when you have an active Master Transmuter on the battlefield.
Tidehollow Sculler: The disruption provided by this gentleman is incredible. Once you get to the later stages of the game you can transmute them into play during your opponent's draw step. The best trick with Master Transmuter is to play a Tidehollow Sculler and bounce it back to your hand with the trigger on the stack. Tidehollow Sculler's Castigate trigger happens after the leave play trigger, so you can remove a card in your opponent's hand forever.
Wall of Omens: It's just that good. It may not seem like this card is right for this deck, but Wall of Omens buys us the time we need to set up all kinds of absurdity. It cantrips, so you don't have to worry about it watering down your deck in the match-ups where it isn't very strong. I wasn't lying in my preview article, this card is probably going to be in more than 80% of the decks I design that are playing white.
Prophetic Prism: This card looks like it was designed specifically for this deck. The extra card helps us assemble key pieces and the mana fixing is very welcome. The true strength of Prophetic Prism is its synergy with Master Transmuter. Transmuting the Prism actually nets card advantage. It's also a very nice thing to sit on with your transmuter.
Everflowing Chalice: Another card that fits the bill perfectly. Everflowing Chalice ramps us into Transmuter and Sphinx Summoner. Once we have an active Master Transmuter we can play our Everflowing Chalice without any kicker and use it specifically for transmutation.
Pithing Needle: I'm only going to play one copy in the main, but Pithing Needle is very necessary to fight Jace, the Mind Sculptor.
Oblivion Ring: The deck needs to survive to the later stages of the game, Oblivion Ring helps us keep the opponent's board in check. Oblivion Ring is also very important in the war on planeswalkers.
Path to Exile: Path is great for fighting Vengevines and Baneslayer Angels, but it's especially nice in this deck because of how often you want to use it as a Rampant Growth effect. I like chump blocking with my Wall of Omens and using a Path to Exile on it before damage or casting Path to Exile on my Tidehollow Sculler with its Castigate trigger on the stack.
Sphinx of the Steel Wind: Jund still exists, and this card is very hard for them to beat. It's especially comical when you're hit with a Blightning and you drop one of these in the graveyard only to cast Sharuum the Hegemon on turn five and put them in a truly terrible spot.
Platinum Angel: There are a lot of decks that simply cannot beat a Platinum Angel. The text box is powerful enough to deserve the two spots. I had the pleasure of playing against a few Mythic decks with this hunk of metal on the table. Games get very difficult for them to win.
Sharuum the Hegemon: Sharuum provides the deck with inevitability. If there's something your opponent can do to break up your voltron, then Sharuum will almost certainly reassemble it for you. Oh, and it also happens to be a 5/5 flyer. It blocks Vengevines all day long and kills planeswalkers promptly.
Sphinx Summoner: To be honest, the deck is more a Sphinx Summoner deck than anything else. Sphinx Summoner finds you precisely the card you need at the exact moment you need it. Summoner essentially lets us play additional copies of Master Transmuter, also. The combo this creates with Master Transmuter is especially powerful, though. The ability to tutor for a Platinum Angel or Sphinx of the Steel Wind and put them on the battlefield for is pretty exciting.
I played a few games online with the deck to see how the deck functioned.
I won the roll and kept Arcane Sanctum, Swamp, Swamp, Everflowing Chalice, Master Transmuter, Tidehollow Sculler, Prophetic Prism. I played my Arcane Sanctum and passed the turn. My opponent played a Celestial Colonnade and passed the turn back. I drew a Platinum Angel, played my land, cast Everflowing Chalice—kicking it once, and passed the turn. My opponent played a Glacial Fortress and passed the turn. I drew a Sphinx Summoner, played my land, cast Master Transmuter, and passed the turn. My opponent cast a Path to Exile on my Master Transmuter during his main phase and I fetched up a Plains. He passed the turn. I drew Oblivion Ring, cast Sphinx Summoner, found another Master Transmuter, and passed the turn. My opponent played his fourth land and passed the turn. I drew a Fieldmist Borderpost, tapped a land for mana, bounced it to play the Borderpost, and replayed it. I attacked for 3, cast Master Transmuter, and passed the turn. My opponent cast a Day of Judgment and passed the turn. I drew Sharuum the Hegemon, cast it, returned Sphinx Summoner back to the battlefield, and searched my library for another Sphinx Summoner. My opponent cast another Day of Judgment and passed the turn. I drew a Pithing Needle, played my Sphinx Summoner, searched up another copy of Sharuum the Hegemon, cast Pithing Needle naming Jace, the Mind Sculptor, and passed the turn. My opponent played a Gideon Jura and commanded me to attack it with my team. I drew a Path to Exile, attacked Gideon with my Sphinx, cast Sharuum the Hegemon, returned Sphinx Summoner back to the battlefield, searched my library for another Sphinx Summoner, and passed the turn. My opponent used the -2 ability on Gideon to destroy the Sphinx Summoner, he tapped out and cast a Baneslayer Angel before passing the turn. I drew a Plains, played it, cast Path to Exile on the Baneslayer Angel, cast Tidehollow Sculler, taking an All Is Dust and leaving my opponent with a land, cast Master Transmuter, attacked Gideon Jura with the Summoner and my opponent with the Sharuum. My opponent drew and passed the turn. I played Prophetic Prism and drew another Tidehollow Sculler. I attacked with my team. During my opponent's draw step I used the Master Transmuter to bounce my Prophetic Prism and put my Tidehollow Sculler into play. I saw another Gideon and removed it. My opponent conceded.
I won the roll and kept Plains, Plains, Swamp, Fieldmist Borderpost, Prophetic Prism, Sphinx Summoner, Sharuum the Hegemon. I played my Plains and passed the turn. My opponent played a Lavaclaw Reaches and passed the turn back. I drew Path to Exile, played my Swamp and cast Prophetic Prism, I drew Path to Exile. My opponent played a Savage Lands and passed the turn back. I drew a Master Transmuter, played my Plains, cast Fieldmist Borderpost, and passed the turn. My opponent played a land and cast a Sprouting Thrinax. I drew an Arcane Sanctum, cast Master Transmuter, played the Sanctum, and passed the turn. My opponent played another Savage Lands, cast a Maelstrom Pulse on the Transmuter, and attacked me for 3. I drew an Island, cast Sphinx Summoner, found Sphinx of the Steel Wind, played my land, and passed the turn. My opponent untapped his Savage Lands, cast Bloodbraid Elf, flipped into a Blightning, I discarded Sphinx of the Steel Wind and a Path to Exile. My opponent attacked with both creatures and I blocked the Bloodbraid Elf with my Sphinx Summoner. I drew a Platinum Angel, cast Sharuum the Hegemon, and put the Sphinx of the Steel Wind onto the battlefield. I passed the turn. My opponent played a Sarkhan, the Mad and sacrificed his Thrinax. I drew another Sphinx Summoner, attacked Sarkhan, the Mad with my Sphinx of the Steel Wind and my opponent with Sharuum, gained 6 life, traded Sharuum with my opponent's Dragon, cast Sphinx Summoner, found a Master Transmuter, and passed the turn. My opponent played a Bloodbraid Elf and flipped into a Putrid Leech. I drew an Arcane Sanctum, attacked with Sphinx Summoner and Sphinx of the Steel Wind, cast Master Transmuter, and passed the turn. My opponent played a Putrid Leech and passed the turn. I drew another Sharuum. I attacked with Sphinx of the Steel Wind and Sphinx Summoner again and my opponent conceded.
I lost the roll and kept Plains, Island, Arcane Sanctum, Fieldmist Borderpost, Wall of Omens, Wall of Omens, Master Transmuter. My opponent played a Seaside Citadel and passed the turn. I drew a Path to Exile, played my Arcane Sanctum, and passed the turn. My opponent dropped a land and played a Noble Hierarch, then passed the turn. I drew Oblivion Ring, cast Wall of Omens, drew Sphinx Summoner, and passed the turn. My opponent played another Seaside Citadel and a Sea Gate Oracle. I drew a Swamp, played my land, cast Fieldmist Borderpost, and passed the turn. My opponent wasted no time tapping out for a Vengevine and bashing me for 5 damage. I drew another Island, played my land, tapped everything except Arcane Sanctum to cast Master Transmuter, and passed the turn. My opponent cast a second Vengevine and attacked with both. I blocked one with Wall of Omens and used Path to Exile on the other. My opponent passed the turn. I drew a Swamp, played my land, cast Sphinx Summoner, found Sphinx of the Steel Wind, and passed the turn. My opponent cast a Gideon Jura, demanded that I attack it with everything, and passed the turn. I transmuted the Fieldmist Borderpost into a Sphinx of the Steel Wind on his endstep. I drew another Master Transmuter, payed the alternate cost on my Borderpost, used Master Transmuter to transmute in the other Transmuter, attacked Gideon with everything, and passed the turn. My opponent cast an Oblivion Ring removing my Sphinx of the Steel Wind and attacked for 5. I untapped and drew Platinum Angel. I cast Oblivion Ring on my opponent's Oblivion Ring. Attacked with my Summoner, and passed the turn. My opponent cast a bunch of creatures that cantripped and passed the turn. I transmuted my Borderpost into Platinum Angel on my opponent's endstep. I attacked with everything and my opponent attempted a Path to Exile on my Sphinx of the Steel Wind. I used Master Transmuter to transmute it into itself and still bashed for a lot. I passed the turn. My opponent drew his card and conceded.
The deck performed very well in these games. I played many matches with the deck this week and I was most frustrated with early planeswalkers. The new Turboland deck that was played by LSV and others in Seattle last weekend also seems like a difficult match-up. The deck is very well positioned against a good portion of the Standard field, though. I strongly recommend putting it together for your next local Standard tournament. Enjoy!