Nissa's Spanish Inquisition!

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toctheyounger
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Post by toctheyounger » 2 months ago

Nissa's Spanish Inquisition!

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Introduction

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There's a few members here to whom this list presents no surprise. This list has been discussed in terms of theorycrafting and brewing, but it pretty well forms a complete list now. When cards are considered for addition, they're discussed in terms of what to cut, and that has become difficult. (That's probably a good sign though!)

When I pulled Nissa from Origins, I knew she was strong; I knew I wanted to build around her, but her abilities are suitably vague enough that I wasn't sure what to do with her. Traditionally, I've struggled to build commanders without a clear build path, so this presented a challenge for me, and I do like those. I've had a lot of feedback and suggestions come through for this list (see below), and I'm now really happy with it; it plays well, plays differently most games, has multiple avenues to achieve a win, can scale to a variety of tables, and most importantly - it's a lot of fun to play.

Credit & Thanks



Before going any further, I should thank MTG salvation members weltkrieg, Iansisle (who runs a Yeva primer), aslidiksoraksi (who runs a Nissa Enchantress primer), rogerandover who runs a similar thread here on nexus, and ertaiplaneswalker for providing some really valuable guidance and input towards this build. Their help has turned this from a reasonable casual list into a resilient, semi-competitive beast that can stay in a game against the odds, win from nowhere, and change strategies at a moment's notice.




About Me


I've been playing Magic for many years. I started as a kid of 11, had a hiatus through high school, and started again when my wife dug up my old collection (I married a gamer, and I call it a win). I discovered EDH a few years later and have not given any other format a single look back since. I try to build my decks for synergy. I like the idea of being able to play a deck that plays differently each time, while still maintaining a reasonable level of flavour, enjoyment for myself and others, and has a degree of resilience to varying strategies. This deck is probably my closest to that particular set of specifications, and it's a really enjoyable experience. It's strong, it's unexpected, it offers political options in terms of providing board answers, and people generally seem to be really interested in what the deck looks like and what it does.




Why Nissa?


Nissa, Vastwood Seer is a subtle general - she ramps, but provides next to no onboard threat - she's a Civic Wayfinder on her own. A lot of players will look over her seeing that she's not going to kill anything any time soon. That's the beauty of her: She's unassuming, but throughout the game she provides a steady flow of ramp and pseudo-draw, without having a 'must-kill' profile like that of Azusa, Lost but Seeking or Omnath, Locus of Mana. Honestly, I'm usually glad when someone does waste a removal spell or effect on Nissa. It means I can cast her again (for next to nothing), re-land my hand, and 9 times out of 10 flip her straight away, and draw or ramp to battlefield. She's a great enabler, she's quick, can protect herself, and provides plenty of gas in lands and draw for the rest of the deck's engine. Essentially, Nissa is the Spanish Inquisition - nobody expects her, and they almost always assess her as a threat incorrectly.

Amongst our Weaponry...
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What we're looking to achieve here is making sure that we have an answer that will get us through most of what gets thrown at us. Nissa gives us the mana to manage that, we've got options to bring answers to hand or battlefield, and our ability to present a win condition is good. We can make that happen quite quickly, and that's part of the strength of the deck; we're offering a reasonably short window in which opponents can shut us down, and if that does happen we have contingencies.

You'll like playing Nissa if...
  • You like a deck that doesn't necessarily revolve around the commander
  • You like playing permission and control in an unexpected colour
  • You have no problem changing strategies as the game dictates
  • You like to challenge yourself to think outside of the box, take risks, and think around corners
  • You like to adapt the cards you play to solve problems in different ways every game
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Why not Nissa?

This deck is not without weaknesses – no deck is. Green is low on creature removal, and this presents a stumbling block for Nissa. I've built around that as best as I can, but our options are few. We also struggle with nasty activated or triggered abilities. I've built to make this less of an issue, but green doesn't run counters. We have to wait for stuff to be played before we can provide answers and that can leave us temporarily vulnerable.

The above problems are things we can definitely play around in most cases (did someone say Fog?); the biggest issue with Nissa is reading the table correctly. A lot of our crucial plays are big and splashy, and it's important to time them well. Nissa and her pals can give us enough momentum that we can pull ahead pretty quick, but it's going to draw attention, so be prepared to play somewhat politically and not make yourself an enemy to the table. Piloting the deck well takes some subtlety and timing, and that's something the cards themselves can't make up for.

You may not like playing Nissa if...
  • You like a commander-centric strategy
  • You like playing Voltron - Nissa's flip ability is not optional.
  • You like to keep a consistent strategy throughout a game
  • You like infinite strategies and combo
  • You don't like creature strategies
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Other Commander Options


Obviously, Nissa is not the only option for Mono Green EDH. There are plenty, and some of them are very good:
  • Azusa, Lost but Seeking - A very similar commander. Grizzly Bears with two Explorations on it is nothing to sniff at, but comes with a substantial price tag, and a reputation. These last two points are the predominant reasons I don't have her either in the deck or at the helm. Nissa probably does come with a more versatile package, as Azusa is probably more of a mono green goodstuff Commander, given the ramp she allows.
  • Omnath, Locus of Mana - Another very strong commander, Omnath probably lends more to an aggressive voltron or aggro build. Again, price could be a deterrent, and it probably is a reasonably different build to what I run here.
  • Titania, Protector of Argoth - A very strong, very good commander. Runs very much down the lands.dec route, and there are all the makings of an excellent, super quick, competitive build available these days, for a reasonable price. Probably the closest in similarity to this build, although lands.dec is just one of the strategies I employ here.
  • Yeva, Nature's Herald - Another similar commander in terms of what this deck is trying to achieve, Yeva looks a lot of fun and probably plays similarly. Probably the biggest advantage Nissa has over Yeva is the ramp ETB ability on her front, and the draw/ramp +1 loyalty ability. Probably the biggest difference in play style is that we're trying to keep a reasonably low profile until we're ready to make our move for the win, otherwise there is probably a bit of crossover in card choices between Yeva and Nissa.
  • Roon of the Hidden Realm - My wife plays a pretty oppressive lockdown Roon list with a substantial blink package. Roon himself is a little slow, but Bant offers great colours for a good ETB value deck. It does involve committing to the board signficantly more than Nissa, and is less able to change tack. Regardless, Roon is strong, and if ETB is your jam, he deserves consideration.
  • Brago, King Eternal - Another 'all-in' blink commander, Brago is quite strong. His fragility comes from the fact that his ability triggers from combat, but nonetheless he's in good colours to be a strong build. Lacks green for ramp options, though. I've played around with him before, and I honestly found him strong but a little repetitive and boring, which really is a surefire sign for me that the deck won't stick around.




The Decklist


Nissa's Spanish Inquisition
Approximate Total Cost:





Card Choices


I've thought hard about card choices since this deck first started to become a mainstay. Most of what is in here is a piece in a larger puzzle, or has more than one use. I've made sure this is the case; we have a couple of engines to generate advantage in the deck, but resilience and having multiple avenues to victory is what has made this deck successful to date, and it's a principle I try to work on in all of my decks. My initial tendency when I discover a new synergy is to dream up everything that could possibly help that synergy, and it's a weakness in my builds. In a vacuum, maximum synergy can be nice, but in reality, you're not playing the game alone, and people will always try to dislodge the gears in your engine. Resilience is very important.

For this reason, any new cards or further considerations have to really earn their places and fit in very well. It's more or less past the point where I can add 'goodstuff' and expect things to work seamlessly, which makes improving the deck a real challenge from here on in. There are definitely places to improve (see Notable Exclusions section), but for now the core of the deck is pretty well established.

Addendum - cards listed in bold are current to the list, any listed below that are not bold have been in the past, and deserve consideration in similar builds.
Creatures
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  • Sylvan Safekeeper – This guy is here to protect our key creatures, and just happens to also work really well with Titania. It's convenient and incredibly frustrating, I'm told.
  • Wirewood Symbiote – Here to allow us to reuse our ETB triggers. The untap is nice, and can give us some big mana with Karametra's Acolyte, save a key piece from a sweeper, or free up a tapped creature for blocking, but that's all a cherry on top. Great for saving Nissa from removal prior to her flipping if needed, as well.
  • Elvish Visionary - This guy is here to trigger draw. The fact that it puts a body on the field is nice, too. Nice early play, ideally if we can find a way to bounce him from battlefield to hand repeatedly, we're doing well.
  • Lotus Cobra - A really strong landfall trigger, ramps us into a strong board position early, or gives us enough mana to win explosively out of nowhere later in the game. Fantastic with Kamahl, fist of Krosa in play or with Collective Voyage or Boundless Realms.
  • Shaman of Forgotten Ways - Mana dork with a stapled on win con. I don't run any particular sweepers to make use of this, but it makes a strong enough addition on it's own. At the very least, it makes Squall Line a much easier proposition. People tend to forget that it does what it does too, so it can be a really strong play - especially if you can flash it in.
  • Tireless Tracker - Last time I played this guy, I had more clues than I knew what to do with. He gets big. The investigate mechanic isn't perfect. 2 per draw is a little steep, but if we have to use it to dig for an answer we can. There's some synergies with Wave of Vitriol and all of the ramp options we have, but essentially this is an incidental draw engine that conveniently can get rather large.
  • Reclamation Sage – Pretty obvious board control. A lot of the time this will sit in your hand and not hit play immediately. Generally I've found that it's best to use it to hit what you need to hit and no more; as soon as you have eyes watching you, people are going to be a lot more aware of you.
  • Wayward Swordtooth – Mini-Azusa. Ideally this is early ramp that turns into a decent combat choice, and should do so quite quickly. Additional support to help flip Nissa, too.
  • Wood Elves – Decent ramp, and a 1/1 for 2, once the fetched land hits play. Can fetch Dryad Arbor as well as basics, but generally his value is derived from repeating the ETB trigger as many times as possible.
  • Farhaven Elf – Wood Elves v2.0. The land enters tapped, for what it's worth. Usually this isn't entirely relevant, it's still a great trigger. There's going to be times where it's not as valuable as Wood Elves, but mostly they're very comparable.
  • Eternal Witness – Probably the most valuable ETB trigger in mono-green. It'll pick up anything that's hit your graveyard to date. Stupendous value on a 2/1 body. There's a reason it's a staple.
  • Fierce Empath – A good mid-game trigger that will pick up a beater, a control element or 'the last piece of the puzzle' if we have a synergy on board to exploit.
  • Ramunap Excavator - Magus of the Crucible. Helps our lands.dec subtheme and does cleanup after any mass land destruction or lands that we've sacrificed. Great with the fetches, super great with Glacial Chasm.
  • Springbloom Druid - Harrow on a stick is nice early ramp. Helps Titania, helps Nissa, helps landfall and is more abusable than the spell version. Plus, if you don't want your lands wrecked it is a may ability.
  • Beast Whisperer – Our super solid draw engine, most of the deck will trigger this ability. It was at one point Soul of the Harvest, but I've decided that speed and a lower CMC are more crucial than a trampler. One of the fundamental engines of advantage in this deck, goes well with Wirewood Symbiote if needed.
  • Bramble Sovereign - Does nothing on its own, but gives us plenty of ways to a)fill the board, and b)abuse a ton of ETB triggers. We can use the trigger on other players' creature casts too, if it suits.
  • Spike Weaver - Fog on a stick. While we can't give it more counters, we can bounce it plenty and recur it plenty. For those times you can't find your Glacial Chasm.
  • Temur Sabertooth – One of the foundations of our bounce and ETB trigger system. The activated ability allows us to recur triggers when we want to, protect our key creatures if needed, and obviously gives a measure of protection to the Sabertooth itself. A strong card, even stronger in that it's rather unassuming.
  • Karametra's Acolyte – If you're going to mana dork, do it right. We've got a lot of devotion in the deck, and this can get really silly rather quickly. Our best play is swinging with Nacatl War-Pride before using the Acolyte; this gives us (3x)+3 green mana, where x is the number of defending creatures. Predominantly we're using this mana for Squall Line blowouts or mana sink for draw or removal, but can also give us a massive pump with Kamahl, Fist of Krosa or turn a lot of lands into creatures.
  • Polukranos, World Eater – One of the more unique ways in which green can remove creatures. It needs a bit of mana to see a huge ton of removal, but it's a handy tool regardless. If it survives its activated ability it makes a decent beater in combat, and if our mana game is on point we can use it's ability immediately.
  • Titania, Protector of Argoth – Titania is a really strong win condition. I like her ETB trigger – for what it's worth, there are a couple of lands that can use it to eke out a little extra advantage. Predominantly, though, she's here to make an army of elementals. There's a few synergies to take advantage of this – Wave of Vitriol, Sylvan Safekeeper, Constant Mists, and lands that sac themselves.
  • Seedborn Muse - Incredibly strong control option. Gives us options to cause shenanigans outside of our turn, and lets us reuse our mana for various sinks.
  • Acidic Slime – Another strong ETB trigger, similar to Reclamation Sage, this one will likely be a sleeper in your hand until you need the trigger or a rattlesnake.
  • Baru, Fist of Krosa – We're mono green, so we're playing lands. Baru makes our creatures count significantly in combat. There's a couple of nifty interactions, too. Mirage Mirror can copy him, so if you can recur him to hand with Eternal Witness or Nostalgic Dreams you can get yourself an enormous worm. Collective Voyage will make his first ability really just silly, too. As well as this, I've been playing the guy for 2 years without reading him properly. His first ability triggers whenever any forest comes into play, not just yours. This makes Collective Voyage and Wave of Vitriol legitimate overrun finishers with any sort of decent boardstate. It also means any x/g players ramping have a larger wall to overcome swinging into us, making combat a choice between ramp or damage. Talk about value!
  • Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar – Mostly, Multani is here to be big. Thankfully, it's something he does well. Reach and trample make him fearsome in combat, both defensively and offensively. And his third ability has some mild landfall synergies, which can come in handy with multiple cards.
  • Rampaging Baloths – Essentially, this guy is the other side of the Titania coin. Both create big tokens, and this guy is decently big enough to hold his own in combat if needed.
  • Nacatl War-Pride – This guy has a couple of uses – firstly he will take out any and all blockers for any one player, leaving them open for alpha strike. Secondly, he will generate a ton of mana with Karametra's Acolyte. It seems like a lot of mana to play, but he's very strong.
  • Brutalizer Exarch – A pretty weird ETB trigger, but when you need it you need it. Being able to tuck a titan or something easily recoverable via reanimation is damn strong, and he's one of the few pseudo-tutor ways to find a specific answer and bring it to hand.
  • Woodland Bellower – Probably one of the stronger ETB triggers in the deck, this guy is eminently abusable. An immediate extra ETB trigger for draw, ramp, recursion, or tutelage for 6CMC creatures, with enough mana we can string together a lot of triggers for some serious advantage. It also helps that he's got a decent body, too.
  • Kamahl, Fist of Krosa – Kamahl ends games. He's a really solid threat against board sweepers, and the most obscene mana sink in green. Multiple overruns in one turn? Forget about it.
  • Pathbreaker Ibex – Similar but different to Craterhoof Behemoth. Instead of counting the size of your army, the goat counts the size of your biggest creature. That can be pretty big in this deck (my record to date stands at a pump of +23/+23). The only thing I miss in this guy is haste, but regardless, this goat is really strong. I'm not even sure I'd prefer Craterhoof, to be completely honest. I think this guy fits better.
  • Duplicant – An obviously strong inclusion, being able to reuse this trigger again and again won't win you any friends, but it will win you some serious advantage. Duplicant has obvious synergy with our ETB trigger engine, and if we can exile something big he makes good friends with Pathbreaker Ibex.
  • Tornado Elemental – The ETB trigger on this guy is really strong. It has obvious strength for mono green, but I've also found it good as a political tool, too. Given that we can find our creatures with relative ease, bringing a whole ton of fliers down can render some favours. I really like that he has combat evasion, too. It's not always handy, but when you need it you need it; this can be used to redirect damage to planeswalkers too, if needed.
  • Regal Force – This guy is here for his crazy look, and his crazy ETB trigger. It really doesn't take much of a board presence to make the trigger count for a lot.
  • Hornet Queen – 7 mana for 5 deathtouch creatures with 6/6 total power and toughness is really nice. The queen fills a weak spot for green with flying defense, and being able to abuse the trigger makes this eminently playable.
  • Terastodon – 8 mana for a 9/9 is decent. Being able to destroy three noncreature permanent is also decent. I've seen a fair share of bad feels from this guy, so as a personal piece of advice, don't hit lands unless you need to. He's hard to cheat into play, but not impossible. I couldn't care less about 3 elephants roaming about the place, it's a trade that favours us almost every time.
  • Emrakul, the Promised End – I really like Emrakul being in here as a super strong cast trigger and a strong combat option that will likely be cheaper than a full 13 to cast. This is about as fair as Mindslaver gets, too. Ideally you're going to close out the game for the opponent before they get their extra turn, but that all depends whom you're choosing. There's always a chance you could bounce and recast, but I'd probably be careful with that unless you're gaming hard. No one likes walking away with bad feels.
Planeswalkers
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  • Garruk Wildspeaker – All 3 abilities are relevant, but it's really the first ability we're here for. Early game he gives us an extra 2 mana at least per turn. Late game the overrun is a great finisher.
  • Nissa, Vital Force – A really strong and versatile planeswalker. 5 loyalty for 3gg is really nice. Her +1 is good acceleration, with a beater if needed. Her -3 is great redundancy, even if it can't fetch instants or sorceries. Her ultimate is crazy card advantage for doing what we're already doing, and if we want we can zero her to get that sweet emblem second turn she's in play.
  • Nissa, Sage Animist - It's sort of a freebie on the back of our commander, but counts for a ton - frankly, it's why she's in the command zone. Most of the time we're going to be spamming the +1 for draw and lands, it's where most of her value lies. And it's fantastic value. In a real pinch you can get her token, but mostly you won't need it (there is still Formidable on Shamanic Revelation and Shaman of Forgotten Ways though). Her ultimate is strong, but not necessarily game ending. Great for a big Squall Line, and if we have Titania, Protector of Argoth in play I don't mind swinging with man lands. The other really unexpected way she gets value for us is drawing attention; people swing at her a ton, and it works great for us that they do.
Enchantments
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  • Burgeoning - Obviously stronger early than late, it will help us flip Nissa more immediately early game. Late game, we're using it to make the most of Nissa, Vital Force's emblem, make beasts or give us combat pump on someone else's turn. It can also land a utility land or rejuvenate our landbase after sac's late game too. A nice way to sneak a Glacial Chasm or Winding Canyons into play.
  • Concordant Crossroads – We can do all of the things, and we can do them immediately! So can everyone else, but for g this is crazy good. Makes our Rampaging Baloths and Pathbreaker Ibex truly dangerous right now instead of a distant threat.
  • Lignify - A cheap control tool for difficult creatures. Not as strong as Song of the Dryads, but it is good.
  • Cream of the Crop – It's cheap pseudo-scry whenever a creature enters our battlefield. If things are generally going well and I have what I need, I'm sometimes comfortable enough to just ignore the trigger. If I don't have what I need or want, this can help me find it, and it can dig really, really deep.
  • Song of the Dryads – YOUR COMMANDER IS A TREE. Saying that is always fun, especially for a problematic commander. It's a versatile pseudo-removal option, and has cute synergy with Mirage Mirror; the mirror copies the original card, not the enchantment. Very nice that it can nullify any permanent, too.
  • Growing Rites of Itlimoc – A one-time topdeck fix, this is going to flip most of the time we have occasion to cast it. I struggle to think of a time I'd cast it if it didn't. Handy enough for what it does, but we're obviously running it to flip it.
  • Myth Unbound - Commander cost reduction is nice, but the real value from this comes from having it in play when transforming Nissa - essentially, the process of transforming Nissa involves exiling her then returning her transformed. You can choose to return Nissa to the command zone in response to this trigger, where she will still transform, cantrip from Myth Unbound and do her thing.
  • Abundance – An underrated staple, Abundance gives you more of what you want when you want it, for each draw trigger. You want land, you can draw land. You want nonland, it shall be so. Note also that the trigger is a replacement effect. This will rarely be relevant, but when you're about to draw out, you can choose to draw something you don't have any of, fail to find it, and stay in the game.
  • Wilderness Reclamation - It gives us a few options outside of our turn, makes sure we can hit sink mana outside of combat and helps for things like Kamahl, Fist of Krosa and Tireless Tracker's clues.
  • Zendikar Resurgent - It's come in and out of the deck a few times. Both abilities are strong, and if it's not dealt with it will help close games with a surge of advantage on the table and in the hand.
Artifacts
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  • Swiftfoot Boots - Instant haste for your Multani, War-Pride, or whatever else needs to be active at this very moment. Has since been upgraded to Concordant Crossroads - this is a fine budget replacement where needed though.
  • Mirage Mirror – This thing is literally the Magic equivalent of a Swiss Army Knife. It can be anything you want it to be for a turn.
  • Cloudstone Curio – Gives us a way to abuse our ETB triggers. This can apply to lands, enchantments, planeswalkers, and it's conveniently a 'may' clause. It takes the right hand to make the most of it, but when it works, it works very, very well. This and Wood Elves, Nissa, Vastwood Seer, Reclamation Sage can ramp you out quicker than the rest of the board, control the board state and protect you from commander tax. All at the same time. It doesn't go infinite here, but it's damn strong nonetheless.
  • Panharmonicon – Does one thing very specifically – doubles our ETB triggers. This is a really strong effect for no extra outlay, but it will be a target when it lands. 100% worth the outlay if you have the creatures in hand to abuse it, even more so if you have something in play to abuse its trigger a la Wirewood Symbiote, Cloudstone Curio or Temur Sabertooth.
Instants
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  • Crop Rotation – There's a lot to love about this card. It costs g, it's instant speed, it fetches any land directly to the battlefield untapped. The additional cost of sacrificing a land is mostly inconsequential, but can give us an elemental if we have Titania, Protector of Argoth in play. Otherwise, we're mostly going to use this to search for a specific effect. It's not always big mana, though we have that option. If we want quick creatures it's Winding Canyons, if we want a fortress of impenetrable solitude it's Glacial Chasm and so on.
  • Chord of Calling - An instant speed creature tutor that we can pay for very, very cheaply? Forget about it. When you're ready to alpha strike, this will get you that Pathbreaker Ibex, Titania, Protector of Argoth or Baru, Fist of Krosa the turn before you need, ready to swing without summoning sickness.
  • Constant Mists – Fog is nice, repeatable fog is even nicer. Sacrificing land isn't the end of the world. We can get it back if we need it, and it helps Titania, Protector of Argoth build an army. If your opponents aren't tearing their hair out, you're doing it wrong.
  • Squall Line – Our one-shot win condition. It can clear the skies, but ideally we're also playing this with Glacial Chasm in play.
  • Beast Within – Destroy one thing, you can have a token. There's a reason this is staple, it's a very strong, very versatile card.
  • Realms Uncharted - It's a strange ramp, but its handy. Most people don't have an idea of what they're picking, so it's easy enough to hide what you really want behind something a bit more scary like Rogue's Passage or Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx.
  • Force of Vigor - Potentially free multiple removal at instant speed. Flexible and reliable.
Sorceries
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  • Collective Voyage - Having 9 mana on turn 2 is supremely beneficial. It's pretty rare to find someone who won't contribute, and it benefits them, but it makes things incredibly easier for us too. This card is slowly becoming one of my absolute favourites to play. It makes games awesome, whatever the outcome is. It does still require judicial use, however; be very aware of the boardstate you're ramping, as if you're not able to take advantage of this immediately you may be winning the game for someone else.
  • Green Sun's Zenith – Tutoring to battlefield is nice, as is being occasionally reusable. The last thing I want with tutoring answers is having to reveal what I've found, so this is the all-purpose tutor of choice for Nissa. Strong effect and a resilient spell.
  • Finale of Devastation - Our 'finisher' creature fetch. It's a lot of mana to sink, but we're capable of managing it mostly. I love the flexibility of being able to grab something from the yard or library, and I love the pump effect too. And if you really just need a creature in play and don't need the pump it scales to that too.
  • Life from the Loam – Super strong land recursion, this card is a machine all on its own. Makes sure we hit our land drops, gets back used up utilities, reusuable for a reasonable price.
  • Nissa's Triumph – Modal, flavoured land tutor. Best case scenario this picks us precisely the lands we need, worst case scenario it helps us hit land drops. With two iterations of Nissa in the deck there's every chance this plays out very well.
  • Nostalgic Dreams – This essentially functions as our late game hand-sculptor. I don't mind pitching a whole lot of lands to get what I need to win, and this is otherwise reasonably costed. Occasionally it'll play nicely with Splendid Reclamation, but it does enough on its own.
  • Scapeshift - Part ramp, part specific land tutor. Great with Titania, Multani, landfall triggers and Ramunap Excavator.
  • Splendid Reclamation – Ideally, we're either playing this with Rampaging Baloths, Lotus Cobra, Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar or Baru, Fist of Krosa already in play. It's pseudo-ramp in some situations, an army creator in others.
  • Hour of Promise - Finds us specific lands, puts them into play. Costs a little, but when you need a specific utility land, this is going to find it. Has since been replaced, but this would do fine in a pinch.
  • Shamanic RevelationRegal Force the sorcery, with life gain almost guaranteed. Explosive draw for a reasonable cost. The life gain is more relevant than you'd think too, it's saved me many a game. For extra stupid draw, swing with Nacatl War-Pride and cast this in the second main phase.
  • Seasons Past – A very strong recursion option, can pick up any card type, in multiples at a time, and shuffles. Gives us options for ETB triggers, landfall, specific lands, just generally a really strong card that gets us precisely what we need.
  • Wave of Vitriol – Excellent board control. Playing this will not always be the right option; like any sweeper it's up the player to time it right. But this can turn the tide for us, especially with specific cards on the field. It will generally trigger a decent landfall and a decent land death, so either Rampaging Baloths or Titania, Protector of Argoth benefit from casting this. Because it nukes our artifacts, there's a fair chance it will cause us to change track, but we're capable of doing that. It can also cause some hurt feelings; at the end of the day I'm not too worried about this, it's about as fair and land destruction gets, but 5C decks suffer more than most, and this makes an expensive manabase weep tears of blood.
Lands
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  • Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx – Our big mana option number one. Usually one of our first choices with Crop Rotation. Obviously doesn't do a lot with an empty board, so there's times it won't be the right play, but mostly it does very well.
  • Mosswort Bridge – It's a strong surprise option. I can remember hiding some absolute bombs under this thing - it defies usual timing restrictions, still counts as casting and gives you a free thing for doing what you're already doing. You won't ever look back after having hidden Emrakul, the Promised End under this thing.
  • Rogue's Passage – We run some big creatures, so this can help us knock a player out in one blow occasionally.
  • Reliquary Tower - Some of our draw can be unpredictably enormous, so this is really helpful. It's often a significant target for Crop Rotation, too.
  • Drownyard Temple – Slow and average mostly, but with Constant Mists it'll keep us going. Great for landfall triggers if you have Ramunap Excavator in play, and will keep us unhurt with Glacial Chasm.
  • Ghost Town – A consistent landfall trigger, or Nissa flip trigger if we need it. Until recently I'd forgotten this card even existed, but I'm very glad to have rediscovered it.
  • Thespian's Stage – Makes sure I always have the options of the strongest utility land on the battlefield. Can give me options for shenanigans with Song of the Dryads if the occasion presents itself.
  • Evolving Wilds, Terramorphic Expanse, Warped Landscape - Mono fetch lands. These have proved to be, surprisingly, a really great addition. They enter untapped and get silly with any combination of Lotus Cobra, Ramunap Excavator, Titania, Protector of Argoth and such engines. A combination of the aforementioned gives you a great boost, but even one of them and the fetch lands is really valuable and can really give you some momentum.
  • Blasted Landscape - The only cycling land that enters untapped, it's a valuable draw if needed.
  • Blighted Woodland – Slow ramp, but again synergises with landfall and Titania, Protector of Argoth.
  • Dryad Arbor - It's a forest, a chump blocker, a trigger for landfall, Multani buff, death trigger for Titania, and a Panharmonicon trigger[/card]. Granted, a land with summoning sickness is debatable, but a T1 Green Sun's Zenith into Dryad Arbor is decent.
  • Ghost Quarter – If I really need a land gone, I can make it gone. I can use it on myself if I have Titania, Protector of Argoth in play as well.
  • Winding Canyons - Everything is better at instant speed, and for some reason my meta seems to ignore the threat this presents. Really strong, gives me the option of untapping with a hasty Pathbreaker Ibexand so on.
  • Emergence Zone – Our second land flash-enabler. Great addition, cheaper than Canyons, and plays into Titania, Protector of Argoth.
  • Buried Ruin – Utility land – there's not a ton of ways to get our key artifact pieces back, so this is not unwelcome.
  • Mirrorpool – Lots of options here. We run enough colorless land to make it usable most of the time, and there is a glut of things to copy, both in terms of creatures and spells. As a sac-land, also has synergy with Titania, Protector of Argoth.
  • Crystal Vein – Burst mana – Doesn't enter untapped, so can give me either 1 or 2 immediately.
  • Glacial Chasm – Our fortress of impenetrable solitude. Add Squall Line and sufficient mana for a win, or hold out behind your fortress until you have a way to generate further advantage. Usually you're best to leave this in hand until you need it, as cumulative upkeep means you can't leave it on field indefinitely. That being said, Ranumap Excavator allows you to not pay its upkeep, sac it and replay it to reset the age counters for minimal life loss - with Wayward Swordtooth in play too you can do this indefinitely; sac Chasm instead of paying it's upkeep, replay it from your yard, sac a land, rinse and repeat - bonus points if it's Drownyard Temple.
  • Itlimoc, Cradle of the Sun - Comes last, as it's not always a land. Regardless, easy to flip here, and totally worth it. Obviously not as strong as Gaea's Cradle, but regardless it's a strong land.




Optimizing/Notable Exclusions


At present, there really isn't much I'd like to add to the list. There's some staples that would be nice, some that I'm interested in testing, and others that would take the deck in a drastically different direction. Here's what I'd consider top of the pile:
Creatures
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  • Solemn Simulacrum - Decent ramp, the reasons he's not in here is that I don't have a spare, and there are very few ways for me to really abuse his second ability. I can see playtesting it at some point, but it definitely has more value in a multicoloured deck and/or with ways to sacrifice it.
  • Selvala, Heart of the Wilds - stupid mana and card draw. She could tow some real weight here. It is conditional, so it might need some building around, and her price at present is just ridiculous.
  • Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger - I guess I just don't see the need. By the time we have that much mana we're looking in other directions anyway, but also people don't like their mana screwed with, so it paints a target, big time. He gets way too griefy to bother with.
  • Bane of Progress - obviously not a high budget addition, I've toyed with it being in here, but some of my artifacts are really crucial. I may yet playtest, as it's a really strong ability and will end up being enormous, invariably.
  • Oracle of Mul Daya - Could be a very strong ramp engine, the only reason I don't play it is it's price - card really needs a reprint. Wayward Swordtooth is an option too, but Oracle has probably the best options for utility. Note - I'm currently trying out Wayward Swordtooth as an extra land option that's favourable in combat. I also like that I don't need to reveal any information with it, so it may stick around.
  • Craterhoof Behemoth - A game ender, although more useful in a swarm deck than it would be here. I don't see a need to add it at present. That being said, with…
  • Avenger of Zendikar - ...this bad guy, the partner in crime, games would end. As they usually do. If I were to add one, I would likely add both, but I probably won't, either way. Partly this is because I prefer to take the path less walked, and Avengerhoof is a road that's been walked again and again.
  • Woodfall Primus - Repeatable destruction on a strong, resilient beater. Since reprint, I've considered adding this in. The only deterrent to this is it's casting cost.
  • Prowling Serpopard – A meta-dependent choice, it could see a space. Depends how much blue you see, I'm fairly happy without this effect at present, but of course your mileage may vary.
Non-Creatures
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  • Natural Order - Strong tutor, although the sac doesn't help out in any way.
  • Tooth and Nail - A game ender. Could be of use here, depending on how competitive you want to get. Again, if I were to add Avengerhoof, this would be a good option. It just seems too boring to want to have it here though.
  • Worldly Tutor - Not quite as useful as these first two, but a damn sight cheaper to cast. What really turns me off about most tutors for this deck is the reveal clause, and this is no exception. This deck thrives on the element of surprise, so I don't like this here.
  • Survival of the Fittest - Really strong tutor engine, and it could see use here. I'd prefer not to have to recur creatures, but this could get you the answer you need, when you need it. Again, revealing is antithetical, but it's a strong engine that comes down early. Damn has it shot up in price though!
  • Exploration - Would likely be a very strong add. If a reprint came along I'd consider it, but at it's present price I'm not interested.
  • Earthcraft - It wouldn't be as useful here as in a dedicated swarm, but that's not to say it isn't damn strong. It'd give us a bit more mana to play with outside of our turn, but I don't really feel like that's quite necessary right now.
  • Traverse the Outlands - Given that we have some sizable creatures from time to time, this could be a truly explosive ramp spell.
  • Sylvan Library - Really good draw option - either 4 life per card or rearranging the top deck could be of use, although I'm in no hurry to pay this much for what Abundance does just fine.
  • Karn Liberated - For that non-negotiable removal action, I'd consider him if I had a copy. Damned expensive, and will remain so most likely. Still, being able to repeatedly Beast Within once a turn is great value.
  • Sword of Feast and Famine - Easily the most applicable sword of X and Y here, this would really only enter to give us extra mana if or when we want it out of turn. It gives pro-green though, so I'm no rush to add it.
  • Vedalken Orrery - It changes the way you play. It could be really helpful, but then if you NEED it, you're probably best changing general to Yeva, Nature's Herald. A lot of our wins are going to come from keeping quiet until we have what we need and going from 60-100. Everything is better at instant speed, but it does nothing on its own.
  • Crucible of Worlds - If you have it, it could be good for redundancy. But then 1)It's not a creature and therefore 2)Is not tutorable with our toolbox, and also is 3)Dizzyingly expensive.
Lands
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  • Gaea's Cradle - The obvious. It would be a very strong addition here, as it is in every deck. I don't see it as necessary, especially considering the cost, but if you have it there's no reason it wouldn't be the very strong addition it always is.
  • Ancient Tomb - I'd be happy to see a copy in here, early starts are really valuable.
  • Deserted Temple - For burst mana purposes, obviously. Less valuable than some of the other big mana options, but still of value.
  • Strip Mine - This deck could easily support a land destruction package. It's not my thing, but if your meta supports it, you could.
  • Dust Bowl - See above.
  • Wasteland - And again.
  • Maze of Ith - Secret tech for guaranteed enormous mana every turn cycle with Nacatl War-Pride and Karametra's Acolyte. I'd love a copy, and this is likely to be an add at some point once I can track it down at a reasonable price.
  • Yavimaya Hollow - Great utility, but probably not crucial.
  • Hall of the Bandit Lord - Haste on demand, this is really valuable. This is on my watch list, it would make my plays a lot quicker.
  • Cavern of Souls - there's not enough tribal support that you know what you're naming every time you play this, but you probably have an answer in hand that you don't want to whiff. This could help. I'm not in a rush to add it, personally.
Obviously, these are all value cards - add them or not as you feel fit; the list at present is strong and plays just fine without most of this.



Synergies


For what amounts to a comparatively budget list at about $300NZD all up, this deck performs admirably. It ramps well, outpaces decks often, has a good degree of versatile control, and has been known to hold on against otherwise insurmountable odds, and won games long after someone at the table says 'GG?' and expects you to scoop.

Part of the reason this is possible is that there are a lot of avenues the deck can take towards a win. There are a lot of synergies, explosive plays, and broader strategies available, and more or less every card in the list at present serves a specific purpose, if not more than one. What follows is a somewhat exhaustive detailing of some of the stronger synergies present:
ETB effects
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Land LTB synergy
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Land ETB Synergy
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Combat Synergy
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Nacatl War-Pride + Karametra's Acolyte = equivalent to 3x amount of tokens. 6x if Mirage Mirror included to copy either, more again if you can create copies with Bramble Sovereign!




Mirage Mirror



Yes, it deserves it's own section. Rather than list every interaction, it's easier just to list the cards that Mirage Mirror can imitate for some benefit (at last count, it's 33 – that's 1/3 of the entire deck!!):


It's probably worth noting that once the Mirror has copied something it loses its ability. So, in terms of functionally using it as whatever you're copying it pays to make the decision carefully based on what you most need to achieve. You can stack the ability, which in some decks can be of benefit. I guess in some ways it could come in handy here, although I can't think of any strong synergy to stacking the ability here; other than boosting devotion very slightly, or triggering a legendary or planeswalker sacrifice. Maybe it would be of benefit to copy something that requires activation under a passive object like Panharmonicon - that way it would still double ETB effects, but you could also use the activated ability you're after.

It's also worth noting that it does not copy counters on permanents it copies. This means that, while it can copy a 0/0 creature with counters (Arcbound Ravager or Walking Ballista for example), it will then go to the graveyard as a state-based action. Sad but true. On the plus side, if there's a Dark Depths in play you're golden.




Strategy


I'm going to preface this section with something of a foreword; in general, as fun as this deck can be, it's generally as good as the person piloting it. That's not to say that you can't pick it up, have a great time, and likely do well. It just generally performs better when you're alert and keeping the rest of the table well in check. Outwardly it looks like 'goodstuff green', but it is very much worth playing with purpose and intent, being careful with your lines of play, checking your available mana and so forth. Occasionally it will stomp mudholes in 3 other players and not blink, but there's times where it will need a delicate touch and some subtlety to make sure you don't get targeted. This is partly because some of the components we use look enormously threatening on their own but need something else on board to win a game, and partly because the deck is capable of explosive passages of play that advance us pretty quick. It makes people nervous, and nervous people will break your things. All this being said, with some subtlety, a little bit of friendly rapport, and being helpful towards the table (or sometimes just keeping your mouth shut) you can make someone else look worse and still create the space and timing you need.

How and when to use Nissa



It's not a commonplace thing to have a creature and a planeswalker in the command zone, so it's probably worth expounding a little on how best we make use of her. Essentially, as a creature, she is Civic Wayfinder. Early in the game that can be handy - she'll help us keep land drops going. If you're mana screwed, don't be afraid to fetch a land with her, bounce her and repeat. Especially if you have access to Wirewood Symbiote, Panharmonicon, Cloudstone Curio, or Temur Sabertooth. It's not the ideal, but if you need it you need it. Any of these will avoid commander tax, so we're not too bothered. It'll help steady the ship, so do what you have to do.

If we're hitting our land drops, we want to hold off on casting her until we hit 7 lands, or 6 if we have land in hand. If the latter is the case, drop Nissa then land, not the other way around; her flip ability is almost landfall, it's not enough to have the requisite lands in play, a land has to hit the field. (Aside: There may be times you can use this to advantage, I guess. If you really need Nissa to stay a creature she can. That being said, she's puny so the concept of killing via commander damage is probably a pipe dream with this deck. Never say never, but it's probably a stretch.)

Let's have a look at her abilities once transformed:


+1:Reveal the top card of your library. If it's a land card, put it onto the battlefield. Otherwise, put it into your hand.
Hey there, Coiling Oracle! This is where the gravy is. Getting a second pseudo-draw or a second pseudo-land drop is great value. This is what we're going use Nissa for, mostly.


−2: Create Ashaya, the Awoken World, a legendary 4/4 green Elemental creature token.
Definitely the least useful ability. It does have its place - my fastest ever winTM came from this guy helping to activate Formidable for Shaman of Forgotten Ways so that I could adjust life totals to 0 for everyone else on turn 5. That's pretty rare though, so mostly we'll ignore this.


−7: Untap up to six target lands. They become 6/6 Elemental creatures. They're still lands.
Pretty strong, but nothing to really go wild about. It can give us a reasonable mana investment (12 mana minimum coincidentally), or some critters to swing with. However, this ability does hit any land. You can use this as a political tool for someone to swing, or to destroy problem lands or just reduce the amount of mana available to someone. Otherwise it's really just a false goalpost - often our opponents will become afraid of us hitting ultimate and try to take Nissa out before she hits, despite any other threats in play. Frankly, I have no problem with this whatsoever, as Nissa is most of the time purely an enabler.


"Image"


In terms of defending her, I usually don't worry too much about it. Early game I might be a little more concerned with protecting the creature, and we can do that with appropriate bounce effects as they come, and benefit from repeated castings. The fact is, I'm much less likely to cast her if I can't transform her anyway. Later in the game, as a walker, I'm really not worried either. All going well, our opponents will have bigger threats to worry about. Realistically, most of the time our opponents will write her off as an invisible general that does nothing, which is exactly what we want. Even when she does get targeted (and it does happen), your opponents are usually assessing the threats we pose incorrectly, and should be directing their attention elsewhere; I'm more than happy for Nissa to take the hit if it allows me to play freely otherwise. This is reasonably common, and I honestly don't bat an eyelid when Nissa takes a hit.




Starting Hand



This deck can do well with a 2 land hand, provided you have enough early gas in hand to keep ramping and get a boardstate, but you will be relying on luck to some extent. There's some fairly specific things we want in hand early, but so long as you can keep the parts moving early you can set yourself up very nicely early. This engine runs on the smell of an oily rag, so if you see some early synergy it can be worth keeping what seems a risky hand. Rather than talking about specifics though, it's probably easier to look at some example hands:
Example Hand 1
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A middling hand, but not without options. My first play would be to drop Mosswort Bridge and hide something away for options, and Crystal Vein is great early for burst mana, so a turn 2 Ramunap Excavator is totally doable, which sets you in good stead moving forward, especially with Glacial Chasm and Growing Rites of Itlimoc in hand. I'd keep this hand, although there is a slight risk in doing so.
Example Hand 2
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This is a great hand. We can drop Zenith turn 1 for Dryad Arbor and untap with ggg on turn 2, drop Shaman of Forgotten Ways, use it the following turn to drop Baru, Fist of Krosa and use the Warped Landscape to fetch a forest and swing at someone early. It likely means a slightly early drop of Nissa, but I wouldn't at all be worried about that.
Example Hand 3
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Another easy pass. There's too much land, not enough else, and what we do have either isn't proactive or doesn't drop early enough.




"Image"

Early Game



Ideally we want to be pushing lands onto the battlefield with some ETB effects and setting up some draw, and we want to be doing it relatively quickly. We want to hit 6-7 lands before casting Nissa, play another to flip her and set up our advantage engine. After this point, we're going to be keeping an eye on on-board threats, keeping a full grip with Nissa's +1, and dropping land as it comes. What you have in your hand for on board threats should inform as to what to do with those lands and when, but this also will depend on what your opponents are doing. I've found it best to keep quiet early, build resources, and wait for someone else to overextend and bite whatever removal is floating about.

Mid Game



We're now looking to leverage the big mana we have. Nissa, Sage Animist should be in play and everything going well, we're only using her first ability. If we NEED to we can generate her token. Her +1 is either draw or landfall, either way is great. We should now be gaining advantage via ETB effects, draw, landfall effects. Once we've done threat assessment around the table and seen game plans reveal themselves, we want to make those plans harder. You can get mean with this if you really want to. Enough mana on board and we can blow out people's land bases with Terastodon and Panharmonicon, or Kamahl, Fist of Krosa or some other variation of these effects. I tend not to - people get salty and they'll never treat your deck the same way again. However, there is something to be said for scaling to the table - this deck can game hard if everyone else is; from a political perspective it's better not to stand out unless you're able to close out the game or you need to.

Late Game



We have plenty of win cons here - Kamahl, Fist of Krosa and lots of mana is a walk over, plays well into Titania, Protector of Argoth if needed, Pathbreaker Ibex is likely a game over if it lasts a turn or gets flashed in. Emrakul, the Promised End can end games obviously, and with enough mana Squall Line will do it too, leaving you unscathed. Most of these win cons don't need to wait until 'late in the game' - we can move quickly enough to find them early-mid game, and the chances of your opponents being prepared is slim. Nissa's ultimate can help too, as bare minimum 6 burst mana out of nowhere can be really handy. Still, it should be reassuring enough to know that we have multiple ways of finding these cards, or bringing them back if needed again via Eternal Witness, Nostalgic Dreams, Seasons Past and Nissa, Vital Force. It does pay to get the timing right on your win cons, so sitting on them may be a good option nonetheless. But knowing you can get them early is reassuring, and also helps us plan a few steps ahead of our opponents.

Contingency planning



If things don't go according to a plan, it's also really important to know that this deck is pretty decent at just keeping a presence on the field. As long as you have something in play and a few lands, this deck is damn hard to keep down. And in a really rough game, that's often what will get you over the line - having gas in the tank long after everyone else has run out. In that respect, be prepared with a win con if you have it, but don't be too worried if it doesn't come together cleanly. If you can disrupt, survive, or dig you can stay in the game. The more I play this deck the more I realize that it's capable of versatility around a lot of weird boardstates. So don't be afraid to make a risky weird play or do things that might look crazy from the outside. I often hear "What are you doing? That doesn't make sense....oh." This deck loves those moments and handles them well. The deck is designed so that there's enough synergy between multiple pieces that if you keep doing stuff, eventually two or more effects will come together that do something cool. Often it's a case of choosing to either advance your plan and make a move, or keep your opponents on the back foot; assessing which option is more appropriate is entirely the place of the pilot.


Image



Changelog


Changelog
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15/5/17
In:
Mosswort Bridge - free plays are nice
Great Oak Guardian - wanted an option to untap creatures outside of my turn
Goblin Charbelcher - experimenting with direct damage
Out:
Forest - came out for utility
Nissa's Pilgrimage - started the move towards creature ramp
Hunter's Prowess - sorcery speed and one time effect made this unfavourable

21/5/17
In:
Ghost Quarter - utility land that sacs
Temple of the False God - extra mana
Rogue's Passage - combat evasion
Drownyard Temple - early addition for land recursion
Blighted Woodland - ramp and recursion utility
Scour from Existence - instant speed permanent exile for utility
Constant Mists - repeatable damage control
Predator, Flagship - added for creature destruction options
Nissa's Pilgrimage - added for flavour/ramp options
Yeva, Nature's Herald - playtested for options outside of my turn
Out:
5 forest - dropped in favour of utility
Desert Twister - dropped for being sorcery speed
Great Oak Guardian - dropped for combo capabilities (not something I want to pursue)
Kodama's Reach - Nissa's pilgrimage is strictly better in this scenario
Animist's Awakening - didn't fit well
Fog - worse than Constant Mists

22/5/17
In:
Cream of the Crop - Added for draw manipulation
Soul of the Harvest - Added as a draw engine
Out:
Wild Wanderer - Too high costed to keep
Primordial Sage - Strictly worse than Soul of the Harvest

5/6/17
In:
Tornado Elemental - added for combat evasion and flier destruction
Beast Within - added for quick and easy permanent destruction
Brutalizer Exarch - added for library manipulation and ability to deal with difficult permanents
Triumph of the Hordes - added as a combat win-con
Cloudstone Curio - added as a bounce engine
Masked Admirers - added for draw
Tilling Treefolk - added for land recursion options
Out:
Genesis Hydra - removed due to inefficiency
Stingerfling Spider - removed as too conditional
Krosan Grip - removed due to redundancy - I have this effect in sufficient quantities on creatures
Nullmage Shepherd - removed as was a dead draw and made for unfavourable combat situations
Elvish Visionary - playtesting without it
Goblin Charbelcher - underperformed
Predator, Flagship - far too expensive and inefficient

26/6/17
In:
Garruk's Packleader - draw engine
Elvish Visionary - Added again as it was missed
Out:
Yeva, Nature's Herald - Underwhelming and warped play
Elemental Bond - No 'may' clause made this dangerous

9/7/17
In:
Winding Canyons - valuable utility land
Out:
Forest - removed for a more versatile option

7/8/17
In:
Bow of Nylea - combat evasion
Predator, Flagship - playtesting again
Out:
Creeping Renaissance - inefficient recursion
Rhonas the Indomitable - underperformed badly

14/8/17
In:
Shamanic Revelation - burst draw, second ability will almost always be relevant
Out:
Wall of Blossoms - defender was problematic

18/9/17
In:
Emrakul, the Promised End - strong cast trigger and game warping creature
Out:
Wirewood Symbiote - playtesting without it

27/9/17
In
Nacatl War-Pride - strong mana and combat evasion option
Jungle Basin - utility land for landfall and for additional mana
Out
Asceticism - was constantly irrelevant
Forest - removed in favour of utility

2/10/17
In
Genesis Hydra - playtested again
Seasons Past - Very strong repeatable recursion
Reliquary Tower - Was becoming necessary
Explosive Vegetation - Ramp options
Steel Hellkite - Added to deal with tokens, flying creatures
Sol Ring - Ramp
Sylvan Safekeeper - Creature protection
Out
Tilling Treefolk - Proved lackluster
Nylea, God of the Hunt - Very mana hungry power sink
Forest - Removed in favour of utility
Thought Vessel - Redundant once Reliquary Tower was added
Tireless Tracker - playtesting without it
Rhonas's Monument - Provided minimal additional benefit
Bow of Nylea - Underperformed

13/10/17
In
Polukranos, World Eater - Added for spot creature removal
Abundance - Added to smooth draw
Out
Yavimaya Elder - Slow ramp was underperforming
Predator, Flagship - Once again underperformed, redundant once Polukranos, World Eater was added

20/12/17
In:
Ramunap Excavator - added for land reanimation
Titania, Protector of Argoth - added for land reanimation and additional win-con
Buried Ruin - utility land, artifact recursion
Haunted Fengraf - utility land, land reanimation strategy
Myriad Landscape - ramp, land reanimation
Out:
Forest (3) - removed in favour of utility
Mwonvuli Beast Tracker - proved underwhelming, I didn't like the reveal clause
Praetor's Counsel - proved redundant, I have better and cheaper recursion options

27/12/17
In
Green Sun's Zenith - Strong, flexible, reusable tutor
Rampaging Baloths - Win con with any ramp
Nissa, Vital Force - Added for utility - every ability is valuable
Mirage Mirror - Added for utility
Growing Rites of Itlimoc - Added for burst mana
Krosan Grip - Split Second
Out
Zendikar Resurgent - Proved a problematic card
Architect of the Untamed - Inefficient, and redundant with the addition of Rampaging Baloths
Greenwarden of Murasa - I didn't like the idea of exiling, which makes it an expensive Eternal Witness
Hua Tuo, Honored Physician - Proved too slow
Explosive Vegetation - Ramp on legs is more useful
Forest - Removed in favour of utility

3/1/18
In
Baru, Fist of Krosa - Win-con with any ramp
Realms Uncharted - Utility land tutor
Splendid Reclamation - Land reanimation support
Crystal Vein - Burst mana and land reanimation support
Out
Deadwood Treefolk - Expensive and specific recursion
Sylvan Scrying - Removed for the reveal clause
Chord of Calling - I have plenty of tutor options
Forest - Removed in favour of utility

30/1/18
In
Tamiyo's Journal - Synergy with Tireless Tracker, reveal-less tutor
Voyaging Satyr - playtesting with burst mana options
Lignify - control for difficult creatures
Harrow - land reanimation strategy and otherwise quick ramp
Treetop Village - utility land
Havenwood Battleground - sac land
Wirewood Symbiote - strengthening the bounce engine
Explorer's Scope - help to hit land drops
Nostalgic Dreams - strong hand sculpting and recursion
Out
Sol Ring - not as valuable here as ramp creatures
Manglehorn - underperformed, not meta relevant
Garruk's Packleader - proved too expensive
Forest - removed in favour of utility
Conjurer's Closet - proved slow and predictable
Nissa's Pilgrimage - removed for preference of this effect on a creature
Genesis Hydra - proved inefficient and redundant
Krosan Grip - redundant in favour of Reclamation Sage

13/2/18
In:
Glacial Chasm - win-con with Squall Line
Song of the Dryads - creature control
Tireless Tracker - synergy with lands, gets big, mana sink for draw, came back in as it proved handy
Out:
Lignify - upgraded to Song of the Dryads
Forest - removed for utility
Voyaging Satyr - proved underwhelming

19/3/18
In
Fierce Empath - added for ETB suite
Out
Explorer's Scope - proved underwhelming and slow

5/4/18
In: Wave of Vitriol - added for control
Out: Scour from Existence - slow and underwhelming

14/3/18
In:
Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar - strong combat option
Thespian's Stage - utility and shenanigans
Out:
Wolfir Silverheart - strictly worse than Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar
Forest - removed in favour of utility

11/6/18
In:
Greater Good - added for strong draw engine
Out:
Realms Uncharted - removed to playtest other options

9/7/18
In:
Wayward Swordtooth - Extra land on a decent body for cheap. I like most aspects of this card, and its playtested well so far.
Chord of Calling - Brought this back in for further playtesting, and it's been very valuable.
Realms Uncharted - Brought back in for further playtesting, and it solves the issues I wanted it to; finding utility lands and providing early ramp.

Out:
Invasive Species - I find it sitting in hand a lot, so it's an easy choice to remove.
Masked Admirers - It's a bit too mana intensive at present.
Tamiyo's Journal - It's slow, and sort of outclassed by the additions of Chord of Calling and Realms Uncharted.

10/8/18
In:
Collective Voyage
Lotus Cobra
Shaman of Forgotten Ways
Skyshroud Claim
Mirrorpool

Out:
Steel Hellkite
Aetherwind Basker
Strionic Resonator
Greater Good
Haunted Fengraf

Leaning out the curve, Basker was underperforming and outclassed by Multani. Hellkite was outclassed by Constant Mists and Glacial Chasm. I found myself resenting the discard of Greater Good, and Mirrorpool is much better utility than Haunted Fengraf. I've been playtesting Collective Voyage and Lotus Cobra, and they are both disgustingly good ramp.

1/9/18
In:
Evolving Wilds
Terramorphic Expanse
Warped Landscape
Blasted Landscape
Lignify
Burgeoning
Zendikar Resurgent
Swiftfoot Boots

Out:
Havenwood Battleground
Treetop Village
Myriad Landscape
Jungle Basin
Skyshroud Claim
Harrow
Wild Pair

The ETB tapped lands were really slowing things down, and I was only ever playing them when I had no other option, which is never a good place to be. The super cheap fetches don't enter tapped, trigger landfall, get a forest at instant speed when I want one and don't slow me down. They've been really good thus far, simply because they're simple and uncomplicated. Blasted Landscape is much the same, it's the only cycling land that doesn't enter tapped, so it's the best of both worlds.

I've been straying away from Wild Pair recently and haven't missed altogether, so Zendikar Resurgent is taking a spin in its seat. I haven't drawn it yet to try it, but we will see. Burgeoning is a decent way to get land drops early to flip Nissa, or to trigger landfall later on. I've always liked what Song of the Dryads does, so a second (albeit slightly weaker) version is worth a spot.

24/10/18
In:
Beast Whisperer
Garruk Wildspeaker
Out:
Soul of the Harvest
Triumph of the Hordes

General streamlining improvements to draw and versatility. Have had a couple of negative comments about Triumph of the Hordes too.

5/11/18
In:
Strionic Resonator

Out:
Gaea's Touch

Versatility upgrade.

3/12/18
In:
Dryad Arbor
Scapeshift

Out:
Loaming Shaman
Forest

Versatility upgrade
31/12/18
In:
Ghost Town

Out:
Temple of the False God
In all honesty, Temple is too conditional not to a terrible choice. Ghost Town ensures landfall triggers and Nissa flips.

4/3/19
In:
Bramble Sovereign
Hour of Promise
Out:
Strionic Resonator
Boundless Realms

Playtest upgrade - Resonator was a dead draw a lot of the time, as was Realms.

23/4/19
In:
Wilderness Reclamation
Out:
Realms Uncharted
Playtesting trial for Reclamation.

5/5/19
In:
Emergence Zone
Life from the Loam
[card]Concordant Crossroads

Seedborn Muse
Nissa's Triumph
Spike Weaver

Out:
Blighted Woodland
Hour of Promise
Swiftfoot Boots
Wilderness Reclamation
Burgeoning
Zendikar Resurgent

5/5/19
In:
Springbloom Druid
Force of Vigor
Green Sun's Zenith

Out:
Tireless Tracker
Lignify
Chord of Calling

5/8/19
In:
Myth Unbound

Out:
Seedborn Muse




As always with my threads I'm more than happy to answer questions, criticism, feedback or discuss options.
Enjoy!

Toc
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Post by toctheyounger » 2 months ago

Core Set 2020 review

Standard rotation time is upon us again, which means not a damn thing to us, outside of some relative price drops on Ixalan block staples. And a new set of releases for us - I have to say this year there are some really cool pieces. My most anticipated card is Vilis, Broker of Blood, that thing is going to be gross. As for whether there's anything for Nissa, let's have a closer look - as per normal, I'll really only consider the things that are most likely to impact here.

Artifacts/Colorless



Image


Yeah, after bigging the release up there's not much to look at here. Meteor Golem gets a reprint, and it's still a consideration for the deck, but I have everything it does already in Terastodon and Duplicant, so I'm not overly in a hurry to add it.

Lands

  • Lotus Field - It's a strong add, I won't lie. I'm not going to pick up a copy just yet though, I want to see what happens to its price.
  • Cryptic Caves - It's reasonable. Most comparable to Blasted Landscape, I think I prefer the cycling purely because the only condition is being able to produce 2.
  • Field of the Dead - I'm thinking about this one. I run a few utility lands as well as a few ways to get landfall triggers easily, so this could be a reasonable add. I might try to playtest and see how often the ability would actually turn on though, as a tradeoff against entering tapped.

Green Stuff!

  • Cavalier of Thorns - I've seen a little talk around these, and they seem alright. This one doesn't really do enough to justify an addition, and plays too much into graveyard strategies to be useful here.
  • Elvish Reclaimer - I've tossed up back and forth about grabbing a copy of this. It's well costed, grabs utility land at instant speed, I'm just hesitant about adding more land sacrifice. I'd probably pull Crop Rotation out for it, and that seems like a bad idea.
  • Leyline of Abundance - Nice that green finally got a decent leyline, but it doesn't do a ton for us here. I only run a couple of dorks so I'm not overly keen on leaning into that.
  • Season of Growth - The draw is cool, but it's a jack of all trades, master of none scenario. Would I rather drop the draw and instead of scrying 1 dig for an answer? Frankly, yes.
  • Shared Summons - Pretty cool effect at instant speed. If it were even one to battlefield it'd be a windmill slam into the deck somewhere. If I ran Avengerhoof it'd be a windmill slam. As is, I think I'm happier with what I have.
  • Shifting Ceratops - I can see this being strong in standard. Here it's ok, probably not enough to really break into the list though.
  • Veil of Summer - I actually kind of like this. It's a meta call whether this hits the list or not. For me, probably not, but if there's control in your group it will make sure your win condition sticks.
  • Voracious Hydra - It's two very cool ETB effects, and I could almost see this swapping out for Polukranos, World Eater. I don't think it will right now, purely because Theros hydra can hit multiple targets.
Nothing that's a definite shoe in. Some cool stuff overall, but Nissa's 99 remains intact as it is for now. The closest is Elvish Reclaimer, and I'm on the fence about it.
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Post by weltkrieg » 2 months ago

Nice looking primer, toc. It's hard to take advantage of, but the ultimate on Nissa doesn't necessarily have to target your own lands. It can make for some interesting politics in a game, especially when you have one of your fog engines up.

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Post by toctheyounger » 2 months ago

weltkrieg wrote:
2 months ago
Nice looking primer, toc. It's hard to take advantage of, but the ultimate on Nissa doesn't necessarily have to target your own lands. It can make for some interesting politics in a game, especially when you have one of your fog engines up.
Thanks! I only just in the last 30 minutes got everything working the way I wanted to.

I hadn't realised Nissa could do that - That's kind of cool. Means you could animate some lands so that they can be blown up, or to swing at mutual enemies. The semantics you miss right? Like Baru, fist of Krosa triggers from any forest entering, not just mine, which is bonkers, and I only just realised in the last month. It makes Collective Voyage a legitimate combat finisher.

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Post by weltkrieg » 2 months ago

Exactly. Nissa plays low to the ground, so you need to take what advantage you can get. Similarly, have you given any consideration to myth unbound? It can reduce commander tax, but more importantly, when your commander transforms, you can choose to send it to the command zone instead of exile, which means you would draw a card when it comes back.

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Post by toctheyounger » 2 months ago

weltkrieg wrote:
2 months ago
Exactly. Nissa plays low to the ground, so you need to take what advantage you can get. Similarly, have you given any consideration to myth unbound? It can reduce commander tax, but more importantly, when your commander transforms, you can choose to send it to the command zone instead of exile, which means you would draw a card when it comes back.
I had thought about it, yeah - I've heard really good things about it this context. I guess I sort of put it in the 'too hard basket' for finding room. There's...not much I want to cut in all honesty, but I can definitely recognise that it deserves a place.

I've sort of taken the same attitude into Core set 2020 - there's a couple of neat pieces, but nothing that's evidently superior to its counterparts already in the list, so I've erred on the side of 'if it ain't broke'.

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Post by Rumpy5897 » 2 months ago

A minor display thing, the images/boxes are sliding out of sync with each other on my screen. Think your display's wider than mine. Thankfully this board supports percentage width.

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Post by toctheyounger » 2 months ago

Rumpy5897 wrote:
2 months ago
A minor display thing, the images/boxes are sliding out of sync with each other on my screen. Think your display's wider than mine. Thankfully this board supports percentage width.
Yeah my work has double screens so that might be affecting it somewhat. I’ll keep working on it - seems to be the why/why not sections, Mirror, and Nissa’s Walker abilities. I’m sure there’s a fix. Thanks for the heads up, I’ll keep working on it.

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Post by TheMagicWord » 1 month ago

I was following this thread on mtgs because this list looks great. Ill follow it here too for when I get bored of another deck and have room to build this one!
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Post by toctheyounger » 1 month ago

TheMagicWord wrote:
1 month ago
I was following this thread on mtgs because this list looks great. Ill follow it here too for when I get bored of another deck and have room to build this one!
Thanks! The deck is a lot of fun to play, so I hope you get around to building it at some point!

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Post by toctheyounger » 1 month ago

Bit of a weird scenario here, I've got a change to add and I'm taking out what's usually a bomb:

Seedborn Muse > Myth Unbound.

The thing is, I've had Muse in hand to cast a number of times recently and haven't had anything to actually put it's value towards. So it ends up getting turfed for later use and the game plays out without it. Or, if I have cast it, it bites removal immediately (understandably, to be fair). So Myth Unbound was a nice cheap add, lower on the curve is almost always relevant, and either generates card advantage regularly or deters targetting my commander. It should've been in here long ago, it just seems strange to remove a format staple for it. It's definitely the right choice, it's just a little odd.

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Post by Rumpy5897 » 1 month ago

I just thumbed through your 99 real quick, you don't have a ton of pieces that synergise particularly well with the Muse. Your instant count is low, you have a few creatures with activated abilities, two flash lands, that's about it. As such, on average, you should probably get better mileage out of the new thing. Seems like a good swap.

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Post by toctheyounger » 1 month ago

Rumpy5897 wrote:
1 month ago
I just thumbed through your 99 real quick, you don't have a ton of pieces that synergise particularly well with the Muse. Your instant count is low, you have a few creatures with activated abilities, two flash lands, that's about it. As such, on average, you should probably get better mileage out of the new thing. Seems like a good swap.
Yeah, I think my initial thought was for it to hold up mana for 'just in case', but it ended up being entirely unnecessary anyway, and I'd rather have a 'set and 'forget' card advantage piece like Unbound.

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Post by toctheyounger » 4 weeks ago

Commander 2019 Review

We've all seen the spoilers over the last week or so - I have to admit, being mechanics driven is a nice change to color orientation or tribal, so that's cool, but honestly I was a little disappointed, from the perspective of what I wanted from the decks (which, honestly, is mostly solid reprints). But that being said, I'm not the target audience, being as I have a fairly well established collection, and none of the mechanics on display are super interesting to me of themselves.

At any rate, let's look at what could be considered for Nissa's deck:

Artifacts/Colorless/Lands

  • Aeon Engine - This is high quality jankTM. I'm pretty sure any deck could envision a scenario in which this could do cool things, but I struggle to think of it as reliable.
  • Idol Of Oblivion - There's a few cards in the list that could make use of this card's first ability. The second is a little mediocre, so it'd purely be a conditional draw engine. Pass for now, if the deck gets more token-y then maybe.
  • Scroll of Fate - This isn't the worst mana sink ever. It's not amazing, but it still has some uses. I can see manifesting some chunky critters for flashing in at end of turn cycle or a time of one's choosing. Could be fun.
  • Sanctum of Eternity - This could be a decent add. It's a nice way to spam Nissa's ETB ability, or reset her if her counters get a little low.



Green

  • Apex Altisaur - Nice removal, and with stats that will kill most of what needs to die. The CMC is almost as high, and I think that puts me off a little. I'd rather have Polukranos, World Eater purely because it scales to available mana, and it's cheaper to cast (even if it costs more in the long run).
  • Road of Return - This is a nice cheap modal option, and I could see it in a deck similar to this. I think the choice is either this, or Myth Unbound. Right now, without further playtesting, Unbound gets the upper hand due to being a permanent and having draw stitched onto it.
  • Voice of Many - Could be a reasonable option. Cheap to cast elf with a potential Harmonize attached. I can't always guarantee I have the most critters on the field though, so this could be a win more option.
And there it is for new releases. There's a few reasonable reprints, albeit not the value I'd hoped for. Garruk, Primal Hunter and Tempt with Discovery are neat to see again, and both have the potential to be considered here, although I'm not desperate to have either; Garruk adds up to his ultimate too slowly, Tempt is tempting :cool: but not a must have. Next round of considerations? Throne of Eldraine. A set I know my wife is looking forward to, as am I. Arthurian legend is awesome, as are Grimm's tales (the originals, not that Disney garbage).

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