The Magic 2015 spoiler season is well underway, and there are some really exciting cards that I can't wait to start playing with. Although the set isn't completely spoiled yet, there are more than a few interesting and slightly complex cards that in previous years we would never have seen in a core set.
The soul cycle isn't quite near the power level of the old titan cycle, but that's probably a good thing. Activating abilities from the graveyard is always going to be card-advantage plus, however I'm not sure the abilities aren't too expensive to really make an impact on constructed.
The two cards I want to build around today are Aggressive Mining and Nissa, Worldwaker.
"You can't play lands."
This is a pretty steep drawback to a card, and one that really requires careful planning on when to cast the spell. If you starting mining too early, you could lock yourself out of a game - so we need cards that can get lands into play through other methods, or basically play it in burn. Let's take a current version of Boros Burn, adding Aggressive Mining, and trying to keep the curve as low as possible.
This list is very close to current versions of Boros Burn. This deck is already very well suited to Aggressive Mining, the curve is low, an abundance of cards in hand can easily translate into 20 damage and a dead opponent, and no cards in the deck cost more than four mana. That being said, you don't want to play Aggressive Mining on four, as activating it will put you down to three lands, and you can't ever play more. However, playing it on turn five or six means that you'll be drawing a ridiculous amount of cards provided the game goes that long. The existence of Skullcrack really helps ensure you don't get blown out by lifegain once you're drawing three to five cards between untap steps.
This sideboard plan makes great use of Shrapnel Blast getting reprinted in Magic 2015, and playing more burn will let you close out post board games even faster, typically expected to be slightly slower as other RW decks are bringing in specialized removal (IE: Deicide, Reprisal, etc.). Shrapnel Blast and Pithing Needle is a Monored combo I am actively looking forward to using.
But this is only one example of a direction you can take Aggressive Mining in.
What if we tried getting around the "you can't play lands" clause by using green ramp spells?
Finally, a great way to abuse Borborygmos Enraged, right before he rotates! Aggressive Mining and Borborygmos synergize well, provided you can actually cast both spells. On paper, this deck seems weak to a deck full of Counterspells, but strong against aggressive creature decks. Really, this is a ramp-combo deck, looking to close out a game with a flurry of burn from spells and lands.
I'm not sure if Frenzied Tilling or Dictate of Karametra is better for the slot, or if both of them should simply be more win conditions. I like the Frenzied Tilling as it is both a ramp spell and a way to remove Chained to the Rocks and Underworld Connections. Dictate of Karametra is there exclusively to help you cast Borborygmos, as well as unload a handful of spells once Aggressive Mining goes active.
Burning Earth is there as another way to help against the UWx control decks, which are likely to be the hardest match up for a deck like this. However, if they are still trending towards Divination and Planar Cleansing as compared to versions with Detention Sphere and Banishing Light, then it might not be so bad. Mistcutter Hydra or Ruric Thar, the Unbowed might be better than Burning Earth, but I'm not sure where the UW decks are going to be at post-release.Grixis Heroic
One other use I wanted to try getting out of Aggressive Mining was with some of the heroic cards, specifically Triton Tactics and Springleaf Drum. Part of the problem with UB heroic decks in Standard now is their lack of consistency, and how weak the cards are individually. Pain Seer and Agent of the Fates were the only real ways of generating enough card advantage to win a game, but Aggressive Mining seems perfectly suited to the low cost deck full of situational tricks.
This deck uses Springleaf Drum and Hidden Strings to get through the mana choke that Aggressive Mining puts on us. With inspiration from Ken Yukuhiro's UB Heroic deck from March, this deck looks to be more aggressive than Xathrid Necromancer, but get through a longer game with Aggressive Mining. The mana is painful (as is Pain Seer), and might not be reasonable if burn is still a big player in the field.
Izzet Charm serves multiple purposes here, letting us filter through excess copies of cards when typically we want one of everything, as well as being the modal spell it is.
This deck likely has quite a few holes, but I wanted to illustrate how Aggressive Mining can be used in combo decks that aren't burn or ramp based.
Lifting the World
Nissa, Worldwaker may someday (soon) earn the title of "Best Green Planeswalker." The first thing to notice is that both of her non-ultimate abilities are +1, meaning she's always going to start at four loyalty. The main attraction to me is that if you have four Forests in play, it's as if she only costs a single mana to cast. Not only this, but untapping with a Planeswalker that essentially has (+1: Add GGGG to your mana pool) is quite a powerful ability. Lands are a lot easier to keep in play than creatures, in comparison to Xenagos, the Reveler who rarely gets to +1 for a similar effect.
Another thing worth noting is that unlike Koth of the Hammer, the lands don't stop being creatures at end of turn. However, she doesn't untap the land she targets so if you want to attack immediately or block with your 4/4 Elemental, you'll need to play Nissa, Worldwaker on six.
The immediate approach is a Monogreen Ramp deck.
In a deck like this, Nissa, Worldwaker works double duty. She is both a ramp spell and a potent threat, akin to Primeval Titan in a previous era. Bridging the gap well, Nissa is unlikely to ultimate, as turning more than one or two lands into 4/4 tramplers is enough to end most games. She actually plays incredibly well with Garruk, Caller of Beasts, but they won't be in Standard together for long.
Wall of Mulch is another Magic 2015 card that is bound to see some play. While weaker than Wall of Blossoms and Wall of Omens, it's functionally similar enough that when you're making use of its ability to protect planeswalkers or get you to gigantic threats, it seems like a solid inclusion.
This is probably the deck I'm mostly likely to start playing with as soon as the cards become legal, as it looks both fun and competitive. Nissa untapping four lands synergizes very well with the enchant land auras. You can draw twice with Underworld Connections, or add absurd amounts of mana with Market Festival and Verdant Haven. The new planeswalker rule also means you can untap lands with Nissa, tap them all again, play another Nissa, and keep the engine flowing. With Sphinx's Revelation this becomes a very real way to draw your entire deck (or close to it).
Nylea's Presence actually makes the land it enchants a Forest - which, in addition to the Ravnica shock lands, give us plenty of Forests that tap for more than G to begin with. Thoughtseize, Duress, and Sin Collector can help us make sure that we resolve our big spells. Simic Charm is also there to give our permanents hexproof - something that might come in handy if we don't want to get completely blown out by a Hero's Downfall or even a Frenzied Tilling.
In Garruk's Wake is another powerhouse card from Magic 2015, as Plague Wind for your opponent's creatures and Planeswalkers is unprecedented, at the low, low cost of nine mana, which this deck shouldn't have a problem getting to. More copies of Sphere of Safety might be right, but I don't think you really want the card in too many match ups, and one copy should be plenty when it's good anyway.Wrapping Up
It's a little early to be building decks with sideboards for a format that doesn't exist yet, but I think most of these decks are focused enough that I wanted to show how some sideboard plans can really change a lot when so many of your cards are redundant and draw cards.
I can't wait to see the rest of the cards in the set, as this core set looks like the most fun one yet. I really like the direction they took, making the core sets less vanilla. I hope you enjoyed these lists and thoughts about them, and maybe even got some inspiration for brews of your own.
Until Next Time,Nick Spagnolo