Gold Planeswalkers are a welcome addition to this project. There's something really appealing about figuring out new things for color pairs to do. After so many sets, even though a certain color pair generally does similar things, there's usually plenty of room for unique design space. Enter Niko Aris.

New Planeswalkers in general are also a breath of fresh air. It can feel like a bit of a cop out when designing the 9th Ajani deck, and there are only so many different kinds of things an Ajani does, especially when WotC has more or less locked onto what that specific Planeswalker should be doing and they end up largely mechanically similar. A new Planeswalker character who brings something new to a color combination? Hell yes! 

Niko Aris brings something entirely different to the UW Combination: aggression! We don't get that often, and I intend to make the most of it. Niko seems inclined towards the Foretell mechanic from Kaldheim, as a Saga with Niko's name references the mechanic, and I am obliged to strongly consider such flavor offerings. I also wanted to bring Heroic into the mix, because Niko's character comes from the plane of Theros, Heroic was an aggressive plan for UW in that era, and Niko is in fact a hero of our story! 

The bards and the oracles have long foretold of a UW aggressive deck:

Magic: The Gathering TCG Deck - Niko Aris by Andy Hurst

'Niko Aris' - constructed deck list and prices for the Magic: The Gathering Trading Card Game from TCGplayer Infinite!

Created By: Andy Hurst

Event:

Rank:

Freeform (Casual)

Market Price: $10.51

Cards

Void Squall

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/96660_200w.jpg

Return target nonland permanent to its owner's hand.
Rebound (If you cast this spell from your hand, exile it as it resolves. At the beginning of your next upkeep, you may cast this card from exile without paying its mana cost.)

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Gods' Hall Guardian

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.04

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230174_200w.jpg

Vigilance
Foretell {3}{W} (During your turn, you may pay {2} and exile this card from your hand face down. Cast it on a later turn for its foretell cost.)

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Depart the Realm

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.04

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230948_200w.jpg

Return target nonland permanent to its owner's hand.
Foretell {U} (During your turn, you may pay {2} and exile this card from your hand face down. Cast it on a later turn for its foretell cost.)

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Icatian Javelineers

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.13

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/96179_200w.jpg

Icatian Javelineers enters the battlefield with a javelin counter on it.
{T}, Remove a javelin counter from Icatian Javelineers: It deals 1 damage to any target.

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Saving Grasp

Color Identity:U,W

Market Price: $0.09

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/57870_200w.jpg

Return target creature you own to your hand.
Flashback {W} (You may cast this card from your graveyard for its flashback cost. Then exile it.)

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Calciform Pools

Color Identity:U,W

Market Price: $0.67

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/14173_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {C}.
{1}, {T}: Put a storage counter on Calciform Pools.
{1}, Remove X storage counters from Calciform Pools: Add X mana in any combination of {W} and/or {U}.

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Niko Aris

Color Identity:U,W

Market Price: $1.39

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230130_200w.jpg

When Niko Aris enters the battlefield, create X Shard tokens. (They're enchantments with "{2}, Sacrifice this enchantment: Scry 1, then draw a card.")
+1: Up to one target creature you control can't be blocked this turn. Whenever that creature deals damage this turn, return it to its owner's hand.
−1: Niko Aris deals 2 damage to target tapped creature for each card you've drawn this turn.
−1: Create a Shard token.

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Cosmos Charger

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.18

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230155_200w.jpg

Flash
Flying
Foretelling cards from your hand costs {1} less and can be done on any player's turn.
Foretell {2}{U} (During your turn, you may pay {2} and exile this card from your hand face down. Cast it on a later turn for its foretell cost.)

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Gates of Istfell

Color Identity:U,W

Market Price: $0.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230709_200w.jpg

Gates of Istfell enters the battlefield tapped.
{T}: Add {W}.
{2}{W}{U}{U}, {T}, Sacrifice Gates of Istfell: You gain 2 life and draw two cards.

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Glorious Protector

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.56

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230898_200w.jpg

Flash
Flying
When Glorious Protector enters the battlefield, you may exile any number of non-Angel creatures you control until Glorious Protector leaves the battlefield.
Foretell {2}{W}

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Favored Hoplite

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.26

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/71302_200w.jpg

Heroic — Whenever you cast a spell that targets Favored Hoplite, put a +1/+1 counter on Favored Hoplite and prevent all damage that would be dealt to it this turn.

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Observant Alseid

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/71051_200w.jpg

Bestow {4}{W} (If you cast this card for its bestow cost, it's an Aura spell with enchant creature. It becomes a creature again if it's not attached to a creature.)
Vigilance
Enchanted creature gets +2/+2 and has vigilance.

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Plains

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.16

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230464_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {W}.)

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Azorius Chancery

Color Identity:U,W

Market Price: $0.22

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/231190_200w.jpg

Azorius Chancery enters the battlefield tapped.
When Azorius Chancery enters the battlefield, return a land you control to its owner's hand.
{T}: Add {W}{U}.

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Augury Raven

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.03

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230142_200w.jpg

Flying
Foretell {1}{U} (During your turn, you may pay {2} and exile this card from your hand face down. Cast it on a later turn for its foretell cost.)

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Righteous Authority

Color Identity:U,W

Market Price: $0.14

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/171099_200w.jpg

Enchant creature
Enchanted creature gets +1/+1 for each card in its controller's hand.
At the beginning of the draw step of enchanted creature's controller, that player draws an additional card.

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Invoke the Divine

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.02

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230873_200w.jpg

Destroy target artifact or enchantment. You gain 4 life.

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Azorius Herald

Color Identity:U,W

Market Price: $0.19

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/72046_200w.jpg

Azorius Herald can't be blocked.
When Azorius Herald enters the battlefield, you gain 4 life.
When Azorius Herald enters the battlefield, sacrifice it unless {U} was spent to cast it.

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Doomskar Oracle

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.04

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230169_200w.jpg

Whenever you cast your second spell each turn, you gain 2 life.
Foretell {W} (During your turn, you may pay {2} and exile this card from your hand face down. Cast it on a later turn for its foretell cost.)

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Vega, the Watcher

Color Identity:U,W

Market Price: $0.08

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230177_200w.jpg

Flying
Whenever you cast a spell from anywhere other than your hand, draw a card.

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Iron Verdict

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.04

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230199_200w.jpg

Iron Verdict deals 5 damage to target tapped creature.
Foretell {W} (During your turn, you may pay {2} and exile this card from your hand face down. Cast it on a later turn for its foretell cost.)

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Niko Defies Destiny

Color Identity:U,W

Market Price: $0.06

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230717_200w.jpg

(As this Saga enters and after your draw step, add a lore counter. Sacrifice after III.)
I — You gain 2 life for each foretold card you own in exile.
II — Add {W}{U}. Spend this mana only to foretell cards or cast spells that have foretell.
III — Return target card with foretell from your graveyard to your hand.

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Hero of Iroas

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.29

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/180855_200w.jpg

Aura spells you cast cost {1} less to cast.
Heroic — Whenever you cast a spell that targets Hero of Iroas, put a +1/+1 counter on Hero of Iroas.

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Stormfront Riders

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.19

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/36976_200w.jpg

Flying
When Stormfront Riders enters the battlefield, return two creatures you control to their owner's hand.
Whenever Stormfront Riders or another creature is returned to your hand from the battlefield, create a 1/1 white Soldier creature token.

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Battlewise Hoplite

Color Identity:U,W

Market Price: $0.08

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/71046_200w.jpg

Heroic — Whenever you cast a spell that targets Battlewise Hoplite, put a +1/+1 counter on Battlewise Hoplite, then scry 1. (To scry 1, look at the top card of your library, then you may put that card on the bottom of your library.)

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Staggering Insight

Color Identity:U,W

Market Price: $0.20

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/206203_200w.jpg

Enchant creature
Enchanted creature gets +1/+1 and has lifelink and "Whenever this creature deals combat damage to a player, draw a card."

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Invocation of Saint Traft

Color Identity:U,W

Market Price: $0.21

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/115986_200w.jpg

Enchant creature
Enchanted creature has "Whenever this creature attacks, create a 4/4 white Angel creature token with flying that's tapped and attacking. Exile that token at end of combat."

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Island

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.17

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230465_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {U}.)

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Behold the Multiverse

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.11

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230140_200w.jpg

Scry 2, then draw two cards.
Foretell {1}{U} (During your turn, you may pay {2} and exile this card from your hand face down. Cast it on a later turn for its foretell cost.)

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Shepherd of the Cosmos

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.11

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230434_200w.jpg

Flying
When Shepherd of the Cosmos enters the battlefield, return target permanent card with converted mana cost 2 or less from your graveyard to the battlefield.
Foretell {3}{W} (During your turn, you may pay {2} and exile this card from your hand face down. Cast it on a later turn for its foretell cost.)

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Vanguard of Brimaz

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.22

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/78969_200w.jpg

Vigilance
Heroic — Whenever you cast a spell that targets Vanguard of Brimaz, create a 1/1 white Cat Soldier creature token with vigilance.

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Heliod's Emissary

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.06

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/71303_200w.jpg

Bestow {6}{W} (If you cast this card for its bestow cost, it's an Aura spell with enchant creature. It becomes a creature again if it's not attached to a creature.)
Whenever Heliod's Emissary or enchanted creature attacks, tap target creature an opponent controls.
Enchanted creature gets +3/+3.

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Hopeful Eidolon

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.11

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/71304_200w.jpg

Bestow {3}{W} (If you cast this card for its bestow cost, it's an Aura spell with enchant creature. It becomes a creature again if it's not attached to a creature.)
Lifelink (Damage dealt by this creature also causes you to gain that much life.)
Enchanted creature gets +1/+1 and has lifelink.

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Sun Clasp

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.12

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/5934_200w.jpg

Enchant creature
Enchanted creature gets +1/+3.
{W}: Return enchanted creature to its owner's hand.

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Dematerialize

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.11

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/9356_200w.jpg

Return target permanent to its owner's hand.
Flashback {5}{U}{U} (You may cast this card from your graveyard for its flashback cost. Then exile it.)

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Nimbus Naiad

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.08

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/71050_200w.jpg

Bestow {4}{U} (If you cast this card for its bestow cost, it's an Aura spell with enchant creature. It becomes a creature again if it's not attached to a creature.)
Flying
Enchanted creature gets +2/+2 and has flying.

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Embolden

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.15

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/9297_200w.jpg

Prevent the next 4 damage that would be dealt this turn to any number of targets, divided as you choose.
Flashback {1}{W} (You may cast this card from your graveyard for its flashback cost. Then exile it.)

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Saw It Coming

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.28

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230170_200w.jpg

Counter target spell.
Foretell {1}{U} (During your turn, you may pay {2} and exile this card from your hand face down. Cast it on a later turn for its foretell cost.)

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Warhorn Blast

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.04

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230884_200w.jpg

Creatures you control get +2/+1 until end of turn.
Foretell {2}{W} (During your turn, you may pay {2} and exile this card from your hand face down. Cast it on a later turn for its foretell cost.)

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Chastise

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.12

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/12598_200w.jpg

Destroy target attacking creature. You gain life equal to its power.

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Sight Beyond Sight

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.08

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/96654_200w.jpg

Look at the top two cards of your library. Put one of them into your hand and the other on the bottom of your library.
Rebound (If you cast this spell from your hand, exile it as it resolves. At the beginning of your next upkeep, you may cast this card from exile without paying its mana cost.)

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Tranquil Cove

Color Identity:U,W

Market Price: $0.19

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/231284_200w.jpg

Tranquil Cove enters the battlefield tapped.
When Tranquil Cove enters the battlefield, you gain 1 life.
{T}: Add {W} or {U}.

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The Game Plan

We're looking to establish one of our heroic creatures to buff early and apply pressure, then foretell a bunch of spells that we can then sequence in our favor, while also getting a discount on the backend. We don't have a ton of heroes, but what we've got are all bangers. Battlewise Hoplite gives us some card selection, Vanguard of Brimaz can help us go wide, and Favored Hoplite and Hero of Iroas provide fantastic rates if we can target them at least once or twice. 

When it comes to Niko's abilities, we're facing some good news and some bad news. Bad news first: we do not want to make one of our heroes unblockable, because it will then come back to our hand, thus undoing the work we've done to make it huge or otherwise impressive! I recommend we don't do that. The good news, on the other hand, is that we also have a couple bestow creatures, and Niko elegantly solves the age-old question of whether or not to play them out as creatures or save them to bestow later. Now we can do both! Throw it out early, maybe get in a hit, wait until the board gets clogged, then get in a free hit to set up a big bestow. Now that's what I call podracing synergy! 

In a big flavor win, we've got the Icatian Javelineers to piggyback off of Niko's own history as a prized javelineer. The ability to ping something, then get bounced back with Niko to ping again later, can be pretty dope. Also keep an eye out for Vega, the Watcher. One of the really cool things that I enjoy about this project is that we're obviously supposed to take advantage of Vega's ability with Foretell cards, but we also have a Flashback/Rebound package that draws cards, too! Gotta love these little lightbulb moments. Lastly, some of our other Auras are incredible. Just look at Staggering Insight! I recommend that anyone playing this deck tries to draw that card as often as possible. Removal is not plentiful, but Chastise is at least a strong card that can turn a game around in the right circumstances. 

The Rares

When you've got a new Planeswalker that incentivizes playing a new mechanic from the new set, it's important—nay, imperative—to bust out the new toys. I have no idea if this is broken or not, but it at least enables some of the stuff we want to do, and presents a reasonable threatening body in case Plan A isn't working out. Hi ho Silver! 

This is a neat card. It's sort of the poor man's Restoration Angel, except that in this deck, it actually has quite a few synergies. We can protect our guys and then attack with Niko, freeing our protected troops, and readying the Protector for Glorious Protector 2: Even More Protecting. If both Niko and the Protector survive that, we're looking at a franchise run a la Fast & the Furious!

Take heed: do not put this on a creature that we're making unblockable with Niko. Now that that's out of the way, feel free to put this on pretty much any other creature we've got. It'll add some size to a Heroic creature, and the Angel tokens it generates will hurry the game along in a way that we're interested in. Geist of Saint Traft is a mythic and is thus ineligible for this deck. However, it also has hexproof and that is smelly. Invocation lets us build our own Geist for way less $$$ and is a cooler card. Yay Invocation! 

Like the Invocation above, the Authority here is a classic example of "I won a draft with this and it's been rotting ever since." Well it's time to get Righteous. The cards this gives us will keep us in a game if we're behind, and the extra boost to a creature can be considerable. Super fun if we can take advantage of the bonus from Hero of Iroas. (Downshift Alert! Thank you, Ultimate Masters!) 

Unsung Hero

One of the mechanics from Planar Chaos resulted in White getting a pile of creatures that "saved" your other creatures when you played them. This ended up being more annoying than helpful, as you had to have other creatures that would get returned to your hand, making it more challenging than normal to simply develop the board naturally. Thanks, but no thanks.

Fortunately, Stormfront Riders occupies a couple of useful roles for us here. First, it's a fairly sizable flyer, which is rad. Second, much like Niko, it can buy back creatures like the Bestow guys or the Javelineers, allowing us to get more value out of them! And last, but definitely not least (this is in fact the big reason it's in here), it gives us more troops every time Niko activates, which nicely sets up our War Horn's Blare.