No one believed me last week when I promised Selesnya Horses.
"No way can anyone build such a deck. It cannot be done!" they said.
Today I'm going to prove all the neigh-sayers wrong and pony up on my promise.
After seeing this masterpiece in all her glory, I'm sure you are chomping at the bit to sleeve this one up for FNM tonight. Or perhaps you are looking for something fun to play at an upcoming Grand Prix, whether in side events or in the mane event. The deck isn't all that expensive either, so it will likely only cost you a few bucks to assemble.
Even though it is a creature deck, this deck isn't really about racing, and not just because horse-racing is cruel but also because we're better set up to establish inevitability in the midgame than the other creature decks are. Therefore, the goal is to stall the game as long as possible.
It was not merely an impulsive or spur of the moment decision to include Adventurous Impulse in the deck. There are not really that many Horses in Standard, so we need ways to find them, especially Vine Mare and Crested Sunmare as those are the creatures that do the bulk of the work. It can also help us fix our mana and allows us to only play 24 lands despite having a curve that goes all the way up to six mana.
Servant of the Conduit serves an important role in the deck. It not only fixes our colors but also allows Vine Mare to trot out onto the battlefield a turn sooner, followed up by seabiscuit himself – Crested Sunmare. I chose not to play Llanowar Elves because they just die to Goblin Chainwhirler and outside of Aethersphere Harvester, they don't really ramp us into anything on turn two. Servant is just overall better in the deck.
Crested Sunmare is really the glue that holds the deck together. It is the tribal payoff for running all the Horses by granting them indestructible and also the payoff for running all the life gain by making 5/5 Horse Tokens. This is the card the deck is built around.
Aethersphere Harvester was added to the deck as a way of gaining life for Crested Sunmare and to keep Diamond Mare relevant. By adding a bit of life gain and a bit of horsepower to the deck, this vehicle improves our matchup against Black-Red Aggro as well as fliers.
Gift of Paradise is to accelerate us into Crested Sunmare while also gaining three life to help us stable-ize. It can also trigger the Sunmare's ability, making it a much more reasonable topdeck later in the game than it otherwise would be. It is the peaceful animal sanctuary for horses.
Diamond Mare is a Horse, of course of course, but it also provides life gain for the Crested Sunmare. You won't always name the same color with this card as we are pretty split between white and green, so you'll have to look at your hand and make a decision that way. It also provides a quick body for blocking Bomat Courier, and as I've already mentioned, it's also great for crewing Aethersphere Harvester. All other things being equal, the default color should be white since it allows you to immediately make a Horse Token the turn you cast Crested Sunmare. That's basically Wingmate Roc.
Shield Mare is another way to gain life for Crested Sunmare and also is our best card against Mono-Red. I've been branded as the player who always plays aggressive white creatures, so I had to fit at least one small white horse into the deck!
Vine Mare is really good in a lot of matchups, especially against control decks since they cannot target this stud. Grixis is going to have quite a difficult time dealing with this horse and so will Esper and Blue-White as soon as we resolve Crested Sunmare. There are not a lot of ways to deal with a creature that has both hexproof and indestructible outside of Settle the Wreckage, so just play around that and ride your Vine Mare to victory.
Cast Out helps answer a few problematic cards like Teferi, Hero of Dominaria and opposing Cast Outs. It can also get rid of a Glorybringer or Rekindling Phoenix. It's possible we should giddy up the count of Cast Outs in the deck, but I didn't want to dilute the horse theme too much. If you wanted to make room for more, I could see shaving another copy of Gift of Paradise for the fourth copy.
Vivien Reid can let us find our horses and also doubles as an additional way to kill Glorybringer, Nicol Bolas, Cast Out, Seal Away, or Heart of Kiran.
Ajani Unyielding is another way to keep finding horses (and Cast Outs and Viven Reids, etc) and is also another way to exile an opposing Rekindling Phoenix or The Scarab God. If we have Crested Sunmare on the battlefield, we can even target our own Diamond Mare with the Swords to Plowshares ability to upgrade that foal to a 5/5 stallion.
Memorial to Unity is another way to find horses later in the game. It might not be necessary, but we really need to be able to find our Vine Mares and Crested Sunmares to be able to win games and this land helps us do that.
Sunpetal Grove and Scattered Groves help fix our colors while the groves can also help us find more action later in the game when we cycle them away.
Sorcerous Spyglass is in the sideboard primarily to make Teferi get off his high horse. It is also a great answer to Heart to Kiran and can give us a heads-up as to what we need to play around. It's our most important sideboard and will often be the unexpected dark horse that wins games.
You heard it on good authority, straight from the horse's mouth, that Authority of the Consuls works great with Crested Sunmare, granting us a free Horse Token every time an opponent plays a creature. It also works well against haste creatures, especially Glorybringer, and makes blocking quite difficult for opponents in creature mirrors.
Shalai, Voice of Plenty helps us to get around Saddle the Wreckage. She also protects all of our Horses from removal, especially Crested Sunmare. Later in the game she can also provide a mana sink to pump up the team and cause a Stampede.
Thopter Arrest is there to bale us out against other creatures and vehicles. It's less versatile than Cast Out, but hay, it costs one less mana.
Baffling End allows us to catch up against early pressure from opposing red decks, Green Stompy decks or Zombies decks. If these decks are more popular in your area, I would recommend going up to three or four copies and cutting one or two of the cards intended for other matchups that are less common in your expected metagame.
A third copy of Vivien Reid and Ajani Unyielding help us against the control decks and against the midrange decks, including Black-Red in post-board games if they board out their aggressive cards and try to win by going bigger. We can never have too many planeswalkers in the deck, especially a horse-themed deck since horses in their natural habitat are plains walkers.
Lastly, Heroic Intervention is a singleton to protect our creatures from Fumigate (which Crested Sunmare also does) or to protect any one creature or planeswalker from a targeted removal spell such as Cast Out or Seal Away. Heroic Intervention is what animal rights activists do to protest the Horse carriage industry, especially in hot temperatures where horses routinely collapse and die from exhaustion. "Not on my watch!" says Ajani.
We've tried to make tribal Cats work, and it's actually not that far off from being competitive. It even went 5-0 in an MTGO league not too long ago. There aren't quite as many Horses available as there are Cats in the current Standard card pool, but we managed to make it work anyway. You just need to play cards that help you find your Horses, especially Crested Sunmare.
If you're thinking we did it and that this deck is the solution to the metagame, hold your horses; I don't expect this deck to be tier one or anything, but if you're just looking for something fun to horse around with, this deck colt be exactly what you never knew you needed in your life!
Let me know in the comments if you have any equestrians or feedback about the deck.