You read the title. I know some people out there are thinking, "Yes, Nick, white-green, Selesnya, tokens, hashtag branding" etc. I certainly have written about this archetype more than a few times since March of the Multitudes was printed. But I promise that, this time, it isn't where I started.
After the dust settled at the Twitch Rivals event last week (shortly after the bans) Golgari Adventures won the tournament, but it was short-lived. Jeskai Fires and Temur Reclamation were far and away the two most popular decks on the Arena ladder the days following the tournament. Selesnya Adventures is definitely not a deck that wants to play against maindeck Flame Sweep and Deafening Clarion. Jund Sacrifice was also impressive, and getting blocked forever by Cauldron Familiar while your small creatures get picked off by Mayhem Devil wasn't exactly alluring either. I didn't even consider white-green because it seemed so poorly positioned.
Instead I started playing the gauntlet of decks that seemed good after the ban. Temur Reclamation was very fun, but extremely bad without the namesake card, Wilderness Reclamation. Jund Sacrifice was one of the few decks I'd played before, and the deck was powerful, but just as grindy as ever. Matches could take as long on Arena as they did on Magic Online, and that was with a client that didn't require 850 clicks per turn. The deck just can't win quickly most games. Golgari Adventures was interesting, but didn't feel like it was all that impressive against Fires of Invention. And the Fires mirror is only about drawing and sticking Fires of Invention. If I have to play that sort of game, so be it, but it isn't interesting in any way.
Over the weekend, though, things changed: Simic Flash took over the ladder. It seems like most people reached the same conclusion I had with Jund Sacrifice and Golgari Adventures, and everyone had opted to pick up Fires of Invention instead. If there's one deck that beats up on people trying to resolve four and five-drop spells, its Simic Flash. Unless a Teferi, Time Raveler is allowed to both resolve and stay in play, the Fires deck has little to no hope of actually resolving any of their key threats.
On Sunday, after playing against it four matches in a row, I felt confident saying that I wanted to hard target Simic Flash. And nothing beats Flash like a turn-one Edgewall Innkeeper. What was surprising about my results as I played the deck over the course of eight hours on Sunday wasn't that I was beating that deck, though, it was that I was still doing well against everything else. It turned out I felt good in most all matchups in Standard.
(Also, this is just fun)
After tuning the sideboard over the course of the afternoon, this was the list I was happiest with:
Without Once Upon a Time making Edgewall Innkeeper a near-guaranteed card to start with, there's a lot less reason to Overload on some of the worse Adventure cards from previous builds like Flaxen Intruder and Shepherd of the Flock. These cards were always just okay even in those decks, and mostly served as a way to make sure that Edgewall Innkeeper stayed active. Now, each card in the list needs to be good on its own.
For that reason, this is much more of a Venerated Loxodon deck than an Edgewall Innkeeper deck at this point. Luckily for the Innkeeper, though, Loxodon loves one-drops, and the best green and white Adventure cards (Lovestruck Beast, Giant Killer and to some degree Faerie Guidemother) all fit the bill. The Adventure package lets this deck play sixteen one-drops without actually sacrificing as much midrange capability as similar decks, where most of the abilities are one-for-one effects.
The critical turn for this deck is really turn four. The purpose of the first three turns is usually to deploy as many bodies as possible for a one or zero-mana Venerated Loxodon on turn three, and then follow it up with turn-four Questing Beast for hasty damage or an Unbreakable Formation to attack for a ton of damage. Similarly, Lovestruck Beast is (pretty much) always able to attack, and is almost a payoff in and of itself now that Oko isn't around to turn it into Food. When neither of these is present in an opening hand, it takes a really compelling argument for me to keep it, like multiple Adventure creatures and Edgewall Innkeeper, or critical sideboard cards in a matchup.
Tithe Taker is extremely well positioned. It's obviously quite good against Simic Flash, taxing everything they want to do in the game, but it also has random utility against Cauldron Familiar / Witch's Oven decks (where they now have to pay to activate both halves of that interaction) and Fires of Invention or Wilderness Reclamation decks (where afterlife insulates a bit against Wrath effects). Randomly making Food Tokens, Gilded Goose and the Castles harder to use is also a nice touch. None of these are overpowering, but Tithe Taker disrupts just enough in each of these situations that it can usually mess with their plans. It definitely would be one of the first cards I'd look at taking out if the metagame shifts, but for now it has been impressive.
Gideon Blackblade has impressed me so far as well. Against most decks, you can expect it to attack for multiple turns before your opponent can deal with it. Jeskai Fires, for example, doesn't have many ways to get it off the board. Golgari Adventures's only real answer to it is the Swift End half of a Murderous Rider, which awkwardly can't destroy Gideon the same turn he's played, and can waste a turn's worth of mana from the Golgari player even if they have the removal spell.
Vigilance and indestructible both have a fair amount of utility in this deck as well, between giving Questing Beast indestructible to force chump blocks and giving Giant Killer vigilance so it can attack and then tap down an opponent's creature. Any time your opponent doesn't have a good way to remove it or ignore it, Gideon puts them in the awkward position of having to deal with Gideon before it can -6—usually targeting a creature, so Gideon can get in another attack.
Finally, Knight of Autumn is just incredibly well positioned at the moment. Between Fires of Invention, Wilderness Reclamation, the various Oblivion Ring-style effects, Vantress Gargoyle, The Great Henge, Witch's Oven, Trail of Crumbs… there are a lot of artifacts and enchantments that need to be removed. I've gone as far as to try a total of four and a Thrashing Brontodon, though I'm not entirely certain that's where I want to be right now. But unlike most Reclamation Sage-type cards, drawing multiple isn't usually much of a problem… any excess copies can instead be 4/3 creatures to try to end the game.
I'll start with the difficult one: the current build of Fires of Inventions that plays Sphinx of Foresight, Cavalier of Flames and Cavalier of Gales. They tend to be very heavy on sweepers game one which hurts this deck quite a bit, and is the reason why the matchup is pretty firmly in their favor. Post-board, Gideon and Shifting Ceratops do a lot of work to mitigate how effective Deafening Clarion can be. Shifting Ceratops especially has the ability to attack through eight of their twelve threats, block the fliers if necessary, and all without getting bounced by Teferi, Time Raveler, which means that it vastly outperforms Questing Beast.
Conclave Tribunal is really, really not what this deck wants against Fires, and otherwise it's just about shaving on cards that get worse when the board will be consistently swept for ones that have more purpose.
Vs. Jund Sacrifice
This matchup is very weird. There are a lot of tools for both sides to disrupt each other while advancing their own game plan: Witch's Oven / Cauldron Familiar make attacking with big creatures difficult, but going wide is very effective against that game plan… except that Massacre Girl exists to punish that. However, Giant Killer is a natural answer to Massacre Girl, and Jund can often only recover if they have Trail of Crumbs and Witch's Oven to let them grind. If Jund doesn't get their Rube Goldberg machine online, or Witch's Oven is destroyed, they often don't have a way to prolong the game long enough to live. Plus, almost nothing in the deck blocks Questing Beast.
The cards that come in are mostly to try to disrupt their plan: Knight of Autumn for the artifacts and enchantments, Glass Casket and Devout Decree mostly to keep Mayhem Devil from ruining everything.
Vs. Golgari Adventures
This matchup primarily revolves around Edgewall Innkeeper. The builds of this deck are all over the place, so whether or not to keep in Knight of Autumn depends on what's actually in their deck. If they're all planeswalkers and Questing Beasts as their top end, it's basically dead. If they have Lucky Clover or The Great Henge, suddenly it's a necessary way to avoid being run over by their cards. This is how I've been sideboarding blind if I don't have any other context, but don't be afraid to vary it up!
Honestly, if you just mulligan to Edgewall Innkeeper you may win no matter what they do, but just in case we want to keep more seven-card hands, here's how I sideboard.
Conclave Tribunal is super awkward against a Brazen Borrower deck. Because of this, it's important to hold on to Giant Killer if possible to answer Nightpack Ambusher. One of the few ways that Selesnya can lose is if they are allowed to have a Nightpack Ambusher build up tokens for multiple turns, so that they suddenly have as wide of a board. On the other hand, this also requires them to tap out for it on turn four, so it's pretty easy to just pass with mana to kill it.
I bring in March of the Multitudes as an instant. Leaving up mana on turn four already means that it's fairly trivial to cast March of the Multitudes on their end step and usually force countermagic, clearing a path for whatever other spells need to resolve on the following turn.
Where Jeskai Fires of Invention looks bad if it doesn't have its four-mana enchantment, Temur Reclamation looks completely unplayable without it. Their cards just don't… do that much, and a lot of the time they spin their wheels trying to find another one and die.
The games where they buy enough time revolve around the board getting swept, often multiple times, by Flame Sweep. Tithe Taker slows it down, but it's still better in my opinion to sideboard out some of the other cards to make room for some stickier threats.
Vs. Simic and Sultai Emry Decks
These decks are new but gaining in popularity, mostly because of Ondrej Strasky posting them on Twitter. Essentially it's a pile of synergies based around drawing cards with Edgewall Innkeeper and The Great Henge. Thankfully, that's a lot of artifacts and enchantments, which we are well prepared for. Additionally, there aren't many creatures that actually block Questing Beast, and it can push through a ton of damage without them able to effectively respond.
I won each time I played against them, but their decks feel very powerful. They seem particularly susceptible to aggressive strategies, though, and so it makes sense that they would lose to Selesnya.
There are a lot of dead cards in this matchup, but also some incredibly impactful ones. Giant Killer hits almost everything in their deck, and then locks down a second threat. Knight of Autumn can remove Embercleave from the equation. Lovestruck Beast blocks nearly all of their deck. Game one can be really draw dependent, but overall the matchup gets much better post board and has the inevitability from March of the Multitudes to win the longest games.
This is mostly just cleaning up some cards that are medium in favor of ones that are a little better. Questing Beast is quietly amazing against Red, where Haste and Vigilance makes it hard to attack through while it clocks Mono-Red. I bring in Knight of Autumn on the draw, where Unbreakable Formation is a lot less likely to do anything, but on the play I would prefer to just get them dead.
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If there are any matchups I missed, feel free to hit me up on Twitter and I'll be happy to talk to you about sideboarding.
If you're looking to grind the ladder in the next few days, I recommend Selesnya. The deck is fast, gets plenty of free wins from powerful cards, and has great matchups against almost everyone. The games are rarely boring because this deck has a surprising ability to play a longer game with two-for-one spells in all the Adventure cards. Venerated Loxodon has rarely looked stronger than after the Oko, Thief of Crowns ban, and this deck shows that in spades.