SCG Richmond was our first look at War of the Spark in Standard. Players were finally able to base their purchases off of real tournament results. This week's Top 10 is a perfect reflection of how much this set is shaking things up—every card this week is from War of the Spark.
Our #10 card this week is making moves in Commander. Feather, the Redeemed embodies the aggressive nature of Boros but with the added benefit of card advantage. In Boros Commander decks you usually have to work to get card advantage with artifacts or creatures that sometimes distract from the main focus of your commander. Feather, the Redeemed is a whole different story. Spells that pump your creatures or grant additional abilities get returned to your hand at the end of the turn completely fixing the struggle of maintaining a respectable hand size in a format where card advantage is so important. Cantrips previously too weak to be taken seriously in Commander become serious threats when they continue building incremental value turn after turn.
Ashiok, Dream Render has stayed in the Top 10 for three weeks in a row now. I've talked about the card's strengths in Modern and Commander at stopping fetch lands and search effects. I've also talked about how it can remove the new Gods permanently in Standard. In spite of Ashiok, Dream Render's strengths, I have no idea why it has remained on this list given its utter lack of results in the first week of legality. I guess people like mill THAT much.
Esper Control gets another instant-speed removal spell. Despark has plenty of targets including multiple Planeswalkers, Conclave Tribunal and Rekindling Phoenix. That being said, removal choices are going to be in flux for a bit while players get a feel for the meta. Out of all of the Esper Control decks in the Top 16 at SCG Richmond, most were only playing one Despark, so I'm a little surprised that this made it into the Top 10.
I've talked about Teferi, Time Raveler a few times in past Top 10s and now we've finally gotten to see it in action. At SCG Richmond there were 11 Teferis in the Top 8, and eight of them were maindeck in Esper Control and Bant Midrange. In Legacy, Miracles picked up Teferi, Time Raveler as well. Teferi, Time Raveler's abilities complement Miracles by making it harder to disrupt and granting more control over your opponents. Shutting down countermagic, bouncing annoying permanents and turning sorceries like Ponder and Supreme Verdict into instants is a big power boost to Miracles.
Probably the most interesting deck I've heard of Teferi, Time Raveler in was Legacy Infect. In a recent article by Adam Yurchick, he recounts a legacy match where his opponent brought Teferi, Time Raveler in from the sideboard to great effect. Teferi, Time Raveler plays a similar role to Gitaxian Probe. Rather than letting you see if your opponent can interact with your pump spells, Teferi, Time Raveler just prevents your opponent from casting anything that could interfere. On top of that the minus can clear a bothersome permanent like Ensnaring Bridge.
Nexus of Fate decks have set their sights on Tamiyo, Collector of Tales, and with four of the Top 16 decks at SCG Richmond playing three or more copies, it's safe to say that Standard players are the ones pushing Tamiyo, Collector of Tales into the number 6 slot. Card selection is key to the Nexus of Fate decks and that's exactly what Tamiyo, Collector of Tales delivers. Incidentally Tamiyo, Collector of Tales may also be the best option for keeping control decks off your back while you put together your combo. Esper Control has been playing a full set of Thought Erasure and a few Duresses in the sideboard. Tamiyo, Collector of Tales puts a stop to those cards while also letting you find combo pieces or pull what you need out of your graveyard.
Karn, the Great Creator has started seeing play in Modern Tron since becoming legal. Like I've mentioned before, Karn can grab powerful win conditions from your sideboard, allowing him to be essentially a one-card combo with Mycosynth Lattice. The static ability shuts down artifact-based decks and the -2 grants an incredible amount of versatility especially in game one. Access to your sideboard game one is a serious edge that I hope we get to see more exploration of in the coming weeks.
Most of the cards in this Top 10 are here because of Standard, and while there have been some Gruul Standard decks trying out Sarkhan the Masterless, like this one by Strictly Better MTG, I think Commander is having a strong influence on Sarkhan the Masterless as well. Dragons and Superfriends are both incredibly popular decks in Commander. Sarkhan the Masterless's static ability in a Dragons deck can protect you and your planeswalkers from wide attacks as well as force beneficial trades against an opponent's larger creatures. Sarkhan the Masterless's -3 ability also creates a 4/4 Dragon token which will enable most of your Dragon-based spells and abilities. One thing to note in a Dragon Commander deck is that the Dragons are the ones dealing damage when you are attacked, not Sarkhan the Masterless. So if you have a Dragon with deathtouch, you can wipe your opponent's battlefield the moment they attack. In Superfriends, Sarkhan the Masterless can create Dragon tokens which will protect planeswalkers alongside Sarkhan's static ability. For a finisher Sarkhan the Masterless can also turn planeswalkers into Dragons to swing in for the kill.
Paradise Druid is the newest addition to the family of mana-producing Elves. Wizards has been playing around with the classic role of a mana-producing creature in recent years. Steering away from the family's progenitor Llanowar Elves, Paradise Druid enables color splashing in green-heavy decks and can hide behind its conditional hexproof until you are ready to cast a bomb. When it's not needed for mana, Paradise Druid can put some pressure on your opponents with its two power and ability to be loaded with equipment and enchantments. Anything that gives it vigilance is especially strong as Paradise Druid will have hexproof even while attacking. Frank Karsten went so far as to call Paradise Druid "a new Slippery Bogle."
Chandra, Fire Artisan was the major addition to red decks from War of the Spark. At SCG Richmond the winning deck was playing a playset of Chandra, Fire Artisan and many other red decks were seen throughout the day with varying numbers in the maindeck and sideboard. Chandra, Fire Artisan is great against both control and the mirror which isn't something you see from many red cards.
Our number 1 card has been making big waves in eternal formats. Narset, Parter of Veils slows down opposing decks that rely on card advantage while simultaneously digging for more spells. The downside of only having a minus ability is even lessened by Narset's ability to find additional copies of itself. Just from what I've seen so far, some of the decks utilizing Narset, Parter of Veils include:
• Modern and Legacy Miracles
• Vintage Paradoxical Outcome
• Vintage Paradoxical Storm
• Vintage UW Fish
Narset's static ability also combos with Day's Undoing and other wheel effects making them entirely one-sided. There's nothing that eternal formats including Commander love doing more than breaking fair cards.
Narset, Parter of the Veils is currently less than $2 and an uncommon, so with how much play it's already seen and the low barrier of entry, it's no surprise that Narset, Parter of Veils made it into our #1 slot.