While I usually try and stick to the 4-0 decks from Magic Online Daily Events, sometimes it's the 3-1 decks that are trying to do the sweetest things. Take this Narset Control list that Magic Online user nielsen333 landed a 3-1 finish with.
Yeah, when I first saw it, I just had to try it out. I've been hoping Narset, Enlightened Master would find a home since she was released, and every time I see someone try, I can't help but hope to myself "maybe this time."
Nielsen333 was running some pretty sweet cards alongside our Jeskai legend including things like the most recent iteration of Time Walk in Temporal Trespass. The deck is packed full of card drawing including a Dig Through Time, three Tormenting Voices, and a full set of Treasure Cruise. That's a lot of velocity! It also has its fair share of sweepers, including both End Hostilities and Anger of the Gods. This is in addition to burn spells and somedecent white creatures as well.
It seems we're pretty all-in on Narset, though, so let's find out.
Narset Control vs. Red Deck Wins
Narset Control vs. RW Midrange
Narset Control vs. Waste Not
Narset Control vs. Abzan Control
So the deck was pretty sweet, but it definitely had some holes it needed shoring up.
First, it felt very weird not having any Counterspells in the entire 75. While they're not great to hit off of Narset, neither are the sweepers since they all kill Narset. There would be times where you would cast a Narset, then they would cast a Siege Rhino, then you would have to wipe the board because you didn't have one of your two Fated Conflagration. You simply had no way to deal with high toughness creatures. This was a problem, especially since Narset doesn't have evasion. Sure, but we could just use a Lightning Strike or a Magma Jet on it after they block, you might say. That brings me to my next point.
There were not enough win conditions or burn spells in the deck. I would often come very close to decking myself and only flip more card drawing spells, sweepers, or redundant copies of Hammer of Purphoros. There simply weren't enough powerful spells to flip off of Narset. No Stoke the Flames or planeswalkers, and our only real "threats" to cast are Lightning Strike and Magma Jet; it simply wasn't enough. Decks like Jeskai Tempo and Jeskai Tokens are supplemented with a ton of burn that can usually get the job done. I want to be finishing people off and increasing my board position with cards like Elspeth, Sun's Champion and Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker with Narset's ability, not drawing more End Hostilities. Nyx-Fleece Ram and Seeker of the Way are great creatures, but they're no end game finishers; they either have little impact on the opponent's life total or die too easily.
The other problem I had was the mana. I don't really think that Temporal Trespass (or Fated Conflagration for that matter) was meant for a three color deck. The triple blue (or red) is simply too much to acquire and you're often stuck with key cards in your hand. Not to mention the double blue for Dig Through Time, the double red for Hammer of Purphoros and Anger of the Gods, and the double white for End Hostilities. The deck simply has very high mana requirements and I got stuck on colors more than once.
Decking is a real thing. I said it a few times in the videos, but I think the deck could actually use one Cranial Archive. While I get that we're delving a lot of cards away and that Narset exiles the cards, it would still give us a couple extra turns if we need them, we could hit it off of Narset, and it draws us a card so it's basically free in that regard. I just know that I haven't decked myself in Standard in a long time, but with this deck I definitely did.
The ability to give Narset haste is quite good. My only concern is that by doing so, we're really going all-in on her ability to hit something relevant and if we're behind, we might not even want to attack. That being said I think three Hammer of Purphoros were simply too many. It's legendary, so drawing one is usually enough. I found the best use for multiples was to discard them to Tormenting Voice.
A couple days after playing this list, nielsen333 updated the deck and ended up with the following list that also went 3-1 in a Daily Event:
As you can see there are both some subtle and significant changes to the list. One Hammer of Purphoros has been removed as I suggested. Narset, Enlightened Master has been seemingly replaced with Sage of the Inward Eye, a card I wasn't convinced would see Constructed play. An Ajani Steadfast (which goes great with the Nyx-Fleece Rams, allowing them to attack) and Chandra, Pyromaster have also been added, while the Temporal Trespass have been removed. Other than the addition of four Mantis Rider, the rest of the changes are mostly cosmetic: some burn and card draw spells have shifted around, but the decks are still somewhat similar.
Seeing as nielsen333 managed to go 3-1 in both events with these lists it actually says one of two thing: 1) he might be onto something, or 2) there are enough good cards in the Standard format to where you can switch out a few here and there and replace them with "pet" cards and still be successful. The third alternative is that it might simply be both.
I think there's a shell for Narset out there, but there might not be time to find out with a new Narset being available in a few weeks. But maybe they can even coexist. Who knows? They both encourage you to play more spells, and big Narset can even find little Narset.
That's all we've got for today! Make sure you're back here on Monday for our exclusive Dragons of Tarkir spoiler card! Thanks for reading and I'll catch you here then or on my daily stream at 2 pm PST.
Frank Lepore@FrankLepore on TwitterFrankLepore on TwitchTV, streaming Monday - Friday, starting at 2 pm PST