How’s everyone doing!? I hope you all have been enjoying Ravnica Allegiance as much as I have since this Standard format has been amazing. There have been quite a number of viable decks circulating around tournaments and MTG Arena. This format will pay those off that keep on their toes week to week and make necessary adjustments depending on the current meta. Arena has created a place where things change and evolve very quickly and those who use that data to their advantage will consistently perform well over this season.
Today a big change occurred for Arena best-of-one and will change the grind to top 8 for some and we shall all feel the effects. Nexus of Fate has been banned in all best-of-one formats. Wizards of the Coast say the reason for which was not due to the power level of the card but due to the fact it was disrupting normal play, specifically in online play. We saw this with the player who looped Shahar Shenhar for almost 2 hours before the match finally ended with a banning of Shahar’s opponent by an MTG Arena team member. The card is still available to be played in traditional best-of-three formats on Arena allowing players to still test for paper events where Nexus of Fate is still legal to play.
— Shahar Shenhar (@shaharshenhar) January 30, 2019
What does this mean for players grinding best-of-one? Well for one you no longer have to worry about the plethora of “time thieves” running around which I know a lot of players where complaining about. These players have no win cons in their deck and continue to loop hoping their opponent will eventually concede. Now this was not always the case since there were plenty of times Nexus of Fate had been cast with a clear win condition and the players could move on. The problem is when there is no obvious way for either player to advance the game state and this usually ends in a draw when such a thing occurs in a paper tournament or on MTGO the player will use up their allotted chess clock resulting in a loss.
With these decks no longer in the format I expect to see a few things. One of which may be the possibility of an increase in viability of midrange decks in best-of-one. One result of having Nexus of Fate in the format was that players tended towards playing more aggressive strategies to get under these Nexus decks and kill them before they have a chance to start looping. Midrange decks often times would be too slow to beat these Nexus decks and while they get better after sideboarding this isn’t an option in best-of-one. With more creature based decks in the best-of-one format now midrange is better suited to increase it’s overall win percentage.
Another result of this banning could see the increase in control strategies and specifically the 4-Color Gates archetype we have been seeing on Arena that plays the creature package with Gatebreaker Ram and Gate Colossus. I could see a lot of players who were on a Nexus of Fate strategy, whether it was Nexus of Gates or Turbo Fog, move towards the 4-Color Gates deck already having some of the cards that go into it and being a similar strategy where you just survive long enough to do your big stupid thing like cast a Gate Colossus on the cheap and wipe the board with a Gates Ablaze. I have found this archetype to be pretty effective in best-of-one allowing you to deal with the threats from an aggressive deck and then slam a Colossus and end the game in two or three turns.
Last but not least Mono Blue has been the talk of the town for the past couple weeks and for a good reason. The deck even lived up to all the hype taking down the SCG Dallas Open last weekend by Robert Wagner-Krankel who claimed to have only played a couple games with the deck before entering the tournament. Alexander Hayne climbed to number one ranked player with this deck playing much of it in best-of-one up to Diamond Rank then switching to best-of-three. I played the deck myself quite a bit last week and it is indeed phenomenal. The games that you win oftentimes feel like blowouts and your opponent can never resolve a spell. With the continued success of this deck I could see some of the spikier players that were on Nexus strategies move to Mono Blue since it’s perceived as possibly the best deck to be playing in Standard right now.
— Alexander Hayne (@InsayneHayne) February 6, 2019
With all that said I personally am going to be picking up a White Aggro strategy for grinding some more best-of-one ladder. These decks have a great matchup against the Mono Blue deck and can get under the other slower strategies that exist in the format. The White Aggro decks allow you to quickly complete your matches and climb rank a bit quicker as well. Gates Ablaze is probably the scariest card to be cast against you since it can really punish you on the draw but I think this archetype will give you the best opportunity to steal games on the play from the Gates deck and just destroy the Mono Blue match ups. Sultai can also have trouble dealing with your deck and you can often overwhelm them with History of Benalia and out card advantage their one-for-ones to kill them before they can slam a Finality.
With Nexus of Fate gone from the best-of-one meta many Arena players are rejoicing as am I. I personally would be interested in implementing a chess clock similar to MTGO to better accommodate decks like this on Arena. There are some decks that just are too difficult to play on Arena because they require so many clicks that you can just time yourself out and the game will automatically pass the turn. This is something I would like to see change making it possible to still play these decks on Arena and in a best-of-one format. For instance tapping Gates can be extremely time consuming and will eat up your clock, but instead of possibly losing the game due to timing out the game will just pass your turn with you having cast nothing. I am happy that Wizards has taken steps to alleviate the problem for now but I would like to see some sort of long term changes to the way the game clock works.
Well I want to thank you all for reading! I am excited to hop back into the queues and start jamming some games. Let me know what you all plan to play now with Nexus out of the format. Sticking to the same deck or switching things up? With the Mythic Championship coming up I’ll be interested to see what effect Nexus of Fate will have there. In the meantime get out there, jam some games, and share your thoughts!