For those who followed the MTG Arena Championship in October, you may remember the domination of Orc Archer Masters in decks like Dimir Control and Golgari Yawgmoth. In Historic, any card on Arena that is not specifically banned is fair game, and the addition of Lord of the Rings MTG cards to Arena has significantly increased the overall power level of the format.
However, nerfing the Orcish Bowmasters and The One Ring greatly impacted the overall metagame. Decks like mono-green Devotion and Izzet Wizards that were successful before and weren’t affected to a large extent by nerfs have grown significantly in popularity. On the other hand, Dimir control, at least the variant using Lurrus of the Dreamden as a companion, was dropped as Orcish Bowmasters’ gameplay decreased after the nerf.
While many players simply gravitated toward well-established archetypes like mono-green that were easy to turn to, it seems some players have taken the opposite route, churning around interesting cards on Arena that might finally have time to shine.
Interestingly enough, some of the most intriguing cards to build in Arena were designed specifically for Alchemy. We have already seen Crucias, Titan of the Waves has become a mid-range staple of Rakdos, and it looks like a new alchemy-focused card is giving rise to a unique and incredibly fast “combo”.
In order to execute this deck’s game plan, you essentially need to find a copy of Fragment reality. Fragment Reality is a one-mana snapshot that allows you to exile a non-token artifact, creature, or enchantment. This results in the permanent’s controller randomly putting a creature card with a lower mana value from their deck into play. For this strategy, Fragment Reality will almost exclusively target your own enchantments.
There are a bunch of different four-mana leylines, such as Ley line of anticipation, all this is on the arena. The problem with leylines is that instead of just casting them, you can put them into play for free if they are in your starting hand. By adding a ton of leylines to your deck, it’s extremely likely that you’ll have at least one to put into play for free. From there, Fragment Reality can be cast on the first turn.
To minimize the randomness associated with Fragment Reality, this deck plays two copies of Geist of Saint Traft like the only creatures. This ensures that you will have a hard-hitting creature with Hexproof to quickly put pressure on the opponent.
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Improve Saint Traft’s Geist
Although most non-land cards in the game are dedicated to bringing the Geist of Saint Traft into play on the first turn, simply doing so is not always guaranteed to win you the game. After all, if the opponent simply plays a two-power blocker, they can trade with your Geist and your whole plan goes awry. That’s why the rest of the deck is built to ensure that Geist of Saint Traft can cross the finish line.
First, this deck plays multiple ways to allow Geist of Saint Traft to escape to prevent the opponent from blocking it effectively. Both Arcane Flight And Gryff’s Favor give the powerful three-drop flying as well as a small buff. Next, to ensure that Geist can complete the game in the shortest possible time, this deck makes great use of Ethereal Armor. Ethereal Armor not only works great with your Auras, but it also pumps Geist for every Leyline you have in play.
The last Aura used by this deck is Combat Research. In reality, the Ward ability granted by Combat Research is largely irrelevant since Geist already has Hexproof, but the buff provided combined with the ability to draw additional cards is strong nonetheless.
Finally, to ensure that Geist does not fall victim to erased cards or cards like Sheoldred’s Edictthis deck plays a playset of Slide from the back. Slip Out the Back not only protects the creature, but it also protects any auras attached to it. Overall, this deck combines a great mix of speed and stability.
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Overcoming consistency issues
The biggest problem with this style of deck is definitely consistency. Even though it’s extremely likely that you have at least one of your 19 leylines in your starting hand, you still need to find a copy of Fragment Reality for the deck to function properly. Unfortunately, there simply aren’t any other cards that can recreate this effect effectively. This requires you to perform an extremely intense mulligan until you find it. Even then, you still need to have a leyline and land on hand, which is not guaranteed.
This deck is somewhat similar to decks that rely on Tibalt’s deception. You are entirely dependent on finding and solving a single keycard. There are, however, a few differences that make this deck a bit stronger.
Firstly, being able to execute your combo on the first turn means that, during the game, your opponent has no chance of responding with something like Fate Pierce. Likewise, even on a draw, two-mana counterspells are largely irrelevant. Fragment Reality is also reliable in the sense that as long as Geist is in your deck and you target one of your Leylines, you will always end up with the same Geist result in play. From there, the existence of Slip Out the Back as a form of protection against random responses to Geist makes victory almost assured.
Shine in Best-of-One
Of course, attempting to beat this deck isn’t incredibly difficult, and some plays will happen in oblivion with this deck. However, many cards that can be effective against this strategy, like Spell Pierce or even removing a one-mana enchantment in response to Fragment Reality targeting a Leyline, are not very effective in many other matchups. As a result, these types of cards are often relegated to sideboard.
There’s a reason why this deck, which saw LimeBell (shown above) go undefeated on day one of the Historic Qualifier Play-In on MTG Arena, saw immense success in the best of a particular historic . Opponents were also likely completely caught off guard, so if this strategy becomes a well-known archetype, expect players to show more hatred. Still, if you’re looking for an awesome, all-in-one combo deck to try, consider giving this deck a try, as its unique level of success is undeniable.
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