Since my 2nd place finish in the Standard Classic at SCG Indianapolis with Bant Nexus, I have been attempting to find the best Nexus shell for standard. My teammate Justin Wade (@JustinLWade) worked on a list that I believe may be the best current shell in standard. While I believed Bant Nexus to be the best shell early in the format, the Simic Nexus deck coined by Ali Aintrazi became the more consistent flavor of the deck. During this article, I will discuss the new cards being added as upgrades, and how the deck has played out in testing with these new additions.
With this build of the deck, I’ve had the fortune of a consistent record of 15-2 in testing, losing to bad draws against a Mono White Gideon and a pseudo mirror. The main thing to look for in the Nexus deck is the consistency of setting up the loop, and a win con that is easy to find. In the UG deck last season, the deck struggled to find its win con in Hydroid Krasis. While the Krasis helped bridge the gap from mid to late game, it was possible to lose all your win cons and not have an actual means of winning the game.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been testing a number of alternate win conditions. Some have seemed promising, while some have fallen flat. Here are a few of my findings:
Drowned Secrets: This tech was at the advice of teammate Wilbur Dohring, and early in the arena ladder it was sufficient. You could find it with Azcanta, and you can target yourself to leave only Nexus in your deck, then loop forever and target your opponent. This win con was similar to the Dawn of Hope tech in the Bant Nexus version. The main issue that came from this, is that it’s terrible in the mirror, and an actual win con was required, so it was ultimately removed.
Commence the Endgame: Todd Anderson released an article on Star City comparing this card to Torrential Gearhulk, and I agree with that assessment, if only partly. I believe wholeheartedly that Commence the Endgame needs to be the win con in this deck. It’s resistant to counter magic, especially when stock in Syncopate is starting to rise with the resurgence of Nexus decks. It has blocking capability against midrange decks, and it helps you bridge the gap similar to Hydroid Krasis. Additionally, it can be found with Search for Azcanta and Tamiyo, Collector of Tales. This, in my opinion makes it the clear front runner for the “threat” of choice.
Callous Dismissal: This is the win con currently being championed by Brian Gottlieb, and part of the reason why I’m playing it over Blink of an Eye is that it also acts as a pseudo win condition. Usually, the additional card on Blink isn’t really that important, but having access to a 2 mana permanent bounce/make a blocker effect is extremely strong, and with Esper playing Kaya, Orzhov Usurper, I’d like access to both.
The sideboard has a similar build to that of Team Nova (minus a few cards that were changed upon checking their lists and testing them.) In this portion of the article, I will defend each of the sideboard choices.
4 Arboreal Grazer: Mono U was the toughest matchup for this deck, with their continuous card advantage engine and cheap permission. Grazer having reach and blocking their threats, while also putting you ahead on a resource, is perfect for this deck. Even if Mono U doesn’t serve as a force in the new meta, having access to this against aggressive strategies also helps considerably. The reason it gets a look in the sideboard over the main is to turn off the opponents many main deck removal spells.
2 Kraul Harpooner: In addition to being good against Mono U, Thief of Sanity is also a very potent threat. Having a threat that can remove a Thief from play and potentially apply pressure is the reason this card gets the nod.
1 Narset’s Reversal: With the inclusion of Dovin’s Veto, having access to a cheap counterspell that can interact with it favorably is necessary. There are also cute interactions with this and Expansion // Explosion that are worth mentioning.
2 Negate: Not having access to white for Dovin’s Veto is unfortunate, but good ole reliable keeps its spot over Disdainful Stroke. The deck cares about are non-creature spells a lot more than 4 CMC spells, and with Frilled Mystic being slow, Negate gets the nod.
1 Narset, Parter of Veils: Narset has secretly been one of my most favorite cards to play with in the entire set. The static ability on this walker is effective against both control opponents and mirror matches where card quantity matters. Additionally, in the mirror when there’s really no pressure to be had from either side, it helps create a situation where we gain the card advantage early and then capitalize on their delayed development. I usually bring in the additional Narset when there are few threats against my life total or permission decks. It is possible the 1st main deck Narset needs to be a 4th Tamiyo, but as it stands I’m not really noticing a consistency difference.
3 Murmuring Mystic: Originally was playing Saheeli in this spot, and while they do similar things, having a blocker in a 1/5 and making flying 1/1’s with each spell mattered a bit more. Additionally, there were no creatures worth copying with Saheeli, so Mystic gets the nod.
2 Nissa, Who Shakes the World: Biogenic Ooze covered this spot, mainly because when midrange decks brought in discard spells we needed a threat that was tough for them to deal with. With Tamiyo being able to rebuild our hand through discard and protect us from incidental discard, Nissa is getting a spot here. Her static ability allowing for double mana development with wilderness reclamation is absurd. Having built in protection and pressure also makes this walker insanely good post board.
While I mostly have been using Oliver Tiu’s old sideboard guide as a litmus test for how I’d like to approach matchups, my team and I are currently working on a new one with expected metagames. With the arena meta as it stands, there’s a high amount of Grixis control and mono white, and I believe this deck does a reasonable job against the meta at large. Tune in after the MCQ in Nashville for the follow up article as I take this deck to attempt to qualify!