Frontier is a new casual format (that is a format which has no tournaments sanctioned by Wizards of the Coast), originating in Japan, and it’s a format I quite like. Like Modern and Legacy, Frontier is a non-rotating format, a format where once a card is in the format, it stays in the format until it gets banned. Frontier runs from the M15 core set onwards, so currently legal are M15, Khans of Tarkir block, Magic Origins, Battle for Zendikar block, Return to Innstrad block and Kaladesh block.
This gives a reasonably large card pool, so there are a few viable decks across a number of archetypes. It’s also a new format, so there isn’t much of a settled metagame at this point. This means it’s a great format for brewing new decks. As it stands, the metagame such as it is very aggressive, with a former Standard format aggro deck as one of the stronger decks in the meta.
I’ll post about a few decks over time, and hopefully something like a metagame will solidify in the time it takes to do this.
Right now, I’m going to talk about the deck I played tonight, why I chose the cards I did and what I intend to change going forward.
My current deck is Abzan (Green/Black/White) midrange/control. It’s a deck which aims to stall until turn 4, using removal or chump blockers, then cast a spell which provides a large tempo swing, difficult to answer threat or both. Following this, it aims to keep removing enemy threats and grind out incremental advantage while closing out the game.
4 Sandsteppe Citadel
4 Windswept Heath
2 Canopy Vista
2 Blooming Marsh
2 Llanowar Wastes
1 Caves of Koilos
1 Blighted Fen
3 Shambling Vents
3 Sylvan Advocate
3 Den Protector
1 Nissa, Vastwood Seer
1 Tireless Tracker
4 Siege Rhino
1 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
16 Instants and Sorceries
4 Fatal Push
2 Dromoka’s Command
4 Abzan Charm
1 Ruinous Path
6 Other Spells
2 Lilianna, the Last Hope
3 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
1 Ajani Unyielding
1 To the Slaughter
1 Pulse of Murasa
2 Arashin Cleric
1 Sorin, Solemn Visitor
2 Transgress the Mind
1 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
Some comments on the main deck: Fatal push is the best removal spell in the format, and will almost always remove the opponent’s first play. Siege Rhino is as much of an all-star in this deck as it was in Standard, providing a huge tempo swing when he comes down, and blocking a lot of the format, and buying us some valuable time against aggro decks. Abzan charm is arguably the best card in the deck, providing card advantage, removal and reach as needed. Nissa, Vastwood Seer, Den Protector and Tireless Tracker all fit the deck’s plan of incremental advantage. An unanswered Gideon basically wins the game solo, and can slow down or stop other decks attacks. Further, he can anthem and let a Den Protector slip through unblocked to provide a fairly serious clock. Sylvan Advocate and Lilianna generally fit the basic plan of the deck, and if Kalitas sticks, he can provide a large number of tokens given how many removal spells the deck has. Dromoka’s command answers enchantments and provides a way to save a good chunk of damage if a burn spell goes off. Duress gives us a way to strip away problematic spells and plainswalkers (which are our largest problem, we have no instant speed way to deal with them). 1 maindeck languish occasionally just wins against aggro decks and improves our game 1 without diluting our plan. Ajani Unyielding is the weakest card in the deck, but he can trump other midrange decks and provide a nice source of card advantage.
As it stands, the base deck is pretty good against the whole field and particularly good against other slow midrange decks.
The sideboard is primarily designed to deal with two matchups – aggro and control.
Arashin Cleric and sweepers make life difficult for aggro, and in many cases, a resolved Fumigate or Languish ends the game on the spot. Sorin can also be backbreaking, providing a huge life swing when backed up with Rhino, or giving another blocker. Pulse of Murasa buys back our best creature and gives us a big life boost.
Against control, we bring in Ugin and Transgress the Mind, as well as Pulse of Murasa and Sorin. The aim is to strip away their threats and play more threats than they can resolve. Den Protector is an all-star here.
Tonight I played:
Atarka Red (Green/Red Aggro): 2-1 win. Uncharacteristically, I won game 1, with Fatal Push being an all-star, and a resolved Siege Rhino + Liliana closing the game out. Game 2, I simply couldn’t get there in time, and I was beaten out by a smuggler’s copter. Game 3 I was very lucky, and my opponent ran out of burn spells with me at 4. I managed to claw back with a Shambling Vent to a safe life total before he was able to get enough burn to end the game.
Green/Black Hardened Scales/Snake: 0-2 loss. Game 1, my opponent built up enormous creatures too quickly for me to answer. Game 2 I kept a 6 card hand of 2 Duress, 2 Languish, 2 lands, and never saw a third land.
4 Colour Copycat Midrange: 2-1 win. Game 1 I kept my opponent off the combo by killing his Felidar Guardians on sight, and beat down with a resolved siege rhino. Game 2, I killed all 4 of my opponent’s Guardians, but he chipped away for damage and drew around 10 extra cards from Ajani Unyielding, and I had an active Nissa plainswalker, 7 lands, and Ugin in hand. Had Nissa revealed an untapped land, I could have cast and activated Ugin’s -X, cleared my opponent’s board and rebuilt more effectively. Sadly this did not happen, and I was beaten to death. Game 3, I again killed his combo, then used Den Protector to return removal spells to clear out his relevant threats. Blighted Fen proved its worth here, activating it forced my opponent to use Whirler Virtuoso to make a token to sacrifice, and sacrificing Blighted Fen turned on Revolt, allowing me to kill the Virtuoso.
Green/Black Panharmonicon Elves: 2-0 win. This is a fairly fun combo deck which aims to drop a Panharmonicon, drop 5 or so elves, then use Chord of Calling to get a Woodland Bellower, which then gets 2 Shaman of the Pack, and the 4 Shaman triggers kill the opponent. Game 1 I killed most of the elves my opponent dropped. I went down to 13 life, and my opponent flipped a Westvale abbey, but played into Abzan charm, and that was game over. Game 2, I again aimed to remove elves on sight, and resolved both languish and a Fumigate, and followed with a Siege Rhino to close out the game.
Going forward, I intend to switch Ajani Unyielding with Nissa, Vital Force and replace 3 Sylvan Advocates and a Lilianna, the Last Hope with 4 Glint-Sleeve Siphoners, and 1 Lilianna with a Tireless Tracker. I also intend to drop the 2 Llanowar wastes, 1 caves of Koilos and 1 Forest for 4 Aether hub. Both Advocates and Lilianna have felt unimpressive in the last few games, and I’m hyped on Siphoner, and Tracker is an all-star card. I’m also dropping 2 Murder from the sideboard for 2 Ultimate Price, to improve the Green/Black matchup (and also improve the aggro matchup).
I’m pretty happy with the deck as it evolves. It seems to have better matchups each week, although the manabase is still a bit unwieldy. I’m hoping further testing will refine it.