A New Frontier: God of Frontier 11 – Flayvortown
“A New Frontier” is a series of articles based around the MTG format created by Hareruya and Big Magic in Japan that uses only cards with the new border from the M15 set and onward. In these articles I plan on follow the results from tournaments, talk about viable decks in the format, as well as powerful cards. I hope to do at least an article each month with updates on the format, results, as well as the current status of its popularity. Please keep in mind that these are merely exploratory articles and that the Frontier format is still trying to find its footing. It could end up doing very well and develop a following like EDH has, or become just another footnote like Tiny Leaders.
Hareruya’s God of Frontier
This last weekend was the 11th God of Frontier tournament in Tokyo at Hareruya. Around 70 people showed up for the event, which is a very respectable number and about what the format attracts to big tournaments. The usual tournaments average about 20 players, and the trials for the God tournaments are usually a little higher than that. The prize for the tournament was getting your picture immortalized on Hareruya’s winner’s wall, and 30,000 yen in store credit. There were 7 rounds in total, and I was there from the start so I can give you a run down of what I saw at the event.
To start off, I was running an updated Mardu Tokens list that I had been playing for a while online to good results. I had changed around the mana base to fix my colors and while I didn’t have any problems when I tested it online and always had the colors I needed, having 8 pain lands ended up being really really bad against a field with many Jeskai Tempo/Aggro decks and UR Ensoul. Cutting fetches also hurt my ability to filter somewhat, and because I had prepared more for a long games with cards like Hangarback Walker and Wingmate Roc, I felt like I hadn’t respected aggro enough.
I went 2-4 drop, mainly because my deck wouldn’t treat me well the whole day. I found myself either getting mana screwed or flooding on mana most of the day without being able to play any of my spells. The times I did I won overwhelmingly, but consistency issues showed up that I didn’t have to handle in testing. I would say that the more combo/control/midrange oriented metagame of the Untap Open league didn’t give me enough practice against aggro decks either.
- Round 1: UB control – Won 2-1. I played fast with Legion’s Landing into Hangarback Walker into Rabblemaster to flip Landing turn 3 and make my opponent scoop. I couldn’t draw any removal for an Aetherborn Rogue game 2 which grinded me out, but I had an early landing into a turn 4 Secure the Wastes then a Murderous Cut for my opponent’s Kalitas to seal game 3.
- Round 2: Grixis Soulflayer – Lost 0-2. Oh dear god this deck was spicy. I had some killer hands with a lot of pressure and curved out each game, but when your opponent discards Zetalpa, the 5/6 cycling hexproof serpent from Amonkhet, and a life linker so set up a turn 4 Soulflayer in both games, it’s going to he hard to deal with. I had a chance to try and fight through in game 2 with a Sorin, Solemn Visitor, but a well timed Stubborn Denial ensured my loss. Really wish I had played more graveyard hate.
- Round 3: UR Ensoul – Lost 1-2. I won game 1 on the back of 3 Reckless Bushwhackers to win the race, but lost to double Ensoul Artifact game 2 when I couldn’t find any removal, and mana flooded hard game 3 after having lots of removal early on but no board presence.
- Round 4: UR Ensoul – Won 2-1. Opponent kept a bad hand game 1 which let me curve out against him, but he fought back with Shrapnel Blasts and Ghost Fire Blades game 2. In game 3 I managed to stabilize the board with a lot of tokens, then played two Sorin, Solemn Visitors in a row to seal the game. I was still technically alive for top 8, but things weren’t looking good.
- Round 5: 5 Color Saheeli Delirium Combo – Lost 0-2. I wasn’t even able to play Magic this round. I was mana screwed game 1 and didn’t draw a third land until my opponent set up the board with Grim Flayers and Siege Rhinos, and in game 2 I drew nothing but land after a mull to 5. I should have been able to beat this deck easily, but my deck simply wouldn’t cooperate.
- Round 6: Jeskai Tempo/Aggro – Lost 1-2. Again my deck hated me. I got in one good game but mana flooded one game and was mana screwed the other. I also found myself taking way too much damage from the pain lands this game.
So yeah, I was feeling pretty bad and angry at myself for not testing the deck more against aggro decks which I KNEW were going to be out in force along with control at the event. I’ve since decided to return to one of my original designs which was lower to the ground, faster, and had some card advantage. I’ll be testing it out online over the next few weeks before the next Untap league, but I think it will perform MUCH better than last weekend’s version.
God of Frontier Metagame
As for the rest of the metagame, the tables were chock full of Control decks. Most of them were of the UB variety, but Grixis and Esper were also represented. The aggro deck of choice was UR Ensoul, which had more than 10 pilots in the room, but Abzan aggro and Aetherwork Marvel decks were also a popular choice for this event. There was a smattering of other strategies such as Rally the Ancestors, some red aggro variants (about 5), and Bant company, but they didn’t perform as well against meta game that day.
While Rivals of Ixalan has been out for a while, there haven’t been too many cards from the set that have broken into the format. Of the few that have, the most unexpected card to make waves in RIX Frontier has been Zetalpa, Primal Dawn.
This dinosaur has single-handedly made Soulflayer a playable deck in the format. It has also helped Soulflayer make some waves in modern, but what works there can sometimes work in Frontier too (and vice versa like when Hardened Scales made the jump to Modern). Just what does Soulflayer do?
Soulflayer lets you delve to cast him for 2 mana, and whichever abilities of creatures you exiled to cast him had, Soulflayer gets him as well. So as you can see, Zeltalpa + Soulflayer = FIRE.
Mishiro Norihito made top 4 of the God of Frontier Trial the week before the big event with this deck, and quite a few other players decided to give it a try this last weekend at the God of Frontier. I don’t know if there’s a name for the deck other than “Grixis Soulflayer”, but I’m giving it a new name: FLAYVORTOWN.
|“Flayvortown” Main Deck – By Mishiro Norihito||Sideboard|
60 Mainboard Cards
15 Sideboard Cards
The main strategy of the deck is to fill up your graveyard with a variety of of discard and mill effects, and then play a Soulflayer on turn 4 to take over the game (I’m guessing it’s also possible to do it on turn 3 sometimes as well). I had no idea cards like Corpse Churn or Contingency Plan even existed, and the build I played against in the second round of the event played Taigam’s Scheming, which is basically the same as Plan. The optimal turn 3/4 Flayer will have: Indestrutcible, Hexproof, double strike, trample, flying, lifelink, Vigilance, and haste. Absolutely nasty (^_^). The last time Soulflayer had this much fun was when Chromanticore from Born of the Gods was in standard with it.
Aside from the Fetchlands, it’s an incredibly budget deck with a lot of pieces you can easily get a hold of. It has also been remarkably consistent, making other top 8s of Trials since Rivals of Ixalan became legal in Frontier. If you are thinking of trying out some new decks in Frontier, I would recommend this one to start off with.
God of Frontier Top 8
After 7 rounds of Frontier, the top 8 came down to:
- UB Control
- UB Control
- UB Control
- Jeskai Aggro
- Jeskai Aggro
- Esper Vehicles
- Temur Aetherworks
- 4 Color Aetherworks
Hareruya streamed some of the swiss rounds on their Twitch channel yesterday, but you can see Kenji Tsumura do coverage on their YouTube stream starting from the quarter finals if you want (now available to view on their YouTube channel). Esper Vehicles faced 4 Color Aetherworks in their featured quarter final match, and Jeskai Aggro faced UB control in their featured semifinals match. Both the other UB control deck and the 4C Aetherworks deck lost off camera in the semifinals to set up a Temur Aetherworks and Jeskai aggro match in the finals. The Jeskai aggro deck threatened to take the championship in game 2, but the Aetherworks player was able to ultimate a Ugin, the Spirit Dragon to stabilize and take over the board. In game 3 the Jeskai player was unable to draw any blue mana to put pressure on his opponent and when Aetherworks Marvel came down on turn 4 he scooped rather than fall behind and lose eventually.
Congrats to Frontier grinder Ishiwata-san on his first championship! I look forward to seeing him at the next Frontier event at Hareruya in May.
Early Thoughts on Dominara and Frontier
I’ve been looking at the spoilers for Dominara and I feel like it’s not only going to have a huge impact on standard, but on Frontier as well. There are so many powerful effects that will supercharge a handful of decks in the format, and also bring many that were rogue or obscure into tiered level of play. I won’t go into too much depth because I’ll save that for my Impact on Frontier article, but I would like to share with you what I’m looking to play.
|Braving the Elementals
|75 cards, 15 sideboard|
2 Cinder Glade
4 Wooded Foothills
2 Hissing Quagmire
3 Smoldering Marsh
4 Bloodstained Mire
1 Field of Ruin
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
|2 Chandra, Flamecaller
3 Fatal Push
2 Retreat to Kazandu
9 other spells
15 sideboard cards
I think Cast Down is going to be a great card alongside Fatal Push which will help my removal suite a lot, but the card I’m most excited about is Sylvan Awakening. It’s a 3 mana sorcery that turns all your lands into 2/2 elementals with reach, indestructible, and haste. Barring a Settle the Wreckage from your opponent, in a deck like mine that likes to vomit lands from your hand and graveyard, this will become a great finisher for the deck. Ramp out your lands with Wayward Swordtooth and Gitrog Monster, then play a Sylvan Advocate and Awakening so you can obliterate your opponent. In early testing it’s been doing great and has been a strong finisher, but we still don’t know just how big of an impact Dominara will be. I have high hopes though!
The Frontier Untap Open League tried out their first ever one day tournament online, and while there was a number of logistical and time issues for many of the members, it was a good dry run for future events. The organizers were able to get a lot of feedback and learned many things from putting it together. I’m sure with more promotion, a better time frame, and more communication between the participants and the players, the idea can be successful in the future. I definitely wouldn’t mind sacrificing a few hours of a weekend for 5 rounds of a Frontier tournament for free!
Details of season 5 of the Frontier Untap Open League are still forthcoming, but I would expect that we’ll see news of it in another week or two as soon as the full Dominara is release. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@yoschwenky) for updates over the next week or so. Last season had 37, and the season before that had close to 50, so I expect that we’ll get a decent amount of players for season 5, especially with the new blood we’ve brought on since last tournament.
The MTGO Frontier league is also still taking sign ups, and you can check out their information on their website. They’ll be taking tickets for entry into their event, and the winner will receive tickets as well which is the first online prize system I’ve seen for Frontier. I’ve been working on putting together a budget tokens deck that I can use on MTGO, and I’ve successfully built one entirely using Pucatrade points! Yes, if you didn’t know, you can put your puca points towards MTGO cards now. It’s been a great resource for me and has cost me absolutely nothing to set up.
Well that will do it for today’s article, but be sure to check back in a few weeks after Dominara has been fully spoiled! If you’ve been meaning to join in the fun of Frontier, this is a good time to do so. Join our Discord server and talk about the various decks and strategies, and in a few weeks, play in our league tournament! All you need to do is make a Discord account and we can add you to our group (https://discord.gg/TMtwxVD)