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Against the Odds: Nabanamonicon (Standard)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 139 of Against the Odds. We didn't have an Against the Odds poll last week (don't worry, it's back at the end of this article), which means we're having a special episode this week to wrap up Dominaria season! Somehow, we made it through a month of episodes without playing the new PanharmoniconNaban, Dean of Iteration—so we're fixing this problem this week with a deck I'm calling Nabanamonicon! The deck is pretty simple: we're basically a mono-blue Wizards Panharmonicon deck with a massive seven copies of Panharmonicon between Naban, Dean of Iteration and Panharmonicon itself, backed by a ton of tricky Wizards with enters-the-battlefield triggers, and even an infinite combo for good measure! Can Naban join forces with Panharmonicon to compete in Dominaria Standard? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Against the Odds: Nabanamonicon (Standard)

The Deck

Nabanamonicon is interesting. While it's basically a mono-blue Wizard Panharmonicon deck, the end result is something like Standard hatebears. None of our individual cards are all that powerful, but they are all amazingly annoying, bouncing creatures, tapping things, and generally just pestering our opponents. When you throw Naban or Panharmonicon into the mix, they all becoming annoying times two or even three. Ideally, the end result is that all of these little annoyances add up to a match win, and while the deck looks janky on paper, it wins a lot more often than you'd think!

Nabanamonicon

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Naban, Dean of Iteration and Panharmonicon give us a massive seven copies of Panharmonicon in our deck, since every one of our creatures is a Wizard for Naban. Naban, Dean of Iteration itself is basically a Wizards-only Panharmonicon with a huge upside (it's only two mana, which means we can start doubling triggers on Turn 3) and a huge downside (it dies to pretty much anything). While running out Naban, Dean of Iteration on Turn 2 is fine, in some cases, it's better to wait until Turn 4, when we can play Naban and immediately play a Wizard with an enters-the-battlefield ability, so even if our opponent kills Naban, we still get some value out of it before it dies. Meanwhile, Panharmonicon gives us backup copies of Naban, Dean of Iteration with the late-game upside of not being legendary. While we can't stack up copies of Naban himself, with the help of Panharmonicon, we can get two or three enters-the-battlefield-trigger doublers on the battlefield at the same time, which is when our deck gets really crazy.

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Silvergill Adept and Champion of Wits are our main card-advantage Wizards. Thankfully, a lot of the good Wizards in Standard also happen to be Merfolk, so we can often cast Silvergill Adept for just two mana, and it's drawing us two cards if we have a Naban or Panharmonicon on the battlefield, which is a great deal, especially when leaving behind a 2/1 body. As for Champion of Wits, at first, it just helps us filter through our deck, hit our land drops, and find our Nabanamonicons, and then it works like a finisher in the late game, often refilling our hand for seven mana with eternalize. If we have just one Naban or Panharmonicon out when we eternalize, we end up drawing eight cards (and discarding four); with one of each, we draw a massive 12 (and discard six), which amounts to not just a new hand but a good new hand, since we can filter away dead land drops with the discard ability. Together, these cards help to make sure we have a steady stream of Wizards and Panharmonicons to eventually win the game.

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Merfolk Trickster, Watertrap Weaver, and Academy Journeymage help us deal with opposing creatures and generally annoy our opponent. With the help of Naban, Dean of Iteration and Panharmonicon doubling or tripling their enters-the-battlefield abilities, all of these cards turn into pseudo-Fogs that also leave behind bodies on the battlefield. Typically, Nabanamonicon ends the game by building up a board full of random 2/2s, tapping down our opponent's entire team, and attacking for lethal!

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Illusionist's Stratagem serves two purposes in our deck. First, it works amazingly with all of our card-draw and creature-bouncing / tapping Wizards. For example, blinking a couple of Silvergill Adepts with a Panharmonicon out turns Illusionist's Stratagem into a draw five for four mana that can also save our creatures from removal, or blinking Watertrap Weavers during our opponent's upkeep gives us a double-Fog effect, since the creatures we tap will stay locked down for two turns. Second, Illusionist's Stratagem allows us to go infinite with a Nabanamonicon and Naru Meha, Master Wizard!

The combo is pretty simple. If we get up to eight mana and have a Naban or Panharmonicon on the battlefield, we cast Illusionist's Stratagem; then, before it resolves, we cast Naru Meha, Master Wizard to copy it. The copy blinks Naru Meha and something else, the copies from Naru Meha again copy the original Illusionist's Stratagem (which is still on the stack), rinse and repeat. While we don't have an actual finisher built into the combo, the end result is that we can draw as much of our deck as we want (or even our entire deck) while tapping down our opponent's entire team with Watertrap Weaver or even bouncing all of our opponent's creatures with Academy Journeymage. Then, we simply pass and trust that our new grip of cards and our opponent having no board will allow us to attack for the win the next turn. Plus, we can do all this at instant speed, thanks to Naru Meha, Master Wizard having flash, so in theory, we can bounce everything on our opponent's end step, untap, and swing for lethal!

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Otherwise, we have four copies of Syncopate to help against non-creature decks. While Nabanamonicon is very good against creatures thanks to our endless tricky Wizards, things like planeswalkers and Approach of the Second Sun can be a problem. While four copies of Syncopate isn't a ton of defense in these matchups, combined with a bunch of flashy Wizards, it means we at least have some shot in game one, and then we can bring in a bunch more counters to fight against these decks after sideboarding. 

The Matchups

Nabanamonicon is at its best against midrange creature decks, where all of our tricky, disruptive creatures are able to keep our opponent's board under control while we eventually win the game with a combination of card advantage, creatures beats, and our Naru Meha, Master Wizard combo. We also have a shot against aggro, but it really depends on how fast of a draw our opponent has. If they start off with multiple one-drops while we keep a slow hand, we can get run over before we get a chance to recover and start generating Nabanamonicon value. Against control, our random creature bounce isn't as good, but the combination of Syncopate, flash creatures, and a good control sideboard means that we can win. Plus, if we can stick a Panharmonicon or Naban, Dean of Iteration, we can just out-draw our opponent with Champion of Wits and Silvergill Adept until we eventually run our opponent out of cards.

The Odds

All in all, we played six matches and won five, giving us an 83% match win percentage, while also winning 10 of our 14 games (good for a 71% game win percentage), which makes Nabanamonicon way above average for an Against the Odds deck. While Naban, Dean of Iteration dies a lot, the value it generates when it sticks on the battlefield is pretty insane, and even if our opponent kills the first copy, we're likely to hit another one before long thanks to Silvergill Adept and Champion of Wits. While the Nabanamonicon package is essential, the real power of the deck comes from all of our random annoying hatebear-ish creatures. On paper, it looks like a random pile of 2/2s, but in practice, having a ton of Merfolk Tricksters, Academy Journeymages, and Watertrap Weavers seems to be a pretty good way of winning games! Honestly, I was surprised by how well the deck played. I figured it would win every once in a while, but after playing a bunch of matches, it seems like Nabanamonicon might be a legitimate budget option for Dominaria Standard!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

We're closing in on the return of core sets, so let's celebrate with an poll featuring some of the sweetest jank from core set's past! Which of these core set cards should we build around next week? Let us know by voting below!

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Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. Don't forget to vote for next week's deck! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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