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Deep Tracks: Selesnya


Hey everyone, welcome to another edition of Deep Tracks! I’d like to start off this week by addressing a mistake I made last time around. And to my loyal readers, I have to send sincere thanks for letting me know where I missed the mark. For the article Deep Tracks: Urza Tron, I reviewed an Old School deck called “The Mudslide”. Well, it turns out that the infinite combo I described as being the premise for the deck technically does not work. This was brought to my attention by a couple different members of the MTGGoldfish community. When it came to deciphering the Mudslide combo, I swear I asked my buddy roughly a million times to explain it to me, and I convinced myself that it actually worked the way I thought it did. The bottom line is that I got excited and caught up in the lure of Old School Magic and didn’t give the deck a deep enough analysis before presenting it to all of you, and for that I do apologize. With that being said and after reflecting on how I felt about the article as a whole (despite the little hiccup with Mudslide), it was all outshined by what I would call a sensational interview with Anneliese Faustino about Modern Tron. Speaking of which, if you didn’t have a chance to check out the interview or just want to give it another read you can find it here. Moving forward, all I can ask is that you keep in mind that I’m a human capable of making mistakes (and I do, all the time!), and that’s why I need all of you to keep me in check when I stumble. It’s actually kind of funny when I think about it in introspect; I probably need all of you way more than you need me. So again, thanks everyone for letting me do my thing. I really do appreciate your feedback and understanding.
 
Much like the last Deep Tracks article, I put together something a little different this week too. In celebration of the new Magic set Guilds of Ravnica, I decided that instead of focusing on the illustrious past of a single Magic card I would hone in on one of my favorite Guilds from Ravnica:
Selesnya, it’s where the scales of justice are balanced tightly by the power of law and the purity of nature, and by which great Knights and Soldiers join forces with mystical Elves and Druids, and mighty Treefolk! It’s going to be super exciting over the next few weeks with a huge Standard rotation incoming; we’ll all have some refreshing brew space to work with! As a tribute to Selesnya, I developed a couple preliminary ideas for the upcoming Standard format. But before we jump into Standard we need to take a stroll down memory lane. To kick things off, we’re Time Warping back to the Old School:

Old School 93/94

Piling a barrel of Enchantments on the battlefield seems like a good starting point for our exploration of Selesnya. It’s a strategy that has been a longtime hallmark of the Green / White color combination. Sure, I could have chosen to talk about Modern or Pauper Bogles. I could have dialed up a tasty Legacy version of Enchantress featuring gems like Serra's Sanctum and Enchantress's Presence, or even rolled out a complex singleton Karametra, God of Harvests Commander deck. But why not go all the way back to the formative years of Magic? I mean after all, this is Deep Tracks!
 
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Let’s start with the namesake of the deck, Verduran Enchantress. Her ability alone defines what the Enchantress archetype is all about and has been the premise for many similar creatures that would follow, such as Argothian Enchantress, Kor Spiritdancer, and Satyr Enchanter to name a few. In terms of the role Verduran Enchantress plays in the strategy, it’s her sole responsibility to make sure we don’t run out of steam and can grind our way into the mid and late game. But, I would imagine that it’s sometimes correct to suit up our Enchantress with an Aura like Divine Transformation if need be! Yes, even back in the day Auras were a thing, and this was made clear by one feverish little creature from Legends:
 
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Yup, that’s a Rabid Wombat alright! Rabid Wombat isn’t an especially exciting or powerful Magic card by today’s standards, but back in 93/94 it was the best approximation Magic players had to something like Aura Gnarlid or Eidolon of Countless Battles. And on that front, we had some decent Auras to work with back then too:
 
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Spirit Link and Holy Strength are absolute classics that many of you may know already. But what's up with Instill Energy? It's a 1 mana green Aura spell that grants haste and a pseudo form of vigilance. And, the untap ability of Instill Energy hints at potential combo implications. Aside from the Auras we’re packing, Verduran Enchantress also synergizes with regular (non-Aura) Enchantments. As such, we may as well work some into the game plan. The above deckbuilder included some interesting choices:
 
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Fastbond is a notoriously busted Old School Magic card. It seems like a worthwhile inclusion; if we get our card drawing engine online with Verduran Enchantress, we could in theory have turns where we're able to dump two, three, or more lands into play! Much like Holy Strength, Castle aids in keeping our creatures alive and makes our otherwise feeble team into a decent group of defenders. Kismet reminds me of somthing like Authority of the Consuls or Thalia, Heretic Cathar. 4 CMC is a little hefty, but with access to cards like Black Lotus and the Moxes, it's a little easier to swallow. I do like Kismet. It's an asymmetrical effect that hits creatures, lands (even basics!), and artifacts. It's a solid way to slow our opponents down while we set up.

Standard (2005)

While Brainstorming ideas for this Deep Tracks, I found myself curious about what the Standard format looked like back when the original Ravnica set was released. I did a little digging around the web and eventually came across a tournament report from The 2005 Magic World Championships. Sure enough, a Selesnya deck was at the top of the heap as Katsuhiro Mori piloted his “Ghazi-Glare” deck all the way to the top that year, snatching up the crown of World Champion! Here’s the decklist:
 
Admittedly, I was on a little hiatus from Magic back in 2005 (I took a little break from playing Magic just after Judgment was released), so I can’t necessarily reflect on my own personal experience of the shape of Standard back then. But here I feel like we get a decent look at the format; what we have here is a Standard format made up of Kamigawa block, 9th Edition (Core Set), and the newly printed Ravnica set. So for comparisons sake, I’d be willing to say that Ixalan block (including Dominaria) is our Kamigawa, and Core Set 2019 is our 9th Edition. Seems reasonable, right? As far as the type of cards that we had access to back then, just imagine for a second. Need some help?
 
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Yeah, we're probably thinking the same thing; Umezawa's Jitte is straight up broken. But believe it or not, Jitte was actually Standard legal at one point and as such, it was flying around all over the place back in 2005! I personally would love to see Birds of Paradise in Standard again, but who knows? For now, I'm just thankful we have Llanowar Elves at our disposal! Seedborn Muse is a Commander staple these days, but as we see here, it was also once an important piece in competitive Magic. True, it was usually relegated to sideboard duties, but in the right type of matchup, Muse was a legitimate asset. Moving on to the "meat" of the deck, check out these sweet legends from Kamigawa block:
 
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For as long as Kamigawa block was legal in Standard, Legendary spirits such as Arashi, Kodama, and Yosei were among the most potent top-end threats available. Not only were they big, hard to deal with creatures, most of them included some pretty sweet abilities too. Yosei, the Morning Star is particularly interesting to me; I love pseudo Stasis effects! But I digress; we're really just scratching the surface here. I've included a link if you'd like to read up some more info on original Ravnica and Katsuhiro's World Championship winning Selesnya deck.

Standard

Before we dive into some ideas for our current Standard, I'd like to mention that SaffronOlive put together a very nice article about brewing for all of the Guilds that will be featured in Guilds of Ravnica. After we wrap things up here I'd suggest checking out Seth's article (linked below) in which he offers up his own take on Selesnya for the upcoming Standard.
 
After spending a good amount of time researching and reviewing Old School Enchantress strategies I thought to myself, why not give it a go in Standard? I mean, we do have a Standard legal "Enchantress" to work with. Here's a rough mock up:
 
Right. So, first and foremost we have our Enchantress:
 
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At first glance, it's easy to get excited about Satyr Enchanter. He fits the Enchantress bill to a "T". I rustled through pretty much every Green and / or White Enchantment that will be available after rotation and I have some... not so great news. Well, it's not all bad. However, there just aren't that many sweet Auras in Standard right now. Nonetheless, I laid the groundwork for what could possibly be something. Let's start with the creatures that will be fighting alongside Satyr Enchanter:
 
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If we can start off a game with an uncontested Llanowar Elves, well, that opens the door for the turn two Satyr Enchanter dream. Vine Mare is our ideal target for all of our offensively based auras. Ever since Dominaria hit LGS shelves, I developed a severe itch to build a deck that could utilize Tragic Poet. Here I believe it's a solid fit, pushing the value envelope by giving us some additional late game strength by recycling enchantments from our graveyard. We can even do the ole "chump and sacrifice'' trick as one might relate to a card like I don't know, Sakura-Tribe Elder for instance. Although I considered adding more copies of Danitha Capashen, Paragon to the fold, I think until we get some more valuable aura spells to work with, her importance takes a back seat for now. There is one thing that gets me a little extra excited about Danitha though:
 
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Prodigious Growth... now this is the kind of spell we want to resolve. But the 6 CMC makes it kind of burdensome. Regardless, succesfully resolving a Predigious Growth, in theory, could be a solid way to finish of an opponent. +7/+7 and trample is one heck of a buff. But again, the real key here is how to work around the taxing mana casting cost of this aura. While we're on the topic of auras, it is slim pickings at the moment. Here are a few offensive based auras that I'm considering:
 
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Oakenform, Talons of Wildwood, and Blanchwood Armor are about the best green has to offer for aura enchantments right now in Standard. I think my personal favorite is Talons of Wildwood simply because we can recur it over and over again from our graveyard. This ability, on top of the card drawing shenanigans offered by Satyr Enchanter make me hopeful that the deck can grind it's way to victory even in long slugfest battles. On the flipside of things, White actually boasts some very solid defensive enchantments to work with:
 
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Seal Away, Ixalan's Binding, Baffling End, and Conclave Tribunal actually come together to form a pretty fierce protection / removal package for our strategy, and yes, they all trigger Satyr Enchanter! I'm especially excited to see how useful Conclave Tribunal could be. In theory, there could be instances where we're casting it for one mana thanks to it's convoke ability! Now if only it had flash. If there's one card I certainly will miss after rotation, it's Cast Out.
 
All-in-all, the deck is definitely a preliminary brew, but I do like that it's a little off the beaten path, and could also become a stronger, more viable option as more new sets enter Standard. The deck needs a good bit of testing and tweaking, but despite all the question marks in the air right now, I'm actually quite amped up to see if Enchantress could be a thing in today's Standard climate. Only time will tell!
 
Before I send you on your way this week, I have one more Selesnya Standard brew worth chewing on:
 
Oh Timmy, where art thou!? Simple premise: let's ramp into some "big nasties":
 
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Speaking of big nasty creatures, I slipped this monstrosity into the sideboard:
 
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A gigantic 16/16 creature with indestructible seems pretty good... right!? Well, we're going to soon find out, that's for sure! The deck really just wants to ramp and beatdown. It's that simple. However, the configuration I have here is kind of a hot mess at the moment and definitely needs some refinement. I included a lot of sweet pieces that we've already seen making a name for themselves such as Jadelight Ranger, Ripjaw Raptor, Huatli, Radiant Champion, and Shalai, Voice of Plenty, but I simply can't wait to test out these new bombs from Guilds of Ravnica:
 
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Selesnya, Selesnya, Selesnya... you want it, we got it! I have to say I'm especially stoked for Knight of Autumn. I'm a huge fan of modal cards, and Knight of Autumn seems like a good one! I can't wait!

Conclusion

I don't know about you, but I'm pretty hyped up for Standard rotation, and even more hyped up for Guilds of Ravnica! Everyone has their brewer's cap on at the moment. There's a ton of speculation and potential ideas floating around right now, so I figured I'd throw a couple curveballs at all of you. From Old School Enchantress, to Standard 2005, and even to this very day, Selesnya remains a force to be reckoned with, and I can't wait to see what this Guild brings to the table moving forward!
 
Well, that’s it for now. Let me know what you think! What's your favorite Guild from Ravnica? Do you have any sweet Selesnya brews for the upcoming Standard format? How can I improve my Standard Enchantress deck? What cards would push the archetype to tier viability if we could have any Enchantment we wanted in the Standard card pool? As always, all comments are welcome, thank you so much for reading, and have a great one!
 
If you enjoyed this content, please help support me with a quick follow on Twitter - @WallofOmens
 
-John
 
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