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Much Abrew: Fleetfoot Soulflayer (Pioneer)


Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. This week, we're heading to Pioneer to play a new and improved version of a classic rogue archetype: Soulflayer! The idea of all Soulflayer decks is similar: fill the graveyard with creatures that have a keyword soup of abilities, exile them to Soulflayer's delve ability, and hopefully build an unbeatable soul-flaying monster. But we also got a huge new addition to the deck in Streets of New Capenna in Fleetfoot Dancer! Fleetfoot Dancer offers exactly what a Soulflayer deck wants: three powerful keywords in haste, trample, and lifelink. If we add Nightveil Predator (for hexproof and deathtouch) and Zetalpa, Primal Dawn (for indestructible and double strike), we can build an almost unbeatable Soulflayer, hopefully as soon as Turn 3! Can Soulflayer compete in Pioneer with the help of Fleetfoot Dancer and friends? Let's get to the video and find out on today's Much Abrew About Nothing!

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Much Abrew: Fleetfoot Soulflayer

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Discussion

  • Record-wise, we finished 3-3 with Soulflayer, which is a fine, if not super-exciting, record. In general, it felt like the deck has some really good matchups and some really bad matchups, mostly depending on how many counterspells and how much graveyard hate are in our opponent's deck. We played against Mono-Red, and it felt almost impossible to lose, but it felt almost impossible to win when we played against Rakdos Midrange, which has a bunch of main-deck graveyard hate and Thoughtseizes. While the deck is consistent at doing its thing if the opponent doesn't have the right interaction, that's a big if in a format like Pioneer, where most decks are playing at least some form of graveyard hate to deal with other popular decks and counterspell-heavy control is near the top of the meta.
  • As far as the deck itself, there's really not a ton to say about it because it's pretty focused on its primary plan of building an unbeatable Soulflayer. We've got Otherworldly Gaze, Stitcher's Supplier, Grapple with the Past, and Grisly Salvage to fill the graveyard, with Grapple with the Past having the upside of being able to return a Soulflayer from our graveyard to our hand if we happen to mill it to one of our other graveyard-filling cards. In theory, we can be casting a Soulflayer as early as Turn 2 thanks to Otherworldly Gaze. (If we mill all three cards and exile the Otherworldly Gaze itself, we have exactly enough cards in the graveyard to delve out a Soulflayer. But we often have to wait until Turn 3 (or even later) unless we get really lucky with our Otherworldly Gaze mills.
  • The real challenge is figuring out when to play Soulflayer itself. A Soulflayer without any abilities, even for just two mana, isn't very good. In a perfect world, we'd have Zetalpa, Primal Dawn, Nightveil Predator, and Fleetfoot Dancer in the graveyard when we cast it, but that isn't always possible. In general, it's important to think about the matchup and what answers the opponent could have before casting a Soulflayer. A 4/4 hexproof Soulflayer on Turn 2 might be enough to win the game against a control deck, even without other abilities. Against a creature deck, a 4/4 hexproof Soulflayer doesn't do much of anything since it can still die in combat. Against a deck like Mono-Red, giving Soulflayer lifelink with Fleetfoot Dancer is essential, but we don't really need both hexproof and indestructible because either one will keep a Mono-Red deck from killing the Soulflayer. All this is to say, there's a balancing act when it comes to Soulflayer. Do you run it out as fast as possible even if waiting another turn might offer more keywords to power it up? Do you keep waiting for more keywords even if the opponent could draw a counterspell or Thoughtseize? These are some of the most important questions you'll have to answer when playing the deck.
  • Of course, the biggest flaw in our Soulflayer plan is graveyard hate. If our opponent can exile our graveyard, it becomes super hard (and, in some cases, even impossible) to get Soulflayer going. Our backup plan is pretty janky: casting our random keyword creatures and hoping for the best. Thanks to Mana Confluence and Sylvan Caryatid, we can technically cast everything in our deck, even if it isn't always easy. While it's usually not pretty, it is possible to steal some wins by hard-casting things like Fleetfoot Dancer, Nightveil Predator, and even Zetalpa, Primal Dawn. In reality, we'd rather just dodge the graveyard hate (or resolve a good Soulflayer before the graveyard hate comes down), if possible.
  • As far as the sideboard, it's mostly removal to bring in against creature decks and counterspells for control, although Nahiri's Wrath deserves a mention. While I'm not sure it's actually the best option for a sweeper in the deck, it is cute since it allows us to discard our keyword-soup creatures that get stuck in hand while wrathing our opponent boards (or, at least, killing a few things). We never actually got the right matchup to use it, but it does seem like it could be pretty strong against midrange and aggro creature decks. It's also a dead draw in the late game once we are empty-handed, so there is some risk.
  • So, should you play Soulflayer in Pioneer? I think the answer is yes—the deck is fast, consistent, and good enough to pick up a lot of wins. Just be warned that it also has some hard matchups and can get wrecked by graveyard hate. It feels like it has the ability to 5-0 a league if it hits the right matchups and doesn't run into too much graveyard hate but also to 0-5 a league if you hit the tough matchups and a bunch of Go Blanks and Rest in Peaces. Either way, it's a really funny, unique archetype and works in a way that no other deck in the format does. If you're looking for something different to try and don't mind a little risk, it's a really fun option for the Pioneer format!

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. 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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