1. A person who goes ahead and makes known the approach of another; herald.
2. Anything that foreshadows a future event; omen: sign
When I first saw Nahiri spoiled, I believed she would be the best card in the set (spoilers: she’s not, that title belongs to [card]Declaration in Stone[/card]). Her primary ability fits the set thematically, the +2 ability being what we commonly call “rummaging” (which would make a great keyword), a great way to enable Madness. Unfortunately, I found Madness cards to be wanting in the set, and very few of them are good enough to see play. Her -2 effect is powerful, but tricky. And her ultimate is dependent upon finding the biggest, baddest creature (or artifact…. how… interesting…) in the format to charge into battle.
Basically, Nahiri is a riddle, the deepest, most rewarding riddle in the format.
Solving this riddle won’t be easy, and her mana cost is restrictive, sending us into a color combination more known for early beats than strategically waiting to drop a game-ender. And, looking to go three colors in this format is akin to fighting a land war in Asia. The mana is awful, horrible, and not just because we are rotating from a format where the mana was pristine and beautiful. Going three colors in this format isn’t fun, but it can be made to work, especially if one of those colors is green. And, it just so happen that the nastiest creature to sneak onto the battlefield happens to be in green too.
With that in mind, let’s let Nahiri have a go at Naya.
[deck title=Nahiri Naya by Travis Hall]
4 Needle Spire
4 Battlefield Forge
4 Canopy Vista
2 Cinder Glade
3 Evolving Wilds
4 Sylvan Advocate
4 Tireless Tracker
2 Den Protector
3 Eldrazi Displacer
1 Nissa, Vastwood Seer
1 Sigarda, Heron’s Grace
1 Dragonlord Dromoka
1 Dragonlord Atarka
4 Nahiri, The Harbinger
1 Arlinn Kord
2 Chandra, Flamecaller
4 Declaration in Stone
1 Avacyn’s Judgment
3 Dromoka’s Command
4 Oath of Nissa
1 Radiant Flames
3 Kozilek’s Return
2 Avacyn’s Judgment
1 Dromoka’s Command
1 Dragonlord Dromoka
1 Chandra, Flamecaller
3 Stasis Snare
1 Linvala, the Preserver
1 Arlinn Kord
1 Goblin Dark-Dwellers
[card]Chandra, Flamecaller[/card]: We finally get a good Chandra! Chandra is the premier controlling Planeswalker in the format (possibly even better than baby Jace after rotation). She does everything a good planeswalker should, and majorly impacts the game the second she hits the table. Also, her draw ability works well with Clue tokens, as you can stock your hand before pitching it to the graveyard if you are digging for an answer.
[card]Dromoka’s Command[/card]: I hope this doesn’t get lost in the excitement of the new set. [card]Dromoka’s Command[/card] is still a great card, and one of the best answers to one of the premier cards in the format, [card]Always Watching[/card] (just wait, you’re going to hate that card by the time it rotates).
[card]Oath of Nissa[/card]: [card]Oath of Nissa[/card] versus [card]Traverse the Ulvenwald[/card] is the “Pepsi versus Coke” of MTG for the next year. I’m not sure there’s a wrong answer, but there’s definitely a “more correct” one, and that answer is going to fluctuate for each deck. Given that I gain no appreciable value from Delirium here, I decided to go with Oath, as it gives a more consistent value.
[card]Dragonlord Dromoka[/card]/[card]Dragonlord Atarka[/card]: The premier beefy beaters (sorry Ulamog, but exiling 20 cards just ain’t good enough) in the format, until we find out whatever it is that Nahiri is Harbingering. Both of these should be easily recast if you snatch them into play with Nahiri, or fine if you draw them naturally.
[card]Sigarda, Heron’s Grace[/card]: I’m a big fan of this card and the army it can bring to the table. If you untap with her, you should be able to overwhelm most board positions in a turn or too. She blocks [card]Archangel Avacyn[/card] and [card]Mindwrack Demon[/card] for days and protects you/your humans from targeting. This card is being underrated right now.
[card]Eldrazi Displacer[/card]: You know that little intervening “TAPPED” clause on Nahiri’s exile ability? Well, this is a way around it. Three mana (one colorless), tap down a creature at the end of combat, untap, drop Nahiri and exile the creature. It also helps that the value of displacing has increased exponentially with the presence of [card]Westvale Abbey[/card] and the demon it brings. Why only 3 copies, you ask… time for a quick aside:
[card]Declaration in Stone[/card] is good. Really good. Better than you think. By far the best removal spell in Standard. As such, we may need to rethink the way we brew to combat the DiS problem. If you are paying more than 2 mana for a creature, you’re losing tempo if it gets DiS’ed. This is obvious. But, playing 4 copies and opening yourself to getting 2-for’ed is absolutely devastating. It may still be right to play out multiple copies of a creature if you see an opponent playing white mana… but it may not. Another way to combat this is to choose to run 3 copies (or less) of some of your more expensive creatures. Basically, 3 is the new 4, as long as DiS is in the format. End aside.
[card]Tireless Tracker[/card]: Four copies!? Didn’t I just say that this is verboten? Yeah, but this is that corner case. [card]Tireless Tracker[/card] works well as a alter drop if your opponent has already DiS’ed a few of your creatures, taking advantage of the Clue tokens you have already been gifted. This card is the king of grinding, able to provide unreal card advantage if left unchecked and a very powerful beater if you flip the switch and start sacrificing clues.
[card]Arlinn Kord[/card]: I like Arlinn, but I’m not wild about her (I resisted the urge to make a joke about “flipping out” there, I should be commended). She just dies so easily. Too often, it’s make a wolf, Arlinn dies. Four mana for a 2/2 wolf just isn’t enough. Still, she is a powerful planeswalker that deserves to be explored and does real work against control decks.
[card]Kozilek’s Return[/card]/[card]Radiant Flames[/card]: [card]Westvale Abbey[/card] is a helluva card, and people want to smash face with a 9 power, flying, lifelinking, indestructible demon. Many of these people are going to try and use tokens to get the requisite 5 creatures to sacrifice. We don’t like those people. [card]Kozilek’s Return[/card] may not do as much damage as [card]Radiant Flames[/card], but it can be cast after your opponent resolves an end of turn [card]Secure the Wastes[/card] for enough tokens to summon Ormendahl. Hence, the split.
This may all be for naught. Nahiri, while intrinisically powerful, may not be ready to shine yet. But, that title, “The Harbinger”… it is foreboding. It makes us a promise. It promises something to come. It promises something to behold.
It may not yet be Nahiri’s time to be the best card from Shadows Over Innistrad, but we’ll see what happens when the Eldritch Moon begins to shine.
If you like my suggestions, you can follow me on Twitter: @travishall456. I throw around random observations and deck ideas every day. You can also hear me on the [card]Horde of Notions[/card] podcast, discussing deck ideas for FNM level events and the PTQ grinders.