Field of the Dead rocked the Standard of old hard enough to get a banning. Nowadays people are combining the raw power of mana acceleration, Field of the Dead, Wilderness Reclamation, and Expansion/Explosion. It’s led to a new S-Tier deck in the Historic format that has become “The Deck to Beat”.
After testing it a bunch I was quickly discovering how Field of the Dead wasn’t actually doing much in most matchups. It was however messing up my mana base with Uro being so color restrictive. When I removed that separate element and focused more on the core of the best deck currently in Standard. I found the results came pouring in.
As cool as Magmaquake seems on paper, I’m quickly finding it to be just a mediocre card in the deck. Sure, it’s good for beating up your basic Goblins opponents, but I think the format will evolve to the point that this card becomes played in fewer numbers and maybe even relegated to the Sideboard over time. I would love to be wrong because that means we will have a resurgence of aggro decks in a format, which tends to be rare nowadays.
The mana base was an important area that we see improvement from the Standard version of Reclamation decks as well. Sulfur Falls and Hinterland Harbor provide a lot of value to a deck trying to produce multiples of three different colors while not harming our life total. There are a soft 17/ hard 16 lands to keep these lands coming into play untapped. The reason for distinguishing soft and hard is Mountain doesn’t allow Hinterland Harbor to come into play untapped, but it does Sulfur Falls.
Because we now have Explore on top of Growth Spiral, we also have upped the land count from the Traditional 28-29 in Standard lists to an even 30. That’s right, we want a 50% chance to draw a land with each draw step. The utility Blast Zone provides makes the additional mana source also not a flooding liability.
Even though the rest of the deck is Standard legal the metagame consists of a vastly different field. So our sideboard is constructed in a slightly different way to prepare for a much more diverse metagame. Fry is the main card that jumps to mind as a card that doesn’t quite make the cut in most Standard lists, but in Historic provides a pivotal edge against both Mono Blue and Mono White strategies currently in the format.
If you’re going to pilot this deck on Arena and haven’t had many reps with the deck there’s a few things you should prepare for. Arena will skip right through a Reclamation trigger unless you set a stop on your own end step. You can do this by clicking to further right button on the bottom middle of your screen. You should see it light up Red and indicate that it will stop on your end step.
Next, you’re going to want to float all your mana and in a deck that plays a lot of dual mana. This can get quite time consuming. To shortcut on Arena, simply press QQ on your keypad to have the program float your mana for you. Don’t be surprised if it doesn’t float your mana precisely as you would like. If there’s a specific combination you need to ensure, manually add those colors of mana and then use the QQ function.
Just like in live magic there are bluffs and tells on Arena. For those unfamiliar with the terminology. A bluff is similar to a feint. A move in which one lures into a situation through misinformation. Meanwhile a tell is the leaking of relevant information. Often mistakenly done as is basic human nature. Now on a program devoid of human expression a tell comes from familiarity with the program. For instance, if you play a spell and it immediately resolves, this often indicates that your opponent does not have anything in hand with which they could have responded.
To ensure you do not give away information on Arena you’ll often need to prompt your settings to gain full control. This can be done by hitting the Ctrl button. The unfortunate part of this feature is you then have to click one million times to make it through a turn which can again be time consuming. It’s important to learn how you can both protect your tells and also bluff when you begin to become proficient with the full control aspect of Arena.
One last tip, there’s often benefit to entering into combat but producing a Petty Theft effect before attackers are declared. This can be tricky with the programming, but to do this you’ll need to again use the Ctrl function to retain full control. Then on their first main phase when it asks to go to combat, you select okay (using the spacebar) once. Then if you are in full control mode, you’ll be able to make plays at the ideal time. This comes up a lot due to haste creatures and really needs to be practiced to ensure it doesn’t cost you games.
Some final thoughts going back to the decklist itself. There will be weird situations where its better to Explosion your opponent for five damage when they are at 20 life, rather then the threat that has you clocked in two more turns. The reason for this being that you’ll often draw into another Explosion and Reclamation if you do not already have them in hand. From there you’ll be able to produce a KO with the next Explosion rather than continue to worry about the opponent producing more and more threats. This is a corner case however and certainly don’t make it your go to move.
Casting Shark Typhoon is another favorite of mine but often works best if you already have a reclamation in play. This allows you to immediately start reaping the benefits and not fall too far behind. Thanks to the Expansion/Explosion value of X, you can also create some rather large sharks at instant speed. Sometimes you’ll even want to use Mystical Dispute or Aether Gust on your own permanents to survive or achieve value. Using Mystical Dispute on your own Mystical Dispute is an easy way to create 3/3 flying creatures at instant speed for one mana.
Expansion serves a lot of functions as being a counterspell deterrent, but also comes up in very strange plays across Historic. Be prepared to think intuitively to utilize this half to its fullest. It may not be the intended card for this deck, but it can also save you games if you’re clever enough.
That’s all for now, thanks for reading as always. Hopefully you found this enlightening and it helps you bring home the bacon from home. Don’t forget to join our Team BCW Patreon to stay on top of all the latest and greatest hits from one of the best teams on the circuit!