I hope you all have prepared for Pandemonium's first Frontier event this coming Monday, January 2nd. I've seen a lot of group discussions both between tournament rounds and on Facebook about what everyone is building for Frontier. I've seen a lot of testing for the format as well. I think we have something like seven different proxied decks at the Judge's Station for players to test with. What I've gathered from all of this is: we are going to have some fun!
I've witnessed so many interesting and exciting conversations about the possibilities of Frontier. There was some initial negativity surrounding the format, but for the most part that has faded away as people have come to the realization that they too can have fun with Frontier. Lately, I've been hearing a bunch of new deck ideas popping up such as Green White Tokens with Archangel Avacyn, Jeskai Ascendancy Storm, and Grixis Dragons. I've never said the Rally the Ancestors Collected Company (or Rally CoCo) deck wasn't powerful, but honestly with some of the decks I've seen you guys brewing up, I'm worry it's not going to be powerful enough. I am legitimately concerned about Jeskai Ascendancy Storm and a couple other things. I've changed up my initial sideboard due to some of the decks I've heard talk about or seen in action. I still get so excited every time I see someone's new take on Frontier.
As I've said, we kick off our Frontier events this coming Monday. I'm going to be playing in these (double prize pool) events representing the "Bad Guy" decks, otherwise known as the internet's current competitive Tier 1 decks. I'll be making a few edits here and there to hopefully improve on the decks, but the main point is I will be representing what is understood to be one of the best decks in the format at the present time. So, you had better come prepared. Brews are great. Frontier is a brewer's dreamland right now, but that doesn't mean build something that only works in a vacuum and still expect it to do well with it. Make sure your brews have aggressive decks, control decks, and other known decks like Rally CoCo in mind before finalizing them.
For our Frontier events I've also promised to publish my deck lists ahead of time, so players get an idea of what to expect from the format. For the first few weeks I will be piloting 4 Color Rally CoCo. I'm going to make little edits here and there after each event based on how our local meta develops.
4 Color Rally CoCo
Mine is a pretty normal list for Frontier's Rally the Ancestors Collected Company deck. One of the main changes I've made is to the deck's mana base. Most Rally CoCo decks I've seen are running 24 to 25 lands. While I agree 22 may be greedy, I firmly disagree with needing more than 23 lands in this deck. Most of the Rally CoCo decks are also running 12 fetch lands. I have cut one Polluted Delta, because while the original deck I built off of was very hungry for blue and black mana, mine isn't quite so desperate. The deck only needs three Nantuko Husks to reliably find one of them for the drain combos through Zulaport Cutthroat. Unlike the one you can find at MTGGoldfish, there is also no Sorin, Solemn Visitor in my list. Cute card, not optimal for the deck though, especially when they cut other keystone cards like Rally the Ancestors and Zulaport Cutthroat. My build is more centralized around green, blue, and white. This build uses black mana for a lot of things, but I've found that this mana base can reliably find black mana sources pretty easily. The deck doesn't need a one of island or any Evolving Wilds. There are very few hands you should keep that can't get you a blue mana source on turns one or two. I've got an extra Canopy Vista in there, because of a spicy bit of tech we will get to later. My favorite addition to the mana base is the one of Westvale Abbey. Ormendahl, Profane Prince is a boss. He's another sacrifice outlet for Zulaport Cutthroat, another win condition, and he makes 1/1 token creatures. This card is an auto include in every Frontier Rally CoCo deck.
This deck tries to beat in for some early damage, but then quickly changes gears to grind your opponent out by loading the board up with value creatures on the opponent's end step. It's very hard for your opponent to attack you on the ground, because you are more than happy to trade your creatures in combat to reoccur them with Rally the Ancestors later. Even when your opponent does feel comfortable attacking, you're probably fine taking a few hits and then just swinging back in the next combat, because they have less blockers now. The deck has lifegain as one of its core mechanics thanks to Zulaport Cutthroat, so taking some hits isn't a problem. That also points out how important Zulaport Cutthroat is to the deck. Play the full four if you're building a variant of this deck! Finding two Cutthroats during a game is often the moment the deck switches gears again. This time trying to drain the opponent's life total very quickly and pretty aggressively.
Satyr Wayfinder is also a four of in every version of this deck. The card is a great value creature that is easy to cast, fills your graveyard, and helps to fix your mana. Once you get a couple Wayfinders going, your graveyard is generally pretty stacked for a Rally the Ancestors. Better yet is if the first Rally didn't set you over the edge, the next one is sure to with two Wayfinders coming back again and again helping to further fill your graveyard with other value creatures.
Another powerful card in this deck is Spell Queller. Queller is not a 100% necessary card in all builds, but he is extremely good in conjunction with Nantuko Husk. Here's a regular interaction you can do in this deck several different ways with the same results, and you're going to need to know about these kinds of interactions if you are going to face off against me. You're playing against Anthony in Pandemonium's first ever Frontier event. Anthony casts Languish in his first main phase. You respond with Collected Company. In the six cards you see from Collected Company are a Nantuko Husk and a Spell Queller. You select both of these creatures. You target the Languish with the Queller's enter the battlefield (ETB) effect. Before the Queller's ETB resolves you respond by sacrificing the Queller to your Nantuko Husk. The Queller dies, and its leave the battlefield effect triggers. However, there's nothing for Anthony to cast yet, because the Queller's ETB is still on the stack waiting to exile Anthony's Languish. So, the Queller's leave the battlefield effect resolves and does nothing. Then you resolved the Queller's ETB, which exiles the Languish, in this case permanently. Anthony will never get the option to cast his Languish in that game, because the Queller that exiled it is already gone. So, Anthony is not using a kill spell on your Queller later to then sweep your entire board.
The Husk Queller interaction can be done from Collected Company, Rally the Ancestors, having a Husk on board and flashing in a Queller, or by Chording for it, but we will talk about Chord of Calling in a second. Having the ability to permanently exile some of your opponent's most powerful cards is the reason I am playing the full four Spell Quellers. It's a crazy powerful interaction, and you need to see it coming or you could lose the game on the spot.
The spiciest part of my Rally CoCo build has to be the two Chord of Callings. I haven't seen any other Rally CoCo decks building with it. Generally, you don't want to have too many non-creature cards in the deck, because the potential to miss with a Collected Company increases as the number of creature spots decreases. It's a risk I'm willing to take. I haven't felt bad about milling the Chords, or seeing them in a CoCo, because there are still 28 creatures to hit. Yes, it messes up the probabilities a bit. Yes, it has been worth it in testing. If it doesn't work out in tournament play, then we will cut them for something better. Until then though, these things have been nuts.
My build of Rally CoCo is not a tap out version of the deck. It is very much a sit back and wait for the opponent to make a move style of deck. Being able to Rally or CoCo on the opponent's end step is great. Being able to Chord for a Queller to answer a troubling spell is better. Chording for a second Zulaport Cutthroat to end the game is amazing. Even Chording for a Reflector Mage is gratifying in several situations, such as an opponent's resolved Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet that's keeping you from draining them out of the game.
Chord is not prefect though. It does require some combination of three green mana/creatures to cast. I was having some issues with reliably having those three green sources. I found out the hard way that Catacomb Sifter is not actually green. The three green sources may be Chords downfall in this deck, but I've made some changes to hopefully give it a fighting chance. I'm running three Canopy Vistas, instead of the normal two. I've also added two Noose Constrictor. You will see many Rally CoCo lists running a set of Jace, Vryn's Prodigy. I agree it's a powerful card in the deck, but I don't believe it is essential for the deck to remain a strong force to contend with. Noose Constrictor and Chord of Calling have taken the Jace spots in my build, but I believe Chord is worth it. Unfortunately, Noose Constrictor is pretty average. Right now there is not another solid value creature at three converted mana cost or less (preferably less) that is worth a mainboard spot. I need three green sources for Chord, so I needed another non-devoid green creature. Noose Constrictor isn't all bad though. It blocks opposing Spell Quellers and some Dragons fairly well, while also allowing you to put creatures you'd like to Rally back directly from your hand into your graveyard. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments section below.
The sideboard I've assembled is pretty straightforward. Anafenza, the Foremost, Tormod's Crypt, and Tainted Remedy are all for the mirror match and other graveyard or lifegain decks. Dispel and Negates are mainly for the control matchups, but can find their way in for most spell heavy decks. Planeswalkers are a pain to deal with. Spell Queller can usually fight through one, but he has a hard time keeping up with them in the long run. Thalia, Heretic Cathar is for aggressive creature decks, and also decks with extra greedy mana bases. Murderous Cut fits in a ton of places. It will probably find its way in against a lot of decks. Virulent Plague is one of my old favorites, which hopefully ruins the token decks I've been hearing about. I'm wonder how many Dromoka's Commands I can dodge. Finally there's Caustic Caterpillar. A green creature that removes pesky artifacts that have sprung to life due to Ensoul Artifact, and back breaking enchantments like Tainted Remedy or Jeskai Ascendancy.
There you have it. Now you know the deck I'll be using, and its main strategies. I'm confident you can brew something solid that stands up to Rally CoCo and much more. Put the finishing touches on your deck, and do some testing. There's plenty of time between matches and on the weekend. What else are you going to be doing on January 1st anyway? That reminds me, have a safe and happy New Years Eve everyone!
We want to do articles about your decks and experiences in our events. To make this easier, I'd like to collect deck list each week. You do not have to submit your deck list, but I'd really appreciate it if you did. I'll have deck registration forms at the Judge's Station, or you can find them here. We are also looking for some talented and passionate freelance writers. If you'd like to try your hand at writing a deck tech, a tournament summary, or a community building article, then check out our article on freelance writing for Pandemonium, and keep your eyes peeled for submission information.
Get out and have fun,