The Harbinger of Standard
It’s PPTQ season and it’s time to move on from modern and go back to standard. There weren’t many decks that appealed to me, but there were a few cards that I really wanted to be playing. Sylvan Advocate and Archangel Avacyn were the two main cards I wanted to play in standard. I just couldn’t find the right deck, until my friend Pascoe reminded about Nahiri, the Harbinger. My interest was piqued and I remembered a list that was posted here. I was going to start there, but then someone went and won GP Tokyo with a sweet Naya Midrange deck.
credit: Wizards of the Coast
I got some friends over and we started testing. I was instantly hooked on Nahiri, the Harbinger. She did everything I needed plus I got to play with the the two cards I really wanted. I immediately asked everyone to help me put the deck together and Pascoe came to the rescue again and helped me finish the deck just in time for a double event weekend. Saturday was a PPTQ in Gosford and Sunday was a GP trial in Charlestown (just five minutes down the road). Now that I had my deck and got some testing in I was ready to go.
Me and my friend Jake made the hour long drive down to Gosford and we arrived super pumped up thanks to our awesome Disney tunes. There ends up being twenty-five people total, so the tournament is going to be five rounds with a cut to top 8. My goal is to make the top 8 and see what happens from there. There’s about five other people from my local game store who made the trip down, so there is a good chance one of us can win the invite to regionals.
Round 1 – Chester Swords, Four Colour Dragon Ramp
Game 1: He has lots of early ramp spells and I start catching up, but get blown out by an Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger.
Game 2: Similar start to the first game. He has some early ramp and I manage to deal with a few threats he plays. However, a Dragonlord Silumgar comes down and steals my Nissa, Sage Animist. I can’t recover and scoop.
I have a good chat with Chester about our matches and he fills me in on how he went X-4 at GP Tokyo with his deck. It’s not good to start the day with a loss, but I am in a good mood and feeling good going into round two.
Round 2 – BYE
It’s been a while, but I get the bye this round, so it’s a free win for me. I use this time to grab a picture of the field and watch some of my friends battle it out. I am also able to go and get some lunch which is great.
Round 3 – Jake Lewis, GR goggles
I hate that I have to go up against a friend, and it’s also a terrible match-up for me.
Game 1: I put some early pressure on him but multiple World Breakers and a Fall of the Titans finishes me off.
Game 2: We have a fantastic early game as we both trade resources and try to build a board. I get lucky and hit an untapped red source on turn six to cast Chandra, Flamecaller then hit my seventh land to cast Dragonlord Atarka and win the game.
Game 3: Jake keeps a bit of a risky hand and is punished as I curve two Sylvan Advocate into a Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. He misses his fifth land drops and concedes.
Round 4 – Sean Crain, Esper Walkers
Game 1: I keep a land heavy hand with multiple Oath of Nissa, but they both fail to find me a threat and I can’t pressure his planeswalkers. I fall too far behind and scoop to save time for the next games.
Game 2: I keep a one lander and manage to hit my first four land drops but they all come in tapped and I can’t get anything on board. I begin casting spells, but Sean has too many answers and runs away with the game.
Standings go up and I’m in 11th place. Usually this would put me with no chance of top eight BUT there have been so many unintentional draws that almost everyone has to actually play the last round.
Round 5 Robert Barron, Four Colour Rites
Game 1: I cast four spells this game and somehow that was enough to win. Two Sylvan Advocate, Silkwrap and a Dragonlord Atarka were able to push through enough damage to win the game.
Game 2: This time it was just the two spells but I died to a very aggressive start backed up by multiple Collected Companys that hit very decent threats.
Game 3: My two Sylvan Advocates pressure him early, then Nahiri, the Harbinger comes down and exiles his Cryptolith Rite. Archangel Avacyn comes down and protects my board from a large swing from my opponent. He threw away too many resources trying to finish off Nahiri, the Harbinger and I am able to kill him with a vigilant army.
Now I get to sweat and wait for the tie breaker gods to be kind to me. The judge announces that one 3-2 record has made it into the top eight. He then says he will announce 8th place last. I nervously wait until finally the judge calls out my name for 8th place.
Quarter-Finals – Kyle Vincent, BW control
Game 1: This game is pretty uneventful as I take a mulligan and I am unable to put any pressure on the board. He plays some planeswalkers and kills me in short order.
Game 2: We start off trading resources and I am able to pressure his planeswalkers so that they don’t get out of hand. Den Protector from the sideboard is able to rebuy me a Declaration in Stone, which takes care of his huge Hangarback Walker and puts pressure on his planeswalkers. I am able to clear his board and keep chipping in for damage while also holding up Archangel Avacyn. This is enough to finish him off and we go on to game three.
Game 3: I take a mulligan again and start things off very slowly, I get stuck on four lands, and he deals with what little threats I am able to put onto the board. My hand becomes flooded with uncastable Archangel Avacyns and I lose to his planeswalkers.
I felt a bit unprepared for this match up as we hadn’t be able to test it during the week. I think with a bit more practice this match up gets a lot better for me. I am happy with making the quarter-finals. This is my first PPTQ in over six months, so its good to come back with a decent result. I have a chance to rebound and gets some wins the very next day in a Grand Prix Trial.
I show up for the trial and found out they are having an issue with the venue, so after a small delay we have to move to a slightly different venue and then we can get under way. There are only fourteen players in this tournament, so it’s four rounds with a cut to top eight. I am hoping that either me or one of my friends (Chris and Brendan) can take down the tournament and get the byes. I take the same deck that I used for the PPTQ with no changes. Hopefully it can get me more results.
Round 1 – Kayne Baldwin, BW control
Game 1: I am able to land an early Sylvan Advocate and Tireless Tracker which force him to Languish me. I play Archangel Avacyn end step then untap and play Chandra, Flamecaller. He can’t answer both of them and scoops.
Game 2: Almost identical to game one. Early threats keep his board clear, and he has to tap out to deal with what I have instead of advancing his board. Chandra, Flamecaller comes down and kills him quickly.
Round 2 – Brendan Waddingham, Grixis Control
Brendan is one of my testing buddies so we both knew a lot about this match up. I was disappointed that we had to verse each other so soon, but with so few people in the tournament it was bound to happen eventually.
Game 1: Tireless Tracker and Nahiri, the Harbinger get me some card advantage in the early parts of the game but he keeps up with Read the Bones and Goblin Dark-Dwellers. We end up trading so may resources that we start playing off the top of our decks. I am able to hit an Archangel Avacyn which takes down his Wandering Fumarole then hits him for lethal.
Game 2: He takes a mulligan and can’t deal with my Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. Overall, its a disappointing game.
Round 3 – Odin Collins, BW midrange
Game 1: He kills off my Sylvan Advocates but a Tireless Tracker comes down and makes me a few clues and then gets huge. Chandra, Flamecaller plus another Tireless Tracker are enough to over power my opponent, and it’s on to the next game.
Game 2: He takes a mulligan and starts flooding. I play a few creatures and he can’t do anything except play lands. He doesn’t last much longer.
Round 4 – Intentional draw into top eight
I go and grab some lunch with my friend Chris. We sit and watch Brendan play a win and in. In a close three games, Brendan manages to get the result he needs and his opponent is far from happy. Top eight is announced and sadly me and Brendan are paired up against each other again.
Quarter-Finals – Brendan Waddingham, Grixis Control
Game 1: I finally have to mulligan, and end up going down to five. The game ends pretty quickly as I play one threat but it gets stolen by Dragonlord Silumgar and I concede.
Game 2: Brendan rips apart my hand with Transgress the Mind and I am feeling pretty defeated, but Tireless Tracker comes down with an Evolving Wilds to refill my hand. I only draw threats from this point on and somehow manage to win the game.
Game 3: This time my planeswalkers all show up and give Brendan too many threats to have to deal with. A Stasis Snare on his Dragonlord Silumgar manages to return my Archangel Avacyn and give me some profitable blocks which wipe his board and give me a huge threat. Brendan can’t deal with my walkers and Archangel Avacyn and concedes.
Semi-Finals – Odin Collins BW midrange
Game 1: Odin casts a turn four Thought-Knot Seer which I hadn’t seen in the past round we played. I deal with it and land a Nahiri, the Harbinger to dig deeper in my deck. A sixth land comes down with two Sylvan Advocates. He can’t deal with my large creatures and my gigantic Needle Spires.
Game 2: His mana base is a bit painful this time around. I play some early threats that he has to pay a lot of life to deal with. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and Nahiri, the Harbinger team up to present two lethal threats and I win the game.
Before I can even find out who my opponent is, the tournament organizer comes over and congratulates me on winning two byes. Apparently my opponent wasn’t going to the Grand Prix and was happy to take second place which awarded boosters as a prize. I am pretty happy to get my two byes as it will be a big help to making day two in Sydney.
I am feeling pretty confidant with the deck now. It might not be the most powerful in the format but it suits my play style really well. The deck is able to attack from multiple angles and is good in all stages of the game. Each creature does something powerful and the planeswalkers are there to help finish off the games if needed. I highly recommend this deck but know that you will have to put a lot of work into learning all the different lines and styles of play. I’ll be playing it in the next few PPTQs so expect an update on the deck and how I am doing soon.