Happy new year!
A large online event with cash prizes is about to happen, so I was offered to write an article on the current best deck (from a competitive point of view): a juggernaut that plays 4 to 6 cards during the first two turns for barely any will at all, finishing you off during that very same turn. Its attributes are Wind and Darkness, with a small splash of a third one. Yes, an unstoppable aggro combo that is ravaging Wand… oops! My apologies. Today’s article is about New Frontiers.
Let’s start all over again: today we will discuss the best deck in the format, one that plays 4 to 6 cards during the first two turns without barely paying any will… yes, everything mentioned at the start of this article still applies, except our format being New Frontiers rather than Wanderer.
Rezzard, the Undead Lord
Ever since we started playing Alice Origins Cluster tournaments, Rezzard (AO3-BaB-3) // Rezzard [J-ruler] (AO3-BaB-3J) has been the best deck in the format, with a wide gap between him and the other rulers.
Its four automatic abilities are extremely synergistic. Its regalia can be returned from the graveyard to the hand. Its resonators can be replayed. Its play lines are unstoppable. Even its Road, The Road to the Undead Lord (PofA-075), is much more superior compared to the others.
There have been four iterations of the same deck so far, all of them sharing their orientation: returning resonators from the graveyard to the battlefield, generating a superlative advantage. On few occasions has the game seen such a high-power level to that of graveyard-based decks since the release of AO3. Let’s review the list that we, Seven Kings Team, play. Our teammate Sergio Hidalgo piloted it, undefeated until the final round of the Online FoW Christmas Party tournament held last month.
As you can see, this list is a lightly updated version of the deck that was presented in the article December 2020 Post EDL New Frontiers metagame & decklists. The recipe is wonderful due to its simplicity: you dump as many Resonators (Stranger) as possible to reanimate them with Mikage Seijuro’s Game of Dreams (AO3-075). Thanks to the combination of Azazel, the Blazing Charger (Stranger) (AO1-048) and Hino Kagutsuchino Mikoto, the Flaming God of Fate (Stranger) (PofA-022), once Game of Dreams resolves, we will win the game automatically.
Perhaps you are wondering why we do not play other cards, such as Faust, the Promising Warrior (Stranger) (AO3-068) and/or Princess of Dragon Palace (Stranger) (PofA-032), Abhorrent Revival (EDL-077), The Scorn of Dark Alice (PofA-076), etc.
That is because there is a remarkable difference between playing a fair deck and an unfair one. When we play one of the former, such as Faria Voltron, we seek to take the game to a state where we are comfortable, forcing our rival to play our game rather than theirs. Every single card named so far is to fulfil that function, and they honestly are great at it. However, Rezzard is an unfair deck, and we are not in a midgame environment. This ruler can end games abruptly on turn 2, before opponents can defend themselves or question what went wrong. There is often not enough time for such considerations: it is not possible to commit enough mistakes to deserve losing in the short period of one turn. The deck is unfair, it does not allow to develop one’s game nor is trying to drag you into its territory. It just wins. Period. Hence why it is a Tier 0.
You will notice that we only have two outs against our opponent’s Exorcist Mage at the Academy (EDL-003):
1x Faurecia, the Virtuous Vampire (AO3-067) and 2x Awakening of the Undead Lord (AO3-058). This is because the deck is built for a field where we are bumping into a lot of mirror matches. Leave defensive cards and other nonsense for the second and third games (if there is any of the latter). We want to win mirror matches.
The deck has a very straightforward and effective play line: play a Deathscythe (AO3-065) on turn 1 with the coin, a second one on turn 2, and a Mikage Seijuro’s Game of Dreams with the will produced with them. Those three cards can deal lethal damage by themselves. There are obviously many more alternatives but having one so simple to begin with makes a great starting point.
Some important considerations to play this deck:
- Black Wizard (Stranger) (AO3-040) enables some devastating plays in early turns. Use it as soon as possible.
- Mikage Reiya (AO3-046) gives drain to our J-Ruler, to Faurecia, and to the resonator brought back by Rezzard’s (J) enter skill.
- You can play Sigurd, the Covenant King (AO3-082) from your graveyard with Deathscythe.
- You can play Tsuiya, Cursed Spawn of the Star // Curse of Ragnarok (EDL-094)‘s remnant with Deathscythe.
- On many occasions you can (and must) target yourself with Tsuiya, Cursed Spawn of the Star’s enter ability.
- Reanimating Griphon, Racing Across Darkness (AO3-070) on turn 2 is the worst play available. Do it only if you have a 100% success rate. Otherwise choose any other.
- Mulligan aggressively for multiple copies of Deathscythe. The more you have, the easier it is to win.
This is only the tip of the iceberg. Your play is crystal clear if you go second and have energize: Deathscythe; Rezzard’s skill (dump Strangers and banish); if you dump a Black Wizard (Stranger), top it up with Mikage Reiya grabbing Sigurd, the Covenant King. Then you play Sigurd, the Covenant King and get The Road to the Undead Lord.
There will be occasions when you will not have a Deathscythe in hand. What is the best alternative? There are many, and they all depend on what you have been paired against and their T1 play. The priority order is as follows:
Why is that? Due to how versatile Mikage Reiya is. Once your opponent has made his turn 2 play, you can play her safely and decide how your next turn will look like and how devastating it will be. You will 100% know your opponent’s options.
This is the case too if you go first. In this situation, your turn 1 play will force your opponent to act accordingly. I am going to use pictures to illustrate different early play lines. You must play the cards from left to right, following the order of the arrows.
As was previously discussed; if you mulligan aggressively for Deathscythe, you will always be able to follow one of these lines, depending on the rest of your hand. Always. There is an extremely low mathematical chance of being unable to follow any of these. In that case, play Dark Alice’s Smile, followed by a Deathscythe. This will undoubtedly be one of your worst openings.
This is one of the most complex parts when it comes to specific pairings: what do you remove, how many copies, and what you substitute it with. I often build my sideboards considering exactly what I want to take out in every pairing, while looking for generic cards that will be useful against several decks. That is Rezzard’s case: being a Tier 0, graveyard hate is most detrimental against it.
Rezzard mirror matches are pretty much sealed during the first turns. Since the most optimal opening is Mikage Reiya + Deathscythe, stopping a turn 2 Game of Dreams or Griphon + A Part of True Power is most important, hence why we use Faurecia’s Journey to stop it. The third Awakening will enable us to answer our opponent’s Game of Dreams, banishing all of our resonators and changing that game’s outcome.
Faria (SDAO1-026) // Faria [J-Ruler] (SDAO1-026J) her strategy vs our deck revolves around playing an Exorcist and protecting it with Altesing’s Secret Hideout (EDL-059). For this reason, targeted removal will most likely be ineffective. We side Moans for any situations when they cannot protect their Exorcist(s), and the third Awakening is there to deal 400 damage to the entire board. This should be enough to get rid of Exorcist(s) without targeting them.
Oborozuki, Star Sword Visionary (EDL-009) // Oborozuki, Star Sword Visionary [J-Ruler] (EDL-009J) also aims to protect Exorcist(s) with their Altesing’s Secret Hideout. There is another caveat: this ruler can transfer +100/+100 counters and make Exorcist(s) gain barrier. We add hate against this card, as well as the second Cage of the Mother Goose. The later is an out against these annoying barrier additions. In this occasion, we opt for diminishing the number of Awakenings rather than increasing them, since it will be rather rare that Exorcists stay at 400/400.
My teammates and I have some disagreements regarding this sideboard. I would opt for -2 Dark Alice’s Smile -1 Griphon, Racing Across the Darkness, since you should always aim for bringing Nidhogg back with A Part of True Power (this play practically seals the game).
On the other hand, my teammates opt for high-roll opportunities. In any case, we side in removal to stop Lilias, Last Descendant of Dragonoids (EDL-031) // Lilias, Last Descendant of Dragonoids [J-Ruler] (EDL-031J) from finishing you off with burn spells. Nidhogg makes you gain barrier, so any kill requires resonator-dealt damage. Awakening of the Undead Lord is brilliant here, since it deals enough damage to get rid of Burning Rabbit Dash and also makes you gain life (more than whatever amount they have been able to deal so far).
This is the toughest pairing. Your best shot is to OTK your opponent with double Deathscythe, followed by a Game of Dreams. If your rival wipes your board and graveyard clean, they will leave you without two pennies to rub together. World Enders will enable you to do Judgment over and over again, generating as much card advantage as you may need.
Ragnarok specializes in extremely powerful turn 1 and 2 plays, copying spells. We use Faurecia’s Journey to cancel as many of them as possible. Our 3 copies of The Showdown with Ragnarok make our pairings extremely favourable: they are quintessential to win, but they need to be drawn. Do not ever dare to mulligan them out; you will need them to win.
This is it for today! I have almost reached 2000 words and have pretty much broken down all you need to play the deck accordingly. I hope you enjoyed it! Should there be any further questions, you can find me on Twitter.
See you soon after Saga 2: The Magic Stone War – Zero, whose spoilers should start in one or two weeks. Until then, stay safe!
Article translated by Mauro Ferrero Avila