Green-White-based Planeswalkers: An Archetype That May Survive the Rotation

Posted in Event Coverage on March 20, 2016

By Frank Karsten

Although we're still summoning Siege Rhinos, casting Rally the Ancestors, and cracking fetch lands this weekend, the release of Shadows over Innistrad is coming up in three weeks. And with it, the new two-block rotation will start, which means that Khans of Tarkir and Fate Reforged will rotate out of Standard.

When we asked several pros which decks they expect to be square one post-rotation, some of them mentioned that planeswalker strategies could be a powerful place to start. So in anticipation of that, let's take a look at planeswalker-heavy decks that competitors are running at the top tables here in Paris.

Kai Schlichting's Bant Walkers – Grand Prix Paris 2016

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This deck, whose design was credited to Simon Nielsen, can be seen as a variation on Bant Company that trades Collected Company and Deathmist Raptor for the duo of Nissa, Voice of Zendikar and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar.

Kai Schlichting in front of Nissa, the planeswalker that has served him well this weekend

"I saw Simon's stream and liked the deck," Kai Schlichting told me after his Round 12 feature match, which he entered at a 9-1-1 record. "A big reason for Nissa and Gideon is that Wingmate Roc is so good in the mirror match, and thanks to the planeswalkers your Wingmates are bigger than your opponent's. Without Wingmate Roc, I might go back to the Company version, depending on the mana base, but the Nissa and Gideon combo would still be viable, too. It is pretty powerful."

Cards from this deck that will rotate out of Standard:

The sideboard cards are all replaceable and can be tailored to the new Standard metagame that will develop after the release of Shadows over Innistrad. Wingmate Roc is a relevant loss, as Kai Schlichting indicated, but the new set holds Archangel Avacyn, a powerful flier for the same mana cost that can act as a substitute.

The departure of the fetch-lands is arguably the most impactful, but with a judicious use of Canopy Vista, Prairie Stream, Evolving Wilds, an extra basic lands, you can still make a three-color mana base work. Without the fetch-lands, it's not going to be as easy to build a consistent three-mana mana base, but what the planeswalker strategies have going for them is access to Oath of Nissa. This enchantment can act as an additional mana fixer to alleviate the pressure on your mana base.

Kevin Demange's Abzan Walkers – Grand Prix Paris 2016

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This deck differs from a regular Abzan deck by using Nissa, Voice of Zendikar and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar alongside Languish and Secure the Wastes. So instead of leaning on aggressive starts with Anafenza, the Foremost, the deck goes heavier on control and token elements that work well with the planeswalkers.

Cards from this deck that will rotate out of Standard:

The loss of the sideboard cards is not a big deal when Rally the Ancestor is also leaving the format. Siege Rhino and Abzan Charm were pretty powerful, but Siege Rhino could be replaced by any other hard-hitting creature like Woodland Wanderer, and Abzan Charm could be replaced by any other removal spell, like Anguished Unmaking or Declaration in Stone from Shadows over Innistrad. The biggest losses are arguably once again in the mana base. But, as mentioned earlier, mana fixers like Evolving Wilds and Oath of Nissa can help out.

The appeal of the black version is that you gain access to Sorin, Grim Nemesis, a powerful planeswalker from Shadows over Innistrad whose ultimate is extra-sweet with the global creature boosts of Nissa and Gideon.

If you're looking for fun and powerful planeswalker decks for the last weeks of the current Standard or the first weeks of the next Standard, then these decks can be a great place to start!

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