This week on the blog, our guest writer is Alex Moore. Alex is taking a look at a new format in Magic the Gathering that is turning heads; Frontier.
The New Bold Frontier
By Alex Moore
Frontier is a newly brewed format which consists of all of the sets released into standard since the 2015 core set. The existence of Frontier is highly debated. Everyone seems to have a different opinion into the workings of the format. As well as, what the best decks are and how popular it will be. I am hoping this article will provide a look at each perspective so you can make your own choice about the format.
The main downside to frontier people are talking about is that it will just be a repeat of last standard format. The Khans block. For those who didn’t play during this time, there were a small number of very powerful decks during this standard format. Mainly variations of Abzan or Jeskai, both of which splashed a colour in order to facilitate Crackling Doom. This quickly made the format stale. It also became one of the most expensive standard formats since the days of Jace, the Mind Sculptor. When I first heard about the format, this was also my opinion. However, after a small amount of research, the metagame for the format is much more diverse that I first expected. I will go through the Frontier metagame, according to MTGGoldfish, later.
There are a number of good things about frontier; the most obvious is that it contains a much smaller card pool than modern and a larger one than standard. This is a benefit of the format, decreasing the ability of players to win without interacting with their opponents. This is one of the downsides of the current modern metagame. Cards such as Infect, Burn, Death’s Shadow etc. permit players to win without the opponents interaction. The fact that there is a larger card pool than in standard is also a benefit. This means that there is much more brewing potential than with just the current sets. Another upside of Frontier is that it gives players the ability to play with cards that they ordinary wouldn’t be able to play with. These cards would be too slow for modern, but not have enough support within the current standard cardpool.
Metagame – Four Colour Rally
The top tier decks of the format are more diverse than most people’s expectations. The highest played deck, 11.54% of the meta according to MTGGoldfish, being 4 Colour Rally. This is based on the Rally the Ancestors decks that existed in Khans block standard but with a few improvements; such as Spell Queller. This deck uses ways of filling its graveyard, like Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy and Satyr Wayfinder. This allows it to cast a Rally the Ancestors for maximum effect, getting back a number of Zulaport Cutthroats and Nantuko Husk’s in order to win the game.
Metagame – Atarka Red
Other highly played decks include Atarka red, an almost mono red aggro deck splashing green for Hooting Mandrills and the powerful card, Atarka’s Command in order to finish the game as quickly as possible. This deck isn’t designed to fight in the mid to late-game so overloads on small aggressive creatures, such as Monastery Swiftspear and Reckless Bushwhacker, alongside token producing spells like Dragon Fodder in order to get maximum effect our of Atarka’s command.
Metagame – Mardu Dragons
The third highest deck is mardu dragons, which pairs powerful spells, such as Crackling Doom and Kolaghan’s Command, with big dragons like Thunderbreak Regent and Kolaghan, Storms Fury. This deck is aiming to close out the game during its mid-stages, relying on four and five mana cards to win. This deck has a lot of removal so is capable of fighting into the later stages of the game. It has lots of ways of generating value such as Goblin Dark-Dwellers and Soulfire Grandmaster, to get multiple uses out of its powerful spells.
Metagame – Elves
The fourth highest deck is an elf tribal deck, abusing the powerful card Panharmonicon. This deck overloads on Enter the Battlefield triggers and elves such as Elvish Visionary and Dwynen’s Elite in order to generate value in the early to mid-game. It then wins using Woodland Bellower to find a number of Shaman of the Pack’s to deal the ‘last’ points of damage, which can be enough to get a kill by itself.
In conclusion, Frontier is a very open format, with many possibilities available for players to utilise. If this article has convinced anyone to try the format, or you were interested before, Athena is running a proxy frontier event on February 15th. Come along and show your support for what could be a very enjoyable format.
Thank you for that in-depth look at the Frontier format, Alex. As he said, if you are interested in the format you can give it a try on the third Midweek Magic next month occurring on Wednesday 15th February