Leyline of Anticipation
12, Nov, 23

Bizarre Leyline Combo Deck Takes Over MTG Format!

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Article at a Glance

For those who followed the MTG Arena Championship back in October, you may recall the dominance of Orcish Bowmasters in decks like Dimir control and Golgari Yawgmoth. In Historic, any card on Arena that isn’t specifically banned is fair game, and the addition of Lord of the Rings MTG cards to Arena greatly increased the overall power level of the format.

However, the nerfing of both Orcish Bowmasters and The One Ring greatly impacted the overall metagame. Decks like mono-green Devotion and Izzet Wizards that saw previous success and weren’t negatively affected to a big degree by the nerfs rose in popularity greatly. On the flip side, Dimir control, at least the variant making use of Lurrus of the Dream-Den as a Companion, fell by the wayside as Orcish Bowmasters’ playability dwindled post-nerf.

While many players simply gravitated towards the well-established archetypes like mono-green that were easy to turn to, it appears some players have taken the opposite route, brewing around interesting cards on Arena that may finally get their time to shine.

Some of the most intriguing cards to build around on Arena, interestingly enough, were specifically designed for Alchemy. We’ve already seen Crucias, Titan of the Waves become a Rakdos midrange staple, and it appears as though a new Alchemy-centric card is giving rise to a unique and blazingly fast “combo”.

The Combo

In order to execute this deck’s gameplan, you essentially need to find a copy of Fragment Reality. Fragment Reality is a one-mana Instant that allows one to exile a non-token Artifact, Creature, or Enchantment. This results in the permanent’s controller putting a Creature card with lesser mana value from their deck into play at random. For this strategy, Fragment Reality is almost exclusively going to target your own Enchantments.

There are a bunch of different four-mana Leylines, such as Leyline of Anticipation, that are all on arena. The thing with Leylines is that, instead of simply casting them, you can put them into play for free if they are in your opening hand. By adding a ton of Leylines to your deck, you make it extremely likely that you will have at least one to put into play for free. From there, Fragment Reality can be cast one turn one.

In order to minimize the randomness associated with Fragment Reality, this deck plays two copies of Geist of Saint Traft as the only Creatures. This guarantees that you will have a hard-hitting Creature with Hexproof to quickly put the pressure on the opponent.

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Making Geist of Saint Traft Better

While most of the non-Land cards in the deck are dedicated to actually getting Geist of Saint Traft into play on turn one, simply doing so isn’t always guaranteed to win you the game. After all, if the opponent simply plays a two-power blocker, they can trade with your Geist and your whole plan goes awry. This is why the rest of the deck is built to make sure Geist of Saint Traft can cross the finish line.

First, this deck plays multiple ways to give Geist of Saint Traft evasion to prevent the opponent from effectively blocking it. Both Arcane Flight and Gryff’s Boon give the powerful three-drop Flying as well as a small buff. Next, to help make sure Geist can end the game in short order, this deck makes great use of Ethereal Armor. Ethereal Armor not only works great alongside your Auras, but it also pumps Geist for every Leyline you have in play.

The last Aura this deck utilizes is Combat Research. In reality, the Ward ability granted from Combat Research is largely irrelevant since Geist already has Hexproof, but the buff provided combined with the opportunity to draw extra cards is strong, nonetheless.

Finally, in order to ensure that Geist doesn’t fall victim to board wipes or cards like Sheoldred’s Edict, this deck plays a playset of Slip Out the Back. Slip Out the Back not only protects the Creature, but it also protects all of the Auras attached to it. Altogether, this deck combines a great mix of speed and stability.

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Overcoming Issues of Consistency

Tibalt's Trickery

The biggest problem that this style of deck has is certainly consistency. Despite it being extremely likely to have at least one of your 19 Leylines in your opening hand, you still need to find a copy of Fragment Reality for the deck to function correctly. Unfortunately, there are simply no other cards that can recreate that effect efficiently. This forces you to mulligan extremely heavily until you find it. Even then, you still need to have a Leyline and a Land in hand as well, which is not guaranteed.

This deck is somewhat similar to decks that rely on Tibalt’s Trickery. You are entirely reliant on finding and resolving one key card. There are a few differences that make this deck a bit stronger, though.

First, being able to execute your combo turn one means that, on the play, your opponent has no chance to respond with something like Spell Pierce. Likewise, even when on the draw, two-mana Counterspells are largely moot. Fragment Reality is also reliable in the sense that, as long as Geist is in your deck and you target one of your Leylines, you will always end up with the same result of Geist in play. From there, the existence of Slip Out the Back as a form of protection against random answers to Geist makes victory all but assured.

Shining in Best-of-One

Of course, actually gunning to beat this deck is not incredibly difficult, and mulliganing into oblivion with the deck some games will happen. However, a lot of the cards that may be effective against this strategy, like Spell Pierce or even one-mana Enchantment removal in response to Fragment Reality targeting a Leyline, are not very effective in many other matchups. As a result, those types of cards are often relegated to the sideboard.

There’s a reason this deck, which saw LimeBell (shown above) go undefeated in day one of the Historic Qualifier Play-In on MTG Arena, had immense success in best-of-one Historic specifically. Opponents were also likely completely caught off guard, so if this strategy becomes a well-known archetype, expect players to pack more hate. Still, if you are looking for funky, all-in combo deck to try, consider giving this deck a whirl, as its unique level of success is undeniable.

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