Knightly Retribution

Is Knight of the White Orchid the most underrated card in Standard? Brad Nelson thinks so! See the build he’s packing for this weekend and read about his sideboard guide for #SCGDFW’s $5,000 Standard Premier IQ!

Ever since the Battle lands from Battle for Zendikar were spoiled, I’ve strived to play Knight of the White Orchid. The initial Abzan lists that
supported them weren’t really cutting it, and I was forced to go back to the drawing board. I then got hooked up on the Abzan Aggro deck that Brian
Braun-Duin built and went to battle with in the first tournament of the new format at #SCGINDY. Knight of the White Orchid might not have been in my
initial list, but it was not yet forgotten.

Early in testing for Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar, Michael Majors found Avatar of the Resolute. This “little” guy was added to his second place G/W
Megamorph deck to help out against Mantis Riders and any other creatures pressuring our precious Gideon, Ally of Zendikars. The team got extremely hooked
on the card and we began having to take them out of any G/W Megamorph deck we had in the house when we wanted to test against stock versions of the deck.

Around this time I went back to testing my beloved Knight of the White Orchids in G/W Megamorph’s sideboard. Sure this only left me with eleven actual
sideboard slots, but I thought it was worth it to play one of the best cards in the format.

That’s right. Knight of the White Orchid is one of the best cards in this format.

It comes as no surprise to me and shouldn’t really to anyone who was around for its first printing. This card is designed to help decks “break serve” when
on the draw by gaining land advantage in the earlygame. This might not help any deck out there, but it will have unlocked potential if a deck is built
correctly around it.

The first thing I tested with Knight of the White Orchid was a transformational sideboard when on the draw. One of the biggest issues G/W Megamorph has is
being on the draw. Cards like Warden of the First Tree, Hangarback Walker, Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, and Dromoka’s Command all have a tougher time being
effective when being on the defensive. The only solution I found when drawing first was the potential of splashing for Disdainful Stroke to be able to
counter four-drops on turn 3. This strategy backed up with Knight of the White Orchid was devastating in testing. I was winning more than 50% of my games
while also being on the draw for 100% of the games. I was very excited about my findings. The only problem was the rest of my team was not.

The main issue they had was that a sideboard with four Knight of the White Orchids would be a waste of precious sideboard space. They also had their
concerns with playing Avatar of the Resolute and Knight of the White Orchid in the same deck. You know, it makes sense when you put them face-to-face. I
decided in the end that I didn’t have enough people following my ideas to make it worth it. Even if I was right and they were wrong, I didn’t have enough
manpower behind the idea to have a working list. It was probably correct to go with the tide and ride the wave than to swim up current into the unknown

I should have put my goggles on….

Autumn finished 9-1 in Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar playing Knight of the White Orchid in her maindeck. Not only was this the best finish of anyone in the
event, but she did it without Gideon, Ally of Zendikar in her deck. Many thought this was because she deemed Archangel of Tithes to be a better card, but
rumors on Reddit have revealed that it was because she didn’t own them and didn’t think she would finish well enough to drop the dollars on four of the
expensive mythic rare. Are you kidding me?!?

I have seen some crazy things in my years on the Pro Tour, but never have I heard of someone finishing the best while also not having access to the Magic
cards needed to succeed. That just doesn’t happen!

The only plausible explanation for her impressive run at the Pro Tour was that either she is a savant and will continue to crush tournaments, or Knight of
the White Orchid is just as good as I thought and deserves much more play. It also could be both.

I still didn’t begin playing Knight of the White Orchid decks after the Pro Tour due to my very boring decision to play The Pantheon’s take of Jeskai
Black. I have made an oath to myself that I would always play the best deck no matter what it was a few years ago, and it has continued to be a good
decision. I spent this past week grinding match after match with Jeskai Black so that I would have a decent shot at winning the Magic Online Championship
Qualifier that I planned on participating in. It wasn’t until Friday afternoon that my testing was derailed and I began exploring another option.

My longtime friend Patrick Dickmann had been working on this deck all week and wanted to send me his list. I don’t know if it was for me to play it or to
help him perfect it, but both ended up happening. I was instantly hooked to the deck and found myself 4-0 in a Daily and 5-0 in a League before I
registered for the Magic Online Championship Qualifier and went to sleep. This was my final list.

I ended up taking third in the event, finally losing my first match with my updated version after eighteen consecutive wins. I also drew fairly poor to not
take down the whole event. I honestly thought I was going to win the whole thing and was extremely disheartened when I found myself flooding out in a tight
game 3 in the semifinals. That’s how it goes though.

Head’s up: joke incoming.

Now I’m not saying this is the best deck in the format and that you’re an idiot if you don’t play it. I mean, I am thinking that, but I would never say it
out loud. Maybe I type it to see how it looks and just maybe I would flip a coin to see if I should keep it in the article, but I would never say it. I’m
just here to let you all know that this deck is a very viable option if you want to do well in your next Standard tournament. I’m so confident in this deck
that I’m here to breakdown everything I know about it so far and what things I plan to try before this weekend’s upcoming events.

So let’s start with some of the obvious questions you might have about the list. We begin with Yavimaya Coast. Painlands have almost become taboo at this
point. Most decks decide to ignore them and instead focus on having the most impressive four-color fetchland + Battle land manabase known to Magic. This
is, of course, a proven system now that we’ve begun to understand four-color manabases, but this isn’t always the way to go when building something with
only three colors. Bant, for example, is happy to have a few Yavimaya Coasts for multiple reasons. For starters, the deck loves a turn 1 Warden of the
First Tree. A manabase in G/W Megamorph can afford deluding it’s consistency in an attempt to be more powerful. Disdainful Stroke is exactly what a deck
like G/W Megamorph needs to compete with some of the all-star threats in this format due to its inconsistent removal spells (especially now that Eldrazi
Ramp decks are beginning to be discovered).

A few people have already asked me why I choose Yavimaya Coast over Lumbering Falls. The main reason is that entering the battlefield tapped can be a real
problem in a deck that is always trying to curve out in the early turns. One small mishap and all of a sudden Disdainful Stroke doesn’t get cast, you fall
behind, and now have far fewer spells in hand that have the ability to catch up. Creature-lands are great, but Lumbering Falls doesn’t fit this deck in its
pursuit in staying ahead of opposing Gideon, Ally of Zendikars.

Another card that I have had some backlash against has been Mastery of the Unseen in the sideboard. Evolutionary Leap has never impressed me in a deck like
this. Last season you would be digging into cards like Siege Rhino, and the synergies with Courser of Kruphix allowed for the deck to always make enough
land drops to never feel behind when activating Evolutionary Leap. Things are different now, and I don’t see the value in the card even if it works
extremely well with Hangarback Walker.

I do, however, love Mastery of the Unseen mostly because of how well it plays against Jeskai Black and Esper Control. Both decks are now packing Ojutai’s
Command, which is a severe annoyance in a deck that plays an abundance of creatures. An early Mastery of the Unseen backed up with Disdainful Stroke can be
exactly what you need against an opponent whose gameplan revolves around holding up Crackling Doom and Ojutai’s Command.

Now the only way for Mastery of the Unseen to function against Jeskai Black is if you have adequate removal, and thanks to everyone accepting The
Pantheon’s version of Jeskai Black, you do. Tasigur, the Golden Fang is great, but the addition of this spell allows us to bring in all three Surge of the
Righteousness and be happy about it. Mastery of the Unseen backed up with multiple removal spells, including Disdainful Stroke, has been very successful
for me and has even allowed me to be unscathed against the deck while testing online.

I guess this is a perfect time to talk about sideboarding since being successful with this deck hinges on understanding roles and positioning while
sideboarding. Let’s start with Jeskai Black.

VS. Jeskai Black

Out (on the play):

Warden of the First Tree Warden of the First Tree Valorous Stance Knight of the White Orchid

Knight of the White Orchid Hangarback Walker Dromoka's Command Dromoka's Command

In (on the play):

Stratus Dancer Stasis Snare Silkwrap Silkwrap

Mastery of the Unseen Mastery of the Unseen Surge of Righteousness Surge of Righteousness

I’m rather fond of Hangarback Walker on the play, but still want to be sideboarding in some removal spells. Dromoka’s Command is decent in the matchup on
the play, but mostly on works with Hangarback Walker since we want to be cutting our Warden of the First Tree. It seems counterintuitive to be cutting our
most aggressive creature when on the play in this matchup, but it often times trades for Fiery Impulse without dealing too much damage unless in an opening
hand. Our true strategy when on the play is to keep the pressure on with cards like Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, Wingmate Roc, and Den Protector/Deathmist
Raptor. Their deck will be slightly geared towards being more reactive, which is why I do not want to be bringing in many more spells than we already are.

Out (on the draw):

Hangarback Walker Hangarback Walker Hangarback Walker Hangarback Walker Dromoka's Command

Dromoka's Command Dromoka's Command Dromoka's Command Warden of the First Tree Warden of the First Tree Forest

In (on the play):

Disdainful Stroke Disdainful Stroke Disdainful Stroke Stratus Dancer Surge of Righteousness

Surge of Righteousness Silkwrap Silkwrap Stasis Snare Mastery of the Unseen Mastery of the Unseen

We take a much more controlling approach on the draw. Not to say we are trying to play as the control player, but we must be able to deal with every threat
presented due to the fact that it will be much more difficult to aggro out the Jeskai Black opponent when on the draw. This is where Knight of the White
Orchid truly shines since we will be constantly trying to keep the board clear of Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy and Mantis Rider that the extra mana in the
earlygame will turn into more Mastery of the Unseen triggers and more reliable Den Protectors.

VS Abzan

Game 1 is dependent on how well both decks draw, as well as the die roll. They have a slight advantage in the matchup thanks to the higher power and
toughness on their creatures, but sometimes that strength becomes a weakness thanks to their less consistent manabase. Curving out is extremely important
against them, as well as making sure they don’t get to keep creatures on the battlefield for that long. Game 1 is fairly easy to play, but just as easy to
lose thanks to how powerful Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is on both sides of the field.

Out (on the play):

Knight of the White Orchid Knight of the White Orchid Knight of the White Orchid Knight of the White Orchid

In (on the play):

Stasis Snare Valorous Stance Silkwrap Silkwrap

Out (on the draw):

Hangarback Walker Hangarback Walker Hangarback Walker

Hangarback Walker Dromoka's Command Dromoka's Command Nissa, Vastwood Seer

In (on the draw):

Stasis Snare Valorous Stance Disdainful Stroke

Disdainful Stroke Disdainful Stroke Silkwrap Silkwrap

Being on the draw in this matchup is rather interesting. Cards like Hangarback Walker and Dromoka’s Command are slightly too slow to be good, but keeping a
few in can be important against Siege Rhino. I often find myself breaking serve on Gideon, Ally of Zendikar thanks to Disdainful Stroke or their
inconsistent manabase, but can sometimes have difficulties beating the Siege Rhino that follows. We don’t have that many ways to kill the format staple
which makes me want to keep in a couple Dromoka’s Commands even though they are rarely that good.

This matchup revolves around their board position. Abzan has a difficult time winning games when their board position is contained, but can very easily win
a game with an unchecked Anafenza, the Foremost or Siege Rhino. Even though Silkwrap is an easy target for Dromoka’s Command doesn’t mean the card isn’t
important in the matchup. You need to keep their board contained!

VS Atarka Red

This is one of the more difficult matchups for me to articulate. Games play out very randomly thanks to how proactive their strategy is and how defensively
you must approach the games. I often find myself trying to implement that same gameplan, but rarely find it easy to execute. Atarka Red has swarm draws
that win with small bursts of removal spells and Atarka’s Command but also can play impressive battlecruiser Magic with a prowess creature backed up by
Temur Battle Rage and Become Immense. I would love to give more advice on this matchup, but for right now I feel like I win or lose randomly.


Wingmate Roc Wingmate Roc Wingmate Roc

Gideon, Ally of Zendikar Nissa, Vastwood Seer Nissa, Vastwood Seer Yavimaya Coast


Arashin Cleric Arashin Cleric Arashin Cleric

Surge of Righteousness Surge of Righteousness Silkwrap Stasis Snare

VS Esper

This is another matchup that is difficult to articulate on how you want to play the games. This is probably due to how complex each situation can be and
how difficult the games are at times. I guess I can just say that you need to position yourself to resolve Gideon, Ally of Zendikar while also making sure
that lategame threats don’t end up winning the game upon resolution.


Dromoka's Command Dromoka's Command Dromoka's Command Dromoka's Command

Wingmate Roc Wingmate Roc Silkwrap Silkwrap


Mastery of the Unseen Mastery of the Unseen Disdainful Stroke Disdainful Stroke

Disdainful Stroke Stratus Dancer Stasis Snare Valorous Stance

I haven’t had enough time with this deck to know exactly how it should be built, but I have played enough to know this is what I want to be doing in the
format. Knight of the White Orchid is a great addition to the G/W Megamorph shell, and I’m looking forward to playing this deck at GP Indianapolis this
weekend. Hopefully I can discover better builds of the deck, but I do suggest this to anyone playing with Deathmist Raptor at the moment.

I hope you enjoy my first take of Megamorph, but something tells me it won’t be the last time I write about this deck.