Seeing Stars

Anthony Lowry loves Chandra, but today’s 75 is not about the Fire of Kaladesh – in fact, there’s nary a red card to be found. Check out his pair of decklists featuring Starfield of Nyx and test ’em out for #SCGCHI this weekend!

Starfield of Nyx is my favorite card in Magic Origins.

“Wait wait wait. Who are you, and what have you done with Anthony Lowry?!?”

I know, it’s kind of a shocker to some of you that Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh or any one of her excellent cards isn’t my favorite hands-down. (Sorry, Pyromancer’s Goggles, I know you aren’t Chandra’s!) It isn’t that she’s bad – not by a longshot. Just because something isn’t my number one doesn’t mean that it’s automatically the worst thing ever. Chandra and I have become, let’s call it, business partners. We will contact each other when we need it – a Modern sideboard, a Vintage maindeck, and so on. For now, though, we will just keep tabs on each other.

As of now, my attention is on this shiny new white mythic enchantment.

I have a thing for cards that do something so over-the-top powerful that it’s almost unnecessary. This one is up there with that kind of power, as it reminds me of another white enchantment I used to play for what seems like forever ago:

Assemble the Legion was the type of card that you knew was going to kill you eventually, and you tried valiantly to do something about it. Ultimately it will be for naught, and you’ll get run over by about twenty billion soldiers. Starfield of Nyx reminds me of that card, but in a more robust way. You’re going to get beat up by it eventually, even if you think you’re going to get ahead someway, somehow. They will keep coming, and you’ll only watch as these previously-harmless enchantments turn sideways in droves!

So, what makes this card special? Does it do things? Is it good? Well, I can’t predict if it’s good or not, but I certainly am looking to do my best with it.

One of the better and more obvious ways to jam Starfield of Nyx is in the already established G/B Constellation shell. There are a couple of ways to go about this: retain the G/B shell and splash white, or make black the splash color. Gerry Thompson already covered the version that splashes black for only Doomwake Giant while utilizing Sigil of the Empty Throne as a synergistic end game.

The more traditional G/B shell is where I’m looking to take things, though, mostly because that was the shell that was already in place when the older iterations of Constellation were played a lot. If you start with G/B as the main colors, your only white cards will likely be Starfield itself and Banishing Light effects, which can go beyond four copies if you want to by adding Suspension Field and/or Silkwrap. From here, we can build around this. Since you want as many enchantments as possible, both on the battlefield and in the graveyard, having ways of speeding that up is important.

These are the three premier ways of fueling what you’re trying to do, and likely among the easier inclusions. You have plenty of avenues to take from there, but all of them will involve Doomwake Giant in some capacity – mostly because it’s the biggest and most efficient beater that isn’t reliant on Starfield of Nyx, and is a powerful supplement to Starfield itself. Eidolon of Blossoms is yet another card that just does a bit of everything in this deck, and is an obvious shoo-in at the early stage of building.

From here things get a bit more complicated, not just because of things like card choice and numbers but because we start running out of deck space. How many lands do we want? What else are we doing besides the obvious enchantment inclusions, and are the other things we’re doing reliable when things aren’t working the way we’re intending?

For the G/B version, Whip of Erebos is my go-to.

This is one of the other parts of our engine that, like a lot of your other pieces, have applications almost everywhere. When Starfield is online, your enchantments – including Whip of Erebos itself – will have lifelink. When it’s offline, you’ll still be able to bring back creatures, most of which will give you nothing but value. Some may even be the fifth enchantment you need to turn on Starfield! It’s pretty close to the ideal midrange weapon for keeping your gameplan stable and reliable.

Now we can opt for some disruption too. We are certainly not a deck that can push through everything. I can see any deck that relies on heavy-hitting Dragons being a rough time for us, as would decks that try to out-muscle us before we can. My go-to tool for both of those things is Thoughtseize, but Brain Maggot plays a bit nicer with our plan and also create quite a bit of tempo. Having a 1/1 that will becomes a 2/2 isn’t impressive, but doing everything you can to turn on Starfield of Nyx is pretty important. There’s a chance we could just play both, though.

Not everything has to be an enchantment to be powerful in this deck however. In fact, I want to be able to do powerful non-enchantment things too. Something that can fill in the cracks in both the early game and later on too is what I’m looking for.

Nissa, Vastwood Seer is a pretty solid way of making sure you’re hitting your land drops as well as a great way of closing games out when your Starfield plan isn’t working, which is something I feel the deck needs. It also synergizes well with Whip of Erebos as you can reanimate it and play your seventh land to transform it, which breaks the Whip’s end-of-turn clause thanks to the fact that it goes to exile in the middle of the ability. It has subtle perks with Courser of Kruphix as well. How many we decide to play depends on how aggressive we want to be with our graveyard, which brings me to the next option:

Commune with the Gods would seem like a great fit, but there are a couple of issues with it. The first, and most glaring one, is how much air you are willing to put in your deck. If you aren’t ramping as hard as possible, then you will often find yourself taking entire turns off just to fill your graveyard and maybe grab a decent hit that you won’t even get to use until a turn or two later. That’s something I want to avoid as much as possible, since there are too many decks that have nothing but action in them, and we need to be able to make sure our cards can effectively defend against that at every point. The second problem is, yet again, deck space. We only have room for sixty cards, so I want to make sure we have everything we need before adding this tool.

With what we know now, we can etch-a-sketch a few things out.

These aren’t perfect, but they’re a start. I highly recommend you actually sit down and try these before trying to change anything off the bat. The plan has already been laid out, and altering that plan even slightly skews how you think about it.

There are other options available for this particular build as well, but chances are they weren’t included because they simply aren’t as powerful, there isn’t room, or both. While cards like Heliod, God of the Sun seem powerful, he really doesn’t play nicely with Starfield of Nyx at all. Den Protector and Deathmist Raptor are great cards in Standard, but how are you going to get that whole package in there without severing your primary plan in some way? I’m sure that Nissa and Thoughtseize/Brain Maggot/Commune with the Gods could get the axe, but again, you’re losing a lot of interaction while also taking out pieces that would be good with the package anyway. Maybe Den Protector itself is good enough to jam, possibly over Nissa, but Auramancer may have something to say about that. There are also sideboard applications for Den Protector, allowing us to have a few more silver bullets where applicable.

Speaking of the sideboard, we’re pretty flush with choices, and, as with most Week One Standard formats, developing one is going to be drastically different depending on what you expect and how you see yourself going about particular games. Do you want to transform into a more protein-oriented midrange deck? Siege Rhino helps with that. Do you want more cheap interaction? Murderous Cut, Silkwrap, and Suspension Field all are very inexpensive. Do you want to keep your head above water against the control decks? Maybe Raksasha Deathdealer is the right card for that job. Looking to have ways of constantly interacting with your opponent while still developing your gameplan? Skybind is your card. Virulent Plague is probably effective against the Hordeling Outburst, Dragon Fodder aggro decks, and Extinguish All Hope is the (almost) one-sided Wrath you could be in the market for when facing other midrange decks. Mastery of the Unseen will still be punishing against decks that are slow out of the gate, and Liliana, Defiant Necromancer helps reinforce yourself in attrition fights. I’m sure there are plenty of other cards I’m missing, but you get the idea.

This weekend, the Open Series hits up Chicago for the first time. I unfortunately will not be in attendance, but I will have an Elite IQ that I’ll be going to here at home. I couldn’t be more excited to work on this Standard format, as it promises to be shaken up big time. Do you think that Starfield of Nyx has what it takes to be a contender?