I can’t tell you the last time I was excited about a planeswalker in Standard.
They’re just… not good.
Planeswalkers are always about that “incremental advantage” life, and that’s not how Standard plays out these days. You’ve got Lovestruck Beasts holding Embercleaves attacking as early as Turn 4, Emergent Ultimatums going over the top of them with ease, and don’t even get me started on all the extra turns being taken with Alrund’s Epiphany.
Standard’s just not a safe place for today’s walkers of the planes. That’s why I was pretty blown away when I first saw Grand Master of Flowers.
Well maybe not when I technically first saw it…
I’m not going to lie; I just assumed Grand Master of Flowers was going to stink before I even read it. It’s just that none of the other planeswalkers from Adventures in the Forgotten Realms got my blood flowing, and neither has a white planeswalker in 84 years. However, my preconceived notions were wrong and I was a fan. Minutes later, I told Corey to change one of his decks for VS Live! to Mono-White Aggro❄ to support this card. He begrudgingly agreed and we spent the next 30 minutes building a deck that will surely crush Ross Merriam today!
So what makes Grand Master of Flowers so good? Well I believe the biggest reason is that it’s a great top end for an aggressive-based strategy. For starters, it’s removal when you’re trying to push damage. If there’re no opposing creatures to worry about, it’s restocking your hand for a secondary assault after your opponent sweeps the battlefield. Lastly, your army of annoying creatures may slow your opponent down just long enough for Grand Master of Flowers to take flight and finish the job himself.
When I put it that way, it really does feel like this card does it all!
We, of course, should talk about Monk of the Open Hand a bit as this is the card Grand Master of Flowers is going to be searching for the next fifteen months of Standard. At first glance it’s not the most exciting card, is it? That trend continues the more you think about it too, doesn’t it?
In the early turns it’s bad if you’re curving out, and also bad if you leave it as your last spell. Even if you have a couple double-spell turns lined up, it’s just growing one pip a turn meaning it’s not that impressive in this “size matters” Standard format we’ve got going right now.
It’s also a pretty slow engine to get going in the games Grand Master of Flowers is searching them up. In Monk of the Open Hand’s defense, it should be pretty easy to trigger them in the later turns as they only cost one, and are effectively “free” since you’re searching them up, but even then they’ll attack as a 3/3 the first time they go into combat. Maybe that’s fine, but I’m guessing it will be slightly underpowered for today’s Standard format.
I guess it’s worth mentioning that ineffective copies can always be discarded to Seasoned Hallowblade!
All of this complaining doesn’t account for this card’s master plan however; slowing the opponent down. Mono-White Aggro❄ is actually really good at doing that with cards like Giant Killer, Seasoned Hallowblade, Elite Spellbinder, and Skyclave Apparition. Now we get to add Grand Master of Flowers into the mix to slow them down even further which plays into our hand of turning the planeswalker into a 7/7 dragon and killing them with it.
Honestly, four turns doesn’t give a midrange/control deck much time to turn the corner when they’re in a defensive position. Especially if Grand master of Flowers is locking down one of their potential ways to deal damage! Oh, and don’t forget that this is a static ability so you can continue to use it’s activated abilities each turn even if you’re still smacking your opponent for seven damage a turn with it.
When it comes to Standard, there’s always a catch. For whatever reason, Grand Master of Flowers is incapable of interacting with creatures with first strike, double strike, and/or vigilance so a card like Elder Gargaroth will never find itself bound by its magic. I really don’t know why this is the case. Maybe there’s some D&D flavor pumped into this card? Who really knows. It’s not the biggest blow to Mono-White Aggro❄ as it’s historically played four Giant Killer, but still annoying nonetheless.
There’s another Standard all-star to worry about, and that’s the ole gold-pooping Dragon. Sadly Grand Master of Flowers can only get up to four loyalty on its first turn making it a delicious snack for the hasty flyer. On the other hand, Grand Master of Flowers can come down the turn after Goldspan Dragon sticks and start locking it down each turn. Not that great if they have a second one in hand, but counterplay like this is always an enjoyable experience.
Now let’s get to a creature currently terrorizing Standard that will actually be held down by the long arm of the flower. Lovestruck Beast is a perfect example of a creature that has to be dealt with before entering combat, and Grand Master of the Flowers deals with it nicely. It’s especially great that it stops the creature from attacking on the following turn, effectively protecting the planeswalker for another turn. Now, of course, Lovestruck Beast isn’t the biggest problem for a deck like Mono-White Aggro❄, but it’s still nice to use this to deal with one, allowing cards like Skyclave Apparition to remove any pesky Edgewall Innkeepers from the battlefield.
- 4 Giant Killer
- 3 Alseid of Life's Bounty
- 4 Seasoned Hallowblade
- 4 Selfless Savior
- 4 Skyclave Apparition
- 4 Luminarch Aspirant
- 1 Reidane, God of the Worthy
- 4 Elite Spellbinder
- 4 Monk of the Open Hand
Personally, I’d ignore some of the card choices like Reidane, God of the Worthy, Drannith Magistrate, and Lurrus of the Dream-Den. These cards ebb and flow in playability depending on the metagame, and right now we just don’t know what that’s going to be. There will be metagames where we want Drannith Magistrate in the maindeck and ones that we don’t. Predicting that now is simply a waste of time and can be revisited once we see if Adventures in the Forgotten Realms has a substantial impact on Standard or not.
The rest of this deck looks similar to what Mono-White Aggro❄ has for a while now, but it does get to replace the hit-or-miss top end that Legion Angel provided. It’s also trimmed some of the two and three-mana creatures to make room for the necessary four copies of Monk of the Open Hand. Now I thought this would be a cause for alarm as increasing the number of one-mana creatures would underpower the deck, but luckily Dancing Sword also got previewed yesterday!
I’m in love with this Equipment! It might not be as great as Maul of the Skyclave on the initial three-mana investment, but after that it’s so much better! Options are great in Magic, making Dancing Sword such an impressive card whenever a creature equipped to it dies. You can keep it as an Equipment, like every other Equipment, or you can turn it into a flying threat. I’m guessing this will happen when you’re constrained on mana or additional threats. You’ll also turn it into a creature when an opponent plays a sweeper, allowing you to deal the final couple life points.
Anyway, this seems like a great Equipment to add to a deck that values having additional one-mana creatures.
Now this card really excites me! I have always loved playing with flash threats that also have impactful abilities. It just adds to the complexity when facing more controlling strategies and really gives you a clean way to beat your
Shaheen Soorani’s opponents. I did lose some faith in myself as I had to remind myself what phasing did, but in the end I was correct making this card an all-star against sweepers.
Guardian of Faith is everything I wanted Glorious Protector to be. The protector was just too expensive in most games when you wanted to beat one of Sultai Ramp (Yorion)’s sweepers, and it was also too transparent when you ever paid its foretell cost. Guardian of Faith on the other hand hits that sweet spot where it’s still big enough for a three-mana threat to come down swinging when your opening turns are a little light on stronger three-drops. Three mana is also a nice one for double-spell turns so you can continue to pressure your opponent while also protecting from a sweeper.
This card is going to keep true control decks down for years to come, but then again they’ve been down and out for even longer than that.
In the end there’s a lot of cards fighting for Mono-White Aggro’s❄ four-mana slot, but I really think Grand Master of Flowers stands a chance in this current Standard landscape and that’s saying a lot given how bad of a time most planeswalkers have had as of late.