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Finding The Best Adventures Deck In Strixhaven Standard

Which version of Adventures will be right for any given weekend of Strixhaven Standard? Brad Nelson shares his analysis and latest lists.

Lovestruck Beast, illustrated by Kev Walker

Even though Strixhaven hasn’t had as big of an impact on Standard as we would all like, I’ve still found a ton of value in playing it. It doesn’t hurt that I’m also enjoying myself, but the reality is that I think the lessons I’m learning right now should stay relevant for a very long time. Odds are things won’t change too drastically in the following months, so I should be able to lean on what I’m learning now when the Strixhaven Championship rolls around. 

This past week I went on a little adventure as I worked exclusively on Gruul, Temur, and Naya Adventures. All three decks have their own unique strengths and weaknesses, making it a difficult task when deciding on which version of Adventures to play week in and week out. That’s why I’m going to go over everything I know about all three of these decks so you’ll have a better shot at picking the correct one for your next SCG Tour Online Standard event.

Temur


Let’s kick things off with Temur Adventures. For starters, I don’t think you should play this deck without Obosh, the Preypiercer. It’s just too important in some matchups, particularly the mirror. Of course it would be nice to play a couple of maindeck cards with a mana value of two, but the tradeoff just isn’t worth it. Instead, you can simply play cards like Scorching Dragonfire in the sideboard for the few matchups that Obosh won’t be pulling its weight in anyway.

Alrund’s Epiphany is one of the more difficult cards in the deck to evaluate. I’ve found this card to be essential in some of my wins against Sultai Ramp, Gruul Adventures, and Naya Adventures, but at the same time it’s pretty abysmal against Mono-Red Aggro❄, Dimir Rogues, and the mirror. This makes me believe that it’s important to have access to the card, but I’d never personally run four of them without an unlikely and massive shift in the metagame. Three feels fine for now, and I wouldn’t be surprised if fewer ended up correct. 

Another lesson I learned the hard way was that the Mono-Red Aggro❄ matchup has gotten a lot closer than it was when Adventure decks first started seeing play. That’s now truer than ever thanks to the inclusion of Hall Monitor, which is a great way for the deck to get around Temur’s Lovestruck Beasts. It’s vital to respect this matchup enough to play some cheap removal spells like Redcap Melee in your sideboard. 


I really wanted to like these Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast variants of Temur Adventures, but I just can’t sign off on them. There’s no doubt that they’re powerful, but with it comes some clunkiness. What’s most frustrating to me though is how easily I’ve lost some games even after “doing the thing.” I mean sure, sometimes you’ll need to do more than just put Koma, Cosmos Serpent onto the battlefield on Turn 5, but if that’s the case, then why not just play the more stable variation? 


Here’s my current version of the deck. It’s not flashy, which I like. The sideboard could use another card for the mirror, but as of right now I just don’t know what that should be. The Great Henge is our best card, and not many sideboard cards either complement it or stop it that I enjoy playing. Even the singleton Prismari Command hasn’t impressed me that much, but has done enough to justify the slot. 

I’m a huge fan of playing four Scorching Dragonfires. Temur Adventures (Obosh) can sometimes have very clunky draws so having a lot of early-game interaction can sometimes pull us out of some really bad spots.  Interaction with a mana value of two is also great when working with Goldspan Dragon. Still, I can see going down to three copies since they really are only vital in the Dimir Rogues, Mono-Red Aggro❄, and Mono-White Aggro❄ matchups.

Gruul


Next up we have Gruul Adventures, and what better place to start than with Will Pulliam’s second-place decklist from this past weekend’s $5K Strixhaven Championship Qualifier. I was in awe when I first saw his decklist, and even though I still can’t wrap my head around all of his unique card choices, I have come around to many of them. 

This was a card I tried out in Gruul Adventures really early on when Kaldheim first released. At the time Elspeth’s Nightmare was much more heavily played, which made me give up on the Cat-illac. Now though the three-mana enchantment isn’t that heavily played, what is heavily played is answers for Questing Beast. The four-mana Infinite Jest wannabe just doesn’t have any matchups where it truly shines anymore. Sure it’s good against Sultai Ramp and Jeskai Cycling, but besides that it’s often a liability. 

Casting an Esika’s Chariot a turn early makes the card unbelievably more powerful so it makes a lot of sense to me why Will would pair the Vehicle with some mana acceleration that’s normally not found in Gruul Adventures. Now while I’m not entirely sold on these cards being stronger than a few removal spells, I can’t argue with embracing a Ricky Bobby mentality. 

I wanna go fast.

One place I disagree with Will is on the number of anti-Dimir Rogues cards. It’s widely know that Gruul Adventures has a good Dimir Rogues matchup, but that’s only because Gruul Adventures respects Dimir Rogues. This conception was created back when Gruul Adventures played upwards of four of each of these cards in the sideboard. I just don’t think you can get away with playing less than three of each if you want to take the Dimir Rogues matchup seriously. Maybe, just maybe playing Phoenix of Ash is good, but I’d only consider it after I added the third Ox of Agonas to my decklist. 


Last, but certainly not least, we have Naya Adventures (Jegantha). I should preface this section with the fact that this is my favorite deck to play with. It just has so many fun and unique lines, and when it pops off, it pops off! That said, there’s one very big glaring issue with this deck, and that’s what I call the Sultai/Dimir pinch. 

You see, this deck struggles against both the Sultai Ramp and Dimir Rogues matchups. Now either matchup can be solved after sideboard, but that’s the issue, only one matchup can be solved. There’s just not enough room to prepare for both as it takes such a high density to do so. 

Ox of Agonas Ox of Agonas Ox of Agonas Klothys, God of Destiny Rip Apart Rip Apart Glass Casket Thundering Rebuke Scorching Dragonfire

I want all eight of these cards to feel comfortable against Dimir Rogues which leaves little-to-no room for the Sultai Ramp matchup. Luckily though, one card (or person) might be able to help swing the tides and justify not putting as many resources into the Sultai Ramp matchup. 

Elite Spellbinder was not a card I thought would make it into Naya Adventures, but that all changed after seeing Hideaki Muraoka slice through the Strixhaven Championship Qualifier #7 last weekend. That was enough for me to give the card a try, and I haven’t looked back since. 

Now I thought adding another creature with a mana value of three would be too costly in a deck that already plays Lovestruck Beast and Bonecrusher Giant, but what I didn’t expect was just how much this card helps slow down an opponent. Sometimes you’ll just take their next play, but other times you get to disrupt the key reason they kept their hand in the first place. For example, Turn 3 Lovestruck Beast is only scary to this deck when they follow it up with The Great Henge or Embercleave. With Elite Spellbinder you can sometimes take their key noncreature spell and leave them simply casting more threats that get blocked by our Spirit tokens. 

Elite Spellbinder is also a great card to have against Sultai Ramp, as it’s capable of slowing them down just long enough to deal them lethal damage. This is also the reason why it’s less important now to have cards like Reidane, God of the Worthy since it’s just yet another three-drop in a deck that already has a lot of things to do with its mana. 

I’ve also never really been a fan of Roiling Vortex in Naya Adventures, and that’s simply because sometimes Sultai Ramp just doesn’t take damage in the early turns. I’ve cast many winning Emergent Ultimatums that cost me ten life in this matchup, which makes me question the card’s importance in the first place. 


As you can see, I continue my theme of playing a lot of cheap removal in my sideboards. Maybe I’m respecting Mono-Red Aggro❄ too much, but cards like Torbran, Thane of Red Fell really scare me from the Adventures side of things. 

I love that Rip Apart exists as it’s another spell that can kill Edgewall Innkeeper and The Great Henge. I guess you can also destroy an Embercleave, but it’s rare when that’s a winning line since you’re probably already been hit with it, given the fact that it’s a sorcery.

So What Should We Play?

So now it’s time to discuss which deck we should be playing right now. Sultai Ramp (Yorion) continues to be the most-played deck, which is a nod to Temur Adventures. Sure the matchup has gotten a lot closer in the past month, but I still like being on the Temur Adventures (Obosh) side of things. I also think Sultai Ramp is favored against both Gruul Adventures and Naya Adventures. 

That said, Naya Adventures (Jegantha) has proven itself to be a very good choice against the rest of the non-Sultai Ramp and Dimir Rogues metagame. I believe it’s by far the best Adventures deck in the “Adventures mirrors” as well as being a fantastic choice against the monocolored aggressive decks. 

I believe this to be a very bad time to be playing Gruul Adventures, the major reason being that Dimir Rogues needs some more time to pick back up in popularity. Without this matchup to reliably prey on, Gruul will just be playing against a slew of matchups where it’s slightly behind like Sultai Ramp (Yorion), Naya Adventures (Jegantha), and Temur Adventures (Obosh). 

Now while I enjoy playing Naya Adventures (Jegantha), I ultimately think Temur Adventures (Obosh) is a slightly better deck for the current metagame. In fact, I’ve been so impressed with Temur Adventures as of late that I’ve contemplated just locking it in for May Strixhaven League Weekend so I can put more focus on the nebulous Historic format. 

Now that doesn’t mean Naya Adventures (Jegantha) or even Gruul Adventures are bad choices. I think all three have solid arguments going for them — it’s just that Temur Adventures (Obosh) feels like a slightly better choice.