Updated: Apr 3, 2019
This deck list is brought to you by LandSayGo community brewer - Nicko.
Arena is the future of Magic - the Best of One format may be the future of competitive Magic (for all we know). I can foresee a time in the not-so-distant future where we go to large scale events, perhaps playing paper, perhaps playing digitally, but playing single game matches. We have seen new mulligan rules make their way into competitive play; we have seen new formats where players bring two decks and play them both in the same match. It is not outside of reason that we would continue to see the evolution of the game to include digital games.
MTG is moving that direction already. WOTC does not want to be left behind in garnering an audience for their Esports initiatives. Arena is the vehicle by which Magic gains that following, and the response from players has been overwhelmingly positive. The public alpha had its hiccups, but the beta has become more stable and engaging over these past many months, and I don't see the development efforts backing off any time soon. Nicko is in tune with this wave of change. Look!
How This Deck Breaks the Mold
I admire creativity, and I've also been looking for a way to make Adapt good. Maybe our author is on to something with Adapt being a Best of One strategy. Of course, what I've found to be painfully apparent in testing Best of One on Arena is that people are playing decks that are heavily rooted in control and board wipes. Alternatively, some days, it feels like all you run into is mono-blue Curious Obsession and mono-white Weenies. So, it's refreshing to see a deck that is well outside of those expectations.
This card was absolutely outstanding when it first dropped, it was played regularly in Temur and Simic Energy decks, and it even saw some nominal play in Electrostatic Pummeler decks. Hadana's Climb is the primary win condition in this deck; our creatures all follow the theme of +1/+1 counters either by exploring, adapting, pumping or innately creating counters. We are expediting the transformation of Hadana's Climb through additional counter creation, and can blast through our opponents life total at an incredible rate if we curve out correctly. Through testing this list extensively I have found that emptying your hand too quickly can be disastrous, and the best tactic is to play your creatures with the purpose of maintaining superiority. Every one of our creatures grows through +1/+1 counter generation, but I find myself wanting more outside synergies. Maybe I'm spoiled having played mono-green Hardened Scales in Khans Standard. This will do though - this list is impressive, and totally out of left field when it comes to best of one deck archetypes. Let's move into in-depth analysis of the authors creature choices; I'm going to do my best accentuate the strengths without deviating into how I would build this deck for best of three because that's not the focus.
The One Drops
We know that your card selection pool may be limited in Arena, and spending rare wildcards may not be your preference when building random decks. So, Nicko has included as many synergistic commons and uncommons as possible in this deck. Jungle Delver is a good utility creature and a mana sink. Pelt Collector is a great creature and belongs in your collection. This elf is well worth the wildcard if you don't have copies, and can be slotted into several constructed decks now and in the future. We have +1 counter migration techniques in this deck as well that make his abilities useful later in game by moving his accumulated counters and growing him again with larger creatures on the ETB triggers.
Two Drops and Bunches of Counters
What is a creature deck without a tremendous amount of value in the two drop slot? Bad...mostly. The MTG Arena best of one format is a cruel mistress, which depending on your tastes can be a good thing (meow). It's important when building around a theme to accentuate your strengths and trim cards and interactions that don't follow the line. Our author has done a fantastic job of generating a deck that plays very well and benefits off of most draws. Very rarely is there a dead card in hand or in play.
Adapt hasn't really found a place in Standard yet. I've been trying to make it work, but haven't had much success. Maybe, in a plus one counters matter deck we can find a home for Incubation Druid, a 3/5 creature that taps for three mana ain't bad. Iron Shell Beetle is all utility all day, basically a vanilla 2/2 for two mana, or the counter we need to turn on our mana ramp for the Incubation Druid. Value town chumper, anyone? Also, the counter will matter later - just wait. It's not only filler.
Explore mechanics are dynamite in a +1 counters deck, we either get the counter or smooth our draws and mana curve. Merfolk Branchwalker has proven its value over the last year, and four copies is correct here. Sauroform Hybrid is easy to obtain in Arena, and two copies gives us a 2/2 for two that adapts when we need it for 4 additional +1 counters. A heaping pile of counters for later interactions.
Threes and Fours Add Some Spice
A single copy of Jadelight Ranger might not be the best choice here; my testing has left me wanting to see this card more during draws. It produces a good deal of counters, and when it doesn't we get to nearly perfect our draws by popping our next two land drops into our hand, clearing the way for better top decks after our upkeep. I get the authors choice here, but want to see more Jadelight, Nicko.
Again, it's about building a deck that is accessible, competitive, and unique for Best of One. This is just that type of list, and I have been having a blast playing it. Casting spells your opponent has to read and synthesize gives you a decided advantage by forcing uninformed and inexperienced interactions. Sharktocrab? What a sleeper. A 4/4 for 4 isn't bad, it Adapts - generating more counters, and we get a layer of control in our strategy that helps. It's not dominant, but it's good enough for government work. Skyrider Patrol on the other hand is a bomb in Best of One! This card is totally amazing for our deck, two mana to generate a counter and it makes our largest creatures evasive by giving them flying. Outstanding!
The Top End - The Win Conditions
I have been playing a mono-green best of one deck for weeks with 4 mainboard Biogenic Ooze's. This card is pure value, and if left unchecked spells certain doom for your opponent. Our author has included one copy, either out of necessity or a desire to keep the curve on this deck low and fast. My intuition tells me it's not so much about the Ooze army as it is about the next finisher we will be discussing. Generating +1 counters is something this deck does well, and adding the Ooze to the mix just creates another layer of triggered counter generation. I would still like to see a bump from one copy to two, but I am a stickler for Mythics and the impact solid cards like this have on our win percentages. It's not necessary, Nicko, but highly advised. :)
If you hadn't figured it out already there is an Adapt sub-theme that is taking place here. Make no mistake - the idea is to overwhelm our opponent by flooding the battlefield with attackers. But, we have Adapt mechanics adding to the counter generation stuff and want to be using those mechanics as often as timing allows us to. I want Biomancer's Familiar here. We don't have Biomancer's Familiar here because that creature detracts from the overall plan of the deck. Which is to generate obscene amounts of +1 babes for a "Gotcha!" in the form of several of our win conditions. Zegana is kind of a stand alone beater. She does what she does - gets bigger and tramples over your opponent herself. It does not hurt that she also gives our other toons trample. An Adapted Zegana in combination with Hadana's Climb is gross, a 16/16 flying Trampler? Uhh?
Galloping Lizrog always struck me as a limited bomb - even still one that had to be accentuated with good packs or picks from your draft pool. When you think about it, Arena Best of One sort of feels like limited, only 80% of the opponents you match are playing some form of white weenie or red aggro. So, our author and his deck are at a considerable advantage by playing cards like Lizrog - it's the oh $#!+ factor that we are looking for here. Not to mention, in this deck this card is outrageous. Migrate all of our counters upon entering the battlefield instantly making this a potentially lethal in air attack with a flipped Hadana's Climb. It's an interesting proposition isn't it? You are beginning to see how this deck is could be great in Best of One Arena? I do.
Supplemental Cards - More Layers and Options
We have some additional cards included here to smooth out our mana, give us more in the way of dealing damage and blocking damage without losing our creatures, and another creature to include to add some more to the +1 strategy. Trollbred Guardian is a 5/5 for five mana - that works, and doubles us up on the Zegana style trample ability. We also get a 7/7 trampler after adapting for three mana, making this card a great include in our counters-matter deck. Song of Freyalise helps us get to larger Adapt costs faster, but more importantly turns our creatures into mana resources after flipping our Hadana's Climb to ensure we have the mana available for big punches to the throat of our opponent's life total.
Biogenic Upgrade was absolutely included in my Simic deck during pre-release. It's an excellent utility card and should be used liberally (when you have the mana available). Having tested this in Best of Ones extensively I can confidently tell you that we should consider dropping these two copies of Biogenic Upgrade in favor of two copies of River's Rebuke mainboard. That's what I did, and it is totally catastrophic for your opponent. It's the top end of 6 CMC we need. We generate lethal amounts of damage without the additional counter distribution, Nicko.
Love This Deck
As with your other submissions, Nicko, your deck building prowess is on display. Thank you for opening a new review category for us in Best of One Arena lists. We cannot wait to see your next one.
Until next time, remember to play a Breeding pool tapped turn one, and Say Go.