Updated: Nov 25, 2018
While staring at my collection, I flipped to my underutilized rare section to get some inspiration for a decklist. I stumbled across some sweet gems that I think fit really well together, have some hidden synergies, and I think think it can be more powerful than it looks at the surface, especially in the post rotation meta. I bring you a home brew I'm naming Styx (working title: Come Sail Away).
The list is a GW Explore list. I know most people would rather run GB, but I think the list I have here is a fun version of the list. Let's break into the strategies of the list talking about how we fill our grip or filter our library.
Since rotation, cards that were previously debatably unplayable, now have more viability. One such card is Path of Discovery. I played it when it first released, pairing it with Animation Module to create a really powerful and fun combo and when pairing it with Wildgrowth Walker was really amazing. Path of Discovery gives every creature you control Explore as it enters the battlefield, and by stacking them up, you get multiples of those explore triggers. We do run a couple of creatures that naturally have explore on it, Merfolk Branchwalker and Jadelight Ranger. Both are great creatures that can grow large and filter the top of your library for more consistant cards, or draw even draw you a few lands. We are also running a playset of Mentor of the Meek for cheap card draw. All of our creatures when they enter the battlefield will start out at 2 power or less (excluding 1 exception that I will get into a bit later.)
What makes this list unique, in my opinion is actually the token generation that it has (as well as a few of the threats). It runs 2 March of Multitudes in the list that when paired with Path of Discovery, can make you an army of 2/2s or 3/3s on your opponent's endstep, not to mention these tokens have lifelink. We also get a great recurring generator from Emmara, Soul of the Accord. Whenever she becomes tapped you get a 1/1 lifelinking soldier token. Which can be great as you slowly build your team out of damage range from more and more explore triggers. But are there other ways to tap our Emmara without running her to her doom (besides tapping her down for a March of Multitudes?)
We are running 2 Shadowed Caravel in this list. It costs 2 mana of any color, is a natural 2/2 when a creature, and gets a +1/+1 counter on it whenever a creature explores. Not to mention it crews for 2, allowing you to get free taps for your Emmara, getting a token, Exploring from Path of Discovery, which then grants you a +1/+1 counter on the Caravel for free. I don't want to run a full playset, as it isn't necessary to win, but can be a unique threat that gets better now that Abrade is gone. Another cheeky interaction is to crew your Caravel, swing in, and if they elect not to block, instant speed cast your March of the Multitudes, and get X 1/1s and X Explore triggers, which will instantly buff your Caravel for a huge damage swing.
We are running a pair of Wildgrowth Walkers as well, a threat that can continually grow large and gain us a ton of life with a March of the Multitudes or with Emmara tap triggers and a Path of Discovery. The effect is vary similar to the Caravel, with the addition of the life gain, but it won't survive a board wipe or sorcery speed removal like the Caravel would.
3 Siegehorn Ceratops also made their way into the list. This was one of the cards that was getting fatally pushed around and never really took hold. But with being able to grow it out of range with Path of Discovery, it gives us an opportunity to continually grow it with 2 +1/+1 counters whenever it is dealt damage, not to mention the ability to draw a card off of a Mentor of the Meek.
Lastly, we have a pair of Trostani, Discordant. It does give us 3 draw triggers from Mentor of the meek, pump our team and helps us fight Thief of Sanity or Control Magic type of effects. The only nonbo with the deck is that Trostani does put the rest of our creatures out of range of triggering Mentor of the Meek, but hopefully by that point we are winning the game.
For removal, we are running 3 Seal Away, 2 Ixalan's Binding, and 2 Settle the Wreckage. Seal Away is for the early aggro or tappers like Lyra. We need to save Ixalan's Binding for our opponents' key cards whether they are planeswalkers or pesky enchantments. Settle the Wreckage is to help fight those hexproof lists or lists that can go larger or wider than us.
We do have a minor planeswalker substrategy in our sideboard, specifically against slower lists, control, or Niv Mizzet lists. We have 2 Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants and 2 Vivien Reid. Ajani is great to bring back many of our threats from the yard when they get explored or targeted away as well as growing some our established threats out of burn range. Vivien Reid helps get rid of heavy enchantment control and hard hitting flyers like the drakes, Niv Mizzit, Lyra, etc. as well as more card draw to find more creatures or lands. Carnage Tyrant has found a place in the sideboard as a 2 of against control lists as an uncounterable hexproof threat. Against the graveyard matters decks, we are running a pair of Deathgorge Scavenger. We are running 3 Knight of Autumn as it is good in multiple matchups, gaining us life against counter burn or wizards, destroying problematic artifacts or enchantments, or just being an additional large beater against control. Against targetted removal decks, we also have a pair of Shaper's Sanctuary for added value and card draw. We are running a couple 1 ofs to tighten the list in certain matchups. An additional Ixalan's Binding for getting rid of the pesky cards and an additional Wildgrowth Walker as a hedge against aggro or burn decks.
If you are in different metas, you'll obviously want to consider other cards. If you are in a meta with a lot of planeswalkers, consider running 2-3 Sorcerous Spyglass in the sideboard. In a meta with a lot of flyers, you can adjust the number of Vivien Reid to 3 and reduce Ajani. I'd implore you to try out different ratios from the cards found in the deck, but I think what we have is pretty tight. Against discard decks, consider running Ajani's Last Stand. I've had the opportunity to use it and it really feels like cheating against those matchups. I'd prioritize it over Nullhide Ferox as Ferox will stop you from casting your noncreature spells unless you tax yourself.
I think this deck looks like a lot of fun with a lot of cool triggers and synergy. Don't be afraid to get aggressive, especially when you board in Ajani. Just be sure you are always paying attention. This deck has a lot of triggers, and if you miss them, you are SOL. So, hop aboard and give Styx a try, I think you'll really enjoy it.