We Need Another Hero (of Precinct One)

by Simon Nielsen on 05 February 2019, Tuesday

Simon Nielsen

I don’t really care what Tina Turner thinks on the subject, because we definitely do need another hero. I didn’t know until it got revealed, but Hero of Precinct One is both the hero we deserve and the one we need.

Like Enrique Iglesias, it sang to us: “I can be your Hero, baby”. And boy did I hear that song.Hero of Precinct One is a powerful 2-drop to say the least. But with great power comes great responsibility, and that responsibility is to pair it with loads of multicolor spells.

I spent some time previously going over all sorts of different feasible combinations that allow you to take advantage of this precious card. I’ll share my thoughts with you here in a very decklist heavy article. But you don’t mind that, do you?

Rule #95, kid: Concentrate!

The basics of building a Hero of Precinct One deck.

First of all, what is the proper number of multicolor cards to include in a deck built around Hero of Precinct One?

Well, ideally we’d play no mono-colored spells except for Hero itself, but likely we would sacrifice some amount of power, and we still need our deck to function when we don’t draw our Hero of Precinct One or when some villain like Lava Coil defeats it immediately.

So it’s more likely we need to play some number of mono-colored cards to make the deck functional. History of Benalia didn’t just surrender its position as one of the best cards in Standard overnight. And since decks with Hero of Precinct One likely pursue go-wide or value strategies, History fits right in. So I’ve included that card in most of my lists, even though is monocolored.

In general, I tried to aim for at least 24 multicolor spells, though the more the merrier. It really is a balancing act, where you might choose to play a slightly worse card just because it is multicolored. This can be taken too far though, so be very self-critical when you add cards to your deck. After all, Hero can just be a lightning rod that heroically sacrifices herself so that your other cards may live. And if it lives and makes a couple tokens over the course of the next turns, then it’s very much a Constructed-worthy card.

Keep It Cheap 

One thing to note is that Hero works particularly well with multicolored 1-cost cards. Because you either get to play two multicolored spells when you untap with it on turn 3, or you can gain some value through removal if you play it together with a 1-cost card on turn 3.

However, we are very short on multicolored 1-cost cards to support it with. This is because by definition, a 1-mana card can’t be multicolored unless it’s hybrid.
Footlight Fiend is the only multicolor 1-drop creature in Standard, and it needs specific circumstances to be playable. Otherwise we must turn to the uncommon split cards, but luckily there are plenty to choose from.

Flower // Flourish is the immediate hot combo, as not only do you get to replace lands with multicolor spells that can make 1/1’s, but the Flourish half is also a great way to take advantage of all the tokens you’ve made. Incubation // Incongruity is another good option, especially if it finds another multicolored creature.

Carnival // Carnage is just a good rate card, and Integrity // Intervention can help save your Hero from certain smaller burn spells.

With those thoughts in mind, I set out to scour decklists and start the brewing myself!

Rule #96: Aim…

Taking the first shots with a Mardu Hero-list

I guess you already got a sneak peek from the previous article when I showed you the Mardu Humans deck that caught my interest. Here it is again, for reference:

This deck gets to take good advantage of Footlight Fiend as a 1-drop but also gets to play a myriad of other multicolor spells. It even has eight anthem-effects in its creature base to pump up the tokens your Hero might produce, a Fireblade Artist to which you can feed them and Heroic Reinforcements on top. That’s one of the scariest cards you can pair with Hero of Precinct One.

Since the token from Hero will enter the battlefield before Heroic Reinforcements resolves, that one will also gain haste and get +1/+1, which turns the already efficient game-ender into a slaughter. They even appropriately named it so that you are never unsure which sort of character needs the reinforcements!

Heroic Aristocrats

A slightly different take on “Mardu deck with Hero” comes from one of the early 5-0 lists on Magic Online. This one takes more of the sacrifice value engine and uses the Human tokens as fodder.

I got absolutely smashed by this deck online while when I played Gruul. It can both get aggressive with Judith, the Scourge Diva, while it also has the value engine of Priest of Forgotten Gods and Midnight Reaper.

I hope you remembered to pick up your copies of Elenda, the Dusk Rose!

This is a good example of a deck that doesn’t go all in on multicolor, as it “only” plays 21 gold cards. It just so happens that a lot of the cards you want to play in this deck are multicolored anyway, and Hero just works so well with your strategy.

I’m certainly interested in in these Mardu decks and want to try them both.

Going extra wide

Hero of Precinct One is everything that Saproling Migration ever dreamed to be. It’s not really difficult for it to represent more than two bodies in one card, which makes it excellent in conjunction with convoke and potentially slot right into the Selesnya Tokens shell that already has Flower // Flourish, Emmara, Soul of the AccordTrostani Discordant and March of the Multitudes.

This is an attempt at a straight Green-White version. We need to add some speculative cards, but we reach 20 multicolor cards this way:

Huatli, Radiant Champion overperformed for me at the World Magic Cup, so I have no qualms when I slot it into the maindeck here. Knight of Autumn might also become a more reasonable maindeck inclusion as burn decks and decks built around enchantments seem to pop up.

We need colors. Lots of colors. Trying to maximize Hero of Precinct One

Overall though, now that we have access to these sweet manabases I’d want to see how much better we can make Hero with the help of multicolor cards in other colors. One approach is to go Bant.

Dovin, Grand Arbiter is quite a good token-maker and a perfect follow-up to Hero of Precinct OneDeputy of Detention is a multicolored removal spell that can even help you convoke. And you can find it with Incubation // Incongruity, another excellent card if you can make it work. 

After a lot of fine-tuning the numbers, this is what I came up with:

Sadly we had to get rid of Legion's Landing and Saproling Migration to make everything fit. I have 24 multicolored spells and 20 creatures, which are the numbers I tried to reach. The manabase works fine, but everything here is a finely balanced scale.

With 20 creatures our Incubation will still miss 11.5% of the time. That’s not acceptable under normal circumstances. But you must consider that sometimes you might at least get a 1/1 Human token out of it. Additionally, the card can find yet another multicolor card or simply act as a removal spell.

Sideboard construction with Hero of Precinct One is very interesting, I think. How deep do you go with multicolor cards? Surely you can’t board out 8 multicolored cards for 8 monocolored ones and expect your Hero to keep working so well, but maybe it doesn’t need to work overtime in the sideboarded games when the opponent has access to sweepers anyway?

For this sideboard I didn’t go very deep, but there are certainly easy changes you can make to facilitate a more colorful sideboard.

Dreaming of a Super-Hero 

Now I know it’s not a good idea to build your entire deck around one single wishful draw, but can we at least try and make it possible without a loss of general deck functionality?

When I realized that Footlight Fiend with Hero in play supercharges your convoke cards, I saw the possibility:

Turn 2, Hero of Precinct One. Close your eyes and pray for no removal spell.

Turn 3, multicolor 2-drop, make a token. [Footlight Fiend, make a token. Tap all five creatures for a sweet, sweet turn 3 Venerated Loxodon.

Such a draw is going to be hard to beat. But this means that we have to dabble into other colors. During research for possible builds I realized that Black and White alone have so many fitting multicolor cards:

Simon Nielsen's Orzhov Convoke (Standard (Ravnica Allegiance) - Others)

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I think this deck lacks some oomph, but I mostly just wanted to highlight some deckbuilding decisions I made that I think are pretty smart, if I dare say so myself.

I was not satisfied with the amount of gold cards in this deck, until I realized that I could cut basic Plains to add Flower // Flourish, and cut some more for Temple Garden and sneak a single Forest in there. Suddenly, I also had access to this big pump spell the deck needed. This also meant I could play Find // Finality which, even though it is kind of double-Black-costing, four of my White sources also fix for Green to cast it!

I also had room for exactly one Sacred Foundry as another White source that taps for Footlight Fiend. And Call to the Feast is actually pretty sweet with Venerated Loxodon too.

Anyways, once we already go down the path of a soft splash, we might as well go for the full use of a good tricolored manabase:

Simon Nielsen's Abzan Tokens (Standard (Ravnica Allegiance) - Others)

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Again we seem to lack some power. And am I crazy for thinking I want to slide some number of Call to the Feast back in here?

But Footlight Fiend doesn’t get cast exclusively by Black mana. What happens if we add Red instead?

The Hero Saves the Day

Turns out that adding Red to your tokens deck gives you access to Heroic Reinforcements, you know that card that is busted in token strategies and even more so with Hero of Precinct One. Let’s look at how this one shakes out: 

I was really excited by this deck when I first built it. Actually, I still am so excited that I’m playing a league with this deck on Magic Online in between writing paragraphs in this article (went 4-1 again).

It’s absurd how well Hero of Precinct One works with March of the Multitudes. What I often experience is that I play a Hero on turn 2. They do something inconsequential like Incubation Druid, but never kill my Hero. Then it doesn’t matter how many giant Hydroid Krasis they get to cast, they are dead within a couple of turns, completely swarmed by tokens.

The sideboard is still a work in progress, and again I have to figure out the multicolor vs monocolor balance. My losses so far have been to Turbo Fog and Mono-Red Burn, both match-ups that seem hard for this deck.

I’ve even come to wonder if Footlight Fiend deserves its spot in the deck it all. It is nice to have any 1-drop to help with convoke, and it is busted with Hero of Precinct One and convoke (I got to do the turn 3 Venerated Loxodon start against Craig Wescoe). But it’s also the first card I cut in most matchups postboard, and honestly it could just become a Tajic, Legion's Edge, another land and two Legion's Landing.

Now that I think about it, it doesn’t seem that hard to set up the Tajic plus Shalai, Voice of Plenty lock against the Red burn decks, and Tajic protects from Goblin Chainwhirler and Deafening Clarion by himself.

There is potential here, and I will keep working on it.

A Copy Cat Situation: I might not be as Uniq as I thought

When I looked over the most recent 5-0 decklists, one deck stood out to me in particular:

And it wasn’t just because I thought this deck was really smart. I also had this deck ready on my Magic Online account, flagged as something to explore:

It seems like Uniq and I had the same idea. I don’t know what their thought process was, but mine was that if you want to play Hero of Precinct Onein a midrange shell, Abzan could be a good way to go. Simply because it has the best multicolor removal spells in Assassin's Trophy and Mortify

While I built the deck, I realized that Vraska, Golgari Queen would be such a good addition. It synergizes nicely with Hero of Precinct One, in that Hero willingly provides sacrifice fodder for Vraska, but the Human tokens can also help protect Vraska after she killed something.

Then I realized another sweet interaction that has actually been available in Standard for months. Curving History of Benalia into Vraska, Golgari Queen lets you sacrifice the saga itself. That way you trade in the third chapter ability to draw a card, and have two fine Knights to protect your 6-loyalty planeswalker.

This deck also boasts upwards of 30 multicolored cards, and has Find // Finality to retrieve fallen Heroes, which makes it one of the better decks to fit the card.

The sideboard still has some randomness to it, mostly I just want to try out a different suite of cards. Do note that the ability to play Basilica Bell-Haunt] can really ruin the day for any burn deck that might stand in your way.

The fact that I saw someone else come up with the same idea as me, who did well with it early on, gives me hope for this brew.

Not all heroes wear capes: Closing out with a deck full of Ravnica Allegiance cards

I’ll end this article with a different take on what a Hero deck can look like, provided by current trophy leader VTCLA. They have at least two 5-0s with this list, chock full of Ravnica Allegiance cards... 34 of them, in fact!

If that isn’t proof of how high the power level of this new set is, then I don’t know what is. This one takes advantage of all the goods, from the adapt package to the excellent Hydroid Krasis and of course our Hero of Precinct One.

This list also only has 20 multicolor cards, which might actually be a totally fine number, even though it doesn’t take full advantage of the tokens.

I would like to see some Flower // Flourish in the manabase, and possibly fewer Llanowar Elves, because they aren’t very reliably cast on turn 1, though they still fuel the Krasis if you cast them on later turns.

This article was written by Simon Nielsen in a media collaboration with Snapcardster.com.

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