Trying to take Nissa seriously

So I went and built the following Standard-legal deck:

Serious Mode Nissa

Creature (30)
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Nissa’s Chosen
4 Elvish Visionary
4 Elvish Archdruid
4 Great Sable Stag
4 Master of the Wild Hunt
2 Oracle of Mul Daya
4 Turntimber Ranger

Other Spell (6)
2 Nissa Revane
4 Eldrazi Monument

Land (24)
20 Forest
4 Oran-Rief, the Vastwood

Sideboard (15)
4 Windstorm
4 Naturalize
4 Vines of Vastwood
3 Nature’s Spiral

The deck is a mono-green deck (except for the Monuments, which are arguably green cards in disguise) filled with elves and “noble” forest creatures such as deer (a magical animal of myth) and wolves (long-time allies of elves in the Magic the Gathering universe). Besides being aesthetically sound, it also has pleasant synergy. The cards working together are much stronger than they are separately. Elvish Visionary + Oracle of Mul Daya, Eldrazi Monument + Master of the Wild Hunt, Nissa Revane + Elvish Archdruid, Oran-Rief + Turntimber Ranger, all have highly positive interactions.

The best card in Standard. The only playable Elf in Standard?

And then, of course, I tested it against my builds of the “decks to beat” in the current tournament environment: the Jund Cascade deck and the Vampires deck. As you might expect, Nissa and her friends got completely slaughtered.

Yes, even by Vampires, which Nissa looks good on paper against because of the tons of creatures preventing Gatekeeper from hitting the Great Sable Stag. Vampires can also be punished severely by Windstorm post-board if a Vampire Nocturnus hits the battlefield with sunset mode. Despite this, on-paper advantage is only on-paper, because you can’t win the race.

I haven’t tested this against the Cobra Reliquary, Luminarch Control, Sphinx Ultimatum, or Boros Bushwhacker decks, but I expect the results to be similar. There’s a reason why you don’t see Nissa and mono-green elves being considered in tournaments.

Nissa’s small starting loyalty may be cute, but when the Nissa’s Chosen you just searched out has to trade with an incoming Bloodbraid Elf that just cascaded into a Blightning that killed Nissa and knocked two cards out of your hand, you’ll start to wish the Promised Savior of Elvenkind was a bit more padded. Nissa, like any other planeswalker, also folds to Vampire Hexmage.

Even if Faeries is gone, the deer is still powerful.

The Incorruptible Deer shows over and over again why it’s a worthy card, and pumping one up to 4/4 or 5/5 with Oran-Rief invalidates most of Jund’s removal suite, but you can’t count on it to carry you every time.

The Eldrazi Monuments will win games if unanswered, but Jund’s Maelstrom Pulse (or Thought Hemorrhage) and Vampires’ Duress are pretty good answers. Master of the Wild Hunt and Elvish Archdruid provide considerable resource advantage, but against the ton of removal you’ll be facing, you’ll never get to see them live past the turn they hit the battlefield.

So to hell with taking Nissa seriously. I’m going back to drawing comics. I’ll save my creative deckbuilding for casual play. And I’ll just play Jund in Standard if I want to win.

11 Responses to “Trying to take Nissa seriously”

  1. desudesu says:

    oh god, a talented weeaboo who likes MtG. Don’t ever die, bro. I like your Nissa so much more than the official one :3

  2. Anonymous says:

    In terms of Constructed formats, I personally believe that Legacy will always be superior to Standard. Trying to play Standard seriously is like trying to catch all the falling raindrops…ie, pure folly.

  3. AkumaHokoru says:

    Alas I too try to use nissa…but I can beat vampires with my current build (sigh…yes i went red black and put in burn spells and bloodbraid)

  4. AkumaHokoru says:

    Alas I too try to use nissa…but I can beat vampires with my current build (sigh…yes i went red green and put in burn spells and bloodbraid)

  5. Lotus says:

    Apparently a mono-green deck running Nissa came first at the SCG $5K Standard Open Tournament.


    Here’s a link to the deck list:

  6. Skribulous says:

    Neesa should totally hang out with “big sister” Chandra (splash red for Bloodbraid, lol) and “big brother” Garruk if she really wants to be taken seriously. Also, try to squeeze in Overruns, Fogs, and Entangling Vines.

    Don’t look at me for any long-term help, I’m the Goblin King. 🙂

  7. Finem says:

    Have you tried Fogs and Garruk? You might be able to drop some lands for other things, as you have plenty of curve enhancers. Or, you can splash red and try the traditional elfball route using Banefire, but then it isn’t really about Nissa anymore. I guess the Moe planeswalker just doesn’t make the cut. But before you give up entirely, I just remembered an awesome green card that could turn the whole thing around: Beastmaster’s Ascension. Check it out.
    I find it ironic that you portray her as flatchested, when her art was censored for showing too much of her breast.

  8. Finem says:

    Oh, yeah, and definitely run 4 of your star planeswalker.

  9. Sixten says:

    @Lotus, Finem: Yeah, it turns out the Elfdrazi is a viable archetype after all. The Anderson Monument decklist has the same core as mine, but is way more professionally tuned. I just needed to run less theme and more quality. Garruk definitely helps, and taking the Rangers out for Ant Queens also goes a long way.

  10. Khôi says:

    I just had a look at the Anderson Monument deck too. Seems like it’s an interesting archtype to be played.

    Good luck getting all those moneybags (Noble Hierarch, Eldrazi, Archdruid, Garruk, 2010 dual, Eldrazi). Better get those cards soon, as I don’t see them dropping in value anytime soon.

  11. Caleb Black says:

    According to the books, Nissa is a major bad ass. I guess the people making the cards didn’t think to carry that over…

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