In this guide, we have three different Standard decks featuring powerful spells and Arcane Bombardment, each complete with matchups and sideboard guide.
Hello, fellow gamers! Some of you may have noticed a recent trend in the meta-game. Ob Nixilis, the Adversary, and especially the Jund iteration of it have been doing very well for themselves. For example, the Jund list I shared last week propelled me into the top 500 of Mythic (here is the updated version) so the archetype is still going strong. With that kind of success, we have seen decks attempting to respond in kind.
Burn Down the House and to a lesser extent Shadows' Verdict (it’s easy to forget this card hits 3-mana Planeswalkers too since it has so seldom come up) have been effective tools to reset the board. That being said, these are each 5-mana solutions to a 3-mana problem. We need to have a plan to survive long enough for these cards to matter. I am going to show you three builds of Arcane Bombardment decks that have a proactive means to frustrate your opponent and hopefully give you the edge over Ob Nixilis.
Izzet Land Destruction Bombardment
If you happened to have tuned in to the recent tournament hosted by Team Liquid and Crokeyz, you will know that a unique new deck made an appearance. This version featured one interesting piece of novel technology in the form of maxing out on Cleansing Wildfire and Field of Ruin.
The more entrepreneurial players among us have noticed that many mana bases are quite greedy right now. Some lists feature only a handful of basics making Cleansing Wildfire essentially an upgrade to Sinkhole. When you couple this tempo-sapping land destruction effect with the repeatability of Arcane Bombardment, you have yourself quite a recipe for success. This effect is two parts misery and one part frustration served steaming hot to multi-colored mages. All of this being said, mono-colored decks are still out there so this strategy can certainly be hit or miss.
Let’s take a look at the list, shall we (credit to scottynada on this build and congrats on their top-8 finish)?
The plan here is brutal. Early on, we have 4 copies of Cleansing Wildfire and 4 copies of Field of Ruin. The idea is to deny your opponent land and leave them with stranded cards in their hand. This works only if their mana base is (like most tend to be at the moment) full of non-basics. We have many pieces of interaction early as well in the form of Flame-Blessed Bolt, Abrade, Voltage Surge, and several other low-cost burn spells. Ideally, whatever creatures do hit the board should be mopped up in short order.
As the game progresses, we will gain access to Burn Down the House to reset if need be. Burn Down the House also has some nice utility on an empty board as a form of offense as we can send in a swarm of hasty creatures to bedevil our enemy, this alternate mode will be key later on.
The true fun happens when Arcane Bombardment comes online. Suddenly, all of our spells are recurring in droves. Burn Down the House transforms from an annoyance into a deadly factory churning out devilish soldiers. In a just few turns with Arcane Bombardment in play, the game will quickly be out of reach for your opponent. In addition, we have some redundancy here in the form of Lier, Disciple of the Drowned, who has been quite quiet lately, but perhaps this is the shell where this wizard makes their triumphant return?
As mentioned, this plan works best versus the tri-colored decks we are seeing lately. Against mono-colored decks the 4 copies of Cleansing Wildfire become a liability. Don’t fret, like Yuta Takahashi’s world winning Izzet deck, we have access to bit of a transformative sideboard, in the form of Smoldering Egg, which might catch some mono-color players off guard if they side out their creature removal.
Overall, I think this list is very cool and has some neat new technology but I also think it’s vulnerable. The main deck
Matchups and Sideboard Guide
|-4 Cleansing Wildfire||+3 Smoldering Egg|
|-1 Arcane Bombardment||+1 Burning Hands|
|-2 Flame-Blessed Bolt||+2 Tempted by the Oriq|
|+1 Out of the Way|
This and Mono-White are the two matchups we are hoping to avoid. Cleansing Wildfire against Mono-Green is like an overpriced cantrip most times, though it could be amusing to blow up an Old-Growth Troll enchanted Forest when they are tapped out or sniping a Lair of the Hydra.
Luckily, our sideboard has a slew of options to help us in game two. Mainly our plan is attempting to stabilize and survive their initial onslaught at which point we can bury our opponent in card advantage. Cards like Old-Growth Troll are certainly an issue as well as Snakeskin Veil so be mindful of those. The best play is being able to snag an Old-Growth Troll with Tempted by the Oriq so try to set that up whenever possible.
There are two main flavors of angels right now as Bohe demonstrated in his article. There are the more traditional Orzhov angels, powered-up by Giada, Font of Hope and Esper Angels with both Giada and Linvala, Shield of Sea Gate. Even the Esper version of the list is running at least three basics (though no basic islands). Thus, land destruction in this case is not exactly game breaking, but it might at least keep them off of blue, which to be fair they hardly need to function.
The two cards that are going to end us are Righteous Valkyrie and the aforementioned Giada, Font of Hope as they put their creatures out of burn range. Its important to remove these on sight while also keep the opponent’s life total under 27 to keep the Valkyrie offline. Fading Hope is really strong here as they pump out a bunch of large token angels and it can also buy us time if their creatures become too large to burn.
I also like Tempted by the Oriq here as it hits most of the creatures in their deck. Just about all of these lists run a full playset of Vanishing Verse which makes it very tricky to get Arcane Bombardment to stick, but hopefully the couple of copies of Negate from the sideboard will provide some protection.
Rakdos and Jund Midrange
This is the type of deck we hope to face as we are pre-sideboarded game one to steal the win. They normally have an extremely greedy mana base with one or two basics which is perfect for our land destruction game plan. In addition, our full playset of Burn Down the House will keep our board clear along with all of our smaller burn spells that have many valid targets. Furthrmore, we can add a functional 5th copy of Burn Down the House post-board with Battle of Frost and Fire for even more value.
|-2 Arcane Bombardment||+3 Smoldering Egg|
|-4 Cleansing Wildfire||+1 Burning Hands|
|+1 Fading Hope|
|+1 Lier, Disciple of the Drowned|
As mentioned earlier, mono-colored decks pose a real issue for this deck. Elite Spellbinder, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, and Reidane, God of the Worthy can all keep us from landing a timely Burn Down the House. However, if we do manage to deploy a board clear before dying, it will certainly swing the match in our favor. Luminarch Aspirant is also an issue as it can quickly grow their creatures out of burn range. We might catch them off guard with the Smoldering Egg in game two if they board out their copies of Brutal Cathar and Skyclave Apparition so prioritize that heavily.
Without our land destruction plan this would be another very difficult matchup. Luckily, most Naya Lists tend to have some of the greediest mana bases of all, running just a smattering of basics. If those land destruction effects are not present, we have a difficult road to traverse.
Our burn spells will quickly be outclassed by their ability to grow creatures to epic proportions. That is why post-board Fading Hope will be an excellent tempo swing and Tempted by the Oriq could lead to an utter blowout if we can land it on a significantly large threat. Burn Down the House is pretty terrible here because by the time we have the mana to cast it, their creatures will be too large. We want to pack copies of Negate mainly only in hopes of stopping Showdown of the Skalds. Try to not let them assemble the wombo-combo of Jukai Naturalist and Runeforge Champion.
Grixis (Maestros) Bombardment
Ok, lets move on to the next list. Ironically, it is one piloted by the tournament host Crokeyz and it features a spicy one-of copy of Cleansing Wildfire. Makes you wonder if scottynada took that idea and ran with it?
Although Crokeyz was playing this in Bo1, I have slightly adapted it and added a sideboard for best-of-three. That being said, I think there is definite merit to taking this list into the Bo1 ladder over Bo3 since its less likely you will run into enchantment-hate main deck (excepting of course Vanishing Verse). Here is the list:
Crokeyz decided to go with a Grixis shell. This gives you access to a few new choice cards, especially Maestros Charm, Hagra Mauling, Invoke Despair, Cram Session, and Go Blank. In addition, we have a lone copy of Duress and Power Word Kill in the sideboard.
This list is fiendishly difficult to pilot, with a decision tree as big and complex as they come. I have taken the liberty to add three addition copies of Cleansing Wildfire into the sideboard to give you the same land destruction option featured in the first list. I fear though, without the Field of Ruins, it won’t be as effective, but is still a nice effect to have.
In Game One, the early plan here is certainly different since land destruction isn’t our main focus. We are attempting to buy time until we can get Arcane Bombardment online. Luckily, the majority of the deck is full of ways to disrupt your opponent and dig for answers. I do see this strategy as a bit of a glass cannon; if your opponent successfully removes your six-mana enchantment, you are in quite some trouble. Thus, as a way to prevent this, we are running several counterspells which as Crokeyz even admitted are pretty terrible in this current meta, that is until they are completely necessary.
You will find that having multi-modal cards with Arcane Bombardment is really important as the game state shifts. On any given turn, we may need removal when we only have card draw, and vice-versa. I think this what gravitates us towards Grixis. Cards like Maestros Charm can be an effective kill condition with the life drain aspect, but also an efficient form of removal or a way to find an answer. Again, you can see why your decision tree can get out of hand quite quickly.
Tainted Indulgence is a nice upgrade to Expressive Iteration (though we run a bit of that too) here as it allows us to cast it on any turn and it could even on occasion send a nice card for our graveyard. Of all the lists I will show you, this one has the most efficient card draw at its disposal.
I wanted to break down a few tips and tricks I noticed while playing this list (some of this applies to other versions too). One such trick is the ability to cast Go Blank instant speed, much like Teferi, Time Raveler allowed with Thought Erasure and the like (or any sorcery speed spell for that matter). This may be a bit of a win-more strategy because in order to execute it you need to have successfully put a copy of Go Blank under Arcane Bombardment and cast a spell on your opponent’s draw step. By that point you are likely in a commanding lead, but an important thing to remember is Arcane Bombardment can get a trigger on each turn. Thus, you are always aiming to cast at least a sorcery speed spell on your turn and an instant speed spell on your opponents turn to build up your Arcane Bombardment that much quicker.
Soon you will be drowning your opponent in the “zzzt zzzt” sound effect repeatedly triggering from your Arcane Bombardment. Lastly, if you can, try to sandbag Arcane Bombardment on a turn where you can cast a cheap spell too, to gain immediate value. There is no worse feeling than using your entire turn to cast your 6-mana enchantment only to have it removed before providing any gains.
Matchups and Sideboard Guide
|-1 Cleansing Wildfire||+1 Power Word Kill|
|-1 ||+2 Infernal Grasp|
|-1 Expressive Iteration|
While this is still a problematic matchup, it is made much better by having access to black removal. It is true the two damage from Prismari Command is not enough to deal with most threats, but it is pretty solid for taking out most of resolved
As always, we have to be aware of Snakeskin Veil which could really put us behind. Post board we will double-down on the removal by bringing in the Power Word Kill and Infernal Grasp. Hopefully, they only have a Boseiju, Who Endures and not also copies of Outland Liberator because keeping an Arcane Bombardment going will certainly seal the deal.
|-3 Prismari Command||+1 Negate|
|-1 Cleansing Wildfire||+1 Test of Talents|
|-1 Burn Down the House||+2 Infernal Grasp|
|+1 Shadows' Verdict|
Sadly, Power Word Kill will not help us post board here so we will have to rely heavily on Maestros Charm again. We double down on our main plan of finding and protecting an Arcane Bombardment meaning we really need to stop the Vanishing Verse from happening. If we can snag a Vanishing Verse game two or three with a Test of Talents, we will be in good shape. Infernal Grasp feels like a necessary evil for us, it is quite dangerous to our health if repeatedly cast while under Arcane Bombardment, but at the same time between Angels, Dragons and now a relevant Demon (Raffine), we have to use it over Power Word Kill.
|-3 Prismari Command||+1 Lier, Disciple of the Drowned|
|-3 Burn Down the House||+1 Negate|
|+1 Infernal Grasp|
|+1 Go Blank|
|+1 Soul Shatter|
There are a lot of flavors of Esper right now. The above recommendations are for the more controlling type versions that may run things like Farewell. If you are going up against a midrange version, which to be honest seems more common at the moment, you may want to go with the sideboard plan closer to the angels matchup. As always, we have to be aware that most versions are playing three to four copies of Vanishing Verse, so we have to be prepared to defend our Arcane Bombardment by any means necessary. The match will depend on you buying enough time to deploy the Arcane Bombardment, and then protecting it to victory.
Rakdos and Jund Midrange
Here we are attempting to disrupt their mana base until we can get going. The four main deck copies of Burn Down the House make this match livable as long as we are not too far behind before they show up. Cram Session is actually pretty relevant as we might stabilize with precious few life points which could be sniped away by a top decked Ob Nixilis, the Adversary, or a blitzing Tenacious Underdog.
|-1 Arcane Bombardment||+1 Lier, Disciple of the Drowned|
|-1 Invoke Despair||+1 Power Word Kill|
|-1 ||+2 Infernal Grasp|
|-1 Cleansing Wildfire|
Finally, we have a matchup where Spikefield Hazard is more than just a Arcane Bombardment enabler. It may seem weird to bring in a Lier, Disciple of the Drowned here, but remember it tax-dodges both Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, and Reidane, God of the Worthy. It also serves as a decent replacement for Arcane Bombardment which sadly is not so adept at cheating its tax bill. We need to survive there first wave of aggression and then grind them out. The first few turns are pivotal, so mulligan aggressively on slow hands.
|-4 Burn Down the House||+3 Cleansing Wildfire|
|-3 Prismari Command||+2 Infernal Grasp|
|+1 Shadows' Verdict|
|+1 Soul Shatter|
Pre-sideboard we have to hope they don’t go off too quickly as we certainly need time to get going. Post sideboard Cleansing Wildfire will be huge at slowing them down. Plus, most of our removal will able to deal with their creatures even if they grow large. On the play we may want to side in copies of Duress and Negate in hopes of snagging a Showdown of the Skalds.
Jeskai Opus Hinata Bombardment
Alright, the last deck I am going to show you is a brew of my own but you will see the DNA of several others represented.
Before I break this down for you lets take a look at the list:
We have completely abandoned the land destruction of the first two lists. Instead, we are looking to abuse the interaction between Hinata, Dawn-Crowned and Magma Opus. DoggertQBones showed off this combo way back in February and you can read about that list here. I won’t get too into the weeds, but basically with Hinata, Dawn-Crowned in play we are able to cast Magma Opus for as cheap as just two mana. While this interaction was really powerful, Magma Opus normally cannot end the game on its own, but what if we could cast many copies of this spell?
The twist on this is now we have Arcane Bombardment to add to the mix. We already understand that when Arcane Bombardment gets going it can be devastating. When you start casting Magma Opus copies for free, well, things get real tense for your opponent. Magma Opus also has a built-in ability to simultaneously ramp and seed the graveyard which we have seen put to good use in Historic with
We have opted to move the three copies of Burn Down the House to the sideboard since game one we are striving to go all-in on either assembling the Hinata, Dawn-Crowned / Magma Opus combo or getting Arcane Bombardment online.
I wanted to spend some time on the role players in this deck. First, Wizards of the Coast decided that one version of Unexpected Windfall was not enough so they upped their game by printing what is a strict upgrade in Big Score. Do seven copies of this spell seem like to much for one list? No, that has not been my experience. These treasure token generators will help us ramp up to Arcane Bombardment, and find gas later on when they find their way underneath our namesake card. We cannot run something like Memory Deluge either as it does nothing when cast for free (Note, the card says look at X cards where X is the mana spent to cast this spell, so free copies fizzle).
We are running 23 regular lands plus 6 additional Modal Double Faced Cards (MDFCs) to bring our true count closer to 29. Again, we see the benefits of other dual mode cards here with the likes of Prismari Command, Rip Apart, Valorous Stance, and
This one has been a blast to play, as we are attacking on two separate angles that happen to dovetail nicely. It certainly has those crazy draws where you deploy a Hinata, Dawn-Crowned early on and then immediately get to cast Magma Opus. The difference is we have a fallback plan when that doesn’t work out.
Matchup and Sideboard Guide
|-2 Arcane Bombardment||+3 Smoldering Egg|
|-1 ||+1 Burning Hands|
|-3 Unexpected Windfall||+1 Valorous Stance|
|+1 Thundering Rebuke|
We are going to try to get low and fight somewhat at their level. When we go to cast a Hinata, Dawn-Crowned, it’s ideal if we can have protection spell such as Valorous Stance or Sejiri Shelter to save it from Blizzard Brawl and the like. Remember, it only takes one mana to cast either of these spells when Hinata is in play.
Having access to main deck enchantment removal with Rip Apart to get rid of Ranger Class is huge. It is often nice to hold priority on their draw step when we can cast Magma Opus to deny them two mana, but also consider setting up an ambush during combat, since flashing a 4/4 elemental can also lead to a blowout.
Hinata, Dawn-Crowned is really nice in this matchup as it cannot be targeted by Vanishing Verse and it can safety tangle with most of their Angels in the air. You do have be aware of The Wandering Emperor so think twice before attacking into four open mana, or blocking a 3-power creature. Righteous Valkyrie and Giada, Font of Hope have to be removed as soon as possible so they don’t outscale our interaction. We don’t need an Arcane Bombardment to stick to win, but it sure make things much easier if it does.
|-1 Voltage Surge||+1 Hullbreaker Horror|
|-1 Rip Apart||+1 Negate|
|-1 Valorous Stance||+1 Test of Talents|
|-1 Fading Hope||+1 An Offer You Can't Refuse|
Hullbreaker Horror might be greedy here if its quickly removed with Vanishing Verse, but sometimes they don’t have it and it can steal the game. In any case its best to cast this when you have one other instant piece of interaction to protect it. Otherwise the name of the game is assembling our combo pieces and not overextending into board wipes, especially Farwell.
Rakdos and Jund Midrange
We cannot rely on our land destruction plan here. Therefore, we have to hopefully get Hinata, Dawn-Crowned going early a quick Magma Opus can go a long way to ending them. Some Rakdos decks don’t always have a ready answer for a resolved Hinata so even one turn untapped this this can be a big deal. Game two the Burn Down the House copies can go a long way to stabilizing. Still, we want to remove threats early and often to avoid a copied Ob Nixilis, the Adversary.
|-2 Arcane Bombardment||+1 Thundering Rebuke|
|-1 Magma Opus||+3 Smoldering Egg|
|-1 Hinata, Dawn-Crowned||+1 Burning Hands|
|-1 Unexpected Windfall|
The name of the game is speed here. Game Two we are bringing in our lower cost spells to attempt to match their low curve. If we can survive that initial onslaught and stabilize, we stand a good chance of winning. I feel like mono-white is on a 6-turn clock to end the game from there on their chances start dropping fast.
We need to mulligan aggressively to ensure we have ways to remove an early Jukai Naturalist or Kami of Transience. This deck has less ways to interact with a resolved Arcane Bombardment, but generally their form of interaction is just to kill you before it matters. You also do have to be somewhat aggressive, because unlike many decks that function so fast, this one has a lot of resilience too.
I think each of these lists has merit. There are probably many other interesting and viable ways to build Arcane Bombardment too. For example, this could be accomplished perhaps in a Velomachus Lorehold / Invoke Justice shell. Fun fact, Invoke Justice can target Arcane Bombardment!
Let me know in the Discord if you have had any success with lists like the ones above or something else in this vein. In any case I hope you get to enjoy at least one flavor of this fun card. Good luck and have fun!