Hello Fellow Gamers, its Josh (also known as Parabolian). I’m back with a new deck from Alchemy so let’s jump right in with this blast from the past. There is a lot of reasons why Hinata, Dawn-Crowned has faded into irrelevance. Here are the four biggest that come to mind:
- Rotation of Magma Opus
The best thing we could be doing with Hinata, Dawn-Crowned was casting Magma Opus for two mana. This was a extremely powerful interaction, but it was not necessary to win the game. In fact, I would argue that it rarely won the game itself pre-rotation (I think Goldspan Dragon surely had a part in this). You often had to make very awkward choices when targeting your Magma Opus to make sure you could get it off, such as pinging yourself or your own Hinata. Still, creating a 4/4, drawing a couple cards, pinging a few things, and tapping a few others is a lot of value for a measly two mana investment.
The biggest issue is now we have only one big payoff for playing Hinata, Dawn-Crowned which makes are deck a little less consistent. Sure, a 4/4 with flying, trample, (functional) ward one is not a bad creature at all for its cost, but let’s face it, it doesn’t provide value as it enters the battlefield and there are plenty of very common removal spells (Infernal Grasp, Voltage Surge, etc.) that take this creature out on sight. Thus, without the Snowborn Simulacra to back it up, Hinata, Dawn-Crowned can be a liability.
- Rotation of Expressive Iteration
Losing Expressive Iteration is almost equally damaging. It was one of the best reasons to play any Izzet based deck. It ensured we almost always hit our land drops and let us pack our deck with more action and less lands.
- Rotation of Multi-Modal Dual Faced Cards
Speaking of less lands, I would argue the loss of things like Jwari Disruption and Shatterskull Smashing could be considered almost as impactful as losing Expressive Iteration. I am now up to running a full 28 lands, and while I almost never flood with this deck (cycling Triomes helps), it does not feel like olden times where it was much easier to keep a clutch of action constantly.
Now, our deck is a little more feast or famine, relying on a big Snowborn Simulacra to resolve to get our engine moving again. I also dearly miss the ability to conjure copies of spell lands that we have played as mana. While we can still replicate this trick with the legendary cycling lands, its not just not the same as conjuring an impactful spell like Shatterskull Smashing in the late game.
- Less than perfect mana base support (No Jeskai Triome)
I have said before that three color decks without triome support are going to being inherently worse in the mana game then those that do have a triome. At least we have access to two pain lands as painful as they are. Likewise, having Forsaken Crossroads as an option makes any multi-color mana base better (I heart you crossroads).
Ok we have gotten the reasons NOT to play this type deck out of the way let’s talk about what it has going for it.
First, in case you somehow missed it last season, let’s quickly unpack how it works. With Hinata, Dawn-Crowned in play, any spell that targets something gets a one mana discount, this includes spicy things like Negate which is pretty nice when it suddenly costs only one mana. While that is cute, the real fun starts if you cast something like Snowborn Simulacra (which cost two blue and X mana where X is equal to each thing it targets), so you can see where this is going. Thanks to Hinata, that X can essentially be infinite, the only limiting factor is how many targets are in play. If that was all it did, it would still be a pretty sweet combo, but wait there is more, as long as X = 5 you get to put one of those conjured cards into play for free. Generally, that is so much value generated, that your opponent is very hard pressed to overcome it.
Hinata, Dawn-Crowned is one of those cards that will become increasingly degenerate over time as its mana discount has universal applications. Any time they print a card that has many targets, it should be assessed through the lens of how ridiculous that interaction will be with this Kirin Spirit in play. In this way, it reminds me very much of Birthing Pod, a good card that only gets better as more supporting cards are added to the card pool.
Pre-rotation in Alchemy, folks were running maybe one, two, or at the most three copies of Snowborn Simulacra. I actually finished the last month of the season pre-rotation in a top 250 spot with a version of this deck that, believe it or not, only ran two copies of Magma Opus, and instead the full play set of Snowborn Simulacra. The list had a 64% win rate in nearly 100 games here it is for reference.
We have established that decks like this can function with Magma Opus as merely an afterthought instead of the focal point. How well does it function when Magma Opus is completely gone? Still pretty darn good. Here is the list for reference. I have ranked as high as #229 with this configuration and it currently has a 33-14 record (70% win rate).
Our plan is pretty straightforward. The nuts draw is some early interaction, such as Molten Impact or Leyline Binding, since we need to buy as much time as possible. Then, ideally, we can deploy a Key to the Archive on turn four. As long as we can live to untap, we can cast Hinata, Dawn-Crowned, then immediately cast Snowborn Simulacra for something like 10 targets by turn five. Suffice to say, we are generally going to be in complete control of the game if this happens.
Of course, that is the best-case scenario, often our combo pieces don’t show up right away. Until they do, we are functioning pretty much as a control deck. One or two copies of Wedding Announcement really helps buy a ton of turns and provide us insurance against Invoke Despair.
Furthermore, we love to hit our land drops and ramp with Key to the Archive as sometimes we need to cast a Snowborn Simulacra where X does not equal five (or is otherwise unassisted by a Hinata, Dawn-Crowned discount), which is ok. Copying things like Leyline Binding, Reckoner Bankbuster, Wedding Announcement or Key to the Archive are all quite good targets that make casting it early worthwhile.
Not to mention we get to snag some juicy things from our opponent, in particular its great fun to target opposing copies of Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, Sanguine Brushstroke or best of all Sheoldred, the Apocalypse.
As long as we can protect our life total sufficiently, we can have some absolutely obscene end game states. Here is an example of where I had six copies of Wedding Announcement in play.
Degenerate states like this are thanks to Saiba Syphoner which can allow us to infinitely loop Snowborn Simulacra over and over again for just two mana. Since we can conjure copies of Saiba Syphoner, which in turn, retrieve Snowborn Simulacra.
Here is another example where I played my opponents deck better than they did. Got Blood Artist anyone?
(Note that these screenshots were taken from Traditional Alchemy Events where the list put up a respectable 67 percent win rate too)
Oracle of the Alpha – this feels like a card that should not be played as an afterthought. It needs a lot of support to extract value from it. While its true it has an ETB its not really a value generating effect. Which is sad because being able to conjure multiple Moxes is super fun but more often then not this was a win more condition.
Portable Hole – I like Portable Hole as poor man’s Leyline Binding, but it also has the problem of being swept away by Divine Purge which we run in the board against the same sort of decks that want this effect.
Fable of the Mirror-Breaker – The best part about this card for us early on is the ramp ability, but since we run so few creatures, we will rarely ever get to make treasure tokens before this goblin is killed. Of course, it’s great to cycle away excess lands for gas when we copy it. It just not as good of a defensive card as Wedding Announcement is.
Farewell – I ran as many as three copies of this card, but six mana even with a ramp deck is a lot, remember our curve technically stops at four since copies of Leyline Binding are often steeply discounted. That being said thank goodness this card is not seeing more play in alchemy because it can absolutely blank our own deck that relies on copying so many permanents.
Pull of the Mist Moon – I experimented with this card, but decided it was also win more, if you have the time to spend five mana to deal with one permanent then you are probably already in good shape. Which is a shame because its hilarious to start putting multiple things under an enhanced Leyline Binding.
Choice of Fortunes – I actually haven’t used this in the current season but have experimented with it in the past. While the hand size clause is relevant for our deck which, can routinely put 15 or 20 cards in our hand in one go, most of those are lands. Thus, like many of things on this list it seems like a win more, since restocking to 7 cards is generally enough to win anyway.
Three mana for seeing 4 total cards is not horrible though but it would take the place of something like Reckoner Bankbuster which of course is a great thing to copy so sacrifices had to be made.
Undersimplify or other main deck counter spells – this is more of a meta game call at this point. Esper seems to have taken a drastic down turn and these would be best for forcing through a Hinata, Dawn-Crowned. Most decks seem to be relying on proactive permanent based strategies and there is no worse feeling then cards like this doing nothing in our hand while we get overrun.
Matchup and Sideboard Guide
|-1 Hinata, Dawn-Crowned||+1 Archangel of Wrath|
|-1 Burn Down the House||+2 Divine Purge|
|-1 Key to the Archive||+1 Sunset Revelry|
|-1 Reckoner Bankbuster|
This is by far the most prevalent archetype right now in Alchemy. It has a powerful combination of fast starts, excellent reach, and good sustain. I had to retool my deck significantly to respect this archetype. Losing Cosmos Elixir was quite significant unfortunately as the life gain is so important. As such, our key cards here are those that gain life, such as Teferi, Who Slows the Sunset and The Celestus in the main board (also if you can roll a Lightning Helix or Approach of the Second Sun from Key to the Archive. Wedding Announcement and Molten Impact don’t gain us life, but can help us protect our life total as well.
The temptation maybe to take out both copies of Burn Down the House since its bad versus Blood Artist but just remember your opponent’s deck likes to run Ob Nixilis, the Adversary plus when push comes to shove its not bad to make devils with it either.
The crazy thing about Mono-black is it runs pretty much zero Alchemy cards and still does just fine. Honestly, the two cards we like to see the least with this opponent is Graveyard Trespasser and of course Invoke Despair. Getting a turn three Wedding Announcement will significantly increase your chances of winning as this card can put up barriers to both those cards.
Remember we can still take out a Sheoldred, the Apocalypse with just one leftover damage from Molten Impact and then a second copy of it. If we can ever get many extra cards in our hand via a Snowborn Simulacra dealing with a Graveyard Trespasser gets a lot easier.
|-1 Hinata, Dawn-Crowned||+1 Ertai's Scorn|
|-1 Teferi, Who Slows the Sunset||+1 Negate|
|-1 Burn Down the House||+1 Unlicensed Hearse|
This deck has certainly slumped in play. I don’t know if had to do with the nerf to Diviner of Fates or the prevalence of Anvil decks, but this went from being the champ to the chump. That is not to say its non-existent, it still the third most common deck I faced – the good news is we have a pretty great matchup against it. They will run main deck Bind to Secrecy mostly, but if they are the more midranged, creature-focused version, we are in excellent shape. Note that we can play around a Bind to Secrecy if they only leave two mana open when we are trying to Snowborn Simulacra since we make their Bind to Secrecy cost three mana.
Red Deck Wins and Goblins
|-3 Hinata, Dawn-Crowned||+2 Sunset Revelry|
|-4 Key to the Archive||+3 Knockout Blow|
|-1 Snowborn Simulacra||+1 Archangel of Wrath|
|+1 Divine Purge|
|+1 Fragment Reality|
These two matches up can be touch and go, especially with RDW. We have to find our removal early and often or just lose on the spot. We have reserved a lot of spots in our sideboard for this matchup for good reason. We sacrifice the consistency of our combo in order to stay alive longer.
Since we are dropping our curve lower too, we could consider shaving a land to fit in another Divine Purge. We transform into a more controlling deck which can gain a lot of card advantage on a resolved Snowborn Simulacra.
|-1 Hinata, Dawn-Crowned||+1 Burn Down the House|
|-1 Key to the Archive||+1 Divine Purge|
|-1 Teferi, Who Slows the Sunset||+1 Fragment Reality|
This actually may be our hardest matchup of all we are currently 3-4 versus this deck. Which is not the worst since the deck isn’t seeing a ton of play.
Sadly, we may be forced to play our Hinata, Dawn-Crowned as a blocker instead of a combo piece. If they are heavy werewolves, we get into a really awkward position since its very hard for us to cast spells each turn especially early on. Getting a few copies of Leyline Binding and Molten Impact early then following up with Wedding Announcement should help us stabilize until we can get the combo online. Burn Down the House hits just about everything in their deck with the exception of a creature pumped by Halana and Alena, Partners, but for that we have Leyline Binding.
Alpha Combo Decks
If this is the version by Altheriax that features Displacer Kitten, you will want to keep your copies of Molten Impact in as the whole key to beating that deck is to kill their Displacer Kitten (as an actual kitten owner, that sentence hurt to write). If it’s the Sultai version by Crokeyz, then your best card will be Unlicensed Hearse.
Unfortunately, this a tougher matchup for us as we don’t exactly have a fast clock and their deck has more inevitability than ours. I will say that copying their moxen is amazing for us as we can ramp insanely fast especially if we can get a Saiba Syphoner loop going. I had a few memorable games where I had something like 40 moxen in play.
Tips and Tricks
- If possible, always lead with a Jetmir's Garden, this is our best land turn one because it can set up a turn two Leyline Binding (if we play something like
Raffine’s Towerwe have hit full domain). Also the red on this card allows for a turn two Molten Impact.
- Don’t forget to target your own Hinata, Dawn-Crowned with a Snowborn Simulacra its great to have a spare copy in your hand.
- Avoid at all costs playing your Hinata, Dawn-Crowned before having the Snowborn Simulacra ready to go unless you have multiple copies in hand and no better play to make.
- An opponent cannot stop you from getting off a Snowborn Simulacra with spot removal on Hinata, Dawn-Crowned since they do not regain priority until you cast another spell. However, anything they remove in response to a cast Snowborn Simulacra is not copied. Keep this mind when you have a Molten Impact overflow damage trigger waiting for use since it will enter the stack first and destroy a potential copy target before Snowborn Simulacra resolves.
- I find it easier to target 10 or 15 things even if I know I am going to have discard a lot of it, it saves you from the mental energy of counting. Just target a bunch of things in priority of importance and sort the rest out in the cleanup phase.
- Try to pick the most expensive copied card to cheat into play, Key to the Archive is usually a great target for this, especially since you can discard a conjured land to replace it with whatever spell you draft from its spell book.
- Don’t be afraid to use your legendary spells as lands as you can always conjure copies of these later if needed.
- Remember the conjured copies of spells are all generically mana costed which can be really nice later on.
- As mentioned above Leyline Binding is an amazing thing to conjure duplicates of because it usually ends up costing us one mana for unconditional instant speed removal.
I hope you enjoy playing this deck as much as I do. It can lead to some absolutely silly board states. It also has the advantage of being powerful yet under the radar. As always good luck and have fun.