The Brew Frontier

As many of you have no doubt heard, there have been rumblings about a new format—Frontier. Frontier was first built by one of the largest Japanese shops, Hareruya, largely because people were not content with the other formats—mostly Standard and Modern—and wanted something new. It’s a format that doesn’t have as lopsided of matchups, is more interactive, and most importantly, isn’t as expensive.

Frontier has some very basic rules. You may play cards from:

  • Magic 2015
  • Khans of Tarkir block
  • Magic Origins
  • Battle for Zendikar block
  • Shadows over Innistrad block
  • Kaladesh
  • … and every regular set printed in the future.

That means that Frontier, just like Modern, is a non-rotating format—it only adds new cards, and never removes old ones. The minimum deck size is 60 cards with a 15 card sideboard—all the normal rules apply.

From what I can tell at first glance, it’s going to be very different from both Modern and Standard. Modern is a format with a myriad of decks and angles of attack; and it’s very fast, meaning that it’s close to impossible to control and interact. Because Modern is so fast and volatile, it also means that there are a number of sideboard cards that end matches quickly and on their own.

Standard is similar in the way that it’s controlled by proactive cards that win games, but instead of there being too many different decks to answer, there are a small portion of decks that are hard to answer. Standard has seen a ton of Protoss-Carrier-type cards printed lately, but reactive spells have slowly gotten worse, to the point that it’s not possible to answer them efficiently. Frontier, however, has reactive spells that are almost as efficient as Modern’s, but the decks are nowhere near as fast or as linear, which makes the games longer and intricate. The format is represented by all different archetypes, not just slug-fest ”Jund” mirrors.

Now this is a brewer’s paradise. It’s new, cheap, and full of unexplored possibilities!

The remainder is a collection of hated boogie-men from along the course of previous Standard formats.

Just how I like it.

Emrakul and Friends

Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy, Emrakul, the Promised End, Siege Rhino, and Ishkanah, Grafwidow. What a ragtag team of evildoers over the years.


The power in this deck is overwhelming. The plan is similar to today’s G/B Delirium:

Step 1: Survive to Ishkanah, Grafwidow. Cast her.
Take a breather.
Step 2: Survive to Emrakul, the Promised End.
Step 3: Win.

The difference here is that there are significant improvements in all categories. There’s a sweeper and Siege Rhino, making everything before step 1 much easier. It means the deck has better life gain and a better early-to-midgame plan. The engine is smoother with Satyr Wayfinder, enabling delirium while chumping, being returned back with Liliana, the Last Hope and Grapple with the Past to dig deeper. Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy also helps with delirium, and gives the deck more sustainability where it can be returned with Grapple with the Past and Liliana, the Last Hope, a legion of doom when it comes to grinding somebody out. And Abzan Charm does it all of course.

The next deck is different—almost the exact opposite. It’s fast, proactive, and filled with synergy.

Grixis Prowess

Much like the Modern version, the deck uses a flurry of spells and small creatures to tempo your opponent out of the game. But in Frontier, you don’t have the same number of efficient, cheap spells (Gitaxian Probe, Lightning Bolt, Serum Visions), so you have to go a little bigger, with larger combo finishes such as Temur Battle Rage and Titan’s Strength. The main power of this deck is that it can switch gears easily. It can win quickly when it has to, but it can also drag the game out with an efficient draw engine between Bedlam Reveler, Treasure Cruise, Take Inventory, Painful Truths, and one of my old favorites, Abbot of Keral Keep!

Post-board, you can choose whether you want to slow your game plan down with Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy or become faster and more tempo oriented with Revolutionary Rebuff. Another option is to splash green for Become Immense instead of black since it’s obviously absurd with Temur Battle Rage. The mana might be a bit worse, but if your field is full of proactive, non-interactive decks such as Rally the Ancestors, it might be the way to go.

I hope you like the format as much as I do—it’s an unexplored world, deep with possibilities. What cards do you most want to build around in Frontier?


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