The Scariest Deck in Standard: U/G Nexus and How to Fight It

Whenever I play Standard best-of-three, “Simic Guildgate, go” is the scariest start I can face. Nexus of Fate, while banned in Standard best-of-one, still makes a wonderful couple with Wilderness Reclamation and represents the only viable combo deck in Standard.

Simic Nexus

Kenta Harane, 5th Place at GP Memphis 2/17/2019

4 Breeding Pool
6 Forest
4 Hinterland Harbor
4 Island
4 Memorial to Genius
2 Simic Guildgate
2 Hydroid Krasis
3 Blink of an Eye
4 Chemister's Insight
4 Growth Spiral
4 Nexus of Fate - Foil - Buy-a-Box Promo
1 Precognitive Perception
4 Root Snare
3 Search for Azcanta/Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin
3 Sinister Sabotage
4 Wilderness Reclamation
4 Opt

2 Atzocan Archer
2 Biogenic Ooze
2 Crushing Canopy
2 Druid of the Cowl
1 Hydroid Krasis
3 Incubation Druid
2 Negate
1 Sagittars' Volley

Nexus of Gates

Sam Berkenbile, 17th Place at GP Memphis 17/02/2019

1 Forest
3 Azorius Guildgate
2 Breeding Pool
4 Circuitous Route
4 Gruul Guildgate
1 Island
4 Izzet Guildgate
4 Plaza of Harmony
4 Simic Guildgate
4 Selesnya Guildgate
4 Hydroid Krasis
4 Gates Ablaze
4 Expansion/Explosion
4 Growth Spiral
4 Guild Summit
4 Nexus of Fate - Foil - Buy-a-Box Promo
2 Spell Pierce
3 Wilderness Reclamation

3 Archway Angel
2 Frilled Mystic
4 Gatebreaker Ram
4 Negate
2 Shivan Fire

While U/G Nexus isn’t my kind of deck, it’s definitely the kind of deck I lose to most of the time. My two favorite decks in my testing for Mythic Championship Cleveland this weekend are U/R Drakes and Sultai Midrange, which I covered extensively here on ChannelFireball and on my stream.

Both decks have one thing in common: they have a bad matchup against U/G Nexus, which made my testing harder and harder, because Standard is in this weird place where you have the tools to tune against any deck, but once you change some pieces, your other matchups also change.

I tried Martin Juza’s list that cut Wildgrowth Walker for Thief of Sanity, and guess what? I got destroyed by Mono-Red and Mono-White, two matchups I was easily beating before.

Tuning midrange deck isn’t easy. You have to prepare against the most decks, and sometimes that’s a hard task. You have to accept the life of being midrange and give up some matchups. Read the metagame right, and design your list to lose to the deck that’s going to be the least represented.

Last weekend at GP Memphis, Sultai Midrange put two copies in the Top 8 and plenty more in the Top 32. I saw very few copies of Simic Guildgate in that Top 32, meaning that Sultai was a great choice because you can tune it to beat Mono-Blue, Mono-White, Mono-Red, and the mirror quite easily. But if you decide to fit some Thought Erasures in the main deck to be better against Teferi, Hero of Dominaria and Wilderness Reclamation, then Unbreakable Formation will be there to punish you.

Nexus of Fate and Wilderness Reclamation, along with Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, are the the fun police. You basically cannot walk out of your house without Negate or Duress in your 75. I agree that it isn’t a great place to be, and I’d love to be able to play Trostani Discordant or Gruul Spellbreaker without needing to branch out to another color.

Unfortunately, this isn’t possible in the current Standard. You have to respect Wilderness Reclamation. Even if it doesn’t dominate the tournament, it warps the format, requiring strict deckbuilding and a reserved sideboard slot.

Wilderness Reclamation + Nexus of Fate is the closest thing we’ve had to Felidar Guardian + Saheeli Rai in a while. It’s risky to tap out for your Domri or Biogenic Ooze on turn 4 or 5 without expecting your Nexus opponent to just go Wilderness Reclamation, end of turn, float 2 mana, play Nexus of Fate, before creating a ton of card advantage that will be impossible for a fair deck to keep up with.

Even if the U/G Nexus deck doesn’t take all the turns, it only needs a few turns with one—or worse, two—Wilderness Reclamation in play to draw a lot of cards thanks to Chemister’s Insight and Search for Azcanta, play a 4/4+ Hydroid Krasis, or create an army of Oozes thanks to Biogenic Ooze, and finally pass the turn with Frilled Mystic or Sinister Sabotage up.

Post-sideboard, U/G Nexus becomes a value deck that is hard to attack, because while you have to develop your own plan and put up a real clock, you also have to respect their “combo” that could happen at any moment.

The best way to fight U/G Nexus is to make sure your clock is fast (like White Weenie) and make them react to you. Sometimes you can’t afford to leave Negate up, and you have to tap out to cast your Benalish Marshal (3/3 for WWW) or History of Benalia. Yes, they can punish you by killing you on turn 4, but most of the time the U/G Nexus player gains more edge from you slowing down for a couple of turns for fear of dying. While testing against it with Sultai Midrange, U/R Drakes, and White Weenie, I found that the best way to beat them was just to establish a clock: Merfolk Branchwalker into Jadelight Ranger or Enigma Drake followed by a flurry of cantrips rather than Duress into Thought Erasure with Negate up on turn 4. I was beating more U/G Nexus when I was tapping out on turn 3 and 4 to speed up my clock than when I was leaving mana up to Negate their potential Wilderness Reclamation just so they could just play a Hydroid Krasis for 2, or pass the turn back ready to Chemister’s Insight.

I expect U/G Nexus to be a big player this weekend at Mythic Championship Cleveland. I won’t be playing it, but I will try my hardest to build a deck that has a good plan against it (if not with my main deck, then at least with my sideboard).

I hope you’ll tune in this weekend at Twitch.tv/Magic to root for me and my team as we try to take down the first Mythic Championship of 2019!

1 thought on “The Scariest Deck in Standard: U/G Nexus and How to Fight It”

  1. Pingback: 11th Place at Mythic Championship Cleveland with Sultai Midrange

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