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The moment I saw this card being spoiled, I knew that she was going to shake things up, and I’m not even pushing puns at her name.
Nissa, Who Ends Games As Quickly As She Can!
I recently went to compete in MagicFest Taipei, and sure enough, I had the fortunate experience of going up one of the best cards in Standard right now: Nissa, Who Shakes the World.
But even before Taipei happened, she was already making her presence known through one dominant shell and the various ways that people are building decks around her.
Ever since War of the Spark, there were two factors that limited Standard Play: Mono-Red Deck and Teferi, Time Raveler.
Going competitive means having to go against these two factors. If your deck can’t go against any of them, you’re going to have a bad time.
But unlike Teferi, Time Raveler, Nissa never really made her presence known. Her shell was considered a sleeper deck, and being housed in a versatile deck means had players guessing.
When Nissa hits the board and you don’t have an answer for her, you’re going to lose the game.
Her Game-Ending Capabilities!
In a Planeswalker-dominated environment, Nissa had one advantage amongst the others: she could protect herself and provide immediate threat to enemy walkers the moment she hits the board.
Let’s talk about her power real quick.
She’s able to make lands into 3/3 creatures with Vigilance and Haste, and the fact that she untaps them adds to her power level.
In a format dominated by Teferi, players are often required to tap out to play powerful cards available to them for that turn. These cards may even be planeswalkers.
And being able to drop Nissa and producing a three-damage threat to your opponent’s walkers can turn the tides.
She may not be a 3-mana PW, which was the earlier rumor prior to her spoiler, but it feels like she is thanks to her shell. When you start a turn with Nissa still around, you already have a huge advantage over your opponent.
What drives her power level to the top is that even if you can’t milk her for her value, she puts the pressure where its needed.
Being able to produce a 3/3 threat and her ultimate ability is underestimated by most players.
Her Shell: Bant Ramp!
Obviously, Nissa feels like a turn-3 drop because her home is in a ramp deck.
That’s because she’s great motivator for something to ramp towards, and an enabler as well.
Now you’ll find different variations of Bant Ramp, each with their own strengths but just as powerful as the next one.
Her ability to give players a more proactive role in playing at 4 mana gave the Bant Ramp shell something it never had before.
It’s nice to have something to do in between your setups and your payoff turns.
Bant Ramp in Taipei
Bant Ramp was dominant in MagicFest Taipei, and each build was just as diverse as the next.
While all of them played 4 Nissa’s and had the same shell, different players explored different techs with varied mana bases, ramp pieces, and payoff cards.
Here’s Kim Seok Hyun’s list:
Kim Seok Hyun, 1st at GP Taipei
4 x Breeding Pool
4 x Temple Garden
3 x Sunpetal Grove
2 x Glacial Fortress
2 x Forest (347)
2 x Island (335)
4 x Llanowar Elves
4 x Paradise Druid
4 x Incubation Druid
3 x Hydroid Krasis
2 x Frilled Mystic
1 x Finale of Glory
1 x The Immortal Sun
1 x Time Wipe
2 x Negate
2 x Ripjaw Raptor
2 x Ixalan’s Binding
1 x The Immortal Sun
The deck was able to switch between having threats and having answers. Rather than choosing between cards like Shalai and Mystic, he went with two of each.
What we learned here from all of the Bant Ramp lists from GP Taipei is that various Ramp shells are consistent and because M20 is right around the corner, it’s just going to get more interesting.
It’s interesting to take apart these different Ramp decks from not only GP Taipei, but its other variations since.
One thing we can definitely agree on is that Nissa is the driving force of the deck, and could be a dominant card to use in Standard.
Sultai and Gruul players are now beginning to utilize Nissa in their decks, and I’ve seen some Japanese Gruul decks that run 3 to 4 copies of Nissa, Who Shakes The World.
She may be powerful, but she’s not too powerful. She’s found her home in a tough shell, Bant Ramp, and has natural counters that are proactive for and against any matchup.