Omens of the past is out, and it brought support for the faction pairs that previously had no multifaction cards (well, they had a couple promos). Immediately my mind went to my favorite off-faction deck from set 1, Xenan Control. It had a couple powerful 4-drops in Steward of the Past and Sandstorm Titan, and a good late game with Mystic Ascendant, but it was lacking a good way to stay alive in the early game to bring the late-game power to bear. Omens of the Past delivered in a big way.
Blistersting Wasp does 90% of the job of Scorpion Wasp at ⅔ the cost, so I’m very happy with the new 2-drop. Ayan is a wonderful 3-drop that’s good against aggro early and has a nice late-game punch against control by summoning a fatty from the void.
Another great new card is Waystone Infuser. Infuser smoothes your draws out by pulling power off the top of your deck, so you’re more likely to draw gas. If your top card isn’t power, you can draw with Temple Scribe to take another look. Infuser + power off the top in the late game is basically a free Wisdom of the Elders.
4 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
2 Suffocate (Set1 #251)
2 Annihilate (Set1 #269)
4 Blistersting Wasp (Set2 #202)
4 Temple Scribe (Set1 #502)
4 Vara’s Favor (Set0 #35)
2 Ayan, the Abductor (Set2 #204)
2 Extract (Set2 #155)
2 Scorpion Wasp (Set1 #96)
1 Vara’s Choice (Set2 #206)
2 Banish (Set2 #207)
1 Deathstrike (Set1 #290)
4 Sandstorm Titan (Set1 #99)
4 Steward of the Past (Set1 #287)
2 Lumen Defender (Set1 #115)
4 Waystone Infuser (Set2 #63)
4 Mystic Ascendant (Set1 #116)
1 Azindel’s Gift (Set1 #306)
1 The Last Word (Set1 #309)
7 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
8 Time Sigil (Set1 #63)
2 Amber Monument (Set1 #420)
4 Seat of Mystery (Set0 #61)
4 Xenan Banner (Set2 #201)
Since the deck can grind harder with Waystone Infuser, you can play more defensively. Some decks can go over the top of spot removal and good units, though, so for those we have Azindel’s Gift and The Last Word. They are only 1-ofs, but Xenan Control is very good at stalling until you can find one. In an especially slow meta I could see playing an additional copy of either or both.
Banish and Extract are nice role player removal spells that are versatile and powerful. Vara’s Choice is a decent card, as silence and discard are frequently useful and it’s nice not having to commit to which effect you want in deckbuilding. All of those cards are too expensive to play full sets of, but 1 or 2 is nice.
Lumen Defender looks sort of out of place with all of these sweet new cards, but the ability to block anything and gain health means it’s good against burn decks and unit decks, so it’s has earned its spot. Health gain is important for slow decks like this even if they aren’t playing any Lifeforce cards, as you need to not get burned out after you stabilize the board. I’ve been burned out from 20 enough times that I always pack health gain, Eilyn’s Favor, and/or Kaleb’s Choice in slow decks.
A matchup guide is pretty useless with the ladder meta being as crazy as it is right now, so some general strategic advice is all I can offer. Against fast decks, you want to establish blockers as soon as possible. You don’t need to worry about getting aggressive unless your opponent has a large hand you suspect is full of burn. For example, leave back an extra blocker so Vanquish doesn’t let your opponent get in damage.
Against slower decks, if you draw an Azindel’s Gift, try to play it before you play units. Especially against decks like Makto control, your units will likely be removed immediately, so if you can take out your opponent’s hand your Sandstorm Titan or Steward of the Past can live and render your opponent’s Makto useless. Another important thing if you can’t grind your opponent out with Mystic Ascendant and Waystone Infuser (like against Big Combrei) is The Last Word timing. You need to make sure you play it with enough blockers or removal to play around as many Ambush units as your opponent could have, as you NEED The Last Word to live to win the game. Of course, sometimes you can just go Azindel’s Gift into The Last Word and it’s easy mode.
Xenan control is still evolving, and I’m sure this isn’t the best list, but it is a very good starting point for those who want to play around with the archetype. I’ve had good success against the field as a whole, and the deck is very malleable to adapt towards whatever you’re facing the most.
Until next time, may your Mystic Ascendants always go unopposed.