|Instant, Sorcery, Enchantment, Artifact (10)|
After months upon months of oppression under [[Field of the Dead]], we're free from it! Esper Hero suffered BADLY under FotD due to its complete inability to deal with lands. You can't remove it, you can't discard it, you can't bounce it... all you could do was attempt to fight against the waves of zombies with [[Deputy of Detention]] and bounce him back to reuse next turn... but eventually, one of the following would happen: a) you can't keep up with all their landfall triggers; b) [[Golos, Tireless Pilgrim]] finds out enough bombs to crush you; c) [[Agent of Treachery]] on turn 5 starts stealing your own lands. Very sad.
Now a metagame dominated by [[Oko, Thief of Crowns]] seems to be the future we're heading into, but at least we do have tools to fight against the damn Elker. Sure, he can quickly disable or (worse yet) steal our [[Hero of Precinct One]], but at least he can be removed/discarded by our available options. We'll see about that, but consider me optimistic for the time being.
I want to preface this by thanking all people who liked my previos attemp at doing a deck write-up on this subject (that is, "budget Esper Hero that require fewer new cards to work"). It encouraged me to do this update on that version, which was, admitedly, kinda shaky due to a wonky manabase. Few weeks later into the grind and I believe we can spare a couple of wildcards for some better options.
The main idea behind the deck is still the same: either out-tempo our opponent with a rush of tokens generated by [[Hero of Precint One]], or grinding them long enough so our value cards can give us the edge to push for a win. The deck tries to have some answers to everything in the current meta, so you don't have to auto-concede when facing certain decks, but some matchups are rough.
Gone are some of the most "suspicious" choices (like our triple-blue friend [[Cavalier of Gales]]), and my experience with the deck improved a lot because of that. So, let's delve on those little changes:
[[Murderous Rider]]: OKO REEEEEEEE- sorry, but I guess this sentiment is currently shared by many playters who have to face the absurdity of this evil, evil little bastard. Oko is a bitch to remove due to his low mana cost and high loyalty count, which made me opt to completely ditch [[Oath of Kaya]] for this guy. Since the adventure part is an instant, he can also respond to flash and ETB triggers that are all the rage among green decks.
[[Basilica Bell-Haunt]]: Our favorite ghost is back! Once I ditched Cavalier of Gales to fix up the mana base, the door opened for the triumphant return of the Bell-Haunt. Well, to be completely honest, I first tried [[Seraph of Scales]] in this spot, but in a world where [[Brazen Borrower]], [[Teferi, Time Raveler]], [[Lava Coil]], and [[Oko, Thief of Crowns]] are all around the meta (to name a few of the cards that make the winged lady not that valuable), I decided that it was time to test the old spirit. And it has been performing very well - I still haven't played a match where Seraph of Scales would have been better than Bell-Haunt in that same spot.
[[Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord]]: There are more than a few decks trying to mill out the opponent on the wild, and between that and our plethora of value creatures, I thought of bumping the Sorin count to 2. That also synergizes a little bit with...
[[Doom Whisperer]]: The big guy that can help you set draws for the meager price of 2 life. A good use of his ability is, of course, mill stuff to our graveyard so Sorin can pitch them back, but he also can deal with pockets of land that the RNG decided we should have in the middle of the deck. However, Doom Whisperer is fully replaceable in this setup (I'm just not so sure what should replace it, yet).
[[Lochmere Serpent]]: This thing, let me tell you... it wins you games. It replaced [[Cavalier of Gales]] and boy oh boy, does it make some ripples in drawn out games. You can play it as an instant (so it dodges immediate sorcery speed removal and can ambush creatures), and you can convert excess lands into life and cards, or maybe turn it unblockable to push those 7 points of damage you need to win. And if it ever gets discarded or destroyed, you can clear your opponent's graveyard to bring it back to your hand.
SInce [[Field of the Dead]] is, well, DEAD!, replaced the [[Deputy of Detention]] in the sideboard with some more anti-Oko measures:
-2 [[Deputy of Detention]]
+1 [[Noxious Grasp]] (now 3)
+1 [[Epic Downfall]]
[[Epic Downfall]] is good against [[Wicked Wolf]] and [[Questing Beast]], among other green threats.
I'm seriously considering the benefits of [[Prison Realm]] to deal with Oko - Simic decks revolving around him usually bring in the [[Veil of Summer]] to protect against black removal.
[[Devout Decree]] is still on my radar, but Rakdos aggro decks weren't present in the meta until now. We'll have to see if they flourish again now that Golos Field is gone.