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The Bushwacker Effect


Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen a couple of hyper-aggressive takes on Naya beatdown decks that prominently featured the cards Burning-Tree Emissary and Reckless Bushwhacker to apply huge amounts of pressure early on in the game. Aether Revolt gave this deck Hidden Herbalists as yet another way to put huge numbers of creatures into play and lead into a Bushwhacker effect. How many copies of Burning-Tree Emissary does this deck need before it breaks onto the scene? It feels like we’re getting pretty close:

Burning-Tree Emissary
There are a lot of subtle changes in this deck since the last time I’ve seen it, mostly revolving around the inclusion of Hidden Herbalists. The Herbalists act as extra copies of Burning-Tree Emissary, but don’t let you chain into a Reckless Bushwhacker unless you have a Burning-Tree Emissary to follow up with. Additionally, Hidden Herbalists puts some stress on your 1-drops if you’re trying to cast Goblin Guides or Kird Apes off of Hidden Herbalists.

Previously, this deck would play 1-drops like Kird Ape and Loam Lion as backups to Wild Nacatl and Experiment One. The new 1-drop of choice is Narnam Renegade, as this card lets you trade up with Tarmogoyfs and Death's Shadow as well as apply enormous pressure early in the game. Additionally, the shift toward overwhelmingly Green 1-drops solves the problem of not being able to cast follow-ups off of Hidden Herbalists. Another means of solving this problem, and particularly of giving you a way to cast Bushwhacker after Hidden Herbalists, is to add some copies of Simian Spirit Guide. However, in creature mirrors, you may not be able to afford to throw away a card for a little extra speed.

The strategy here is still to go as wide as possible as quickly as possible, using Reckless Bushwhacker and Atarka's Command to force through huge chunks of damage. The addition of Scrapheap Scrounger and Tarmogoyf give you more 2-drops you can cast off of Hidden Herbalists, and the addition of a second ritual creature lets you consistently kill on turn three or four, with reasonable shots at turn two kills, given enough ritual creatures or Simian Spirit Guides.

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