Nic Fit in the Post-Oko Meta
Today, Wizards of the Coast upended Legacy by banning Oko, Dreadhorde Arcanist, and Arcum’s Astrolabe. Here, we discuss the possible implications of these bans for Nic Fit. While you could politely call this post a series of “educated guesses”, more accurately you should describe it as wild speculation that might all be proven wrong in a few short weeks.
Who are the winners of this ban?
Threats that cost more than three mana are clear winners from this ban. Due to how popular Oko was and how it turned any real threat into an Elk it put a huge damper on what cards were playable. Cards either had to be cheap so that it wasn’t a big loss if they got “elked” or they had to have already acheived what they were trying to do like Primeval Titan. A lot more cards just became “Nic Fit playable” today.
In the article outlining Nic Fit playables in M21, I doubted that Elder Gargaroth would see any play mostly due to Oko and I was right for the most part. This ban throws all that out the window and going forward, I expect it to be among the best five drops for Nic Fit along with Titania. Gargaroth will be almost impossible for decks like Delver to beat and it generates recurring tokens, lifegain, and card advantage all on a non-legendary body.
Birthing Pod has also been in a bad spot for a while because it is a situational card – requiring a creature in play – and most opponents know to elk it immediately. Without Oko, Pod gets a lot better. Being immune to Abrupt Decay makes it a challenge to deal with using common removal from Legacy and while I expect an uptick in Kolaghan’s Command, many decks won’t have a good way to remove Pod. Pod is particularly good in decks running Yorion, Sky Nomad as it allows you to run even more silver bullets (or a combo finish) with the larger deck size.
Overall, some of the top end threats in Junk Fit like Sigarda, Host of Herons and Archon of Valor’s Reach get better with this ban. Both were considerations before the printing of Ice-Fang Coatl made them bad and it’s likely we’ll be seeing less of that snake in Legacy. As a result, I expect Junk Fit overall and many of its top-end threats specifically will be better relatively with these bans.
I think it’s worth mentioning that Assassin’s Trophy will get a boost from this ban for a few reasons. Firstly, opposing mana bases will likely rely a bit less on basics going forward without Arcum’s Astrolabe which will limit Trophy’s downside. Secondly, because of the necessity of dealing immediately with Dreadhorde Arcanist and Oko or being buried in card advantage, Abrupt Decay was usually the preferred removal. Going forward, I expect Nic Fit pilots will go with a mix of Decay and Trophy.
Who are the losers from the ban?
While BUG Fit is definitely weaker with the ban, it’s not clear whether the deck will be weaker relatively in the meta. BUG Fit will be one of very few decks in Legacy that can slot in Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath and cast it entirely off of basic lands. While it won’t have access to Oko, Thief of Crowns any longer, Uro is still a game-winning threat that is hard to deal with permanently. While Oko was legal, BUG was definitely the best fair Nic Fit variant. Now it’s unclear what will be best but BUG, Abzan, Jund, and even straight green-black all have good reasons to pilot them.
In the wider meta, these bans took aim at two decks that have been dominant in Legacy: RUG Delver and Snowko. Historically, Delver decks were a favorable matchup for Nic Fit. Nic Fit has a basic heavy mana base with threats that outclass Delver if we can survive the early game. More recently, with how finely tuned the modern RUG lists became and the card advantage offered by Oko and Dreadhorde Arcanist, these matchups have been closer to even or even Delver favored. These bans will greatly improve the Delver matchup regardless of whether Delver becomes straight blue-red, Grixis, or something else entirely.
Snowko decks are harder to assess because it seems likely the deck will go away entirely. It will be folded back into Miracles which will probably stick with a stable blue-white mana base. During the Sensei’s Divining Top era, Miracles was a borderline unwinnable matchup for fair Nic Fit but there are a lot more tools to fight it now from Field of the Dead, Klothys, God of Destiny, or Veil of Summer. Any Nic Fit deck with Primeval Titan and Field is probably at least slightly favored against Miracles.
Nic Fit’s position in the meta
There’s a lot of moving pieces to say whether Nic Fit will be any good going forward. It is just one deck and how playable it is depends a lot on which other decks see larger shares of play as a result of this shake-up. Combo decks, usually bad matchups for Nic Fit, are mostly unaffected by these bans and their meta share could go up limiting what Nic Fit pilots can do. However, these bans also improve hatebear decks like Maverick and Death & Taxes which are both typically good matchups.
However, a few things are certain from these bans:
- We are going to see fewer basic lands on the other side of the table in the post-Astrolabe meta. This is undoubtedly good for Nic Fit as we want the ramp provided by Veteran Explorer to be as one-sided as possible.
- Two mana repeatable card advantage engines will have some sort of drawback whether in the form of deckbuilding restrictions like Dark Confidant or life loss like Sylvan Library. Combo decks might kill you turn two but having uncounterable removal available that turn will be less critical most of the time.
- There will be debate again about what the best three mana planeswalker will be in the format. Liliana of the Veil will probably come back in a big way but Teferi, Time Raveler and Dack Fayden will see their fair share of play. Maybe we’ll even see planeswalkers that cost more than three mana.
The meta is more wide open than its been in a while and Nic Fit as well positioned as its been for some time. Happy brewing!