Along with some interesting ban and restriction announcements from Wizards of the Coast, we were greeted with a very interesting cancellation. This should be received ironically since the last ban announcement had this card’s face plastered all over it. Right after everyone starts forgetting about it, Winota’s unban is here.
Winota rebalancing in history
During Winota, join forces‘ creation, it’s safe to say that Wizards of the Coast underestimated how much power it represented. Typically, Winota would threaten to flood the field with human creatures at the start of the game, triggering every non-human creature that attacked. This made it incredibly easy to cheat creatures like agent of treason on turn three and start stealing your opponent’s lands. This becomes even more oppressive when you consider that Winota can cheat multiple times in a single attack step.
This last point is what changes for Winota. Winota will now only get one trigger per fight, regardless of how many non-human creatures you attack with. This allows you to retain the power spike Winota was originally meant to grant without ending the game immediately. You still have the ability to trick some fascinating creatures, but not in a way where the whole meta should have to warp around Winota.
Will Winota be seen playing in Historic?
The answer to this question is probably, but not for the reasons you might expect. If Jund Sacrifice was still a viable strategy to this day, then Winota, in its historical iteration, would have been useless. Now that Cauldron Familiar can no longer block, Winota looks much more interesting.
One important thing to note for Winota’s hopefuls is that Winota decks in Historic may look different than they did before. Since Winota only triggers once per fight, cards that create multiple bodies are much less appealing in Winota decks. This build can now focus on including powerful creatures in a report where Winota is still effective.
Given the changes, this haymaking goal should make the most sense. agent of treachery is always a scary target, but Angrath Marauders threatens to end the game on impact. Since you won’t have as many opportunities to cheat things, you need something incredibly impactful on its own. fable of the mirror breaker always threatens to be a star in any Winota deck. If you end up drawing those seven drops, you should be able to throw them away for something more curve-friendly.
Kenrith remains an excellent target for Winota decks. It doesn’t cost too much, so drawing it shouldn’t be too detrimental. With the ability to give all your creatures Trample on the cheap, Kenrith is a threat that can end the game just as quickly. Unfortunately, Kenrith is less effective now that Winota can no longer trigger multiple times. If the old token-style decks with Esika’s Chariot remain the best Winota strategy, it may be better. Even if the meta adjusts, Kenrith is a very versatile threat. A Jeskai shell can use Kenrith, the Returned King to draw additional cards, while a Mardu can revive creatures that have passed. Mardu’s, in particular, is very attractive and can be perfectly integrated into a drink that interests us.
Tovolar Hunter Master was the first option for Explorer and Pioneer Winota decks as haymaking. This creature does a ton of heavy lifting on its own when it’s dark, so it’s always competing for space. Considering this puts ten powers on the board alone, depending on how the meta shapes up, this might still be the best option. That said, Jeskai Control looks to be the deck that will dominate Historic after the changes, so something more explosive probably fits the bill better initially.
What needs to be changed to make Winota work optimally?
It’s no secret that old, expanding Winota decks will now miss the mark in Historic. Izzet Phoenix and Jeskai Control aren’t particularly worried about decks like this. As a result, Winota has to adapt. There are two avenues Winota could explore at this point. The most intuitive would be a Boros Midrange deck like the tier two fringe archetype that was played in Historic. This deck is already promising. Changing the ratio between human and non-human creatures should allow Winota to thrive in a deck that won’t need much innovation.
The second deck looks at optimizing a combo that we discussed in another article. Since the new Shadowheart, Cleric of Sharran The card arrives in Alchemy: Baldur’s Gate is a human, Winota can help him. Adanto Vanguard is a decent creature on its own and sits well in a meta that threatens to sport a bunch of deletes. If you manage to specialize Shadowheart into her Rakdos version, Adanto Vanguard becomes a four-speed instant damage ability. If your life total exceeds that of your opponents, this combo threatens to end the game immediately. Naturally, a Winota deck will attack a lot, so it’s not a difficult requirement to meet. As mentioned earlier, Kenrith can be an exciting threat that can be cheated by Winota. This should give the combo some extra redundancy by reviving pieces from the tomb.
History finally changes
With all the exciting changes to the format, Historic looks appealing for the first time in months. It’s a shame that MTG Arena changed all of its weekend qualifiers to Alchemy out of the blue, but hopefully Winota’s cancellation gives it another chance to shine. At the same time, although I’m not a big fan of her personally, a lot of people love the archetype.
If you want to see Wizard’s article on all prohibited and restricted modifications, you can do so here.