This past weekend I was at the Baltimore Open battling with my Sultai Control deck. I ended up losing my double win and in to miss Top 8 — instead I finished 12th. Not what I wanted, but we'll take it. In Baltimore I saw some sweet decks pop up and I want to talk about those spicy decks and brewing in general.
Brewing takes a lot of work, time, and courage. It's much more simple to pick up a known deck like Bant Company and go to a tournament with it. If you do poorly with the deck it may suck but you at least know that you were playing a good deck. When a person makes a new deck they need to put time and energy into it to make sure it can do well against the metagame. That can take hours, days, sometimes weeks. On top of all that, you drive or fly to a big event and then you have to choose your brew over a known Tier 1 deck. If you do poorly with your brew you're not going to know for sure if it was because of your deck choice or not. That takes a lot of courage. Many people can't justify playing something they came up with. So many new decks are left in the dark to never see the light of day.
You know what the kicker is? People are discouraged to play new decks by so many other Magic players. For some reason, magic players find it fun to bash or make fun of creativity. I don't fully understand it. We should not stifle creativity in the Magic Community. If you do, you end up with a deck being 50% of the field on day two and then 50% of the top eight. That's what it was like at the Open in Baltimore this past weekend. So next time you see your buddy brewing something new, talk to him about it, try and help him out. Jam some games against him while he plays his brew and you play the best deck. Help him tune it to beat the best deck, you never know, you may be surprised with what you two can come up with.
Luckily we had some brewers in Baltimore, and they had some very sweet decks. Let's go over a couple!
Dissinger was one of the few losses I had over the weekend. His one-ofs did a real number on me.
This was the breakout deck of last weekend. Cory Dissinger took Baltimore by storm with his unique Crush of Tentacles deck. He has some strange numbers in his decklist, like one-of Clash of Wills and one Bounding Krasis, but by playing them I'm sure he was able to surprise many of his opponents, myself included. If you see a Clash of Wills game one, then you'll most likely play around it games two and three; unbeknownst to you, he's only running one. Same with a Void Grafter: he may counter a removal spell from you so maybe you play your instant speed removal at sorcery speed now because he's tapped out. Bounding Krasis can also be a blowout if you flash it in and untap a Noose Constrictor to block two creatures. You can even untap your Jace in response to a removal spell and activate it, if you have five or more cards in your graveyard it will flip and counter the removal spell.
Dissinger also has cards that loop each other in his deck. Den Protector with Crush of Tentacles or Pulse of Murasa is a continuous loop that won't end unless your opponent disrupts it somehow. On top of all these one offs he also has one Emrakul, the Promised End. So you're playing against a Crush deck and trying to rebuild and then he slams Emrakul, the Promised End? What do you do now? Die, most likely.
This deck is sweet and for sure has more power when people don't know about it. Hopefully it can still be a contender in the future. One thing I learned from this list was how powerful Noose Constrictor is and I'm thinking about adopting it in Sultai Control.
Some people have forgotten about the power of Goblin Dark-Dwellers, but not Drew Brantner. He has the full four in his Grixis deck and he has plenty of ways to abuse them. They come into play as a 4/4 creature with menace and then can do so many different things. You can kill a creature or Planeswalker, draw some cards, look and exile a card form your opponent's hand, or even make them discard a card and regrow another Goblin Dark-Dwellers. The limit is your graveyard and hopefully it will be full from just casting spells and Jace, Vryn's Prodigy.
I think this is an excellent place to start if you like Grixis or just like Goblin Dark-Dwellers. Brantner was one of the few people to beat me over the weekend; I wasn't ready for another control deck to be so potent in the format.
Congrats to Drew Brantner for a sweet brew and a solid finish!
Next up is yet another player I played in the swiss rounds. Michael Lehman had a real spicy one for us.
Lehman and I had an on-camera feature match, so check it out if you want to see some Sultai versus some Epser Starfield action. Lehman locked me out game one by getting Lunar Force and Starfield of Nyx online. I was forced to cast two spells a turn to just have one resolve. He slowly wore me away with that combo—it was near impossible to keep up with it—and I'm sure he locked out many other players during the weekend.
Lehman's deck aims to Overload the board with enchantments so that Dromoka's Command just doesn't matter anymore. Even if your opponent casts it, you will still have Starfield of Nyx to recur your enchantments. Oath of Jace is a great graveyard enabler and can be recurred if you draw multiples since it is a legendary enchantment. Same with Oath of Liliana. He even has enchantments with flash like Stasis Snare so creature lands aren't too big of a deal and he can make all his enchantments creatures at instant speed with Stasis Snare and Starfield of Nyx.
Just make sure to not play two Starfield of Nyx because then you take the risk of a board wipe clearing out everything.
Next up is another enchantment themed deck. This one was not in the Top 32 so I had to ask Josh Early for his list personally. He didn't disappoint.
Demonic Pact and Harmless Offering! This was a combo everyone talked about during Eldritch Moon preview season, but no one tried it until now. Early is all-in on Demonic Pact with four maindeck copies. He's only playing two Harmless Offering because the card doesn't do anything without an active Demonic Pact. He could play Tormenting Voice and play four Harmless Offerings, but then you are just begging to be crushed by Spell Queller. I really like the 4/2 split he settled on. Early has nine ways to deal with the Demonic Pact if you include Dark Petition.
Josh Early didn't stop with only Demonic Pact and Harmless Offering. He also went with Emrakul, the Promised End! He's just playing all the sweet things! While Early isn't trying to get delirium, the cost of Emrakul, the Promised End naturally goes down as the game goes on. It's also a sweet one to tutor up with Nahiri, the Harbinger. I approve of bashing your opponent for 13 damage and then having the threat of Emrakul, the Promised End loom over them as they take their next turn. I'm excited to see this combo do some work. If you want to play this deck, then I suggest you start with his list and start playing soon; when Kaladesh comes out, Demonic Pact rotates out of Standard.
Before I sign off I'm going to give you the new Sultai Control list I'm testing out. Keep in mind this one I haven't tested yet but I want to see how Noose Constrictor does. I have a feeling it's going to do a better job at holding the fort than Sylvan Advocate, especially against Spell Queller.
This is where I plan to start. I have a feeling I'm going to like what I find.
As always thank you so much for reading, for the support, and the positive encouragement. Wouldn't be writing these things if not for you guys and gals.
Remember, next time you see someone trying to brew up a new deck try and help them out instead of tearing them down. Offer constrictive criticism, play some games against them. When you do that we get these sweet decks like Sultai Control, Mardu Pact, and Simic Crush!
Until next time,