Standard is fantastic right now and I believe the format to be very healthy. Sure, Abzan might be one of the better decks but it's by no means oppressive like old Tier 1 decks could be. Every couple of weeks or so we also get a new decklist or some new cards start popping up here and there in true and tested decks. While the former is usually more appealing, it's pretty rough to build something new from scratch that hasn't already seen some play in some form. Well today I have a very sweet deck that I'd like to go over with you.
I played this deck in a side event at Grand Prix Seattle and I only dropped a single game the whole time. This deck is fantastic and I wish I had a Standard tournament coming up so I could play it. I will tell my readers if a deck needs work or if a deck isn't quite tier one but is extremely fun. It's rare that you can get both out of one deck. Well today is the day boys and girls. World, meet Simic Ramp!
While the ramp strategy isn't something brand new anymore, it's still in the infancy stage. We've seen R/G Ramp and B/G Ramp as the go-to decks for the ramp strategy as of late. Well this deck is a bit different than that. It's not as linear and you have more decision trees. It may not be as explosive as your typical ramp decks but you also have less "fluff" in this ramp deck than the traditional ones. Blue cards like Dig Through Time and Jace, Vryn's Prodigy are fantastic in letting you find more threats after you've ramped. Let's break the deck down and have a look at it shall we?
Rattleclaw Mystic: This is the go-to two mana ramp creature. It can attack, it can be mistaken for a Den Protector, and it ramps. Don't forget that it can also ramp you a little extra the first time you unmorph it. So typically you can morph it on turn three, turn it face up on turn four, play a land, and get six mana. Conveniently that's just enough to cast a Part the Waterveil!
Jace, Vryn's Prodigy: Arguably the best card in Standard and he does a lot of work here. Gather the Pack and Kiora can fill the yard to give you more options of things to flashback and it also allows him to flip on the first activation. This is one of the reasons to play blue in this deck, Jace is fantastic and works extremely well in this deck, especially with Kiora, Master of the Depths!
Nissa's Pilgrimage: The only ramp spell we have in the deck and the only one we really need. Spell mastery is easily achieved thanks to Gather the Pack, Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, and Kiora, Master of the Depths. Feel free to dump the extra lands you get from Nissa's Pilgrimage to Jace for some real cards.
Nissa, Vastwood Seer: I believe this to be the second best flip planeswalker. So not only are you playing the best flip planeswalker, you're also playing the second best one too. Nissa assures that you hit your land drops while providing a decent sized body. If you don't need to block with her early or she survives, she will turn into a card advantage machine in the mid to late game. Just remember if you have no more Forests in your deck late game that you hold a land in your hand so you can flip her immediately.
Den Protector: A fantastic card that has proven to be good over and over again. Works amazingly well with Gather the Pack since you can get him off Gather the Pack and get cards back that went to the graveyard with Gather the Pack. It does the same thing with Kiora's minus two ability, allowing you to fetch him or rebuy a much needed threat. On top of all that Den Protector is also good on offense and defense. Unlike traditional ramp decks we run both Den Protector and Rattleclaw Mystic. Sometimes you can get your opponent to waste a removal spell on your Rattleclaw Mystic which is a big advantage! You can also tap out for it and have your opponent think that you would never tap out to play Den Protector face down only to prove them wrong next turn, usually this is not a good play but it may come up in certain situations where you have to. Morph is great! Den Protector is great! Deck is Great!
Kiora, Master of the Depths: Man does Kiora do work in this deck. With her uptick ability she can ramp you by two mana if you have Rattleclaw in play or loot you another card and possibly flip your planeswalker if you have Jace in play. Her minus ability is very similar to Jace, Architect of Thought in that she can get you cards you need. Unlike Jace, Architect of Thought it's not any card you want though; Just a creature and/or a land. That's okay because we run Den Protector and Jace, Vryn's Prodigy to get cards that Kiora couldn't fetch up. Kiora's minus ability helps you delve for Dig Through Time too! A great planeswalker to have in this deck.
Gather the Pack: Gather the Pack may not seem great at first glance but it really does a lot in this deck. It fuels Delve, turns on Spell Mastery, and gets you Den Protector, Planeswalkers, or Ulamog. Now it doesn't really get you "Planeswalkers" but thanks to the flip walkers, that's precisely what it can and will do for you. Keep in mind that you should board a some number of this card out against aggressive decks since they usually won't give you time to get the full advantage out of Gather the Pack. You don't want to be stuck with more than one of these cards in your hand against and aggressive strategy.
Dig Through Time: The Holy Grail. The card that is banned in all eternal formats except Vintage, there it is restricted. And for good reason! Dig Through Time can help you catch up to your opponent or bury them in card advantage and card selection. Dig is usually pretty cheap to cast in this deck because of Gather the Pack and Kiora, Master of the Depths. You can also buy the card back from Jace, Telepath Unbound and Den Protector. Hurray synergy!
Part the Waterveil: I wasn't the most excited person when this card was first spoiled. I saw potential in it but I didn't really try to find a home for it. Don't fret though, the card works perfectly here! See, this deck is basically just a U/G Superfriends deck in that it just plays a bunch of planeswalkers and tries to protect them. This may not seem obvious because the planeswalkers are creatures at first but that's what makes it amazing! You can control when your creature become planeswalkers, then BAM! You take an extra turn after they flip and start raking in all that card advantage and board presence.
Do you know how good it is to take extra turns with planeswalkers in play? If you've never done it, you're in for a treat! Frank Lepore was watching one of my games and he compared Part the Waterveil to an Eldrazi late game and he's certainly not wrong. For ten mana you can take an extra turn and you'll have a 6/6 creature attacking both those turns. That's an extremely fast clock if your opponent is tapped out or can't block anything. If you chain two Part the Waterveils, it's basically just game over. A very good and fun card to have in this deck.
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger: The big daddy himself. The king of end games that can't be trumped. Ulamog is a very powerful card, and while we don't ramp like crazy to get to him, in time you will get ten mana and be able to cast this sweet Eldrazi. Nissa's Pilgrimage and Rattleclaw Mystic may seem like the only ramp spell in this deck but that is not true at all. Keep in mind you have ramp in Kiora, Master of the Depths and Part the Waterveil. The last two cards just do so many other things that you may not notice they also can and will ramp you into Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger.
Keep in mind when you cast Ulamog, if your opponent doesn't have any real threats in play, that you need to blow up lands that will get rid of Ulamog. Depending on the deck that can be white mana, black mana, or red mana. The spells you want to keep in mind are Stasis Snare, Crackling Doom, and Abzan Charm. Against Rally decks, cut them off white so they can't Rally the Ancestors. Hitting the correct lands if not enough pressure is being applied by your opponent will just spell game over.
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon: If you see an Eldrazi titan in a deck you'll usually see some number of Ugin alongside them. Talk about lore fail, unless Ugin is conspiring with the Eldrazi?! ILLUMINATI CONFIRMED! Seriously though, Ugin is great, and it is usually extremely hard for any deck to combat him. If he gets a clear board wipe with his minus ability and nothing survives it will be very hard to lose from that spot. Never leave home without Ugin with you.
Winds of Qal Sisma: This card may seem weak at first glance but it's actually just fantastic. Remember when I told you we are basically a planeswalker control deck? Well this card is amazing with planeswalkers. If you have active planeswalkers then you gain so much more card and board advantage that losing one card is negligible. Since we are playing blue we can also gain card advantage elsewhere where the typical ramp deck may not be able to. Winds will put a plug on Atarka red when they go for the Become Immense and Temur Battle Rage combo. In that spot that card can actually just become a two-for-one! Sometimes all you need is just that one turn in order to turn the game around. Winds of Qal Sisma will give you that turn.
Lumbering Falls: Not much to this about this little guy. Fixes your mana and can put some pressure on your opponents in the late game. A solid card for a solid U/G deck!
Skyline Cascade: Remember Kabira Crossroads? Well that's what this card is except it can gain you more than two life in most situations. I promise this card works better as you're playing the deck then it looks on paper. You'll be impressed with it!
Shrine of the Forsaken Gods: Speaking of pseudo-ramp cards, Shrine is basically just a Rampant Growth as soon as you get to seven mana. It may not work on all your spells but it works on the ones you need it to most: Ulamog and Ugin!
Well we've come to the end of that! This deck is fantastic and you should give it a try. Especially if you like card advantage and playing lands. One card that I want to try in this deck but haven't been able to is Deathmist Raptor. With Gather the Pack and Kiora it might actually prove to be pretty good. The only problem is we are also running Dig Through Time and may need to Delve one away sometimes. It is something to look into and could prove to be a solid maindeck or sideboard card.
Also make sure to pick up some Part the Waterveils. It's a mythic and if the card performs well once at a big event then you're going to wish you had.
Until next time,
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