So this past weekend, I took the Columbus Open by storm. I don't know if I was the only one playing Emrakul, the Promised End but it sure felt like it. I honestly was not sure how good the deck would be since I wasn't able to tune it — I was on vacation with my family and I had no internet access, so all I could do was build and tune a deck in my head. I really wanted to play Emrakul, the Promised End and the best shell I found for her was Sultai. Before the event I was debating two lists:
I obviously ended up playing the Sultai list and got rewarded. I really wanted first place but I had to settle for second, curses! I'm not sure how good the Dimir Control deck is, but it honestly could just be better than the Sultai list. Again I didn't have time to test both decks so I figured I'd share the other list I was debating.
I really liked the Sultai deck and thoroughly enjoyed playing it all weekend long. It was not only good, but it was also a blast to play. I did make some grave deck building errors but we will get to that at the end of the article. Right now I would like to try something new. I was featured throughout the entirety of the top eight so you can watch all my matches on twitch. This deck is not easy to pilot so I'm going to talk about my decisions and why I did what I did during each of the matches to better help you understand the deck and what it can do.
This was some of the best Magic I played all weekend. In this matchup I am somewhat the dog since the Seasons Past deck can out-grind me. My game plan is either to get to Emrakul, the Promised End or aggro him out. Now I am a control deck but I know when a deck is more controlling than I am and Kasey Walton's deck was much more controlling than mine thanks to Seasons Past and his infinite removal suite alongside hand disruption. We got to see decklists in the Top 8 and when I saw that Kasey had no real way to gain life outside of Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet, so I knew that attacking his life total could lead me to victory, especially with Lumbering Falls, since he only had one spell to deal with it: To the Slaughter.
I'm missing land drops early but thankfully I can miss a couple since Walton's deck can't just close out the game quickly. I try to get some damage in and start coming back when I get to resolve my Hedron Archive. After he casts Seasons Past on turn six I am severely behind and know I am not going to be able to keep up with his value. At this point I know I need to make as many land drops as possible so I can turn on my creature lands and attack him that way.
The key turning point in the game is when Walton transforms Nissa, Vastwood Seer and opts to draw a card instead of making a 4/4. He then puts himself to seven life with Ob Nixilis Reignited making Lumbering Falls very close to lethal. He then goes from four to three with another Ob Nixilis Reignited activation. When he passes the turn I know he has no answer to my Lumbering Falls since he already cast his To the Slaughter and I'm able to finish him off.
This game I keep an opener with Emrakul, the Promised End, which is a bit controversial. I only keep it because it also has Lumbering Falls and I know how cold Walton's deck can be to that card. The key turn is when Kasey resolves Seasons Past while I have Emrakul, the Promised End in my hand. I know I'm not going to be able to cast Emrakul, the Promised End this game since he's just going to Trangress the Mind it the following turn. So I decide to use my Den Protector to get as aggressive as possible and using the megamorph trigger to get Ultimate Price over Painful Truths or another Den Protector. This allows me to push through four points of damage and forces Kasey to clear my board and get rid of the Emrakul, the Promised End in my hand which I knew would allow me to attack with my creature lands the following turn. So Walton puts up a small barrier with Nissa, this time making the 4/4. I am able to ignore Nissa and put him to three which is the perfect number for Lumbering Falls. He is able to clear my board but doesn't have enough mana to animate his Hissing Quagmire and I steal the match.
This is a good example of when you should know your role in a matchup even if your deck does doesn't do that role very well. It was important to identify that Walton's deck could grind much harder than mine. By doing this I was able to take the aggressive route and win the matchup. This deck has many hoops and synergies. It is capable of a lot so don't limit yourself or this deck.
I played this match in the swiss rounds and it was fine. I believe Sultai Control favoredl; Emrakul, the Promised End is a big game in this matchup. Even the games without her we can still win pretty decisively. However, I know Eric Rill is a good player with multiple Open Top 8s and I knew I was in for a solid match. I had the edge here since Eric hasn't played against my deck before and it would be hard for him to sideboard and navigate through everything.
Rill has a huge battlefield advantage until Emrakul, the Promised End comes down to clean things up. I mess up by allowing him to make Ormendahl by playing Ruinous Path on his Hangarback Walker when I should've just attacked him in the air with all my creatures forcing him to block with at least one thopter and putting him to a single-digit life total. Instead I get myself into an awkward spot by giving Eric Rill an Ormendahl. I then have to reassess the situation and figure out how to get Ormendahl off the table: a Languish and a Grasp of Darkness or double Languish. I end up doing the latter and wiping the board leaving only Emrakul, the Promised End behind. I still take away game one after making a pretty big mistake.
It's important to note that even if you make a mistake to not dwell on it. Instead reassess your situation and try to figure out how to win from that point. If you dwell on your mistake and beat yourself up, you're not focusing on the game and you'll lose when you could've won.
I become pretty aggressive towards the mid game and put Rill to one life, ensuring that he will die next turn to my unblockable Den Protector. This attack gives Rill some outs, one being Declaration in Stone. Rill chose the right path by casting Declaration in Stone on my Sylvan Advocates and going for the win instead of killing my Den Protector. It's always rough to lose the game with your opponent at one life. Kudos to Eric Rill for making the right choice and winning that game.
I make some strong Dragonlord Silumgar plays and end up beating the dreaded turn three Nissa, Voice of Zendikar into turn four Gideon, Ally of Zendikar that W/G Tokens is famous for. He is even able to ultimate Nissa, Voice of Zendikar to draw five cards and gain five life. Luckily Emrakul, the Promised End is a true MVP that can get you out of any sort of bad situation. Especially when your opponent is holding a Tragic Arrogance.
I finally get punished for my poor deck construction. I only ran one Grasp of Darkness and no Aerial Volleys, which allows Koepke to make quick work of me with Spell Queller. He has some solid draws and had double Spell Queller every game backed up by a Negate or two games two and three while I draw a bunch of lands.
Am I just being salty, you ask?
Why yes, yes I am.
Seriously though, congrats to Devin Koepke, but now I want to work on this deck. This time we know what we need to combat the new boogeyman.
Get ready to smash your opponents with this updated Sultai list. Good luck in your next tournament and please make sure to tell me how you do.
With this, I leave you the promised end.