Within the last several weeks, Crush of Tentacles has quietly put up results in Standard. Cody Lingelbach took 9th place at Grand Prix Portland, putting his deck on the map.
U/G Crush is, at its core, a ramp strategy. You build up your mana and then start casting expensive but powerful spells. The beauty of U/G Crush is that it's not a typical ramp deck, but a combo deck. You utilize large amounts of mana to clear the board, and often have a huge mana advantage over your opponent. You are essentially "removing" many of the opponent's threats while advancing your game plan, as they will not be able to redeploy them to the battlefield effectively. Meanwhile, you utilize Part the Waterveil to close out the game quickly.
At the SCG Invitational, 9 of 15 of the 7-1 or better decks were Bant Company. The next best deck? Blue/green what? Not one, but two U/G Crush players achieved at least a 7-1 record, nn impressive feat for what were possibly the only U/G Crush players in the tournament. William Moore brought a more combo-heavy list, utilizing Pieces of the Puzzle:
After testing for weeks for the Pro Tour, following that up with playing a Standard Grand Prix/Invitational, I felt I knew everything about Standard. But U/G Crush was new, so that's where I started for my Worlds testing.
The Pieces of the Puzzle version was impressive. It felt like a real combo deck. Many matches ended after a resolved Crush of Tentacles; I found several decks unable to beat the card. I also found myself stealing games where I was behind by chaining multiple copies of Part the Waterveil. We have seen this capacity for stealing games in great combo decks time and time again across many formats.
There was an apparent problem: Humans. W/R Humans and Bant Humans are practically unwinnable matchups. They are too fast. Reckless Bushwhacker nullifies Crush of Tentacles. Knight of the White Orchid is a problem. Thalia's Lieutenant kills you far too quickly.
Luckily for me, I expected 0/24 players at Worlds to be on W/R Humans. I did expect some Bant Humans, which is good against traditional Bant. However, Bant Humans is worse than normal Bant against Languish and Kozilek's Return decks.
After playing about 300 games, I realized that my build was no longer a Crush of Tentacles deck, but a Part the Waterveil deck. With all this in mind, I ended up on this list:
I had changed Elvish Visionary to Sylvan Advocate-the exact same change Brian Braun-Duin and I made to my Pro Tour-winning W/G Tokens deck. Coincidence? I like playing powerful cards. While not as cute with Crush of Tentacles, Sylvan Advoate provided an actual card for the mana spent as opposed to cycling. Sylvan Advocate blocks well and can help broaden the deck's windows to "go off." You can soften them up with it and it pumps awakened lands and Lumbering Falls.
I believe Pieces of the Puzzle offers the deck more consistency than Lingelbach's version. You have to sacrifice playing Send to Sleep, which may be incorrect in a non-worlds metagame, but Pieces of the Puzzle gives you that real combo deck feel, and it usually ends the game one way or another once you reach nine or more mana. While it may not seem that spectacular with only 26 spells, it gets better as the game goes on. As you cast Nissa's Pilgrimage, Nissa's Renewal, and Explosive Vegetation, your deck becomes quite lean and spell-dense. Pieces of the Puzzle also fills your graveyard for Den Protector.
Meanwhile, Pieces of the Puzzle builds up to my other additon.
It's not a delirium deck, but it does often have access to 10 or more mana. Ramp works to cast it even though it's not as card effecient at 9-11 mana.
I wanted to add the 25th land after cutting Oath of Nissa; with 24 I seemed to be missing my third land drop too often. I realized that Traverse the Ulvenwald is likely better then adding a land; four Pieces of the Puzzle and four Nissa's Pilgrimage means there's a lot of incidental delirium in play.
With these changes, I beat the decks I wanted to beat. I routinely annihilated other Emrakul, the Promised End decks, control decks, and ramp decks, while maintaining a consistent 50/50 matchup against Bant Company, which is reasonable considering how strong Bant seems to be against almost everything.
Thanks for reading.
A Symphony of Snores