There has been a card in Magic Origins that I've wanted to play for a long while but just haven't really gotten around to playing or testing it. I'm referring to The Great Aurora. I was talking to my friend Zac Elsik about it and he gave me a sweet list. I'm going to talk about this list and then talk about the potential of adding blue to it and making it Simic. Here's the starting point!
This list is pretty straightforward in that it knows what it is trying to do and caps out on most of its card choices. By doing this it also has the same game plan over and over and you should know how the game will play out. Let's go over the decklist and the card choices.
Leaf Glider: Gone are the days of Elvish Mystic. Leaf Gilder is what we can expect from here on out, and while it's not flashy it does its job here, and that's to ramp you.
Deathcap Cultivator: We are mono-green so the fact that Deathcap Cultivator also adds black doesn't matter. However, it can get deathtouch if we get delirium and that's relevant. It's nice to have your ramp creature turn into a pseudo-removal spell the later the game goes.
Retreat to Kazandu: We need a way to not completely fold to aggro strategies since this deck struggles against aggro decks. Retreat to Kazandu does this by trying to buy us enough time to cast our spells by gaining us life when we play a land. Even against control decks it's not a dead card since we can grow our creatures with the other ability and turn something like Deathcap Cultivator into a threat.
This is hands-down the best card in the deck. It fuels The Great Aurora by making a ton of clues and it acts as a different threat. I've killed many opponents by just ramping up and growing Tireless Tracker to astronomical proportions. They need to have a removal spell for it or it will quickly take over a game and bury opponents in card advantage while serving as a threat to end the game. Tireless Tracker is such an amazing card. It's so close to Courser of Kruphix yet still so different. While Courser of Kruphix prolonged the game by gaining you life, Tireless Tracker just kills your opponent.
Nissa's Pilgrimage: Mono-Forest Kodama's Reach with upside? Sign me up. Nissa's Pilgrimage is usually fine in two-color decks but it's just fantastic here since we are literally just getting mono-Forests. Nissa's Pilgrimage is also a great way to thin your deck as the game progresses.
Explosive Vegetation: Just more ramp to get us to The Great Aurora or Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger.
Yet another ramp spell. However, this one buys time and ramps straight to The Great Aurora or Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger.
A fine green Eldrazi that triggers Sanctum of Ugin and can be recurred if milled, discarded or destroyed. It's a fine maindeck card.
The namesake of the deck. If you cast this spell you win the game. No other deck can really do a better The Great Aurora than you unless they have a lot more permanents in play somehow. Usually you'll have a bunch of lands and some number of clues to generate a backbreaking The Great Aurora.
It's kind of silly not to play Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger in a ramp deck that ramps so much and so fast. Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger is the ultimate finisher in Standard. Not only will it kill your opponent's two best permanents but it will also kill them in a couple of hits, even if they have a bunch of blockers the exile attack trigger will assure that you still win.
A Rampant Growth in a land. If you have three Ulamogs I don't see a reason to run less than three Shrine of the Forsaken Gods, especially since the deck is mono-green.
Blighted Woodland: MOAR RAMP! OUR SPELLS RAMP! OUR CREATURES RAMP! EVEN OUR LANDS RAMP!
Tutor up that Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger after you cast World Breaker, or just start chaining Ulamogs!
Jaddi Offshoot: Bring these in against aggro decks. Since we are mono-green, we don't have access to too much removal. We could play things like Spatial Contortion or Warping Wail but that would require an overhaul of the mana base and would make the cards that search for basic lands much worse which in turn makes The Great Aurora worse.
Retreat to Kazandu: Need all life gain you can get against the aggro decks.
Zendikar's Roil: An alternate win condition against attrition decks. A 2/2 when you play a land is great against decks trying to one-for-one you. It's also fine against the aggro decks if you want to lower your curve a lot and try to kill them with Zendikar's Roil instead of Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. I would still keep at least a couple of The Great Aurora against them since resolving that card is usually good game since they don't play many lands in their decks.
For control decks. Gaea's Revenge is great against those two decks. They best way for them to kill it is to preemptively Transgress the Mind it out of your hand or to block it with a Hissing Quagmire. Outside of those cards it is extremely hard for them to kill this hasty, uncounterable, green monstrosity.
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger: Great against Ramp decks or slow grindy decks.
Mostly for ramp decks to stop the ramp and the opposing Ulamog.
World Breaker: Ramp, control, and attrition decks. If you happen to run against a Sphinx's Tutelage deck or any deck with an annoying artifact or enchantment World Breaker shines in that matchup too.
I really like that list, but it struggles against aggressive strategies like humans. You don't have a board wipe and the best way to beat them was to race them with a bunch of life-gain. Even that sometimes isn't fast enough. Against everything else though, the deck felt great. If you like ramp strategies give this deck a go.
This is the Simic version of the deck I've been messing with but haven't gotten enough games in with it to give you a solid analysis on it. It's still a very sweet deck though, especially if you like ramping, taking turns, gaining life, and casting Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger!
So this is where I'm currently at with the Simic version of the deck. It's not as straightforward and doesn't have the amount of raw power that the mono-green version has but it makes up for that with versatility and gives you a lot more choices for a ramp deck. The main differences are these cards.
We let go of some ramp for Jace, Vryn's Prodigy. Jace, Vryn's Prodigy is a great way to ensure you hit land drops and to filter your hand. Ditching The Great Aurora or Part the Waterveil early so you're on curve and then flashing it back with Jace, Telepath Unbound's minus ability is awesome. You are just stuck with less huge drops in your hand thanks to Jace, Vryn's Prodigy.
Planeswalkers are great with Time Warps. Nissa, Vastwood Seer ensures we hit land drops and later becomes a Planeswalker that fuels us and works well with Part the Waterveil.
Weirding Wood: We don't have as many Forests in this deck as the mono-green version so running a Weirding Wood still ramps us by one and then replaces the second Forest with a Clue. This is pretty good since if we only have green mana, Weirding Wood will ensure we get blue mana. It's also nice late game to draw a Weirding Wood over a Nissa's Pilgrimage since it will basically cycle.
Another fantastic way to win in a deck that gets out a bunch of lands. What's better than taking another turn and attacking with a 6/6 creature? Having an active planeswalker on the battlefield and doing that. Part the Waterveil is great, it does however cost triple blue so I don't want the full four just yet until I get a better feel for the deck.
With the addition of blue to the deck I really like Alhammarret's Archive here. It basically sends you into overdrive. You have so many cards that work with it. Here is a list of all the cards it works with main deck.
That may not seem like a lot but you really just need one or two of these to happen with Alhammarret's Archive out to get way ahead. Try it out before you decide to shave it out of the deck. I think you'll come to like to it.
Out of the board the addition of Blue gives us Negates and Drowner of Hope (mostly for aggro and certain midrange decks.) The two decks aren't vastly different but they do do different things. If you prefer raw power or are on a budget, I'd recommend the mono-green one. If you're not on a budget or want more choices, I'd go with the Simic version.
I'll be at the Open in Atlanta this weekend and if you're there, make sure to stop and say hi. Love meeting the people that read my work.
As always, thank you so much for reading and we'll catch you next week.