For the past couple weeks I've been working on a Sultai Midrange/Control list that could work in this new format. While we lost things like Urban Evolution, Vraska the Unseen, AEtherling, and most two mana removal spells, we did have three wedges that contained at least two of the Sultai colors: Sultai with all three, Abzan with black and green, and Temur with blue and green. This should have given us more than enough tools to create something successful.
At first I started with a list that Shaheen Soorani came up with for one of his articles, but it ran things like two maindeck Drown in Sorrow (which can be dead quite often in this format) and his only win condition seemed to be Prognostic Sphinx (aside from the usual planeswalkers). I wasn't a huge fan of his version after giving it a try. It just always felt a turn or so behind.
Then I was told about a version that was 5-0 at one point this past weekend at the Open in Minneapolis using Villainous Wealth, piloted by Korbin Bigelow. I took to Reddit to see if I could find his decklist, asking around to see if anyone knew it or knew Korbin, before finally finding him on Facebook and asking him for it. He sent it to me almost immediately mentioning that the deck definitely needed something, and that he wanted to find room for a Jace's Ingenuity in there somewhere.
He seemed to have some odd choices. For instance I didn't really agree with no Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth in the deck. This is an easy swap for a basic Swamp. I also didn't understand why we had only one Forest, while we had four Swamps and four Islands along with four Polluted Delta. That's far too many sources of blue and black mana for a deck that wants untapped green on turn two into double green on turn three.
While I love Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver, I realized there are certain matchups where he just doesn't do anything. I also wanted at least one more copy of Dictate of Karametra if we were going to try and exploit Villainous Wealth; I started with three copies, but found two to be perfect. We rarely want to draw more than one, but we do want to draw one. I also added a third Kiora, the Crashing Wave because like they say, she's "two Explores."
I loved Disdainful Stroke and had two in my own list, but I cut that down to one because it can be very narrow against decks like Jeskai and Monored. Sometimes it's literally a dead card, despite being able to discard it to a Sultai Charm, so one felt perfect. I felt like Pearl Lake Ancient would be too slow in the deck, especially since our plan was to cast huge Villainous Wealths. I also thought we could do well to make 9/9 krakens with Kiora. Finally, I wasn't sure the deck could actually survive until those later turn without something like Bile Blight to deal with things like Goblin Rabblemaster, Seeker of the Way, Mantis Rider, or any creature in the Monored decks. Without them we wouldn't have a single play until turn three aside from Sylvan Caryatid.
I kept making changes here and there and adjusting the numbers and the sideboard as I played, and I ended up with the following tweaked list:
As you can see we ended up significantly different from the original list, but I think we still kept the same spirit from the list alive. Let's see how things fared for us.
Villainous Wealth vs. UW Control
Villainous Wealth vs. Heroic Red
Villainous Wealth vs. Jeskai Ascendancy Combo
Villainous Wealth vs. Mardu Control
When I was trying out Stubborn Denial (which is an extremely odd choice from Korbin since he has a total of one creature to enable ferocious) I asked myself if saving the one mana was better than not having to worry about the stipulation. I came to the conclusion that I would rather pay one more mana for the same effect and guarantee the spell gets countered, hence the inclusion of Negate instead.
Unravel the AEther is pretty much just better than Fade into Antiquity here as well. While it doesn't exile the permanent, shuffling it into the library is virtually the same nine times out of ten, and the one mana less and instant speed are incredibly relevant. Dead Drop seemed too expensive and we have so much spot removal to begin with that I wasn't sure how good it would be out of the sideboard. I chose to go with a second Silence the Believers in the maindeck because, after a Dictate of Karametra, you can usually exile at least three creatures with ease. Sagu Mauler is a sweet card and I liked them against the control matchups, so I left them in there.
Other than that the choices are pretty self-explanatory and the 4-0 finish with the deck is a pretty positive starting point. I don't see us having any trouble with decks like Abzan, because they're typically slower than the red decks and we have plenty of relevant removal and Counterspells. I even like the single In Garruk's Wake and AEtherspouts as ways to deal with one entire side of the board.
If you're looking for something fun, but also something that has versatile answers and powerful cards against some of the best decks in the format, I would definitely recommend giving this list a try. I've been tweaking it for about two weeks now and I think it's at a very solid point and Villainous Wealth is a great finisher for the deck; heck, we were even able to mill out the Jeskai Combo player.
That's all I have for this week. Thanks for reading and I'll catch you on Monday where we might have a Modern video, but I'm not sure I'm ready to navigate through the sea of Treasure Cruises just yet; it seems pretty miserable. Regardless, I'll see ya then, one way or another.
Frank Lepore@FrankLepore on TwitterFrankLepore on TwitchTV