Thursday, August 04, 2016

Big Green Bluizers: Ulamog and Extra Turns?!

How you'll look as you go collect all those prize packs.
Hey there peeps, it's Dan! I'm back from a surprisingly lengthy hiatus in which I lost pre-release events, brewed (both decks and beer), went camping, and wrote several articles for 5 Color Combo. But don't fret - none of this was truly idle time. In between each game loss/beer drank/raccoon stealing my camping hotdogs, I was hard at work in the lab with a pen and a pad scribblin' down the next new Standard hotness. And it has arrived. I present the froots of my loom:


Oh yeah, that's the shit. This deck is jammed full of fatties, ramp, and the most dope Planeswalker in Standard.

"Suck my dick, Gideon" - Fishwizard
Saying I'm excited about this deck is a bit of an understatement. At least 50% of my Facebook chats are now just me talking about casting World Breakers and such on turn 4, then ulting Kiora and getting all hot and bothered as my Octopodes lay the smack down. The deck is ballin', and a ton of fun to play. (Note: See near the end of the article for a budgety version!)

Competitive? Fuck yeah it is. It's done quite well in testing. It smashes control decks without any issues, it can survive the aggro onslaught, and sometimes Bant notices it's there. But how, Dan? How does this Kiora-fueled extra-turns Eldrazi-poopin' deck function? Don't worry bby, I got you. Me and my girl Kiora are gonna fill you in on these super sweet sultry Simic secrets, and then you too can ride an octopus to victory.

How it feels to play this deck. Except with more corndogs.

The actual Big Green Bluizers (Creatures):

Spoiler alert: This is a ramp deck. We use our low cost spells to get an insane mana-advantage on our opponent, and then pull a Tony Hawk and ramp into sick shit. Let's look at these dudes, starting with the early game plays, and see how each will contribute to our inevitable victory.

He both grows 'shrooms and is 'shrooms.
This dirty hippie is our turn two play, ideally. He gives us mana, and that's swell. He pairs insanely well with Kiora, since you can tap him and a land for mana, then use Kiora's +1 ability to untap him and the land, essentially ramping us into two additional mana.

Some other considerations for this slot are Sylvan Advocate if you have a bunch of extra dollars, or Ulvenwald Captive if you're recently lost all your money. I personally like Cultivator over Captive, since he can chip in for some damage if you don't need to mana, trades up late-game thanks to Deathtouch, and doesn't require additional mana investments to be useful later. That said, if you aren't lucky and aren't finding any of your big dudes, Ulvenwald Captive's flipside is fairly strong. Advocate is Advocate - the card is stupid and perfect. Use that if you can.

I once jokingly traded a pack to the guy across from me during an Origins draft, and it had a Nissa. Never again.
Flippy Nissa is my 2nd favorite lady in this deck. Well, 3rd, if you count Emrakul as a lady. She makes sure we hit our 4th land with her enter the battlefield trigger, and is a little 2/2 that can trade or attack if necessary. Once you hit your 7th land, so like, turn five, she flips out.

She also gets rebellious and gets a tattoo that says "Ashaya."
Nissa has one fine backside. Her +1 is essential in this deck, giving us much-needed cards. Early game you blow your hand on a ton of ramp, maybe play one big guy, but then you need more gas to keep smashin'. Nissa and Kiora supply those fatties, and therefore are a big part of this deck. Her -2 gives you a blocker or attacker if you need it, and then her ult wins, like most Planeswalker ults.

If I owned four of her, I'd probably make her a four-of, but such is life. I could see dropping a Nissa's Pilgrimage for the 4th copy.

I never realized that those are tents on the island. This dude is big.
Despite being an expensive six mana spell, Drowner of Hope is our midgame. He comes out on turn four fairly reliably, dodges Spell Queller, and locks down threats to keep our life total or Kiora safe from fliers until we can get out a World Breaker or Ulamog. His tap down ability is nuts, and if they have nothing for you to tap, well, looks like you're bashing them in the face for a fuckload. Sometimes you just need to use those two Scions to pump out an Ulamog or Emrakul the very next turn. Who knows, it's your life. Even after exhausting his scions, a 5/5 is no joke, so Drowner is great at all points.

This art is both terrifying and oddly arousing.
I'm still on the fence about the Hydra. In all of my testing online, he usually just gets Ultimate Price'd, which is heartbreaking. In real life though, I imagine I will play only against Bant, and he's quite good in that matchup. Reach let's him block angry Spell Quellers and Avacyns, and he's more than big enough to live to brag about it.

He starts somewhere between a humble 5/5 to 7/7, and quickly becomes a gigantic monster that can rumble with any creature in Standard, even Brisela! He also ramps when he enters the battlefield, letting us grab a valuable Sanctum of Ugin or Lumbering Falls, so having him hit by Reflector Mage isn't the end of the world. Overall I think he's good, but I'll need to do more testing to find out if this slot should just be another Drowner or maybe an Ishkanah, Grafwidow - I mean, I guess we can technically activate her ability off of Deathcap Cultivator, right...?

Oh hey, that's the Hallowed Fountain in the background.
World Breaker quickly became a ramp staple when he was released, and it's easy to see why. Ramp decks are all about getting a mana advantage, and then playing some huge dudes. So why not get a mana advantage, get a huge dude, and then get a bigger mana advantage?  Yeah, fuck it, I'm in. The fact that he can occasionally snag an important Artifact or Enchantment is awesome, even though exiling dual lands will be his most common purpose. I've a few of these on turn four when I'm on the play, and typically my opponents just leave the game. It's that good when you get him early.

I understand Ulamog because I too am ceaselessly hungry.
Oh boy, now we're getting to the good shit. Ulamog is bonkers. Nine times out of ten, Ulamog resolves and you just win the game. You snipe their best two creatures, or maybe two planeswalkers, or if they're not doing much, just blow up their land. He's a fuckin' huge 10/10 indestructible, so there aren't a lot of ways to deal with him, and he blocks any ground creature with no issue. When he attacks they exile the top twenty, which means that even with chump blockers, Ulamog is effectively a two turn clock. He is easily the best payoff in this deck, and is an absurd card. I luv you, Uly.

"This probably isn't good" - Everyone on Innistrad.
Emma is one fat flier, and she does indeed promise the end. Thanks to our deck's ability to easily get four different types in the graveyard, she typically costs 9 by the time we are looking to cast her. And when you cast her... damn. Taking control of a player is a lot of fun. You get to see their hand and for one entire turn, then make the absolute worst decisions they possibly could. In short, make them play like team Heavy Salami. Typically you want to run their scariest monster into Emrakul to die, tap any painlands to damage them, and use as much of their removal on their own guys as you can. Sometimes just resolve a Collected Company and put nothing on the field. Feels good, man.

As a 13/13 flying trample for 13 (Hey look, Gaige called it!), Emma closes out the game super, super fast. She has protection from instants, and just about nothing blocks her well, so the opponent has a very short time to find some sort of answer. Honestly, I think Ulamog is the stronger card of the two, but diversifying to include an Emma or two is a good idea just to dodge a game-ending Infinite Obliteration. Also, you get to mind control people! I'll pay extra for that.


Other spells 'n' shit:

Every other spell in this deck (with the exception of Part the Waterveil) is wholeheartedly dedicated to piling a fuckload of land on the table, giving us extra mana, looking for extra lands, or looking for more big dudes. It is both elegant and sexy. I'm not even gonna talk about Explosive Vegetation and Nissa's Pilgrimage, as those are pretty self-explanatory. I guess just realize you can grab Islands with Vegetation, which you will most likely want to do, since there are several other ways to find Forests.


Man, I hate Nissa, and I hate that I have a deck featuring her so much.
Oath of Nissa is dope. It gives us something to do on the first turn, which is nice, and let's us keep hands that are short on lands or short on threats. It can dig up a giant monster, which is something we're always in the market for, and it can even grab Kiora and help us cast her if we don't have a blue source. Overall this helps smooth our game out a lot, and though not high-impact, is a vital card. Oh, also sometimes it goes into the graveyard and makes Emrakul cheaper. Neat!

I love me some Time Walk. Especially when it can kill people.
This is the spice for our meaty deck. No one expects Part the Waterveil when it comes down, and it always takes the opponent by surprise. Following up an attack from an Eldurzi Titan with one of these is more than enough to finish the game without giving your opponent a chance to answer it. Part can also act as its own win condition by using Awaken on a land, preferably a Lumbering Falls.

The fail case for this card is just cycling it to take another turn, which still isn't bad. You get to draw a new card and play another land, making it the slowest and most expensive ramp spell ever printed. Desperate times, desperate measures. But who knows - maybe you just needed one more land to get out that World Breaker which is going to turn the tide of the game? In a deck with this much mana, Part becomes a flexible card, and I've had good experiences with it.

Encouraging tentacle fetishes everywhere.
Kiora is an outrageously strong Planeswalker. Alright, I know that sounds like bullshit, but bear with me. Let's look at the abilities:

+1: Untap up to one target creature and up to one target land.

Ok, so the fail case scenario for this one is that you can untap a land. That's still ramp! Sometimes you run her out on turn four, use her plus, untap a green source, and play an Oath of Nissa. Not too shabby. The ceiling on this ability is incredible, too. If you have a Deathcap Cultivator, you can skyrocket your mana very quickly. In the late game, if you have a Shrine of the Forsaken Gods, her plus on Deathcap and Shrine nets you an insane three extra mana for colorless spells. That's big game, and it can allow you to cast several extremely potent cards in one turn. I've cast Ulamog followed up by a Part the Waterveil, and it is sexy as all getout.

-2: Reveal the top four cards of your library. You may put a creature and/or a land card from among them into your hand. Put the rest into your graveyard.

This is one of our best card advantage engines. Typically, by the time you want to minus her, you've already cast plenty of ramp spells, so all you really want are utility lands and creatures, which this grabs for you. Awesome. It also tosses some more cards into the graveyard, ensuring your Emrakul gets a good discount.

-8: Beat the shit out of your opponent with a pile of Octopii.

Three 8/8s is probably enough to win the game, but just in case it isn't, you get to fight everything as well. And then for the rest of the game, all of your creatures get to fight something when they enter the fray. Your creatures are very, VERY big, and will probably win the fights. Except the Eldurzi scions from Drowner of Hope - they aren't the best fighters.

All in all, Kiora does everything this deck could want, and she plays a big role in the consistency and speed of Big Green Bluizers.


Lands are fun:

The lands are straightforward for a two-color ramp deck. We shove in the relevant man-land, a couple of the pains, and then add in the strong ramp lands available to us.

There's something foreboding about Ugin summoning all these Eldrazi...
It's pretty obvious how you use this - cast big dude, find big dude. Note that you don't need to find a colorless guy with cost over 7, so this can grab a Drowner of Hope to tap down blockers so that your Ulamog or Emrakul can crush them.

GET IT, EACH OF THE STATUE DUDES LOOK LIKE ONE OF THE TITANS!
Once you have seven lands, this is the card that gets you up to Ulamog/Emrakul territory. It's great with Kiora as I mentioned, and also lets you cast multiple huge spells per turn. Don't be a stupid like me and think that you can tap this for two to get out your Kiora. This land only taps for two for colorless spells. You've been warned (even though that doesn't help me and I still do it).


Matchups and Sideboard:

Aggro:
Aggro decks can be rough, depending on how explosive of a start they get. I recommend trading off your Deathcaps and Nissas for their creatures early and often. Slamming a Kiora will distract the opponent from your life total, and if they let her live, you can plop out an early Drowner of Hope. Drowner is our best card in the matchup - it taps down their best attackers, and can also trade off with some dudes. World Breaker is also great, since it gets rid of Always Watching, Gryff's Boon (permanently), or one of their few lands.

I have four Gnarlwood Dryad in my sideboard to fight agro decks. A free trade for one mana is great, as it protects our life total and doesn't take up a ton of mana to do so. Pulse of Murasa pairs great with Gnarlwood too, letting us gain a bunch of life and re-deploy a deathtouchy blocker. I also bring in two Crush of Tentacles. Surging them with Oath of Nissa or Gnarlwood Dryad gets us a massive blocker while clearing their board, and then we're golden.


Midrange/Bant: 
Bant is stupid. I won't lie to you guys and say that this will always beat Bant. Bant will probably Spell Quell you to death, since your deck is quite susceptible to that once they know what's going on. The best I can to is try to let them murder you less quickly.

Be sure to only sneak in ramp spells when you think you can dodge a Queller, which I realize isn't often, but at least try. Deathcap is good here since he lets us play our four-cost spells slightly earlier, giving us a better opportunity to dodge the Quellers. If we make it past the four mana point, we are home free. World Breaker and Ulvenwald Hydra are exceptional blockers that they don't want to bounce, and Drowner can rumble with all of their creatures while also alleviating pressure. Ulamog gets rid of... fuckin' whatever, and Part the Waterveil Awakening a land is excellent pressure.

I'd sideboard in the Crush here, just because getting back your ramp spells off of Spell Quellers will jump you into the late game. It also slows them down considerably, since you're bouncing back multiple creatures they may have gotten off of Collected Company, and it will take them longer to redeploy in a fair manner. I've found some success with Jace, Unraveller of Secrets as well, since he's just outside of Queller range, can bounce them to get your spells back, or gives us more cards for late-game. I've also played some Altered Ego's against this deck, since making a bigger version of one of their creatures is an awesome way to put through damage. He's also top dawg against Reflector Mage, as you can cast him right away, since the card's name is Altered Ego, but when he was on the battlefield he had the name of whatever he copied. Also, fuck it, you can just copy a Reflector Mage to have a gigantic X/X+1 dude who bounces their scary guys.


Control:
The current popular flavors of control are excellent matchups for us. Thanks to the outrageous dominance of Bant, the control decks are build to remove a flurry of small creatures until they can land their big threats. That doesn't quite get the job done against us. You may lose your Deathcap Cultivators, but sticking Nissa's Pilgrimages and Explosive Vegetation will put you ahead on mana, and then your threats scale past theirs. World Breaker cuts them off mana or utility lands, and is huge. Drowner isn't at his best in this matchup, but tapping down a Gisela or Kalitas is a nice upside, and he does dodge Languish, Grasp of Dankness, and Ultimate Price. This matchup basically boils down to "How soon can I cast Ulamog?"

In the next few games, I bring in Sphinx of the Final Word - an evasive threat that is not easy for most decks to do anything to. Altered Ego can be fun, because nothing beats Brisela quite like a larger Brisela. I also add in one or two Tireless Tracker, since all it takes is one ramp spell to net us a butt ton of clues, and if she isn't dealt with immediately, she wins. SoI Jace can be good here as well, since he gives us more cards and can reset a Brisela or a pumped up Kalitas.



Big dudes! Extra turns! Fishwizardlady! What more could you want from a deck? Oh, maybe to not spend like $200 on it. Never fear, budget wizards. If you want to cast big guys on a budget, you can give this list a try:


This list doesn't have the Titans, which is obviously not great, but Gaea's Revenge is a super annoying card. Taking extra turns on turn five when you have a gigantic 8/5 beater that can't be targeted by kill spells is usually enough to seal the game. Most importantly, this brings the price of the list waaaay down to around $60, and that can be lessened further by replacing Crush of Tentacles and Part the Waterveil with whatever ramp target you desire. Though I don't get why you wouldn't desire extra turns; that shit is awesome.

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That's my Standard deck, folks. Now if you see me at a tournament, you can be like "This goober is about to cast Kiora, isn't he?" and get your Spell Quellers all sorts of set up. Also, stop playing Bant, I hate you. (JK I love you but I think we need to have a talk)


Enjoy the deck? Think there are better ramp targets? Watched the SCG Open last week and think I just copied this from that U/G Crush dude? Well no, this is clearly different and I made this a while back, but whatever, who cares. No matter what you may want to say, say it by leaving a comment below, or send us a message using the form on the right! You can also find more delicious Heavy Salami on Twitter @Heavy_Salami, and by checking for Dan and Gaige's articles on 5ColorCombo.com!

4 comments:

  1. Mad props for the proper plural of octopodes. It's not a Latin root it's Greek, dammit!

    As for the rest, I'm ignorant about standard, so I'll just assume that landing any Titan is such hotness over the forces of netdecking and Spike, you should take a picture and upload to redtube.

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    1. Unfortunately that's a common misconception. It is "octopuses", but even octopi is considered more correct than octopodes. Link to the grammarist explains why.

      http://grammarist.com/usage/octopi-octopuses/

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    2. I'm just glad that I got an opportunity to use both the colloquial and the fun-sounding-version in order to spawn this discussion.

      My Octopossie can't be fucked with.

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    3. Ha! Love it. Steven Pinker (if you haven't read A Sense of Style, his update to Strunk & White is fantastic) would agree with you that common usage and clarity is the most important thing.

      I may still rock octopodes if just for the faux haughtiness of it.

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