Thursday, 17 August 2017

Simic Ramp

As Foretold
I have talked a lot about As Foretold and even a good chunk about Reason / Believe and I have been playing with both a whole bunch. While As Foretold has many applications in cube this kind of deck is one of the most common I find myself using it in. As Foretold is pretty nutty it turns out and isn't nearly as narrow as I expected. This list is probably a tier two deck but it is the kind of deck that loads of people love to play. You make loads of mana and draw loads of cards and get to control the game with countermagic to some extent. The deck is part combo and part control and feels like an old school turbo land archetype. It is a pretty new archetype in cube as it leans quite heavily on recent cards but as said, it does look and function a lot like things that have gone before it. With it using many new cards I have yet to fully refine my builds and don't know exactly the ways to go. Here is my best effort at an example list;


Ancestral Vision

24 Spells

Reason / Believe
Opt
Brainstorm
Birds of Paradise
Ancestral Vision

Coiling Oracle
Explore
Sakura Tribe Elder
Arcane Denial
Remand
Wall of Roots
Sylvan Library
Coiling Oracle
As Foretold
Eternal Witness
Nissa, Steward of Elements
Courser of Kruphix
Shardless Agent

Commit / Memory
Oracle of Mul Daya
Jace, TMS or Architect

Mystic Confluence
Time Warp
Thragtusk

Avenger of Zendikar

16 Lands




Mystic ConfluenceIn this list the Shardless Agent should probably just be another fatty such as a Simic Sky Swallower or even just a Primeval Titan. It is lame if you hit countermagic and despite having loads of setup you don't want to have to rely on having it. Ancestral Vision is great with As Foretold so you don't need that extra push from Agent. The rest of the deck is based around stalling out so you can abuse ongoing effects from planeswalkers and other ongoing effects while getting up a nice high land count. Provided you are still in the game you will get to a critical mass where you just take over. You can easily setup kills that they cannot play around. Avenger and a Time Walk, Nissa ultimate or lock down with Eternal Witness and the Confluence.

The deck is a little fragile to getting swarmed by aggressive weenies lists. Having a lot of cheap defensive bodies helps you get to your powerful late game but lacking much in the way of spot removal does make a lot of tasks vastly harder to accomplish. You are not quick like many combo style decks and so you cannot just hope to outpace or avoid problem cards. If you can find the space to throw in something like a Walking Ballista it will make your life a lot easier. Even things like Crush of Tentacles can go a really long way in making up for lacking hard removal in your colours.

Nissa, Steward of ElementsWhile the As Foretold is one of the best cards it is not a key one, you can do what it is doing with just ramp effect. You probably have to run some of them anyway as the low end is a little lacking and you don't have great ways to ensure you have the As Foretold to make. If you can make it on turn three or four, two if you are a luck sack, then happy days. It is pretty hard to lose if you are at all stable after making it. It is such an absurd amount of extra mana pretty quickly, especially when you can pair it with potent instants. Cryptic Command is a great card for this deck and should be picked and played if possible. It isn't essential and I didn't want to go overboard on non-essential high pick priority cards. While the BoP is such a card it is very replaceable or even something you can do without. Torrential Gearhulk is a mixed bag in this archetype. It has some great synergy with a lot of what you want to be doing with this deck but it is also lighter on targets that is ideal more often than you expect. It also removes that card from the game which is sadder for this deck than most.

Commit // MemoryNissa is a great finisher card that has decent synergy support and gains. She slots in perfectly to the list but is very hard to use properly. If you chose what to do poorly she will get you little value in the early game. She is also not essential. Either of the five mana Nissa would be totally fine cards for this deck as well and you don't want to go to overboard on same name walkers. More walkers would not be a bad thing in general for this deck. Four mana Garruk's are great as is Tamiyo.

The most key card for this list so far seems to be Commit / Memory. It is exactly what you want to be doing to stall the game on the front end for a fair enough price. Commit has proven to be more valuable than Venser as a disruption and stall tool. It is of course Memory that pushes this archetype super hard. It feels like starting the game with a Time Spiral underneath a Shelldock Isle. At some point you can just get a free full seven refill. The reason it is free is because you do it with the Gearhulk at the end of their turn should you be playing it or you do it when your As Foretold reaches six. Knowing you can go through your whole deck twice is lovely. Knowing you have the ability to throw resources around willy nilly because you have such a reliable and efficient way to restock on gas is a refreshing way to be able to play too. You greatly out power other decks through sheer mana and draw potential however your effective double library means you are not endangering yourself.

Oracle of Mul DayaMystic Confluence is another fantastic card for the deck as it does all the things you want a card to do. It is huge instant speed draw when you are flush with mana yet it is a potent disruption tool when you are tighter and struggling to stabilize. It also has potential for perpetual use under the right conditions as mentioned earlier.

Overall the deck wants a bit of counter magic and a smattering of other disruption. It wants a healthy amount of ramp, draw and library manipulation and it wants a couple of big finishers too. Having loads of card quality effects combined with the draw means you can plow through your deck pretty quickly finding the specific tools you need. It allows you to really abuse the library matters cards like Mul Daya. It is super rare to have every land in your deck in play (sac lands at least in the bin) yet this archetype manages it pretty effectively. That being said I often wind up with Primeval Titan in the list which helps a lot with that!

Reason // BelieveReason / Believe is another perfect fit card for this list and its true power is really well showcased in this kind of deck. The card draw in the deck greatly offsets the initial card disadvantage and the mana production greatly empowers the aftermath option. You frequently have five plus counters on your As Foretold and can just fire it off for a free card. The library manipulation also helps empower Believe, I have had a couple of big hits with it and that is cute but ultimately not that important. In this list just getting the card back is all you really care about. Generally having seven mana to make a huge threat is the easy part! Having played Reason / Believe in this deck a lot now I have come to really appreciate the power of scry 3 over basically all the other one mana card quality spells as a stand alone setup card. It is subtly better than Serum Visions and the like and makes for much stronger follow ups with Coiling Oracle, Shardless Agent, Courser and new Nissa. It can setup a couple of turns as well rather than the one you typically get with other one mana card quality cards. I'm still not 100% sure I can justify Reason / Believe in the cube but it certainly is a stand out in this archetype.

There are a lot of ways to build this deck and lots of redundancy in the colours to help. Green has a lot of ramp, blue has a lot of counters, card draw and quality things and that makes up a significant part of the deck. Beyond that you can choose which synergies you want to run, what kind of problem solving tools you want and what things you want to allow you to win. This is the kind of deck you can just run an Emrakul as your win condition. You can Believe out the 15 mana one or just use it to carry on going through your library until you have enough to hard cast it. In such a deck you would want more looting effects. The Promised End could also be your main win condition and could be reliably hard card pretty quickly too. As this archetype generates a lot of mana you wouldn't need to focus on having super delirium options. Using so many new cards and being such a variable and complicated deck I suspect it will take a while to refine it and work out the best ways of doing it. I also expect that process to be incredibly fun!



4 comments:

  1. Just did a sealed deck and got another version of this list. It had no recursion or reshuffle so I just made it much more threat dense and that seemed to work out great. Having lots of removal options is a big help!


    Ancestral Visions
    Search for Tomorrow
    Birds of Paradise
    Reason / Believe
    Opt
    Spell Pierce

    Remand
    Counterspell
    Censor
    Coiling Oracle
    Sylvan Library
    Walking Ballista

    Nissa, Steward of the Elements
    Nissa, Vastwood Seer
    As Foretold
    Tireless Tracker
    Nimble Obstructionist

    Cryptic Command
    Polukranos, World Eater
    Garruk Relentless

    Thragtusk
    Verdurous Gearhulk

    Primeval Titan

    Ugin, the Spirit Dragon

    16 Lands

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  2. I really need to try out As Foretold. I originally thought it would be too slow, as I was comparing it to Aether Vial (a card which is really bad if not in your opening hand). In hindsight, I don't think that is a good comparison since As Foretold lets you continue to cast things less than the number of tokens and it doesn't limit you to creatures.

    When I saw "Simic Ramp", I assumed it was an opposition list. Glad to see a different spin.

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  3. let me preface this by saying that i think you do a great job evaluating cards and i have gotten a ton of ideas for archetypes and things to try from your blog. But of course, i only comment when i disagreešŸ˜œ.

    I have found As Foretold to be bad. It is too much of a do nothing, even in decks built soecifically to abuse it. We play team sealed so people get very large card pools and both when i have played with and against it almost any other card would have been preferable. I find that unless you have a few very soecific alternate cast cards, it is very hard to get value, and even if you do, most of them tend to be pretty high power level on their own so taking t3 off to accelerate maybe a turn down the line is not great. additionally, unless your curve is perfect, a lot of times you do not really get utility out of the one and two mana turns since you would have just cast those spells anyway.

    I like the concept, but opportunity cost is too high to play.

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    Replies
    1. These were my thoughts on the card in my initial review, it was only in testing the card that I found it surprisingly potent and started to harp on about it. As such my excitement for the card is based off of me thinking it wasn't going to be very playable. I might have over sold it based on the amount it outperformed expectation rather than where it actually wound up on the power ladder.

      It is certainly a bit of a hit or miss. In the right deck and at the right time the card is game winning. At other times it is too onerous to play or is simply a dead card. While I have had it work a lot I have noticed it getting very little play with other players in my group. The over performance of As Foretold in my testing likely has a lot to do with my opponents being less familiar with it and the style of decks I was running it in. Certainly based on its current level of play I am thinking of cutting it from the drafting cube. If you can only get the card working in very specific decks it is just not worth a space. As Foretold is a whole lot of fun but it is variable and on the narrow side.

      Thanks for the kind words and thanks for pulling me up on things when I go off track. Disagreement is great, it is how we learn things. Too many people take it as a personal criticism and fail to appreciate the merits of many minds tackling the same issues.

      Long story short - you are right. I think I got too over excited about the card being potentially powerful and much more viable than anticipated. A fun and workable card but not really a great drafting cube addition sadly.

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