Thursday, 10 May 2018
Mono White Approach .dec
This is an Approach of the Second Sun deck that a friend of mine devised. He was making it UW which likely is a better build but I challenged him into going mono and he rose to it fantastically. The list below is how I would build the deck given what I learned from my mates build. We had a good old chat about the build after our games and discussed many ways you could go with the deck. We both concluded that adding in either blue for dig, draw and permission or black for tutors and hand disruption would be the best direction to take this list but it was still highly competitive in it's untuned mono white state. Being creative and successful at the same time in mono white is a pretty big deal so my mate gets top marks for that!
The advantage of going mono in cube is two fold, it typically increases your consistency but it also means you don't have to fight over things as much and can get on with picking the most powerful things you want for your deck. Another advantage of going mono when building new decks is limiting yourself and the build. Restricting your options helps you focus in on the key aspects of the deck's plan, I find even though I will have a weaker deck it will be more on the money strategically. It will point me in the best direction for when I do chose to complicate things. With a mono deck you learn the weaknesses quicker and we will get to that after the list;
Path to Exile
Wall of Omens
Forsake the Worldly
Gideon of the Trials
Settle the Wreckage
Wrath of God
Elspeth, Sun's Champion
Approach of the Second Sun
Decree of Justice
Arch of Orazca
The deck performed very well and, as any mono white control deck should do, utterly wrecks aggro decks. Where a list like this is more vulnerable is to hand disruption and permission. The scariest hand disruption are things like Doomfall and Thought Knot Seer as they exile. If you get your Approach exiled you are winning with 1/1 tokens, or more likely, not winning. You have counter play to hand disruption in the Scroll Rack and even the Mistveil Plains and you shouldn't expect as much of it as counterspells. To fight those we have Abeyance, Orim's Chant, Mana Tithe and an uncounterable threat in Decree of Justice. The Decree made me want to try out Azor's Gateway in the list as it is such a good mana dump and the list wanted more dig and filter too. Had I gone with Azor's Gateway I would have probably wanted to go deeper down the rabbit hole and pack Walking Ballista. A deck like this is certainly one of the best homes you are going to find for the crazy flip card. It may sound like overkill packing so much anti permission things but with such a good matchup against creature based things I think it is the way to go unless you have prior meta knowledge. If you want a bit more protection again hand disruption you can play a conservative Gilded Light or a heavy hitting Leyline of Sanctity.
The other weakness this list has is an over reliance on the Scroll Rack Land Tax combo. Not only do you want to find and resolve these cards but you want to keep them in play for ages and ideally keep the Tax active all the way to seven mana! I was strongly considering things like Boarder Posts and Khalni Gem to make that a reality. I defeated the deck once with a well timed World Breaker killing a Scroll Rack on the turn he played his 1st Approach with six cards remaining in hand. I was dead the following turn had I not and I was probably dead if I played another land and turned his Tax on again. I would also have probably still lost had he had a shuffle effect in hand so as to clear past the 6 plains on the top of the deck! You can partially protect these key cards with Spellskite or if you wanted to go super deep some Rebuff the Wicked technology!
The better plan, as mentioned, is going blue or black and using their tools to find the Approach. White has no dig or tutor effects for sorceries nor does it have much in the way of card draw at all. Palace Jailer feels a bit risky in a deck with so few creatures. Pursuit of Knowledge always feels risky! Karn, Scion of Urza would be great except that if you +1 him and happen to hit your Approach and they can deal with the Karn you shot yourself in the foot pretty hard. Artifacts present some value options, the Treasure Map proved outstanding in the games. My mate played Solemn Simulacrum too which is passable filler but feels a bit low impact these days. This list is a pretty reasonable housing for Isochron Scepter with a number of strong targets and a tutor for artifacts naturally in the deck. With the addition of some cheap cantrip cards, perhaps over some of the cyclers, you could give this deck a whole extra dimension whilst also partially solving the card draw issue. Sometimes you will just get a nice annoying Unexpectedly Absent, Path or something, sometimes you will get powerful disruption and ongoing draw with Abeyance and sometimes you will randomly steal games with the Orim's Chant combo. If going the Scepter route I would try and play Hallowed Moonlight as a nice utility draw card to go alongside Abeyance. I would probably also replaced the Renewed Faith with Blessed Alliance. While you are doing cheesy things like Scepter locking people why not throw in cards like Moat to further abuse your Enlightened Tutor at the mere cost of peoples enjoyment and your popularity! Winning with Moat or Worship is like winning at Street Fighter by spamming the E. Honda slap or Baraka's lightning thingy. No one had fun or felt good. A reference even older than Moat itself!
Given this list plans to win by playing 14 mana worth of 7 drop or indeed making a whole boat load of tokens with a Decree it is going to want a lot of mana. The sooner it has at least 7 the sooner it can think about winning. Ramp sounds like an obvious inclusion but I think it is a little bit dangerous, you don't want to hurt your consistency, this is more of a control deck than a combo deck. I'd rather take a little longer to get there and increase my chance of doing so and that is feasible with white's tools. I like Solemn Simulacrum as it is both ramp and value at once. That is also why I have only used lands as ramp tools in this list. Mage-Ring Network was the only land ramp my friend played and it was excellent. It might be the best ramp land option for this list which is impressive given the strong list of alternatives. I wanted to run Temple of the False God but didn't want to dip too low on the land count, ideally I want to be cycling that Steppe! I considered Ancient Tomb as well bet felt that a little extreme. Two lands in one feel like a two for one and a free Explore which is perfect for the list and comes at relatively little cost. It is certainly a huge perk for the mono approach. Pearl Medallion was considered and my mate even ran a Mox Diamond but I didn't feel the burst merited the card disadvantage even though I love it when a Medallion comes out! If I wanted more ramp I would likely go for a Wayfarer's Bauble so that I could go that bit deeper on colourless lands that can ramp as well. Bauble also doesn't feel like it costs you a card in the same way as the bursty options.
My mate ran Terminus which was fine. You could go heavier miracle and pack the Divining Top and the Entreat the Angels (the latter over the Decree as a neat swap) and that would also be a fine way to go. I don't think the deck needs it to compete and not having miracles is totally fine as well, better running no miracle things than building in a bad miracle theme, so my list is safer and on that front and user friendly! Much like the Scepter package this miracle theme is an optional bolt on to add some depth and bite but it should be done once you have mastered the underlying base deck first for best effects.
My mate ran Ugin, the Spirit Dragon and Gideon Jura. I actually had the Gideon of the Trails in one of my decks and the emblem was pretty good against this list! Ugin is obviously fantastically powerful but it is over the price of the Approach and doesn't bring anything new to the table. White is the colour of exiling all the non-land things after all! I feel like a Martial Coup would get more work done.
This deck being mono, having a high curve and a low colour requirement allows you to pack a lot of colourless lands. Mostly these are best used as ramp cards but you can patch over some of the issues the deck has. I used the new Arch to add in some card draw although Geier Reach Sanitarium might be a better option. My mate ran Rishadan Port which is probably the most powerful and rounded of the options. Boseiju, Who Shelters All is another way to combat permission if you are that keen. If I was going down that route I think I would want a Weathered Wayfarer to help me find it.
Despite being mono there was a wealth of options for this deck. While it may be better with access to more colours it is really nice to know you can make it work in just the one. It makes it a lot more viable for the more exotic constructed style formats in cube. The list has other strengths as well, having a card that literally says "win the game" on it is a big deal. There isn't a lot of counterplay or defense to that for a lot of archetypes and it gives you that lovely certainty of inevitability. It isn't even that slow if you can get the Rack with a decent hand size on the go which does usually mean also having Taxed but still, this list can win on turn seven, up to two turns sooner if you pack some more extreme ramp. That is all quicker than an Entreat deck will do and those are about as punchy and quick as control decks tend to be excluding the pseudo control decks like Splinter Twin. There is also more counterplay to Entreat kills. One good suggestion on how to build this deck is like an Astral Slide deck from back in Onslaught block. Amonkhet brought lots of lovely new cycling cards to run with it and they seem like a nice overlapping set of strategies. I have been meaning to do a post Amonkhet cycling deck for ages now but can't work out what colours to do it in, let alone how to go about building it. I suspect I will try and refine that before going for some combi deck containing both elements. Approach feels like a slightly improved Aetherling in a lot of ways and is a very space efficient way of enabling your control deck to win games. It might actually be worthy of a drafting cube slot!?!