Thursday 31 January 2019

Simic Pongify .dec

This is a list trying to emulate a quirky modern deck I saw a while back. It was essentially using a combination of evolve and undying cards both empowered by the application of friendly fire from Pongify cards. It could easilly have a 2/2, a 3/3 and a 3/4 flier in play on turn two with just two lands. The deck had some reasonable redundancy as well making these kinds of massive openers not that improbable. While quite cute the deck never had any real impact on modern, it is a very fair Simic aggro deck after all. I didn't expect it to be much of a thing in cube either for those reasons and more. Having only one Young Wolf in your 40 makes the deck a lot less good at the busted openers and generally reduces the value of your Pongify cards. This list needed more one and two drops that do good things when they are destroyed and there isn't that much out there to fill those gaps. Ultimately it is going to wind up taking the deck in a slightly different direction.

Two things pulled me towards this archetype. Firstly it seems like a fantastic home for the new Incongruity // Incubation spell (even thought it doesn't actually support the Pongify synergies directly) which I went on at length about in my initial review as to why I was so excited by it. Secondly, you get to run Pongify and Rapid Hybridization in a deck that has alternate uses for them. As such this is the first viable looking Simic deck I have seen which has some decent cheap removal options. Lack of removal has been the bane of both blue and green aggressive decks and this list might have a solution to that. That is basically the premise of this deck, just a way of playing the removal options Simic has while mitigating the drawbacks of those removal cards. It looked really impressive when I made the first few additions, it would have been a fearsome 15 card highlander list. After that point the list needed something else to be doing as we had run out of the good cards to support the first thing! The obvious thing was Hardened Scales what with our colour pairings and initial selection of creatures. Sadly there is also a bit of negative synergy going on with that marriage of synergies. The counters theme worked and did some powerful things but it probably isn't the only thing you can do with this and might not even be the most powerful. Here was my list;

Young Wolf25 Spells

Rapid Hybridization
Incongruity // Incubation
Hardened Scales

Young Wolf
Experiment One
Pelt Collector
Cloudfin Raptor

Servant of the Scale
Veteran Explorer
Noble Hierarch
Sylvan Safekeeper

Strangleroot Geist
Rhonas the IndomitableHangarback Walker
Walking Ballista
Avatar of the Resolute

Simic Charm
Brindle Shoat

Hadana's Climb
Nissa Voice of Zendikar
Rhonas the Indomitable
Rishkar, Peema Renegade

Verdurous Gearhulk

Green Sun's Zenith

15 Lands

Dryad Arbor
Simic Duals
A manland or two
Basic Forests and Islands
Perhaps even a Field of Ruin

Incubation // IncongruityThe plan is pretty simple, we are an aggro deck. We have mostly dorks with a smattering of utility removal cards and a bit of pump. We just want to curve out and smash face. The deck felt more like a zoo list to play than a red or white aggro deck despite having more comparable curves to the latter. It has some cute interactions on the go resulting from the Pongify package. Sadly I think the list also needs a couple of sac outlets on top of the pair of Pongify. Beast Within is just too pricey to be a powerful play on your own cards. The probelm with supporting just two cards that kill your own things (some of the time) is that much of the support cards are a little weak without the ability to put them in the bin yourself. The counter synergies are nice so you can buff the more useless dorks up but it is not that strong. I had to cut Curse of Predation due to poor synergies with the undying cards for example. Incongruity isn't something you want to aim at your own things with it exiling. Skullclamp does feel like the only really high powered option on offer...

So what are the things we have resulting from the Pongify cards? We have a couple of bounce spells to deal with 3/3s we might give our opponents. These are reasonable all round cards anyway. Repeal is great against tokens and a fine enough utility card. Simic Charm is rather less good at dealing with tokens but it is a highly versatile utility card that is on theme with the entirety of the deck. We then have our undying dorks which are great early targets for our Pongify cards as per the modern lists. We have Rhonas who we can freely destroy without losing any value. This converts our Pongify into a nice flash one mana 3/3 which is decent. This is a trick from standard back in Theros where Thassa used to eat such things in the blue devotion deck. Sadly Thassa, despite being a better card than Rhonas, is unsuited to this deck.

Lastly we have a number of cards that do useful things when they die. We have Bridle Shoat and Veteran Explorer which have relatively little synergy with the rest of the deck. These probably need at least a Skullclamp to empower them to the point of being good inclusions. Veteran Explorer is very unfair against the decks light on basic land but can be a liability against ones with them and that is certainly most limited decks and a lot of constructed ones too. Hangarback Walker and Servant of the Scale also do things on death and they work nicely with the +1/+1 counters theme of the deck too. This list just needs a Skullclamp! Even Mortarpod wouldn't be a bad include. Either that or I need to tone it down on things like the Brindle Shoat.

Brindle Shoat
Jace, Cunning CastawayWhile a very powerful deck it is a bit middle of the road still and therefore doesn't have any especially good matchups while also having some poor ones. It has neither the speed, tempo or reach of a red deck and can be outplayed by them. It doesn't have the depth of dork quality or going wide capacity of the white aggro decks and struggles against them. Against the control decks it is OK but rather vulnerable to the kinds of removal and threat they pack. This is why I have gone a little heavy handed on protection effects as well but it doesn't really solve that problem as well as I would like. The only thing this has a really strong matchup against on the whole is midrange decks. Like I say, the matchups are not awful elsewhere. A high powered on theme aggro deck will always be reasonable and punish any sort of misstep. It is just the sort of deck that has a hard time against a lot of the random things you find in cube! This list has some obnoxious starts it can do and it has some good power, value and reach as the game goes long but it lacks the midgame. It can easily run out of gas from a busted start or falter to minor disruption in key curving turns. I like the deck a lot. It looks good on paper with all the cute synergies and novel cards. It looks good in theory and does great things in a goldfish it just doesn't quite live up to expectation in reality. It is perhaps one really good on theme card off being a good deck. That and of course the Skullclamp! Here are some of the other things I looked at playing. The list is pretty short for me which shows quite how much I was struggling to find good cards for it. A couple more Pongify and a bunch more of the premium one drop threats is what I really need for this to be a competitive brew.

Looter il-Kor
Skyrider Elf
Jace, Cunning Castaway
Curious Obsession
Siren Stormtamer
Mutagenic Growth
Blossoming Defense

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