Saturday 28 March 2020

Thass's Oracle .dec

Thassa's Oracle
I raved pretty hard about the potency of Thassa's Oracle in the preliminary reviews. It may have performed pretty well in some constructed settings but the jury is still rather out on it in regards to cube. Without the possibility of it as a win condition it is not worth playing in cube. A 1/3 with a bit of a scry effect is just not powerful enough as seen with Omenspeaker. I liken Oracle a lot to Brain Freeze, a highly powerful and reasonably uninteractive win condition for combo decks. A blue two mana option at that. Brain Freeze can be powerful in cube but you need to support it and it is dull for opponents. Toss it in my midrange unpowered cube and it is not going to do much of anything though. However unlike for Brain Freeze I handily I have most of the support cards you need for one type of Oracle deck already in my cube. The only card I had to add to support it was Jace, Wielder of Mysteries. The supported archetype is one of the least combo builds on offer and simply tries to survive long enough to draw through the deck. The deck is very powerful, it competes fine against the aggressive decks and bodies most slower things. The issue you have is needing to have the parts of which there is relatively little redundancy. This puts it somewhat in the same sort of camp as Splinter Twin in regards the draft. The smaller your cube, or at least the greater percentage of it that you use, the better of an include it is in terms of function. This list is certainly quite fun to play with although as with most blue decks, probably less fun to play against. Even so, clearly more fun all round when compared to Splinter Twin or any Brain Freeze list!

Inverter of Truth
In a combo cube Thassa's Oracle is great, it can serve as a win condition in a lot of settings for loads of archetypes while also having it's own deck akin to Inverter decks in pioneer. It is perfect in that regard, a two card combo with at least 2, ideally 3 decent bits of redundancy on both ends. It is the Dimir variant of Twin. It is more fun to play against as well as there is more counterplay, greater risk in the combo, and it is slower. I have not added any of the cards like Paradigm Shift or Inverter to my cube as they are such useless cards anywhere other than the one combo archetype. I also do not run pure combo decks in my main cube, the rock paper scissors dynamic works much more consistently and affords far better games with aggro midrange and control than it does when combo is there edging out the midrange. The advantage of the Simic Oracle build I have here is that all the support cards for Oracle are good in their own right and do not harm the consistency of the cube with their inclusion.

Jace, Wielder of Mysteries
There is one other place I have had success with Oracle in my non-combo cube and that is in classic blue style control decks. It shines against the slower decks where having a card that wins the game for two mana is incredibly easy to force through. It gives a really big edge in the control mirror and not far off forces the other player to adopt the role of the aggressor. Against aggro you really want to tie up the game as quickly as you can after stabilizing for which Oracle is pretty poor. Luckily it is a 1/3 blocker on the cheap that helps smooth your early draws. Sadly because of that matchup's use you cannot just replace all your win conditions with control cards and the Oracle. If you could then Oracle would be one of the best cards for your blue control decks. As it stands it is a bit low impact to seem worth it. In the slower matches it just sits in your hand gumming up the works and in the aggro matches it is a bit sub par when compared to things like the Birth of Meletis, likely even Fblthp. You really want good card quality if you are running Oracle in your control decks so that you can reliably not have it early when you need it to be a win condition. So while in control mirrors it is one of the best possible cards as it gives you a cheap win condition, lets you dedicate more deck space to other things, and makes your card draw spells not suffer diminishing returns, those perks cannot be realized overall as you still need to build your control deck in a way that is good in the other matchups.

The Simic list is therefore looking like the best and main hope for Oracle staying the course in my cube. Much as I like the list for being rather different in strategy to anything else I have played in cube it does also need to perform very well without being oppressive which is a fine line to walk. Here is an iteration of a Simic Oracle deck as you could draft it in my cube presently;

Mental Note
24 Spells

Mental Note
Search for Tomorrow
Birds of Paradise


Thassa's Oracle
The Binding of the Titans
Grapple with the Past
Jace, Vryn's Prodigy

The Binding of the TitansSearch for Azcanta
Wall of Blossoms
Satyr Wayfinder

Icefang Coatle
Coiling Oracle
Arcane Denial

Eternal Witness
Jadelight Ranger
Champion of Wits
Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath

Courser of Kruphix

Jace, Wielder of Mysteries
Oracle of Mul Daya
Glen Elandra Archmage

16 Lands

Search for TomorrowGreen is the ideal pair for this archetype as you are mostly just dumping mana into card draw and so more mana is exactly what you want. Also, with all the self mill on the go it is wise to pack some reasonable recursion so as to not mill all your own win conditions. While green is the best ramp with good recursion and self mill options it does lack creature kill, much like blue. This list is sufficiently dork heavy to be ok with that. You will hold off most aggression long enough and win quick enough to endure most non-attacking threats. You can make yourself a little more alike to the control builds and pack some mass bounce effects like Cyclonic Rift, Crush of Tentacles or Thing in the Ice. This in turn means you are using up deck space and going slower so you will want some bigger self mill style effects to offset that such as Consecrated Sphinx or even the classic Fact or Fiction. There are countless cards you can run in this list including many very good ones I was sad to leave out. Clearly it is wrong not having Oko in any Simic deck it would seem. Explore and Growth Spiral were two of the cards I was saddest to leave out. I was so heavy on two drops that ramp was best suited to the one slot despite the better themed cantrip or thinning ramp options mostly found at two or more. This list probably should have a bit more ramp all told, ideally deck thinning ramp.

Uro, Titan of Nature's WrathBoth the big delve draw spells are excellent in this list and make good use of the self mill. More one mana card quality cards, particularly Portent and Ponder are great in this archetype. Cantripping stall cards are also excellent additions from Remand to Cryptic Command to Time Warps. The latter does favour the ongoing value cards like Courser and planeswalkers. Further to this generally good looting, card draw, countermagic etc are fine things to pad out or hedge with. Just a lot of options! All you really need are the Jace and Oracle win conditions and a bit of recursion padded out with stall and draw. There is sufficient redundancy in other areas that you will be fine just so long as you draft in accordance to what you have and how it is panning out.

The list I have here is drawing through the deck about as fast as you can do without just folding to any sort of opponent. With that speed of mill and clogging up the board as it does so well this build crushes midrange decks. It puts up a decent fight against the control decks with a bit of counter magic, a bit of pressure, the good potential clock and the reliability of getting to these things. Aggro is the worst matchup for this list. It is very easy to race directly for an aggro player and not all that hard to punch through the defenses. They will slow an aggressor but for the most part they will not be too problematic. At best they make the race even. Mostly they afford some targets for removal and they don't buy quite enough time. I had some great games against white weenie that I lost 2-1 but every single game was within one turn of the other winning. It was not all on the play wins either.

Champion of WitsPerformance wise this deck is certainly a contender. It is a pretty comfortable include in cube but I am still not sold on it. Much as I love a different deck when that deck is both a little polar in performance and perhaps not all that fun to play into any effort to support is probably too much effort. The main argument for keeping this in the cube is that drawing cards is about as much fun as you can have in magic and so a deck utilitising that as a means to win is a really fun and desirable deck to play! Certainly I am keeping the Oracle in cube for a good chunk more testing but I think it might be best for everyone if I ultimately send it to the combo cube to live it it's days. It is not like we are not going to see loads of it in events and content going forwards so I doubt it is going to get missed. Ultimately Oracle is very much one of those personal preference cards. If you like it and it suits your cube you can make it work for you. There power is certainly there in the card for that. It is also different enough that you can easily leave it out of your cube very reasonably for an array of valid reasons.

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