February 02, 2015

Sultai-ing it All Together

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Hello laboratorians! It's Sultai Week, and that means it's time to take a closer look at some of the more interesting Sultai cards in both Khans of Tarkir and Fate Reforged. I already built a pair of Sultai decks back in September, but there's plenty left to explore.



Tasigur, the Golden Fang | Art by Chris Rahn


I Don't Kheru


One promising Sultai card I haven't used yet is Kheru Lich Lord. Returning things to the battlefield from your graveyard is usually a pretty powerful ability, and giving them flying, trample, and haste ensures you'll be getting in some major damage.


The first step is to find some big fat creatures to reanimate. Since you can only use Kheru Lich Lord's ability once each upkeep, I wanted creatures that could deal at least 10 damage in one attack. Unfortunately, a lot of those don't like sitting around in the graveyard. Abilities like those on Blightsteel Colossus and Emrakul, the Aeons Torn cut out a lot of options. However, there are still some large creatures that can get the job done.


Krosan Cloudscraper is my favorite. First of all, it has 13 power. That's a lot. Even if your opponent has gained a bit of life, two of these should be enough to end the game. Second, it has morph. If you draw one, you can cast it as a face-down creature. Then you can block with it and have a 13/13 in your graveyard, ready for Kheru Lich Lord to step in. I've also included It That Betrays, which will give you a pair of permanents in addition to hitting your opponent for 11.



Of course, before you can do all this, you need the creatures to get into their places. Two giant dudes need to be in the graveyard, and you'll need get Kheru Lich Lord in your hand. Survival of the Fittest solves both problems. Simply discard any creature to search for a Krosan Cloudscraper, ditch that to get a second one, then discard that one as well to search for Kheru Lich Lord.


Muddle the Mixture can be used to counter a spell that would disrupt your combo, or you can use the transmute ability to search for Survival of the Fittest. Alternately, you can use Buried Alive to get the creatures in your graveyard. If you already have Kheru Lich Lord in your hand, it'll get the other half of the job done much faster.



Kheru Lich Lord costs six mana, which means you'll need to buy some time before you can cast it. Dissolve can stop a spell before it can do anything, and it lets you scry 1 to dig for your combo at the same time. Voidslime doesn't scry but it's even more versatile, allowing you to counter activated and triggered abilities as well. Basically, if it uses the stack, Voidslime can stop it.


Hero's Downfall is great for dispatching anything that gets past your counterspells, whether it be a creature or a Planeswalker. Finally, Dispel is your insurance. Leave one mana open when casting Kheru Lich Lord, and you should be able to stop most things that would counter or kill it.






The Illusion of Choice


With Fate Reforged, the Sultai Brood has a new khan. Or rather an old one. Man, this time travel stuff gets confusing. Anyway, his name is Tasigur, the Golden Fang, and while he doesn't quite have the same combo potential as Sidisi, Brood Tyrant, I'm sure I can figure something out.


Now obviously the downside to his ability is that your opponent gets to choose what card you get back. So it seems our first step is to figure out how to limit that choice. Tasigur's delve ability can help if you have five or fewer cards in your graveyard you want to get rid of. Plus is has the additional upside of making Tasigur cheaper to cast.



Unfortunately, that still doesn't fully solve the problem. Tasigur mills two cards before he returns one, which means your opponent will most likely have multiple cards to choose from. My first thought was to prevent those cards from ever going to the graveyard. If the card you want is already in the graveyard when you cast something like Wheel of Sun and Moon, you can put the new cards on the bottom of your library and your opponent will be forced to give you the card you want.


Unfortunately there was a problem with this plan. With Wheel of Sun and Moon still on the battlefield, you won't be able to get the card you want to recast back into your graveyard. Now, there are ways around this. I considered using Sudden Disappearance, which would exile the Wheel, go to the graveyard, and return the Wheel at the end of the turn. However, this limits you to activating Tasigur once each turn, and requires at least ten mana. So, I kept looking.


That's when I hit upon another part of Tasigur's ability. He only lets your opponent choose nonland cards. Now we're getting somewhere. If you use Selective Memory to get rid of all the nonland cards in your deck, you'll always mill two lands when activating the ability, forcing your opponent to choose the card you want.



Now the deck needs a card that's worth getting back over and over again. I considered using Worm Harvest because of all the lands that will be going to the graveyard, but since it already has retrace, returning it to your hand doesn't really accomplish anything. Instead, I decided to go for an infinite loop. Early Harvest seemed like a good option, untapping all your lands for just three mana. That means that if you can get eight basic lands on the battlefield, you can produce an unlimited amount of mana.


Now, what should we do with all this mana? It is Sultai week, so I figured I'd go with Villainous Wealth. Casting every card in your opponent's deck doesn't seem like a bad idea. Villainous Wealth also gives you the option of making it a quick death or a slightly slower one. You can just exile your opponent's entire library, causing him or her to lose during the draw step. Or you can leave a card or two behind, giving you time to win the game with your army of stolen creatures.



Okay, so this combo is pretty complicated and requires a lot of pieces to get going. Therefore, I've included some cards to help out. Fact or Fiction gives you multiple cards at instant speed, allowing you to find multiple combo pieces at once. It also dumps the rest in your graveyard, which you can use to power Tasigur's delve. Impulse only gets one card, but costs half as much mana, making it easier to cast in addition to other spells.


Mana Leak is a cheap and easy way to counter spells early in the game. Although it can lose effectiveness later on, it's great at buying time to allow you to get your combo set up. Condescend can require a larger mana investment depending on how much mana your opponent has left open, but it also allows you to scry 2, which is quite valuable in this deck. Finally, Go for the Throat is a cheap way to get rid of any creatures that fall through the cracks.






What Do You Call a Ribbon on the Bottom of Your Shoe?


Ok, that's enough puns for this week. Of course, I'll be fully restocked and ready to go by next Monday, when I'll be talking about all the awesomeness you can achieve messing with manifest. See ya!






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