Welcome to my first article for Roxie Cards, guys and gals. My name is Carlos, and after a 10-year break from competitive magic I finally came back to the scene about 5 months ago, a bit after the release of Theros. Back in the day (original Mirrodin block), I did my share of competitive Magic, but as a poor and car-less college student my opportunities to do so were few and far between. It was quite a shock to come back to a much different scene! No longer do I need to wait for a local PTQ or GPT, now places like Starcity Games holds major competitive tournaments in the form of IQs and Opens. It seems, at least in my city, that I have a major competitive REL event in quick driving distance every weekend (and sometimes TWO in the same weekend) that I can go to. Quite a difference from 10 years ago, guys! And only a few months in I’m feeling pretty good with now multiple Top 8 finishes at GPTs, SCG IQs and Super IQs.
I’m getting around to the point, I promise. A few weeks ago at a local SCG IQ I decided to pilot R/W burn for the first time, instead of my usual U/W/X control I have been playing since December. The day went great, and finished a gentleman’s 4th place at the Top 8 cut. there is where a faced the original version of this deck I am writing about today, piloted by none other than a friend from the store I usually do FNM at. A crushing defeat later, I had to know this brew. He actually piloted the deck to a victory that IQ. He graciously shared the list, and some more homebrewing and playtesting later, ended up with this list:
2 Arbor Colossus
3 Courser of Kruphix
4 Elvish Mystic
3 Kiora’s Follower
1 Nylea, God of the Hunt
3 Polukranos, World Eater
2 Prime Speaker Zegana
3 Prophet of Kruphix
4 Sylvan Caryatid
2 Sylvan Primordial
3 Cyclonic Rift
1 Simic Charm
2 Garruk, Caller of Beasts
1 Kiora, the Crashing Wave
4 Breeding Pool
2 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
4 Temple of Mystery
1 Cyclonic Rift
1 Kiora, the Crashing Wave
2 Mistcutter Hydra
2 Nylea’s Disciple
The goal of U/G monsters (or “Big Simic”) is to take the idea of the much more popular R/G/X monsters, and give it that signature Simic spin. I love Simic. Even though I wasn’t playing for the RTR/GTC/DRM block, I WAS there for the original Ravnica. And Simic always felt right. Any deck that lets me play blue is definitely up my alley.
I’ll be honest, I had tried to build a Simic list for standard some months ago but never got to a place I liked. My original list had Fathom Mages for card draw, Progenitor Mimic for crazy amounts of creatures, and even Kalonian Hydras for beats. It was brewed before I had the breadth of knowledge I have about the standard card pool now, and before BNG added some key components. Plus, the change in the current meta helped too.
What’s “the dream” for this deck?
T1 – Land → mana dork
T2 – Land → caryatid or follower
T3 – Land → Arbor Colossus (or Prophet of Kruphix)
T4 – Land → Garruk (minus) → put Sylvan Primordial into play
Usually, a turn 4 Sylvan Primordial is game over pretty much right then. Now, in a standard where there is so much removal (Mono-black control, primarily), it is not entirely the case, but one can’t deny that it is still a great board state to have.
Key players in the deck:
Courser of Kruphix – Nice way to plow through land as well as to not miss a land drop. we want to get to 6 mana as soon as possible, and he helps ensure that happens.
Prophet of Kruphix – If you are not aware how nuts this card is by now, you haven’t been paying attention. Most people think the 6+ power creatures in this deck are the real threat, but this guy basically doubles your mana. You can put a Polukranos in play on your turn, and play a Prime Speaker Zegana on their turn, and now you have another handful of cards (usually more creatures) to plop down and start beating with.
Arbor Colossus – Very aggressively costed creature, who can single-handedly block Strombreath Dragons, Chandra’s Phoenixes, Nightveil Spectres and Archangels of Thune. He fights his arch-nemesis, Desecration Demon, to a stalemate until you can monstrous him.
Sylvan Primordial – 7 mana sounds unplayable, but let me tell you that from experience I get to that quite often. Just remember this guy blows up much more than lands, he hits planeswalkers too!
Garruk, Caller of Beasts – Basically, what Domri Rade does in R/G/X we do with Garruk. Except we hit our creatures WAY more often.
Prime Speaker Zegana – What would blue be without some card draw?! Obviously, you want to cast this with at least a Polukranos on the board, but hey, Courser or Kiora’s follower will do in a pinch.
Cyclonic Rift – Your finisher. Absolutely devastating with Prophet of Kruphix out. People concede to me to an overloaded Rift more often than after any other play.
Witchstalkers – for fighting Mono-black devotion and other targeted removal decks. Also useful against all types of control.
Skylashers – massive advantage against blue-devotion decks. Blocks Cloudfin Raptors, familiars and spectres.
Mistcuters, Negate, Gainsay – advantage of being simic is you can turn yourself into a more control-heavy deck. Fight control with control.
Nylea’s Disciple – drop one of these babies against burn, and you should be golden.
Looking toward Nyx:
With Journey finally out I have started to look at some of the new options from the set, and my main three front-runners are:
Hydra Broodmaster – 7/7 for 6 mana is not bad, but the monstrous ability is where it shines. If this deck has a Nykthos and a Kiora’s Follower out, we could be easily looking at ten 10/10 hydras out and ready. Sure, they don’t have trample (unless Nylea is out!) but that many creatures will be hard to deal with. However, in some early playtesting it seems to be a “win-more” card.
Setessan Tactics – loving this! Gives us a removal option, like the minus ability on domri but multiple creatures if we can pay for the strive cost. Excellent answer to Obzedat and other pesky creatures.
Kruphix, God of Horizons – Even more nuts with his Prophet, I could see some ridiculous Polukranos monstrosities coming out of this. Even so, also seems like a “win-more” card. I will be playtesting this as a 1-of.
And there you have it. Big Simic has held up very well so far. Mono-black devotion is a tough matchup, but we usually end up having more threats than they have answers for. Play aggressive and fast, and we can usually race them. Caryatids are a great stop-gap for early Pack Rats.
Against mono-blue devotion, the race is a bit harder since all their early threats are fliers. We are really hoping to ramp into a Colossus or Primordial as soon as possible. If they run domestication, be careful about them snagging your Prophets and Coursers of Kruphix. The game gets significantly easier post-board, with many answers available to bring in.
R/G monsters is usually a good matchup, mostly because we both ramp up but we end up with bigger and badder monsters. And ours have reach, so take that Stormbreath Dragons! One overloaded Rift is usually all you need to finish a game.
U/W/X control is probably our hardest match-up due to not having an answer to Verdict. On game one, there is no other solution than to play around the Verdict. Maybe don’t play all your dorks out at once, and hold any you don’t need back. If Verdict happens, plop the others down asap. If you can get a Polukranos, Colossus or Primordial to land and stick, you can probably race the Revelations. After side, make sure to bring in the counters and the Mistcutters.
R/W/X aggro or G/W/X aggro – usually another decent matchup for us, we get large threats down so fast that they can usually not get enough damage in before the big boys start coming down.
So far, the deck has been a blast to play. As a regular control player, Big Simic has let me come out and explore some more creature-heavy decks. The faces of some opponents are priceless on a turn 3 Arbor Colossus drop. You have access to powerful cards rarely ever played in standard due to the prohibitive casting costs. Prohpet of Kruphix can be such a blowout sometimes, having your mana open in both player’s turns, not to mention the ability to flash in anything either at the opponent’s combat or end step.
End of the day, I have had a fun time with it, and I think that at least for FNM it is a great deck to try out.
Special thanks to Sage Ono for introducing me to the original version of this deck.