THEROS-READY SIMIC MIDRANGE
With spoiler season in full effect and rotation weighing heavily on everyone’s mind, a lot of people are wondering what effect Theros will have on Standard. Some say the format will slow down. Some are brewing insanely fast aggro decks like Mono Red and Mono White, circumventing the need for those pesky tapped lands altogether. Azorius Control also looks scary, with Thassa and the new Elspeth being great things to stall into.
People have also been talking about G/R Ramp, featuring Xenagos and an army of big fatties. I personally like this idea, and was actually in process of brewing my own take on the deck. That is, until I saw the card Prophet of Kruphix. I feel like Prophet of Kruphix has insane potential in a midrange deck that relies on bigger drop creatures to close out the game. Not only does it allow you to swing more aggressively and still have blockers, the flash is also extremely relevant when combined with all your lands untapping.
I decided that the best way to maximize the Prophet’s power was to run a healthy number of mana dorks and big green creatures. Keep in mind that all the spoilers are not out yet, and the deck may change as new cards come out. Anyway, enough talk, here’s the actual decklist:
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4 Elvish Mystic
4 Sylvan Caryatid
4 Scavenging Ooze
4 Boon Satyr
4 Master Biomancer
4 Prophet of Kruphix
4 Kalonian Hydra
2 Prime Speaker Zegana
3 Simic Charm
2 Voyage’s End
4 Breeding Pool
4 Temple of Mystery
What this deck is trying to do is get out the Prophet as soon as possible, and then benefit from it immediately. The Elvish Mystics and Sylvan Caryatids allow you to get started quickly, and I especially like the Caryatids as an early game blocker as well. You wouldn’t necessarily block with it immediately against decks that might be running Ghor-Clan Rampager, but the Hexproof combined with its three-butt make it a great blocker against other aggressive decks. It also provides mana fixing just in case you don’t hit a Temple or Pool quick enough. Scavenging Ooze is a no-brainer. I might cut the number down at some point, though I think four is fine because it’s almost always going to affect the game in your favor.
The three drop option is experimental, but I feel that Boon Satyr is the best option for the deck at this point in the spoiler season. It’s a very versatile card: It can be a flashed in blocker, flashed in at the end of a control deck’s turn, and can also be a combat trick if it really needs to be. One very fun interaction is equipping him to a Master Biomancer and making everything else after that come down huge. Another option is Renegade Krasis, which can get dumb with Biomancer and the Hydra, but I feel like the Satyr is just better for its wide variety of uses. Casting it for the Bestow cost is not at all unreasonable, due to the deck’s ability to ramp quickly and consistently.
Master Biomancer is one way for the deck to really get out of control. Simply put, it makes your big things enter even bigger. It also makes a threat out of a late game mana dork off the top and has insane synergy with Hydra and Zegana. In testing, I’ve won a good number of games with a Biomancer left unchecked. He’s an underestimated card, and feels at home in a deck like this. Going on up the curve, the Prophet is an obvious inclusion. As I’ve mentioned, the Prophet is really why I’m building this deck.
But a 2/3 for five mana isn’t going to finish the game. Sure, the effect is cool, but the Timmy in me wanted a big green creature to drop down. And on their turn, no less! I figured there was no better fit, not only mana-wise but also in terms of raw power and synergy than Kalonian Hydra. The Kalonian Hydra gets huge on its own but also powers up the Scavenging Ooze and anything that came down after a Master Biomancer. If it’s left untouched, it simply ends the game. This deck also runs enough mana dorks to get this thing out quickly and reliably. The Caryatid, with that pesky Hexproof, can really push the Hydra out soon, consistently. Finally, Prime Speaker Zegana can be a big green creature that generates tons and tons of card draw. This is especially important considering the fact that, after a Prophet hits the table and sticks, you’ve got twice as many untap steps to drop down your threats. It’s only a two-of, because it can be disrupted and is legendary, but it does work very well in the deck.
This deck, like other decks in its vein, is weak to tons and tons of removal. Sure, the Caryatid allows for protected mana-ramp, but your big fatties are all susceptible. The Simic Charms can do work against decks that run lots of removal, but also provide useful utility in a wide variety of circumstances. Bouncing Voice of Resurgence tokens or other annoying threats, bouncing one of their blockers, pumping a creature for game (like the Hydra), pumping the Biomancer for stupid amounts of +1/+1 counters, bouncing your biggest threat in response to a board wipe… It’s a very useful card, and I’ve even considered running four. However, I feel like three is where you really want to be, because it allows you to run a couple other instants, like Voyage’s End and Syncopate. Syncopate is very useful as a way of dealing with annoying things, like God cards or Planeswalkers or other things that you might not want hitting the table. Syncopate’s X cost is also relevant with all the mana ramp. Voyage’s End is more limited than Simic Charm, but does have Scry, which is very useful for drawing into more gas.
That’s the mainboard of the deck. There’s a number of ways the game can go down in your favor, but this is the craziest nut draw possible:
- Turn one land, Mystic
- Turn two Carytid, play Scry land.
- Turn three land, play Prophet. Flash in Kalonian Hydra on their turn.
- Turn four swings and more fatties (And in magical Christmas land: Prime Speaker Zegana)
As far as the sideboard goes, I have not finalized one because I don’t know what people will be playing once Theros comes out. I’m considering a number of options, which I’ll list for convenience’s sake:
- Witchstalker against black-heavy removal decks
- Anything that could help the deck’s weakness to board wipes. I’ve considered a number of less-than-perfect options, including Mending Touch and even Haunted Plate Mail. I’d like to be running Golgari Charm, but I don’t run black.
- Negates and other counters to help the control match up.
- Jace, Memory Adept to mill out control decks.
Basically the deck, most likely, has a very bad Azorius Control match up. It’s weak to board wipes, and I haven’t really thought of a great answer to this. Sure, it’s possible to race them, but if the game goes too late, it’s probably going to swing in their favor. At least Bonfire of the Damned and Terminus are rotating, both of which would have really hurt this deck. Leading up to Theros, and beyond, I’ll test every possible sideboard option as a way of equalizing this match up, but as of right now the sideboard is completely up in the air.
When you’re making your deck for Theros standard, consider Simic Midrange as an option, whether it’s my version of a brew of your own. It’s very fun, and I think it’s very competitive. Not to mention, there’s something very, very satisfying to the Timmy in me about flashing in an early game Kalonian Hydra on my opponent’s turn. I can’t wait to win games like this. Going forward, I’ll be happy for more spoilers and more input on the deck. Feel free to leave any constructive input you may have!