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Renovating the Brews


You can't always make new decks. Sometimes you got to renovate the brews! Last weekend, I played in a local $1,000 team event. Since I've been brewing and playing mostly Standard, I was our Standard pilot for the event. I knew I wanted to play one of the two decks I've been writing about, either Mastermind Ramp or a tuned version of Darryl's Temur Ramp deck to accommodate the ever shifting Standard meta. I played with both decks online and began to switch some numbers around. Today's article is going to focus on those two decks and the updates I've made to both to help their win percentage.

For the life of me I couldn't get my win percentage to what it used to be with Mastermind Ramp. I wasn't winning nearly as much. A big part of that was people adapting to Carnage Tyrant and becoming more grindy. By this I mean they were just too well equipped to play a longer game or had Vizier of Many Faces to counter Carnage Tyrant. Another part was Mardu Vehicles, one of our better matchups, just wasn't as popular as it once was. When you're a ramp deck heavy on removal and are matched against the grindy / card advantage decks all the time, things aren't going to be good for you. Much like Rihanna, I began to Work, very explicitly.

This is where I ended up.

I changed things. That's what you do when you update decks for metagames! I removed the Carnage Tyrants completely, but I also did not want to lose to Carnage Tyrant at the same time. This meant as a coach, I put Gonti, Lord of Luxury back into the main deck. Gonti isn't enough on his own to stop Carnage Tyrant, so I changed the mana base to support a couple of Fumigates. This was not only an out to Carnage Tyrant,but it also helped our worst creature deck matchup, rg monsters.

Like the Itsy-Bitsy Spider, my win percentage slowly began to crawl back up the water spout. Though, I was still running out of fuel, it was very possible to just flood out with lands. Thaumatic Compass wasn't nearly as good as it once was with The Scarab God decks popping up everywhere. Maze of Ith is medium to bad against The Scarab God, Gifted Aetherborn, Gonti, Whirler Virtuoso, Thopter tokens, and Glint-Sleeve Siphoner. I still wanted the Compass, but I no longer wanted two. Instead, I opted to play a couple of Azor's Gateway to give the deck ways to filter out lands and potential dead cards in the matchup. Flipping Gateway into Sanctum of the Sun was just a free win because the deck always had so much to do with its mana and Sanctum of the Suns gave you a S&*# ton of mana!

While these changes helped, I still felt lacking in the card advantage department. So, I decided to shave on Gift of Paradise and add a couple of Spring // Mind and an Immortal Sun. This way our ramp spells later in the game turned to card advantage. By adding The Immortal Sun we could then punish players mid to late game for Abrading our Azor's Gateways. I had then finally come to a list I was happy with.

Azor's Gateway
The deck performed very well in the tournament and my only loss came from arguably the best Standard player, Brad Nelson. Our Game 1 and 2s were blowouts in each other's favor (he mulliganed to five in Game 1 and I did the same in Game 2.) Game 3 he was able to take over the game with a turn two Arguel's Blood Fast. That Blood Fast ended up drawing him eight cards before I could find an Hour of Promise, Gonti, my own Blood Fast, or an Azor's Gateway. He was able to just slam the door shut in my face with his plethora of cards.

I will say this, one of the strongest things about this deck is your opponent not knowing what you could possibly do or Mastermind's Acquisition for. I know Brad in our games had a Doomfall that he just held forever for a Carnage Tyrant that I was not playing. Same was true for future opponent and Vizier of Many Faces. The unknown can be powerful and scary so keep your opponent's guessing by switching up your sideboard from time to time. It really does work and gives you an advantage.

The other list I was contemplating sleeving up for the tournament was Temur Ramp deck. This deck had the opposite problem from Mastermind Ramp. It just had too many big spells and you often died with a bunch of cards in your hand that you couldn't cast. I tuned that list as well, and while I ultimately choose to play Mastermind Ramp, this one was pretty good as well.

Shaving some top end cards like Swarm Intelligence and Nezahal, Primal Tide for more board wipes like Sweltering Suns and the third Hour of Devastation went a long way. I also ended up cutting Harnessed Lighting for Abrade and a Cut // Ribbons. Abrade helped against God-Pharaoh's Gift decks and killed Heart of Kirans. While we don't have too many creatures with 4 toughness, we do cut some that need to be killed and Abrade can't finish the job, like Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca.

The deck still has a ton of card advantage in Mind, Memory, The Immortal Sun, and Sunbird's Invocation, but overall it has a few less win conditions. The Locust God, Hour of Promise, and Sandwurm Convergence are your best ways to close out Game 1. Ribbons is another way to deal some damage late game, but you can only cast it with the help of Gift of Paradise. That is fine with us, though, since we are playing the split card for Cut anyway.

This deck is a solid option if you want to ramp into massive things, but it is overall weaker to aggressive strategies so if that's what you have where you play, you might want to play Mastermind Ramp since it has better overall results against aggressive decks. However, this deck packs more punch against midrange decks since it does have a lot of ways to generate card advantage. Having access to Negate is another reason to play this deck since Negate is such a powerful card against other ramp strategies, control, tokens, and Approach decks.

I know some of you wanted a new deck or a new brew, but I really don't want to just give you lists that will fall on their face. I'd rather test my new decks so that when you decide to play the deck, it will do well for you. Don't be afraid to change and try new things in these lists if they aren't working for you where you're playing. If your meta is very aggressive, then you can easily add more removal or some sort of life gain. If the opposite is true and all you see are The Scarab God decks or Approach of the Second Sun decks, then change things up and add some hand disruption, countermagic, or more card advantage.

I hope you've enjoyed these updates to these lists. I've had people message me on Twitter or Tweet at me. If you have questions or concerns, feel free to do that. I try to respond as quickly as I can!

As always, thank you for reading!

Ali Aintrazi

Follow me @AliEldrazi

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