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Quest for Ula's Potential


In this experiment, we quest for an undersea temple, the potential of which I hope one day surfaces.

Quest for Ula's Temple
About a year ago, I wrote about Quest for Ula's Temple during previews for Born of the Gods. It was a great time for the Worldwake enchantment, as the Greek-mythology-inspired world of Theros was filled with Krakens, Leviathans, Octopuses, and Serpents. I occasionally run across cards that have great combo potential but that just need a little more oomph from surrounding cards to reach their potential.

And Quest for Ula's Temple is one such card. In my previous article, I explored the Quest alongside some of Theros and Born of the Gods’s new cards in the form of Sealock Monster, Thassa, God of the Sea, Tromokratis, Kiora, the Crashing Wave, and Whelming Wave. Those don’t all provide direct mechanical synergy, but the theme is there, and even Commune with the Gods was a new option that provided some consistency.

But still, our blue Quest has a few things working against it. First, it requires a lot of setup. We need to have filled our deck with creatures in order to consistently gain counters with its trigger. Delver of Secrets works in similar territory in that it wants instants and sorceries on the top of our library, but the difference, of course, is that those spells can be used to back up the high-powered, evasive, and cheap Insectile Aberration. The creatures Quest for Ula's Temple wants to be played with are massive, uncastable denizens of the sea. We can play different creatures instead, but we’ll still need at least some big creatures to make the Quest worthwhile.

And that brings up the second thing working against it. The Krakens, Leviathans, Octopuses, and Serpents we drop onto the battlefield need to make all the setup worthwhile. Inkwell Leviathan is probably the best option, with Stormtide Leviathan coming in close behind it. The new Pearl Lake Ancient can be a strong finisher for control decks in smaller formats, but its relatively lower power and lack of evasion work against it. In terms of working directly with the Quest, its flash, uncounterability, and prowess are highly mitigated—we want to play fewer noncreature spells because of the Quest, so we probably won’t be triggering prowess much. However, having a Quest online means we won’t need as much mana, and using the Ancient’s activated ability to avoid opposing removal just might let it make the cut.

Here’s the Legacy-style deck I tried to put together based on these concepts.

One thing you might notice immediately is the extremely low land count. The plan is to cast Quest for Ula's Temple on turn one or two and then not have lands in the library to mess with the potential for quest counters. That means we want to find creatures that function as mana sources.

Elvish Spirit Guide
Dryad Arbor is land with summoning sickness, and it’s a creature when we reveal it with the Quest. Elvish Spirit Guide is a creature that provides mana. It only provides g once, but that can also be used to accelerate us a bit. Wild Cantor costs mana upfront, but it can then transform into any color of mana, which is useful when we need w or u for Enlightened Tutor, Quest for Ula's Temple, Clockspinning, Sage of Epityr, or Deep-Sea Kraken’s suspend.

The next category I have is for creatures that don’t provide or transform mana upfront, but that, after a small investment, provide mana turn after turn to help compensate for the small mana base. These creatures are Deathrite Shaman, Noble Hierarch, and Birds of Paradise, all of which have plenty of pedigree.

Enlightened Tutor will help us find Quest for Ula's Temple. I considered Worldly Tutor to find wayward lands, fetch important creatures, and ensure a creature on top of the library for our Quest, but with so many creatures already in the deck, I didn’t figure that last bit was super-important, and I decided to choose between Worldly Tutor and Enlightened Tutor. And only one of those will actually find us the Quest we need.

As for finding important creatures, Fauna Shaman is here for that. I’m not sure exactly what we’ll need at any given time, but I can imagine needing a particular sea creature—or having excess of them that I want to trade in.

Sage of Epityr and Clockspinning are a couple of 1-mana blue cards from Time Spiral that both happened to make their ways into this deck. Sage of Epityr is like a terrible Brainstorm in creature form, but being a creature is important, and we can find our Quest or a land we need and then shuffle away what we don’t want with fetch lands. Clockspinning is like a 1-mana proliferate spell, which is exactly what I was looking for. Is it worth it? It’s probably not, but I like the idea of accelerating Quest for Ula's Temple by a turn—or more if we have more Clockspinnings.

Finally, we have our Krakens, Leviathans, and Serpents. (Unfortunately, no Octopuses made the cut.) I already covered most them earlier, but I’ll note that Deep-Sea Kraken also made it in at a full four because of its ability to be useful without an active Quest. For only 2u, we can suspend it, and whenever our opponent casts a spell, its arrival is expedited. And its 6/6 unblockable body is pretty respectable.

What Are You Waiting For?

I think the deck about could be pretty interesting and fun, but it certainly doesn’t seem viable in competitive Legacy. As I discussed, I think Quest for Ula's Temple has potential, but it’s missing a few things to really let it realize that potential.

It’s a 1-mana enchantment that has the ability to let us circumvent huge amounts of mana. That sounds like a recipe for a strong combo deck. So what are we waiting for?

The first drawback I covered is that we have to fill our deck with creatures. That means we really want cheap, efficient creatures that replace various needs decks have, such as mana and card selection. Smarter and more dedicated deck-builders than I may search for and discover such creatures. For example, maybe Shriekmaw and Ingot Chewer are worthwhile. But new creatures of the future that can fill the role of Brainstorm better than the likes of Sage of Epityr would be perfect.

In addition, a creature that was anything like an Elvish Spirit Guide for u would be amazing. The further we can push this deck toward looking a bit like manaless Dredge, I think, the better.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, a strong Quest for Ula's Temple deck would really love more powerful Krakens, Leviathans, Octopuses, and Serpents. Theros block was great and all, but what I think has the potential to push the Quest over the edge more than any other possible future-printed card is a creature with the requisite creature type that has the approximate power level of Griselbrand, Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, or Progenitus. Simic Sky Swallower was great for a while, but it was essentially replaced by Inkwell Leviathan, and I think we’re ready for the next step. It’s only a matter of time.

Maybe Quest for Ula's Temple will always require too much setup cost, and maybe even once the cards it really needs are inevitably printed, the other format options will have grown restrictively more powerful, but I think a card that can discount us so much mana deserves some respect.

Andrew Wilson


fissionessence at hotmail dot com

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