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Starting Standard Sultai

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This past week, I had the privilege of playing in the MTG Arena Early Access streamer event for Throne of Eldraine. It was my first chance to try out the new cards in Standard and to test out some new decks and ideas. We lose a ton of cards with Ixalan, Rivals of Ixalan, Dominaria, and Core Set 2019 all leaving the format at the same time, but we still have five Standard legal sets, with Throne of Eldraine adding a lot to the format.

The first deck I looked at and tried out - obviously - was a sweet Sultai deck by Yoman5, and that's the deck I want to take a closer look at today. You can also find a video of us piloting the deck to some success at the bottom of the article.


The basic premise of the deck was to make a good number of food tokens, then take advantage of them with things like Oko, Thief of Crowns, Gilded Goose, and Wicked Wolf. I loved the deck, but I didn't feel like many of the cards were optimal after piloting it a bit, and ironically, even then it still performed well before we made any of our changes. For example, Yarok, the Desecrated only interacts with Gilded Goose (unexcitedly), District Guide, and our single Golgari Findbroker. That's just not a very impressive package when things like Jadelight Ranger and Ravenous Chupacabra are gone. I guess we also get double scrys off of our lands, but that also seems unexciting.

Let's take a look at the deck we finally ended up at and we'll explain our changes below.


Oko, Thief of Crowns
This was the final list we arrived at after playing a good number of matches with the deck, and as you can see, there were quite a few changes made to the deck.

One of the first things I did was cut District Guide for two copies of Leyline Prowler. This also allowed us to cut the Guildgates for two more Temples. The reason for this was that I didn't think Yarok was super effective in the deck, and that basically meant that District Guide wasn't that effective in the deck. For 3 mana I would rather ramp us than draw a single land, especially if the creature ramping us has 3 toughness, deathtouch, and lifelink. One thing that I considered is that this leaves the deck with too much ramp, considering we now have four Gilded Goose, four Paradise Druid, and two Leyline Prowler, but it didn't seem to affect us too greatly, especially since a lot of those creatures have other uses and roles to play.

I love Oko, Thief of Crowns. I think it's one of the strongest planeswalkers printed in quite some time. That being said, this deck has a lot of things to do around turn three, and the last thing you want to do is draw multiple copies of Oko that are just going to sit in your hand. While the card is extremely strong, we do want some amount of variety, thus we went down to three copies.

Wicked Wolf
I replaced the two Find // Finality with two copies of Assassin's Trophy, because of the ridiculous versatility of the card, along with the fact that I didn't feel like Find // Finality was doing very much for us. Our deck doesn't have a ton of creatures that we care to get back, and I often wished I was able to get a planeswalker back instead. I wouldn't mind having another copy of Golgari Findbroker in here somewhere with that being the case.

I did add another copy of Wicked Wolf because I think it has amazing synergy with all the food tokens we make and it definitely does a great Ravenous Chupacabra impersonation that's much larger and harder to kill. I could even see playing all four copies, or even playing some number of Questing Beast in here as well. There are a ton of powerful Sultai creatures that we could take advantage of in the new set, including things like Brazen Borrower, so I think there's a ton of experimentation that could still be done here.

Once Upon a Time
Another addition I made for the sake of having more endgame threats was adding two copies of Cavalier of Night. This is a great use for cards like Paradise Druid or Gilded Goose when they're no longer useful to us, allowing us to kill any creature we'd like or need. When the Cavalier dies, we can easily get something like a Gilded Goose or a Leyline Prowler back, which is nice, although this is another situation where I wished we had a better payoff target. Cavalier of Thorns could also be an option here, as being able to put a Garruk, Cursed Huntsman or a Hydroid Krasis back on top of your library could easily turn a game around.

One thing I wasn't actually sure about was the Once Upon a Time. The card is amazing, don't get me wrong, but taking up four slots in the deck is definitely noticeable. If we simply removed them from the deck, we could much more easily fit a higher number and variety of threats, like the Questing Beasts and the Brazen Borrowers we were just referring to. I know the card is powerful, but I'm not sure if we want to be taking the time to cast it for 2 mana, especially when it's another cards that can't hit the planeswalkers in our deck, and we're losing some amount of variety cost by playing the full four copies. If we were playing fewer lands in order to try and hit a "free" land on turn one, that would be one thing, but that's not entirely the case. The first copy we cast for free is great; I'm just not sure about the remaining three copies.

The Planeswalker Predicament

Another thing I want to touch on is that there are currently three very good six-mana planeswalkers that a deck like this could utilize: Garruk, Cursed Huntsman; Liliana, Dreadhorde General; and Ugin, the Ineffable.

All three of these are extremely powerful and I wasn't really sure which combination to use. Ultimately I chose two Garruk and one Liliana, but I think any combination you choose could be useful. All three create bodies, have a way to destroy things, and easily draw you cards. I think in the upcoming Standard format there's going to be a real discussion as to which is the best in a deck that is running both Black and Green, as I think they all have merit. I think Garruk is going to be better in decks that have more creatures to utilize his ultimate ability. Liliana is going to be better in more controlling decks where you want to remove multiple opposing creatures. I'm not sure where Ugin would be the best option, but I do think his 2/2 creature ability is the best in terms of sheer advantage.

As I mentioned earlier, if you're interested, you can see the deck in action here:

As always, thanks so much for reading, everyone. I would love to hear what you all have in mind for Standard or what you think the deck might need or be missing, so be sure and let me know in the comments. Also, remember to use promo code FRANK5 for 5% your CoolStuffInc purchases. I love you guys, and I'll see you next week!

Frank Lepore

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