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Counting Counters with Simic Proliferate

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Thrummingbird and Skyship Plunderer make for a great duo. Their identical casting cost and color, paired with their similar abilities, just begs for them to be built around. With so many different types of counters to duplicate, we're sure to have something special by the end of today's article!


Cost: $17 at the time of publication

The Core

Thrummingbird
Our hummingbird and Pirate are the core of the deck, as they make the rest of our fifty-two cards tick. Each being a 2-drop means we can get our engines online early, and the fact that they both fly gives them additional value, even without cards to throw counters onto.

While Plunderer does a little more damage per swing, he can only boost the counter count on one of our permanents. Thrummingbird, however, is the more relevant of the two, as proliferate lets us increase the counters on any number of cards we want.

The Backup

Pollenbright Druid and Tezzeret's Gambit are our one-time counter calculators. Druid can make our fliers bigger for more damage or survivability if needed. A +1/+1 counter on either flier turns them into pseudo sliths, since at that point they each have the option of beefing themselves up every turn that they hit our opponent.

Contagion Clasp provides some interaction with the opponent, allowing us to outright kill small creatures or make larger threats decay until death. The most important ability Clasp provides, though, is the four-cost repeatable proliferation. Unlike our Bird and Pirate, Clasp lets us proliferate outside of the combat phase. Additionally, it's much more difficult to interact with. This does come with a dramatic mana cost as a downside, though.

Evolution Sage is one of the best cards in the deck when Fertilid is played at his side. Without a consistent way to make a land drop every turn, he's nothing special. With Fertilid, though, we get a two-cost proliferate effect that also ramps up our land count every turn Rampant Growth style. This ramp is important considering the mana-hungry nature of the deck (read: Contagion Clasp). Fertilid itself can also become a respectable beater with his natural +1/+1 counters growing off of multiple proliferates every turn.

With all this counter boosting going on, we need to actually have cards with counters to boost! Thallid is our 1-drop of choice. Our bird and pirate can only increase the counter count on cards that already have counters on them. Because of this, Thallid actually has wonderful synergy with either of them, as it gains counters every turn on its own. Combined with the recently reprinted Utopia Mycon, you have a speedy token engine that can get out of hand quickly for any opponent.

Finally, we have our finishers. Making multiple 1/1 tokens every turn is great, but sometimes you need to bring in the big guns. Ravaging Riftwurm and Blastoderm play the role very well. Proliferating every turn makes their Vanishing and Fading drawbacks completely moot. So, we get large, catch-free beatsticks at a fraction of the normal price! Riftwurm is both bigger and less costly than Blastoderm, but the infamous beast from Masques block comes with Shroud, making it an absolute beast (pun intended) for opponents to deal with.

Playing the Deck

Thallid
Thallid and Mycon will be coming down first, so you can get Spore counters on them as soon as possible. I tend to keep my counters on them for as long as possible, even when I have three or more. This makes it more likely that my proliferates will trigger on them, and can make for some interesting combat tricks, since I can create my saprolings at instant speed.

I find Saprazzan Skerry and Hickory Woodlot to be the best lands to set aside for Contagion Clasp activations. When using them to activate Clasp, they gain their counters as soon as they lose them, and you only need two of the lands to make consistent Clasp activations possible.

Remember, Skyship Plunderer's ability targets. This means he can't add fading counters to Blastoderm (if only hexproof existed when Nemesis was printed). Ravaging Riftwurm, however, is completely open to the pirate's gifts. This is important, as vanishing on two means you realistically need to boost his vanishing count within a turn or you risk losing the wurm.

Additional Options

Karn's Bastion, Animation Module,Merfolk Skydiver, Gilder Bairn, Vorel of the Hull Clade, and Plaguemaw Beast are all permanent and repeatable proliferate effects one could play. With the amount of counter addition effects we are already playing, most of these feel unneeded. However, they each have their charm. Bastion is likely the best, but the colorless mana has the potential to hurt your consistency. Merfolk Skydiver gives more +1/+1 counter shenanigans, and could pair well with Fertilid. Finally, Plaguemaw Beast seems great with all of the saprolings we'll be creating. At a mana value of five, though, he might be a bit much for us to try casting.

Private Research, Culling Dais, Sunset Pyramid, Midnight Clock are possible card draw engines you could abuse. Research is interesting in a deck that plays creatures with vanishing and fading, as you could potentially abuse these mechanics to sacrifice the creature at the most opportune turn. Similar to Plaguemaw, Dais wouldn't be too difficult to get online since we could easily sacrifice a saproling or two. Midnight Clock is likely too slow compared to the others, but if you're looking for something flashy to play, I don't think there's many better options out there.

Kazandu Tuskcaller is a fine token spewer, same with Titan Forge and Ominous Seas (callback to our previous article). Any of them could act as an alternative win condition if you're not feeling the wurm or Derm. In this sense, Ludevic's Test Subject feels right at home, too.

As far as additional Fading monsters are concerned, Rusting Golem might be a bit too spicy, but I wouldn't judge anyone for playing some number of Jolting Merfolk or Woodripper, who each would add more interaction with the opponent.

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