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Move Over for Tatyova


Tatyova, Benthic Druid
When I did my 75% set review for this set, I omitted what is becoming my favorite card of the set. Looking back into the distant past of two weeks ago, it's tough to remember why I left this card out. Is it because it was too obviously good or because I just skipped over it? It's hard to say so many days later. What I can say is that this card is pretty obviously good and, at first glance, it likely gets glossed over in a set review focused on finding cards that embody 75% principles because it doesn't, really. In fact, it butts right up against one of our principles and is sort of an anti-75% card when you think about it. We're trying to introduce a little bit of inconsistency into our game so we won't win 100% of the time against people with more casual decks. The inconsistency is not really designed to make us lose, though -- we all know that. We're not so altruistic. The real reason we include some inconsistency into the deck is to reduce linearity. We want a toolbox full of answers, not a freight train full of identical cargo, on one track, headed in one direction toward bad metaphor town victory.

Looking at Tatyova, Benthic Druid, it's sort of easy to see how she could steer us toward a really linear deck approach. Remember my last Simic deck? It was Kydele and Thrasios and I played four games with it, won all of them, and took the deck apart. It's not even because I won every game, it was because I HATED every game. "I could win any number of ways with this deck" I said, attaching Umbral Mantle to Kydele, playing Brainstorm and Frantic Search and generating infinite colorless mana which I filtered through Thrasios to draw my entire deck and win with Laboratory Maniac. "For example, I also could have decked all of you with Blue Sun's Zenith or Capsized all of your permanents until you conceded." If you're looking to not win with boring old Laboratory Maniac, why are we playing a commander that will draw us all of the cards? Maybe, though, that's not the question we should be asking.

It's clear I want to build a Tatyova deck and it's clear I'm going to do it even if I end up tearing it apart in a few weeks. To avoid that embarrassing situation, I am going to set out to make sure the deck isn't boring and linear. Also, if I start to tune the deck, I don't want to find that if I remove substandard cards and replace them with good cards, the deck naturally ends up being my Kydele and Thrasios deck. Building a Laboratory Maniac deck and not including Laboratory Maniac isn't a recipe for an exciting deck, it's a recipe for a bad deck and 75% doesn't mean terrible. If we want a 75% deck with a commander like Tatyova who is just itching to be built as a Laboratory Maniac deck, I think we need a different approach entirely so we don't end up making four or five card substitutions and realizing we're a bad Laboratory Maniac deck.

I want to avoid the following things, then.

  1. Infinite Mana. That just leads to us winning with Thrasios. I want to draw more cards than my opponents and win the game because I got a lot of card advantage, not because I drew my entire deck.
  2. Drawing my whole deck. See above. Actually, I don't mind drawing my whole deck, I just want to avoid relying on it. If it happens and I don't die to decking, that would be pretty neat. I'll certainly win if I have access to every card in my deck, but if I get there with Tatyova, that means they didn't do anything to stop me at all and this game should end, anyway.
  3. Not having win conditions. You have a lot of ways to make Tatyova draw you extra cards, play extra lands, put lands back into play and get lands out of the yard, drawing you a ton and gaining you some life. How do we win? Not Laboratory Maniac! So how?
  4. I don't want to build a deck where I could take out Tayova, put in Prime Speaker Zegana and play the same way. If I want to build Zegana, I'll do that.

That all sounds really reasonable to me and easy to achieve. Aside from all the ideas I have to make Tatyova a huge advantage engine, I think I know how I want to win the game. Tatyova is a deck that is going to reward us for developing our board. Accordingly, since we're ramping a lot, mass artifact hate seems like it's better in here than in almost any other deck. I'm also going to try Sunder in the deck, if not in this list I publish then for sure in my playgroup to see if I'm murdered for resolving it and dumping my entire board back out with Patron of the Moon and Amulet of Vigor. If you run Sunder, remember it's a Xantid Swarm and not an Ertai's Meddling, Savez? Have a plan. Sunder and win that turn or don't Sunder 't'all.

We want to maximize the benefit of land drops, not win all boringly and not be a Zegana deck. That leaves us needing a 75% build path to approach (or several) and it leaves us needing a way to win. I think "their creatures" plus "Helm of the Host Shenanigans" will get us there. Including Biovisionary in the deck to copy for the win allows us to run Helm, which we love, but also spells like Rite of Replication, which are good on their own but are great for copying creatures. And, hey, since we're a Helm deck, why not be all-in on ETB effects? Everything from Coiling Oracle to Avenger of Zendikar is busted with Helm. I can't help it if Simic good stuff happens to also be Simic synergy! Acidic Slime, Panharmonicon, a smattering of mana ramp spells and a few creatures like Meloku the Clouded Mirror and we should be in bidness. I think this deck is going to shape up to be fun to play, distinct from Kydele//Thrasios or Zegana builds and will let me cackle like a madman as I throw Helm of the Host on Mulldrifter. Let's brew, baby, brew.

Tatyova the Top -- Commander | Jason Alt

This looks like a lot of fun to play. I cut Artifacts down to the bone and I am only playing two I can't live without -- I even cut Swiftfoot Boots and Sol Ring, and I actually want my commander to stay around. No matter, added some saucy creatures and went up to 39 lands instead.

I like the "steal stuff" suite in the deck but there is always room for more. If that's how you get down, there are plenty of cute things to cut from the deck to make room for Treachery, Blatant Thievery, Bribery, Vedalken Shackles (you have to reconfigure the lands, but it's worth it). Empress Galina, Thada Adel, Acquisitor -- you have options. As it is, I wanted to find room for Memnarch and that's probably card number 101 and Roil Elemental, Aethersnatch, Desertion et al are going to do work. If you think you need more ways to win with their creatures, add them. Scaling to their deck's level is easy when you have their creatures. Don't be afraid to use Rite of Replication to punish them -- it's cheesy to try and get the Biovisionary win but it's effective. However just use Rite when it's good; don't wait all day to draw Biovisionary.

If you want more artifacts, sure, I get it. You can cut the artifact sweepers and add some. Simic Signet, Thought Vessel, Sol Ring and Swiftfoot Boots want to be in the deck; find room if you want. I don't want, but you might.

You might want to generate more than you can get with just your lands. Feel free to put Paradox Engine combos in the deck, add more mana rocks, add something cheesy like Helix Pinnacle. You run the risk of making Thrasios make the deck kind of linear, but without Laboratory Maniac, you should be OK. Besides, if you make the deck not 75%, that isn't the end of the world, you just make sure you know who you're playing against before you use the deck, that's all.

I think this is a mix of good stuff and synergy stuff and I think it will play well. Most importantly, this wouldn't run as smoothly with a different Simic commander at the helm so I know I built the way I wanted to. We want to get lands into play, we want to blow up their stuff and we want to use the lifegain to take ourselves out of reach. Mess up their plans as much as possible and use the card advantage to win. Let me know how Sunder works out for you!

That does it for me this week. Let me know which Dominaria card you'd like to see highlighted next and don't forget to quibble with me over card choices in the comments - I miss that. Thanks for reading. Until next time!

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