Hey Everyone! It has been a hot minute since I wrote a Magic: The Gathering article, but the release of Kaldheim has really rekindled my love for the game and I just had to share some words about this deck. Both Mutate and trickery flash creatures are some of my favorite things in Magic and this deck marries these two ideas together in a shell that is quite reasonable in the current Standard format.
Let's start with taking a look at my current decklist:
U/B Mutate Flash | KHM Standard | Jeff Hoogland
- Creatures (22)
- 2 Pouncing Shoreshark
- 4 Brazen Borrower
- 4 Dirge Bat
- 4 Sea-Dasher Octopus
- 4 Slitherwisp
- 4 Threnody Singer
- Instants (11)
- 2 Disdainful Stroke
- 2 Jwari Disruption
- 2 Malakir Rebirth
- 2 Negate
- 3 Heartless Act
- Enchantments (4)
- 4 Omen of the Sea
- Lands (23)
- 7 Island
- 7 Swamp
- 1 Castle Locthwain
- 1 Castle Vantress
- 3 Zagoth Triome
- 4 Clearwater Pathway
- Sideboard (15)
- 2 Mystical Dispute
- 3 Eliminate
- 2 Negate
- 2 Omen of the Dead
- 2 Disdainful Stroke
- 4 Dead Weight
At the core this is a "Tempo" deck, which is to say it is a deck that is capable of generating aggressively slanted draws on occasion while also interacting with the opponent. While some of our cards are individually a bit weak, we are able to overcome this thanks to our two sources of card advantage:
Games where either of these two creatures stay in play over multiple turns are generally ones that we are able to win handily. They generate a constant flow of cards, which in turn often draw more cards. Slitherwisp in particular is quickly lethal in multiple since it drains our opponent every time we draw a card with it.
While Sea-Dasher Octopus has to connect in combat to draw a card, it also serves an additional purpose in this deck of being a cheap mutate enabler for some of our other threats:
While Dirge Bat looks clunky and expensive on the surface, you almost never want to mutate it for 6, enabling its removal text by attaching a two mana Sea-Dasher Octopus to it is quite good. Making it draw a card with Slitherwisp is also fantastic. Dirge Bat's stat line is also very good in the adventure matchups since its third point of toughness lets it dodge Stomp, and it has little enough attack to avoid Chop Down.
Pouncing Shoreshark is our second best mutate enabler and attaching it to Dirge Bat to bounce one thing while killing something else is often a game winning amount of tempo against creature decks.
Our last two threats disrupt our opponents, while also providing additional pressure and bodies to mutate on to:
Threnody Singer might not look like much on the surface, but it's stat line and enter play effect are key to surviving against the aggressive decks in the format. It generally trades two for one in combat against small creature decks and its third point of toughness makes it an ideal target for Sea-Dasher Octopus against Stompy decks (just be sure to mutate Sea-Dasher underneath it).
Brazen Borrower needs no introduction really. Bouncing problem permanents or large threats to help us win races, while also applying pressure with 3 evasive power is fantastic.
Because it is so important to find our sources of card advantage, or keep them in play when we do, we also play a variety of tools to find and protect our threats:
Omen of the Sea not only digs for our threats, it also doubles as a flash spell that draws us an additional card when Slitherwisp is in play. Malakir Rebirth lets us cheat on our land count a little bit, while also providing an efficient way to save our threats. Note that when you rebirth a mutated stack of creatures the entire stack comes back into play as separate creatures.
Finally, our main deck has a smattering of flexible answers to disrupt our opponents in various ways:
The following is how I would sideboard with my current list against the top decks in the format as well as some general notes about what I believe is important in each matchup.
VS Sultai Ulti / Doom Foretold / Control
This matchup is all about getting one of our sources of card advantage into play and keeping it there. Whenever possible, we want to wait to deploy our Sea-Dasher and Slitherwisps until we can draw a card with them right away. Don't forget that Sea-Dasher Octopus can be played out as a threat on its own to start drawing cards.
One thing to keep in mind when mutating in this matchup is diversifying your mana costs in terms of even and odd to try and mitigate the impact of Extinction Event. Trying to avoid putting all your card drawing eggs into one basket is also important - so try to avoid putting Sea-Dasher onto Slitherwisp if you don't have protection.
Speaking of protection - when you are picking your fights in this matchup - you almost always want to let your non-card advantage threats die. If you have multiple card advantage threats and are light on counter spells it can often be correct to save your interaction to stop their big play instead of protecting your board. Games in this matchup tend to go long and we can even go toe to toe with a resolved Emergent Ultimatum on occasion.
Despite not having access to any graveyard hate I actually think this matchup is pretty reasonable for us. We have removal for their creature threats and counter Magic for their Zenith Flares. Slitherwisp is definitely our best card here since it lets us kill them through a board stall while also generating card advantage.
VS White / Red Aggro
- 4 Dead Weight
- 3 Eliminate
These matchups can be tough Game 1 if you do not know what you are playing against, but overall are very close. Threnody Singer is easily our best card in these matchups - making combat profitable for us early, while also being a body to mutate onto as the game goes longer. Post board getting to bring in a slew of efficient removal in Dead Weight feels very good.
VS Naya Toski Adventures
- 4 Dead Weight
- 2 Eliminate
The Toski Adventures deck is the best of the adventures matchups for us. Their clock doesn't tend to be very fast and post board we have four copies of Dead Weight to kill their Toskis. When possible, prioritize saving a copy of Dead Weight for Toski because the card advantage the squirrel can generate is one of their ways to steal the game.
VS Naya Dragon / Temur Adventures
The "go bigger" cards in the Dragon and Temur versions of Adventure can give us trouble at times. The biggest issue I've had with these matchups is that there is a real risk that your answers just don't line up into their threats. Sometimes you draw Eliminates while they kill you with Goldspan Dragons and other times you draw Disdainful Strokes while they have Edgewall Innkeepers and Lovestruck Beasts.
The matchup isn't unwinnable by any means, but the games you lose do tend to feel awkward.
VS RB Midrange / Sac
This matchup feels reasonable. If you can prevent them from running you down in the early game, our card advantage tends to be able to overpower them in the late game. Similar to the control matchups trying to keep a card advantage threat on the board long term is key to victory.
While Negate and Disdainful Stroke have decent hits in this matchup, I don't think either is good enough to warrant bringing in additional copies out of the sideboard. Something to keep in mind as well is that if you mutate a Dirge Bat or Pouncing Shoreshark over a three-mana creature in response to Claim the Firstborn - you effectively counter their spell.
VS UB Rogues
To be honest - I haven't played a ton against Rogues with this list to date. I expect the matchup is likely close, but it will probably feel frustrating to play against as is often the case playing against Rogues. My biggest piece of advice is don't be afraid to play your flash threats at sorcery speed when they are tapped out to get around their counter magic. When possible also try to save your counterspells for their Into the Story so they can't generate card advantage.
All in all, I have been really loving this Standard format. While there are definitely stand out decks on top of the field - none of them feel overbearing. With proper deck-building there are a number of good tools to let you attack these archetypes like we do here with this Blue/Black Mutate Flash deck. I hope you enjoy playing this deck as much as I have! If you are interested in seeing it in action check out my recent tournament run with it on my YouTube channel here.