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Beating the Worlds Metagame with Simic Flash

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Four Jeskai Fires decks.

Four Temur Reclamation decks.

Four Mono-Red Aggro decks.

Three Azorius Control decks.

One Jund Food deck.

The metagame at the Magic World Championship last weekend was a fairly open and balanced one, but mostly centered around four main decks. Jeskai Fires, perhaps the biggest surprise of the event, and Temur Reclamation both slotted in as pseudo-Combo decks, Mono Red took the Aggro slot, while Azorius Control filled the traditional control role admirably. Kanister surprised everyone by bringing Jund Food to the event, but was not paid off for his rogue choice.

Having the powers of hindsight and exact metagame breakdown, do you know what deck would have crushed this event?

Nightpack Ambusher
Frilled Mystic
Brineborn Cutthroat

Old school Simic Flash.


Simic Flash is a deck that feels more like a Legacy deck than a Standard deck. It plays cheap threats and countermagic, is nimble and able to play entirely on your opponent's turn, and utilizes an extremely powerful rare in Nightpack Ambusher that no other deck can. The issue is that Simic Flash plays great from ahead but poorly from behind, as smart players who are ahead on board will never play into your Frilled Mystics and will make life very difficult for you.

Looking at the Worlds metagame, what deck is actually trying to get ahead on the board quickly? Mono-Red Aggro is the only aggressive deck in the field, and they are very soft to Nightpack Ambusher and you get to bring in four Aether Gust and more in post board games where they don't gain much. You're realistically not beating Jund Food, but against every other deck you're a slight favorite to a heavy favorite. Good luck trying to resolve Elspeth Conquers Death or Kenrith, the Returned King against the Quench deck.

Mystical Dispute

We also get to maindeck Mystical Dispute, which will be phenomenal against the majority of the field and will be a mediocre Mana Leak the other times that still isn't that bad.

General Deck Notes

Simic Flash is not an easy deck to play. Like Delver of Secrets decks in Legacy you will be playing with cards that are weaker on average than your opponents. Your greatest strength is that you cards are cheaper and more flexible than your opponent's cards, giving you a large amount of maneuverability in the early turns to set up a board. Once you are ahead your opponent is forced to play into your countermagic to try and get back in the game.

Your number one goal is to get yourself into a spot where you are ahead on the board. This is the priority above all others, as the deck doesn't have the raw power to overcome an early deficit. Cards like Brazen Borrower and Unsummon can steal some initiative back, as can an army of wolf tokens, but you should be evaluating your opponent's threats in the early game and avoiding "shields down" moments as often as possible. Knowing what each deck is capable of on each turn is a huge part of this.

Thankfully, this strategy lines up perfectly against the majority of the format. Most decks aren't attacking you until turn four or later, if at all, while also having considerable set up on the early turns that doesn't really effect the board.

We'll be discussing more specific strategy in each matchup guide.

Matchup And Sideboard Guide

Azorius Control

Teferi, Time Raveler
Dream Trawler
Shatter the Sky


With a win at the World Championship as well as wins in almost every other Standard event since Theros Beyond Death released, it's safe to say that Azorius Control is the de facto "best deck" in the format. This is good news for us, as we line up very well against them.

Their most important card against us is Teferi, Time Raveler and you must do everything possible to keep him off the battlefield at all costs. With three copies each of Quench and Mystical Dispute we should be able to handle even turn three Teferi on the play with a good amount of consistency.

Otherwise your goal is to get a threat or two into play as early as possible and untap. Once you have all of your mana open and a threat in play your opponent is forced to make the first move and play into you. Cards like Shatter the Sky, Elspeth Conquers Death, and Dream Trawler are all very easy to answer with your countermagic, just be aware of each and when they come online.

Sideboarding:

In:

Out:

While things are fairly easy in Game 1, things get a little more difficult in Game 2. They get to shave down their expensive sorcery speed spells for Mystical Dispute and other cheap interaction. We cut some of our one-ofs as well as go down on Frilled Mystic which is weak to Mystical Dispute.

The game will slow down a bit as each player jockeys for position, making Spectral Sailor very important. You can sit back on Sailor and draw cards whenever your opponent doesn't play into you, and they can't really punish you on their end step if you tap out to draw cards.

Play carefully, answer Teferi at all costs, and you've got yourself a skill intensive but favorable matchup.

Jeskai Fires

Fires of Invention
Teferi, Time Raveler
Cavalier of Flame


The surprise deck of Worlds, Jeskai Fires is a deck that wants to play four and five mana spells all at sorcery speeds. Sounds like a dream matchup to me!

Like Azorius Control, their most important cards against you is Teferi, Time Raveler by a significant margin. However unlike Azorius Control, beyond Teferi Jeskai Fires is far lighter on interaction that actually matters. Their usual method of dealing with problems is brute forcing their way through with Fires of Invention and powerful creatures. If you are able to contain Fires of Invention you will easily be able to answer their threats on a one for one basis.

Stick a threat or two and ride it to victory. Aside from a few scant copies of Brazen Borrower or Bonecrusher Giant, they are unlikely to be able to interact much at instant speed.

Sideboarding:

In:

Out:

Postboard games are very different depending on how they sideboard against you. If they're just bringing in some extra removal and Mystical Dispute you can play a normal game, but many Jeskai Fires players are employing a semi-transformational sideboard plan involving Legion Warboss and/or Robber of the Rich. If this is the case you can go all the way up to four Aether Gust to help control the early turns of the game. Trim down more on Frilled Mystic if necessary because it plays poorly against Mystical Dispute and is your clunkiest card.

Remember what matters most is Teferi, Time Raveler, so don't deal with a Legion Warboss at the expense of letting them resolve Teferi. The more early threats they play the less land drops and cards they have for the late game, and they're likely to have boarded our Deafening Clarion allowing you to get on the board to defend without fear.

Play tight and don't be caught off guard by sideboard jukes and you've got yourself a very good matchup.

Temur Reclamation

Wilderness Reclamation
Growth Spiral

Expansion // Explosion


Temur Reclamation is perhaps the deck that does the most rawly powerful things in the format, but requires a decent amount of setup. The games they don't have Growth Spiral they can struggle to gain traction early, and the need to tap four mana on their main phase to resolve Wilderness Reclamation makes them vulnerable to countermagic.

While they don't have Teferi, Time Raveler and therefore lack a key interactive element, they do have the ability to do a lot of interacting at instant speed. This makes tapping out against them more difficult, even at the end of their turn.

Try to untap with an early threat and deny them the ability to get their engine online. Don't be afraid to Mystical Dispute or Quench an early Growth Spiral! Your soft counters will go dead in the mid to late game, and mana advantage is their biggest edge against you.

Sideboarding:

In:

Out:

Like Jeskai Fires, Temur Reclamation has a number of different sideboard strategies they can employ, up to and including Robber of the Rich and/or Legion Warboss. They can go as far as to completely cut Wilderness Reclamation and Expansion // Explosion and become a pseudo-flash deck. Some even board Nightpack Ambusher to completely flip the switch.

Thankfully Aether Gust is good against almost all of these plans, and your plan doesn't change too much. Slow them down and establish a board, while trying to clock them and deal with threats as they come.

How the matchup plays out will vary wildly based on how your opponent sideboards and plays, so be prepared to be flexible.

Mono-Red Aggro

Embercleave
Fervent Champion
Runaway Steam-Kin


You would think that the Mono-Red Aggro deck would crush the tempo deck playing four copies of Cancel and four copies of Mystic Snake, but the matchup is surprisingly not bad.

The current versions of Mono-Red Aggro in Standard play out more like combo-beatdown decks than traditional "Red Deck Wins" style burn-aggro decks. The early creatures aren't that impressive, there's very little burn, and most of the power is centralized in Embercleave, Runaway Streamkin, and Anax, Hardened In The Forge. Because of this, if you can mount a ground-based defense and deal with Embercleave, you can be surprisingly effective against them. Most of the Worlds lists even cut Shock because it's so poor in most other matchups, further improving the matchup for us.

The biggest factor however is how poorly they line up against Nightpack Ambusher. Get a Nightpack Ambusher in play and untap, and you're a heavy favorite to win. Aside from double Stomp combinations it is almost impossible for Mono-Red to remove Nightpack Ambusher from the battlefield outside of combat. And please, make note of "outside of combat"! It may be tempting to block their Fervent Champion and get some card advantage, but don't open yourself up to awkward combinations of Infuriate, Rimrock Knight, and Shock or whatever. Don't risk it unless you absolutely have to.

Sideboard:

In:

Out:

Postboard they may have a few answers for Nightpack Ambusher, but you can a whole suite of great interaction. Threnody Singer eats all of their early creatures, while your package of Aether Gust and countermagic can deal with everything else. Get either Nightpack Ambusher or a large Brineborn Cutthroat going and take it down. Their curve just isn't low enough to reliably get under you.

Despite how it might look in theory, I believe you are favored in the postboard games as long as they are playing the Standard version of the deck. If they're super low to the ground with tons of extra 1-drops things can be a bit harder.

Other Matchups

That is the primary spread of the format coming out of Worlds. The catch is that Simic Flash does not line up well against some of the fringe decks of the format.

Mayhem Devil
Witch's Oven

Specifically, beating Jund Food or Rakdos Sacrifice is extremely difficult. I have played this deck in a SCG Tour Open as well as a PTQ and have had the displeasure of playing against Rakdos Sacrifice matchup in both events and they have you covered on almost every axis.

Your goal in these types of poor matchups is to try to keep good hands, play right, and lean hard on Nightpack Ambusher to bail you out as the most powerful card in your deck.

There's gotta be a cost for having a great matchup against the top decks of the format, and that's suffering against the fringe. However the majority is such for a reason, putting you in a great spot until the metagame shifts again.

If you're looking for an edge in your upcoming event or ladder grind, Simic Flash will put you in a great spot against the best players playing the best decks and that's a great place to be.

Besides, what's more fun than just saying go every turn?

Look for a full gameplay video of me playing this deck right here on CoolStuffInc.com this coming Monday in my usual video article!

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