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Sultai: Standard and Historic

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Hey everyone!

It's Sultai's world and we're just living in it. Today I'm going to share my updated Standard Sultai list as well as share my thoughts on Sultai in Historic. The next SCG Qualifier is Historic so I am now branching out into the new Arena format.

Zendikar Rising is to be released in a couple weeks, but there are plenty of Arena events featuring Standard before then.

Let's get to it!

Standard


At a high level I'm sticking with the shell I wrote about a couple weeks ago that Ari Lax used to finish second in an SCG Qualifier. The idea is to brute force a haymaker in the mirror while not sacrificing non-Sultai matchups by keeping sweepers in the maindeck.

I've moved down to three Narset because they are weak in non-Sultai matchups. The Sultai decks with a Flash twist are able to attach Narset making it less effective than in the tapout mirror. I don't want to activate Narset only to reveal another Narset.

Extinction Event has gone up in stock because it's a sweeper that exiles opposing Uro. It's weakest in the mirror, but still is threatening enough to be the target of hand disruption or a counter. I was tired of losing to aggro Game 1 when I lost the die roll; a third Extinction Event helped out immensely.

One Mystical Dispute feels odd, but I've liked it a lot in the mirror. It has a chance to go dead in the late game so I don't want to draw more than one. In the past this slot was a single Agonizing Remorse. A single Dispute lines up more effectively against aggressive decks as I can counter a Rankle or Questing Beast.

The card I'm sure you are most curious about is the single Doom Whisperer. This card has been very impressive in the mirror because it avoids Aether Gust and Negate. Surveil 2 is very powerful in a deck with Uro because it can dump several cards in the graveyard to escape and is also a way to use the extra life to find gas in the late game.

Doom Whisperer is also a safe creature to tap out for in the mid game because a 6/6 can kill Nissa or Tamiyo in a single attack. It's a way to generate card advantage that is agnostic to Narset being on the battlefield.

The downside of Doom Whisperer is it's a miss with Narset. Being a creature is also an upside in the case of opposing Thought Distortions.

I tried versions of Sultai without Hydroid Krasis and I always missed having it as a late game haymaker. Even when Narset was nearly ubiquitous in the mirror there were times she could be removed from the battlefield. Don't play less than two.

The mana base is largely stock, but I have yet to be burned by a second Castle Vantress. I've played about fifty matches with two Castle Vantress and it has not entered the battlefield tapped at an inopportune time. I did try Castle Locthwain, but didn't have the triple Black as often to activate. The life loss was also a big deal in non-Sultai matchups.

Since the emergence of Rakdos Sacrifice and Mono-Green Aggro the sideboard has changed.

I don't like to typically play Aether Gust in the sideboard because the Doom Blade effects are more permanent. The reason I now have an Aether Gust is because of Garruk's Harbinger having hexproof from Black. It still manages to put a Shifting Ceratops on top of the deck from the stack.

Wilt has been getting cut recently, but I want to respect Adventures. As Sultai continues to fight the mirror it becomes weaker against some of the less popular decks in the metagame that have a high power ceiling.

I've been happy with a single Thought Distortion. I tried two copies, but I like leaving in the single Casualties of War for the mirror. Three 6-drops is pretty aggressive. I've also resolved Thought Distortion and had it be less than effective in the late game.

Tale's End has been great in the mirror. Think of it as a Negate that misses countering hand disruption, but stops Uro and shark tokens. This is valuable diversification because the mirror can come down to landing a threat to pressure planeswalkers. As much as I like playing Eliminate post board I would rather feel comfortable cutting some copies and Tale's End allows me to do so.

It has been a while since we've seen a good Stifle effect in Standard, but you can counter your own Uro sacrifice trigger. I've never done this myself, but it's an option. Some games can come down to stifling an opposing Fabled Passage as mana is a key constraint in the mirror.

I trimmed down to three Heartless Act in the sideboard because Mono-Green has too many creatures with base toughness and counters. If the opponent begins with Barkhide Troll, Scavenging Ooze, or Pelt Collector it becomes less reliable. Heartless Act is my preferred removal spell against Rakdos Sacrifice because of Rankle. I also still like Heartless Act against Temur Adventures as they kill all of their creatures while Eliminate misses Beanstalk Giant.

Let's get to the sideboarding!

Sultai Mirror

In: 2 Negate, 1 Tale's End, 1 Thought Distortion, 1 Shark Typhoon

Out: 3 Extinction Event, 2 Eliminate

Mono-Red

In: 1 Eliminate, 1 Aether Gust, 2 Enter the God-Eternals, 2 Wilt, 3 Heartless Act, 1 Extinction Event

Out: 3 Thought Erasure, 1 Tamiyo, Collector of Tales, 1 Doom Whisperer, 1 Mystical Dispute, 1 Casualties of War, 3 Narset, Parter of Veils

Mono-Green

In: 3 Heartless Act, 1 Eliminate, 1 Aether Gust, 2 Enter the God-Eternals, 1 Extinction Event

Out: 1 Tamiyo, Collector of Tales, 1 Casualties of War, 3 Narset, Parter of Veils, 2 Thought Erasure, 1 Mystical Dispute

Rakdos Sacrifice

In: 1 Extinction Event, 2 Enter the God-Eternals, 1 Negate, 1 Shark Typhoon, 3 Heartless Act

Out: 2 Aether Gust, 1 Eliminate, 1 Casualties of War, 1 Narset, Parter of Veils, 1 Hydroid Krasis, 2 Thought Erasure

Temur Adventures

In: 1 Extinction Event, 3 Heartless Act, 2 Wilt, 2 Negate

Out: 3 Aether Gust, 2 Eliminate, 1 Doom Whisperer, 1 Mystical Dispute, 1 Narset, Parter of Veils

Zendikar Rising is quickly approaching, but in the meantime Sultai is the deck to play. Give this list a spin.

Historic

If you were already sick of Uro and company in Standard then I have some bad news for you. Uro and a stack of interaction is great in Historic, too.

Here's my current list which was inspired by Andrea Mengucci, who has been crushing it on the Arena ladder.


The overall look of the Historic Sultai deck is very similar to the Standard counterpart.

Growth Spiral remains legal which gives Sultai more of a Ramp feel than Standard.

Thoughtseize was reprinted in Amonkhet Remastered; it's a lot easier to double spell in the early turns when hand disruption costs a single mana.

Maelstrom Pulse is another Amonkhet Remastered reprint. It's a good catch-all interaction spell, but the high cost makes me want just one copy. Remember Pulse destroys your own permanents with the same name, too.

A single Search for Azcanta has been performing well for me. The surveil on upkeep helps fuel Uro and the transformed land is difficult to interact with in the current metagame. Field of Ruin and Casualties of War are pretty rare. It's easy to fill the graveyard thanks to Thoughtseize and Growth Spiral being cast.

Ugin, the Spirit Dragon has been cut from the Standard version of Sultai, but gets the nod in a metagame filled with recursive creature decks. Again, Growth Spiral changes the dynamic of the deck. It's not uncommon to cast the powerful planeswalker on the sixth turn. All you have to do is draw Nissa or two Explore effects. Easy.

Extinction Event continues to be the best black sweeper for Sultai. It's weaker than Wrath of God in a vacuum, but exiling is relevant against Mono-Black Gift and the Sacrifice decks. Exiling Uro in the mirror is also highly relevant just like in Standard. Languish is very bad in the mirror because it misses the Titan so I strongly prefer Extinction Event.

Eliminate and Heartless Act are my spot removal spells. The stock Sultai lists play up to six of this effect in the maindeck, but I think that's too many. There are less Narsets in Historic so I'm more comfortable playing Heartless Act in the maindeck.

Since Blue decks are becoming more popular in Historic I've seen Sultai begin to maindeck a Negate. Non-Sultai decks are primarily based around creatures so I have a single Thought Erasure as a hedge. It's weaker than Thoughtseize based on rate, but surveil's synergy with Uro has made it strong enough to make it to Historic.

Casualties of War is not yet popular in Historic, but Nissa and Teferi are the base of the good stuff decks. I also want another way to respect God-Pharaoh's Gift in the maindeck.

Narset, Parter of Veils is becoming more popular as the metagame solidifies and establishes Uro as a primary threat. Since it's a smaller percentage of the metagame compared to Standard I don't want to play more than two copies. Narset allows me to play less top-end threats while still avoiding floods.

The mana base is fairly similar to Standard Sultai except Watery Grave is replaced by Drowned Catacomb. Nissa still combos with Breeding Pool and Overgrown Tomb which explains why Watery Grave gets the axe.

Since I'm cutting Islands and Swamps from the deck in favor of keeping Forest dual lands it's a tough sell to keep Castle Vantress or Castle Locthwain. The last land in the deck is a Fetid Pools to help reduce land flood.

Hydroid Krasis is better in Historic because of fewer Narsets. It's also much easier to get to 6 mana with Growth Spiral so I prefer it to Shark Typhoon. Historic Sultai is currently playing more at sorcery-speed which hurts the value of sharks.

The sideboard also gets some upgrades in the Historic format.

Witch's Vengeance is legal in Standard, but there's a lack of tribal decks. In Historic you can destroy multiple zombies, spirits, and goblins with ease. The sweepers continue with a couple Cry of the Carnarium. Exiling is relevant against Rakdos.

Innocent Blood is a reprint for Historic that is especially good against Azorius Auras. I prefer Innocent Blood to additional Eliminates and Heartless Acts because it's 1 mana cheaper. It's even better with Uro and Growth Spiral because double-spelling on turn two or three is realistic.

Thought Distortion remains to be a haymaker in the Blue mirrors. I want a good plan against Blue decks because I expect them to make up a large percentage of the winner's metagame.

Negate and Tale's End continue to be the go-to interaction for Blue mirrors. I prefer a single Tale's End over the third Negate because of Shark Typhoon and Uro.

The metagame is currently too diverse for maindecking Aether Gust, but that can change quickly. I want Aether Gust in the board to fight Burn, Goblins, and Uro decks. Two Gust and a Tale's End gives me enough ways to fight Uro without playing Black removal post board.

I'm going to hold off on specific sideboard plans for now as there are too many archetypes in Historic and things are moving very quickly.

I finished 3-1 with Sultai in an SCG Challenge a couple days ago and it felt great. The deck is fun if you like casting powerful spells. Historic is shaping up to be an interesting format.

Thanks for reading!

-Kyle

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