I have been trying to play something that is not Temur energy since GP Washington. I’ve played Abzan tokens, Mardu control, God-Pharaoh’s Gift, UW and Esper Approach but I simply couldn’t beat a turn 2 Longtusk Cub followed by a Rogue Refiner. At some point I figured, if you can’t beat it, play it. Thus, I started looking for an aggressive deck powered by batteries…I mean Energy!
My colleague showed me an article on ChannelFireball written by Alexander West. It was about a Sultai aggro list with mainboard Cartouche of Knowledge. I instantly fell in love with the idea. Here is the list from that article.
Alexander West Sultai Skies
Why play this deck?
This 75 is not just another version of a turn one Attune into turn two Cub deck. The creatures you are playing are so much more synergistic.
Glint-Sleeve Siphoner is also much more than a card draw engine. Combined with Longtusk Cub and Winding Constrictor your Cub gains 2 counters each combat.
Greenbelt Rampager is not only making you gain energy to fuel your cub or hydra but can also stall a board on its own. A 3/4 is hard to go over and will start putting pressure on so early that you’ll offset your opponent’s curve so they can get rid of it.
Cartouche of Knowledge is the least conventional card of the 75 but I believe it to be THE reason to play the deck. A flying 4/4 Cub on turn 3 is a huge clock in this metagame. It also puts most of your 2 drops out of burn range making mono red easier to race. You also get to draw a card when it resolve which makes it basically free to play.
I do believe some of the things in the list above are wrong. After playing a local PPTQ and my good share of MTGO leagues I think I managed to end up with a pretty good list.
First of all I still don’t understand why there is only 2 Greenbelt Rampager in the main deck. This card fuel your Longtusk Cub and is great to slow down mono red. The original deck builder was sideboarding them in most matchups. So I moved them to the main.
I also wanted to add an extra Forest in the mana base to go up to 21 lands.
In order to add these cards I had to remove 3 cards from the deck. I scraped both Skysovereign, Consult Flagship that were in the main and the fourth Bristling Hydra. Skysovereign was just not good enough for what the deck was trying to do.
You often use Hasep Oasis on turn 5 to force some blocks or just go for the kill, Also tapping out felt horrible when your Longtusk Cub has 3 or more counters on it and could die to removal if you tapped out for the big boat.
The fourth Hydra was cut because your opponent has so much trouble dealing with the first one you resolve that any additional hydras just serves as energy fuel for the one you drew first. Reducing the total to 3 makes more sense since you are still going to play an average of one each game and it is unlikely to draw too many copies of it.
I liked some ideas from the original sideboard but there was a few things I couldn’t wrap my head around.
Alexander didn’t play Nissa, Steward of Elements in his version. I strongly suggest playing 2 copies of this swiss army knife. Nissa is always a good draw in a slower matchup, on turn 3 it makes sure you hit that important 4th land for Bristling Hydra. You rarely use her 0 ability but when you do it’s a really good feeling. Turn 4 draw your land use the 0 for Rogue Refiner and play an Hydra. You just built a board that your opponent will have trouble dealing with!
The fact that you can spend any amount of mana to increase her starting loyalty means that if you draw her on turn 8-12 you can hit for 10 flying and win on the spot, the best kind of board stall breaker.
I also reduced the amount of Cartouche of Ambition since drawing more than one or two wasn’t really what you want to be doing. The first Cartouche is supposed to put you ahead in the race. The second one is rarely good so once again three is the magic number.
It also makes sure your GPG opponent can’t prepare their combo if it’s on the board, They will have to discard GPG and a creature the turn they cast Refurbish. Slowing them down like this is what you want to be doing.
Last but not the least I believe that you want to play a certain amount of Spell Pierces and Negates. I like the 3 Negates 2 Spell Pierces split. Sometime keeping Negate up will just slow you down so much that you’ll lose the game a few turns later with it in your hand.
While you curve you want to keep one mana up from turn 3 onward to protect your Cub or your Siphoner anyways so Spell Pierce is perfect to beat Fumigates and the likes.
Here is the final list that I’ll register this weekend at a local PPTQ:
Flying the PPTQ Skies
I might make a few changes here and there after this weekend but I believe that this list is optimised for this week’s metagame.
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