Hello, my friends.  Derrick "BadMoonMTG" York here again.  For today's Standard outing I wanted to cover two topics.  First, I'll answer a question I got about my last article.  Secondly, I want to talk about predictions and hopes for the upcoming Strixhaven preview season.  Let's get down to it.

Sultai Ultimatum Question

I recently appeared on the paper EDH stream of good friend, and fellow content creator, ColinO'Clock.  As we set up for a lovely game of Commander, he commented that my Sultai Ultimatum article didn't answer his most important question: how do you beat the deck?  So, I want to take this opportunity to apologize for that oversight and offer an answer.

The first thing you need to understand is that Sultai Ultimatum is a mid-to-late game combo deck.  Its main goal is to cast a 7 CMC Sorcery to win the game.  That being the case, you have two options.  You can either disrupt that plan with counterspells, or you can win before they get a chance to cast their Emergent Ultimatum.

The disruption plan is probably best employed by the UB Rogues deck.  Their early game plan to mill the Sultai deck is not the win condition that it usually is, since Ultimatum is an 80-card deck.  However, milling fuels their Rogues and Drown In The Lochs, and it can limit our access to our combo pieces.  Ultimatum is only running a 1-2 copies of each finisher and, if those get milled, it impairs our options in the late game.  With those limitations, we then have to fight through their Negates and Drown In The Lochs.  It's a very difficult matchup for Sultai.

4 Thieves' Guild Enforcer
4 Soaring Thought-Thief
4 Ruin Crab
3 Merfolk Windrobber
4 Into the Story
4 Drown in the Loch
1 Didn't Say Please
3 Agadeem's Awakening // Agadeem, the Undercrypt
2 Of One Mind
1 Lullmage's Domination
2 Heartless Act
1 Essence Scatter
1 Bloodchief's Thirst
2 Zagoth Triome
4 Fabled Passage
4 Temple of Deceit
4 Clearwater Pathway
1 Dead Weight
5 Island
3 Swamp
2 Mystical Dispute
1 Crippling Fear

1 Lurrus of the Dream-Den
2 Soul-Guide Lantern
1 Dead Weight
1 Mystical Dispute
2 Cling to Dust
2 Skyclave Shade
2 Crippling Fear
1 Negate
1 Lullmage's Domination
1 Feed the Swarm
1 Disdainful Stroke

The aggressive plan can be accomplished in a number of ways.  Mono-Red Aggro is always a popular choice, and it gets the job done here, as will Mono-White.  Naya and Gruul Adventures are also fast enough to get in under the Sultai deck.  The important thing to keep in mind is that Sultai is running both Extinction Event and Shadows' Verdict.  That means you'll want to have threats on odd and even numbered CMCs, as well as a few above 3 CMC.  On that second point, any deck in Red should probably be running Goldspan Dragon, because it can get those last points of damage in if your opponent goes shields down.

4 Anax, Hardened in the Forge
4 Bonecrusher Giant // Stomp
2 Castle Embereth
4 Embercleave
4 Faceless Haven
4 Fervent Champion
4 Fireblade Charger
4 Frost Bite
2 Goldspan Dragon
2 Rimrock Knight // Boulder Rush
4 Robber of the Rich
1 Roil Eruption
19 Snow-Covered Mountain
2 Torbran, Thane of Red Fell

2 Fire Prophecy
2 Ox of Agonas
2 Phoenix of Ash
1 Redcap Melee
2 Roiling Vortex
1 Soul Sear
2 The Akroan War
2 Relic Robber
1 Embereth Shieldbreaker // Battle Display

Anyway, I hope that answers Colin's question.

Strixhaven Hopes and Predictions

With Strixhaven previews beginning this week, I have tapped into my knowledge of Magical School tropes and this is what I've come up with for predictions.

  • It's a school, there will be at least one Tutor card in the set.  I don't think it will be a reprint, but it will likely be in Blue.
  • Mark Rosewater, in a teaser article on Blogatog, has said we will see “a planeswalker you know, but not as you know them”.  We already know that the Kennrith twins will be around, so we're probably looking for someone who isn't Red or Blue.  “...not as you know them” probably means they are a teacher or student at the school, so likely not a villainous character and not Kasmina (we already know she's a teacher).  My two best guesses are that we could see Huatli teaching poetry or Teyo as a student.
  • Mark also tells us we will get “a futureshifted card (appearing for the first time in a premier set other than Future Sight)”.  I think we could get Witch's Mist as repeatable removal under the banner of the Witherbloom (Green/Black) College.  The flavor fits really well.
  • Researching for that last point, I notice that Ghostfire is also on the futureshifted sheet.  Could Ugin be the mystery Planeswalker?  There are Elder Dragons involved in the lore.  Headmaster Ugin, maybe?  An interesting idea, but I'm not sure how much I buy it.
  • I do think we're going to get a cycle of five Elder Dragons in the set, though.  My Ur-Dragon EDH deck demands it.
  • I will continue to hope that we get an Instant for 1WW that just says “Exile target Creature.” on it.
  • As someone with a degree in Theatre and Dance, I have to hope that the Prismari (Blue/Red) College gets a references to Broadway musicals.  I promise to geek out hard if that happens.

Wrap Up

That's all I have time for this week.  Let me know what you are hoping for from Strixhaven and join me next time when we can finally talk about the actual previews. I'm looking forward to it, and I hope you are too.