Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Making Magic in the Arena - Sultai Flash (Ikoria)

It's a new set, and a new season of decks to play around with in Magic the Gathering: Arena, with the release of Ikoria.

Since one of my favorite decks since the support for it was added in Core Set 2020, the Flash deck, got some shiny new tools, what better way to start the season off than by playing around with these new tools, even if it seems moving from Simic to Sultai.

While I must credit this deck for the core skeleton I based my own on, I ended up heavily modifying it to create my own version, which is the one used in this video.

If you've been with me for a long time, you're no stranger to the Flash Deck. We've gone over it twice before, once when Core Set 2020 first dropped, and again with the release of Eldraine.

The original recipe I based my own on called for playsets of Cunning Nightbonder and Growth Spiral, but I found both of these cards wanting during testing. The discount on Flash spells doesn't come into play as often as one might think is so many of our best cards required specific colored mana to cast, making it just a 2/2 with Flash. Good, but we can do better.

As for Growth Spiral, I found while playing that there was almost never a scenario I wanted to play it over a creature with flash or one of my counterspells. In a deck where tempo is the most important part of its playstyle, going shields down just for a draw and potential ramp does not feel great. We aren't like an Uro deck where we can use it for Escape fodder either. So I scrapped both of them.

When analyzing these games shortly after the recording, one thing I noticed is that we lack a lot of answers to deal with the Jeskai cycling decks once they get online, or when the cycle a Shark Typhoon to create a token, since doing doesn't count as casting a spell. (It's an activated ability.) The link I posted is the deck as it existed at the time I recorded those matches, but since then I've removed two copies of Quench in order to complete the playset of Brazen Borrowers. With it's Adventure half, we can both kill tokens by bouncing them to the owner's hand, and also do the same to problematic enchantments so we have one more chance to counter them as they get recast.

I might also replace Neutralize with Sinister Sabotage as well, as the more I think about it the less sold I am on the prospect of cycling away my valuable counterspells. It seems likely that the Surveil is going to be more valuable more often.

And while Frilled Mystic, Nightpack Ambusher, and Brineborn Cutthroat among other cards from previous versions of the Simic Flash deck make a return, we have two very important newcomers joining the team. Slitherwisp has become a new win condition to along with Nightpack Ambusher. Once it's on board, if we can keep it alive, we'll have a reliable source of damage and card draw that can help us turn the tide in a control matchup, or stabilize after an aggressive deck's onslaught.

The other card on our radar is Sea-Dasher Octopus. Ordinarily, a 2/2 with Flash for three mana is fine, as we stated with the Nightbonder. What makes this card special is it's ability to draw as extra cards with combat damage. And if that wasn't enough, the new keyword, Mutate, allows us to confer this ability onto another creature (at instant speed because of Flash), onto a creature that either wasn't blocked or couldn't be blocked mid-combat. In other words, we're almost guaranteed to get that extra card, especially if we mutate our Spectral Sailor.

I think this deck has potential, but the correct recipe, and even color combo, is still something that needs to be fiddled with in this new format.

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