There are many different versions of Wolf Run Ramp but there is exactly one thing they should all have common—Cavern of Souls should be in your maindeck. Lately players such as John Cuvelier Cedric Phillips and Steve Mann have been tearing up Standard with Glimmerposts in their Wolf Run Ramp deck. While Glimmerpost isn't exactly a new thing it hasn't caught on until recently.
Glimmerpost is good against aggressive decks like Zombies and G/R Aggro and it's also pretty good against U/W Delver. However there are plenty of games against Delver where even Titan for Glimmerpost won't save you. Sometimes it's because you had to slow-roll a Titan to play around Mana Leak. If you could always jam your Titan once you got to six mana it would make the matchup a lot easier.
While both lands are good against Delver Cavern of Souls certainly gets the nod. Seeing as how they have little to no removal and zero land destruction you could probably side down to one Kessig Wolf Run and one or two Inkmoth Nexuses and actually have both in your deck at the same time.
Aggro and midrange are strategies that Primeval Titan decks should beat anyway. At the very least you have all the control over how badly you want to beat them. You can play all the removal and lifegain in the world and suddenly the aggro decks can't beat you anymore. As long as you sideboard for or play around their sideboard trumps (Appetite for Brains Manabarbs Increasing Savagery Zealous Conscripts) it's very difficult to lose.
It reminds me of how when choosing to play Dredge in a tournament you are basically at your opponent's mercy. If they showed up with Leyline of the Voids and Grafdigger's Cages you are probably not winning. Similarly if my Wolf Run opponent decided that he wasn't going to lose to an aggro deck like mine today he probably won't. I severely dislike being in those types of situations where winning or losing isn't really within my power.
My point is that you can beat aggro if you want to and none of that really depends on whether or not you play Glimmerpost in the maindeck or sideboard. Basically I would rather have my Wolf Run deck be geared towards beating control and Delver than the aggro decks I'm already good against. Control and Delver are actually tough matchups and get dramatically worse the better your opponent is.
I still like Glimmerposts and they belong in the sideboard (for now) but you're probably giving up percentage points against the field if you don't play Caverns maindeck.
Moving on I think we need to discuss Garruk Primal Hunter. These days Wolf Run is hard-pressed to beat a Sun Titan which can be seen in my playtesting video with Brad Nelson. However back in the day Brian Sondag used Garruk to great effect against Solar Flare. It's one of the few cards that allows Wolf Run to draw a bunch of action when they are otherwise light on spells. I feel like the combination of Garruk with Beast Within (to control Oblivion Ring Sun Titan and planeswalkers) might give Wolf Run a solid shot in the matchup.
I'm sure the thing that most players will disagree with me on is my lack of Huntmaster of the Fells. Modern Wolf Run lists lean heavily on Whipflare and Slagstorm rather than a mix of sweepers and Galvanic Blasts which makes Huntmaster a lot worse. Regardless Huntmaster just isn't that good. A pair of 2/2 bodies isn't impressing anybody neither is gaining two life. Transforming into a 4/4 and Shocking someone still isn't impressing anyone. What's the point?
If you only disagreed with me on one point I'd feel pretty good but I doubt that's the case. I also dislike Green Sun's Zenith. When your big plan involves Cavern of Souls Zenith doesn't seem all that good. Personally if I'm trying to maximize Cavern of Souls I want the vast majority of my threats to be the same creature type. Zenith gives you more Primeval Titans but is that good enough when they cost seven mana and are counterable?
I'll be honest here—Inferno Titan isn't the best man for the job. As I've said before the aggro decks are already good matchups. You don't necessarily need Inferno Titan against those decks but he's a solid threat against most people. Sadly against control he mostly Lightning Bolts them and then dies and against the mirror he gets outclassed. Still you need something to kill people with.
One of the options for making your deck "better" would be swapping red for something else. White would give you Elesh Norn Grand Cenobite while black would provide Grave Titan. Before we get into that though here's the Wolf Run list I would play tomorrow:
Maindeck Thrun seems like the place you want to be not Huntmaster. Even against the aggressive decks Thrun is just a giant brick wall. He actually plays that role better than Huntmaster does! Against control it's yet another uncounterable threat making their Mana Leaks even more useless. Against Delver decks he blocks Geist of Saint Traft much better than Huntmaster does. Anyone who's been on the wrong side of a Vapor Snag/Snapcaster Mage combo knows this.
I liked the Faithless Lootings a lot but Garruk is probably the better man for the job. Granted cards like Garruk and Slagstorm are harder to cast but your mana is far from awful. Sphere of the Suns Rampant Growth and Solemn Simulacrum do a lot of work.
The Devil's Plays were pretty important against Solar Flare. I'd typically get as aggressive with Kessig Wolf Run as I could. They're favored in the late game and you never know when they're going to find a Ghost Quarter and take the luxury of Wolf Run away from you. Some opponents would rather take five damage than kill your Solemn Simulacrum which fits right into your game plan. The other option is boosting Thrun sometimes at the expense of casting a Titan just because it puts them in burn range.
I commonly used Devil's Play to pick off Gideon Jura Elesh Norn and Sun Titan too. Their next threat wasn't long for the world either. Devil's Play is just an awesome card that not enough people play. Even when you're killing x/1s it's not that much worse than Geistflame.
Since the playtesting video I did with Brad I added the two maindeck Beast Withins which pretty much do it all. You want a maindeck answer to Swords you want answers to planeswalkers and Oblivion Rings and you want ways to Stone Rain the mirror match. I couldn't imagine playing Wolf Run without some number of Beast Withins maindeck.
With those in my maindeck and sideboard my need for Ray of Revelation subsided. White was no longer necessary so that freed up some sideboard slots for more removal namely Pillar of Flame. Right now sweepers are better than spot removal. Most people have swarms of creatures so it's not like you're out of the woods if you kill their Birds of Paradise. Against Delver you need to kill Geist of Saint Traft.
There are clearly some matchups where spot removal is better though especially something as good as Pillar. Zombies is a good example of a deck where Pillar is much better than a sweeper. Having one card that kills creatures with undying is going to make a big difference between winning and losing.
We have plenty of options besides this regular ole Wolf Run Ramp. A few weeks ago the Return to Ravnica PTQ season started and Iain Bartolomei top 16ed the first PTQ with a deck he called "Prime Timely." This is what the updated list looks like:
I mean if you're going to Cavern something into play it might as well count right? Elesh Norn is about as good as you can get. It's certainly better than Inferno Titan in a vacuum and works better with Cavern than Green Sun's Zenith for six.
I still like Glimmerpost and Cavern of Souls in Wolf Run White as the mana doesn't get that much worse. The only problem is that your deck is a turn slower than normal Wolf Run. Day of Judgment has more applications in the format say against Hero of Bladehold or Sun Titan but is usually worse against Delver decks. You get Timely Reinforcements to kind of make up for that but I'm not sure it's enough.
As I talked about earlier I like the Garruks in the above list but I can't get behind Gideon Jura. It's a bad removal spell a bad Garruk a bad Titan and a bad Batterskull. Sure it's mostly hedging against the field but I think we can do better. The fact that he's double white which is our secondary color doesn't help his case.
Oblivion Ring could almost certainly be Beast Within. The ability to kill lands including your own is not to be overlooked. Additionally Oblivion Rings can be destroyed themselves which will happen when you're playing against decks with otherwise dead Ratchet Bombs.
I could take or leave the White Sun's Zenith. While Zenith might have been awesome before it seems pretty loose when Cavern is going to be blanking most of their counterspells and Zenith actually turns theirs on. I feel like you could build your Wolf Run deck to go toe-to-toe with control in the late game and you don't need a Zenith to do that.
Overall I would start with plain old Wolf Run Ramp but I can see why someone would want to play white. The G/R version just looks so consistent and streamlined that I probably wouldn't see a reason to switch though.
One last thing: Bonfire of the Damned why? I get that it's a Whipflare that keeps your Huntmaster alive but if they've overextended into your Whipflare the Huntmaster did its job right? I dunno about you guys but I prefer my Whipflares to cost two even if "this includes your creatures" is in the textbox.
Of course there are super-late applications where you can miracle Bonfire and it's insane but that's the case with any mythic miracle. As you saw in SCG Providence miracles didn't exactly tear up either format. They are fine cards but for the most part you should be playing their non-miracle counterparts.
One actual last thing I promise: Sweet Standard decklists courtesy of Magic-League!
I actually like the look of this deck. Primeval Titan does a lot of stuff this deck can't do but I imagine Koth of the Hammer is quite good here. It's clearly a work in progress but all the exile spells give you game against undying creatures and Wurmcoil Engine further cements your matchups against aggressive decks. Planeswalkers should help against control but Cavern does a lot of that work on its own.
Sam Black mentioned this deck earlier in the week and it actually seems pretty good. Green Sun's Zenith gives you redundancy and Wild Defiance as Sam noted might be the card that makes this a contender. What other deck in Standard can goldfish on turn 4 consistently?
- 4 Avacyn's Pilgrim
- 4 Birds of Paradise
- 3 Craterhoof Behemoth
- 1 Grave Titan
- 1 Llanowar Elves
- 3 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
Jacob Van Lunen has been talking up Reanimator strategies that kill with Craterhoof Behemoth and I can see the allure. Rather than relying on your fatty to take over the game it just kills them outright!
I'm kind of glad that I don't have a Standard tournament in a while because I have no idea what deck I would choose. Whenever I make a revelation about a certain archetype I can use that knowledge to help tune a different deck or something new pops up that looks awesome. Obviously this makes me sad too seeing as how there are plenty of decks I want to play that I might not be able to.
Hopefully Avacyn Restored comes out on Magic Online soon!