Midsummer is a strange time for Magic; I have no big Constructed tournaments to play until the Return to Ravnica (for which I'm waiting for with double excitement because I didn't have a chance to play the original). But I still like to brew interesting decks and I'll probably have to play some Standard tournaments to grind Planeswalker Points to earn byes for Grand Prix Moscow. As there are no PT slots I'm free to play what I like instead of the best deck—so it's time to give Primeval Titan his deserved farewell.
Here is where I should reminisce and think back about the many Primeval Titan decks I played and loved even before he was printed but no. Just no. Classic G/R Wolf Run Ramp is not very well positioned in the current metagame but there are some weak points we can exploit and some Inkmoth Nexuses to animate:
- Insectile Aberration players are going to exchange nasty Restoration Angel for the powerful but fragile Talrand Sky Summoner—that means that Whipflare will be good again especially if we don't refuse to exchange it for a lone Birds of Paradise in appropriate matchups.
- Farseek instead of Sphere of the Suns invalidates of G/R Aggro's important post-board line of play; Ancient Grudge is not a Sinkhole anymore. Moreover Farseek makes three-colored Ramp variants more appealing. I saw some Sphere of the Suns action at SCG Open Series: Las Vegas yesterday but Farseek is just better even with three lands to find (and even if one of them is in your starting hand). Late acceleration is always a dead draw in Wolf Run Ramp so I'm ok with it being a little bit worse than dead and with four potential targets for Farseek I'd be totally calm.
- Eighteen-land Delver decks with Talrand Sky Summoner or Restoration Angel are extremely vulnerable to any sort of land destruction. Frost Titan is a powerhouse right now.
- Thragtusk is a perfect creature for mana ramp against nearly any deck I can imagine. Delver of Secrets aggressive decks and the new Trading Post decks (either Mono-Black or U/W) all suffer from Thragtusk.
Back To The Roots
- 4 Solemn Simulacrum
- 1 Acidic Slime
- 3 Huntmaster of the Fells
- 4 Primeval Titan
- 3 Thragtusk
- 1 Thrun, the Last Troll
The lack of Cavern of Souls is debatable but I don't want to have more than ten colorless lands. Glimmerpost is vital against aggressive decks even with Thragtusk. Moreover many blue players are cutting Mana Leaks from their decks because a lot of people are playing Cavern of Souls. Three Huntmaster of the Fells and three Thragtusk are because of the mana curve; I want to have as many good turn 3 plays as possible. I even considered Sphere of the Suns as two-mana acceleration numbers nine and ten but it's too much. Where's my Cultivate?
The Green Sun's Zenith toolbox includes only expensive creatures so I decided to cut the GSZs to two copies and put Garruk Primal Hunter into the deck instead. Mono-Black Control is going to be real deck so four post-board planeswalkers is where I want to be.
Freezing That Fish
Frost Titan is a perfect threat to keep low-land Delver decks in check. If they don't have a fourth land (a normal situation if your opponent is not Adam Prosak who always has a fourth land just in time) they can't even use Vapor Snag to bounce Frosty—the only realistic way to do something is with Phantasmal Image. The same is true against G/R/x if you are able to deal with Birds of Paradise. RUG Wolf Run emerged from time to time last year and it's good time for its next attempt right now.
I don't know the exact roots of the Frost Titan / Temporal Mastery deck; I first saw it on Magic Online but I'm sure that was not its first emergence. So giving a credit to an unknown author I'm going to upgrade the deck according to my own preferences. First off I'm not really sold on Temporal Mastery right now. Early Time Walk effects would be super-important in the mirror match but turn 3 Explore is not that good in other matchups. Also getting an additional turn could easily be overkill; it does everything if you're already up but is not good in a wall-to-wall stalemate if you have no way to break it. Where Temporal Mastery is great is when you miracle it at seven mana drop a land and then play Titan. So two or three copies is good enough for me.
This deck is light on threats so Cavern of Souls is mandatory—which means that Inkmoth Nexus and Kessig Wolf Run must be cut. Glimmerpost should stay for the same reason; it is really helpful in case our first Titan dies and some time is needed to find another one. Farseek gets better with five lands to search for so the mana base is good enough to support Two titans and red sweepers especially with the help of Ponder. The one-mana cantrip is not realistically castable during the first turns but it's still good in the late game in a deck with six powerful miracles. Nevertheless I could easily justify cutting one Ponder and one Temporal Mastery in favor of Sphere of the Suns (and a fourth Cavern of Souls); the deck would play as a "fast Titan combo" so additional two-mana acceleration would be very promising.
The sideboard contains many different threats to make the deck more resilient to removal post-board and to improve the game plan against certain decks. I would also like to see some Garruk Primal Hunter in the 75 but three-colored mana just doesn't allow me to play him.
I saw a similar deck from SCG's own Jesse Smith but he had some… Okay he had an interesting deck to write about so just read his article on this very site soon. I'm going to move on to the last deck for today: Wolf Run White. I'm not considering Wolf Run Black despite the fact that nearly all G/R/x decks are extremely vulnerable to Grave Titan because if you want Grave Titan and black removal you'd be better off playing some sort of Black Control.
As for white fast Elesh Norn Grand Cenobite is a kind of "gold standard" of good plays in this format so giving her a chance is definitely a good idea. The simplest attempt would be just splashing the Praetor into G/R Wolf Run (the deck I played at the very first WMCQ) but a heavy-white variant could also be very attractive.
The splash for the powerful Praetor finally forced me to cut Glimmerpost; Cavern of Souls is not a great stabilization anymore so three Plains are mandatory (alongside additional two-mana acceleration). The sideboard contains minor changes like Celestial Purge over Pillar of Flame. The deck is the same as G/R at its core but with some added flexibility in exchange for a slightly worse mana base.
- 4 Solemn Simulacrum
- 1 Wurmcoil Engine
- 1 Acidic Slime
- 4 Primeval Titan
- 4 Restoration Angel
- 3 Thragtusk
- 2 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
- 1 Sigarda, Host of Herons
This deck is white-heavy and has a totally different game plan than the other ramp decks. In fact it's more "Birthing Pod on steroids." Everybody is prepared to beat Birds of Paradise (if they don't they're doing something wrong) so two-mana acceleration ensures that you'll have enough mana to play your threats in time. The question is how to survive; that's why Gut Shot is in the list. Killing turn 1 Delver of Secrets is super-important as is Birds of Paradise.
Surviving until turn 4 is a little problematic but if you're able to play your creatures I expect a fast recovery from a relatively low life total to a game state where you can't lose. Any creature you have is nuts and you can easily win just because of your creatures' quality. Things go even worse for your opponent if you draw Birthing Pod or Restoration Angel. Just imagine Flickering Thragtusk or an animated Gideon Jura!
The deck lacks the powerful interaction between Restoration Angel and Blade Splicer but with the desire to have two-mana acceleration Splicer is just out of a good place on the mana curve. So if you want to curve from Blade Splicer to Sun Titan you'd better play "classic" Naya or Bant Pod with mana dorks (which are also very reasonable decks right now). Another way to build this very deck would include Green Sun's Zenith instead of Birthing Pod (and accordingly rework the distribution of threats along the mana curve) but the list I've posted looks like a good starting point for the further investigation.
I've mentioned potential problems in surviving until you can play your threats so the deck's sideboard contains a sort of transformational sideboard: three Day of Judgment plus three Gideon Jura plus two Timely Reinforcements are good enough to imitate a control deck until you start playing your threats one by one.
When Primeval Titan leaves Standard in October I'll be among first people to say "It's good he isn't here anymore" but right now the green fatty is still a powerhouse in Standard and I see no reason to avoid him. Proper support could push Wolf Run Ramp over the top in the current Standard environment so I strongly recommend that my readers give these decks a chance. I'm biased towards Primeval Titan but not too much to ignore the real state of the format. The Frosty and Primey combination is my favorite for the upcoming week so just sleeve them up and crush some presumptuous Delver players at the SCG Standard Open in Buffalo or anywhere else!