Limited Lessons — Hulk Flash!

Grand Prix Columbus - May 19-20, 2007!

Nick takes a break from top-end Limited strategy to talk about the Constructed deck that’s on everyone’s lips at the moment… Hulk Flash! With Grand Prix: Columbus mere weeks away, Nick shares all the info he has on this most promising of broken concoctions. He also compiles all the available data in one handy place! If you’re planning on running — or beating — this deck at the upcoming Grand Prix, this article is invaluable!

Grand Prix: Columbus is on the horizon and it seems that another broken combo strategy has come out of nowhere to completely warp the format. Obviously the deck I’m referring to is Hulk Flash. Ben Bleiweiss wrote an article on Friday on the deck and there has been tons of talk in forums everywhere about it. This week I want to take a look at a couple of different directions you can go with the deck, and also some strategies to beat it. Most of this information is from forums, and I’m not claiming that I came up with any of these ideas on my own… even though I have done a good deal of testing both with and against the deck. Let’s take a look at some different builds.

This was the first list I saw online and started testing. If you’re not sure exactly how the deck works, check out Ben’s article from last Friday – it really isn’t too complicated. The deck is lightning fast and also relatively easy to play.

Gemstone Caverns
I’m still not 100% on these being in the deck, and especially not in this list, as there just isn’t enough land. The reason the Caverns are good is because they let you cast a Tutor or Brainstorm on your opponent’s first turn, and then you can untap and play a two-mana spell. Or you could just go off in their upkeep, but that’s not as likely now as it is when Summoner’s Pact becomes involved. The question is whether these are better than Chrome Mox or whether the deck should just run regular lands (such as the duals / fetches) and more acceleration.

After I tested this list for a couple of days, I was salivating at the possibility of finding a more tuned list. I began scouring the forums and checking for new posts regularly. I found quite a bit of information, which I’m going to share with you guys today. I realize that all of this stuff is out there already, but I think it’s a good idea to have a one-stop article with all of the information currently available. I also didn’t really like the Simian Spirit Guides in this list, but the Elvish version is very good since you can Worldly Tutor off it.

The next build I decided to try looked something like this:

This version eschews Worldly Tutor and some fast mana in order to use more control and disruption elements. Lim-Dul’s Vault is a big help in this deck and usually functions as a Vampiric Tutor for whatever part of the combo you need. I eventually cut some lands and a Daze from this deck to squeeze the Lotus Petals back in and speed it back up slightly.

While it seems the core of the deck will remain the same before Future Sight rotates in, there are still lots of directions you can go with it, and also lots of room for innovation.

Here’s another list that has been floating around that doesn’t run Black but has more Tutors:

Bill Stark first made this precise list, to my knowledge… you can read his thoughts here.

Which Kill is Better?
While the core of Tutors and such remains basically the same, there has been much debate everywhere about whether it is better to use the Disciple kill or the Kiki Jiki / Karmic Guide kill. If you’re unaware of how the Kiki Jiki kill works, it’s actually rather simple.

Flash Hulk into play and search up Karmic Guide and Carrion Feeder.
Karmic Guide’s ability returns Hulk to play and you sacrifice it to the Feeder to search up Kiki Jiki.
Activate Kiki Jiki targeting Karmic Guide and in response sacrifice him to the Feeder.
Karmic Guide token comes into play and returns Kiki Jiki, and you repeat for infinite hasty 2/2 fliers.

By the way, Sky Hussar is completely unnecessary here and I see plenty of lists that include it when you can achieve the exact same thing with one less dead card in your deck.

There are plusses and minuses to this strategy over the more widely accepted Disciple version of the kill. First, it only requires three cards (but you can add more, which I will get to in a minute). Second, it is vulnerable to more hate cards like Pithing Needle, Swords to Plowshares, Planar Void, etc. Even a random burn spell can break it up. Third, you can’t go off at instant speed unless you add more creatures to the combo. I can’t see this being worth it really at this point, but it’s nice to still have the option. Going off at instant speed with the Kiki combo involves adding Teardrop Kami and Bloodshot Cyclops to the list. Here’s how you do it, since it’s slightly more complicated.

Flash in Hulk.
Fetch Carrion Feeder and Karmic Guide.
Karmic Guide back the Hulk.
Sacrifice Hulk to Carrion Feeder.
Get Teardrop Kami and Kiki-Jiki.
Use Kiki-Jiki to copy Karmic Guide.
In response, sacrifice Kiki-Jiki to the Feeder.
Get back Kiki-Jiki with the Guide token.
Repeat as much as you want for a huge Carrion Feeder.
With the last Guide copy, get back Hulk and sacrifice it to the Feeder.
Get Bloodshot Cyclops.
Sacrifice Teardrop Kami to untap Kiki-Jiki.
Copy Bloodshot Cyclops with Kiki-Jiki.
Sacrifice Carrion Feeder to it.
Fry your opponent.

This information came from TheManaDrain.com forums, thanks to Illissius. Other options include adding Sylvan Safekeeper to protect against targeted removal disrupting the combo, or adding Body Snatcher in case one piece gets stuck in your hand and you can’t find Brainstorm in time. Here’s a version with the extra combo critters in it so you can see what it looks like.

Now that I’ve explained the second method you can use to kill someone, which one you end up using is dependent on whether you want extra slots free in your maindeck or whether you want to reduce the number of hate cards that are good against you. There are arguments for both sides, and I need to do a lot more testing before I make my own decision. I guess this is a good spot to ask for posts in the forums on the matter.

As far as my base of knowledge for the deck goes, this is the one place where I really have no clue as to the best mix of 15 cards as of right now. There are a ton of options, and it’s difficult to find the best set.

As far as which maindeck list is better, that again is something that needs to be worked on over the next couple weeks before the GP. There is plenty of hate in the format, and finding the best 75 cards against the hate is very difficult. At this point I may even just play a different deck, since it seems that everyone is packing maindeck Stifles and Leyline of the Void in the sideboard, which are both annoying. The Threshold matchup is also a nightmare, as they have Meddling Mage, Stifle, Daze, Force of Will, and are able to put you on a clock. Here’s a short list of possibilities for the sideboard.

Chain of Vapor
Echoing Truth
Leyline of the Void
Phyrexian Negator
Merchant Scroll

I’m barely hitting the tip of the iceberg here, as it depends what colors you can support. Something like Reverent Silence may also be good in the decks with Green against Leyline, since it costs no mana. Of course, you probably want the Kiki kill before you do something like this, as your opponent gaining six life may be too much to overcome with Disciples.

The Negator plan still needs to be tested, but the idea is that you can take out superfluous combo cards and just bring in hate and Negators. This makes Leyline of the Void less effective in the mirror, though you could still Flash in Hulk and search up two Negators if that’s what you wanted to do.

As far as Echoing Truth versus Chain of Vapor goes, I think you need some amount of copies of both. The reasoning is that Truth is a better catch-all answer if your opponent gets two copies of something into play, but there are times when you’re strapped for mana and Chain will be the better Tutor target. Misdirection is something I was never truly impressed with when I tested the list where it was maindeck, but it’s possible that it was because that list also had Gemstone Caverns, and that is a lot of pitch cards for one deck. Something like Commandeer could also have a place in the mirror, but you need to also have Hulk in hand to make it work, and you need to be running an instant-speed kill.

Massacre is obviously for Meddling Mage, and for other matchups where it is good… White Weenie always rears its head, after all.

When I was surfing the forums on MagictheGathering.com, I found a good post with a bunch of links related to this deck. I thought I’d also share those links here for anyone interested in the deck, and for those wanting to know how to play against it.

Pre Future Sight talk.

Post Future Sight talk here, here, and here.

Vintage Hulk Flash talk.

Beating Hulk Flash talk here and here.

Card Discussion – Flash Discussion.

Flash FAQ.

Another Hulk Flash Article.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be testing plenty more Legacy. I’ll see all of you at the GP!

Nick Eisel
Soooooo on MTGO
[email protected]