The Ultimate Shardless Sultai Reference

Simply put, deck primers do not get any better than this. GerryT takes his uncontested favorite Legacy deck and shows you everything you could possibly need to know in order to pilot it well.

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My last four events with Shardless Sultai have been 3-1, 4-0, 4-0, and 4-0. Obviously that’s not enough information to say that Shardless is the best deck
or anything, but if Shardless is even close to good, I’ll be playing it. Right now it’s at least that.

I started this article with the intention of consolidating all the information I’d written on Shardless Sultai into a single article, but most of that
information was from an article I’d previously written with the
addition of an updated decklist and sideboarding guide. Overall, it didn’t seem worth it to make someone re-read a huge article, but it’s definitely
something I’ll work on putting together in the future for completion’s sake.

In the meantime, consider this article the sequel to the previous article, where I go over a lot of things people asked for last time, including how to

This is where I’m at now:

Nothing is Set in Stone

I have reasons for why I’m playing the cards that I am, which I’ll get into below, but if you feel like your metagame is different, feel free to change
things as you see fit. This deck is infinitely customizable, and you should use that to your advantage. You can tune your Shardless Sultai deck to be a
favorite against nearly any archetype, but you probably can’t beat them all. Any list that I put out should only be seen as a starting point.

Why My Deck is the Built the Way it Is

I’m down on Baleful Strix, up on Creeping Tar Pit, and still stuck in the middle with three Force of Wills and four discard spells. I’ve also got some
spiffy basic lands. What gives?

Baleful Strix is specifically good against Delver of Secrets, Tarmogoyf, Gurmag Angler, and Nimble Mongoose, and pretty poor against a bunch of other
stuff, including Deathrite Shaman, True-Name Nemesis, Stoneforge Mystic, Young Pyromancer, and Mother of Runes. Right now, Nimble Mongoose is nearly
non-existent, as the various Delver decks have moved into the latter camp.

While Baleful Strix is reasonable against a solid portion of those decks, it’s no longer the card you always want multiples of. It’s sad but true, because
Baleful Strix was one of the best blue cards you could happily put in your deck. It made the blue count for Force of Will a little better.

Spell-based combo decks have always been difficult matchups (which includes Burn), but I’m taking more steps to improve that. Things like Arcane Laboratory
and Chill are incredibly narrow, and while I would definitely stick with at least one Arcane Laboratory, the Chills can potentially go. Creating the
sideboarding guide made me realize there are a lot of matchups where I could really use an additional card, and those are the easiest cuts if I want to
focus on the popular decks.

I’m 2-0 in matches against Burn, and although Chill was necessary to win one of those games, it’s been the only game I’ve cast it. There are other matchups
out there, like R/X Painter, where I’d love to have access to Chill, but those matchups are few and far between. I should likely drop the Chills for
something else.

Other than spell-based combo decks, I’m worried about True-Name Nemesis and Jace, the Mind Sculptor. I have an additional Creeping Tar Pit and two
Maelstrom Pulses in my 75 for Jace, plus I’m keeping in more Force of Wills against Miracles than I used to. True-Name Nemesis is dealt with via Night of
Souls’ Betrayal and the like, so that hasn’t been too much of a problem, but it’s always something I keep in mind.

The Things I’m Iffy About

Which delve cards should I play? How many can we afford? I honestly think the answer is “not many.” Dig Through Time is a great card for the deck,
especially since it’s blue, but delving is a real cost in a deck with Deathrite Shaman and Tarmogoyf.

The thing I would really like in the maindeck that isn’t there currently is a third Thoughtseize. With cards like Toxic Deluge, Dig Through Time, Baleful
Strix, and Maelstrom Pulse showing up as one-ofs, it’s something that I currently don’t have room for. Jace, the Mind Sculptor is also a card I recently
re-added because of how difficult Miracles was without it. It’s possible that Dig Through Time doesn’t have a place at all, and that is probably where the
Thoughtseize would slot in.

The second Creeping Tar Pit may also be a luxury we can’t afford, but I’ll get into the specifics of that in the manabase section below.

Other than that, I’ve been happy with my deck.

The White Splash

Please don’t. While cascading into hateful permanents is yet another angle of attack against combo decks, I’d much rather see a fourth Force of Will, more
Hymn to Tourachs, and Arcane Laboratory. Meddling Mage and Containment Priest aren’t worth the trouble. If I ever splashed white, it would actually be for
Timely Reinforcements, although the matchups I want that for have Price of Progress or Wasteland plus Stifle, so that’s a bad idea.

Cardboard Advantage

Easily one of the best things about this deck is the little advantages you gain here and there. A fetchland might be a one-for-one in that it’s a land that
finds you a land, but it also puts a card in the graveyard to be used later for Deathrite Shaman, Dig Through Time, or to even pump your Tarmogoyf.

Similarly, Shardless Agent might not be an effective body by itself, but a pair of them can hold off a Nimble Mongoose. It’s a creature to pressure things
like Jace, the Mind Sculptor, and it protects your best creature from Liliana of the Veil. Plus it’s an artifact, which you don’t have a lot of, so your
Tarmogoyfs are a little bigger on average. When you’re facing down a Batterskull or they have a Dismember, having your Tarmogoyf be huge matters.

This is likely a bigger article on its own, but more thought should go into deckbuilding than just “Are these cards individually powerful?” The
interactions that come up during gameplay (such as the aforementioned situations with Shardless Agent’s 2/2 body) aren’t necessarily visible just by
looking at the decklist. Magic is a game of interactions, and some of the neat things that make individual cards good is how they work with your other
cards or against your opponent.

The Manabase

First of all, if you expect a metagame full of Stifles and Wastelands, you should either add a land or change the second Creeping Tar Pit to an additional
dual land. You could even potentially do both. That should help you be able to get to the midgame with some mana sources intact. At that point, your more
powerful cards should start taking over.

Because of the previous section, I always liked trying to max out on fetchlands as much as possible. However, after playing with the full twelve, I was
running out of lands to fetch a little too often. That’s not the biggest issue, as in the lategame you shouldn’t need eight mana anyway, but it was a minor
annoyance. In the games where you get triple Wastelanded, you might actually need that fifth mana source, so having a Creeping Tar Pit instead has been

I’ve felt the most comfortable with eleven fetches, even if the rationale doesn’t sound like it makes sense. There is also some merit to naturally drawing
some lands that don’t die to Stifle, so maybe that’s a bigger reason than I’m giving it credit for.

I prefer the extra fetchland that finds a Forest, as it seems a little more important. Against some Blood Moon decks, you can drop a Tarmogoyf and nearly
ride that to victory on its own. If you’d prefer to fetch the Swamp more consistently against something like Burn or Temur Delver, feel free to play a
Polluted Delta over a Misty Rainforest. Swamp casts more things naturally than the Forest does, so against decks that are pressuring your life total, Swamp
is a little bit better than Forest. Overall, it’s a miniscule thing, but it’s something worth thinking about.

When you use Brainstorm plus fetchland to shuffle away some unwanted cards, make sure you’re shuffling in the “real” lands like Underground Sea rather than
the extra fetchlands. Say you Brainstorm away your second fetchland, and over the course of the game, you fetch five more times. That leaves you with five
fetchlands in your deck with no lands to search for. If you do it the other way, that’s one less dead card you have in your deck, plus it’s an extra card
in your graveyard.

While “thinning your deck” might be the overestimated ability of fetchlands, over the course of a long game, those extra percentage points do add up.

Since the deck has two Creeping Tar Pits at the moment, there are often turns where you’re casting Brainstorm (or using Jace, the Mind Sculptor to
Brainstorm), and you don’t end up getting to shuffle afterward. Overall, that’s not the end of the world, but it’s something to pay attention to when
you’re sequencing. Perhaps you want to hold that extra fetchland open.

Creeping Tar Pit may also trip you up in the earlygame if you kept a land-light hand. That’s another reason to potentially play an extra land, because then
you have more options for when to sequence your land drops.

Using Wasteland can be tricky. I only play two because I think they are mostly free, and there are some utility lands I want to kill. For the most part,
I’m not using Wasteland to try and manascrew my opponent. Since the games are likely going to go long, eventually they’ll draw out of their manascrew.
Generally having a colorless land in play on my side is more useful than them having one less land on their side.

If you have absolutely nothing else going on, it might be productive to use your Wasteland on a random dual land. However, if you draw Brainstorm into a
couple of spells but end up one mana short to play them both and fall behind because of it, it’s your own fault.

Setting Up Ancestral Vision

I think more people do this than I do. In general, I suspend Ancestral Vision more than I hold onto it in case I Brainstorm into Shardless Agent or draw a
Force of Will I might want a blue card for. You have to be aware of how much longer the game is going to last. If you’re very far behind and will lose in a
couple turns, suspending Ancestral does little to nothing, so you are probably better off holding it.

However, if it’s Turn 3 and I just drew an Ancestral for turn, I am almost certainly going to suspend it. There are several games where I’ll suspend
Ancestral on Turn 1 instead of playing Deathrite Shaman as well. The deck might have the ability to “combo out” its opponent by cascading into an Ancestral
Vision, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only thing the card does.

The Sideboarding Guide

Much like with the decklist, I don’t consider this to be set in stone. Decklists vary opponent to opponent, and you sideboard against the cards you see
rather than going off of a sideboarding guide. Because of that, I don’t have numbers that are even swaps for ins and outs. You’ll have to make those
decisions depending on what version of these archetypes you’re playing against.




The locks:

Null Rod Arcane Laboratory Arcane Laboratory Hymn to Tourach Nihil Spellbomb Nihil Spellbomb

The maybes:

Golgari Charm Maelstrom Pulse Grafdigger's Cage


The locks:

Abrupt Decay Abrupt Decay Abrupt Decay Abrupt Decay Toxic Deluge Baleful Strix

The maybes:


(I recommend between 2-4.)

Against combo decks, you are rarely clocking them with a Tarmogoyf. They will be able to assemble their combo quicker than the four or five turn clock that
Tarmogoyf provides, so it’s typically easier to attack their hand with Hymn to Tourach and make sure they can never assemble anything relevant thanks to
Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Liliana of the Veil.

Storm is capable of some very quick victories, and Shardless Sultai has little countermagic that they will often attempt to go off even if they haven’t
seen your hand. Because of that, there’s little point in bluffing a Force of Will and spending your turn deploying a Tarmogoyf when you should really be
casting Hymn to Tourach. These spots can be a little tricky, and it’s never cut and dry. In general, I would err on the side of caution, though. If you
Hymn to Tourach and Liliana of the Veil them into no hand, that’s a virtual win.

They’ll often sideboard in some type of permanent against you, whether it’s Dark Confidant, Xantid Swarm, or Carpet of Flowers. Of those, I’d say that
Xantid Swarm and Carpet of Flowers aren’t very good against you because you don’t have any soft permission, but some people sideboard them in reflexively.
You might want to hedge against something like that by keeping in Abrupt Decay or hedging with something like Disfigure or Maelstrom Pulse.

It’s tricky because, much like in the Tarmogoyf scenario, you don’t want to be taking Turn 2 off just to deal with a Dark Confidant because they might just
kill you. Because of that, I prefer the cheaper option in Disfigure, but I also want some measure of control against Empty the Warrens. Oftentimes, they’ll
(correctly) anticipate graveyard hate and bring in an Empty the Warrens to Infernal Tutor for, so you may want some answers to that. Overall, I like
Maelstrom Pulse best for that.

Against some combo decks, you might find yourself with a bunch of bad cards like Abrupt Decay and Maelstrom Pulse and not enough action to board in. With
those scenarios, it’s best to board in whatever random blue cards you have since if it’s going to be a dead card, it might as well be something you can
pitch to Force of Will.



The locks:

Arcane Laboratory Arcane Laboratory Nihil Spellbomb Nihil Spellbomb Hymn to Tourach

The maybes:

Maelstrom Pulse Golgari Charm


Abrupt Decay Abrupt Decay Abrupt Decay Abrupt Decay Toxic Deluge Baleful Strix

Any number of Tarmogoyfs may come out here, as well.

Against Show and Tell decks, Defense Grid is always a consideration, but you have so few counterspells that it’s often not worth it for them to bring in. I
think it’s pretty safe to assume they won’t have any good Abrupt Decay targets. In reality, they will likely have Leyline of Sanctity, and that’s something
you might need an answer to. Additionally, you might find yourself in a spot where they can put Omniscience into play without a hand. In both of those
cases, something like Maelstrom Pulse or Golgari Charm is a lifesaver.

Sneak and Show


The locks:

Hymn to Tourach Pithing Needle Maelstrom Pulse Chill Chill

The maybes:

Nihil Spellbomb Nihil Spellbomb Golgari Charm


Abrupt Decay Abrupt Decay Abrupt Decay Abrupt Decay Toxic Deluge

Tarmogoyf, again, may need to be cut.

This is similar to the Omni-Tell matchup, except you have a few other cards that can interact with them. Your Planeswalkers threaten Show and Tell into
fatty quite nicely, and even Baleful Strix can be quite good here. Sometimes it’s all about getting to eight permanents, blocking their Sneak Attacked
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn with Baleful Strix, keeping your Tarmogoyf, and riding it to victory. If they’re low enough, sometimes a Baleful Strix and
Griselbrand will just stare at each other.

Chill tends to be quite good against their sideboard plan involving Blood Moon and Pyroblast, plus it delays Sneak Attack for quite a while. All you really
need is time to get a Planeswalker set up or shred their hand.

Nihil Spellbomb is worth it if you see Dig Through Time.



Nihil Spellbomb Nihil Spellbomb Pithing Needle Grafdigger's Cage Maelstrom Pulse Night of Souls' Betrayal Disfigure Disfigure


Abrupt Decay Abrupt Decay Abrupt Decay Abrupt Decay Hymn to Tourach Hymn to Tourach Liliana of the Veil Liliana of the Veil

They don’t have many creatures you want to be killing, so Abrupt Decay is a fine cut. Sniping a Narcomoeba in their draw step is a reasonable way to
prevent them from Cabal Therapying you a bunch, but at that point, your hand should probably have little relevance anyway. There’s also the issue of them
having a Bridge from Below or four, so removal is often better spent killing your own creatures, awkwardly enough.

Using Deathrite Shaman in this matchup can be difficult. In some games, it’s better to aggressively go after their dredgers, but if they are slow dredging,
it might be better to wait and just try to eat their Narcomoebas and Ichorids.

Either way, any hand with a Force of Will and Deathrite Shaman is probably a snap-keep. After sideboard, you get some more options in Nihil Spellbomb and
Grafdigger’s Cage.



Disfigure Disfigure Chill Chill Hymn to Tourach


Thoughtseize Thoughtseize Thoughtseize Maelstrom Pulse Toxic Deluge

This matchup can be difficult. If you waste some turns casting Hymn to Tourach, you often won’t present much of a clock, which will give them plenty of
time to draw enough burn to finish you off. Your best bet is to stick a Deathrite Shaman and protect it from Searing Blaze and the like to either gain
enough life or start putting them on a clock.

Golgari Charm is an option because it deals with Sulfuric Vortex and Eidolon of the Great Revel, two of their best cards against you. Fetch basics when
possible, and remember that you can Wasteland yourself in order to make Price of Progress less effective against you.

The Planeswalkers might seem slow, but they are basically the only things that allow you to get some semblance of control on the game. If you’re relatively
stable, start fatesealing them with Jace, the Mind Sculptor and hope they don’t have too many good cards in a row on top of their deck.



Hymn to Tourach Night of Souls' Betrayal Disfigure Disfigure Golgari Charm Pithing Needle


Jace, the Mind Sculptor Maelstrom Pulse Tarmogoyf Tarmogoyf Tarmogoyf Tarmogoyf

This is another combo deck where Tarmogoyf does very little. You already have some dinky bodies on the ground that can block Glistener Elf if necessary,
and your clock should be locking them out of the game with removal — You’re not winning a race.

Shred their hand, keep their board clear, and you should be alright.



Night of Souls' Betrayal Grafdigger's Cage Disfigure Disfigure Golgari Charm Hymn to Tourach Pithing Needle


Jace, the Mind Sculptor Jace, the Mind Sculptor Baleful Strix Tarmogoyf Tarmogoyf Tarmogoyf Tarmogoyf

This matchup is very similar to the Infect matchup. You need to contain their engine while also making sure they can’t set up a big Green Sun’s Zenith or
Natural Order. Glimpse of Nature is one of their scariest cards, but they often side it out, which is good news. I understand that Glimpse becomes much
worse after they sideboard out the cards that aren’t great against removal (Heritage Druid and Nettle Sentinel) and bring in Abrupt Decays, but when I’m
trying to one-for-one you, the last thing I want you to do is fire off an Ancestral Recall. They still have that capability with Elvish Visionary and
Wirewood Symbiote, so try to prevent that from happening.

Since you’ll be disrupting them, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to go nuts with their engine. Their Plan C is to nickel and dime you out with Deathrite
Shamans. You should always be aware of where the game is heading and what your opponent needs to do in order to win, so it’s possible that nugging them
with your own Deathrite Shaman is worse than gaining life in most situations.



Null Rod Pithing Needle Maelstrom Pulse Chill Chill

The maybes:

Disfigure Disfigure Hymn to Tourach


The locks:

Toxic Deluge Baleful Strix

The maybes:

Hymn to Tourach Hymn to Tourach Ancestral Vision Ancestral Vision Ancestral Vision Jace, the Mind Sculptor Jace, the Mind Sculptor

This matchup can be very difficult. They have the capability of playing a Turn 1 Blood Moon, so mulligan accordingly. A Thoughtseize or Force of Will is
often enough to disrupt their entire gameplan, but you can’t lean on Force of Will too much because of how many Pyroblast effects they have.

Instead, I’d be looking for a hand that has the ability to get at least one basic into play before they can land a Blood Moon, or at the very least
something with a Deathrite Shaman. If you’re completely desperate, Tarmogoyf might still beat a Blood Moon even if you can’t cast anything.

Ancestral Vision isn’t very good here because all you really need is to make it out of the early turns unscathed. Hymn to Tourach is similar, but it’s
usually pretty good on the play.

Disfigure is a possibility if they have an abundance of Goblin Welders, but other than that, it doesn’t kill many things that matter outside of Jaya
Ballard, Task Mage.


Temur Delver


Nihil Spellbomb Nihil Spellbomb Disfigure Disfigure


Jace, the Mind Sculptor Jace, the Mind Sculptor Hymn to Tourach Maelstrom Pulse

Your goal in most of these tempo matchups is board control. Once your Tarmogoyf is in play, it will likely stay there and will make several of their cards
close to useless. It might be rather common to side out Force of Will in blue mirrors, but that’s much different in a matchup like this. Making sure you
resolve Tarmogoyf is often worth more than just two cards.

Dig Through Time might seem slow and/or bad here, but you are trading resources and are frequently operating mana-light. Being able to cast a very
impactful spell for two mana is huge.

Hymn to Tourach is interesting against these Delver decks. You have to gauge how aggressive they are trying to be. If they want to slow down and sideboard
in a bunch of reactive cards like Pyroblast, cards like Hymn to Tourach become much better. However, I’d expect many people to stay on the aggressive
route, so going down to one Hymn to Tourach is fine, at least until you can figure out if you want zero or two.

I typically like Thoughtseize in this matchup, even though the life loss matters. Sometimes they operate like a Burn deck and have a pair of Lightning
Bolts to finish you off, but most of the time you’re taking a Tarmogoyf that saves you twelve points of life or a Brainstorm that could get them back in
the game. Most of the time you’re trying to use it to strip their threat or force yours through.

Most of the games you’ll lose to Temur Delver involve dying before you have the opportunity to cast all the spells in your hand. They use their tempo
elements to keep you choked on mana, so having any one mana spell that impacts the game is excellent against them.

Ancestral Vision might seem too slow in the matchup, but they aren’t actually that fast, especially since you have Abrupt Decay, which they can’t stop. It
gives them something they basically have to fight over, which is nice because you don’t have a lot of those types of threats. Again, it’s also cheap, so
that makes it a little more valuable than something like Jace, the Mind Sculptor or Maelstrom Pulse, which either walk into Daze and Spell Pierce or rot in
your hand.

Sultai Delver


The locks:

Disfigure Disfigure

The maybes:

Maelstrom Pulse Nihil Spellbomb Nihil Spellbomb


The maybes:

Maelstrom Pulse Hymn to Tourach Hymn to Tourach

I’d also consider taking out some number of Force of Will.

Unlike the Temur Delver matchup, this matchup can be very grindy. If they don’t have Stifles, that likely means they have things like Hymn to Tourachs and
Planeswalkers of their own, in which case you might want to keep your own Hymn to Tourachs and the Maelstrom Pulse.

If they have Tasigur, the Golden Fang or Gurmag Angler, you’ll want the Maelstrom Pulse, Nihil Spellbombs, and all the Planeswalkers. If they are trying to
play the Temur Delver game with Stifle and Daze, it probably means they don’t have Hymn to Tourach or Jace, the Mind Sculptor, so Maelstrom Pulse and Hymn
to Tourach are pretty bad. Force of Will is also much better.

Try to get a sense for how they play, what their gameplan is, and how they view the matchup after sideboard, as those should influence how you do the same.

Jeskai Delver


Night of Souls' Betrayal Golgari Charm Maelstrom Pulse


Jace, the Mind Sculptor Force of Will Baleful Strix

U/R Delver


The locks:

Disfigure Disfigure Chill Chill Night of Souls' Betrayal Golgari Charm

The maybes:

Maelstrom Pulse


The locks:

Jace, the Mind Sculptor Jace, the Mind Sculptor

The maybes:

Force of Will Force of Will Force of Will Hymn to Tourach Hymn to Tourach Nihil Spellbomb Nihil Spellbomb Force of Will Baleful Strix

Similarly to the matchup with Temur Delver, Hymn to Tourach can potentially be good if your opponent loads up on reactive cards.

Also similarly to the Temur Delver matchup, Force of Will can be quite important at ensuring you have a board presence. The last thing you want is your
Tarmogoyf getting Submerged while your opponent is attacking with a pair of Monastery Swiftspears. Having a counterspell to counter their lethal Price of
Progress could also be important.

Then again, you might play some games where they never play anything that’s worth Force of Willing. I think keeping in two is likely correct, but that
could very easily be wrong one way of the other.

The importance of Baleful Strix and Maelstrom Pulse vary depending on how many delve fatties they have.




The locks:

Null Rod Pithing Needle Maelstrom Pulse

The maybes:

Hymn to Tourach Nihil Spellbomb Nihil Spellbomb Golgari Charm


Toxic Deluge Baleful Strix Tarmogoyf Tarmogoyf Tarmogoyf Tarmogoyf

Baleful Strix can be reasonable if they have Vendilion Clique or multiple Entreat the Angels. Entreat is the card you definitely want to watch out for, so
feel free to use your Wastelands liberally if you think they’re building up to it, even if they already have a bunch of mana. Between Planeswalkers and
extra Abrupt Decays, it’s not that difficult to beat even an Entreat for five.

I’m sure most people will disagree with sideboarding out Tarmogoyf, but after trying it recently, I’ve been a big fan of that plan. They often have a bunch
of Swords to Plowshares and Terminuses, so your Tarmogoyf rarely gets to do anything productive. You should be focused on Hymn to Touraching that stuff out
of their hand and then clocking them with Deathrite Shaman and/or Creeping Tar Pit. There’s also a reasonable chance they are bringing in something like
Rest in Peace, so it’s nice to not have a bunch of things that are worthless once that card is in play.

I’ve liked keeping in the Force of Will because they’ll often win on the back of Jace, the Mind Sculptor or Entreat the Angels, and they don’t have enough
card advantage to really grind you out. You often have more resources than you know what to do with, so spending a Force of Will on something that could
shift the game in their favor doesn’t hurt you very much, if at all.




Night of Souls' Betrayal Golgari Charm Disfigure Disfigure Maelstrom Pulse Pithing Needle Grafdigger's Cage


The maybes:

Force of Will Force of Will Force of Will Hymn to Tourach Hymn to Tourach Tarmogoyf Tarmogoyf

This matchup can be difficult if they get out in front of you, but most of the time it’s pretty easy, especially after sideboarding. Your Hymn to Tourachs
are slow, and since the matchup is more about board presence than card advantage, you are fine siding them out.

They have so many great threats that you basically want to Force of Will anything from Mother of Runes to Knight of the Reliquary, but you have no such
luxury, especially in the face of Cavern of Souls. It’s best to side them out and bring in different answers instead.

Tarmogoyf is a fine clock and blocks a lot of their smaller stuff, but any big threat (equipment, Knight of the Reliquary, Mother of Runes) is going to
make Tarmogoyf look silly. I’ve played enough games in this matchup to know that Tarmogoyf is bad a significant portion of the time, so it’s fine to
sideboard out a couple.



The maybes:

Chill Chill Disfigure Disfigure Nihil Spellbomb Nihil Spellbomb Maelstrom Pulse Hymn to Tourach


The maybes:

Force of Will Force of Will Force of Will Thoughtseize Thoughtseize Thoughtseize Jace, the Mind Sculptor Jace, the Mind Sculptor

This is one of the few matchups where I don’t care about Thoughtseize very much. They are so threat-dense that casting Thoughtseize is akin to casting
Raven’s Crime, and I’d like to avoid that if possible. If they have something you are particularly worried about, such as Sylvan Library or Dark Confidant,
Thoughtseize might be fine, but it’s really no worse than letting them have a Bloodbraid Elf or Tarmogoyf.

These games are going to be epic grinds, which they typically have the edge in thanks to Punishing Fire. Without it, I think you’ll do just fine with
Ancestral Vision and Jace, the Mind Sculptor, but it’s always close. Since it’s all about trading one-for-one, Hymn to Tourach is quite good early and
worth having in your deck, even if it’s a poor topdeck. Try to cut off the things that allow them to stay on parity with you, like Dark Confidant or Sylvan

Nihil Spellbomb is not only good against Punishing Fire, but it’s also good against decks with discard in general. If you’re able to empty your hand, they
might only be able to Hymn to Tourach a single card, at which point you can crack the Nihil Spellbomb, untap and draw, and start the turn with a fresh new
set of cards.

Jace, the Mind Sculptor can actually be pretty poor in this matchup because of Punishing Fire, Lightning Bolt, and Bloodbraid Elf, but it’s one of the few
ways you can break parity against them. If they’re sideboarding in Pyroblasts, you might want additional discard to try and protect Jace, but it’s often
best to let them worry about it and side them out.

Death and Taxes


The locks:

Pithing Needle Night of Souls' Betrayal Golgari Charm Maelstrom Pulse Disfigure Disfigure

The maybes:

Null Rod


The maybes:

Force of Will Force of Will Force of Will Hymn to Tourach Hymn to Tourach Jace, the Mind Sculptor Jace, the Mind Sculptor

This matchup can be difficult if everything comes together on their end, but I’ve also played games where their deck is kind of embarrassing. That said,
it’s one of the few matchups I’d like to avoid if possible. They have Aether Vial to give them a huge mana advantage and allow them to use Rishadan Port
with impunity, which is very scary. Shardless Sultai does not like having its manabase attacked.

Aether Vial will either be great or a blank, depending on your hand. Sometimes you can use Hymn to Tourach to strip their hand, which means they don’t get
to use Aether Vial as often as they’d like. Then you can save your Abrupt Decays for things that will actually pressure you instead of allow them to gain a
tempo advantage. Sometimes you’re better off going after their Aether Vials with Abrupt Decay and hoping to choke them on mana.

For the most part, you’re going to be killing their creatures and drawing some cards. If the game is going in any other direction, you are probably on the
losing end.

Shardless Sultai


The locks:

Maelstrom Pulse Disfigure Disfigure

The maybes:

Nihil Spellbomb


The maybes:

Force of Will Force of Will Force of Will

Aside from Jace, the Mind Sculptor, there’s not much you want to be Force of Willing. Ancestral Vision is close, but whether they draw three random cards
or you discard two spells doesn’t matter too much. I think I’d rather try to fight them on the same axis rather than trying to have Force of Will plus blue
card at the best times. Plus, they have so much card advantage that countering an Ancestral Vision won’t leave them without enough resources to work with.
It’s usually best to just power through it as best you can.

Obviously the exception to this rule is Jace, the Mind Sculptor, but you have a second Creeping Tar Pit and Maelstrom Pulse, both of which are excellent

If they decided to play a bunch of the shiny new delve cards, punish them with Nihil Spellbomb.

If you want to beat this matchup, I recommend Misdirection.

Esper Deathblade


The maybes:

Disfigure Disfigure Golgari Charm Maelstrom Pulse Night of Souls' Betrayal Nihil Spellbomb Nihil Spellbomb


The maybes:

Force of Will Force of Will Force of Will Baleful Strix Hymn to Tourach Hymn to Tourach

These decks tend to be very different from one another. If they have Vendilion Clique or Geist of Saint Traft, Baleful Strix is reasonable to keep. I would
expect more of the Deathrite Shaman / Stoneforge Mystic / True-Name Nemesis package, though, neither of which is hindered by a lowly robot owl.

I would expect all of the -1/-1 effects to be good because of how good True-Name Nemesis is against you, but it’s possible that the Golgari Charm is too
much. You rarely want to cascade into it, so unless they have something like Dark Confidant or Lingering Souls, you might want to leave it on the bench.

Hymn to Tourach can be nice if you get a turn of reprieve to fire it off, but they are the beatdown in this matchup. If they’re constantly putting pressure
on you, wasting your turn making them discard some cards is not the best way to get back into the game. However, if they are loading up on reactive cards
like Supreme Verdict, Hymn to Tourach becomes good again.

Still, the matchup can be kind of grindy, and they aren’t presenting anything you can’t deal with otherwise, so Force of Will can potentially go. It’s
unlikely that they’ll keep in their Force of Wills, so it’s not like you’ll have any big fights over either of your haymakers.

Nihil Spellbomb is reasonable if they have Snapcaster Mage, Lingering Souls, and/or Dig Through Time. Don’t be afraid to use it just to counter one of
their Deathrite Shaman activations if you think it will slow them down, though.

Big Mana

12 Post


The locks:

Hymn to Tourach Pithing Needle Null Rod

The maybes:

Maelstrom Pulse Grafdigger's Cage


The locks:

Toxic Deluge Abrupt Decay Baleful Strix

The maybes:

Maelstrom Pulse

This matchup should be bad, but I’ve always done well against it. Abrupt Decay might seem rather dead, but it’s important to be able to take out a Pithing
Needle on Wasteland or Liliana of the Veil. Sometimes you can even snipe an Expedition Map before they can use it or force them to shuffle away their
Sensei’s Divining Top with a fetchland activation on the stack. It’s not the most impressive use of the card, but their deck is great at ignoring yours, so
you have to do what you have to do.

For the most part, you just want to get their hand down to nothing and stop their Sensei’s Divining Tops with Force of Will, Pithing Needle, or Null Rod.
If you can also keep their mana tight with Wasteland, that’s great, but I wouldn’t bank on it since there are only two copies.

If they have Green Sun’s Zenith, Grafdigger’s Cage might be worth a slot. If they seem to always resolve Primeval Titan against you, perhaps Maelstrom
Pulse is something worth running.

Unlike the other combo-ish matchups, you actually need a clock here since putting them down to zero cards in hand doesn’t guarantee victory. They could
have eight mana in play waiting to draw a Primeval Titan or they could simply be floating their good cards with Sensei’s Divining Top. Either way, you need
to actually put a clock on them, and unlike the other decks, you can usually tap out for Tarmogoyf on Turn 2 safely.



The locks:

Pithing Needle Nihil Spellbomb Nihil Spellbomb

The maybes:

Chill Chill


Toxic Deluge Hymn to Tourach Hymn to Tourach Maelstrom Pulse

Chill is reasonable against Gamble and Punishing Fire, but it certainly isn’t great. Hymn to Tourach is fine if you’re locking down their graveyard, but
it’s pretty miserable otherwise. There might be some targets for Maelstrom Pulse, but I’d rather have the cheaper Abrupt Decay, and it’s not like that’s an
effect you want a bunch of anyway.

Baleful Strix is the mopiest of clocks, but at least it can block Marit Lage for a turn.

This is among the worst matchups. Tsabo’s Web is a good solution if you’ve got the space for it. Sideboarding additional Wastelands is also reasonable.


Phew! I don’t think I missed anything, but after this undertaking, it’s kind of impossible to think that nothing slipped through the cracks. If I did miss
something and you’d like the answer, you know where to find me.