I’m having my own theme week. It just ain’t Bant.
I went down to the local card and game shop, Compleat Games here in the Springs, for the local Release Party on Friday. After riding Exalted all the way to the small-sized payday, I was hoping to take what I had learned about Shards Limited (and, specifically, Exalted) and pay my way into a few future Friday Night Magics.
Unfortunately, Fate is a fickle mistress! Oh how fickle.
Let me start by saying this: Shards is probably one of the more skill-testing Limited formats that I’ve seen in a long time. It’s very unlikely you’ll ever see a two-color deck, and I think three-color decks are probably going to be more of an exception to the rule. No, I expect four- and five-color decks will be the norm, since Shards offers you plenty of opportunities to splash your bombs with fairly relative ease. Because of the ability to splash a fourth or even a fifth color, it’s extraordinarily skill-intensive to get a Sealed deck down to 40 cards.
I tried to cut my deck down, yet again. I was even only playing three colors and I still couldn’t get it down to 40. At least I only ran 42 this time. I needed the bodies, which is an absolutely sad statement to make once I reveal that…
… I was playing Naya.
Guardians of Akrasa
2 Oblivion Ring
2 Resounding Silence
2 Bloodpyre Elemental
2 Magma Spray
Druid of the Anima
2 Naya Battlemage
2 Wild Nacatl
2 Sigil Blessing
2 Grixis Panorama
Just a single 5+ power guy, in Naya, the 5-power-matters Shard. No Mosstodons. I guess I shouldn’t have been so excited about the five in my Sealed pool at the Pre-Release. No Cavern Thoctars. Neither of the two Cycling guys. Not even a sniff of the uncommon guys. It should have tipped me to just ignore Titanic Ultimatum and see what was in the other colors… and I did try. I tried splashing Blue for Bant Charm and Rhox War Monk, but it seemed forced. I tried splashing Black for some bodies, but they were… just… guys. I tried an Esper build, but these guys just seemed better. Plus, Naya had all the removal. ALL of it.
I did splash in the single Island and the fetchlands to make sure I could cycle the Resounding Silences, which I did on more than one occasion. I tried to hold out, in fact, to see if I could cycle it rather than just casting it. And actually, the cycling ability was relevant in one match where my opponent was holding a counterspell.
I went into it figuring I would have to just run over people if I was going to have any chance. And I did, for a little bit, starting out 3-0 but finishing 3-3 once I hit the more controlling decks in the upper echelons. (Yes, you will note that my Launch Party had more rounds than my Pre-Release. That’s neither here nor there.) But that’s okay. That first Titanic Ultimatum triggered the little Johnny/Timmy in me, and now I’m just going to build my own Naya deck.
Deliver the Ultimatum
Titanic Ultimatum ($1.25) is not a card to be taken lightly. Yes, it’s seven mana – but the net effect is to make all your guys into insanely huge and power monsters. It’s arguably as swingy as Cruel Ultimatum, assuming it resolves – and that you have enough guys to benefit from it. It definitely did NOT play nice with Exalted, and especially not with the Exalted Defender guy, Defenders of Akrasa. You want to have a ton of guys who are ready and willing to attack once you cast the Ultimatum.
The way I see it, there are two options. One is to focus on efficient and cheaper guys who will allow you to put pressure on your opponent while you wait for Ultimatum (or in case it gets countered); the second is to use the copious token producers in Standard to build an extreme ground force that will break the game in half on the receiving end of the Ultimatum.
Ultimatum as Win More?
I’ve heard a lot of people, more wise than I in terms of Magical formats, say that Wild Nacatl is probably going to be a bigger force in Extended, where you have the Ravnica dual lands and the Onslaught fetchlands to increase the likelihood of making your Wild Nacatl a 3/3 on its first attack. But you know what? I think that Wild Nacatl is pretty good as a 2/2 for G on turn 2, with the future potential for upsizing with the third land. I mean, Kithkin has been content with Goldmeadow Stalwart for a year, and there’s still good buzz around Nettle Sentinel despite his downside. Wild Nacatl is a better draw in the mid- and late-game as well, since there’s a better likelihood she’ll be a 3/3 at that time.
And it’s not like you’re helpless in the “fetching out relevant land types” department nowadays.
- 4 Kitchen Finks
- 4 Druid of the Anima
- 3 Elvish Visionary
- 4 Wild Nacatl
- 4 Rip-Clan Crasher
- 4 Woolly Thoctar
Rare Cost Summary:
Titanic Ultimatum (3 x $1.25 = $3.75)
It could probably use another one-drop; Mogg Fanatic is pretty good for the budget player, but there’s also the ubiquitous Figure of Destiny if you have eighty bucks lying around to drop on a set. Elvish Visionary might not be ideal, but I like the idea of having a little card-drawing to speed you towards the Ultimatum. The game plan? To drop a few creatures, clear a path, and peck and poke until you get up to that awkward seven mana to obliterate your enemy.
Rares You Could Add, If You Had ‘Em: Figure of Destiny was already mentioned, although now that I think about it, you might get away with replacing Wild Nacatl with them – and this is because you’d probably want to run some of the Shadowmoor/Eventide filter lands to maximize your chances of getting that awkward seven specific mana. The Elvish Visionaries would look nice as Quirion Dryads, since everything but the Wild Nacatls fit the bill.
Just a Token Ultimatum
The nice thing about the Naya colors are that they all have decent token generators. Which to choose? Green and its Elves? Red’s Goblins? White and its… um… Goats? (There, Ash, that one’s for you.) Having some experience with the token-producing cards since I started playing Warp World a few months ago, I think the best answer is probably going to be… why not all of them? You’ve gotta play all three colors to cast the Ultimatum anyway.
A fine balance should probably be struck between spells that produce tokens, and some of the more permanent, repeatable token generators. Guys like Imperious Perfect and Wolf-Skull Shaman provide a more-or-less continuous stream of little guys that are just perfect for the Ultimate boost.
- 3 Cloudgoat Ranger
- 4 Imperious Perfect
- 2 Wren's Run Packmaster
- 4 Wolf-Skull Shaman
- 2 Wort, the Raidmother
- 4 Jund Battlemage
- 4 Druid of the Anima
Rare Cost Summary:
Wort, the Raidmother (2 x $1.00 = $2.00)
Wren’s Run Packmaster (2 x $4.00 = $8.00)
Titanic Ultimatum (3 x $1.25 = $3.75)
Springjack Pasture (1 x $1.00 = $1.00)
The Wolf-Skull Shaman triggers off of, let’s see, 26 of the 60 cards. Not too shabby. The Pasture keeps generating harmless-looking 0/1 tokens, which will lull your opponent into thinking you’re just playing defense, and really poorly at that. Little do they know that you’re just ramping up to 7 mana when you can WHAM! drop the Ultimatum and send in your 5/6 Goats. Now that is an awesome mental picture.
Rares You Could Add, If You Had ‘Em: Again, the Shadowmoor / Eventide filter lands will help with that awkward mana cost on the Ultimatum, and you don’t have the Wild Nacatl to tie you in to the basic land structure. My experience with Warp World has shown that Siege-Gang Commander is a pretty good token provider, and has a pretty nice ability that ties in to the other Goblin generators.
This Ultimatum is Sinking
The end result of this little exercise? I actually like Titanic Ultimatum. It’s probably prime for countering and dependent on having four or five creatures on the board to really make a huge swing, but it’s just soooo good when it all goes for you. I loved Overrun from pretty much Day 1, and ran it in my very first tournament deck; Titanic Ultimatum is like Overrun, but on an epic scale. Overrun had one small downside: if you failed to kill your opponent with it, or heaven forbid you lost a couple of creatures to advantageous blocking, you were stuck looking for the next opening. Titanic Ultimatum’s lifelink add-on gives you more than adequate time to keep pounding away if the first one isn’t fatal, and the first strike add-on means there shouldn’t be any way your opponent can profit from blocking.
The real question is, can it be squeezed into Warp World? *laugh*
Until next week…