Two Takes On Armada Wurm Tap-Out

Getting two is generally better than one, and this is the case with Armada Wurm in Return to Ravnica. Remember Broodmate Dragon? Flores brews a couple ramp decks that tap out for these fatty boom booms.

One limitation on some recent decks posted by YT was an ignorance of the then-impending appearance of Return to Ravnica six-drop Armada Wurm. I try to avoid unofficial spoilers and make it a point never to comment on them, so I really didn’t see this one coming. Armada Wurm is of course a kind of Flores cream-dream, its fatty solids a solid fatty on the order of a Broodmate Dragon, a kind of Keiga that comes with five or so Meloku Illusions stapled on automatically, and all stapled together. And if you are considering some sort of Selesnya 187s, the idea of stopping on Thragtusk seems a little silly next to Restoration Angel…because the only thing better than a 5/5 token is two of them #HolyBladeSplicerBatman

So, too, does Armada Wurm tempt our Simic sensibilities; this could be our stop sign, our snag, our simultaneous stopper-sender; blocking and attacking like Plato’s friendship, one being—our both, our everything—just split over two bodies. But there is that. You know what. Those.

The second G in Armada Wurm’s top-right is more than a little troubling for the control corner. A single G we could wave off like so many Lingerie Football League replacement referees. Chapin & co. did so with their Broodmate Dragons way back when. A Temple Garden? Whatever they’re calling Rupture Spire these days? No harm, no foul, no issue really…

But GG? In order to make for an—ahem—Good Game, further consideration than a mere splash will probably have to be made to accommodate Armada Wurm.

Part One – Midrange SelesNaya

Objective: Accelerate and / or hold the ground, winning Trump in Stage Three via Armada Wurm.

The bet here is that you can block-and-annoy the aggressive decks in order to live long enough to win via an overabundance of size and threat quality. Your early-ish stuff is hard to get through economically and you are inviolate come Stage Three (or in this case, Stage Two [Wurms]), being both bigger and more numerous than whatever the opponent is doing.

You may have a potential disadvantage against battlefield-domineering control strategies but are hedging via an armada of hard-working heroes. Everybody here is doing work, digging up something extra, leaving someone behind. Your deck is an Adrian Sullivan thought experiment, has poor Aaron Forsythe palms damp, his breath quick in envy of your opportunity to continue tournament play. Mana and bombs; MANA AND BOMBS. Almost every card you play does two things. Well. It is known. Make them have it. If they have it, recover—you will have the resources to recover. After all, It’s The Last Fatty That Kills You.  

Here is a here there and everywhere updated SelesNaya sketch:

Am I really playing Centaur Healer over Loxodon Smiter?

Here is a way to think about curving out that you might not be doing yet. A perfect curve is Avacyn’s Pilgrim into Borderland Ranger (or Centaur Healer) into Restoration Angel. At that point you have won the lotto… But still, curving into Thragtusk and Armada Wurm of course would be a nice way to keep going.

Obviously there are some small disconnects. If I had unlimited liberty, I would of course play four copies of Arbor Elf, but I figured I would need Selesnya Charm to avoid getting blown out by Wolfir Silverheart (if some mages go that way over Thragtusk) [also a fine catalyst for the deck’s relatively modest populate].

An alternate path being Farseek into Garruk or sometimes a “merely” QQ third-turn drive-by Restoration Angel. You don’t necessarily see decks ramping with both the Llanowar Elves and Rampant Growth traditions simultaneously, but think of this sketch as a bit of a combo deck. You still want to hit a turn-three four even if you don’t have a turn-two three, but ragged mana development will leave unspent holes. So Rancor does double duty here… Not only does it make every late-game Arbor Elf into a legit murderer (and helps keep the opponent from chump blocking your expensive stuff), but it fills the mana holes!

So… the red. Huntmaster of the Fells can potentially be a glorious fit here with Restoration Angel (also a sweet four off a Farseek), but given a sum total of one Mountain, the last thing you want is to be pinned with awesome cards in grip against aggression… But no clean way to hit under pressure. Ergo I didn’t play any main deck. I might be over-anticipating “permanents” with all these Rings and Disenchants… So perhaps Huntmaster will be a good complement to Zealous Conscripts in the side. This would be easier with Stomping Grounds and Sacred Foundries.

Now on the topic of Zealous Conscripts, if your goal is to trump an ultimate planeswalker, you have time. Far less pressure than needing red on turn three or four. Remember, the goal of this deck is to accelerate and stall into sixes, and as good as Huntmaster of the Fells is AT EXACTLY THAT, if you can’t easily cast it, there will be no stalling.

Of course I could be wrong about Huntmaster or maybe should just work harder (especially given this sketch’s Human sub-theme).

Part Two – Bant Showtime

Again, the prospect of tapping out with Armada Wurm at the high end of the kind of control deck that I love but Gerry sees as a hateful abomination on the order of jeggings or the fact that here comes honey boo boo—more than the US presidential race, J.K. Rowling’s new book, or even the returning NFL referees—is currently the most trafficked / trending topic in the world* is potentially limited by the GG restriction in its casting cost.

You can approach this issue in a couple of different ways…

1. Ignore it. I am playing blue, presumably drawing extras… I’m sure I’ll luck sack into the second green. This is a splash; I am a miser.

2. Forget about it. Sigh. Just pick a different finisher.

3. Expand our focus, re-think, and re-focus (which is what we are going to do).

… I mean if I am unwilling to run Huntmaster of the Fells in a 187 theme deck with four Farseeks and four Borderland Rangers in my starting sixty, what do you think the chances are I’d choose number one?

I really, really like Armada Wurm cast in the tap-out finisher role; so at least for purposes of this sketch, we have to just say no to number two as well. Which leaves us with…

I waffled quite a bit on the basics portion of the mana base (at one point four Forests, no Islands or Plains despite the restrictions and implications of Farseek [if I can cast Farseek, chances of having to search up a basic Forest are low]). But I think fourteen green sources is a reasonable number in terms of being able to hit a turn-two Farseek.

Given the cardboard acrobatics I am putting the cards through, I would like another kind of Rampant Growth. I have a healthy respect, now, for R&D’s hesitance to print cards like Simic Signet. Think about how much easier it would be for blue to steal green’s high-end 187 fatties! In order to get to desirable stuff like Armada Wurm, we legitimately have to be a—gasp—green deck!

But a deck than can stick a third-turn Jace, Architect of Thought (or exploit an equally faster Supreme Verdict) is a different animal than one that plays at the same speed as other control decks. And then, following up with Thragtusk and Armada Wurm—both with greater speed and at all—makes for a nice set of combined possibilities.

One of the dangers of playing a tap-out control deck is that you need to make sure the thing you’re tapping out for is the best thing people can do. When Osyp Lebedowicz and I were singing the praises of a Keiga or Meloku, the bet was that there wasn’t a whole lot better. But how about a Thragtusk or just a 5/5? Armada Wurm is a nice finishing creature, but there are both bigger creatures—and bigger creatures at efficient and comparable costs (we already mentioned Wolfir Silverheart in this very article). The cool thing is that by leaning on a combination of card draw and Supreme Verdict we can hedge out best-ness. Other cat got something better than what you can do? Blow everybody up and start over!

Similar deal on Sphinx’s Revelation. Patience may be a virtue on this one; great way to break a standoff and get out in front of the opponent…almost regardless of his top end.

I don’t know how I feel about having no Augur of Bolas / Snapcaster Mage, but there just isn’t the structure to support them here.

I kind of really want Restoration Angel, just because Patrick told me he thinks Restoration Angel + Thragtusk is the second most powerful Super Arts you can do in Standard (after making a Jace, of course)…but again, structure. Not enough dudes for that combo.

Important to note: I feel like it is important for control decks to be able to answer a Rakdos’s Return, and this deck has not Dissipate to stop one, and Sphinx’s Revelation to recover immediately.

So, how are you planning to brew, Armada Wurm-style?


* At least according to a speaker Google, at the time of this writing.