U/R Vore for Standard

With Nationals just around the corner, it’s time to focus on the Standard scene and hone our weapon of choice. Today we have the thoughts of one of England’s premier Constructed minds, Pro Tour regular Stuart Wright. His personal choice for the strongest deck in the format? U/R Vore. Stu presents his own take on the deck, shares his sideboarding strategy, and runs through a few sample games. Looking for the perfect mana-denial strategy? Then read on…

Although other people have written about this deck before, I still feel that it doesn’t get the respect it deserves. This probably comes from its reputation as a deck where you need to get lucky to win. Some games it will start with Eye of Nowhere, Stone Rain, Demolish, and Tidings, and simply crush people… but this sort of draw is not very common, and it is not needed for you to win. It is not a deck with 24 land destruction spells that tries to lock people down to one or less land. The goal is simply to create tempo so that your card drawing and huge hasted threat can finish them off before they can recover and cast their powerful expensive cards.

All you really need to do is keep them below five lands, so that Wildfire sweeps their board or Magnivore is able force them to chump block until they die. The deck list is pretty standard, as there are only so many Blue or Red cards you are will to play. Often just killing one or two lands will set back other decks by many turns, and if they get even slightly screwed they can often be left totally helpless by two Stone Rains. The other side of the coin, where they draw lots of lands, can be just as good for you because even if they keep playing lands, each one you kill still sets them back a turn from casting their dragon or whatever. And while this is happening you are busy drawing a bunch of extra cards and powering up for a 10/10 hasted creature.

Overall, having ten card drawing and selection spells makes this deck a lot more consistent than it may seem, allowing you win by simply drawing lots of cards, countering a few spells, then making a big hasted man.

Here is the decklist:

The main deck is pretty normal, but I have made a few changes to what people might expect. The most powerful card is the singleton Boseiju, Who Shelters All. While not exactly new tech, it is well worth playing as it can totally dominate Blue-based Control decks, while you have Compulsive Research and Sleight of Hand to get rid of it against aggro. Other versions play four Eye of Nowhere and four Boomerang, but I feel this makes you too dependant on going first and getting good draws, helping your God draws and leaving you with a bunch of cards that just slow them down in other games.

After playing a lot of games with this deck, I found three Tidings to be too many, so one became the fourth Pyroclasm to help against your worst match-ups and to enable you to sometimes find two so you have a chance against the Kird Ape, Watchwolf start. Most other decks I have seen run three Magnivore and one Meloku the Clouded Mirror, but again after a number of games I found Meloku to be significantly worse than a Magnivore, so I started playing four Vores. Very few decks play Cranial Extraction main, so it is pretty safe to just have one Meloku in the sideboard to bring in against decks that might Extract you. In my experience, most people have cards like Persecute instead, and even if you are down to just one Meloku, if you draws loads of cards and blow up all their lands you have plenty of time to find him.

The sideboard has a few more interesting cards you might not have seen before. The Steamcore Weirds are to deal with Paladin en-Vec, who can be a problem, but you can also Eye him and Mana Leak him, or just Eye then Wildfire away their lands. Thoughts of Ruin is to replace the third Wildfire against control, giving you a cheaper option that can surprise people who think you need six mana or can only kill four lands.

The base sideboard plan is take out Stone Rain, Demolish, and Tidings against aggro, and replace them with Steamcore Weird, Threads of Disloyalty, and Volcanic Hammer. Leave in two Demolish if you think they have Umezawa’s Jitte, and leave in Tidings if they are slower, such as B/W aggro.

Against control, you swap the four Pyroclasm for four Remand, and one Wildfire for one Thoughts of Ruin. Then I would take out an Eye of Nowhere on the draw, and one more Wildfire, but this is pretty subjective depending what I’ve seen and expect from their deck. If you think they could have Cranial Extraction then you want to bring in the one Meloku but I don’t think I’ve ever lost to having all my Magnivore extracted… Most decks don’t play it, and those that do tend to be slow control decks you can keep off four mana. Or, of course, you can just counter it.

Generally, you are good against control and weaker against aggro. After sideboarding, your matchup against aggro gets a lot better as you don’t get stuck with hands full of land destruction, and instead you can kill their creatures then draw cards and repeat, finishing them relatively quickly with a large hasty monster. Against control, you need to be aware that other Blue decks will often bring in Annex, so be careful when you play Izzet Boilerworks and use Eyes to reclaim your other lands from them. People also bring in Sacred Ground, which means you have to play a different sort of game. This means discarding Stone Rains to Compulsive Research, and either building a number of huge Magnivores and attacking, or Eyeing the Sacred Ground then casting Wildfire. You also need to be aware that some decks have Shining Shoal, so if you have time consider getting to eight mana and having Mana Leak backup for your Wildfire.

Absolutely not

Heartbeat decks deserve a special mention because it feels like it should be a bad match: they have Kodama’s Reach and Sakura-Tribe Elders against your Stone Rains. However, they are playing theses spells because they need a number of lands in play to combo off. I have found this match to be strongly in the favor of the Vore deck, and a number of my opponents have been quite highly ranked so I don’t think they can be playing that badly. It is pretty hard for them to go off if you draw Boseiju and Remand, as they then need to make enough mana to kill you again, which is hard with you killing their lands.

The hardest decks to sideboard against are midrange decks; not because the matchup is hard, just because it often depends how they sideboard. If they take out all their expensive spells — Yosei, etc – then you only really want a few Demolish to deal with Umezawa’s Jitte. If they take out small creatures that die to Pyroclasm, then you want to punish them and leave big creatures stranded. This sort of problem mostly applies to G/W/x Glare style decks, as things like B/W aggro don’t have that many expensive cards they could take out anyway.

Dissension adds a few new cards to be aware of for this deck. Spell Snare seems like the most relevant new card, and it can certainly disrupt the God draw. It is most powerful when used to stop Pyroclasm killing Vinelasher Kudzus and the like. Some people play Dovescape, but you can still use Boseiju to cast spells, and Magnivore will be very big if they don’t make a Glare of Subdual first. I haven’t seen much other stuff, like B/R beats: they never seemed to appear.

Spell Snare: Aiding Evil since 2006

Here are some sample games:

In order to explain this deck better, I played a few matches on MTGO in the 8-Man Constructed Queues. Some of my opponents might not have played perfectly, and the sample isn’t that big, but it does give some idea of how the deck functions in real matches.

Round 1 versus Zoo

This starts off pretty badly, as I mulligan on the draw. I Sleight and Research to make a 4/4 Vore on turn 4, only to have him Char it and attack me down to three. Game 1 is pretty hard, but it does get a lot better after sideboarding. I bring in four Volcanic Hammer, two Steamcore Weird, and two Threads of Disloyalty for four Stone Rain, three Demolish, and one Tidings. Again he starts off strong, with turn 1 Kird Ape, and getting a turn 2 Frenzied Goblin to resolve another Ape. My draw is a little slow, as I have nothing for turn 3, but then the game turns when I Threads his fresh Scab-Clan Mauler, and he is forced to attack into it and hope to draw more burn. After I Weird a Savannah Lions, my Mauler is free to attack him low enough that two Volcanic Hammers finish him off. In game 3, his draw is a bit slow with just turn 1 Savannah Lions and turn 2 Umezawa’s Jitte. After I Pyroclasm away the Lions, he has no more creatures. A few turns later he draws into an Ape, but by then I have all the answers from Research, and I use Eye and Threads to set up a Wildfire the drops him down to just one land. From there I can Leak and Pyroclasm away his threats, and I eventually draw into a Magnivore to kill him.

This is probably the worst matchup for this deck, but a stumble at the start for him mean I was on too high a life total for him to burn me out before I could kill him.

Round 2 versus U/G Aggro

This starts with my sending away two one-land hands before keeping another one-lander with Sleights. However, I do then find an Izzet Boilerworks and a Pyroclasm, which kills two Vinelasher Kudzus. He then fails to find a fourth land, and just drops a 1/1 Kudzu, so I Stone Rain a land then play a 4/4 Vore. He does then draw into two lands, which lets him play a Cytoplast Root-Kin giving him two 4/4s. I’m getting low on life here after I take another four, but then I grow my Vore to a 6/6 with a Stone Rain on a Simic Growth Chamber, and a Compulsive Research. I’ve taken a lot of damage this game (off a Boseiju), but after he attacks with both to get me down to two I’m able to Eye the Kudzu and attack him for ten, causing him to scoop.

This game he had just enough mana for his spells, and my land destruction really set him back, letting me cast a bunch of Researches and back-up my 10/10 Vore with an Eye of Nowhere. I brought in four Volcanic Hammer, two Threads of Disloyalty, and one Meloku for four Stone Rain, one Demolish, and two Tidings.

We both went to down to six in the second game, and he started out with first turn Llanowar Elves, second turn Elf… with no attack. I did have a Pyroclasm, but it seemed very likely he had countermagic, so I played an Izzet Boilerworks and passed the turn. I had Pyroclasm, Eye of Nowhere, Threads of Disloyalty, Meloku the Clouded Mirror, Compulsive Research, and two lands, so I felt that I could afford to deal with his counters later, after checking out his game plan. The game pretty much ended next turn, when he put Moldervine Cloak on an Elf. I took four and then stole it with Threads of Disloyalty. His Jitte, without enough mana to equip, was no match for my turn 4 Meloku backed up with other spells.

Round 3 versus U/G Aggro

This was pretty similar to the last round, with me killing Kudzus the turn they came down, and eventually slipping a huge Magnivore through conditional counters and attacking for lots.


This deck is very powerful; the ability to draw lots of extra cards helps smooth out your draws and prevents you running out of gas. I would recommend this deck to anyone, and there is a significant chance I will play this deck at my Nationals… I would advise others to at least consider it.

Until next time,

Stu Wright