So lately I’ve been away from college—stranded here in Houston for the summer—and have needed some crazy brewing with new Magic friends to
keep me entertained. I was sitting at somebody’s kitchen table (literally and metaphorically), and I remembered a deck that a friend of mine was hyped
for when Semblance Anvil was first printed.
I know, I know; you’re probably like “Oh God, Semblance Anvil?” and reaching for the back button, but this deck is hilariously fun and
absurdly powerful in its effects. While obviously it’s a homebrew shenanigans deck, it stomped the yard at the local Friday Night Magic, and who doesn’t like casting Titan after Titan after Praetor after Karn? Yeah, Karn Liberated. Man, it’s satisfying to stick a Karn with a huge wall
of creatures in front of him. That being said, it’s up to you to decide who your Denzel Washington is, but here’s the first version of Remember the
- 4 Birds of Paradise
- 4 Lotus Cobra
- 3 Ondu Giant
- 3 Sea Gate Oracle
- 3 Frost Titan
- 2 Grave Titan
- 3 Primeval Titan
- 2 Consecrated Sphinx
- 2 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
- 2 Sheoldred, Whispering One
Sold yet? If somebody offered me a deck for FNM and all they told me was “This deck casts a lot of big dudes, and Karn,” I would be all
Some Card Choices
Sea Gate Oracle — Not only is the digging pretty nice—helping you hit your land drops, find colors, or search up more epic
monstrosities—but a 1/3 is a pretty nice turn 2 play off a Birds of Paradise to help you get to those later turns where you regain ground with
Prophetic Prism — I was skeptical about this card at first, but not only is it a cycling color-fixer, you often have some free mana around turns
2-3 if you’re not casting Ondu Giant or Semblance Anvil, so even in the cases where I haven’t required the color fixing, it’s been a way to maximize my
mana every turn and get an extra card.
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite — Originally, the deck was running red instead of white, with Inferno Titan instead of Elesh Norn. The reasoning for
the swap was because Elesh Norn adds just as much damage when he comes down, making even your Birds of Paradise, Lotus Cobra, and Ondu Giant formidable
beaters. Not to mention half the reason Inferno Titan was in the deck was for his Arc Lightning ability to kill smaller guys, which Elesh Norn does
anyway, and on a larger scale—also shrinking medium sized creatures into irrelevance.
Consecrated Sphinx — This card is not only a huge flier with a nice big butt, but helps to regain the card advantage lost in blowing numerous
cards on accelerating. This guy can singlehandedly get you back into the game against Caw-Blade, both by gobbling up their sword-wielders and refilling
Sideboard Card Choices
Pelakka Wurm — This card is just as easy to cast in Remember the Titans as Obstinate Baloth is to cast in other green decks and accomplishes
twice the job, giving you a card if it dies and even adding substantially to your clock.
Mold Shambler — While I love me some Acidic Slime—I think it’s one of the best green creatures in Standard—I wanted to experiment
with Mold Shambler’s ability to hit even planeswalkers. Maybe the deck’s ability to pump out big mana spells will warrant it’s presence over the
incredible 2/2 deathtoucher.
How To Play:
While your goal is obviously to just ramp out a fatty, the deck has quite the toolbox for that, so it isn’t as simple as may appear. Because your ramp
and color-fixing is very vulnerable to removal—especially board wipe like Pyroclasm or Slagstorm, even a Day of Judgment—you should do your
best to use your massive flux of early mana to chain Ondu Giants, Prismatic Omens, Sea Gate Oracles, or if possible a Primeval Titan, all with the goal
of solidifying your mana. Leave Terramorphic Expanses and Evolving Wilds uncracked for as long as you don’t really need their mana to assure that if
you draw a bomb off the top of any color, it’s either available right then off of Cobra or Birds, or that you can cast it next turn.
Obviously the biggest enemy in the format is a mix of Swords and Jace, the Mind Sculptors. These are easy to deal with however, as the discard effect
doesn’t do much against you once you’ve ramped out, and Titans have no issue with reaching their Jaces. Not to mention Gideon Jura will almost always
die in a single combat step. Sheoldred creates a big problem for Caw-Blade as well, returning every creature they have countered while attacking their
limited creature base.
This is an example of why you need to think of these creatures as more than just giant beaters. They’re Titans and Praetors for a reason; they have
huge swingy effects on the board, and each is relevant in a certain situation or board state.
Sheoldred, Whispering One—Not only a huge tempo card but allows for big swings, resurrecting previously countered/killed creatures all while
clearing your opponent’s board steadily and making them think.
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite—Here’s your aggro-hosing card. This card can sometimes just shut down Elves, Boros, Red Deck Wins, Vampires, etc. It’s
even effective against Caw-Blade, killing everything that isn’t holding a sword, and making the ones that are a 1/1.
Karn Liberated—Karn is either an excellent catchall for any problem card you can’t answer with brute force, a way to lock down their mana, a
tempo swing in your direction, or just a nigh-invulnerable planeswalker that makes an opponent discard every turn. I’ve had several games get to the
point where it was more profitable to just exile Titans from my hand and just restart the game, prompting a concession.
Grave Titan—Your basic damage-dealing Titan who brings buddies along for the ride. Resolving him instantly gives you blockers and halts your
opponent’s attacks. He’s built-in resistant to Treachery effects, and he’s a two-turn clock unopposed.
Hands to Keep/Mulligan:
As I found out playing against Mono-Black Control, even with all your creatures dead and zero cards in your hand, once you have your mana situated,
this deck topdecks like a champion. There are so many powerful effects in it that once you’ve gone fetch-crazy and used Ondu Giants, Sea Gate Oracles,
Prophetic Prisms, etc., you’ll end up with 30 or so cards left in your deck, which means that half of your remaining library is a giant bomb.
What this means is the only shaky hands are the ones that restrict you on colors. However, if you have access to green, blue, and some card draw or
great ramp, it doesn’t matter if you don’t have a threat in hand—you’ll find one quickly. Similar to Valakut though, never keep a hand without
green in it. Even if you only miss one turn of green mana, it can be crippling.
This deck doesn’t mulligan as well as most decks with blue in it simply because, with only six cards, there is a chance of having a hand with a bunch
of fatties in it with not much to do but play lands. It’s a rare occurrence, but once you’re down to six cards, even just Land-Go to Ondu Giant fixing
your mana for a Titan is an acceptable play, and it should hold you until you can really go off. Especially if that Titan is of the Primeval variety ;]
Testing Against the Field
We played about twenty pre-boarded games, and it was fairly even. The games lost by Remember the Titans were ones in which we didn’t have an explosive
draw, and Caw-Blade was able to get really aggressive with Sword of Feast and Famine and get Jace, the Mind Sculptor online before we could establish a
board. Sticking an early Frost Titan is brutal against Caw-Blade, and I think we won every game in which one resolved.
Post-board makes it a slightly different game, with Condemn and Oust making our giant dudes no longer an instant win, but we gain the ability to play
the long game with Mold Shamblers, Nature’s Claim, and Summoning Trap (which of course can just steal you games if they don’t expect it.)
Pre-board games against U/R Twin are basically a race. If you can stick a Sheoldred, Whispering One, that shuts off their Deceiver Exarch combo pretty
well. You should be able to put on enough pressure to prevent the setup of end-of-turn Into the Roil + Deceiver Exarch into Splinter Twin, either with
a combination of Sheoldred, Elesh Norn (making all of their creatures have -1 power), or Frost Titan (tapping down their second red source, etc.).
The games went 13-16 in favor or U/R Twin, and post-board, it was 9-8 in favor of Remember the Titans. Mold Shambler, Summoning Trap, Spellskite, and
Nature’s Claim is a pretty nice suite of answers. One sweet play was in response to Splinter Twin: cast Summoning Trap, finding a Spellskite. That one
earned a fist-pump.
- 4 Bloodghast
- 4 Gatekeeper of Malakir
- 4 Vampire Lacerator
- 4 Kalastria Highborn
- 4 Pulse Tracker
- 4 Viscera Seer
- 3 Manic Vandal
This matchup proved to be pretty heavily in favor of Remember the Titans both pre-board and post-board. Before sideboarding, the record was 19-10 in
favor of the good guys, and the bad guys only won 2 out of 13 sideboarded games. Pelakka Wurm is such a beating! It’s also pretty sweet how Elesh Norn,
Grand Cenobite is basically a Plague Wind in this matchup.
The games won by B/R Vampires were ones in which our hands relied too heavily upon Birds and Cobras, and their burn kept us off our action spells.
After its success at the local FNM, I decided to run it through a bit of a Magic Online gauntlet. Here’s the result of a night of grinding 2-man queues
with the deck:
Match 1: Aggro Valakut
In case you haven’t encountered this variety of Valakut, it eschews some of the things like Khalni Heart Expedition, Cultivate, Overgrown Battlement,
and company and instead adds maindeck Lightning Bolt (if it didn’t already have it), Viridian Emissary, Nest Invader, Hero of Oxid Ridge; needless to
say, it can put a hefty beatdown on you.
Game 1: I keep a hand with explosive mana in need of some epic beasts, and after seeing his turn 1 Evolving Wilds, I select my buddy Frost Titan off of
Sea Gate Oracle, shipping a Sheoldred, Whispering One to the bottom. I stick the Frost Titan off of a Lotus Cobra on turn 4 but not before he has two
Viridian Emissaries and a Nest Invader in play. He untaps and drops a Tumble Magnet, paying the two mana to tap down my Titan and next turn follows up
with a Hero of Oxid Ridge, taking me to a mere six life, but an Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite off the top gives me a chance. Unfortunately, he’s able to
Valakut me out with a Primeval Titan after I kill his two Emissaries.
Game 2: I lead with a turn 1 Birds of Paradise, which he sends to the yard with a Lightning Bolt. Next turn I drop a Prophetic Prism, cycling into a
Lotus Cobra (late arrival much?), and he drops a Nest Invader on his turn. I drop the Lotus Cobra + Misty Rainforest to stick a Semblance Anvil,
imprinting an Ondu Giant. He starts dropping some more 2/2s, but my Semblance Anvil helps me pump out Primeval Titan + Grave Titan with a Verdant
Catacombs my next turn. He concedes with Grave Titan on the stack.
Game 3: My opponent keeps his seven, but I soon find out that he broke the most important law of Valakut: don’t keep a hand with no green mana. He has
the Lightning Bolts for my turn 1 Birds and turn 2 Cobra, but I eventually just ramp into my big dudes with Ondu Giants and more Birds. (The fair way?)
Match 2: Mono-Black Control
If there’s one thing this match taught me, it’s that this deck plays very, very well even with no cards in hand.
Game 1: I keep my seven, and he casts Inquisition of Kozilek on me. Of my hand of Birds of Paradise, Birds of Paradise, Semblance Anvil, Sea Gate
Oracle, Ondu Giant, and two Misty Rainforests, he decides to take the Sea Gate Oracle. Over the next couple of turns, I spill out my hand, with the
Anvil imprinting the second Birds. His Diabolic Edict effects eat some mana dorks and Ondu Giants before I drop Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, wiping his
board of Gatekeeper of Malakir and Vampire Hexmage and making his Vampire Nighthawk an 0/1.
For sideboarding, I keep my Frost Titans in, expecting Phyrexian Obliterators, and just decide I don’t need Spellskites. I didn’t see a Doom Blade or
Go for the Throat either game, so it seems the decision was fine.
Game 2: Now just because I didn’t see any Doom Blades or Go for the Throats doesn’t mean I didn’t see Edicts galore. My opponent goes turn 2 Geth’s
Verdict, turn 3 Gatekeeper of Malakir, turn 4 Gatekeeper of Malakir, turn 5 Gatekeeper of Malakir, and I am at six life before I stem the bleeding with
a Grave Titan. The next turn, I cast a Consecrated Sphinx, and we play Draw-Go for a little while until I find a Sheoldred and a Karn and steadily wipe
his board while reviving creatures every upkeep.
Match 3: Stampede Elves
Game 1: My opponent has a very quick start, and unfortunately I am on the draw. My turn 1 Birds, turn 2 Cobra + Sea Gate Oracle, turn 3 Ondu Giant is
met with his turn 4 Ezuri, Renegade Leader, activate, swing for 20. I’m able to block enough to take me to two, and I untap and cast an Elesh Norn,
Grand Cenobite, essentially casting Plague Wind on him.
I decide to bring in the Summoning Traps, not only for their speed but for their assistance in finding Elesh Norn, which basically just beats Elves
Game 2: He does the same thing as game one except on his turn 3, he casts a second Elvish Archdruid and a Copperhorn Scout and then taps his first
Elvish Archdruid for a Fauna Shaman and Green Sun’s Zeniths for a second Copperhorn Scout. I manage to find the Elesh Norn, but because of the double
Archdruid, I die to roughly sixty trample damage on turn 4. Okay, so maybe Elesh Norn doesn’t always beat Elves singlehandedly…
Game 3: My opponent keeps a fair hand this time, casting turn 1 Joraga Treespeaker into turn 2 level up + Fauna Shaman. I don’t find the Elesh
Norn this game, but turn 2 Semblance Anvil, turn 3 Grave Titan, turn 4 Karn Liberated, turn 5 Sheoldred, Whispering One is pretty hard for any deck to
beat. I take the game pretty easily.
Match 4: Mono-Red Burn
Game 1: My opponent leads with Mountain + Goblin Guide, inciting a groan from yours truly. This is a rough matchup pre-board. He has the turn 2 Searing
Blaze for my Birds of Paradise and the turn 3 Goblin Guide + Arc Trail dealing one to my Cobra and two to my face. Yeah, I don’t win this game.
Game 2: Yes, he plays them. My opponent doesn’t have a one-drop, which keeps me hopeful, but he has turn 2 Shrine of Burning Rage, turn 3 Shrine of
Burning Rage + Spikeshot Elder, which he confesses he was slowrolling for counters. I manage to stick not one but two Pelakka Wurms this game, on turns
4 and 5 respectively, but his Act of Aggression on one of the Wurms—and Flame Slash + Lightning Bolt on the other—nets both Shrines three
counters and loses me seven life. He eventually pops both Shrines for ten and eleven, after casting Staggershock and Volt Charge at the end of my turn.
Match 5: Caw-Blade
Game 1: I’m on the play, and he leads with a tapped Celestial Colonnade, allowing me to stick a Semblance Anvil without fear of Spell Pierce. He
decides to go for a Stoneforge Mystic on his next turn, deciding to not represent Mana Leak. To which I respond with a Sheoldred, Whispering One. Next
turn, I stick a Frost Titan, and he scoops ’em up.
I decide to take out the Anvil on the draw, since Caw-Blade usually runs Spell Pierce. The Grave Titan just doesn’t do as much as the other
monstrosities do, so he gets the boot as well, and I figure I don’t need the Prism as much as more disruption.
Game 2: I start off strong with a Birds of Paradise, and he leaves up Mana Leak. I go for a Lotus Cobra, which he lets resolve; then I play and crack a
Verdant Catacombs for a Sea Gate Oracle. Ooh, Karn Liberated you say? I’ll take that. He plays out his Stoneforge Mystic the next turn, leaving up mana
for Spell Pierce, and I draw a Mold Shambler off the top. I kick the Mold Shambler to destroy his only source of blue mana, and next turn, he drops a
Tectonic Edge. I untap and cast Karn Liberated, +4ing him to make my opponent exile a card from his hand. Eventually, I just grind him out with Karn,
and any time he drops a blue source, I Vindicate it with Karn’s -3.
Despite getting 2-0ed by Mono Red, the deck performed very well for its first time off of the kitchen table, and it was incredibly fun to play.
Sticking a Karn and upping it to ten is so satisfying. Even just using it for a two-time Vindicate is incredible. Just a shame so few decks can
actually cast Karn.
After some more editing and revision, I think this is the new list that I’m going to be playing with:
- 4 Birds of Paradise
- 4 Lotus Cobra
- 3 Ondu Giant
- 3 Sea Gate Oracle
- 3 Frost Titan
- 3 Primeval Titan
- 2 Consecrated Sphinx
- 2 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
- 2 Urabrask the Hidden
- 2 Sheoldred, Whispering One
Some friends suggested the Urabrask addition as a big tempo swing and for some crazy turns with hasted Titans, and I like the idea quite a bit. I’m not
sure if Grave Titan is the right cut, but it’s what I’m going with for now. The sideboard has also changed quite noticeably, so I’ll highlight some of
the card choices and the reasoning behind them.
Urabrask the Hidden—Choosing this card was a bit of a metagame decision. Not only is it a nice tempo card in the sense that your next turn’s
Frost Titan or Primeval Titan will have haste and thus two activations and all of your opponent’s creatures come in tapped, but it’s maindeck hate
against the Splinter Twin combo.
Acidic Slime—Just an incredible catchall card that deals with pesky artifacts (Swords) and enchantments, gets you incredibly far ahead in tempo
with land destruction, is a deathtouch body; this card is just fantastic. In my opinion, it’s one of the best Core set creatures ever printed. After
some thinking, I decide that even though I love Mold Shambler’s ability to Vindicate a planeswalker, Acidic Slime is just better.
Combust—This card singlehandedly beats both of the currently played combos in Standard, the Splinter Twin + Deceiver Exarch combo and the Leonin
Relic-Warder + Phyrexian Metamorph infinite life combo. Combust is a little less impressive against the Grixis version of Splinter Twin, what with all
their discard, but against U/R Twin, it’s just insane. Their only answer to it is to bounce their own Exarch in response to your Combust, which gives
you two more turns to live. (One more at minimum if they let the Combust resolve and play a second Exarch at the end of your turn.)
Terastodon—If this resolves against any control deck, the game is pretty much over. You can use this card to destroy a whole suite of
planeswalkers + a Sword; you can completely cut them off of a color, etc. This deck doesn’t care about 3/3 Elephants in the slightest, and if you want,
to you can even end-of-turn Summoning Trap him in and blow up three of your own lands for an incredible eighteen power off of one card.
I’ll definitely be keeping this little brew together and passing it around at local tournaments and casual play to see how it works out. Who wouldn’t
prefer casting big awesome dudes to boring 1/1 Birds that hold those hated swords in their beaks? Or talons, I suppose.
See you all at Grand Prix Kansas City!