Wolf Run Ramp And Tezzeret Control

Grand Prix Kansas City 2008 winner Tim Landale likes two decks in Standard right now: Wolf Run Ramp and Tezzeret Control. Find out more about Tezzeret Control with his card-by-card breakdown.

It seemed high time to write an article given that a new set is about to roll out. That being said after looking over the spoiler, I’ve been very unimpressed. Normally I find several cards I want to build new decks around; this time I only found some cards I wanted to put into existing decks. This works out well since most new decks end up being really bad, and adding a few gems to existing decks generally makes them better.

As many of you know, I have won quite a bit of money playing various Primeval Titan based decks. When Valakut was an option, I rarely played anything else. These days I can often be found playing Wolf Run Ramp or occasionally dipping into white when the format dictates it. Naturally, I was quite excited when I saw Cavern of Souls. Unlike many people, I don’t think this card changes too much for Wolf Run Ramp decks. It’s quite good, but it doesn’t do nearly as much as people seem to think.

The problem is that your deck already has six colorless lands. If we wanted more colorless lands, adding another Kessig Wolf Run to the deck would’ve happened already. Yet you rarely see anybody breaking from the four Inkmoth Nexus and the two Kessig Wolf Run.

Your mana base is a bit tricky in a deck with four Slagstorm and often Garruk, Primal Hunter coming out of the sideboard to go along with all you’re double casting cost six-drops. Inferno Titan in particular is a greedy card; he really wants as many red lands as possible. However, I’m more than willing to make room for a few Cavern of Souls.

The other card that I’m somewhat excited about for this deck is Natural End. Naturalize was good before, but the extra mana rarely matters. The extra three life can really make a difference.

I don’t think this holds true for many other decks in the format, but Wolf Run Ramp tends to ignore its opponent’s life total; you rarely win any grindy games. Almost all your games are won on the back of one or more Titans. This means that your Naturalize costing one more mana is not a big enough deal to outweigh the benefits of the three life.

Without knowing how the format will shape up after Avacyn Restored, this is what I’d run tomorrow.

With the addition of Cavern of Souls, you’re no longer forced to run Autumn’s Veil. The card is very mediocre but was sadly necessary since decks could load up on Flashfreeze and Dissipate and hide behind a counter wall for most of the game before. Cavern of Souls forces them to take a more proactive answer to your fatties.

Generally when attacking new formats, I really like to play powerful decks that don’t fold on themselves. Everybody else likes to be doing all these cool new things, but give me a nice, streamlined, powerful deck that’s geared to beat aggro decks any day of the week. This deck fits what I’m looking for when going into an unknown format. Nonetheless, I do have another deck that’s been doing quite well and would consider taking to an upcoming PTQ.

While it doesn’t gain much from the new set, this Tezzeret deck my friend told me to try has been making me rich on Magic Online. Even as I write this article I’m sitting pretty in another Daily Event at 2-0. I would suggest giving it a try before you judge it, because on paper the deck looks very…bad.

This is the current list I’ve been battling with on Magic Online. Most of you probably haven’t seen this deck, so I’m going to break down the card choices:

14 Colored Lands – I lumped all of these together because they let you cast your spells. The one Island is only in the deck to be fetched out by your Mycosynth Wellspring. This gives you eleven blue sources and fifteen black assuming we never have to Ghost Quarter ourselves.

4 Buried Ruin – This card is so good. I honestly don’t know why it hasn’t seen more play in Standard lately. It serves as a colorless land early, and later in the game can get back a variety of different things. Having four of these really helps if you start to flood out and gives you a lot more threat density against other control decks.

2 Ghost Quarter – These help a lot against Inkmoth Nexus and Kessig Wolf Run as well as Nephalia Drownyard. I don’t really like running them because I hate having too many colorless lands in my deck, but I think they’re worthwhile. You rarely lose because of them, and they’ve helped me win a few games I otherwise would not have been able to win. In a pinch you can Ghost Quarter yourself as well.

4 Phyrexia’s Core – The life gain over the course of the game is nothing to sneeze at against aggro decks. It works really well with Ichor Wellspring, Mycosynth Wellspring, Spine of Ish Sah, and very often Wurmcoil Engine. You also will randomly sacrifice other artifacts over the course of the game as needed.

1 Tragic Slip – Part of the removal suite; I think this is the worst of the four.

1 Doom Blade – Two mana and it kills something. I like the split with Go for the Throat, though if Zombies becomes more popular it’s possible this should become another Go for the Throat.

2 Go for the Throat – Not much more to say about two-mana removal.

1 Grafdigger’s Cage – This card is so good right now! Almost every deck in Standard is hurt when this comes into play. Some are devastated like the Frites deck, and others are now packing some dead or semi-dead cards. The problem is the second one does nothing. I do think it could be correct to add another to the maindeck depending on how the format shakes out.

4 Nihil Spellbomb – Another card that’s really great right now. With so many Snapcaster Mage, Strangleroot Giest, flashback spells, and Moorland Haunt, it’s very rarely just a cantrip.

3 Ichor Wellspring, 2 Mycosynth Wellspring – This deck operates just like most other control decks: you grind a bunch and then eventually kill them. The Wellspring package operates as Think Twice.

4 Ratchet Bomb – Another great card in Standard right now. It’s great against Delver, Tokens, and other aggressive decks. It’s also nice to be able to find "removal" off of a Tezzeret , Agent of Bolas from time to time.

3 Pristine Talisman – This card started showing up to help control decks combat Moorland Haunt. The problem the control decks had was they would stabilize and then the Moorland Haunt decks would just spit out two or three tokens at a time, forcing another answer from you without losing any actual spells. With Pristine Talisman it forces them to make more guys faster, often committing more Sprit tokens to the board than they otherwise would like to.

1 Treasure Mage – What do you get when you can’t decide between a third Wurmcoil Engine and a second Spine of Ish Sah? That being said the Treasure Mage has been really good. Sometimes you really want to block, and other times you want to apply some pressure to a planeswalker. Most importantly, you really want to be able to pick if you want Spine or Wurmcoil.

3 Phyrexian Metamorph – This card has been quite a bit better than I expected in Standard. It outperforms my expectations in every deck I’ve seen it in. I actually went out of my way to buy an extra twenty copies on Magic Online because I’m convinced it’s going to go up during Standard season. This deck is clearly the best fit for the card. Being an artifact that you can find off Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas is huge. Being able to set up the Spine of Ish Sah soft lock where you destroy a permanent every turn for only five mana with one of these is great.

3 Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas – The main reason we have all these artifacts. Tezzeret rarely misses when you try to find something. A full forty percent of your maindeck is artifacts! Tezzeret feels like the best planeswalker I’ve played with since Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Both give you that invincible feeling if you untap with them in play. The reason we don’t have four in the deck is that Tezzeret rarely dies. If anything was being cut from the deck, the fourth Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas would be what I would want to add.

1 Curse of Death’s Hold – Another great card in the format right now, but I don’t think it’s quite as good in this deck as others. The second copy would hold very little value, as you never really want a second one.

3 Black Sun’s Zenith – I really like Wrath effects right now. With so many pesky creatures floating around, it’s great to have access to some board sweepers. The double black casting cost is a bit hard sometimes if you’re trying to cast it early, which can be frustrating at times.

1 Batterskull, 2 Wurmcoil Engine – You’re closing cards. Against many of the aggressive decks in the format, they won’t be able to handle entering combat with any of these in play. Unfortunately, all three are fairly weak against Vapor Snag and Oblivion Ring. This feels like the major concession in playing Tezzeret. Otherwise, I think some of these might end up being Grave Titan or something a bit stronger against Vapor Snag. Nevertheless, the "big three" do a good enough job of closing out most games.

1 Spine of Ish Sah – When I first got the list from my friend, I immediately asked why we had a seven mana Oblivion Ring in the deck! After playing a lot of matches, I have fallen in love with it. It kills everything. Having a second copy in the form of Treasure Mage helps you set up Spine of Ish Sah locks really quickly with Phyrexia’s Core. Overall this card has been miles better than it looks on paper.

The sideboard is pretty simple. I do want to try adding three Demonic Taskmaster once Avacyn Restored comes out. I have always liked boarding in cheap, efficient creatures to put pressure on in a control on control matchup when they’re likely to have boarded out most if not all of their removal.

Please try this deck out if you get a chance; again, it’s much better than it looks on paper. As always, please feel free to ask questions in the comments.

 –Tim Landale