Bo1 Standard Sultai Cultivator Deck Guide: Beast Mode Engaged
Hello fellow gamers, I am not sure what exactly the Cultivator Colossus is. The card type says Beast. I think that is apropos – because this plant monster definitely activates beast mode on the regular. Over the last week or so, I have been extensively experimenting on how to use Cultivator. I started with Mono Green. To that end, I attempted to use cards like Scute Swarm. Next, I branched out into Simic to get access to Divide by Zero. Still, I was not satisfied with the results.
I actually got inspiration from one of my favorite self-proclaimed jank YouTuber Mr. Mono Black Magic. He too quickly saw the potential for this card, featuring something like 40 lands which was a bit overkill. But he did show me two things that are important with this deck:
- First, playing a lot of lands is desired – required, really.
- Secondly, you pretty much need board wipes at the ready if you hope to make it to the endgame.
With those lessons in hand the logical conclusion was Sultai. You know, the color pie that brought standard to its knees before the last rotation thanks to Emergent Ultimatum.
The addition of decent board wipes in the form of The Meathook Massacre and newcomer Path of Peril, really allowed this deck to stabilize and get into the late game. My final adjustment to the list was to add in Alrund's Epiphany. I had resisted the urge for quite a while but it was clear the decks that were generally beating me were Izzet Turns or Izzet Dragons. Not to mention, it’s still the most busted card in standard.
Here is the list:
As you can see this list looks pretty unconventional. First of all, you are reading that right, there are 29 lands. At one point it was even 30! Don’t worry though, flooding seems to nearly never happen with this deck.
Make no mistakes, the closest parallel to this strategy is Emergent Ultimatum in that the game plan is almost identical. We are stalling long enough to land our 7-mana spell in hopes of just taking over the game. Granted, our plan is more one dimensional as we don’t get to tutor up a toolbox of game ending threats and answers. Therefore, we operate nominally as a control deck that can suddenly burst an opponent down.
Cultivator Colossus: Yup we are only running 4 creatures in this whole list. We have proxies for other bodies in the form of Druid Class and Crow tokens. The fact that Colossus has trample is super groovy but his Enter the Battlefield ability is really what makes this creature magical.
Fun fact, instant speed removal cannot stop the trigger from repeating, once it’s on the stack that is that. The only way to stop the Colossus is to counter or bounce the spell, not the creature. Don’t be surprised to get this monster absurdly big – we are talking 15/15 trample big.
Divide by Zero: My very favorite interaction spell in standard, especially in best-of-one. This card is amazingly flexible in what it can target and what it can tutor. I am never not happy to draw one of these, early, late or whenever: it’s always good.
Negate: This is here mainly for Alrund's Epiphany but there are plenty of other juicy targets for Negate in this meta game. Heck, I have even noticed Mono-White playing cards like Fateful Absence and Valorous Stance, so it’s rarely dead.
Infernal Grasp: The only black spot removal I am high on right now. Mainly in that it only costs 2-mana, is instant speed, and most importantly can target creature type – dragon. The count here could go back up to 4 copies, if you find you are getting a large proportion of aggro but three has been working for me quite well.
Druid Class: This is the second-best card in the deck believe it or not. You are extremely pleased to see this in your opening hand as it buys you a ton of time with life gain triggers and lets you accelerate like Tesla Model S with Plaid mode. Later on, it’s a finisher creating a giant, hasty, land monster.
The Meathook Massacre: This card seems so well positioned right now, it buys you a ton of time through its life gain and board wiping abilities. I have won a few games on its life loss triggers too. I like how it essentially gives you a one life discount to cast Infernal Grasp too.
Alrund's Epiphany: Nothing about our deck makes Alrund’s particularly better except for the fact that it can ramp it out pretty quick. This is more of a tempo play for us rather than a finisher, but given a sufficient mana count you can do things like play a Cultivator Colossus and cast Alrund's Epiphany on the same turn. I know that sounds absurd to have effectively 13 or 14 mana in play but this deck hits 20 lands on the regular believe it or not.
Path of Peril: This has been a nice addition in that it’s useful early and late. I like how the dual mode can allow us to set up a play where we wipe the board of small chump blockers to maximize damage from a Druid Class land or Cultivator Colossus. It’s also perfect that The World Tree needs exactly 6 mana in play to activate its mana fixing ability which happens to be the cleave cost of Path of Peril.
Mulch: I was playing 4 copies of this card, but I cut one among a few other cards to make room for Alrund's Epiphany. I know that Mulch has been traditionally a self-mill enabler. Granted our deck has a bit of a subtheme here with that. Especially since a single Mulch has the potential to find you a Port of Karfell and simultaneously dump a Cultivator Colossus into your yard which is a ton of value. Not to mention, you ideally want to have 2-3 lands in your hand when you cast cultivator to get as many triggers as possible. Therefore, we are generally happy to fill our hand full of lands as we can rapidly deploy them.
It is not your imagination that the above list of spells looked rather small. Again, we are running 29 lands and it feels like we need every one of them. I was sad to learn early on in my testing that dual faced land cards do NOT work in conjunction with Cultivator Colossus (i.e. you cannot put them into play with its trigger) so that means Jwari Disruption and its ilk are not really worth running. not to mention Mulch also misses these type cards.
Instead, we are running the Port of Karfell which acts like land and a spell. It is great that Cultivator can find one of these as it is churning through your deck. As a consequence of running so few creatures, the plant beast tends to die on sight (as our opponents are looking for a target to remove) so resurrecting it a few times is often required to close the game out.
Other than that, we are taking full advantage of all the new dual lands at our disposal, the deck has pretty intense color requirements so trying to fit in cards like Field of Ruin seem troublesome at best especially in bo1, where it may not always be useful.
Notable Card Exclusions
As mentioned, I have spent a lot of hours brewing various iterations of this deck and I will let you know the cards I tested and how they fared.
Diregraf Rebirth: This seems like a natural inclusion in our deck since we are running Mulch and in testing it proved to be a fine card. But I found that the Port of Karfell just works better since we are trying to maximize our land count.
Wrenn and Seven: This also seems like another obvious inclusion in a deck based around lands, and I definitely tried this green planeswalker out. I found that it was very hard to protect it as the world has grown quite inhospitable to treefolk tokens as of late. Also, I feel like to really get full value out of Wrenn and Seven you have to commit to it, which means running Esika's Chariot alongside it. It is funny when playing it I often found myself using the Mulch-on-a-stick ability over the Treefolk one as it actually was exciting in this deck to have a fist full of lands.
Scute Swarm: Again my first stab at this list included Scute Swarm. It just seemed like the most hilarious thing to drop a Cultivator Colossus when Scute Swarm was in play. But when adding all the black board sweepers this card just made less sense.
Ulvenwald Oddity: In mind I wanted to use this in conjunction with Scute Swarm to give all my tokens trample and haste. This card is certainly an oddity (puns!), since it feels very much like a Questing Beast suited for face smashing, but at the same time it also feels like it wants to be in a ramp shell to take advantage of its transformation side.
Binding the Old Gods: I don’t have a problem with this card in theory as it can help us ramp and remove a threat, but I felt like the deck needed more interaction on turn two and instant speed interaction for decks that run counter magic.
Scaled Herbalist: Good news I attempted this card so now you don’t have to. In theory it seems nice: a decently sized body that can act like an additional Druid Class. But unlike Druid Class this poor reptile is so very vulnerable and would often die before producing much if any value.
Cartographer's Survey: In theory this card is nice too and to be fair I gave up on it somewhat quickly. I really like the fact that it allows us to put any lands in play so it doesn’t punish us for running all our non-basics. I mean the bee’s knees would be able to use this to accelerate out a Cultivator by turn 5 assuming we hit all our land drops. But again the deck had to make room for survival necessities such as removal. In short, this is probably too greedy.
Test of Talents: I of course want this against some very specific cards but it’s pretty bad (to outright useless) against some of the other pillars of the format (Mono-Green and Mono-White).
Felidar Retreat: I can be honest in that I did not test this card yet. We could forgo black in favor of white. Doomskar is certainly the most efficient removal in the set to replace our black sweepers. Fateful Absence can replace Infernal Grasp though I consider it a downgrade. Heck we may even be able to swing 4 colors to make Felidar work. If anyone gives it a shot please let me know in the comments.
This is a best-of-one guide so we will be eschewing a sideboard primer and sticking with helpful notes on the most common matchups.
Black Control Decks
I generally look forward to this matchup. Granted, we don’t have any direct ways to deal with their planeswalkers but we do have Druid Class to help us by sniping them with hasty land creatures. It tends to go long but you have the ability to just surprise them with a ton of damage really quickly when their shields go down.
Obviously, your removal here will be key. The Meathook Massacre will buy you some time. They have a really hard time removing a gigantic Cultivator so preserve your life as much as possible and delay as much as possible. I tend to want to use my spot removal when they are tapped out to avoid getting blocked by Snakeskin Veil.
Path of Peril is so nice against this deck. The Meathook Massacre can be great too. Obviously Elite Spellbinder can be an issue. They have more ways to deal with Cultivator Colossus than Mono-Green so it may take a couple of these giants to end it. Luckily, trample is so good against white weenie chump blockers.
Our hardest matchup by far, you obviously want to keep the board clean and counter magic and instant speed removal up for the inevitable Alrund's Epiphany. Druid Class can be very helpful in that if you can get a nice padded life total before they try to go off you may be able to survive their initial onslaught to take over the game. It is nice that Divide by Zero cannot touch Druid Class Plants.
I have not seen this deck as much recently, but as long as you can get off an uncontested board wipe you are in good shape. As always, be aware of Concerted Defense. The good news is that The Meathook Massacre dodges the ability of Linvala, Shield of Sea Gate to grant indestructibility.
It’s funny I have seen an explosion of this deck recently; I am not going to complain though, our deck matches up extremely well against it. The Meathook Massacre in particular just devastates them.
Tips and Tricks
- Don’t forget you can use Divide by Zero on your own copies of The Meathook Massacre or Druid Class to reset them for later use.
- Don’t play Cultivator Colossus if it can be helped without at least one land in hand, preferably more. Half the fun of this card is the insane card advantage it provides.
- Use Port of Karfell on your opponent’s end step to give your Cultivator Colossus what essentially amounts to haste.
Thanks for reading and good luck!