Simic Mutate Standard Deck Guide
Hello to all! First of all, let me introduce myself. My name is Julio Bernabé, I am from Santiago de Chile, used to play a lot between the years 2006-2009 (which makes me feel so very old!) but quit the game because of school and “real work”. During that period I won a National Championship, got on the Pro Tour train, finished like 25th on the Player of the Year race, and made a few cash-in finishes here and there.
I was more of a “never do bad, never do awesome” tournament player, top-64-kind-of-player on the tour. On MTGO I was a true grinder – and after that, I became an Arena grinder. I discovered Twitch and started watching some players, which was awesome for me and I wish I had found that before since it helps a ton.
Now let’s get to the article! When Mutate came out, I found that mechanic amazing – so when I saw Andrea Mengucci playing it on stream, I copied his 75 and started playing it. That was during the time of the original Companion rule when Fires of Invention and Agent of Treachery were still legal. Now, after all the bannings, and with the printing of Scute Swarm, the deck has become not only fun to play but also viable to win with.
Here is the current list, which I have been modifying with my good friend Andrés Monsalve from Argentina, a two-time GP top 4 and National team player:
The idea of the deck is to have a 1- or 2-drop and start mutating it. Then after you get to 6 lands, drop a Scute Swarm, mutate it and start copying a huge creature it became – over and over again. So, basically your board should look like this:
Migratory Greathorn searches for a land, Auspicious Starrix puts a lot of lands into play and you also have six fetchlands, so it’s pretty easy to get so many copies very fast. Even after getting your board wiped with Shatter the Sky, you can just play Scute Swarm, have a fetchland, or any of those two mutate creatures, and go bananas again.
The deck doesn’t need that much blue mana, keep that in mind when looking for lands. Once you have two islands – that’s it, don’t look for more (unless, of course, you have only blue spells).
This guide is intended to be very in-depth so below I will explain each card of the deck, with it’s weaknesses and strenghts.
3 Gilded Goose: It’s the best 1-drop for the deck. I tried Ruin Crab but it wasn’t that good since it doesn’t ramp. Also, you don’t really win by decking and it only helps RB Midrange, swinging a pretty even match up in their favor. Coming back to Goose, it still isn’t a key creature – sure, it helps to recover some life in the late game, but this deck has already a pretty insane late game, so we have to really only worry about the early game. If there were more good 3-drops (Scute Swarm is actually more like 4- or 5-drop), I could see myself playing 4 Geese. But for the moment I just don’t see it, especially since there is still no UG Pathway land or any other land that makes both colors. To me, Guilded Goose is the worst card of the deck, but it’s necessary since you need early game plays and ramping is key with this deck.
1 Chainweb Aracnir: Currently, a lot of people play UB Rogues and this card is very good against that deck. It is a 1-drop, so you can start mutating it as fast as turn 2 with Parcelbeast, or later on with the other cards. Against other decks, Aracnir is still pretty decent by itself – like against RB, because they have a lot of removal and some of them play Rankle, Master of Pranks. Worse comes to worst, you can “cycle” Aracnir with Pollywog Symbiote. Also, when revealed on top with Vivien, it is often possible to play it right away for 1 mana, essentially ‘cycling’ it from the top of your library. After sideboard, if you cut it, you will replace it with Essence Symbiote, since you need early plays to start mutating.
4 Pollywog Symbiote: The best card in the deck – the enabler, the mutate finder, the ramping tool. This card is absolutely amazing, it reduces the costs of 18 of your other cards, lets you draw. Its toughness of 3 survives Stomp which is key in some match-ups. With Vivien in play, it even lets you cycle your lands away from the top if you can play something with Mutate. Many times I have looked for Pollywog with Vivien because I needed to reduce the cost of mutate to get the train rolling with Auspicious Starrix. After sideboard, it will never, ever come out.
2 Scavenging Ooze: Another 2-drop that can grow, gains you life, exiles Kroxa or targets of Agadeem’s Awakening, makes Zenith Flare and Lurrus worse, and all the while being very good in the late game. It even can be easily tutored for with Vivien. In the sideboard, there’s one more copy of, which comes in against UB Rogues, RB Midrange, and Cycling.
3 Tangled Florahedron: I wish this card was a Paradise Druid, but that’s not the case. The full playset is not needed because it easily dies to Stomp and Spikefield Hazard, cards that see a lot of play. Still, against non-red decks, it’s very good, and that’s why 3 and not less of them. A ramp dork that can be a land it’s pretty good, especially when you have Scute Swarm in the deck. Note that it can’t be played as a land with Vivien.
4 Scute Swarm: The card that made the deck become a true option. The cards that have been banned – all of them cheat on mana. Scute Swarm also cheats on mana, so I decided to build around it! Since the copies created by Swarm preserve the entire text of the original, it became clear to me that the best way to build Scute Swarm deck was to use Mutate, especially when you have so many mutate creatures that look for lands. You need to block flyers? Ok, put Dreamtail Heron on it. Need a cantrip? Ok, put Parcelbeast. Need a big creature? You have Auspicious Starrix. With Vivien I look for Scute Swarm, then drop a fetchland or a ramp-mutate creature, and in not time it goes out of range of decks that no mass removal. When it’s online, it can’t be stopped unless they can clean the entire board.
2 Gemrazer: Initially, I haven’t been playing Gemrazer due to Lucky Clover being banned. But lately you can see a lot of people playing Trail of Crumbs, The Great Henge and even Glass Casket. Its stock has risen, and it can even block flyers. Added bonus, it’s a cheap mutate card and on an Ooze it can do some serious damage.
4 Migratory Greathorn: The best mutate card, always look to start your mutations with this card. Even when facing a deck with a lot of removal, like RB, you still should start this way because you can get that 6th land for Scute Swarm easier. It also brings you closer to Vivien or being able to mutate Auspicious Starrix. If they don’t kill it, you will have a lot of mana and will pretty much run away with the game.
3 Parcelbeast: In the older versions of the deck this card was terrible. But now it fits the role better. You really want to ramp and you don’t always have Greathorn, and put on a Scute Swarm, Parcelbeast can bury the opponent in card advantage. Even when you hit a land, you can use it to copy itself over and over again. Also, it’s the cheapest mutate card and when you have Starrix it’s pretty easy to mutate several times in one turn, getting a lot of value. Keep in mind – if you have Vivien, you can use her ‘-2’, mutate Parcelbeast and search for Scute Swarm. Still, Parcelbeast often doesn’t get you enough value right away, so that’s why not the full set.
4 Dreamtail Heron: Four of these, four! Yes, it’s correct. This one has become an absolute powerhouse as it really helps you making all your land drops and blocks very well against all the Rogues out there. It also is a 5-drop, so it can’t be targeted with Skyclave Apparition. Facing white decks, I try to put it on top during mutations since it does make a difference in this case between this and Greathorn on top. When it’s on a Scute Swarm, the evasion allows you to start hitting even on the most stalled-out boards, which often happens against Cycling or Mono-Green.
1 Pouncing Shoreshark: Only one? Yes, but we have two more in the sideboard. The deck needs mutate cards, I have always had some number in-between 17 and 20. But now with Swarm taking 4 slots, and given all the 2-drops the deck needs, I had to make cuts. I’m playing 18 mutate creatures in the current list, and if some card can be cut from the main deck, it’s either a Shoreshark or an Aracnir. Against aggro decks, Pouncing Shoreshark is absurd – especially against Winota and Embercleave decks, as well as decks like Mono-Green, whose removal options consist of “fight” cards. Out of the sideboard against any creature deck, it plays amazing; bouncing an escape card like Kroxa is pretty nice as well. Shoreshark has only 3 toughness, so cards like Shatterskull Smashing, Fire Prophecy and Scorching Dragonfire hit it hard. Against those kinds of decks, put it on the bottom when mutating a card with 4 toughness. Against decks with Skyclave Apparation, put Shoreshark on the top since it costs 5 mana and can’t be targeted.
4 Auspicious Starrix: Pretty obvious, the mana cheater and bomb of the deck. When you want to look for Scute Swarm with a Starrix and mutate it with Greathorn, be sure to order the stack correctly to first put a Swarm in play and then hit a land. Also, don’t be scared to play it Auspicious Starrix as a 6/6 – it’s very hard to kill.
2 Vivien, Monsters’ Advocate: Finally this very powerful planeswalker has found a home! Keep in mind the synergy of her ‘-2’ ability with mutate – you can look for a Swarm and infest the board with creatures. Reach vs Rogues is of course amazing, and keep in mind that when you face Doom Foretold, if you mutate on the bottom of a token, the enchantment can’t hit it.
2 Evolving Wilds and 4 Fabled Passage: Landfall for Scute Swarm. Thinning the deck is of course also really good in the late game as you will hit less blanks.
No Castles, no Glasspool Mimic, no triomes: Castle Garenbrig was very good before. But now there’s no Breeding Pool and since Parcelbeast needs Blue mana in play and Tangled Florahedron is not a forest, the green castle will very often come into play tapped which is terrible. As for triomes – I very rarely cycle them since you have Scute Swarm and the deck is mana hungry. Glasspool Mimic was good when you hit it with Starrix – otherwise, it’s just a discard fodder for with Pollywog Symbiote. Also making a copy of Scute Swarm with Glasspool Mimic is mediocre since it has the same effect as playing it as a land.
Sideboard: The key thing here to consider is that if you cut a 1-or 2-drop, it has to be replaced with another 1- or 2-drop. Essence Symbiote is very good against aggro, Scavenging Ooze is amazing against RB, Oakhame Adversary is a 2-drop against Mono-Green that it’s very good against Primal Might and the big creatures. If you cut a mutate card, against aggro bring Shark. Against control, add Garruk’s Harbinger instead. It’s not a mutate card but can go look for one. Most importantly, it’s a threat that has to be dealt with, and you can sometimes have it on turn two thanks to Goose.
If for some reason, there are a lot of Edgewall Innkeepers and Ruin Crabs in the metagame, add 2 Wicked Wolf to the sideboard instead of a copy of Garruk’s Harbinger and Chainweb Aracnir each. Also, Negate is not that good. Even if they wrath away 3 times, it’s ok, you can still and will beat them. Negate would be onlly really necessary if people started playing Ugin again.
|+1 Scavenging Ooze||-1 Chainweb Aracnir|
|+2 Lead the Stampede||-2 Gemrazer|
|+1 Pouncing Shoreshark||-1 Parcelbeast|
|+1 Essence Symbiote||-1 Gilded Goose|
They will kill every single thing, so try to drop Scute Swarm when it can make at least one insect. That insect may be enough to start mutating, getting ahead in value against any kind of a grindy deck. When you have Ooze in play it’s correct to use it to its fullest, rather than playing other threats. They have to deal with it, and if it ate up 1 escape card and a single removal, it was a work well done. If it took more than that, you will have the upper hand.
Lead the Stampede will draw you a lot of cards – it’s because you ramp a lot and have 6 fetchlands. It even hits the double faced cards! Also, I can see people bringing in Garruk’s Harbinger, but in reality, it is not able to attack through neither Bonecrusher Giant nor Mire Triton. In the late game, it doesn’t go through much as well, unless your Ooze did a terrific job. On the play maybe it’s correct, but you would need to have that Goose on turn 1, and take out a lot of mutate cards. You can go either way, but I recommend this way. I know I risk being ignored, as in theory Harbinger should be good against RB. But in reality, it isn’t.
|+1 Essence Symbiote||-1 Chainweb Aracnir|
|+2 Oakhame Adversary||-2 Gemrazer|
|+2 Pouncing Shoreshark||-1 Parcelbeast|
|-1 Dreamtail Heron|
|-1 Scavenging Ooze|
On the play, don’t cut Ooze and cut a Heron instead. Yorvo with a Gemrazer on top is very scary, since you can’t chump block early on. If you have either a Shark or Swarm online, you just can’t lose. However, to get to that position you need to evade that early massacre of Yorvo or Lovestruck Beast with 1 or 2 Primal Might/Ram Through backing them up. After the sideboard, the match-up becomes really easy. Remember, their removal needs to target one of their creatures, so use the Shark to your advantage!
|+2 Chainweb Aracnir||-3 Parcelbeast|
|+1 Scavenging Ooze||-2 Gemrazer|
|+3 Garruk’s Harbinger||-1 Pouncing Shoreshark|
In this match-up, you become more of a Green aggro deck, since you just cut 6 mutate cards, 4 of which are blue. Rogues have cheap removal, so Parcelbeast becomes very bad.
|+1 Pouncing Shoreshark||-1 Chainweb Aracnir|
|+1 Essence Symbiote||-2 Gemrazer|
|+2 Soul-Guide Lantern||-1 Dreamtail Heron|
Game 1 is really hard since those Zenith Flares will be huge and it’s very hard to stop them – you would need Scavenging Ooze and a lot of mana. You need to go as fast as possible with Starrix and hope to get lucky. Shark helps against a Fox, but not against a Flare. Your priority, besides going off with Starrix, is having as much green mana as fast as possible to use with Ooze. Vivien will help you searching for Scavenging Ooze.
|+2 Pouncing Shoreshark||-1 Chainweb Aracnir|
|+1 Essence Symbiote||-1 Vivien, Monsters’ Advocate|
|+1 Scavenging Ooze||-2 Dreamtail Heron|
Please remember – Gemrazer can kill Anax! Also, don’t block with your Pollywog Symbiote, to beat Mono-Red in game 1 this is the card you need the most.
Tips and Tricks
- When you intend to mutate, make it a habit playing your land for the turn as the very last thing. You will often draw with Pollywog Symbiote and can choose to play another spell or a better land (or even a tapped land like Florahedron). You could also hit Scute Swarm with Starrix, or you could need to shuffle your deck with a fetchland because you have Vivien in play.
- A copy of Scute Swarm has the entire text of the original, so those tokens become excellent mutate targets. If it has 3 Greathorns on it, the copy when mutated will look for 3 lands.
- The ‘-2’ ability of Vivien could let you search for Gemrazer if you need to destroy an artifact or enchantment. You could also search for a Pollywog Symbiote if you need to be mana efficient or are looking for an answer like Shark that you can’t tutor otherwise. It is often useful to get an Ooze and exile those Kroxas away, or if you need some lifegain, go look for Goose.
- Soul-Guide Lantern is better than Tormod’s Crypt because sometimes you already have an Ooze online – in this case, you can at least draw a card. One mana is nothing for this deck.
- When you have Parcelbeast and Vivien, you can put the land on top into play.
- If the opponent is playing a deck with Elspeth Conquers Death, remember that mutating on the bottom of a token is an option. If they also have Glass Casket, do the Yorion check and decide which one is better.
- If they have Doom Foretold, you can mutate on the bottom of the token – Doom’s trigger can’t make you sacrifice tokens.
- You can flash-mutate a Shark onto any creature (vest example would be Chainweb Aracnir), so it unexpectedly would deal more damage in combat.
If you have any questions, let me know, I will happily answer them. Thanks for reading, and have fun! Cheers!