Sultai Ultimatum Historic Deck Guide: Make Opponents Salty With Sultai

Emergent-Ultimatum-Ikoria-MtG-Art

Hello everyone! Do you miss Uro in Historic? No? Literally nobody. Huh, well ok. Do you miss playing Sultai then? If so, I have the deck for you! Sultai Ultimatum plays somewhat similarly to the Sultai deck of old, but instead of ramping into Nissa, we’re ramping into a much more powerful payoff! Let’s take a look at my current version of Sultimatum.

(H) Sultai Ult v2

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Companion
1
Yorion, Sky Nomad
Planeswalker (1)
1
Liliana, Dreadhorde General
Creature (7)
4
Elder Gargaroth
2
Hydroid Krasis
1
Valki, God of Lies/Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor
Sorcery (15)
1
Alrund's Epiphany
4
Emergent Ultimatum
4
Explore
2
Extinction Event
1
Planewide Celebration
1
Sea Gate Restoration/Sea Gate, Reborn
2
Shadows' Verdict
Instant (10)
4
Eliminate
4
Growth Spiral
2
Jwari Disruption/Jwari Ruins
Enchantment (13)
4
Binding the Old Gods
4
Omen of the Sea
1
Omniscience
4
Wolfwillow Haven
Land (34)
4
Breeding Pool
4
Drowned Catacomb
1
Fabled Passage
1
Forest
4
Hinterland Harbor
1
Island
2
Ketria Triome
4
Overgrown Tomb
1
Swamp
4
Watery Grave
4
Woodland Cemetery
4
Zagoth Triome
Cards 80
Sideboard (15)
2
Extinction Event
2
Grafdigger's Cage
1
Hydroid Krasis
3
Negate
2
Shadows' Verdict
4
Shark Typhoon
1
Yorion, Sky Nomad

Unsurprisingly, this list has a lot in common with the Standard version of it, but with two significant upgrades. Having access to more 2 mana ramp spells like Explore and Growth Spiral is invaluable when you’re trying to ramp out expensive cards. Even if you find yourself with a hand without a lot of top end, the extra mana can always be invested into getting back a Yorion which is also a great deal if you get to blink anything with it.

The second main upgrade to the deck is your Emergent Ultimatum is significantly upgraded. That may seem surprising since resolving it in Standard is generally game ending, but I quickly found in Historic that using Standard’s win conditions was simply not strong enough a lot of the time.

Instead, we now get a “combo”: Liliana, Dreadhorde General and Planewide Celebration. If you get a pile with both of these, you can resolve Liliana first then Proliferate a bunch with Planewide Celebration to let her ultimate instantly, a death blow for most decks. The issue is, once your opponent knows about this interaction they won’t let you have it unless it somehow isn’t good enough, but both cards are still great by themselves anyway! Liliana is a powerful planeswalker and Planewide Celebration can recur threats, gain life, or make more bodies.

Beyond those two which are almost always Ult options, we have a motley of great threats. Omniscience is a pretty strong card so I’ve heard. Surprisingly, there are a decent amount of board states you don’t actually want it, so I needed to add more top end to get with Ultimatum. Valki, God of Lies and Alrund's Epiphany are the two new Kaldheim hits that we’re most likely to get if Omniscience isn’t good enough. Lastly Elder Gargaroth can help you stabilize if you need a big idiot to get in the way of your opponent’s stuff.

Like the Standard version, this deck is all about ramping, interacting, and stalling until you can slap your opponent with an expensive spell. It’s simple, powerful, and definitely a blast to play.

NOTABLE EXCLUSIONS

Thoughtseize 

I played Thoughtsieze for awhile, but I only really wanted it against Control. Too often, I was drawing it late in the game when I was hoping for functionally anything else and a lot of the time the life loss ends up being too relevant as well.

Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider 

This fulfills a similar role to Planewide Celebration, but is way less flexible.

Nissa, Who Shakes the World

This is the one I was the most surprised at since I figured Nissa would be the perfect card in this deck. It’s an amazing threat and helps Ramp into Ultimatum, what’s not to like? Well, it never played out that way. Protecting Nissa proved too difficult most of the time so it felt like I was mostly playing a 5 mana card that made one of my lands vulnerable. Nissa also made Claim the Firstborn live against me rather than it being almost dead which was a huge liability in two popular matchups (Sacrifice and Arcanist). With all that in mind, I found Elder Gargaroth to be a significantly stronger threat as many decks don’t have many ways to actually kill one.

Kiora Bests the Sea God 

Bests the Sea God wasn’t bad per se, but there were better options. 

MATCHUPS AND SIDEBOARDING

Alrund's Epiphany

SACRIFICE (EVEN)

INOUT
+2 Grafdigger’s Cage-2 Hydroid Krasis
+2 Extinction Event-1 Sea Gate Restoration
+2 Shadow’s Verdict-1 Alrund’s Epiphany
-2 Wolfwillow Haven

Like many others, this matchup is going to be all about trying to stop them from killing you while you work towards a payoff spell. This has felt like a toss up (despite me only losing the matchup once) as you’re very reliant on drawing one of your relevant cards quickly. Cage goes a long way to not die to Cat loops or Collected Company which is great. Extinction Event is decent, but Shadow’s Verdict is the real killer as it interrupts Cat loops as well.

The best of the bunch though, is Elder Gargaroth. Few Sacrifice lists have a way to kill Elder Gargaroth, so if you get it down early there’s a decent chance they just can’t beat it. With that in mind, don’t keep a hand unless it’s fast, heavily interactive, or has one of these cards and a decent amount of lands.

AURAS (SLIGHTLY FAVORED TO MODERATELY FAVORED)

INOUT
+2 Extinction Event-2 Hydroid Krasis
+2 Shadow’s Verdict-1 Sea Gate Restoration
-1 Omniscience

This is going to be somewhat like a race, but you have a bunch of cards that just swing the matchup heavily in your favor. The wraths are great against Auras (barring they have Kaya's Ghostform) and Elder Gargaroth is similarly powerful. Make sure to keep interaction heavy hands so you don’t get run over quickly.

ARCANIST (EVEN)

INOUT
+2 Grafdigger’s Cage-4 Elder Gargaroth
+2 Extinction Event-1 Alrund’s Epiphany
+2 Shadow’s Verdict-2 Eliminate
+1 Hydroid Krasis-4 Wolfwillow Haven 
+4 Shark Typhoon

Value is the name of the game in this matchup. Most of Arcanists hands don’t run you over so it’s mostly going to be about squeezing out advantage from all of your cards. Ideally you get a Cage or Verdict to make your life easier, but try to keep their board clean and you should be ok. Kroxa is the scariest card in this matchup so do whatever you can to mitigate it.

UW CONTROL (SLIGHTLY UNFAVORED TO MODERATELY UNFAVORED)

INOUT
+1 Hydroid Krasis-2 Extinction Event
+3 Negate-2 Shadow’s Verdict
+4 Shark Typhoon-4 Eliminate

Similar to Arcanist, this will be about a card advantage battle, but unlike Arcanist, you’re pretty outgunned. Counterspells into Teferi is a really hard combination of cards to beat and the fact we only have 3 Negate to help us out isn’t ideal. We do play a lot of strong value creatures like Hydroid Krasis and big Shark Typhoon tokens so if you have an abundance of those, winning is still very reasonable.

Also as an aside, I lost a match to UW when they resolved FIFTEEN counterspells against me, and that was just in the top half of their library. I didn’t cry… A lot.

ANGELS (SLIGHTLY FAVORED TO MODERATELY FAVORED)

INOUT
+2 Extinction Event-2 Hydroid Krasis
+2 Shadow’s Verdict-1 Sea Gate Restoration
-1 Omniscience

Angels is pretty much the same deal as Auras, but instead of mostly being afraid of Kaya’s Ghostform, it’s Collected Company. The good news is that Angels is much softer to wraths and have fewer ways to get back into the game then Auras so this matchup should generally be good. Furthermore, Elder Gargaroth is just unkillable for them which can also make your life easier.

TIPS AND TRICKS

Growth-Spiral-Art-by-Seb-McKinnon
  • Don’t be afraid to make a small Hydroid Krasis if you need something to do in the midgame.
  • When in doubt, you’ll want to draw cards off of Elder Gargaroth’s ability. 
  • Explore can play MDFC lands like Jwari Disruption and Sea Gate Restoration where Growth Spiral can not.
  • Although Planewide Celebration is mostly for combiong with Liliana, there’s been plenty of scenarios where gaining a bunch of life in one shot is just as strong, if not more so, then going for the combo.
  • This may be obvious, but Grafdigger’s Cage doesn’t stop Emergent Ultimatum as Ult exiles the cards then casts them from exile.
  • Get Yorion back rather aggressively. Similar to Standard, curving getting back Yorion, Binding the Old Gods, into Yorion is still a very strong line.
  • If you’re facing a creature deck and you’re unsure whether to wrath or Elder Gargaroth first, assuming you’re still at a decent life total, start with Gargaroth. It’s very hard for a deck to come back from a Gargaroth attack with they get wrathed right before hand (this doesn’t apply if you need to Extinction Event on odd).
  • Remember whatever card you click first to cast for Emergent Ultimatum will resolve second. This is especially relevant with Liliana and Planewide Celebration as you’ll need to choose the modes on Planewide first before clicking Liliana. With that in mind, if you believe your opponent may have a way to kill Liliana before Planewide Celebration can resolve, don’t go for the combo as you can easily win with two big threats instead.
  • You will almost always get Liliana and Planewide Celebration in your Emergent Ult piles, but the last card can be tricky. Get Omniscience if you can recoup a lot of value from getting it or you believe your opponent doesn’t know Liliana and Celebration can kill them. Get Valki if you need a Planeswalker. Get Elder Gargaroth if you need a way to stabilize. Get Sea Gate if you have a few cards in hand, but those cards aren’t good with Omniscience. Get Alrund’s Epiphany if you really need another turn and blockers (or you have a second Ultimatum in hand). 

Thank you for reading! If you like my content and want to see more of it, you can check me out on Twitch! Have a great day!

DoggertQBones

Robert "DoggertQBones" Lee is a streamer and high ranked Arena player. He has one GP Top 8 and pioneered popular archetypes like UB 8 Shark, UB Yorion, and GW Company in Historic. Beyond Magic, his passions are writing and teaching!

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