I am mostly known for writing about “meta” decks. Even my “home brews” are generally made with the intent of being decks that I would sleeve up at a big event but I figured I would take a break from that and show one of the most fun decks that I have played in a long time,
We have seen the power of Tibalt’s Trickery in Modern, which was deemed too powerful and subsequently banned. So why is a card deemed too powerful for one of Magic’s most powerful formats legal in Standard? Well the short answer is that Standard doesn’t have any cards with Cascade to abuse Tibalt’s Trickery to its fullest extent. That also doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun with it and cheese some wins anyway! I will start by saying I think this deck is playable mostly in best-of-one. Let’s look at the deck.
So, the question is how do we do it? Well, the short answer is jam eight 0 costing cards, 4 Tibalt’s Trickery, and all of standard’s most powerful cards into a single deck with enough some lands and hope for the best. But there is some math behind it.
Frank Karsten, one of Magic’s finest math mathematicians broke down the deck to its base numbers. I however am not a mathematician. But I can breakdown his findings to the best of my ability. Breaking the deck down, it is basically:
- 28 Mountain
- 4 Stonecoil Serpent
- 20 Bombs
According to Karsten, this build has roughly a 52% success rate. This is factoring in Trickery into another Trickery or 0 cost Artifact. Going off 50%+ of the time is fine, but that doesn’t mean you win 50% of the time either. There are games where you will rip something, and the opponent just has the out to it. Thankfully we can do better.
Another skeleton looks like this:
- 25 Temple Scry Lands
- 4 Tibalt’s Trickery
- 4 Stonecoil Serpent
- 4 Tormod’s Crypt
- 23 Bombs
Again, according to Karsten, this build has roughly a 65% chance of going off on turn three, since the Scry lands help dig for missing pieces, and we gain a whole extra draw step before attempting the combo. This is a huge improvement. But I think a mana base of all tapped lands is terrible and going off on turn two is much better than three.
Which bring us to this model which splits the difference:
- 15 Mountain
- 11 Temple Scry Lands
- 4 Tibalt’s Trickery
- 4 Stonecoil Serpent
- 4 Tormod’s Crypt
- 22 Bombs
According to Karsten, this build has a 60% chance of going off on turn two. This is much better than the 52% from the first model, and better than the 65% chance on turn three from the last model.
The Bombs are already chosen. So, without lands the skeleton of the deck looks like this:
The Mana Base
The only real deck building decision is, do you want to be able to grind if you need to? If not and you are only looking to flip a bomb before turn 4, then you can run the following mana base and 2 copies of Esika, God of the Tree:
This is Karsten’s mana base. The benefit to this build is the math is on your side. You have the most consistent shot at going off on turn two. With 11 Temples, you also have the chance of Scrying into combo pieces, since while The Prismatic Bridge is powerful, it is probably the most answerable threat in the deck, and far from game ending. The downside is that you lose the ability to play some of your spells in the late game if you need to and basically make cards like Dream Trawler, dead in your hand.
If you are skeptical of the “all-in” mana base, then you can run this mana base and 4 copies of Esika, God of the Tree:
This is Andrea Mengucci’s Mana base. It is “safe” since it allows us to cast our spells in the late game. The benefits to this mana base are that you can cast your spells late game if you need to thanks to more copies of Esika, God of the Tree and The World Tree. This gives you basically, perfect mana in the late game. The downside is you are playing a lot of tapped lands. This can also hinder your ability to turn two combo consistently, and you only have 7 Temples for their scry effect, but you do have a Triome which can be cycled.
I do not recommend any version of this deck in best of 3. There are just too many counters, removal, and hand disruption for either build to be successful. However if you must, the idea is to board out of the combo on the draw versus blue decks and become a ramp deck with some Annuls for the mirror.
Andrea’s Sideboard is:
So, putting them together, these are our deck options:
Andrea Mengucci’s Deck
Frank Karsten’s Deck
Time to Innovate!
Now, that I have covered the baseline versions of the build. I think there is some wiggle room. Looking at the mana of both builds, I think I see the flaw in the deck itself. It is trying to cast all its spells in a pinch and be less of a “meme” deck, which is fantastic. But I think there is a better way to do it…
First, we can admit that Dream Trawler is the worst threat in our deck, and the main source of the mana issues with its double white requirement. Let’s just remove it. While nothing we add in its place will be as powerful, I value consistency over power, even when it comes to meme decks. Because if I can’t get consistent wins with it, then its just a bad deck. What are our alternatives?
Not exactly the bomb you would consider when playing this deck. But read that top line. Yes, this gives us perfect mana and allows us to cast basically in our hand for the rest of the game if we have it in play. I think this is a great way to smooth over the deck. It is also worth noting that it can draw us some cards in the late game as well. It gets my vote!
I’ve seen decks with Emergent Ultimatum, and I like it. But they get Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider, Valki, God of Lies to cast as Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor and
Nyxbloom Ancient is another “outside the box” card that lets us cast all our threats if we untap with it. Now it’s not the “best.” But I think it is better than any alternatives and gives the deck a bit more consistency. Plus tapping all our mana for a giant Stonecoil Serpent becomes a real win condition on its own. Having trample is nice as it means this card is hard to chump block.
Now let’s look at what I think should be the new mana base for Trickery decks:
- 2 Blightstep Pathway
- 4 Cragcrown Pathway
- 3 Riverglide Pathway
- 4 Temple of Abandon
- 3 Temple of Epiphany
- 2 Temple of Malice
So first off, I am playing significantly less lands than both builds. This is to take advantage of the Arena shuffler in best-of-1. With 18, we maximize the chance of having two lands, and have the most threats possible. We trimmed two temples off Karsten’s 11 temple idea, but I don’t think that hurts much since we add more hits.
Since we don’t have to play white mana we only have to focus on four colors in our mana and if we want to hardcast The Prismatic Bridge, Esika, God of the Tree enables the white mana while also providing any color we need. We also add some Rakdos lands in to cast Emergent Ultimatum in a pinch.
The Final Build
Putting it together, this is my recommended build:
Playing the Deck
Essentially what you want to do is find two cards – mulligan until you find a Trickery and a 0-costing Artifact. You can still keep basically any hand of Trickery because you have 8 cards in the deck which allow you to still combo. You can also counter another castable spell which will likely be Esika, God of the Tree or another Tibalt’s Trickery.
A fallacy I see players fall into is the idea that you need to combo off on turn 2. I find that you can combo anytime until turn 4 and be okay. Opponents can still have outs – but that is just the nature of the beast and you must accept it if you want to play this deck.
I believe the best threats you can play in order of power are:
- Genesis Ultimatum: Since it can hit more cards.
- Ugin, the Spirit Dragon: Because a lot of decks can’t beat it.
- Emergent Ultimatum: Finds two cards, but they are not as powerful as others in our deck.
- Chromatic Orrery: Let’s us cast anything, draws a ton of cards in a pinch, what is there to hate other than it being legendary?
- Koma, Cosmos Serpent: Takes a game over on its own, but not unbeatable.
- Kiora Bests the Sea God: Big threat, can do a lot of damage and take over a game.
- Nyxbloom Ancient: Fixes our mana, ramps us to any spell. and is a nice quality of life card, it combos beautifully with Chromatic Orrery, but it does die easily.
- The Prismatic Bridge: Doesn’t immediately impact the board, but if unanswered becomes one of the better cards.
I’ve seen decks with Emergent Ultimatum that can get Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider, Valki, God of Lies to cast as Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor and Kiora, Bests the Sea God. That’s pretty cool, but I want to be able to just normally cast most of my threats, especially in slow games like against all the Yorion decks, and Emergent Ultimatum is almost impossible to cast and Tibalt and Vorinclex seem mediocre as a rip from our Tibalt’s Trickery.
- When you go to combo, have it in full control, or else you risk your 0-mana spell just resolving without a hold to counter it.
- You can get to five mana and cast a Esika, and counter it with Trickery, or counter an opponent’s spell with Trickery, then counter the Trickery with another copy.
- If you hit Genesis Ultimatum, DO NOT CAST THE 0-CMC ARTIFACTS. They can be used to combo later. Don’t waste them.
Again, I do not recommend this deck for best-of-three, but someone is going to do try anyway. The point of our sideboard is like the others, to be able to ditch the combo and become a pseudo-ramp deck. I don’t respect the mirror in Bo3, so no Annuls are required, except just enough lands to get to 26, which is the baseline to be able to cast your expensive spells.
I only sideboard in three major matchups: Izzet Control, Blue Yorion decks, and Rogues decks on the draw:
|All 15 sideboard cards||-4 Tibalt’s Trickery|
|-4 Tormod’s Crypt|
|-2 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon|
|-2 Kiora Bests the Sea God|
|-2 Emergent Ultimatum|
|-1 Chromatic Orrery|
This just trims some top end across the board to bring in the ramp cards. You can keep some Crypts in versus Rogues, but it’s average at best.
I think this deck is fantastic in best-of-one and if you are looking to climb, I would put it in the top tier of along with Mono Red and Mono White. The deck is just insane with some hands. It is a true glass cannon. Yeah, you have hands where you just lose, but you knew the risks when you put on the uniform! This deck is a blast to play, the quick concessions never fail to make me laugh, cause sometimes it is fun to be the villain.
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