What some call obsession others call dedication. I think it’s neither. I think maybe some people have a passion for repetition: doing the same things, in the same places, at the same times, with the same people—for a lifetime! I have had the same four bars on loop since the day I was born, and I will grow old before it ever grows old to me.
I have been casting Searing Spear/Incinerate since I was just about a toddler. Seriously! The same plain red burn spell amuses me 17 years later. So you can imagine that Epic Experiment does not get old to me after one week. So, here we are again.
The past week I have been playing the deck a TON online—and, to be honest, I have lost more than I have won. But I am winning more. I am learning what cards to put in the deck, how to sideboard, and how to play. It isn't easy. The deck plays unlike anything I have ever handled before. You might lose because you got the wrong land off of Farseek on turn 2. You might lose because you shouldn’t have miracled that Temporal Mastery.
In light of the difficulty of playing this deck, I'm going to prepare you with this article. If you are going to rock the Epic Experiment, I want you to win. This is all about the hows and whys of winning.
First, let’s check out the new list!
The EPIC EXPERIMENT
I have worked to make the deck more realistic. It's a control deck that happens to have a combo kill. We have 6 wraths to sweep the board—plus Epic Experiment, which will often find a sweeper as well. We have plenty of lands and acceleration, and few cards that are clunky or useless when drawn.
I love the deck's improving flexibility. Take the cards Increasing Devotion and Temporal Mastery: In the early game Temporal Mastery often works as a ramp spell. Increasing Devotion often works as a team of chump blockers to extend the game. But in the late game a flashed-back Increasing Devotion into Temporal Mastery can lead to a 20-point swing out of nowhere! Basically, the very same cards that stall also kill. No more worrying about drawing our cards out of order—our game plan will be unaffected.
Now that we play 6 sweepers, our aggro matchups are much better. Supreme Verdict does not deal with undying, but against nonblack decks it’s pretty much a 4-mana, uncounterable Terminus. Also, now that we have 6 wraths we can expect a big Epic Experiment to regularly clear the board as well.
Talrand does a lot of things. He fattens our threat count. He gives us flying blockers. He gives us a 4-mana threat to slip in early and completely take over a game. He began as a means to combat Geist of Saint Traft out of control decks, but I have been boarding him in in a variety of matches and loving him. He fights the good fight against Slaughter Games, Jace, Architect of Thought, and anybody who boards out spot removal.
The main drawback of Talrand is the scroll bar. Has the scroll bar been a problem for you?
See that guy on the right? Maybe it is a rich man’s problem to struggle with a battlefield too abundant with creatures and lands, but I am going to go ahead and complain anyway.
Planar Cleansing kills our own Mana Blooms, but it sweeps the rest of the board completely—no creatures, no Keyrunes, no planeswalkers. It is a versatile but slow sweeper for fighting slower decks. I usually prefer to leave some amount of sweepers in my deck even against control decks, where Planar Cleansing being slow is not a problem.
Sphinx's Revelation is awesome against certain aggro and control decks. Against control decks it is another must-counter bomb, but it is an instant too. This means it can overload counter mana.
Against aggro decks it is similar to Epic Experiment, but much better at 8 or less mana than Epic Experiment would be most of the time. It is great against super aggressive decks and decks that fight with Rakdos’s Return.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Mana Bloom over Chromatic Lantern?
Many games are a race to Terminus. If we're on the draw, it's going to take a Farseek or a Mana Bloom in order to Terminus on the 4th turn. Some decks kill on the 4th turn and we are just dead, but many decks will kill us on the 5th turn if we don’t sweep. Chromatic Lantern does not race the way we need to race. Sure, it fixes mana, but our mana is usually already fixed, and it is just too slow.
Why not Devil’s Play?
Devil's Play just doesn’t kill. Epic Experiment bins lands. In order to kill with a 23-mana Devil's Play we need almost every land in our entire deck in play, and that’s not realistic. Sure, there is Increasing Vengeance, but the 5-red requirement is completely unreasonable and not worth stretching the mana for. On top of all this, more than half the decks in Standard run life gain. Devil's Play just doesn’t kill.
Why not Burn at the Stake?
This card also does not kill. Tapping the creatures is part of the cost, so if you flip into this card without Soldiers in play, it does nothing and goes to the graveyard where it stays forever.
What happened to Jace, Architect of Thought?
Jace was not pulling his weight. He was not a threat against control decks and too slow against creature decks. I found him to be lacking in every matchup.
What happened to Boundless Realms?
The card was just too slow. It was awesome against control decks but I wanted a more flexible deck. It is a 7-mana spell that doesn’t effect the board, and it leads to a lot of awful starting hands and mid-game topdecks. I found the 11 ramp pieces we have enough to make Epic Experiment functional. R.I.P. Boundless Realms, we hardly knew ya!
Is white really necessary?
Yes! Terminus is miles above Devastation Tide. We are a control deck, not a combo deck. Devastation Tide is a nice stall but Terminus can empty an opponent out completely. Increasing Devotion is also the most flexible kill available—it blocks and it flashes back. White is necessary for the deck to function.
What about Reforge the Soul?
Reforge the Soul costs 5 mana, doesn’t ramp us, and doesn’t effect the board. We are already soft against fast decks that dump their hand into play, and this card actually helps those decks more than us. I just don’t find this card flexible or important.
Tips and Tricks
I mentioned before that the deck is not easy to play, and there are lots of ways to punt. Fortunately, I have done plenty of punting for you, so I will explain how to avoid the mess yourself.
Casting Temporal Mastery
My win rate went way up after I started miracling and casting Temporal Mastery LESS! That’s right. Before I would cast the card before an Epic Experiment for a chance at another land. I would also miracle it in the mid-game for a chance at another land. A lot of the time it is better to hold it and wait in these situations.
Reason #1 to hold Temoral Mastery: Pair it with Creatures
Our main game plan is to kill with consecutive Soldier token swings. If we use our Temporal Masteries early, our tokens might be exposed to sorcery speed sweepers, or we can’t swing for enough and have to block. If we save our extra turns to chain attack steps, we kill much more easily.
Reason #2 to hold Temporal Mastery: Pair it with Increasing Vengeance
We have 2 Increasing Vengeance in our deck, and their main job is copying Temporal Mastery. If we wait on Temporal Mastery we have more chances to set up ridiculous chains with Increasing Vengeance.
My win rate has gone up as I have started to mulligan more. The first thing I look for in an opener is Farseek or Mana Bloom. The second thing I look for is Ranger's Path. The third thing I look for is a wrath. Hands with these combination of spells are generally keeps.
(Snap keep, play or draw)
The hands to watch out for are the hands with bad mana and no ramp. If we don’t have a Terminus in our opener—great, more chances to miracle it. The same can not be said about Farseek. We do only have seven turn 2 accelerators, so missing one isn’t an immediate mulligan, but not enough ramp is the #1 reason I ship hands back.
(Snap mull, play or draw)
Too many Epic Experiment and Temporal Mastery in the opener is sometimes a reason to mulligan. The cards are both pretty expensive and don’t come into play until later. They are nice to draw, but you don’t need them early, so you don’t necessarily need them in your opener. Temporal Mastery is a pretty reasonable hard cast though, so having several doesn’t mean it is a mulligan either.
(Probable keep, play or draw)
Sideboarding vs. Aggro
It took me a while to figure out how to sideboard against aggro. For a while I was losing more postboard games than I was winning, which told me that I was sideboarding too much. After board we plan on casting lots of Centaur Healers and Thragtusks, but we still need to cast Epic Experiment too. One of the reasons why Epic Experiment is so good against aggro is because it sweeps. It doesn’t necessarily win the game on the spot, but it doesn’t need to. It is a big bomb that finishes the game—something Jace, Architect of Thought could never be.
Here is how I have been sideboarding against Zombie decks:
Our game plan doesn’t really change—we still plan on stalling until an Epic Experiment, but we have some awesome new tools to do that. Since I was winning game 1s, I realized we didn’t have to transform at all, so here is a way to improve the matchup without changing the fundamentals of the deck.
Sideboarding vs. Midrange
Talrand is phenomenal against midrange decks. The incremental advantage an early Talrand can provide completely dominates games. It is vulnerable, however, to cards like Sever the Bloodline and Bonfire of the Damned.
This is the only matchup I have been sideboarding out Epic Experiment. I find that we can go under their countermagic rather than over it. Resolving Epic Experiment while they pressure us is too much to ask. We still have the late game of a flashed-back Increasing Devotion, but we have plenty of fight against Restoration Angel and Geist of Saint Traft.
Sideboarding vs. Control
The main thing that changed from last weak is Talrand, Sky Summoner. It still dies to Detention Sphere, but it slips in early against Geist of Saint Traft and planeswalkers, and demands an immediate answer. We still have our late game Epic Experiment plan, as well as Increasing Vengeance, Negate, and Izzet Charm to protect it.
Here is how I have been sideboarding vs. blue control decks:
Increasing Devotion can be an unrealistic kill against Jace, but we don’t necessarily need it. Talrand and Increasing Confusion are generally serviceable win conditions in this matchup.
The EPIC EXPERIMENT on the Big Screen!
There will be videos of me rocking the deck going up on ChannelFireball this week, so don’t miss it! I will also be continuing to stream with the deck on twitchtv.com/traviswoo. Catch me Wednesday at 2pm Pacific time.
I want to thank everyone who has commented on the deck. Many of the changes to the deck have come as random suggestions from virtual strangers, and I seriously appreciate it when people take time out of their day to help me.
Questions! Comments! Think there’s something I missed?