Deck of the Day: Sultai Midrange

Standard is defined by two cards right now: Hazoret the Fervent and The Scarab God. These are the most powerful threats we have, so playing a deck that features them or beats them is important. Hazoret only goes into aggressive red decks, but The Scarab God can shine in a variety of color combinations and styles from midrange to control. This deck is similar to one Jaberwocki had been having success with for some time and ended up getting 2nd in the MOCS Playoff to qualify for the Championship. More players, such as Brad Nelson, have been streaming their versions, and it’s sure to be the style of deck you need to be prepared to beat going forward.

The Scarab God is ridiculous. The 5/5 stats on a 5 mana creature are already respectable before you get into the myriad number of things this creature can do. Utilizing the graveyard to make 4/4 creatures for just 4 mana is absurd, and getting the bonus life loss and scry seems totally unnecessary. That it can come back from the graveyard if they happen to destroy it makes The Scarab God one of the best threats Standard has ever seen.

Playing a bunch of creatures with good enters-the-battlefield triggers is great for any Scarab God deck. Champion of Wits plays extremely well here as it allows you to dig for lands or God, discard the cards you don’t need or creatures to bring back, and it even eternalizes late to mitigate mana flood. Returning Champion with The Scarab God lets you draw 4 and discard 2, making sure you’re always ahead in the late game.

Going down the path of creatures with great enters-the-battlefield triggers, you come to Ravenous Chupacabra and Hostage Taker. Both of these help clear the opponent’s board while giving you a serviceable creature of your own. The opponent will be forced to deal with these creatures on the battlefield eventually, and that’s where The Scarab God really slams the door shut.

Kitesail Freebooter gives you some early interaction and evasion. The 1/2 body isn’t much, but when it comes back with your God as a 4/4, it can do some serious work. On the other side of the spectrum, your most expensive card is Torrential Gearhulk. While you don’t have many instants to get back, the 5/6 flash is a serious threat and getting a removal spell back is awesome value. In the middle of your curve, Gonti, Lord of Luxury gives you card advantage and some additional deathtouch to trade up in combat.

Your early game relies on Glint-Sleeve Siphoner to get you some extra cards and Gifted Aetherborn to do some heavy lifting. Both of these 2-drops really shine as cards that are extremely good on turn 2 but still quite strong later in the game. Trading for a removal spell isn’t a big deal when you’re only spending 2 for your creature, but if they don’t deal with these 2-drops, they can both take over the game.

Your removal spells are the same as just about every black deck in the format. Fatal Push isn’t easy to trigger revolt with, but you have creatures to trade in combat and there are plenty of 2-drops worth killing. The full playset of Vraska’s Contempts are mandatory in Standard right now with Hazoret, Rekindling Phoenix, and The Scarab God.

Chart a Course is another cheap spell that’s good early and late. You’re happy to load up your graveyard, and discarding excess or dead removal spells or your extra lands can be excellent. Later on, you’re spending 2 mana to draw 2 cards, which is a solid rate.

The planeswalkers set this deck apart. You’re playing a nearly mono-black deck with a handful of powerful blue spells. The only green spell in the deck is Vraska, Relic Seeker, and it really is that powerful. This is the best answer to enchantments and artifacts you have, can handle creatures to clean up the battlefield, or just tick up to make an army and win the game. Liliana, Death’s Majesty is effectively more copies of The Scarab God, but also combos very well with the God. If they happen to deal with it, this will give you two effects to start bringing creatures back. It also plays well against decks packing Essence Scatter as a way to get around that issue. If they happen to remove graveyards with something like Scavenger Grounds, Liliana can still create her own army to take over the game.

This is one of the best decks in Standard right now, although it’s far from optimized. With Standard being wide open and tons of strategies viable, finding the best home for The Scarab God is the ideal direction to go.

Sultai Midrange

Ryuji, 2nd place in the MOCS Playoff

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