Welcome back everybody. We’re in a lull inbetween GPs, which means its time for more fun brews. This week’s list is a different take on Scarlet, a Ruler who’s seen some small play here and there, but made no big competitive splash. She’s a bunch of fun, and even if this list leans a little more locals than Grand Prix, it was suprisingly powerful, and the core threat base is one of the most potent in the format (simply lacking a home to make it shine). It’s core of threats is also one that’s insulated from rotation, so it has implications for another year of formats.
To understand this list, I’ll need to give a little context. For those unfamiliar with long-running MtG lists, there is a cadre of decks that have existed over the past decade bearing the moniker “the Jund deck”. These lists have bounced between a few color combinations and formats, but share some central features. The core of these decks is a pairing of cheap, efficient removal and some of the best discard and hand disruption in a given format. This combination of board control and hand disruption allows the lists to interact early and effectively, turning games into a top-deck fight. They win this battle by then playing the best rate threats in a given format, using the raw power of their threats to overwhelm the opponent stuck stumbling from interaction. That’s the axis this list seeks to win on.
First up, we have our interaction and disruption. Thought Control has obviously been a power-house discard spell since TSW’s prerelease, and is our ideal turn one play. It lets us play with a massive information advantage, poke holes in opposing tempo and synergy, and sets the stage for Glint to cripple opponents or swing card advantage. Glint, despite initial fear and hype, took a little bit to gain ground after release, and has only recently started to see wide play. Don’t let that fool you, Glint is a crazy card, even just at front-side value. We’re not playing for front-side value though, as eight of our threats generate mystery counters, enabling remnant usage despite our Ruler not being Reiya.
Rounding all this out is The Dusk Girl’s activated ability. Any card in our hand can become a 500 damage removal spell, giving us consistent access to cheap early interaction, and insurance against the limited life-span of some of our cards. In a deck like this, looking to cause a top-decking state, discard eventually become dead draws, as we force our opponents into a “play whatever I draw right away” play pattern. Once this happens, The Dusk Girl turns each discard into more removal instead. Even once the game progresses, and threats start to be harder to answer with just 500 damage, Scarlet ups her game to 1000 damage “removal” on her J-Ruler side. She can even precision onto an opposing threat, recover from her own ability, then call a stone to continue deploying our own high-impact threats. Her judgement also inverst Grimm, who can answer all but a select few threats in the format with no ifs, ands, or buts. Capping out this package is format staple The Final Battle, handling any boards that manage to get wide through our Dusk Girl effects and judgement. With all this disruption, we just need powerful threats we can use to close the game before our opponents can draw something important.
To fill this role, I’ve chosen some high-impact threats that are some of the most resilient in the format. As mentioned, Grimm can double as removal and fuel Glint of Insight, but he also dodges many of the most efficient and commonly played removal spells in the format. Barrier Light and Darkness means that he powers right through Miscalculation, Seperation of Fates, Naughty Child’s Chastising, Null Darkness, Forbidden Arts, and many more. Then, just above him on the curve is Gill Lapis, star child. Upgrading to full barrier, and able to grow bigger without using the chase, the only commonly played answer to Gill is Final Battle, and even that can be dicey. Gill is just big enough to put our opponent’s life out of Final Battle range quickly, and losing 2000 life can be quite risky when staring down Scarlet’s judgement. Our last big threat, while able to be targeted by most removal, can simply come back from the graveyard turn after turn with swiftness, because apparently Blazer just isn’t impressed by death. He aslo has a unique mode here, being a great card to pitch early to the Dusk Girl without losing access to his closing power later. Put all this together, and we get the following list:
The Dusk Girl, the Stars, and the Crimson Moon
4 Bird of Demise
4 White Leaf
4 Gentle Breeze Elemental
4 Grimm of the Crimson Moon/Grimm, Hope from the Future
4 Inheritor of the Stars, Gill Lapis
2 Blazer, Prisoner of Flame
2 Heavenly Fruit
4 Thought Control
4 Glint of Insight
2 Faerur’s Spell
4 Severing Winds
1 Ancient Impact
1 The Final Battle
I’ve presented a sample sideboard here, but Scarlet has quite a bit of flexibility in sideboard. Her discard effect makes the floor of any card “Deal 500 damage to a threat”, insulating us from the drawbacks of running very narrow side-board answers, even in higher numbers. She also plays excellently with remnant cards, using them as needed early game while still gaining access to another card once “empty handed”. On this line, in addition to Shade and Destruction of the Portal seen above, Rapid Growth provides excellent insulation against Final Battle, High Speed can help turn the corner quicker against decks that recover from top-deck mode quicker (and Gill can even pay for it to be played on curve), and Truth Amongst Darkness can be late game interaction against control decks. You can also hide “pocket combos” in your sideboard for matchups that are better against your game one plan.
Normally, running a combo runs the risk of drawing all of one side of the combo, or drawing too much combo in general when you need to interact. The Dusk Girl gives you an outlet to throw away those cards, mitigating the risk. This lets you run fun interactions like Welser, Archmage of Fire and Ancient Impact to put 4000 points of damage onto the chase that can’t be stopped by normal cancels. Discard effects also give you access to reanimation, and we have a plethora of choices there. Dark Revolution is a solid reanimation spell, and even has a nice floor of “4-mana Gill” when we bring it in. From there, you get access to a bunch of expensive threats, like Yamata no Orochi for go-wide decks, Azazoth to destroy J-Rulers, Ragnarok to bounce back after Judgment, and lots of other in-betweens of these types of effects.
So, we have a core of powerful discard and resilient threats that will likely remain potent throughout its time in New Frontiers (and Gill, Grimm, Thought Control, and Glint all stick around through rotation). We also have a fun ruler who can play fair, play combo, or play J-Ruler. If it pique’s your interest, I suggest sleeving it up and trying it out. This was great to play last weekend, and I hope you enjoy it too. See you all later.