Singleton Guild Wheel — Simic Edition
Introducing the EDH Guild Wheel and Ezuri, Claw of Progress
This article is Part 1 of a 10 part series covering the Singleton Guild Wheel Project, a 10 deck project in which there is only a single copy of any non-basic land among the 10 decks. Each deck is in the color combination of a different Ravnica guild. The methodology will be introduced here and expanded on each week featuring a deck part of the Wheel. Since the deckbuilding process is constant decks are bound to change in between articles being published.
Hey there, everyone! My name is Matt and if you’re not from the Springfield or Joplin, MO area you’ve probably never heard of me, since this is my first venture into MTG articles, but I’m definitely excited for the new adventure. I mainly play Modern and Legacy; playing Merfolk and Infect as my main decks in each format. I also love any and all various Zoo decks in Modern. Like any good spike, I enjoy brutally efficient decks. Knight of the Reliquary is my spirit animal, I'm told, and I can't disagree.
If you listen to the Masters of Modern podcast, which you should, you might have heard them talk about a format they play called Highlander Roulette. This is a six-deck format that play "singleton" among their “wheel,” of decks. This means only one copy of Sol Ring/Cultivate etc. between the six decks. This presents an interesting challenge where you’re not allowed to just cram every good ramp spell into every deck playing green and instead have to find a balance among them and find which deck needs which effect the most. I decided to take their idea one step farther and create a different deck for each Ravnica guild color combination. We’re talking about going DEEP on the singleton aspect.
What this restriction has done is to force me to look for some obscure cards that I probably wouldn’t have played before to get an extra copy of the spells I was looking for. Instead of playing Nature’s Lore, I found Far Wanderings, which actually has played better than I could have imagined. This interesting restriction got me not only interested in deck building, but back into wanting to play EDH again. Since I love brewing and finding ways to out-build my opponents, enforcing some unnecessary restrictions was the challenge I needed to get my true spike self into EDH again.
I decided to start this project with a brainstorm list and eventually took off in a color pairing I had never done before in a theme I had never done either: Green/Blue Elves. Ezuri, Claw of Progress had always jumped out at me, so it was an easy choice for my entry into this much larger project: the Singleton Guild Wheel.
Cards too good to give up
Part of the challenge in deck building for this project is finding the cards that this deck needs more than the other nine decks. With that in mind, I chose to keep cards that shine with Ezuri due to their ability to trigger multiple times. Chasm Skulker, Hornet Queen, Imperious Perfect, and the heaviest of hitters in Mycoloth are where I decided to draw the line regarding "staples." Mycoloth is just inappropriately good in this deck since it is the definition of a snowball effect and undisturbed, will exponentially take over the game with a flood of tokens. It's essentially a green Assemble the Legion that also can smack your opponents in the face. I think that Mycoloth in lots of builds will just get there faster and usually better than Avenger of Zendikar. Call me crazy, but Mycoloth has won too many games with his exponential army to dissuade me.
Chasm Skulker might not be the best in this deck, specifically since we don't draw exorbitant amounts of cards, but even one moderate Ezuri targeting means we will get our investment back rather quickly while also not being able to get totally blown out afterwards. Blue is fairly common in my playgroup so the islandwalk that the leftover tokens have is very relevant as well. Most people find themselves chumping Chasm Skulker instead of killing it outright. Skulker also is the best wrath insurance outside of a card I will discuss later.
What we don't get to play
So with the slew of +1/+1 counters in the deck, the obvious choice would be Doubling Season but then what deck doesn't want Doubling Season? The card is worth its price for a very good reason but is boring and wouldn't make for a good article suggesting different cards to play now would it? According to EDHREC, only 24% of decks play Doubling Season in their Ezuri decks, which seems crazy to me considering how great the card is.
Even though we are a blue deck by color, we don't really play a ton of super blue cards. Rhystic Study would be a fantastic addition since it's one of the better draw engines in blue and all of EDH. For a while I had played Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time for efficient card advantage but I found that having creatures with built-in advantage engines like Soul of the Harvest, Momir Vig, Simic Visionary or Yisan, the Wanderer Bard work almost as well within the deck. Dig Through Time was also devoted to another deck within the Wheel, our first true casualty to the singleton nature. Garruk Wildspeaker also suffered the same fate. We would love the extra ramp that he provides, but he too is taken away by another deck we will cover soon.
One of the saddest cuts from the deck is one of my favorite green cards ever in Scavenging Ooze. The card does so many things that we want rolled into one package. Graveyard hate? Check. Life gain? You bet. Potential beater? Right on. I play this card in nearly any format I'm allowed. Without Mr. Scooze we have to play a more narrow answer to graveyard strategies but it does synergize well with our overall game plan. More on that soon.
Guild Wheel Replacements
During the singleton process and really going deep into the +1/+1 counters process I tried to find as many utility cards as possible. Luckily, there was a somewhat recent set in Khans of Tarkir with a heavy green counters theme which made it easy. Inspiring Call easily has been one of the most pleasant surprises that I stumbled across when building this deck. It is especially great when combined with Master Biomancer to make a wrath effect mean diddly against you. Plus, you will occasionally draw cards hand over fist and if there is one thing a deck like this loves to do it is to reload. It can sometimes be a little underwhelming if you only save one or two creatures, but if you are saving a Blighted Agent, then who cares? It's not like they can block him from getting in for eleventy-billion infect next turn...
In the go-wide type strategies Craterhoof Behemoth and his ilk are obviously fantastic, but since it's a one-time effect it's less than perfect. Sure it ends plenty of games, but in multiplayer games, it needs some help with follow-up. I had always known that Beastmaster Ascension is a known card, but the spike in me had always thought "Man, that's a lot of work for that effect." Luckily I found out how wrong I was about the card when I got in the habit of turning its pump effect on the turn that I played it. The card really has gone on to shine and be a legit win con since it makes all your 1/1s into 6/6s and your enormous Mycoloth even more...enormouser? Enchantments are usually harder to get rid of in EDH games, so having one that makes such an impact on our game plan means that even if it takes you a few turns to turn it on it would usually be worth the wait.
A sweet card to combine with Beastmaster Ascension is one I vastly underrated in Pathbreaker Ibex. When those two get together, you have a bona fide recipe for wrecking the table. Pathbreaker Ibex might honestly be one of my favorite cards in the deck now. He is a great target for Ezuri's counters since he is able to pass that bonus on to the team, he grants trample, and at the six mana, slot it's great once you are able to build your board with elves and company. I have saddened a couple unsuspecting opponents by Chord of Calling for Pathbreaker Ibex, untapping with six or seven other creatures, casting a Triumph of the Hordes and asking people if they just wanted to shuffle up again. The goat really does pave the way for an army of 2/2's to suddenly become much more intimidating.
To circle back to our grave hate situation from before, I did discover one nifty enchantment bound to make the Karador players you know weep. While Night Soil is not Scavenging Ooze, being able to produce 1/1s while taking creatures out of graveyards is certainly a welcome addition. I only stumbled across this card because I searched for cards that contained "graveyard," and "token," but I am certainly glad I found it. If all you care about is keeping reanimator from happening or some jerk playing a Living Death, Night Soil is certainly worth looking at. Costing colorless mana is gravy and creating an army of 1/1's is never irrelevant either. It's a pretty solid twenty-cent gem that your friends will have to read a couple of times.
The deck also suffers from a lack of evasion outside a few of our previously-mentioned friends. Luckily, I remembered how good Tuskguard Captain was in Khans draft, and I happened to have a foil copy that needed a home. Nothing is a bigger blowout than having a massive creature ready to blow someone out than having it neutralized by a 1/1 deathtouch creature. Tuskguard Captain helps keep our army pushing through damage consistently which is much appreciated in a deck full of creatures that start at 2/2. If you’re playing any sort of deck that relies on the +1/+1 counter theme, Tuskguard Captain is a solid bet. (Note: after going through the full list of spoilers for Commander 2016 I see that Tuskguard Captain and several other cards that I love in this deck were reprinted. Just remember you heard it here first!)
Bred For the Hunt is a great card for the Singleton Guild Wheel. It acts as a Coastal Piracy that slots into our Simic deck as a draw engine and let's us put the Coastal Piracy in another blue deck that might need a draw engine. This is the type of card the Guild Wheel loves: nearly functional reprint allowing different decks to get different effects. Since most if not all the creatures will have at least one +1/+1 counter on it we get to enjoy the effect with little to no drawback for a whole one mana cheaper.
A few last notes from the decklist:
Presence of Gond and Intruder Alarm let us go infinite on tokens and experience counters. It gives us an instant speed way to create an army and make infinite mana with Gyre Sage. We don't have a ton of high mana sinks, but if we can fire off our hand with a Prime Speaker Zegana or play out an army with Master Biomancer we should be winning the game, anyway. I’ve always wanted to make Intruder Alarm work and [card]Presence of Gond[card] just happened to fit the bill. Neither card is even played in 10% of the Ezuri decks out there either, which means you might be sneaking up on people with this combo as well.
Sage of Hours has quickly become public enemy number one in my playgroup. Even my best friend who plays Mizzix of the Izmagnus Storm in EDH instantly hangs his head if the Sage resolves. After going infinite on turn four a handful of times, he doesn't make you any friends going into an unknown playgroup, but he does find a way for you to win the game if you find yourself in an old-fashioned Mexican standoff of fatties on the ground. Play him, love him, buy a foil because the foiling looks sweet. There is a reason he gets in almost 3 out of 4 Ezuri decks out there...
Seedborn Muse is NOT Prophet of Kruphix. It sucks that the Rules Committee hates Simic colors because there are so many cards from the banned list that would go into this deck. Seedborn Muse has actually be a little underwhelming outside of keeping an opponent locked out with an Intruder Alarm, but it's actively being looked at to be replaced. Maybe something in Commander 2016 will get a look instead(I'm looking at you, Kydele!).
So there we have it, the Simic spoke in the singleton circus. I hope you enjoyed this first installment of the Singleton Guild Wheel. I have really grown to enjoy playing this deck, it's the ultimate snowball effect and helped me launch the idea of building this entire project. Any feedback or hidden gems are much appreciated as this whole project will likely be perpetually in flux. Plus I love making my friends have to read some unknown card that I'm using to win the game.
If you want you can find me on Twitter @mathimus55 or on Facebook. Thanks everyone!