There was once a time in Magic when playing an Island was all you needed to do on your turn to win the game. From Whispers of the Muse to Sphinx’s Revelation, this type of strategy has earned the hatred of many, and today a pure-permission approach to standard is sure to take people by surprise. Perhaps this deck could usher in a new era of players confidently passing turns without hesitation.
Without further ado, here is the list I’ve been testing:
UW Hulk Flash
- 2x Blessed Alliance
- 4x Engulf the Shore
- 4x Glimmer of Genius
- 4x Revolutionary Rebuff
- 4x Scatter to the Winds
- 2x Skywhaler’s Shot
- 2x Void Shatter
- 2x Ceremonious Rejection
- 1x Deadlock Trap
- 1x Dovin Baan
- 2x Fragmentize
- 3x Negate
- 1x Skywhaler’s Shot
- 1x Sphinx of the Final Word
- 2x Summary Dismissal
- 2x Thing in the Ice
Wielding a functional 30 instants (counting Torrential Gearhulk’s flash), the entire deck plays at instant speed except Cataclysmic Gearhulk and a single Dovin Baan, which are powerful enough cards to warrant casting during the main phase.
There are three new cards that enable this deck to exist thanks to Kaladesh, and I’ll go through them one at a time.
The first is Revolutionary Rebuff which gives us the option to counter spells as early as turn two. Yes, it is no Mana Leak, but for Standard its CMC is aggressively priced in a format with very few instants. You will nab Planeswalkers cast on curve with it often enough that it actually feels strong. If the opponent is playing an artifact-heavy deck, you can board them out for 2 Ceremonious Rejection and 2 Fragmentize, but it will find a reasonable target against most decks.
The second is Glimmer of Genius, which allows us to gain a significant advantage at the end of the opponent’s turn. This card was the inspiration for the deck, as it provides both card selection and advantage at a good rate. Read the Bones powered many control decks throughout its tenure in Standard and Glimmer is close to a pure upgrade, eliminating the life loss which can be troublesome for control decks, but most importantly upgrading the card type from Sorcery to Instant allows us to play a purely reactive game without loss of tempo or card advantage.
The third is Torrential Gearhulk, which is bonkers here. It does everything: you can use it to flashback a counterspell, removal, sweeper (which I will get to next), or my personal favorite: Glimmer of Genius for an absurd amount of card advantage. Beyond all that, it’s a solid win condition with a body sized to dominate the board, especially when backed up by counterspells and sweepers.
Speaking of sweepers, we have 8 in the main. Engulf the Shore is a giant piece of the puzzle and truly makes playing against the deck a nightmare. With Evolving Wilds and Prairie Stream, we’re looking at a functional 19 Islands, which is enough to power this tentacled abomination of the deep. Having an instant speed sweeper really rounds out our options for the opponent’s turn, and trying to play around everything we can do at instant speed is bound to cause headaches for even the most respectable opponent. Not only can we flash it back with Torrential Gearhulk, but we can also set up plays to return the hulks to our hand if need be.
Cataclysmic Gearhulk has a solid body that can dominate the board on both offense and defense simultaneously. It lets you catch up on the battlefield very quickly, and will usually the largest thing left once the smoke clears. If it’s not, then you can use Skywhaler’s Shot to take out their big dude and let the Gearhulk get to work.
The deck’s greatest weakness is a Planeswalker that resolves through our wall of counterspells. At that point, the best course of action is flashing in a Gearhulk or awakening Scatter to the Winds to get some unexpected hits in. I’ve added a Deadlock Trap to the sideboard to address this problem, which allows us to make use of the abundant energy we accumulate over the course of a game from Glimmer of Genius. The good news is that most Planeswalkers are easy fodder for our hungry counterspells.
The sideboard is in a fairly infantile stage, but is pretty straightforward. Dovin Baan comes in against aggressive decks and grindy matchups. I would also like to add a Jace, Unraveler of Secrets to the sideboard for grinders but haven’t found space yet and may never.Sphinx is there to let you win against Bx control decks and other removal-heavy matchups that can chew through your relatively low win condition count. Summary Dismissal is crucial to defeating Emrakul and may warrant space in the main if the meta so decrees.
I’m really looking forward to developing this deck and may even bring it to SCG Indy on opening weekend if I feel confident enough with it. Any questions, comments or advice are welcome!