CUT #15 - A CUT Above the Rest

Travis Stanley • August 12, 2022

Surge to Victory | Illustrated by Grzegorz Rutkowski

What is one to do when you've climbed to the top of the mountain? When you've won both rounds of CUT and walked away a winner? Where does one truly go from there? This week, we answer those questions. We've brought back past winners and given them challenges that will flex their deck building skills, stretch their imagination, and really put to work their deckbuilding prowess. This first round is a bit of a softball to give as much room to be creative without giving them too much freedom.

Before we introduce this week's challenges, let's see who won CUT #14!

Congratulations, Jake FitzSimons, you have a double victory on your proverbial CUT Competition Series Belt! Looks like you and Kaervek are winners, and maybe it's a sign that you should build him, just saying. Also a huge thank you to Lenny and his submissions; Animar may not have won it all for you, but it definitely won our hearts, so really that's almost a better prize than victory.

Now to see what our deck builders have to work with this week:

  • Commander has to be one that has been on a previous CUT article you were a part of, but not one you have used yourself
  • The rest of the 99 have to be legal in Standard
  • You must have 15 or more legendary permanent cards in your deck, not including your commander(s)

First up is David B! You'll remember David B from the very first CUT article all the way back in March of 2021; he also still holds the record for most combined votes on a single round of CUT (1st article + Finals)! What has he delivered to us today?


Araumi - Mad World

Commander (1)
Creatures (39)
Instants (14)
Artifacts (6)
Enchantments (3)
Lands (33)
Sorceries (3)
Planeswalkers (1)

 

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Araumi's Mad World

In my research, Araumi's story really struck me. Araumi was a merfolk princess who flagged down a ship filled with humans. She spent an evening trading stories with the crew. Unfortunately, this was a pirate ship, and after hearing tales of her wealthy homeland, the pirates subdued her and went off to raid her home. Devastated, she swore vengeance and vowed to bring ruin to those who betrayed her trust.

Thematically, I wanted to tell Araumi's story through this deck. Given Araumi's origins, I've added a bit of a nautical theme. Perhaps Inga Rune-Eyes picks her up and changes course to pursue the pirates. Cosima, God of the Voyage hears her pleas and calls forth swirling mists and a consuming tide to carry Igna's ship on its way. In a nearby port, Jacob Hauken, Inspector sleuths out the pirates' hideaway. When Araumi finally finds the pirates, Egon, God of Death will grant her wish to see them ended. A Hullbreaker Horror will rise from the depths and drag those scurvy dogs to Davy Jones's locker!

What's the Strategy?

Araumi follows a pretty straightforward playstyle: play threats early and fill up your graveyard. When your enemies run low on remove in the mid to late game, bring out Araumi and return creatures for a final hurrah.

Araumi may be only three mana, but playing her on turn three is not the way to use her. Make sure you have An Offer You Can't Refuse, Negate, or Malakir Rebirth handy to protect her once she comes out. Once her safety is assured, you can move to your end game.

While it's tempting to bring back expensive and large creatures, you still have to pay for them. A lot of the best cards to bring back are just really efficient budget creatures with good death and enter the battlefield triggers. For example, Eyetwitch will let you get three Learn triggers for one mana, Aven Heartstabber will mill you six and draw you three cards for two mana along with attacking for up to nine total, which seems pretty good to me.

The most powerful card to bring back is likely Dreadhound. You'll get to attack for 18 damage total, mill nine cards, deal three damage for each creature milled, and deal a final nine damage for your Dreadhounds dying at the end of turn. There are a few clone effects in the deck, as well. Having Dreadhound already on the board and getting an Encore trigger with Glasspool Mimic is equally powerful.

Legendary Issues

In building this deck, I had a few unique challenges. There is a fair amount of anti-synergy between Araumi and legendary creatures.

I made use of a lot of legendary creatures that have powerful enter-the-battlefield effects or death triggers, which make it worthwhile. The stars of this are the twin Dragons Junji, the Midnight Sky and Kairi, the Swirling Sky. Getting three copies of their death triggers is truly game-changing. Junji is a reanimation engine and Kairi can refill your graveyard and then some. Inga Rune-Eyes allows you to scry 9 and draws you 3, but she can also get you another 6 cards in hand if another creature has died this turn.

Some creatures aren't meant to be brought back. For example, Ludevic, Necrogenius is meant to fill your 'yard early and act as an alternate reanimation engine instead. Other legendary slots were taken up by cards that weren't Araumi targets. Otawara, Soaring City and Takenuma, Abandoned Mire are just good value. The Meathook Massacre acts as one of the deck's board wipes. The Eye of Vecna serves as a card advantage engine to grind out the late game.

Lastly, there are some legends that don't need any help: Narfi and Ebondeath can bring themselves back.

Most Valuable Cards (MVC's)

There are a few standout cards I'd like to mention. Oriq Loremage is a very underrated card in my opinion. Any creature that lets you tutor for free as a tap ability seems pretty great. He's a perfect fit for the deck.

Cut Your Losses can very easily dump ¾ of your deck into your graveyard. At that point, you have all the choice in the world when it comes to targets. If you manage this with a Dreadhound (or three) on the field, you've pretty much won the game.

I also included two cards that use the Phasing mechanic in the deck, March of Swirling Mist and Spectral Adversary. If you can phase out the tokens created by Araumi, you get to keep them forever.

In closing, Araumi is a fun and thematic commander built on digging up past trauma and getting revenge.

I hope that once the tide has washed the blood away, Araumi can spend some time in therapy.


I think we all hope that after Araumi gets the help she needs so that she can help you get to the next article!

Next up we have another David! David R was last seen in CUT #4, where he gave us a Yawgmoth, Thran Physician Super-Aristo-Friends deck, along with an explosive Captain Ripley Vance deck, that I think you all should check out! Alright, David, what have you got for us?


CUT 2022

Commander (1)
Sorceries (23)
Instants (14)
Creatures (21)
Artifacts (6)
Lands (30)
Enchantments (2)
Planeswalkers (3)

 

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PROLOGUE

Well, here we go again, another article, another set of rules pulled from the depths of the deprived mind of Travis Stanley. Choosing from previous articles left me with very few options: either mono-green Storm, mono-red Storm, or Gruul spellslinger. I must say, needing 15 legendary permanents in a spellslinger deck is very difficult, but I suppose that is the nature of the beast.

THE MAIN PLAN

It doesn't get much simpler than a good 'ol fashioned spellslinger. You get your Thermo-Alchemist and your Storm-Kiln Artist, then cast your Reckless Impulse and your Scale the Heights, then windmill slam your Crackle with Power or Explosive Singularity, wiping your opponents from the face of the earth. There isn't a whole lot more than that, other than that your support creatures can double as bodies to Conspire with, allowing you to copy multiple spells a turn.

NOTABLE INCLUSIONS

A few of the cards at my disposal really put in some work in this deck. First is Vivien on the Hunt. Her +1 ability allows us to use the tokens made by the Raidmom for a pod line, working our way up into whatever creature we need. Thermo-Alchemist, Birgi, God of Storytelling, and Efreet Flamepainter are just a few turns apart, as well as any other creature we may need at any given time. Ardent Elementalist, Atsushi, the Blazing Sky, and Urabrask, Heretic Praetor are all powerful in their own rights, and Old Gnawbone and Titan of Industry can come right out by sacking the Raidmom herself and very quickly taking over a game. Since Conspire is a triggered ability, Lithoform Engine can copy the trigger and allow us to tap four creatures to copy a spell twice.

WINNING THE GAME

Of course, copying a big Crackle with Power is a great finisher, but a couple other cards stand out for their game-ending power. Seize the Storm can create up to four very large trampling tokens, and with a little help from Esika's Chariot, things can get out of hand very quickly. Arcane Bombardment allows us to repeatedly cast our previous spells, and since we cast them instead of copying them, we can copy them with their Conspire trigger and get a ludicrous amount of value.

One card I want to call special attention to is Change of Fortune. If this spell is copied, you wheel your hand away, then the second wheel draws you twice the amount of cards you had! If you had 5 cards in hand, you cast this, wheel 8 cards into your graveyard for the handful of graveyard interaction cards, and get a fresh grip of 8 cards, even more if you managed to discard other cards with Tormenting Voice or Magmatic Channeler. I think this card slipped under some radars, but it'll put in some work in certain decks for a long time.

EPILOGUE

Cast some small spells, cast some big spells, copy them, and profit. Not a lot to this deck, and sometimes that's a good thing. All in all, the restrictions were pretty difficult to work around. There aren't a whole lot of ways to make tokens in Standard right now, and the legendary restriction was very difficult to work around, having me include strange cards like Eye of Vecna for card draw and Zariel, Archduke of Avernus to make the smallest amount of tokens. Make sure to yell at me for running 30 lands, and I'll see y'all next time!


Awesome stuff David! It's almost like you went into my actual mind there for a sec, for I had a Wort, the Raidmother deck that aimed to do exactly as you laid out. Good luck in this round and I hope to see you in the next one!

Last, but not least, we have Jordan! Jordan was last seen winning CUT #5 with a combination of Drizzt Do'Urden and Minn, Wily Illusionist! So, Jordan, what deck have you created for this round?


Multiclass Bar(b/d)

Commander (1)
Planeswalkers (5)
Instants (5)
Creatures (41)
Artifacts (8)
Lands (27)
Sorceries (9)
Enchantments (4)

 

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Well, hello again. Much has happened since I was last in the CUT hotseat: I moved house, I started a new job, got COVID and the flu, and a frankly absurd number of Magic cards have been printed and reprinted. Yet somehow over this period, the sets in Standard haven't actually changed that much, so a lot of the cards I had to look at for this build were remarkably familiar.

Despite this, I had a lot of trouble settling on a deck archetype that I felt worked. I tried a couple of things that didn't really pan out (I don't think that Yorion Sagas/Ninjas/Clones deck is ever really going to see the light of day), and ended up stuck in a bit of a rut. So, rather than mull things over forever in my head, I decided to look at the challenge from a different, more thematic angle.

Wulfgar would need a 13 CHA stat to multiclass into Bard on a level up, and while I don't know anything about his lore, just look at that winning smile. That's a +2 modifier, minimum. I think he could manage, and this deck sets out to prove it: we're building around Bard Class. For those who don't recall, this enchantment at its base puts +1/+1 counters on legendary creatures, then cheapens legendary spells, then at its final level, lets you impulse draw whenever you cast one. With enough such cards in the deck, you can really start to get a chain going, though you are somewhat limited by the card options available in Standard.

For clarity, there are 50 legendary cards within Gruul's identity in Standard at time of writing, which is admittedly a lot more than I was expecting. In this deck, I am running 38 of them. This number is bumped up by a lot of them just being great additions to the deck on their own: Boseiju, Who Endures and Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance are both essentially free, Goro-Goro, Disciple of Ryusei and Magda, Brazen Outlaw are nice early plays for decks that care about attacking, and cards like Toski, Bearer of Secrets and Moraug, Fury of Akoum are staples in their own right. I will admit, there are some questionable additions just to fill out the legend count that don't quite fit the deck's plan. I threw in a few dungeon-exploring cards, like Ellywick Tumblestrum and Varis, Silverymoon Ranger, mostly because I haven't really had a chance try dungeons out yet, and I'm not going to act like The Deck of Many Things is anything but goofy value.

However, 38 cards does not an EDH deck make, and so we have to fill out the rest somehow. Wulfgar is, in fact, still a Barbarian, with an attack trigger doubling effect, so included are a number of cards that benefit from this: Kessig Naturalist and Fable of the Mirror-Breaker help to ramp, Volatile Arsonist and Outland Liberator (when flipped) act as removal, and Oran-Rief Ooze and the devastating Thundering Raiju can pump up the the squad very quickly. For some reason Barbarian Class is about dice rolling, so we can sub in Ranger Class, though I'm starting to get concerned for Wulfgar's character sheet at this point, but either way, it adds more counters and eventually lets you play off the top, so why not? There are surprisingly few of these effects we get to add out of Standard. Regrettably, Wulfgar has not studied the blade enough to count as a Samurai or Warrior, so a lot of options are left on the table, though attacking alone is a nonbo with Melee anyway.

The deck doesn't so much have a plan beyond playing legendary creatures and punching you, but that is sort of the Gruul way. It does, however, have two dreams that I would love to see it fulfil. The first is to copy Wulfgar. Jaxis, the Troublemaker and Delina, Wild Mage can both copy him temporarily, and Lithoform Engine can do so permanently. Esika's Chariot also copies a copied Wulfgar multiple times over, though at that point it's starting to get to magical Christmas land territory. That said, we're already running Mirror Box, so might as well, right?

The other is a little card from Streets of New Capenna called Freelance Muscle, which genuinely was one of the cards that made me look at Wulfgar to begin with. It may not be evasive, but it has the beef, with just it and Wulfgar on the field, attacking two different players, you can stack the triggers such that the Rhino is attacking as a 16/16, and that's not even the dream scenario. I want to put this bad boy next to The Tarrasque, or something pumped by Halana and Alena, Partners, or even another copy of itself via one of the aforementioned copy effects. The possibilities are endless with this absolute unit.

That's the deck, save for a few staple effects. Also Fervent Mastery, because it's the closest thing to a tutor and we have to live the dream somehow. It definitely is not perfect, and I'm still not convinced I couldn't have made something else work, but at some point you have to find a bit and commit to it. I hope you all enjoy the decklist, and remember: if Wulfgar of Icewind Dale can branch out and try something new, so can you. See ya!


Nice showing Jordan! Hopefully Wulfgar of Icewind Dale will double your chances of leaping into the finals. If you want to follow and check out Jordan on social media his twitter handle is @Raderph.


Winners abound in this round of CUT, but as with every article only two can move on to the finals! This is where you come in, vote for who you think made the most of what they were given, or which deck really grabbed you. Join us next time when we find out who made it into the finals and what challenges await them there! Remember if you don't love it, CUT it! If you or a friend would like to participate in a future CUT article, feel free to email the.only.travis.stanley@gmail.com or @ me on twitter @chipman007! Also let me know if there are any community members you would like to see on CUT!

Poll Closes: Aug 17/2022