Have put a couple of leagues into developing this, most recently picking up a trophy with the UG version here:

I have been experimenting with Mystic Sanctuary since its release, first by just throwing it into Arcanist shells that release weekend on MTGO (wasn't very hard to find on MTGO then), and later building around it more with the RUG Walker list that used Wrenn and Six. A key synergy is Gush and two Mystic Sanctuaries lets you recur the instant or sorcery of choice from your graveyard, whether Time Walk, Ancestral Recall, or something more boring. However, you are limited by the number of lands you can play in a turn.

Fast-forward a bit...In fooling around with Vintage Unleashed, I started with a Gush-Fastbond deck and was incredibly impressed how powerful that engine has become with the addition of Mystic Sanctuary. Sanctuary means you keep Gushing for as long as you have life points and you can recur whatever you want - you don't need to make use of the format's unrestricted Yawgmoth's Wills. I was winning with Hedron Crabs, Lurrus, and infinite Time Walks at that point but the shell is malleable. With the change in the companion rule, I was consider Uro - the life gain from Lurrus was helpful as it made up for the Fastbond life loss and allowed you to go infinite.

And that brings us to the current approach. Growth Spiral was being talked about as in the context of the Arena PTs as both something player's thought was busted (it's the internet and I have no opinion really on formats I don't collect data or play in) and were sick of since it's been in Standard for nearly two years and good the entire time along with Wilderness Reclamation (that one makes more sense to me...). And for better or worse, if cards are great in Standard, they are generally powerful enough to be fringe playable or better in Vintage. That's just the state of power creep in recent sets.

Growth Spiral fulfills the function of being able to play additional lands in the Sanctuary recursion engine (as does Uro for that matter). It does that while pitching to all three Forces in the deck, ramping up to 4 Islands, and cycling. As a card, I was very impressed by it. There are also fun things you can do like Daze back a Sanctuary, Growth Spiral it into play at instant speed to put a Mental Misstep or Misdirection on top of your library, then Gush into it or otherwise draw it at instant speed. The main
consideration though is these additional land drops mean you just get to take a bunch of consecutive turns and win the game.
I took 8-9 turns on stream last night during which my Landstill opponent killed my first Brazen Borrower, but I was able to find, play, and attack for lethal with the second Borrower. Both Uros had already been pathed.

By no means is this a finished product. There are other color combinations - I typical start minimalist to identify certain needs and then add colors that I think will help plug in the gaps. For instance, I started with a Bant version for Swords and Mentor, because I thought I would want Swords to deal with threats like Sprite Dragon and Mentor to win the game. After a 3-2 league, Mentor wasn't necessary since you take so many turns that you can literally attack with a 3/1 flier, and Swords was mostly clunkly in my hand without Dack Fayden to filter. I figured a bounce spell was enough to buy time against Sprite Dragon and Brazen Borrower could condense the slot while allowing me to cut White. I didn't get to play against Hatebears or Eldrazi, which would have presented more of a challenge for a deck without Swords.

Oh, and you need a bunch of lands to maximize your explore effects and the odds of having three Islands for Mystic Sanctuary. I cut Black Lotus to help find the slots, but I recognize that not everyone will be interested in this, regardless of the reasons behind it. Just keep in mind that deck design involves balancing competing elements so if you trim lands, that has an associated cost. I actually went from 20 lands to 21 after the first league because I thought it was too few.

How often do you find you lose to low threat count? You only have 4 wincons in the deck and sideboard, 2 of which are answerable with any creature removal and the other 2 which are also soft to graveyard hate. It feels to me like there may be some merit to adding a 5th wincon that attacks on a different vector, like a JTMS or Oko over the 4th preordain. Oko is probably particularly well suited for this list as it plays offense and defense and is pitchable to everything if needed.

@protoaddict Rarely, if ever? I know I have few win cons so I play around creature removal and grave hate. For instance, you can protect Uro from instant speed graveyard removal by stacking the triggers so the sacrifice ability resolves last. You gain priority before your opponent and you get to Escape Uro. I used that against Brian Kelly's on-board Soul-Guide Lantern a month or two ago. Or I found Mindbreak Trap when I knew the opponent had Supreme Verdict to protect my Uro. The Brazen Borrowers are actually there in part to fight Leylines and Rest in Peaces as well as be win cons. Sometimes you have to work harder for wins but you get the advantage of having more interaction in combo matchups where cards like Tarmogoyf are less powerful.

As for JTMS and Oko, they tend to be hard to defend in these matchups since I lack creatures or removal spells to protect them. Oko is less powerful with only 2 Moxen to animate. Jace is not a very strong card in Vintage right now, the prevalence of Pyroblasts really makes paying 4 mana rough. You see him in a couple Big Blue style lists from time to time but largely decks have opted for cheaper alternatives. Uro getting Pyroblasted is not as big a deal because you will eventually just Escape him back and be up a card in the long run (or two if they didn't have a mana up).

Fair, but you can also look for non-blastable wincons too. I mean the deck is in an interesting place in that it is eschewing a lot of pretty typical cards, so some lesser used options come to mind.

True-Name Nemesis seems like a solid answer to issues you may have with other strategies.

@protoaddict true-name seems really, really bad for this deck. It isn't really interested in life totals, and sounds like it has all day to kill when it is working, which allows you time to set up the appropriate circumstances to avoid removal. I imagine a 3rd Uro or Brazen Borrower would be among the best options for an extra threat, or a Snapcaster (though it doesn't seem like he feels there is a need anyway).

@chubbyrain1 Loving the Misdirection, do you ever feel you want a 2nd? Is 12 green-count postboard enough for 3 Force of Vigor? And if not would the 3rd Nature's Claim be better/more reliable than the 3rd Force?

last edited by pilsburydohboy42

@pilsburydohboy42

A good observation and perhaps I could have been more clear but Uro is actually the equivalent of Time Vault in this deck. You assemble, Gush + Time Walk + 2 Mystic Sanctuaries and the consistent extra land drop from Uro lets you take the rest of the turns in the game. Even without that, you can still take a 8+ turns with Daze, Growth Spiral, and Gush. If the opponent is representing removal, you don't have to run you cards out there. Just wait and build up your resources so when you decide to go for it, there is no way your threat dies. It's similar to Vault - Key. Could your Blightsteel get swords and your 1 of Jace Pyroblasted after you take a ton of turns? I guess, but I'm not going to add True-Name Nemesis to the deck for that purpose. It's just not an avenue I'm particularly worried about fighting.

As for the situational counters, I generally favor them as 1-ofs because you get value if your opponent plays around them while not getting blown out if they play around them while you have multiples in hand (never a good feeling to have 2 MBTs in hand and then they cast 2 spells each turn and slowly win that way).

Force of Vigor is not necessary as a turn 1 play in this deck. When it happens, great, but you have the 6 Blue Forces for that, so you get the ability to use your cantrips to find the second green card. Once you reach the late game, the goal is to start looping Force of Vigors with Gush like you would with Time Walk and hardcast it to destroy all of your opponents threats, 2 at a time. That's something Nature's Claim can't really do and why I didn't want to make a simple substitution. Might sound impractical and it's something I want to test more, but in the 2 matches I've played/seen, it's worked really well.

@chubbyrain1 cool, good responses. Yeah, I got that, but also similar to Vault decks you aren't totally reliant on Uro+Gush, which is good, and also why I would consider Uro #3 a threat not a combo piece. Sometimes he will just take over. I suppose you have more hard mana than most that casting 4-5 mana forces is actually rather easy as well, and I wasn't considering the hard cast even if you cant find a 2nd green card.

I think it’s a cool concept. Just some thoughts, I’d have two major questions if I were to work on this list:

  1. Is 1 Gush + 2 Daze enough land bouncing? The quality of other options is not great, but there are cards, like Ghostly Flicker, that get around the land drop issue altogether, and Trade Routes that provides an engine to return your lands.

  2. Is 6 explores and 0 fastbonds/explorations the correct configuration for additional land drops? I know there are diminishing returns on Fastbond effects due to the card disadvantage and this deck doesn’t completely need the effect, but the first one seems like it might be worth it if you are running into a lot of land drop issues.

The explore effects cantrip which is a whole other level of utility over fastbond, plus spiral is dual pitchable so I imagine that is important as well.

Fastbond would give explosive turns but it does not seem like this deck would have a way to capitalize on it without more draw engines. The one Gush plus Mystic could lead to some strong loops with Fastbond but that feels more like a god hand scenario where as the explore effect make it play more like xerox. If you have fastbond then half of Uros utility is severly hampered.

I also imagine since the deck does not win on the spot the lifeloss is relevant untill uro comes on board, but then Uro is not great in a deck that wants to land a fastbond anyway.

Oh boy, this is neat 😄 Does graveyard hate shut down the engine too much? I suspect it's not that bad, you're still basically a traditional control deck even if your Sanctuaries are shut off.

@protoaddict

Including the two in the deck and explore itself, there are up to 12 explore specific effects that I am aware of that are good. Why exactly 6? Why not 3, or 4, or 11, or 12? Why 2 Uro -the clearly more powerful of the 2? 2 vs 3 mana is clearly important (just like 1 vs 2 mana).

Fastbond has significant advantages. It’s a perfect card as a singleton. Much worse in multiples. I feel like the 1st Fastbond is probably better than the 6th explore.

We then have the pseudo-explores that are part of an engine, like Oracle of Mul Daya, and its many interactions. Is the 1st copy of an explore engine better than the 5th or 6th copy of explore? I think Uro being in the deck is probably good enough to not want this effect. But I would still consider looking into it.

Would Magus of the Future be a consideration? It shouldn't be too hard to hit the Mana cost early, and it plays really well with Sanctuary for obvious reasons.

@brass-man You are able to play around one-shot graveyard hate because you have multiple Sanctuaries (You try to Sactuary back Time Walk, they try to exile it, you fetch another Sanctuary which you may or may not have put into play at Instant speed of a Growth Spiral...).

I don't have a huge sample size against Leyline of the Void effects but the Brazen Borrowers are an attempt to have a flexible maindeck answer. Other considerations are adding a MD Force of Vigor as a Mystical Tutor target. You actually end up hardcasting your Forces more than you would expect and looping Force of Vigor is a broken line against Shops that would help if Leyline is a concern.

My answer is "Probably about the same as Arcanist decks if not slightly better since your dead cards tend to be more useful than a 1/3".

@serracollector The interaction with Mystic Sanctuary is cool. My concern is that I don't have Moxen to take advantage of it and I run a lot of countermagic, many of it situational (showing my opponent a Flusterstorm, MBT, or Misdirection lets them play around it). I am also trying to make Pyroblast worse by avoiding more expensive Blue spells with Uro being an exception since it has Escape.

@vaughnbros said in UG Grow-a-Titan:

I think it’s a cool concept. Just some thoughts, I’d have two major questions if I were to work on this list:

  1. Is 1 Gush + 2 Daze enough land bouncing? The quality of other options is not great, but there are cards, like Ghostly Flicker, that get around the land drop issue altogether, and Trade Routes that provides an engine to return your lands.

  2. Is 6 explores and 0 fastbonds/explorations the correct configuration for additional land drops? I know there are diminishing returns on Fastbond effects due to the card disadvantage and this deck doesn’t completely need the effect, but the first one seems like it might be worth it if you are running into a lot of land drop issues.

If making land drops is an issue, I highly recommend trying out the blue counterspell, “Thwart”. I used to play it in Vintage Stasis around 2015 and it was quite impressive. And if making land drops also becomes a thing, then I have to also recommend the card, “Stasis”. It’s pretty powerful

last edited by desolutionist

@vaughnbros said in UG Grow-a-Titan:

@protoaddict

Including the two in the deck and explore itself, there are up to 12 explore specific effects that I am aware of that are good. Why exactly 6? Why not 3, or 4, or 11, or 12? Why 2 Uro -the clearly more powerful of the 2? 2 vs 3 mana is clearly important (just like 1 vs 2 mana).

Fastbond has significant advantages. It’s a perfect card as a singleton. Much worse in multiples. I feel like the 1st Fastbond is probably better than the 6th explore.

We then have the pseudo-explores that are part of an engine, like Oracle of Mul Daya, and its many interactions. Is the 1st copy of an explore engine better than the 5th or 6th copy of explore? I think Uro being in the deck is probably good enough to not want this effect. But I would still consider looking into it.

Landing the first fastbond does not actually do much in this deck unless you are holding gush, because you want to cast the explore cards for cantripping. You take a lot of utility away from those cards if they just become expensive street wraiths.

I think the fastbond build is just a whole different animal. If i was trying to run fastbond I would very likely try and cut Uro for something else since he loses so much utility, and I would want to consider cards this list has completely forgone like Crucible of Worlds and stripmine.

The 2 snow covered lands did get me thinking though that if there isn't a build that uses Astrolabes over preordains and can then use an oko or 2 because it has animation targets. With enough snow Ice Fang starts to look very appealing too.

@protoaddict

Ummm... Uro is a 3 mana spell initially and then 4 mana to "flash" it back. Its still drawing you cards, gaining you life, and smashing for 6. I don't know why you think its only function is as a Fastbond effect. Fastbond comes down 2 turns earlier.

The deck revolves around using its "singleton" Gush to iterate its primary combo of Gush + Sanctuary. It is going to be casting Gush, not just once, but near infinite times if you can assemble Gush + Sanctuary + Fastbond. That may be unnecessary in most games, but a singleton Fastbond opening up that line of play can be significant.

Me suggesting a singleton Fastbond is a very minimal change to the deck's overall strategy. I don't think Crucible or Strip mine make sense for the deck as currently built. It plays no mana denial, and the Explore effects its playing can't use Crucible.

It sounds like you are making significant alterations to the deck though if you are going to add more Snow-Lands and a bunch of cards that function with them.

One other suggestion that I would have is to look at Collector Ouphe or Null Rod for the sideboard, at least as a singleton. These cards don't impact the list itself so having them available is a great option of to beating all of the artifact heavy decks (and even just a stray Tormod's Crypt).

I really like this deck.

@vaughnbros Thank you for the suggestion. I wanted to go in hard on the Mystic Sanctuary loops, so I chose mostly spells for the SB. You game plan is to loop Ravenous Trap (which you can draw at instant speed with Gush), Surgical, Force of Vigor, etc. The Tabernacles aren't as effective as I wanted against Dredge and some of the HollowVine variants, so I'm actually thinking of something like Tangle and literally switching to a turbo fog strategy. It's kind of just a cool thing about this style of deck that might not be apparent.

The main thing is that you get a lot more value out of spells than permanents. Ouphe is fine and gives you more options - I had a singleton main in the first variant and you could definitely push more in that direction if you wanted. Your deck doesn't have much synergy with it in that you don't attack mana wastelands or attack life totals with more creatures.

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