Sultai Bloom combo in competitive settings
Posted on March 26, 2020, 5:10 a.m. by jaymc1130
So I've been retooling cEDH decks with the release of new sets and plenty of free time due to COVID-19 lock down and our group has come up with something quite powerful. It's all based around this core package of cards that any deck in Sultai colors can run:
With the additional supporting elements for the concept including:
The power lies in the fact that these are all cards a player can play as part of more natural development that offer incremental advantages without preventing decks from having resources left to interact and capitalize on the developmental advantages being accrued. Ultimately the core components of the combo combine to generate an infinite mana/card draw loop (that can also restock the library, it's a very nifty loop that works kind of like a swiss army knife), and these components aren't the types of cards players tend to want to spend interaction on, particularly when they know the deck is also running perhaps a Dramatic Scepter, Power Monolith, or Flash Hulk combo in addition. The critters do a fantastic job of halting Tymna advances, playing fetch lands repeatedly from the grave consistently bypasses one of the more difficult things for cEDH decks to get done due to low land counts with lots of fast mana (always make land drops), opening hand ramp out and consistency is significantly improved, and the supplemental pieces enhance these aspects very naturally while also offering a side line that locks opponents out in grindier matches (Strip Mine being used to manually Armageddon everyone else, often in a single turn when combined with Summer Bloom).
I've been testing the concept in any deck that can employ it and the results have been excellent, though they are best when paired with some additional concepts; namely mass card draw (Wheel effects in particular). I recommend giving the concept a try, it's quite enjoyable and astonishingly competitive.
To go infinite doesn't Mystic Sanctuary need to see 3 other islands in play, which might be a little difficult to always have at the ready without sparkling nipple guy (Dryad of the Ilysian Grove). Seems very strong though as a surprising midgame mana/carddraw/MLD loop with lands as a toolbox. I very much like the idea, nice Combo/Synergy :)
March 26, 2020 9:33 a.m.
It does indeed need 3 islands. For most cEDH decks this is actually extremely easy as they tend to run the full complement of fetches and duals. And, as you mentioned, the concept, itself, naturally assists in getting 3 islands into play by making extra land drops, reusing island fetch lands from the grave, and running a dude to alter land types. All the ingredients help you gather the ingredients while baking the cake. It’s a very pleasant feeling and unlike many cEDH combos that can feel bad to see in opening hands or during the course of play each of these cards feels useful and productive to see at mostly all times. I’ve really been enjoying the concept and running the package in various decks. I do tend to add in Crop Rotation as another supporting piece, but haven’t found it’s inclusion a requirement.
March 26, 2020 1:19 p.m.
Them land shenanigans doing what land shenanigans be doing :D kind of forgot about the fetchland/recursion synergy for fixing, true that.
March 26, 2020 1:32 p.m.
Yeah, the whole combo has that innocuous feeling to it. Everything about it really flies under the radar as it doesn't do anything flashy at first, just helps develop the board. Then it seems like from out of nowhere it just goes infinite to crush dreams and pass out Ls. And it's not a particularly expensive concept to run, only one card costs more than 20$ and most of the cards are under or well under 10$.
March 26, 2020 1:43 p.m.
Big value that is competitive playable is always nice to see.
Two cards for consideration
Azusa, Lost but Seeking works with both the play-from-graveyard enablers. It can also accrue some incredible grind value when paired with graveyard recursion + Strip Mine/Wasteland. In a bug colored shell you will have the card draw to keep up with the 2 free lands a turn.
Lotus Cobra works well for mana when combined with the cedh standard fetches, but even better with your graveyard online and if you are able to play more than one a turn. It turns Waterlogged Grove and Nurturing Peatland into free draws.
The other thing I'd recommend would be considering opening the range of acceptable CMC permanents. Keep the vast majority of the curve tight and low, but if you are building for grindier Sultai games you should include some payoffs for stalled out board states. Tendershoot Dryad is a wonderful new-ish card that deals an absurd amount of damage quickly on stalled out board states. Avenger of Zendikar could be worth a consider in the lands focused build, but the CMC makes it a much greater chance of being a dead draw in your opening 7. Luminarch Ascension would be the 10/10 add if it was in color.
What commanders have you identified for this synergy? Tasigur and Muldrotha?
March 27, 2020 12:52 a.m.
I have loved Azusa paired with the concept and for less competitive decks I'd totally run her with this combo. When my group originally kinda figured out the mechanics of it the literal first thing we did was stuff every single "play additional land" effect creature into a deck and try it turbo land style. Super fun to play, high powered, but not realistically competitive enough to stand up in a cEDH environment.
Lotus Cobra was definitely in that deck. I do love me some Lotus Cobra, and there were some other jankier Summer Bloom combos that only he could do (is the Cobra a he? I always thought of it as a "him") with bounce lands. Poor guy only ends up being a cut for competitive purposes as the combo doesn't require him. I'd absolutely run him alongside the combo outside of top tier cEDH competitiion.
For commanders I've been, very literally, trying it with anything at all that includes Sultai colors. Tasigur, sure. Muldrotha? Yep. Partner commanders? You bet. Yidris was a no brainer. As long as the commander has Sultai colors it's a commander that can make use of the concept.
March 27, 2020 1:14 a.m.
Azusa not as a commander but as a card for value inside a Sultai deck running this. Azusa is better than Dryad of the Ilysian Grove. Mana fixing has not been a problem in the format due to the inclusion of all the fetches. Dryad has mana fixing powers, but they don't outweigh the speed benefit of 2 extra lands a turn instead of 1. The Island land type is nice for memeing with Mystic Sanctuary, but fully teched decks are looking at 2 island ABU duals and 2 island shocks, more than plenty to hit 3. Azusa certainly shouldn't be the commander but when you are in Sultai and have options like Rhystic Study and Mystic Remora and Necropotence to fill your hand, it becomes much more appealing for grinding. It also functions fully with Ramunap Excavator and Crucible of Worlds, meaning a single fetch in your graveyard guarantees 3 lands/turn. If you aren't running some funtastic Dryad of the Ilysian Grove + Crypt Ghast/Cabal Coffers combo, Azusa is going to outperform.
March 27, 2020 1:33 a.m.
In terms of pure land ramping, Azusa is the queen. No doubts about it. The reason a top tier competitive list will want to have a preference for the Dryad comes down to the versatility of situations it can handle. Blood Moon effects won't matter with the Dryad in play. Playing Mystic Sanctuary, Witch's Cottage and similar lands for their effect is much more reliable with the Dryad. Fetches themselves produce mana with the Dryad, allowing you to play a fetch and wait for the right time to pop it to find a land like the Sanctuary while still using it for mana or avoid being in an unfortunate situation due to an opposing Ashiok, Dream Render, Deathrite Shaman or Aven Mindcensor. Dryad is a 2/4 and blocks Tymna/Najeela, this being above all the most important advantage. All the things Azusa can do the Dryad can do, just not quite as accelerated. All the things Dryad can do can't be done by Azusa. By all means I recommend playing both if at all possible, but for the top tier competitive decks competition for card slots can mean you might only be able to play one and if it comes down to playing one or the other it's gonna be a meta call. If it's an unknown metascape like a tournament setting, or the expected meta is known to include various hate pieces Dryad can help work around then it's generally going to be the better performer.
In any case I think it's clear what the absolute best feeling option is: just run em both if you can. Turbo land lives matter.
March 27, 2020 1:56 a.m. Edited.
All extremely sound reasons for running Dryad over Azusa, the blocking Tymna/Najeela especially.
Also Blood Moon and Dryad of the Ilysian Grove both impact permanents on the same layer, meaning whichever has the later timestamp is going to be the effect that takes over. Dryad is still live against Blood Moon, it just has to be played after the Moon effect to work. While it does help a lot against seeing Moon, it can still get locked out if it comes down turn 2 and Moon comes down turn 3.
I wouldn't run this combo in a tournament without having seen it play around for a while, so I'm not too focused on its interactions or card selections for fighting tier 0 decks right now, just what its capable of in a general competitive sense. Especially with new printings it has quite a bit of potential. This is definitely an excellent find and worthy of some brewing.
March 27, 2020 11:50 p.m.
Alright, having done some more rules related diggings, I think my above post is wrong about Dryad + Moon interaction. Dryad should work fully under a Blood Moon effect no matter if played before or after, because they are "in addition" instead of "are", as with Prismatic Omen, which the Moon + Prismatic interaction DOES depend on the timestamp.
March 28, 2020 12:01 a.m.
Sorry for the triple post but I wanted to clarify as I have now taken a good long look at the rulings and interactions and layers.
Dryad of the Ilysian Grove and Blood Moon work perfectly as imagined for basic lands, (all your basic lands have 5 basic types) however, if you have any nonbasic, then the timestamp order does matter. If the Moon has the later timestamp, all your nonbasics are mountains, if the Dryad has the later timestamp, all your nonbasics are every color. This is certainly an extremely helpful and exploitable interaction between these cards.
March 28, 2020 12:22 a.m.
Yeah, the layering rules are seriously convoluted, but the Dryad does circumvent it.
I've certainly enjoyed the combo in general competitive settings and figured it might be potent enough for top tier competition, so I've been testing it in just such an environment. In the last 50 games playing the concept (in various decks) against meta standard staples Oracle Hulk, Consult Kess, Gitrog, Food Chain Sliver, and Doomsday Shimmer Zur have managed a combined 11 wins. Decks including the Bloom combo concept have won 26, and Emry (which I've also been testing) has won 13. The concept more than holds up at the top level of competition largely due to the flaws in play patterns and deck construction meta standard staples have being overly reliant on tutors, fragile combos, and inability to grind in attrition based matchups.
March 28, 2020 12:32 a.m.
Have you considered Life from the Loam? Works well with the Horizon lands and Strip Mine/Wasteland and any of the Exploration style effects. Filling the graveyard is something most Sultai decks like too, especially Tasigur and Muldrotha.
Curious to know what other cards you've been brewing with and around.
March 31, 2020 3:42 p.m.
I did actually run Life from the Loam in the initial incarnations of the concept but ultimately found it wasn’t necessary. It was best in Tasigur, by far, and is a card I already tended to run in Tasigur builds, so I enjoyed the enhanced performance of it there.
When the Covid-19 stuff first started happening I got on an Oathbreaker kick and binged brewing up Wrenn and Six and Lord Windgrace decks which got me into land.dec strategies which ultimately our group decided to try and implement in cEDH to see the impact on that format. So lately I’ve been brewing with a lot of lands, a lot a lot of them. I’ve also been playing a fair amount of Emry in Vintage (and Modern pre Mox Opal axing), and ultimately this lead to a major Emry cEDH project that I’ve enjoyed a lot in the last month.