Hello everyone! I hope you had a good weekend! I certainly did. Kaldheim Championship is over, and it was a great event for Hareruya Pros and (I hope) for Hareruya Fans. I managed to finish second, only losing to unbeatable Arne Huschenbeth in top8. A bad match up combined with an outstanding level of play from Arne was simply out of my reach on Sunday.
Today, I want to share with you all my knowledge about the deck that brought me to this place – Sultai Ultimatum.
First of All – Why Sultai?
To be honest, before the tournament I didn’t like the position of any deck in the format. Standard is simply too healthy for me. I know it might sound weird, the wide metagame is something we all should love, and yes, it’s great for the ladder play and the player experience in general, but it makes choosing a deck for tournaments when your career is on the line much harder.
I found that Sultai has good chances against everything (maybe except Rogues, but I didn’t expect many of them at the event), and I also believed it will be the most popular deck that weekend (which was right!), so in the end, my decision was to play it myself, and try to tune it for the mirror.
Not Obvious Card Choices
Sometimes it’s good to have a discard spell in your 《Emergent Ultimatum》 pile, especially against the mirror. Some people played one 《Duress》 before Kaldheim Championship, but I think this card is just too weak to be played in the maindeck. My team came up with an idea of 《Pelakka Predation》, which was very clever. It might be played as land when needed, but is still relevant for 《Emergent Ultimatum》 piles! Brilliant!
This is highly flexible. The goal for this event was to beat the mirror, and 《Eliminate》 is pretty much useless here. 《Heartless Act》 at least can kill 《Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider》, 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》, or 《Esika’s Chariot》. 《Eliminate》 is clearly better versus Cycling (killing 《Flourishing Fox》 on the draw).
《Polukranos, Unchained》 is cheaper, can be played as soon as turn three, and works as removal. Also, can be played multiple times in the same game. 《Elder Gargaroth》 while being good against all aggro and Temur, is a 5 mana free target for otherwise not-that-useful 《Heartless Act》 in the mirror. As beating the mirror was the main goal, 《Elder Gargaroth》 ended up in the sideboard.
Looking forward, it might be a good idea to bring back at least one to the main, as Temur Adventures had an insanely high winrate at the Championship, and that’s our best creature vs them.
Some people played only two. Another card that makes mirror better, but I think 《Alrund’s Epiphany》 is essential for Sultai in general, so I wouldn’t play less than 3.
Match Ups – Tips and Sideboard Guide
This version is tuned to beat the mirror, so I expect to have a good match up here. It’s an 80 cards deck with only few counterspells main, so I highly recommend not playing around them most of the time.
As for the first pile is usually good to take a one solid threat + 《Alrund’s Epiphany》 + Discard Spell.
The threat depends on the board state:
If you somehow know that your opponent doesn’t have ultimatum in hand, you can pick another threat instead of discard. Usually 《Vorinclex》 + 《Tibalt》 + 《Alrund’s Epiphany》 is the perfect Pile, as you can Ultimate 《Tibalt》 right away if it comes into play with 《Vorinclex》 on the board.
Temur: From Even to Good
Here a lot depends on the version. Versus the classic one (《Miscast》 main, 2-3 《Alrund’s Epiphany》) match up is close to even. Against Javier’s version with a more narrow choice of counterspells and 0 《Alrund’s Epiphany》, we have a much better game.
The general game plan is to destroy their early pressure with removal, and ramp in the meantime. We want to have more mana than them, to control the game and play it on our rules. Their main game plan is to develop threats early and then sit on counterspell, so if we deny that, they will have to tap out at some point, and that will give as an opportunity to resolve one of our many game-breaking spells.
Cycling: From Bad to Even
Again, depends on the version. The more aggressive they are, the worse for us. The more 《Irencrag Pyromancer》 they play, the better. Our game plan is simple, kill the 《Flourishing Fox》, and then win with 《Emergent Ultimatum》 before they 《Zenith Flare》 us.
《Elspeth’s Nightmare》 is our best card, as all three modes are excellent. Without the graveyard for 《Zenith Flare》 they usually lose the best chance to kill us. 《Shadows’ Verdict》 is also pretty good, as it kills all of the enemy creatures, and reduces 《Zenith Flare》 at the same time.
Remember they always bring a lot of counterspells against us, which makes 《Duress》 actually good in the match up post board.
Mono Red: Slightly Bad
Mono Red used to be a counter-deck for Sultai, but I don’t think that is as true as people believe in it. I was 3-0 versus Red at the Kaldheim Championship while losing all three dice rolls. I’m aware it’s much over the expected outcome, but Mono Red has very limited time to kill us, and we are kinda good with interrupting.
Obviously, we probably never gonna win against their perfect start, but usually, when they miss a land drop once or draw two more lands than needed, we can turn the game around. Considering Mono Red doesn’t have any access to library manipulation and/or card draw, it happens quite often.
Mono White: Even
Mono White is less explosive than Mono Red, which gives us more time to answer their game plan. On the other hand, they have access to hate cards like 《Archon of Emeria》 and 《Reidane, God of the Worthy》 to disrupt our game plan. 《Seasoned Hallowblade》 can be annoying as well. Our best shot is always to keep a point removal for 《Reidane, God of the Worthy》 and then sweep the board with 《Shadows’ Verdict》.
Be aware of 《Giant Killer》 (vs 《Elder Gargaroth》) and 《Skyclave Apparition》 (vs 《Polukranos, Unchained》). Often you can’t play around them, and you have to hope they don’t have it, but in case they have a wide board and you have a choice between 《Shadows’ Verdict》 or 《Elder Gargaroth》, it will be much safer to play the sweeper first.
Rogues: Run Away and Ask for Re-Pairings
Seriously, even with 14 cards in sb I have no idea how to win this match up. Obviously Rogues are extremely hard to play, and as long as you don’t play vs Arne Huschenbeth, you can count on your opponent’s mistakes to get some advantage. 《Polukranos, Unchained》 is our best shot, if they mill it early.
Well-timed 《Elspeth’s Nightmare》 might also swing the game. If that’s possible, try to keep your graveyard empty. Don’t crack 《Fabled Passage》 if you don’t have to etc. All of their cards scale with our grave, so if we manage to delay bonus effects for long enough, we might have a shot!
I really liked Sultai during the event. Even though I knew it’s not gonna be the best deck for this event, I was sure it will give me a fair chance to battle against everyone, and I wasn’t wrong! As always, if you have any questions about the deck, feel free to ask me on Twitter. I’m always happy to help! I also recorded my non-feature matches during the event, as otherwise they would be lost forever. If you want to check out my road to top8, day 1 footage is already here:
Historic: Jund Food
It’s raw gameplay without commentary, showing my point of view.
As always, thank you for reading, and cheering for me during the event. Your kind words always mean a lot to me. It’s such an awesome feeling to have fans all over the world! Love you all!!!
Until next time,