Sunday, September 13, 2015

Modern Bible of RG Tron chapter 30 - Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger

I am a pessimist at heart and I did not expect any good cards to come out of Battle for Zendikar. I was wrong. Of the cards spoiled so far (I am writing this on September 10th) some have given rise to an interesting discussion about the future of RG Tron in Modern.

First among these is Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, obviously competing for the Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre/Sundering Titan spot in the deck. 

Emrakul and Kozilek left Zendikar and trusted Ulamog to be in charge of the place. Can he handle it?

I think we have to look at the card and not just the pretty picture in this case.

OK, maybe we even have to look at the old Ulamog as well.

How does New Ulamog compare to Old Ulamog?
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger costs 1 mana less.
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger exiles two permanents instead of just destroying one.
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger can be reanimated
Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre has Annihalator 4 which seems better than Mill 20 (at least it wins the game quicker)
Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre has inevitability as he always comes back and can be fetched again and again with Eye of Ugin.

For the record, I think this is brilliant card design. Actually, the two Ulamogs serve two entirely different purposes. Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre, wrecks aggro decks, killing their biggest threat and then annihilating their board. Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger exiles two lands for combo decks, giving himself enough time to finish the game.

I could even see you playing both. But things get even more complicated.

Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger has a friend
This card is yet unconfirmed so please have that in mind while reading on.

The big thing here is of course T3: Conduit of Ruin  T4: Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger removing two lands. Goodnight, combo.

It is a risky plan. A lot can go wrong. Even though both Conduit of Ruin and Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger has cast triggers the plan does not work if Conduit of Ruin is not on the battlefield on turn 4. Path to Exile, Thought Scour, bounce .... a lot of stuff just wrecks this plan. It is still an extremely strong, game-winning play.

So what do you cut for Conduit of Ruin? I have heard different opinions. People seem to be fine cutting Relics (apparently they are not good in this meta - I am not sure I agree with that) for expensive cards (hey, it worked with Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, did it not?) but there is another very clear target for cutting; Wurmcoil Engine. While that might seem insane at first, Wurmcoil Engine's main job against combo is to be the clock and that can be accomplished with a 5/5.

So, once again, the new card is good against combo and the old card (Wurmcoil Engine) is good against aggro. Do we see a sideboard switch plan here? Maybe we can cut all our matchup specific cards (Slaughter Games, Torpor Orb etc) and just switch between Wurmcoil +Infinite Gyre team and the Conduit of Ruin + Ceaseless Hunger team?

Other interesting cards in Battle for Zendikar
There are none. Moving on.

OK, I will mention the one perhaps worth mentioning:

Desolation Twin: While 20 power for 10 mana seems like a fantastic deal (10 of it uncounterable) Desolation Twin really does not help us significantly in any matchup. 

As a sidenote I have seen some lists playing Alchemist's Vial. It cantrips and provides a critical single-creature-fog effect, but is that really better than Relic of Progenitus?

I should also mention that people are considering cutting Red and playing Hangarback Walker in the Pyroclasm spot. I will address that again if that actually becomes a thing. People try all kind of crazy stuff in RG Tron.

Next week we will cover some more matchups, unless there is another big spoiler we need to talk about.

For a full list of the chapters of The Modern Bible:


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  2. Lectrys on the salvation forums made a pretty good post about Winnover: I've outlined in the BFZ spoiler thread that Void Winnower hoses surprisingly few decks (it can't stop Burn hard enough, it only turns Twin into a fair deck, Elf Company dodges it too easily, so do Melira Company and Kiki Chord, so does Grishoalbrand, it's a joke against Zoo, it's a joke against Infect, it's a joke against Bogles, I guess it stops Scapeshift and UR Storm hard enough and it stops Amulet Bloom the best), so I believe it's sideboard material at best. It doesn't help that Void Winnower is huge Liliana of the Veil bait and it dies to Murderous Cut. A lot of Affinity's, Jund's, Junk's, and Merfolk's creatures can't block it, at least, but it's awkwardly weak against combo and aggro decks compared to even Platinum Emperion. It's better against midrange than Emperion is, but the only midrange decks we have to fear are midrange-combo decks, aggro-midrange decks such as Naya Company Zoo, Geist of Saint Win, and midrange decks with LD.

    After playing Conduit of Ruin against some midrange decks, some other combo decks, and especially Living End, Conduit feels like the trickiest small Eldrazi in the game. Along with being a solid Turn 3 play and a solid Eye tutor target whenever I have 11 mana + an Eye + a turn to spare, it's also cheap as chips as a 6-mana Eldrazi so it's easy to play while holding up O. Stone mana. I even had a game against Twin when I had 12 mana and an Eye, cast Newlamog, they Remanded him, then cast Conduit and tutored for Emrakul. But it's slower than Karn against combo by a full turn, and tutoring for something knowing that Living End can easily LD me off the Tron before my next turn gets really tricky. (Living End is one match-up where I board out Platinum Emperion the Only Useful After Living End and board in Void Winnower the Hoses Living End But Dies To Beast Within.) Being slower than Karn at the LD job by a full turn is an excellent reason to stick to 4 Karns (and after Desolation Twin got the boot and Platinum Emperion went in, the 4th Karn went back in), but Conduit into Newlamog is still a 2-turn clock that has "Suspend 1: Boot two lands" compared to Wurmcoil the 3-4-Turn Clock.

  3. Somebody asked me about From Beyond and here is what I answered: First impression is that it is horrible. 4 mana is really awkward in Tron because it is cast on turn 3 like everything else (and requires a star).

    And what do you cut for it?

    Also, it does not do anything to stabilize on turn 3 which is a disaster

    Getting the free dude next turn probably means nothing