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Against the Odds: Five-Color Scheming Sultai (Standard, Magic Arena)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 199 of Against the Odds. Last week, we had our second all–Core Set 2020 Against the Odds poll, and in the end it was our new tutor Scheming Symmetry that came out on top. As such, today we're heading to Standard to play a deck that's looking to break the symmetry of Scheming Symmetry by casting it with flash with the help of Leyline of Anticipation. Then, since we have the blue Leyline to cast all of our spells at instant speed, we also have Wilderness Reclamation to double up our mana, which allows us to do some crazy things like hardcast Zacama, Primal Calamity in our end step or use Finale of Glory to make a massive board full of Angels and Soldiers - both coming from our sideboard with the help of Mastermind's Acquisition - to close out the game. How good is Scheming Symmetry when we can cast it at instant speed? What are the odds of winning with Scheming Symmetry in Core Set 2020 Standard? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Against the Odds: Five-Color Scheming Sultai

The Deck

When it came time to build around Scheming Symmetry there were two main plans I considered. One was to play Scheming Symmetry with Bolas's Citadel, where the ability to tutor a card to the top of our deck and immediately cast it thanks to Bolas's Citadel is extremely powerful. The problem is that the best way to support the plan is the explore package of Wildgrowth Walker, Jadelight Ranger and Merfolk Branchwalker which is anything but against the odds at this point, having been the core of competitive Standard decks for nearly two years now. The second plan, and the one we use for Four-Color Schemeing Sultai, involves going really deep on the flash plan with the help of Leyline of Anticipation and trying to cast Scheming Symmetry at instant speed. While probably not as competitive as the explore / Bolas's Citadel plan, the flash plan can do some really sweet things and is way more in the spirit of Against the Odds!

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Scheming Symmetry is a really powerful tutor, basically working like a sorcery speed Vampiric Tutor (which I guess makes it a Grim Tutor), putting any card on top of our deck for just a single mana. The problem is that we have to allow our opponent to tutor up a card as well, and if we play Scheming Symmetry fairly (casting it at sorcery speed) our opponent gets access to the tutored card first, which means they can probably either just kill us with the card they tutor up or at least disrupt whatever we tutored up with a counterspell or removal. 

As such, to break the symmetry of Scheming Symmetry we need to be able to cast it at instant speed, preferably on our opponent's end step or, in a pinch, on our upkeep before we draw for the turn, which allows us to use the tutored card before our opponent. If the card we tutored up is powerful enough we can hopefully use it to pull far enough ahead of our opponent that whatever they tutor up isn't especially relevant. 

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For supporting Scheming Symmetry, our two most important cards are Leyline of Anticipation and Wilderness Reclamation. Leyline of Anticipation is our way to cast Scheming Symmetry with flash, then since we have the ability to cast all of our cards at instant speed we have Wilderness Reclamtion to essentially double up our mana. Together, these cards allow us to use Scheming Symmetry to tutor up our powerful finishers, and then cast those finishers for a ton of mana on our end step. Worst case, if we don't have a finisher in hand, we can cast a bunch of cards during our main phase, untap during our end step with Wilderness Reclamation and then thanks to Leyline of Anticipation cast a bunch more cards during our opponent's turn.

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When it comes to actually killing our opponent, we have two plans. First, we can use Scheming Symmetry to find Hydrop Krasis and cast Krasis for a ton of mana during our end step with the help of Wilderness Reclamation. Along with giving us a huge flier and gaining us a bunch of life, the cards we draw from Hydroid Krasis should find us more copies of Scheming Symmetry, so we can tutor up another Hydroid Krasis (or something else) on our next upkeep and repeat the process against the next turn, until we eventually drowned our opponent in Krasis value.

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Our second plan is to grab a finisher from our sideboard with the help of Mastermind's Acquisition. With the help of our five-color manabase and Gift of Paradise to fix our mana we can snag powerful finishers like Zacama, Primal Calamity or Finale of Glory and cast them on our end step. Either should be enough to finish our opponent, with Zacama, Primal Calamity wrathing our opponent's board and gaining a bunch of life, while Finale of Glory gives us an almost unbeatable number of tokens at instant speed. We can also grab cards like The Immortal Sun or Mass Manipulation to deal with planeswalkers, planeswalkers like Ashiok, Dream Render or Narset, Parter of Veils which are especially strong in certain matchups, or sweepers like Massacre Girl or Ritual of Soot to deal with creature decks.

Other Stuff

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Search for Azcanta and Growth Spirall do two important things for our deck. First, both cards ramp us, which helps us get to our big finishers like Zacama, Primal Calamity, Finale of Glory and Hydroid Krasis. Second, both cards give us a way to draw the cards we tutor up with Scheming Symmetry right away if we don't happen to have Leyline of Anticipation to cast Scheming Symmetry at instant speed. 

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Finally we have some interaction. Cast Down allows us to kill creatures in the early game, while The Immortal Sun is basically a permanent wrath of planeswalkers. Meanwhile, Thought Erasure is great with our deck since we can cast it during our opponent's draw step assuming we have Leyline of Anticipation on the battlefield. While we don't have a ton of interaction, we draw enough cards (and have enough tutors) that we can hopefully find our removal and discard when we need it, and keep our opponent in check long enough to take over the game with our powerful late game plan.

The Matchups

By far the biggest challenge for Five-Color Scheming Sultai is fast aggro decks like Mono-Red and Feather decks. In these matchups it's very possible that we get a slow draw and our opponent simply runs us over before we get our late game engine pieces online. Teferi, Time Raveler is also annoying, since it shuts down Leyline of Anticipation to cast Scheming Symmetry at instant speed and also Wilderness Reclamation, although maybe the problem isn't that big of a deal, considering we beat Esper Hero when we played against it. On the other hand, against slower decks it's very easy for Five-Color Scheming Sultai to go over the top of whatever the opponent is doing. Once we get Leyline of Anticipation and Wilderness Reclamation online Scheming Symmetry makes our deck so powerful and consistent that it's hard for our opponent to keep up with our massive finishers. Leyline of Anticipation itself is also helpful against some control decks, since we can flash in our spells to play around our opponent's counterspells and interaction.

The Odds

All in all, we finished 2-3 with Five-Color Scheming Sultai, giving us a somewhat below average 40% match win percentage. As predicted, we struggled in aggro matchups but did extremely well against midrange and control. As for Scheming Symmetry itself, it's pretty high variance. Casting it without the help of Leyline of Anticipation is often deadly, so we have some games where we have copies of Scheming Symmetry stuck in our hand for several turns doing nothing. On the other hand, once we can cast Scheming Symmetry at instant speed it becomes the best card in our deck, giving us an almost unbeatable stream of value and consistency. 

Vote For Next Week's Deck

This week we have one more Core Set 2020 poll, but this time with a twist: instead of playing the winning card in Standard we'll be taking it for a spin in Modern! Which of this Core Set 2020 cards should be build around next week? Let us know by voting below!

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Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. Don't forget to vote for next week's deck! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive, or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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