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Against the Odds: Sultai Ozolith Burn (Standard)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 238 of Against the Odds. Ikoria is here, and last week, we had our first poll featuring cards from Magic's newest set. In the end, The Ozolith took home a fairly easy win over Offspring's Revenge, so today, we're heading to Ikoria Standard for a deck I'm calling Sultai Ozolith Burn. "How do you burn someone out of the game without red cards?" I hear you ask. Ram Through, of course! The main goal of our deck is to use The Ozolith and creatures that enter the battlefield with +1/+1 counters, like Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig and Polukranos, Unchained, to build a massive Galloping Lizrog, use Ram Through on the trampling Lizrog to fight one of our opponent's creatures, and send the rest of the damage through to our opponent's face. With enough +1/+1 counters and a big enough Galloping Lizrog, we can potentially deal 20 or more damage straight to our opponent's face! What are the odds of winning with The Ozolith in Standard? Let's get to the video and find out in today's Against the Odds; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Against the Odds: Sultai Ozolith Burn

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The Deck

When The Ozolith won the poll, I had no idea what direction to go with the deck. There were a bunch of different possibilities, but the one thing I knew I wanted to avoid was just being some sort of +1/+1 counter aggro deck with cards like Pelt Collector, Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig, and other aggressive creatures that just used The Ozolith as removal protection. While that plan could be effective, it felt boring for Against the Odds. After a bunch of brewing and tuning, we finally ended up with a deck that's looking to do something spectacular with The Ozolith, like turning Ram Through into a 20+ damage green burn spell!

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The Ozolith is a super unique card, allowing us to store up counters from any of our creatures that leave the battlefield and then move those counters onto another creature at the beginning of combat on our turn. Our deck is overflowing with creatures that come into play with +1/+1 counters, so as they die (or otherwise leave the battlefield), we'll eventually end up with a massive pile of counters on The Ozolith, with our main goal being to eventually move those counters onto a creature with trample and use it to burn our opponent out of the game with Ram Through

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When it comes to actually winning the game, by far our best creature is Galloping Lizrog. The power of Galloping Lizrog is that it essentially doubles the number of +1/+1 counters we have on the battlefield—if we steal five +1/+1 counters from our other creatures with Galloping Lizrog, we end up with ten +1/+1 counters on Galloping Lizrog. Apart from turning Galloping Lizrog into a potentially lethal Ram Through target, this offers a lot of value with The Ozolith. Even if we can't win the game with our strange burn spell, Galloping Lizrog can win with a big trampling attack, and if our opponent can kill the Lizrog, we'll get all of its counters on The Ozolith to move to another creature in the future.

As for Ram Through, it's one of the strangest cards printed in Magic in a long time. Assuming we can target a creature with trample (like Galloping Lizrog or Hydroid Krasis), not only do we get to kill one of our opponent's creatures with a pseudo-fight, but the rest of the damage goes through to our opponent's face. Thanks to our +1/+1 counter shenanigans, we can fairly easily grow a Galloping Lizrog to 20 or more power, which means if we can use Ram Through to "fight" a small creature on our opponent's side of the battlefield, there's a good chance we'll just kill our opponent on the spot with a huge chunk of direct damage!

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As far as creatures with +1/+1 counters, our most important cards are Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig (which comes into play with four counters and grows as the game goes along) and Polukranos, Unchained (which comes into play with six counters, or 12 if we can escape it). On level one, these creatures are simple: we play them and they either die and put their counters on The Ozolith so we can move them onto something else, or they sit on the battlefield until we can play a Galloping Lizrog to steal their counters and make a giant, trampling, lethal-with–Ram Through monster. However, there are some cool tricks we can do with Yorvo and Polukranos. For example, since both are legendary, we can play extra copies to purposely legend-rule ourselves and get the counters from the dying copy onto The Ozolith. They also do sweet things with one of the other cards in our deck...

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The cards that really pushed our +1/+1 counter plan into overdrive is Nightmare Shepherd, which is absurd with both Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig and Polukranos, Unchained since both are technically 0/0s that get their power from entering the battlefield with a bunch of +1/+1 counters. This means that if either Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig or Polukranos, Unchained dies when we have a Nightmare Shepherd on the battlefield, they immediately come back into play in token form as 1/1s, which means the token Nightmare Shepherd makes is actually more powerful than the original. While this is fine on its own, it does some even more exciting things in conjunction with The Ozolith.

Let's say we have a Polukranos, Unchained on the battlefield along with Nightmare Shepherd and The Ozolith. If we cast another Polukranos, Unchained to legend rule the first copy, one Polukranos, Unchained dies, which puts at least six +1/+1 counters on The Ozolith. We can then exile the dead Polukranos, Unchained and then legend rule ourselves again with the token copy, which puts six more +1/+1 counters on the battlefield when it dies. The end result is that we still have a Polukranos, Unchained, but we have at least twelve +1/+1 counters on The Ozolith that we can dump onto any of our creatures, potentially making it into a lethal threat. Even sweeter, we can use Galloping Lizrog to steal all of the counters from Polukranos, Unchained and Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig, making our Galloping Lizrog into a massive threat. And thanks to Nightmare Shepherd, both Yorvo and Polukranos will come back into play as even more powerful token versions of themselves!

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Rounding out our deck are a couple of +1/+1 counter–themed card-draw spells. Hydroid Krasis is perfect for our deck, giving us some card advantage and lifegain along with another +1/+1 counter creature to support The Ozolith and a backup trampler to dump all of our +1/+1 counters onto to support the Ram Through kill. Meanwhile, The Great Henge usually costs just two mana in our deck since Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig and Polukranos, Unchained are so big. Once it hits the battlefield, it not only gives us some extra card draw but also allows our creatures to come into play with a +1/+1 counter, making it another way to power up The Ozolith as our creatures leave the battlefield!

The Matchups

Probably the hardest matchup for Sultai Ozolith Burn is creature=light control decks, mostly because our Ram Through plan requires our opponent to have a creature to work but also because control decks usually have Teferi, Time Raveler to bounce The Ozolith as well as wraths and removal to deal with our massive creatures. Dedicated aggro like Mono-Red can also be a challenge. Unless we have a Paradise Druid on Turn 2, it's easy to get run over before we can stabilize with our powerful four- and five-drops. On the other hand, our deck really shines against various midrange decks like Bant and Jeskai Fires. We have massive creatures along with The Ozolith diminishing the value of our opponent's removal, and no one expects to be dealt 20+ damage at instant speed with Ram Through!

The Odds

We played six matches with Sultai Ozolith Burn and ended up winning four, giving us a 66.7% match win percentage and making Sultai Ozolith Burn solidly above average for an Against the Odds deck. As for The Ozolith itself, it was extremely high variance. It was insane in some games, fizzling our opponent's removal spells and making sure that we always had a massive threat on the battlefield. In other games, we struggled to get counters on it and ended up winning naturally with our creatures. We also managed a couple of absurd wins thanks to Ram Through, with the surprise win while we were dead on board against Bant being especially spectacular!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

The Against the Odds poll has moved to YouTube. You can vote for next week's Ikoria Standard deck by clicking here!

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. 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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