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Against the Odds: Villainous Sower (Pioneer)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 339 of Against the Odds. Last week, we had a Pioneer Against the Odds poll, and Oblivion Sower took home the win. As such, we're heading to Pioneer today to see just how many lands we can put into play with Oblivion Sower and then hopefully will use those lands to steal most of the cards in our opponent's deck with Villainous Wealth! Can the plan work? What are the odds of winning with Oblivion Sower and Villainous Wealth in Pioneer? 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: Villainous Sower

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The Deck

When Oblivion Sower won the poll, the primary goal was pretty obvious: see how many lands we could put into play with its cast trigger. The problem is that just putting a bunch of lands onto the battlefield doesn't really win us the game—we'd need another card to take advantage of all of the mana Oblivion Sower can provide. Thankfully, the perfect option exists in Pioneer in Villainous Wealth. What's better than stealing a bunch of the opponent's lands? Using those lands to steal the rest of the cards in their deck with Villainous Wealth and killing our opponent with their own cards! Here's the plan:

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First up, we have our namesake Oblivion Sower. The Eldrazi is a pretty interesting card. As a six-mana 5/8, it has a pretty solid body, but we're really built around its cast trigger. When we cast Oblivion Sower, we get to exile the top four cards of our opponent's deck and put any number of lands they have in exile onto the battlefield. Note that we don't just get the lands that Oblivion Sower exiles but any lands our opponent has in exile, which means we can use other cards to get lands into exile and then steal them with Oblivion Sower. This is good because a typical Oblivion Sower will likely only give us a single land without extra help, which is helpful but not nearly enough for what we're trying to accomplish. 

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Our primary plan for powering up Oblivion Sower is Tasha's Hideous Laughter, which is just the most efficient way to exile a bunch of cards from our opponent's deck. While just how many cards we exile depends on the average mana value of our opponent's deck (and luck), in general, Tasha's Hideous Laughter should exile somewhere around 15 cards. Considering that most decks play somewhere around 24 lands, a typical Tasha's Hideous Laughter should put something like six lands into exile. Toss in the four cards that Oblivion Sower exiles, and, with just a single Tasha's Hideous Laughter, we should get something like seven lands with Oblivion Sower, which is a pretty absurd deal for six mana, especially combined with Oblivion Sower's big body.

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Backing up Tasha's Hideous Laughter are a bunch of Ashioks, all of which exile cards. Ashiok, Dream Render can exile up to 20 cards from our opponent's library by itself. Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver exiles three a turn with its +1 (and even more with its ultimate). Finally, Ashiok, Nightmare Muse not only exiles cards (thanks to the Nightmare tokens it makes) but also gives us another payoff for putting cards into our opponent's exile zone thanks to its ultimate, which lets us cast three of those cards for free. This gives us some nice synergy with Oblivion Sower: Oblivion Sower can exile non-lands that Ashiok can cast for free, while Ashiok can exile lands (with the help of its Nightmares) for Oblivion Sower to steal. While planning to ultimate a planeswalker is usually risky, considering that Ashiok, Nightmare Muse starts with five loyalty and only takes seven to ultimate, it's actually not all that unlikely that we will get it to stick around long enough to play some things for free.

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Last but not least, we have our finisher: Villainous Wealth. In theory, we could cast any big things with the mana that Oblivion Sower steals, but winning with an Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger or something similar is a bit boring. Villainous Wealth is the perfect option for the deck. It's flavorful since it technically steals cards from exile, just like Oblivion Sower. And if cast for enough mana, it should steal enough of our opponent's stuff to win us the game. Plus, it has a bit of extra synergy in our deck; for example, if we cast a mini Villainous Wealth before we Oblivion Sower, we can get the lands that it exiles with Sower later. 

Of course, the downside of winning with Villainous Wealth is that its power really depends on just how good the cards in our opponent's deck are, although this really shouldn't matter if we can get dump enough mana into it. A Villainous Wealth x5 can whiff, but a Villainous Wealth x20 after an Oblivion Sower should hit enough action to win the game more or less immediately in pretty much any matchup.

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Outside of our combo pieces, the rest of our deck is ramp, like Sylvan Caryatid, The Celestus, and Llanowar Elves, to help us get to Oblivion Sower a bit quicker (and also power up Villainous Wealth in games where we don't draw Oblivion Sower); removal, including Extinction Event and Fatal Push, to help us stay alive long enough to cast our big finishers; and a bit of card draw in Memory Deluge and Dig Through Time, to help find Tasha's Hideous Laughter, Oblivion Sower, and Villainous Wealth

The Matchups

Honestly, I'm not sure that Villainous Sower has any truly good matchups, although it did feel like it had a chance against most popular archetypes. The biggest problem we ran into wasn't so much our opponent's decks but inconsistency in our own deck. While we cast a lot of Oblivion Sowers and Villainous Wealths, it was surprisingly hard to get all of our combo pieces in the right order. In our perfect world, we'll cast Tasha's Hideous Laughter first, then Oblivion Sower to steal the lands from Laughter, and then Villainous Wealth with all of the lands stolen by Sower. While this did happen a couple of times, we'd more often have to cast Oblivion Sower before we found Tasha's Hideous Laughter or Villainous Wealth pre-Sower just to stay alive. One option might be adding more card draw to the deck to help find our pieces more consistently, but this is tricky because adding more card draw would likely mean taking away ramp or removal, which could cause other problems.

The Odds

Record-wise, we finished 2-7 with the deck, which obviously isn't a great win percentage (just slightly over 20%). This makes Villainous Sower one of the least competitive decks we've played in a while, at least based on win rate. The good news is that we had some sweet losses that felt close, with the game against Rakdos being especially brutal: we were all set to cast a massive Villainous Wealth only to have our opponent hit a Thoughtseize from a Chandra, Torch of Defiance activation. More importantly, we eventually pulled off the full combo and won with a massive Villainous Wealth for 15, thanks to mana from Oblivion Sower and Tasha's Hideous Laughter.

Speaking of Villainous Wealth, it was surprisingly strong, even without tons of mana from Oblivion Sower. We had several games where we had to cast a Villainous Wealth for seven or eight mana because we were about to die, and even these small Villainous Wealths were usually enough to stabilize the board and eventually win us the game. We might have to revisit the sorcery in the future in a deck with a more consistent plan for ramping. Imagine just how many cards we could steal with it in some sort of devotion deck with Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx making the mana!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

No poll this week. I've gotten a ton of requests for 100 Rhinos, but this time with the Siege Rhinos, so next week we'll see what happens when you really have 100 Siege Rhinos is a Modern Battle of Wits deck!

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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