Future Deck Tech - Bolas's Citadel

Now that we're all caught up in the hype of spoiler season, I figured today I could try out something a little different. Instead of giving you a smashing decklist from today's standard-legal card set, I'm going to be hopping a bit forward in time to show off a couple decklists I think would go great with an incredible-looking card from the recent spoilers: Bolas's Citadel.

Now, at first glance, it's kind of hard to figure out where a card like this would go. An artifact deck? No, it doesn't really synergize well with artifacts. In fact, you lose a bit of it's power there, as gets around mana color restrictions and artifacts are mostly colorless. A sacrifice deck? Hmm, a little closer, but I don't know what sort of sacrifice decks are playing at 6 mana in their curve, plus they usually like to sacrifice their permanents fairly quickly and not wait on the Citadel to come down. Mono-black, maybe? I think we're getting a bit closer, but we do have to ask what mono-black sees to gain here. They already get a ton of mana from Cabal Stronghold.

It did take some thinking to find enough of a strategy to put together a full deck, but I came up with a couple lists I think are pretty cool. Here's the first:

With this deck, we're looking to either get down a simple card on turn 2 (Ajani's Pridemate, Dreadhorde Invasion, or Dawn of Hope) and ride it to victory, or keep our life moving up with Revitalize, Ritual of Rejuvination, Fountain of Renewal, and Sanguine Sacrament, then finish our opponent off with a huge March of the Multitudes attack and then sac to Citadel. Lyra Dawnbringer is a powerful card that works with both of these strategies and can take advantage of Citadel's ability, so I've got a couple of her in there as well.

On top of all that, we have some very useful removal in the form of Mortify and 2 Ravnica at War — we've got only 1 multicolored permanent, making it very useful in this deck.

The role Citadel plays in both of these strategies is both powerful and unique; we're not just adding a 6-mana artifact because we want to. First, it allows us to go through our deck constantly with Revitalize and Ritual of Rejuvination both netting us life and a card, and second, it lets us use our mana for our activated abilities like Karn's Bastion and Dawn of Hope.

The next deck I put together splits off a bit from that strategy, but only a bit.

Now we're much more focused on creatures for lifegain instead of cantrips and straight lifegain spells. Knight of Autumn, Basilica Bell-Haunt, Verdant Sun's Avatar and Pelakka Wurm all gain us life on ETB. Combo'd with other Verdant Sun's Avatars, we can start gaining insane amounts of life!

Unlike the other deck, however, we're digging a lot deeper into green, and that along with our much higher curve pushes us to throw in ramp wherever we can. Incubation Druid is a simple mana dork on turn 2, but can easily jump us to the mana for Bolas's Citadel if we get Ajani, the Greathearted down and minus him. That's right, we're looking to one of the new planeswalkers for help, as the vigilance allows us to start applying pressure after we get all our ramp down, and the plus gives our Citadel more ammunition. Speaking of new cards, in a deck like this that both loves ramp and needs to keep pressure off of us, Deathsprout is a perfect fit. For the sake of our curve, I've only got 2 here, but it's exactly what we want to be doing on turn 3 or 4.

Citadel performs a very similar function as the last deck, but instead of cantripping through to find a few late-game wincons, we're just casting huge creatures that will directly threaten our opponent.

As exciting as these decks look, though, they both have their weaknesses. The first list, which I'll dub, "Rejuvinating Citadel", has a very weak early game. While the sheer amount of lifegain can really put a wrench into mono-red's plans, more creature-based decks that can hold a strong board presence like Sultai Krasis and Gruul Aggro can really push that deck to its limit. It's hard to use Bolas's Citadel when your life keeps getting hacked away. However, against control, our enchantment-based value from Dawn of Hope and Dreadhorde Invasion, both of which land early, can suck up all of their resources. True, they'll probably have some number of Mortify, but our threats far outnumber the 4 of those they'll be running.

The second deck, "Citadel's Horde", can be absolutely relentless, especially after you get the Citadel down, but until then, we're a ramp deck with nothing of real power to show until we hit Pelakka Wurm or Avatar. A couple well-placed counters and board wipes leaves us with nothing. Also, if we don't hit a Pridemate or the right amount of lifegain, our early creatures won't be able to do much at all in combat. The power of our lifegain can let us recover, but only if our opponent isn't hitting their curve perfectly.

And that's my thoughts on Bolas's Citadel for now. What do you think? Do you have some sweet ideas for the card? Let me know! I love making cards like this work!

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