Game 3. Turn 3. You're at 6 life. Double-bolt range. Your opponent is on mono-red. He's leering at you, sweat dripping down his brow as he flips his cards back and forth between the three cards in his hand. You, playing this deck, are cool and collected, smirking behind your fan of 6 cards.
Then, movement. He taps two. Lighting Strike. He watches your hands. Do you go for your two untapped lands? No. No response. He's giddy now. Taps one. Skewer. Now's your chance. Tap two. Growth Spiral. He thinks it's over! You're tapped out! But then you play a land off the Spiral. Oh yes. You have Tatyova, Benthic Druid out. Gain one, draw one. You're still alive, and the world is your oyster.
His last card is a Shock. You lose.
Welcome to Simic Slip N' Slide.
As odd as it might sound after that introduction, no, our gameplan is not in fact to lose. We have two primary methods of winning. One, we get out Tatyova and a few Krasis and win with overwhelming card advantage. Two, we play our Multani at 8 or 9 power, then follow it up with a River's Rebuke.
This is a deck that focuses a lot on a few important cards like control, but likes to tap out most of the time, at least until turn 5. With an active Tatyova, we can push our advantage further and further without leaving ourselves vulnerable to much. On the other hand, Multani is an extraordinarily hard creature to deal with, both offensively and defensively. He's got Reach and Trample, a combination that most decks can't handle, plus it's not hard to bring him back if he dies.
Our support for this gameplan is mostly ramp in the form of 3 Grow from the Ashes, 4 Growth Spiral, and 3 Wayward Swordtooths. While normally I'm a bit cautious to play Wayward Swordtooth, we have plenty of lands in this deck and 4 copies of Merfolk Branchwalker as well as 4 Opts to help us get lands in hand to make use of Swordtooth.
I do want to touch on the 2 copies of Llanowar Elves briefly. Usually, when you play this card, you want four copies of it. You also want powerful turn 3 plays, because the idea is often to skip turn 2. We don't have a particularly powerful turn 3 (Wayward Swordtooth and Grow from the Ashes), so why play him? First, we still want the ramp, but we don't want that ramp in other CMC slots. I tried a build with Incubation Druid instead of Llanowar, but found myself often not playing Incubation because I wanted to do something else with my mana. Second, because our gameplan isn't that focused on turn 3, we're only playing 2 copies of him.
As you probably noticed, our deck is pretty light on interaction as well. Frilled Mystic is pretty great here, stopping our opponent on turn 3 or 4 from developing their board, which is usually our most vulnerable turn as it's the gap between when we play our support spells and when we play our finishers. It also keeps them from removing our Multani or Tatyova if we're able to untap with them.
We've got a mostly-typical array of tools. Negate for control and non-creature matchups, Essense Scatter for creature decks, and Kraul Harpooner for mono-blue. It may not be obvious, but we have one crippling weakness against mono-blue: Merfolk Trickster kills Multani. He's a 0/0 without his +1/+1 from each land ability, so getting hit by that sends him straight to the yard. That's why we want all 4 Harpooners.
Mass Manipulation is mainly for control, but it's useful against Sultai as well. Broken Bond deals with Guild Summit and Wilderness Reclaimation as well as keeping us on the ramp plan. The 3 Wildgrowth Walkers are our hedge against aggressive decks, mainly mono-red and white weenies.
When I first built this deck, I was just looking for a place for Frilled Mystic. It seemed like a fun card but just hadn't found its place yet. This deck did better than I expected. I'm usually one to build with a lot interaction and just looking at this list, I feel a little uncomfortable at the limited amount of it, but let me tell you, this deck doesn't need any more than it has. Tatyova and Multani exceeded expectations, and Krasis played exactly as well as I expected it to. I do not exaggerate when I say a River's Rebuke with an active Multani ends the game. Granted, that's what you'd hope two 6-mana spells would do in constructed, but it's a combo we haven't seen in this Standard. Multani alone dominates the board, either stonewalling mono-blue's fliers or trampling through our opponent's best blockers. Tatyova and Krasis' lifegain will keep us alive through mono-red's aggressive burn until we're able to stabilize with a wealth of blockers or a huge Krasis.
Other stars were Merfolk Branchwalker, which helped us find consistent land drops while either chipping in or stopping their early attacker from doing so, and Frilled Mystic, which dominated the tempo game. River's Rebuke surprised as well. With only 2 copies, I expected it to show up little, but we go through our deck pretty aggressively. Each time I played it either ended the game by clearing the way for attackers or saved me by stopping my opponent's assault. There are a couple matches where it doesn't do much, mainly mono-red, and I'm not thrilled to put a Krasis back in my opponent's hand, but if it's that or losing, I'll give them the card draw.
Growth Spiral, Opt, Grow from the Ashes and Wayward Swordtooth worked about as expected. They're good tools for our deck and did their job. I can't say I was particularly impressed, but I don't think I'd cut much if any of them, especially Spiral.
There's a lot about this deck that's up for change if you want. The sideboard specifically is in complete flux, as it depends on the decks you're playing against most often. If control is a big problem, maybe another copy of Negate will serve you well. If it's aggro, then another Wildgrowth Walker and lifegain like Deathgorge Scavenger. If mono-blue is your problem, a couple copies of Spell Pierce could really help you out.
Looking at the maindeck, we have a couple ways we can go with the plan. We could dip more into the ramp plan, get 4 copies of Grow from the Ashes and Llanowar Elves at the cost of Opt and either Swordtooth or a land. We could also lean more into the explore plan and make our Swordtooths and Growth Spirals more consistent by adding some Jadelight Rangers instead of Grow from the Ashes, then buff our Swordtooth count to 4. It's also possible to consider dropping our Multani count to 2. We do a pretty good job of going through our deck and Multani is inherently difficult to get rid of. I've kept it at 3 because I want to be playing him on turn 5 or 6 consistently and winning the game on 7 instead of stalling, even if this deck does a good job of staying in a long game.
I think there are a lot of interesting changes that could be made, and I'll probably tweak numbers myself the more I play with this. It's been a really fun learning experience so far and I encourage all of your to at least take it for a spin.
Until next time, remember to always wet your slip n' slide before you use it.