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Thread: Culling Tendrils (CulT)

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    Culling Tendrils (CulT)

    What is CulT?

    Iíve been a storm player for many, many years now. For whatever reason, Iíve never been all that interested in the Ďgoodí storm decks (TES and ANT), but have focused on the more Ďnicheí (to put it kindly) decks. Iím clearly a Johnny, not a Spike.

    Recently, though, Iíve been interested in a storm variant that was worked on briefly by Vacrix some years ago. He was trying to combine the powerful Culling the Weak mana engine of SI with the consistent Ad Nauseam draw engine of ANT. At the time he was trying to abuse Veteran Explorer as a Culling target, and called his creation ĎVANTí, for Veteran Ad Nauseam Tendrils.

    Here are a couple of examples of what he was messing about with:

    - VANT w/ Entomb -
    Business -
    4 Infernal Tutor
    4 Entomb
    3 Diabolic Intent
    1 Ad Nauseam
    1 Past in Flames
    1 Tendrils of Agony

    Protection/Cantrip -
    4 Cabal Therapy
    1 Narcomoeba

    Mana -
    1 Eternal Witness
    3 Elvish Spirit Guide
    4 Summoner's Pact
    4 Veteran Explorer
    1 Young Wolf
    4 Dark Ritual
    4 Culling the Weak
    4 Lotus Petal
    4 Lion's Eye Diamond

    Land -
    4 Swamp
    4 Verdant Catacombs
    2 Bayou
    1 Mountain
    1 Dryad Arbor
    This was his pure BG approach, where Entomb was used as either business (putting PiF in the graveyard) or as a creature (putting Narcomoeba in the graveyard) or as a sacrifice enabler (putting Cabal Therapy in the graveyard).

    - Vant w/ Blue -
    Business -
    4 Infernal Tutor
    3 Diabolic Intent
    1 Ad Nauseam
    1 Tendrils of Agony
    1 Empty the Warrens

    Protection/Cantrip -
    4 Cabal Therapy
    4 Brainstorm

    Mana -
    4 Elvish Spirit Guide
    4 Summoner's Pact
    4 Veteran Explorer
    2 Young Wolf
    4 Dark Ritual
    4 Culling the Weak
    4 Lotus Petal
    4 Lion's Eye Diamond

    Land -
    4 Swamp
    3 Verdant Catacombs
    1 Bayou
    1 Tropical Island
    1 Underground Sea
    1 Dryad Arbor
    This was his more conventional UBG build, which looks a lot more like traditional ANT, but with a different engine.

    Now, Vacrix is a much better innovator than me, but as interesting as I find these builds (especially the BG build), I donít actually like them. Primarily because of Veteran Explorer.

    Veteran Explorer is a bad card, unless two conditions are true. First, you must have a way of killing Veteran Explorer during the combo turn. This means Diabolic Intent, Culling the Weak, or Cabal Therapy. Second, you must have two (useful) basic lands in your library at the time that you kill Veteran Explorer. This means running at least 3+ basics.

    If either of those conditions are not met, Veteran Explorer is either a dead card or a liability. You end up contorting yourself around that card far, far too much.

    So, this is what I have been playing around with.

    1 Ad Nauseam
    1 Tendrils of Agony
    4 Infernal Tutor
    4 Diabolic Intent
    4 Gitaxian Probe
    4 Brainstorm
    4 Ponder
    4 Green Sun's Zenith
    4 Xantid Swarm
    4 Lion's Eye Diamond
    4 Lotus Petal
    4 Dark Ritual
    4 Culling the Weak

    1 Island
    1 Swamp
    1 Forest
    1 Dryad Arbor
    1 Bayou
    1 Underground Sea
    4 Verdant Catacomb
    4 Misty Rainforest

    There are two main differences here between what Vacrix was exploring and what I am currently testing, and one difference follows from the other. Instead of using Veteran Explorer as a Culling target, I use Xantid Swarm. Because Xantid Swarm is Ďdisruptioní as well as fuel for our combo, it has a purpose even when we are making a standard Dark Ritual, LED, Infernal Tutor play.

    Once we start playing Xantid Swarm, which will often involve passing the turn, Summonerís Pact becomes far less useful. We can replace it fairly well with Green Sunís Zenith, however.

    Why CulT?

    Whatís the point of trying to build another deck that does what TES and ANT already do so well? Primarily because itís interesting, of course. But also because there are some unique strengths and weaknesses to this (as yet sub-optimal) build.

    Both ANT and TES play Dark Ritual and one other ritual, and the difference between those two rituals really defines the two decks.

    ANT plays Cabal Ritual as their second ritual, and because it only becomes strong once you have Threshold, it pushes ANT into somewhat slower lines of play as they try to put seven cards in their graveyard before they go off. It also makes ANT somewhat vulnerable to graveyard hate, a vulnerability exacerbated by their reliance on Past in Flames as their primary engine. The 2cc of Cabal Ritual also makes it harder to cast after Ad Nauseam (you need more acceleration or mana floating), and it does more damage when it is flipped.

    TES, on the other hand, plays Rite of Flame. As a 1cc spell it is fairly fast to cast, and does less damage off Ad Nauseam, but it is less powerful. More importantly, you have your two main rituals providing different mana colours, making mana management more skill intensive for TES pilots. It also means that many Ďfastí kills actually amount to dropping a load of goblins via Empty the Warrens and hoping that they get you there over the next few turns.

    Culling the Weak falls between those two camps. It is a fast, powerful 1cc spell that provides critical black mana, but requires you to have a creature in play, so the true cost is not quite what is printed on the card. The low casting cost and the difficulty involved in flashing it back (as you need a second target), as well as the colour it produces, pushes the ritual to favour Ad Nauseam over Past in Flames.

    So the goal, then, is to create a deck with the potential to be as fast as TES without the reliance on Goblin tokens for a substantial proportion of your wins.

    Card considerations

    Green Sun's Zenith

    If you are running Culling the Weak, you need fuel. Spanish Inquisition has been playing around with this engine for years, and my first approach at this deck involved the early Ďtallmení, the 0cc artefact creatures (who in turn allow you to play Mox Opal).

    However, while this certainly made your Ad Nauseams silky smooth, they basically had the Veteran Explorer problem Ė they were pretty much dead cards without Culling the Weak or some other card to sacrifice them to. It was only once I started playing Xantid Swarm and GSZ that I felt like I could hit the critical mass of creatures that I needed without clogging up my hand too badly.

    Over time I have tried switching out one or more Xantid Swarm for other GSZ targets, such as Wild Cantor, Timber Wall or Young Wolf. Each have advantages, but broadly, the deck wants to make one of two GSZ plays.

    The first play is where you know, for whatever reason, that you are not facing disruption. Then, GSZ into Dryad Arbor on turn 1 means you are almost certainly going off on turn 2. The second play is where you expect counter-magic, and you want Xantid Swarm on turn 2 so that you can go off on turn 3 after Xantid Swarm has cleared the way.

    I did try playing with a set of Timber Wall - like Xantid Swarm they are not dead cards in multiples as they also function as acceleration on their own. However, RR is only marginally useful in this deck, so I haven't given them the attention that perhaps they deserve. Potentially a sideboard card?

    Diabolic Intent

    If Iím running sacrifice targets anyway, then it makes sense to run this very powerful tutor. Sometimes I do find my hand full of sacrifice effects, and thatís when I tend to wish I had a Young Wolf in play.

    Brainstorm and friends

    I would really, really like to drop the cantrip suit to simplify the mana base. However, that leaves us with only 9 business spells, and I think 12 is really the minimum. Adding in 3 more Ad Nauseam (as SAINT does) or a couple of Dark Petition (as ANT does) makes actually playing Ad Nauseam much worse. So for now I seem stuck with the cantrip suite, just as ANT and TES are. The banning of SDT did not help.

    Chrome Mox and Mox Diamond

    While the deck does not have to go off quickly, being able to do so is one of the selling points over ANT. This being the case, I have played around with some Moxen to allow for more reliably casting Ad Nauseam with no mana floating. Four seems like too many, but zero is probably too few.

    Ill-Gotten Gains

    With Xantid Swarm in the maindeck, is CulT uniquely placed to bring back this old favourite?


    The next steps

    That, then, is where Iíve gotten to on my own (or more accurately, by standing on the shoulders of far better deck builders than I). Iím throwing the door open for constructive criticism and ideas. In particular:

    1) Am I on the right track with Green Sun's Zenith over Summoner's Pact? Or does this slow the deck down too much?

    2) Would the deck benefit from a number of Moxen, or is the card disadvantage too much?

    3) Is there any reasonable way to get the deck down to just GB, or (like TES and ANT) does the cantrip suite just offer too much?

    I'd love a fresh perspective on this, as I've been staring at some of these cards long enough that I worry that I am going in circles.

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    Re: Culling Tendrils (CulT)

    Maindeck Xantid Swarm does seem rather good, honestly. It allows for protection and provides another sacrifice target (post combat of course) for Culling the Weak, Cabal Therapy, and Diabolic Intent. If you have 1-2x Explorer, 1-2 Dryad Arbor, and 4x Xantid Swarm then your mana/disruption/tutor engine will have at least 7-8 targets to work from. Its definitely sexy as hell, and fueling a broken combo deck rather than playing fatties like Nic Fit definitely has some allure.
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    Re: Culling Tendrils (CulT)

    So basically we trade discard (no duresses) for creatures which are needed to combo of and Cabal Rituals for Cullings.

    Xantid Swarm MD isn't good - it is disadvantage for deck - it have to attack to have impact - opponent have target for their removal (each non-combo deck have removal in his 60).

    More business intensive - 7 common (standard ANT build) vs 7 more conditional business (not all of them have all routes) - that is advantage !

    No cantrips, No blue - this mean no brainstorm, which is best enabler in Storm.

    Any data from testing as stability / turn which go-off ? Maybe it's like Spanish Inqusition - blistering fast ?

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    Re: Culling Tendrils (CulT)

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Safety View Post
    Maindeck Xantid Swarm does seem rather good, honestly. It allows for protection and provides another sacrifice target (post combat of course) for Culling the Weak, Cabal Therapy, and Diabolic Intent. If you have 1-2x Explorer, 1-2 Dryad Arbor, and 4x Xantid Swarm then your mana/disruption/tutor engine will have at least 7-8 targets to work from. Its definitely sexy as hell, and fueling a broken combo deck rather than playing fatties like Nic Fit definitely has some allure.
    I agree that the concept is very appealing. I just need help making it work. I take it that you think that a singleton Veteran Explorer would be an overall improvement, then?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fatal View Post
    So basically we trade discard (no duresses) for creatures which are needed to combo of and Cabal Rituals for Cullings.

    Xantid Swarm MD isn't good - it is disadvantage for deck - it have to attack to have impact - opponent have target for their removal (each non-combo deck have removal in his 60).

    More business intensive - 7 common (standard ANT build) vs 7 more conditional business (not all of them have all routes) - that is advantage !

    No cantrips, No blue - this mean no brainstorm, which is best enabler in Storm.

    Any data from testing as stability / turn which go-off ? Maybe it's like Spanish Inqusition - blistering fast ?
    I totally agree that Xantid Swarm < Duress in any number of matchups, although that is somewhat alleviated by the way they help flashback Cabal Therapy, which is not something that TES or ANT can usually do.

    As for the deck's speed - and we are discussing pure gold-fishing here - it is nowhere near as fast as SI. No deck with 15 lands and 12 cantrips can be. However, it is by no means a slow deck.

    On turn 1 it has the same broad opportunities to abuse Dark Ritual and Lion's Eye Diamond that ANT or TES does. However, it also has the ability to fetch Dryad Arbor and abuse Culling the Weak. That does require a Lotus Petal, though, and one of the advantages of adding in a Moxen or two would be making this kind of turn 1 play more common.

    Turn 2 is where the deck really starts to shine, though. GSZ > Dryad Arbor (again, we are talking gold-fishing, so zero disruption) sets you up to drop a third land on turn two and power out a Culling the Weak or Diabolic Intention. I would say that, generally, this is the turn that the deck is looking to go off, which is why I'd love to cut down on the number of cantrips; I often have more of them than I feel I can usefully cast if I am spending my first turn on GSZ or Xantid Swarm. Of course, in actual games, where you may need to replace something that has been discarded, or a Xantid that has been bolted, and the game goes beyond the second turn, those cantrips have more vaulue.

    I imagine that you could make turn 2 even more consistent (at the expense of being more vulnerable) by siding out Xantid Swarm for Timber Wall. Turn 1 Timber Wall means +2 mana on turn 2 if you don't have to sacrifice it to Culling or Intent.

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    Re: Culling Tendrils (CulT)

    I think a big strength could be impersonation...if someone sees you GSZ for 0 t1, then Cabal Therapy t2, they will put you on Nic Fit absolutely. Then you get t3 fetch > arbor > Culling > Dark Ritual > Lion's Eye Diamond > Infernal Tutor > Ad Nauseam > Tendrils.

    One thing that may be an option, and possibly a good one, is that this could play more like Grinding Station with multiple copies of Tendrils of Agony. Work the mana engine, Tendrils for 8-10, then just build up and do it again.

    I would advocate for 2x Dryad Arbor, because you may need 1 for disruption and 1 for Culling/Intent. I would also advocate for 1x Veteran Explorer, and then 4x Xantid Swarm. That's 7 targets (and your fetches get your Arbors) for Therapy/Culling/Intent. I would probably cut down on Diabolic Intent, mostly because you already have the LED/Infernal engine. Intent would really just be additional copies of Infernal. It will be hard to sac a dude for Culling AND have another dude for Intent, without the perfect setup.

    One additional selling point is that GSZ for Veteran Explorer nets you +6 mana the following turn (therapy sacs, you get 2 untapped basics and BBBB), Dryad Arbor nets you +4 (you can tap the arbor for G if it doesn't have summoning sickness, then you pay B and get BBBB.) Both of those are synergy-based interactions that have a bigger payoff than just traditional rituals. I could also see this deck going the budget route with Cabal Ritual + Dark Petition instead of LED/Infernal.

    I'm a sucker for weird combos. They might be worse than traditional combo decks, but the journey of discovery is so much fun, even if it doesn't pan out in the end. It sure makes Magic more fun, at least to me.
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    Re: Culling Tendrils (CulT)

    Since you're already playing 4 green Sun, it might be sweet to have green Sun as another business spell by putting a big green thing to green Sun for at the end of your combo
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    Re: Culling Tendrils (CulT)

    Quote Originally Posted by Megadeus View Post
    Since you're already playing 4 green Sun, it might be sweet to have green Sun as another business spell by putting a big green thing to green Sun for at the end of your combo
    Make a Ruric Thar, the Unbowed, rawr.
    I should play that jund storm list again.
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    Re: Culling Tendrils (CulT)

    Quote Originally Posted by haganbmj View Post
    Make a Ruric Thar, the Unbowed, rawr.
    I should play that jund storm list again.
    I had a similar idea with Razaketh and the reanimator storm shell. Basically Razaketh and Veteran Explorer form a loop where you tutor up all 4, get 8 basics, then storm at your leisure.

    My idea also ran Thragtusk as a reanimate target, as saccing it nets a dude and the life to back up the combo. Thragtusk probably fits here as a GSZ target as well as a "Diabolic, sac thrag, get token, get culling, TADA"

    If you run Summoner's Pact AND Culling the Weak then run at least one DRS. Actually silly NOT to. You need to be able to continue combo on BBBBBBBBBBBBBB and not fizzle.

    My thoughts as a reanimator, PSI, and jank storm player.

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    Re: Culling Tendrils (CulT)

    I would advocate for 2x Dryad Arbor, because you may need 1 for disruption and 1 for Culling/Intent. I would also advocate for 1x Veteran Explorer, and then 4x Xantid Swarm. That's 7 targets (and your fetches get your Arbors) for Therapy/Culling/Intent. I would probably cut down on Diabolic Intent, mostly because you already have the LED/Infernal engine. Intent would really just be additional copies of Infernal. It will be hard to sac a dude for Culling AND have another dude for Intent, without the perfect setup.
    I've been on the fence about 2 Dryad Arbor. You are right that there are times when I really want a second one. But I also don't want to see it in my opening hand if I can help it. As for Culling targets, if we were going for pure speed then there would be something to be said for Tukatongue Thallid over Xantid Swarm. I have no doubt at all that this deck can be significantly faster than it is now. I just don't know whether the required sacrifices would be worth it.

    Megadeus
    Since you're already playing 4 green Sun, it might be sweet to have green Sun as another business spell by putting a big green thing to green Sun for at the end of your combo
    I'm 100% behind trying to abuse GSZ as much as possible. A big fatty is a nonbo with Ad Nauseam, though. To go down that route you would probably want to switch it out for Natural Order, giving you multiple ways to find your chosen beater. Could be good in some matchups. Possible sideboard option?

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    Re: Culling Tendrils (CulT)

    I played a few hands last night with a slightly modified list. The sample size is small (I only had an hour or so), but the notes are detailed. The list is the one I posted earlier, but with -1 Diabolic Intent, -1 Swamp, +1 Veteran Explorer, +1 Tropical Island.

    All hands assume I'm on the play. No disruption. I just want to see the deck in it's raw form.

    Hand 1

    Draw Bayou, GSZ, CtW, Diabolic Intent, Xantid Swarm, BS, AdN. Snap keep.

    Play Bayou, GSZ>DA. Pass the turn.

    Draw CtW.

    Play CtW(DA), AdN(Git Probe, LED, Forest, Git Probe, Ponder, BS, BS, Misty Rainforest, Git Probe, Verdant Catacomb, Lotus Petal, Infernal Tutor; -8 life), Lotus Petal, LED, Forest, Git Probe (-2 life), Git Probe (-2 life) Git Probe(-2) Xantid Swarm, Lotus Petal, CtW, Infernal Tutor (ToA), ToA.


    Hand 2

    Draw Verdant Catacomb, GSZ, Infernal Tutor, Infernal Tutor, Dark Ritual, CtW, Ponder. Keep.

    Play Verdant Catacomb (Tropical Island, -1 life), GSZ (Dryad Arbor). Pass the turn.

    Draw Git Probe.

    Play Git Probe (Ponder, -2 life), Ponder (BS, BS, Dark Ritual; shuffle; Misty Rainforest), Misty Rainforest (Underground Sea, -1 life), Ponder (Misty Rainforest, Xantid Swarm, BS; draw Misty Rainforest). Pass the turn.

    Draw Xantid Swarm.

    Play Misty Rainforest, Dark Ritual, Infernal Tutor (CtW), CtW (Dryad Arbor), Xantid Swarm, CtW (Xantid Swarm), Infernal Tutor (AdN), AdN (Lotus Petal, Git Probe, LED, ToA, LED, Forest, Xantid Swarm, Forest, CtW, -9 life), Lotus Petal, LED, LED, Xantid Swarm, CtW (Xantid Swarm), ToA.

    Hand 3

    Draw Trop Island, Ponder, BS, BS, Vet Exp, CtW. Keep.

    Play Trop Island, Ponder (Verdant Catacombs, LED, Misty Rainforest; draw Verdant Catacombs). Pass the turn.

    Draw LED.

    Play BS (Infernal Tutor, Dark Ritual, Misty Rainforest; return BS, Misty Rainforest), Verdant Catacombs (Bayou, -1 life), Xantid Swarm. Pass the turn.

    Draw Git Probe. Attack with Xantid Swarm.

    Play Vet Exp, CtW (Vet Exp, search Island, Forest), Dark Ritual, Git Probe (Xantid Swarm, -2 life), Xantid Swarm, LED, Infernal Tutor (Infernal Tutor), Infernal Tutor (Infernal Tutor), Infernal Tutor (ToA), ToA.

    Hand 4

    Draw Lotus Petal, Xantid Swarm, Lotus Petal, AdN, Dark Ritual, Infernal Tutor, CtW. Keep.

    Play Lotus Petal, Lotus Petal, Xantid Swarm, CtW (Xantid Swarm), Dark Ritual, AdN (CtW, Git probe, Misty Rainforest, GSZ, Dark Ritual, Ponder, LED, -5 life), Misty Rainforest (Forest, -1 life), GSZ (Dryad Arbor), Dryad Arbor, CtW (Dryad Arbor), Dark Ritual, LED, Infernal Tutor (ToA), ToA.

    Hand 5

    Draw Infernal Tutor, LED, ToA, Ponder, Misty Rainforest, Lotus Petal, Dryad Arbor. Mull.

    Note: This is one weakness of the current build. This is a very good hand except for the ToA. We have no second copy, and no way of recovering it from the graveyard. This comes up more often than you would think.

    Draw Infernal Tutor, Infernal Tutor, Git Probe, Lotus Petal, LED, Bayou. Keep. Scry (Misty Rainforest; keep)

    Play Git Probe (Misty Rainforest, -2 life), Misty Rainforest (Underground Sea, -1 life), Lotus Petal, Infernal Tutor (LED). Pass the turn.

    Draw ToA.

    Note: Again, ToA wrecks this hand, but we cannot mull this time. This is a serious issue with the deck that I need to fix. In order to see how this would play out, I shuffle ToA back into the library and draw CtW.

    Play Bayou, LED, LED, IT (AdN), AdN (Xantid Swarm, Misty Rainforest, Infernal Tutor, Dark Ritual, forest, Ponder, Island, Misty Rainforest, Ponder, Diabolic Intent, Diabolic intent, Ponder, GSZ, Lotus Petal, CtW, Xantid Swarm, GSZ, Dryad Arbor, LED, -16 life), Lotus Petal, Xantid Swarm, CtW (Xantid Swarm), Dark Ritual, LED, Infernal Tutor (ToA).

    Note: This was a very difficult AdN. Despite having B floating, I needed to be able to make G (without a land drop) in order to cast a sacrifice target. This means Lotus Petal, and I had already used one.

    Afterthoughts

    I played a few more hands, but typing this up is time consuming, and they just reinforced the earlier games. Overall, I did not miss the 4th Diabolic Intent, and the singleton Veteran Explorer was randomly solid. I also did not miss the Swamp, while the Tropical Island was my most fetched land. A very necessary inclusion.

    I had another game where drawing into AdN on turn 2 wrecked my IT/LED win that I had set up. Not having a second Tendrils or a secondary storm engine really, really hurts when you draw into your singleton AdN/ToA with an LED plan ready to go. That needs to be fixed.

    Finally, I think some Moxen are necessary. I often need to make mana of two different colours after AdN, and leaning solely on Lotus Petal for that works out in goldfishing, but would not work out in a real game where you are taking some incidental damage.

  11. #11

    Re: Culling Tendrils (CulT)

    I'm pretty sure that's the same Storm deck I was playing in June/July this year, from trial and error I can tell you that Forest is awful and Gitaxian Probe isn't really necessary because Forest doesn't tap for any useful mana after turn 1 and the archetype's speed is too binary to really make use of the information from Gitaxian Probe to combo off on turn 1 or 2 like TES when no counters are in their hand. The problem with Island and Swamp is that unlike TES/ANT you only have four fetchlands for each basic land instead of 6 and you don't want black mana before the combo turn regardless, so Underground Seas were more consistent to both draw and fetch for. My original manabase was 4 Verdant Catacomb, 4 Mist Rainforest, 3 Underground Sea, 1 Tropical Island, 1 Bayou, 1 Dryad Arbor if that helps any.

    Ill Gotten Gains doesn't work in the deck because it's too slow to race a Deathrite Shaman, Past in Flames and Empty the Warrens are both underwhelming so if you're having problems drawing the singleton Ad Nauseam and Tendrils of Agony you might want to cut either Ponder or Gitaxian Probe for duplicates? As far as a B/G list, it used to work before the Top ban. Now tho' you need consistency, so perhaps you could try Chrome Moxes and either Night's Whispers, Plunge into Darkness or Tainted Pact?

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    Re: Culling Tendrils (CulT)

    Quote Originally Posted by Final Fortune View Post
    I'm pretty sure that's the same Storm deck I was playing in June/July this year, from trial and error I can tell you that Forest is awful and Gitaxian Probe isn't really necessary because Forest doesn't tap for any useful mana after turn 1 and the archetype's speed is too binary to really make use of the information from Gitaxian Probe to combo off on turn 1 or 2 like TES when no counters are in their hand. The problem with Island and Swamp is that unlike TES/ANT you only have four fetchlands for each basic land instead of 6 and you don't want black mana before the combo turn regardless, so Underground Seas were more consistent to both draw and fetch for. My original manabase was 4 Verdant Catacomb, 4 Mist Rainforest, 3 Underground Sea, 1 Tropical Island, 1 Bayou, 1 Dryad Arbor if that helps any.

    Ill Gotten Gains doesn't work in the deck because it's too slow to race a Deathrite Shaman, Past in Flames and Empty the Warrens are both underwhelming so if you're having problems drawing the singleton Ad Nauseam and Tendrils of Agony you might want to cut either Ponder or Gitaxian Probe for duplicates? As far as a B/G list, it used to work before the Top ban. Now tho' you need consistency, so perhaps you could try Chrome Moxes and either Night's Whispers, Plunge into Darkness or Tainted Pact?
    I suppose my views on Ill-Gotten Gains come from playing it consistently on turn 1 in SI. I agree that it, or any other GY recursion, played after a T1 DRS becomes a far weaker play. ANT still manages it (graveyard recursion, that is), so I don't want to write it off too quickly. But I have a few ideas for dealing with the 1 AdN/ToA issue that I want to test out.

    As for the basic lands, I think they are a necessary evil if the deck is playing one or more Veteran Explorers. You need at least two basics, and I think that Island and Forest are probably right here. In part because those are the basics you would want to fetch turn 1 if playing around wasteland, and in part because you are most likely to be floating B into AdN, making the U/G from those lands the most useful.

    I do agree that they are absolutely awful to draw into, though, which is why I had stopped using Veteran Explorer initially. The singleton (and the minimum number of basic lands) did seem to work, though (subject to small sample size, etc).

  13. #13
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    Re: Culling Tendrils (CulT)

    I figure Explorer is simply another GSZ target that can net you +1 mana (so basically a ritual) with Culling the Weak, or basically makes Diabolic Intent free because it gets you 2 lands. I agree it is a terrible natural draw, but I see it as essentially the same as a singleton Rain of Filth in some storm lists. It gives you another ritual option with CtW, but really bad in multiples.

    I really like the idea of leaning on GSZ for a win condition if you have a 'bad' tendrils-in-hand situation. A green fatty for 6-8 mana doesn't seem bad to me at all. Carnage Tyrant seems very good, and I'm not sure if Progenitus is outside the realm of possible considering your mana engine. Natural Order is definitely a decent sideboard plan, but I think GSZ's flexibility in getting Arbor/Explorer is too important for a maindeck tradeoff.

    Carnage Tyrant seems so cool, but maybe just too cute. Bad with Ad Nauseam, but with only 1 copy, not sure if that's a huge concern.
    Brainstorm Realist

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  14. #14
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    Re: Culling Tendrils (CulT)

    I see some concepts being revisited that are also discussed in this thread, that's been in the back of my mind since the last posts in 2015. I'll link it here to help you get some more ideas. Ah, just noticed that this thread is actually discussed in the opening post, didn't read up carefully yet. Well, I guess the link is still useful.

    http://www.mtgthesource.com/forums/s...lorer-Doomsday

  15. #15
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    Re: Culling Tendrils (CulT)

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Safety View Post
    I figure Explorer is simply another GSZ target that can net you +1 mana (so basically a ritual) with Culling the Weak, or basically makes Diabolic Intent free because it gets you 2 lands. I agree it is a terrible natural draw, but I see it as essentially the same as a singleton Rain of Filth in some storm lists. It gives you another ritual option with CtW, but really bad in multiples.

    I really like the idea of leaning on GSZ for a win condition if you have a 'bad' tendrils-in-hand situation. A green fatty for 6-8 mana doesn't seem bad to me at all. Carnage Tyrant seems very good, and I'm not sure if Progenitus is outside the realm of possible considering your mana engine. Natural Order is definitely a decent sideboard plan, but I think GSZ's flexibility in getting Arbor/Explorer is too important for a maindeck tradeoff.

    Carnage Tyrant seems so cool, but maybe just too cute. Bad with Ad Nauseam, but with only 1 copy, not sure if that's a huge concern.
    Carnage Tyrant is interesting because any time you could cast AdN with one mana floating (which happens reasonably often) you could cast Carnage Tyrant. So anyone expecting to counter your AdN off Infernal Tutor may well end up surprised by the uncounterable 3-turn clock. Equally, turn 1 Dryad Arbor, turn 2 Bayou, Dark Ritual, CtW, GSZ is a fairly simple line that puts this guy into play on turn 2. It's storm independent, and much harder to remove than a handful of Goblins, albeit a turn slower on the actual kill.

    I really, really like it - until I think about taking 6 damage off flipping him with AdN. Still, that's only one more life than a second AdN, which some ANT lists do play where speed is important.

    I must love the jank, because I'm now wondering about using Living Wish the way TES uses Burning Wish.

  16. #16
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    Re: Culling Tendrils (CulT)

    I think Living Wish is going too deep. You are using GSZ as a way to enable Dryad Arbor for Therapy/Intent/Culling the Weak, so you're locked into 4 copies of that already. Putting in *one* alternative threat is fairly straightforward. Putting in 3-4 copies of Living Wish will really strain your already synergy-dependent engine.

    I think if you want to start fooling around with Living Wish it might be better to just sideboard a toolbox of good green threats to take advantage of your GSZ engine in the maindeck. Ruric Thar against storm, Reclamation Sage against Chalice Stompy decks, even Deathrite Shaman or Scavenging Ooze against Dredge/reanimator decks. I think fitting in a 3-4 card toolbox in your sideboard that goes along with your already dedicated GSZ slots is smart. Squeezing in Living Wish main and putting a 3-4 card toolbox in your sideboard seems like a real stretch.

    However, even Tyrant would need to be evaluated in reference to many decks sideboarding Diabolic Edict for Turbo-Depths, which is a fairly popular deck.
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  17. #17
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    Re: Culling Tendrils (CulT)

    This has been a very interesting process for me, forcing me to think hard about what combo decks actually need to do, and how they work.

    At one extreme, I tried running a variant of SI with AdN, and it took me a while to realise why the deck was so much slower. To go off turn 1, SI needs BBB for a D4, which is very easy to manage. To go off with AdN, though, you need 4BBB for the tutor into AdN. That means that you need to average 1 mana per card in hand, which is difficult when one of those cards needs to be tutor. Of course, the tradeoff is that AdN probably wins you the game, while Cruel Bargain may well fizzle by showing you the wrong cards.

    So much so obvious, perhaps, but it did really drive home the point that AdN decks are never going to be consistent turn 1 decks with the current card pool. However, I do think that a GSZ/Xantid version of AdN MUST be able to go off on turn 2 (on the play) consistently, because without hand disruption we have to be able to race the T2 hate that can be dropped against us (Thalia, etc).

    This is what I have been testing that shows the most promise in that regard:

    1 Ad Nauseam
    1 Tendrils of Agony
    4 Infernal Tutor
    3 Diabolic Intent
    4 Brainstorm
    4 Green Sun's Zenith

    4 Lion's Eye Diamond
    4 Lotus Petal
    2 Chrome Mox
    4 Dark Ritual
    4 Culling the Weak

    4 Xantid Swarm
    4 Tinder Wall
    1 Veteran Explorer
    1 Carnage Tyrant

    1 Island
    1 Forest
    2 Dryad Arbor
    1 Tropical Island
    1 Bayou
    1 Underground Sea
    4 Verdant Catacomb
    4 Misty Rainforest

    Essentially, I found the deck got progressively faster the more I cut the cantrips. I wanted more fast mana, and Tinder Wall is another amazing T1 play. Not only is it a blocker for random stuff, but it is a sac target and a ritual as efficient as Dark Ritual if you are able to pass the turn. It drives a lot of GSZ > Carnage Tyrant wins (though, to be fair, they represent probably about 10% of the total goldfish kills).

    Iím actually back and forth between CarnageTyrant and Sigardia, Host of Herons. Sigardia is a turn slower of a clock, but harder to remove, and evasive. She is also easier to cast via GSZ, and deals less damage off AdN. Both are good, I think.

    Just so I donít get tunnel vision, Iím probably going to mix things up and try a Pact/Therapy build for a while, if only for a comparison purposes.

  18. #18
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    Re: Culling Tendrils (CulT)

    Responding to OP's questions:

    1) Yes. Going all-in on Pacts makes any deck weaker by making it less flexible. If you're playing Pacts, the Pacts have to win you the game, such as in Hive Mind. Cutting Pacts is an overall improvement.

    2) The first thing I noticed about your proposed list was the lack of Moxes. Because Ad Nauseam is your engine, I would try two copies of Chrome Mox. Your curve is higher than the tallman lists, and Moxes lower the curve and grant you initial mana, which you'll be hungry for after Ad Nauseam. In any combo deck that plays Lotus Petals, I always want more.

    3) Another potential way to build the deck would be to eliminate Ad Nauseam and seek to leverage Dark Petition instead. This approach would allow you to cut the blue. One thing that intrigues me is the idea of experimenting with the Ruby Storm approach of using Medallions. Jet Medallion makes Dark Petition, Cabal Ritual, Diabolic Intent, and Infernal Tutor better. You also could play Manamorphose off your green sources, and Manamorphose is the best card in Ruby Storm, in my opinion.

    I don't like the basic Island in your list. Half your fetchlands can't fetch it, and you should be able to put together the combo quickly or you'll lose. I think it should be a second Underground Sea instead.

  19. #19
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    Re: Culling Tendrils (CulT)

    Saw it pop up, this was my list I've been sitting on for a while, due to lack of time to play:

    Jet Storm

    4 Jet Medallion
    2 Helm of Awakening

    4 Dark Ritual
    4 Cabal Ritual
    4 Lotus Petal
    4 Lion's Eye Diamond

    4 Infernal Tutor
    4 Gitaxian Probe
    3 Dark Petition
    2 Night's Whisper
    1 Past in Flames
    1 Ill-Gotten Gains
    1 Tendrils of Agony

    4 Thoughtseize
    1 Cabal Therapy

    4 City of Traitors / Tomb / Peat Bog
    13 Swamp

    There could be some kind of addition of manamorphose, but then I would recommend maxing out on Helm. I just like the idea of chaining petitions. With 1 helm you can add a storm count for B (with infernal) and with two Helms, you can chain the 3 petitions into infernal - > ToA.
    -rob

  20. #20

    Re: Culling Tendrils (CulT)

    I think a set of Chrome Mox could be called for here, Land, Mox, GSZ for Swarm on turn 1 sets up well for turn 2. I think you're wating space with the GSZ kill condition and alternate GSZ targets, your mulligans are going to be utter trash by playing with that garbage.

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