Chasing Victory – Spreading Some Seas

When I woke up the day of Worlds, I declared to my roommates that I should be playing Convincing Mirage in Standard. I thought that the deck was very good, but I didn’t know exactly how to build it. Rather than play a speculative list, I chose to play a “good” list of a bad deck instead.

After my fantastic 2-4 record, I decided to not make the same mistake in the PTQ. I wanted to have some fun, so busted out the pen and paper when we all sat down for dinner. Some UW and Uwg lists were circulating on Magic Online, but they were missing something.

Cards like Sigil of the Empty Throne and Mesa Enchantress were extremely cute, and would certainly add to the “fun” aspect of the deck. However, the Enchantress doesn’t fit the curve. The Sigil doesn’t either, but as it turns out, it would be great against the deck that knocked me out of the PTQ. On turn five, you probably want to play a blocker since you spent the first four turns doing essentially nothing.

At some point, I started writing down various ideas, but the one that really stood out was adding red for Bloodbraid and Ajani Vengeant. Adding either one or the other didn’t seem worth it, but with both, the deck suddenly had some power.

The morning of the PTQ, I was borrowing cards from Luis, Wrapter, and the Ocho in our hotel room. During a brief silence (which happens when Wrapter and Ocho are around, since they rarely speak), Luis suddenly yelled out, “Spread’Em!”

Clearly, I had the name for my deck.

Anyway, this is the list I played:

Round One: GW

I kept Spreading Seas, Ajani Vengeant, and a multitude of fetchlands, but failed to draw anything of relevance. I was flooded from the get-go, and while I chained a few Spreading Seas in the midgame to knock out his White mana, I still kept drawing lands. Eventually, a random monster got me.

Second game, things went according to plan. I went after his sole Plains and didn’t have enough disruption to keep him off Green mana as well, so I just held my extra Spreading Seas and Mirages. As I expected, his Green monsters weren’t enough to beat my flying animals, especially since he could never keep a consistent source of White mana.

Third game was more of the same. Without White mana, he couldn’t put any pressure on me or deal with my dudes.

1-0, 2-1 in games

Round Two: Boros

I was a little worried about this matchup, as I clearly had done zero testing. I assumed that it was a bad matchup, hence the full 15 sideboard cards for the matchup, and I wasn’t wrong. In the first game, he was locked out of mana, but he had a couple of guys pecking away at me. I desperately needed to find a Day of Judgment, but kept cascading into Mirages instead of Seas.

The second and third games were only close because of the Bushwackers in my opponent’s deck. Without those, War Monks and Wall of Reverence would have put me far out of reach. Instead, he was within a point or two of killing me, but fell just short.

2-0, 4-2

Round Three and Four: Jund

Neither of these matches were very close. I did lose a game, but it was when he played turn two Leech, turn three and four [card]Blightning[/card]s through my “land destruction.” If I killed the Leech, I think I would have been alright, but it didn’t matter.

4-0, 8-3

At this point, I was searching out people like Tim Willoughby and Brian David-Marshall, hoping they’d do some coverage of the deck. The camera men were on lunch at that point, so I had to wait a round.

Round Five: Vampires

I was a little slow to start, and my opponent got pretty far ahead with Sign in Bloods and random dudes. When I finally started Spreading some Seas, it didn’t matter, as I was close to already dead.

I decided to keep in the LD, as I was unsure how good things like Deft Duelist were going to be. Also, Gatekeeper and Mind Sludge are annoying, and the LD helps a lot against those, so I figured I would keep it in on the play and side in the dudes on the draw, hopefully catching him off guard.

As it turns out, it didn’t matter, as again, I didn’t get the LD action going quick enough. Also, a midgame Malakir Bloodwitch meant that my Baneslayer was more than a little awkward. Once he started Gatekeepering me, there wasn’t much I could do.

4-1, 8-5

Round Six: Jund

Again, not close. Spreading Seas does way more than mana screw them, and there’s not much they can do about it.

5-1, 10-5

Round Seven: Vampires

Crap. I still hadn’t figured this matchup out, as I totally wasn’t expecting very many Vampire decks.

I won game one by turning all his Swamps into Islands, but then lost the next two. I thought I was winning game two, but at some point, he turned it all around. I Wrathed his guys twice, but got Mind Sludged, and then Vampire Nocturnus kept his other dudes huge.

Third game I kept a two lander with Mirage and Ardent Plea, but missed for a few turns and fell too far behind.

5-2, 11-7

With that, my tournament had effectively ended, but I stuck around to collect some packs. In the process, I beat another Jund deck and lost to Boros, despite winning game one. A surprise Ajani Vengeant caught me off guard in game three, and I couldn’t draw enough gas to kill it.

Vampires was a deck that wasn’t on my radar, and I failed because of that. Honestly, it wasn’t very big in the tournament, and maybe I was unlucky to get paired against it twice. I’ve also heard that the matchup isn’t that bad to begin with, but they definitely have the tools to beat you.

If I expected Vamps in the first place, I might have played some White Knights instead of Duelists, but I feel like the two drop plan isn’t very good in the first place. There are enough things like fliers and Plated Geopede that make even double Deft Duelist look pretty stupid. White Knight isn’t much better in that regard, as it’s harder to cast, but at least it’s better vs. Vampires.

Wall of Denial stops most of their threats, but isn’t a two drop. Lightning Bolt is another solid answer, and one that I feel is worthy of inclusion.

Another somewhat anti-Vampires card is Sigil of the Empty Throne. Like I said earlier, you usually want a blocker out your five drop. However, if you get to untap with it, you probably can’t lose.

One of the minor issues I want to deal with is drawing too many Mirages and not enough Spreading Seas. The only way I can think of to sway the percentages in your favor is to cut a singleton Mirage. Typically, you won’t end the game with eight Seas and Mirages in play, so I think that cutting one is fine. For the matchups that go long, you’ll want the last one in the board though.

Here’s what I would play:

Spreading Seas

For the original manabase, I think I did a good job, especially for my first pitch. Improvements can always be made though. I was very happy with the trilands, but I just didn’t want to get blown out by Ruinblaster over and over. The thing is, they will rarely, if ever, be able to cast Ruinblaster, so I’m not that worried anymore. Jungle Shrine is almost always better than Expanse, especially once you up the Island count.


The best deck, and probably your best matchup. Not much to say here. Spread some Seas, and do it early and often.

+ 1 Sphinx of Jwar Isle, 1 Sigil of the Empty Throne, 1 Convincing Mirage
– 3 Day of Judgment

Miser’s Wrath isn’t that bad, but drawing multiples usually sucks.


Not a great matchup, but one that is certainly winnable, especially post board.

+ 4 Lightning Bolt, 4 Wall of Denial, 4 Rhox War Monk, 1 Sphinx of Jwar Isle
– 3 Convincing Mirage, 4 Spreading Seas, 4 Ardent Plea, 2 Sigil of the Empty Throne

Post board, you become a strange control deck. Things like Elspeth, Ajani, and Manabarbs might be difficult to deal with, so maybe there should be some Oblivion Rings or something. You should be able to stabilize well enough, but maybe you will have some trouble drawing a win condition and sticking it. Having protection from Path to Exile is about the only reason any Sphinxes are still in the deck.


Honestly, I’m still not sure whether or not I should keep in the Seas plan against Vampires, but with my sideboard, I think it’s pretty clear that I need to keep in the Seas. If Vampires is an issue, then there are certainly other things you can board specifically for Vamps, but as is, I would just stay on the Seas plan.

+ 1 Convincing Mirage, 1 Sigil of the Empty Throne, 1 Sphinx of Jwar Isle
– 1 Day of Judgment, 2 Captured Sunlight

Again, Day of Judgment isn’t great, but you need a few of them to deal with Malakir Bloodwitches. If those don’t show up, you always have Baneslayer and Sigil to make them stay on defense.


This matchup doesn’t seem very good seeing as how they have Noble Hierarch, Cobra, and Knight to produce and fix their mana. However, if you can cast Day of Judgment, you are probably in fine shape.

You could bring in some Lightning Bolts, but I don’t think that’s entirely necessary. I would rather just bank on Wraths and Ajanis instead of diluting my deck. You could try switching up the win conditions depending on what they are trying to stop you with, but I’m fine with just keeping the maindeck configuration in the dark.

This deck makes me want to play Magic again. It’s cool, it’s fun, it’s great vs. the best deck, and it has game against everything else. If I were going to a tournament anytime soon, whether it be States or just messing around on Magic Online, this is definitely the deck I would be playing.


43 thoughts on “Chasing Victory – Spreading Some Seas”

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  3. I was so bored with Standard when I saw the deck tech, but immediately sleeved up the deck because it looked so fun. The first hand I drew with it was round 1 in a tourney, and it was just as fun as expected, and earned quite a few draft sets by the end of the day. One of the problems I did have was vs Boros and Noble Hierarch, as well as Eldrazi Green. I’d often lock up their mana, but a couple noble hierarchs would let them keep casting their guys until I could rip a Wrath (and was fortunate enough to do it more than I should have) to seal the game. The first card that came to mind was Pyroclasm over the Duelists. Cascading into a one-sided wrath seems like a fine plan alongside War Monks/Ajani/Baneslayer/Wall vs Boros and it’s also a way to better deal with Hierarchs/Birds decks since it’s basically another 2-mana stone rain with the Seas. 3-4 sb slots too costly for that? Thoughts?

  4. I actually won the Zendikar Game Day (4-0) event down at Superstars back in October with a cascading seas deck (despite facing no Jund), running Grixis colors for Cruel Ultimatum and Blightning. My list then had already cut a Convincing Mirage, but I ran a full compliment of Ruinblasters MD.The key to all of the variants that I’ve seen being discussed is really just to survive until you can take over with a finisher.

    People have actually been discussing this deck strategy for quite some time over on the salvation forums under the Esper Cascade Denial thread, and it’s kind of amusing to see the same old issues (terrible vs Boros/aggro and Eldrazi Green/mana dudes preboard) being brought up by people just discovering this deck (particularly in the thread that popped up after your deck tech interview). As long as Jund is heavily played, this type of deck makes an excellent choice.

  5. You know Blue is in a bad state when a deck focusing on turning lands into Islands is viable in Standard.

  6. Maybe I’m just missing something, but why are you playing BBE and Sunlight which are double-offcolor when you could instead play Kathari Remnant and Deny Reality which are oncolor? Seems like the more you stretch the manabase the worse your chances are, even if BBE is the most retarded card since Bitterblossom. This is particularly bad without Vivid Pool manabases.

    Playing Remnant and Deny Reality instead of BBE and Sunlight also allows you to splash only 1 color for Cruel, gives you decent black removal (although albeit Doom Blade is awful vs Vamps), allows you to play fewer CIPT lands, etc.

    Or perhaps an Esper build with BS Angel and big flying fatty finishers without Cruel. Anyway, I haven’t actually played this list; it just seems like it could eschew a bit of aggressive power for more control and a more resilient manabase.

  7. I took first place with this list at like a 40 person ptq at the begining of the month, check it out

    When I saw your version I knew cutting baneslayers from main was wrong, they are just too good, but i still think you shouldn’t be playing sigil. I ended up just playing elspeth in the missing slot. It makes big bloodbraids flying in the air really quick.

    We named the deck blueballs lol, wish the name had stuck, just feels dirtier then spreadem, because playing the deck feels so dirty lol

  8. Next time someone gives you hell on here or anywhere else for being an arrogant prick, just tell em you beat people with spreading seas and convincing mirage. If that doesn’t earn a man the right to be smug then I don’t know what will

    @Daiches- I was actually thinking the reverse. How good is blue that even though its been “dumbed” down, it’s last pick, limited unplayables, still hose the best deck in the format.

  9. @EuroRunner

    I kind of disagree on spreading seas being a bad card. After actually playing with it in decks that run blue I’m pretty sure the card is sick and I think it’s maindeckable in almost anything that can play it. It looks bad since it doesn’t seem like it does anything but because it draws a card you’re basically cycling it for 2 mana but getting a nice effect.

  10. @GerryT and lsv: So is “spread ’em” intended to have a police connotation or a sexual connotation? It’s imperative that I know this in order to sideboard correctly with the deck.

    @fatguy_poolshark: The events discussed in the article happened at worlds in rome. He said he would take time off after worlds weekend, not during.

  11. That deck is cool, but with an unwinnable mu (turbofog) that is getting quite popular doesn’t sound as a viable option…

  12. Can anyone provide a link to a good Grixis version of this deck with Cruel, etc? Just want to compare the two in testing. I really like the idea of the virtual “Land D” the deck provides bc manabases are so shaky these days. Thanks!

  13. @wescoe – It could be a card-game, spread-em-on-the-table, I-still-had-all-these sort of thing.

    What happened to a deck just having a weird name?

    Gerry – So are you staying semi-retired? Was Worlds just fulfilling the commitments for the end of the year? San Diego isn’t really that far away.

  14. @PV I can’t wait for that new tech 😀 It stops Spreading Seas AND Ruinblaster, plus it’s a Rampant Growth!

  15. It seems that this deck would have trouble against mono-colored decks, because the stability of their mana. You mentioned vampires, but what about Eldrazi Green? This deck would have a heck of a time locking that out of green. After sideboard: lighting bolt is good, but wall of denial and war monk seem less relevant against a growing army of green beaters.

  16. Jund players will add white mana side in Tempest of light and Captured Sunlight and cascade you to DEATH!!!! Also MD Rampant Growth!!!

  17. Cool idea, I like playing spreading seas in my standard pauper deck, glad to see it can hold its own at a higher level. Love to see new decks try to break the status quo!

  18. I’ve been testing a variation close to yours with 3 scepter o dominance. It can tie down there lands or keep creatures off your back until you can doj or drop a fatty to stabilize. Whats your opinion on scepter verse sigil of the empty throne?

  19. Tested this deck out vs my states deck, and it basically scoops to mono red. Needs serious amounts of Wall of Reverence somewhere. War monk gets earthquaked or burst lightninged

  20. I’ve played against a version of this deck a couple of times w/ Jund and had no problem beating it – although I don’t know if my opponents knew how to pilot it… Can’t the Jund player just fire off a maelstrom pulse on your island makers and then just cast all of their best spells and win? What am I missing here? – Obviously you have a lot of success against jund, but I don’t really understand the reason. It seems like Jund has all of the inevitability in this game which would mean you need a clock, which i don’t really see.

  21. In the matchups you described, hitting a path to exile or a pyroclasm with cascade would have been of great benefit in comparison to the occasionally effective spreading seas strategy.

  22. Well, if they’re lucky, they could have a verdant catacombs and a swamp or forest in hand.

    Of course, that’s pretty unlikely…

    By the way, do you take out black, green or red when playing Jund?

  23. Against jund you effectively take out in most cases there black then forest but it really depends on how jund draws and plays out.

  24. You take green out first. It keeps garruk off the table, first and foremost, and all the guys they have need green. Don’t fight them on red, because it doesn’t matter, and only hit Black mana after they have no green.

  25. Haha, what? Even in the team match for worlds they kept cutting off red, since it stops most of the deck.

  26. You cut off red first to prevent blightning from hitting you and then black to lock out pulse. Green doesnt matter that much, they can hit Garruk, but really that’s all they’ve got. You’ll often have all but 1 or 2 of their lands locked up so it’s feasible to just keep them from doing anything at all. Yes…sometimes they’ll get a pulse off and it’s bad news for you but if they spend a pulse to destroy multiples of one enchantment you’re usually far enough ahead already that it won’t matter.

  27. @jerry – But they aren’t going to be able to keep you off forever. If you are on the play, have a verdant catacombs, have a terramorphic expanse (which I also play in my list and would encourage people to try in Jund – it makes your M10 duals come into play untapped a lot more often and makes it easier to avoid ruinblaster shenanigans in the mirror), or if they miss a turn of spreading seas, then your goign to be able to cast a pulse or an elf into pulse or what have you and then just win.

    Once again, I’m sure I’m missing something as this deck seems to have a lot of success against Jund, but I just don’t get it.

  28. The way I lose to Jund with this deck is they leave a Verdant Catacombs uncracked, then the next turn play forest/swamp, get the other, and then Pulse away Mirage/Seas, leaving them to do whatever the next turn. I can turn one of their lands into an Island again, but now they have Bloodbraid mana or what have you, and Jund gets the advantage at that point.

    FWIW, fog’s surprisingly winnable. If you turn all their white sources into blue sources, they can’t Fog/Wrath. And if you resolve an Ajani V. game one, it’s only a matter of time before you Armageddon them and win that way.

  29. It seems to be a fun deck but somewhat of a parlor trick. As mentioned before a lot of decks (not jund, but other top decks) run nobles. Some even run nobles AND birds. With those if you don’t run pyroclasm or something similar this deck will have big problems. Not to mention mono colored dex. This seems to be a bit like Eldrazi green in that it will do very well before the meta catches up. After that it will need some careful tweaking to stay competetive (sp?)……

  30. I have been playing the deck for over a week on MODO now and it´s very fun and wins a lot. So far my only losses are 2 times against the mirror, 1 against boros and 1 to a Turbo Fog Mill/Burn combo deck.

    Currently my list is:
    * 4 Spreading Seas
    * 4 Convincing Mirage
    * 4 Ardent Plea
    * 4 Captured Sunlight
    * 4 Day of Judgment
    * 4 Ajani Vengeant
    * 4 Bloodbraid Elf
    * 4 Baneslayer Angel
    * 2 Sphinx of Jwar Isle
    * 4 Misty Rainforest
    * 4 Arid Mesa
    * 3 Terramorphic Expanse
    * 1 Scalding Tarn
    * 2 Jungle Shrine
    * 4 Seaside Citadel
    * 1 Mountain
    * 1 Forest
    * 3 Island
    * 3 Plains
    * Sideboard
    * 4 Deft Duelist
    * 4 Rhox War Monk
    * 4 Mind Control
    * 3 Wall of Reverence

    Against Vampires I side out Ajani, Convincing Mirrages and some other stuff and bring in Deft Duellists, War Monks and Mind Control. Worked well so far.

    Mind Control Shines in the Mirror, because you always have Blue and comes in against everything with big creatures like Baneslayer and Bloodwitch.

  31. I played this deck at States and made top 8. Play Boros twice during the day before top 8 and 2-0 it once.
    Top 8 there were a total of 4 boros decks and a RDW followed by a Jacerator and a GW/b tokens deck. Sooo the top 8 didn’t look very promising and I lost to boros 2-1 round 1 of top 8.
    I heard of another state winning the entire thing but his top 8 was mostly Jund.
    Great deck. I will be playing it at a big tournament this weekend as well!

  32. I was 2nd at Illinois states. I beat jund and eldarzi in the top 8. Lost to mono red that I played against and beat in the swiss. O well. Hey but thanks showing this deck off and giving me the idea. List is below. BTW heavy eldarzi and jacerator mettas should think about bant charm. Works well.

    4 Seaside Citadel
    3 Jungle Shrine
    1 Mountain
    1 Forest
    4 Plains
    3 Island
    3 Scalding Tarn
    2 Misty Rainforest
    3 Arid Mesa
    2 Terramorphic Expanse

    4 Baneslayer
    3 Sphinx of Jwar Isle
    3 Ajani Vengeant
    4 Bloodbraid Elf
    4 Ardent Plea
    4 Captured Sunlight
    4 Convincing Mirage
    4 Spreading Seas
    4 Day of Judgment

    3 Bant Charm
    4 Wall of Denial
    4 Grizzled Leateou
    4 Rhox Warm Monk

    Also, my play group stopped testing against me at one point because well you know.

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