The Great Aurora? Really, The Great Aurora? More like The Greatest Aurora.
Here’s another deck that you didn’t see coming. Sam Black continues to churn out sweet decks, and this latest one is no exception. Sam ended up losing a close win-and-in for the Top 8 of GP New York last weekend, but a Top 16 is another great finish with another innovative deck.
The BG Seasons Past deck that Jon Finkel used to Top 8 the Pro Tour was cool, but it was missing something. The deck wasn’t powerful enough, couldn’t sustain a small stumble, and faltered against some of the more popular archetypes in the field. A super low creature count puts so much pressure on you to find cards like Ruinous Path and start looping your combo before planeswalkers can put an end to you, and not having a way to interact with a quick creature rush outside of Languish increases your variance.
Sylvan Advocate is simply format defining. Playing a green deck that can’t utilize this creature likely means you should reevaluate your plan to be sure it’s the correct path—in most cases, it’s not. Tireless Tracker is another great creature that can trade off with most creatures in the format, threaten to take down an Ally Knight that’s protecting Gideon, and eventually rack up tons of card advantage. Tracker is even better in a deck with actual ramp spells!
Nissa’s Pilgrimage and Explosive Vegetation are simply good cards, but you need a focused reason to have them in your deck. At their floor, they are still 2-for-1s, but you’re only getting lands out of the deal, so you’d better make sure you can make good use of them. The fact that they combine so well with Sylvan Advocate and Tireless Tracker is an awesome start before factoring in the big spells.
The Great Aurora costs a ton of mana, but it basically wins the game from almost any board state. With so many ways to rack up lands in play, not to mention creatures and Clue tokens, it is pretty common to get to draw 17+ while your opponent is drawing under 10 cards. Removal spells and sweepers, such as Languish, help to control how many permanents your opponent has as well. You also get first crack at casting your spells. With the ability to draw 20 cards and put 10 lands into play, you create an immense board presence before your opponent can cast anything. This is a game-winning sweeper that has a similar kicker to that of Descend upon the Sinful, only it’s far more likely to win the game immediately.
Ulvenwald Hydra, World Breaker, and Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger are the other payoffs for having lots of mana in play. Few decks can deal with any of these creatures, and Ulamog can decimate an opponent from the vast majority of board states.
The glue that ties the whole thing together is Dark Petition. Being able to play powerful 1-ofs that you can effectively Demonic Tutor for opens a world of possibilities for a clever deck builder. Making Languish into a 6-mana play is a very real cost, but having that option is crucial. This also allows the deck to play the Seasons Past loop but without relying on it to win the game. Seasons Past can bring back discard, removal spells, a land, the Dark Petition, and something like Nissa’s Renewal so that you can continue removing all lands from your deck, cast Petition for the Seasons Past that went on the bottom of your deck, and continue the unbeatable loop every turn.
The Great Aurora is awesomely powerful and absurdly expensive, but this deck makes it work. As far as ramp strategies are concerned, I can’t fathom anything more fun to play than this deck!