Sultai Control at Grand Prix Birmingham

I had high expectations going into Grand Prix Birmingham. Despite playtesting a ton of Legacy, I was undecided over which Brainstorm-plus-Deathrite Shaman deck I should play, and finally settled on Sultai Control. I worked on the list with teammates Jeremy Dezani and Javier Dominguez, who both sleeved up the deck as well.

We took Jeremy’s list from the GP Seattle finals as our starting point, and started making changes.

The first thing Jeremy told us was that we needed more 1-mana removal spells to fight Delver of Secrets and Mother of Runes. A fourth Fatal Push was added to the main deck, along with two Disfigure in the sideboard. Going Swamp, removal, Island, Baleful Strix is just the best way to navigate a match against those Wasteland-based decks.

While Jeremy loved True-Name Nemesis, I couldn’t get on board. It lets you close the game more quickly and race an opposing Nemesis or stop a Gurmag Angler, but it is also an expensive drop in a deck that already has a good late game.

Here’s the 75 I settled on.

Sultai Control

Why Play This Deck Over 4C Czech Pile?

The main question is: Do you prefer Kolaghan’s Command and Pyroblast, or Wasteland and a better mana base?

My answer was the latter. I love Wasteland—it’s both a way to stop certain combo decks and a way to punish awkward draws.

No access to red means you are weaker in the mirror, but it makes you stronger versus the fastest deck. In fact, I felt ahead of Grixis Delver but behind against 4C Czech Pile. I would say that it’s a metagame call, and I was, rightfully, expecting more Grixis Delver.

GP Birmingham didn’t go as planned, and after a good start of 6-0 (with three byes) my spark vanished and I lost three in a row. I then decided to drop to join the upcoming Standard GP—aiming for 11-4, which would have granted me Platinum—but I failed to reach my goal and ended up not getting anything out of either GP.

Sideboard Guide

Grixis Delver



Grixis Delver is the best deck in Legacy for its ability to adapt to the opponent’s deck. It can be incredibly quick and still play a good late game. Just remove their threat, and build card advantage with Liliana, the Last Hope and Life from the Loam.

It’s important to pick up basics early to be able to play around Daze.

Don’t Wasteland blindly—wait for Underground Seas and target those. The black spells are the most threatening ones.

4C Czech Pile



This is a bad matchup, mainly because Kolaghan’s Command and Pyroblast are so strong and you don’t have access to them. You can fight the card advantage war with Hymn to Tourach, and you have Wasteland plus Life from the Loam as a weapon.

I don’t recommend playing this deck if you expect lots of Czech Pile, but in a Grixis Delver world, I don’t think that deck is a great choice.

Moon Stompy



There isn’t really a reliable play pattern versus this deck, it always depends on their draw.

Don’t mulligan too aggressively to find Force of Will. They don’t always Blood Moon you on turn 1. Swamp, Deathrite is a good enough opener.

Planeswalkers are now incredible against the deck since neither Chandra, Torch of Defiance or Fiery Confluence can deal with them anymore, so try to ride those to victory while countering their threats.

I’m not a fan of discard spells since the game often comes down to topdecking and lasts many turns. You don’t want to draw discard spells then.

Hymn to Tourach can be fine on the play, but it’s bad on the draw since you can’t cast it with a Blood Moon in play.

Be careful how you use Spell Pierce—they might have a Simian Spirit Guide to pay.

Sneak & Show



There’s an important difference between sideboarding against Sneak & Show and OmniTell. Against Sneak & Show, you don’t want Surgical Extraction because if it’s cast on a Show and Tell, they still have access to Cunning Wish for Through the Breach, and they also have Sneak Attack to kill you with, which isn’t true for OmniTell.

Magic players love to board in Surgical Extraction, but you shouldn’t do it unless you can overcome the card disadvantage, like exiling all Dark Depths against B/G Depths, or in response to an Animate Dead against Reanimator.

This is definitely the deck that fits my play style best, and I love playing it. If you too are a Baleful Strix addict, I suggest you to give it a spin!

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