What Does This Card Do?
Silumgar is a Dragon! This immediately makes him one of the best cards of all time. Of the same ilk as Shivan Dragon, Keiga, the Tide Star and Bogardan Hellkite, being a Dragon means that Silumgar is one of the best cards in the format. No doubt it will soon be a staple in every Dragon deck, which are the only real decks.
In all seriousness, Silumgar is one of the more intriguing kill conditions for UB Control in Standard. On stats it doesn’t jump out as a heavy hitter, but the set of abilities it has makes for a rather potent win condition. First off, unlike Prognostic Sphinx and Pearl Lake Ancient, Silumgar does not care about spot removal when playing defense. No pitching a card or being pushed out of the way by an otherwise dead Chained to the Rocks or similar removal spell. Additionally, Silumgar is big enough to take a punch from just about every commonly played creature in the format without flinching.
Meanwhile, on the offensive Silumgar does its best Doomwake Giant impression and clears out all the 1/1s. Obviously this means Hornet Queen doesn’t pose much of an issue as all the smaller bees get wiped out with a single swing. Where Silumgar truly shines though is helping lock out token-based strategies by continually wiping their board. Jeskai Tokens got a number of new tools, but the majority of threats in the deck are shut down hard by an active Silumgar. The ones that aren’t can be taken care of via the rest of the removal in the deck.
Combined with the usual combo of spot removal and sweepers, this allows Silumgar to take over games. Even better is that with Crux of Fate, you can wrath the board and Silumgar completely ignores it. In many board states it means that despite the slower kill, you’ll rarely be forced into a position where you need to remove your own threat from the battlefield before wrathing the board.
Where Does Silumgar Go?
Here’s a sample UB Control list with Fate Reforged additions:
Between Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, Crux of Fate, and Silumgar this deck gained quite a bit to cover up its previous weaknesses. Considering the deck just won GP Denver, it would surprise me if it wasn’t one of the top players after Fate Reforged becomes legal.
Ugin is likely the biggest addition overall, but Silumgar solves my biggest issue with the deck: having a lousy win condition. Now I have one that can block all the relevant threats in the format and helps me out on the occasions I’m not miles ahead on cards and life. Don’t get me wrong, Silumgar doesn’t singlehandedly swing the game in the way Elspeth, Sun’s Champion used to. It just gives us a little more value by suitable on defense and having a relevant ability against some of the better decks in the format.
UB Control is already well positioned against the variety of Whip of Erebos, midrange green, and tokens decks. If hyper-aggressive strategies return en masse, then we may have more issues since the deck still needs some time to set up. Ugin wiping out all these other midrange plans means that decks are going to have a real tough time ever going over the top of you now.
My current sideboard is just aimed at remaining flexible against the new format. You can easily modify it for a better match against a certain subset of strategies, for example:
The first sideboard is aimed much more at dealing with aggression and midrange decks. There’s no tools for control decks and you just eat it in the mirror, however you can mix and match your favorite configuration against anything. Meanwhile, the latter is geared heavily toward the mirror and the slowest decks in the metagame. This is working under the assumption that the main deck is already pretty solid at dealing with creatures and only lacks life gain. Ghastly Conscription is also a nice way to close a game out against creatures without getting stymied by removal or clogged boards.
While Silumgar isn’t exactly the finisher I wanted for the deck, I’m happy with any new options we get. Plus, UB Control is well configured to be one of the best decks once Fate Reforged hits shelves so it has a great shell to slide into.