In my last article, I looked at how you might update B/G Delirium and U/R Burn with Kaladesh—as promised, here is Emrakul Ramp, Temurge, and Spirits!
Emrakul Ramp and Temurge
(Kozilek’s Return Decks)
These 2 decks overlap a lot, and sometimes the lists even combine, which is why I’ll count them as one here.
I didn’t mention Nissa, Vital Force in B/G Delirium last time, and I probably should have—it does a reasonable Den Protector impression, and although it’s probably worse, it still deserves a look. First, it’s a planeswalker, which gives you a type you didn’t have before. Kiora has been seen in sideboards—I played it myself at the last Pro Tour—and the ability to mill yourself with it is why we chose it. Nissa can’t do that. I would start an Emrakul Ramp or Temurge 75 with zero copies if I had to build a list right now, but I’d keep it in mind if the metagame becomes more control-heavy.
Minister of Inquiries is quite interesting—milling yourself for 1 mana is not negligible, and once you’re done with energy you can recycle the body to emerge. I’m concerned that just milling yourself and a 1-mana emerge body is not enough to be worth the card in these grindy decks. Maybe it’s better in a Dredge Emerge shell with more graveyard interactions like Prized Amalgam and Haunted Dead.
Wild Wanderer is no Nissa’s Pilgrimage, but it seems like a reasonable option for Emrakul ramp. Primal Druid is there, but it isn’t always a reliable ramp card. It’s possible that Hedron Archive is just miles better, it all depends on whether you think the body is needed for emerge.
Servant of the Conduit works well alongside Minister of Inquiries and even Aether Hub. Again, use the mana to setup, then later when you run out of energy, sacrifice it to emerge.
The downside that comes to mind is that it dies to Kozilek’s Return’s front side, and playing mana dorks has not been historically successful when one of your primary plans is to cast Return. I would consider Servant, but ultimately don’t think it’s great.
Rashmi, Eternities Crafter is one really cool Magic card. Experience says that when a creature with a casting cost of 4 or more needs to live a turn to start doing anything, it’s generally not good enough. But in a deck like Emrakul Ramp where you play a very small number of creatures, it’s possible that people cut their removal against you and you could bring Rashmi out of the sideboard after game 1 and get them.
Filigree Familiar. Too cute not to play. But seriously, it’s an excellent replacement to Matter Reshaper, which has become too hard to cast with the departure of pain lands. Especially since red decks are becoming better, 2 life is more relevant than you’d think.
Sequestered Stash seems more like a fit in a Temurge deck that doesn’t play Emrakul than in Emrakul Ramp. Putting Filigree Familiar on top of your deck is decent, though, and while it might not justify playing another colorless land on top of Sanctum of Ugin, who knows? Maybe there’s an artifact that the deck would want to play that I’m forgetting.
Ceremonious Rejection seems absurd in the mirror. Even though Emrakul or Elder Deep-Fiend’s abilities still resolve if you counter the card, they aren’t worth the amount of mana they paid if the body doesn’t come along, especially in these matchups where you either take over with tempo or big threats in the late game.
Finally, Aether Hub is simply an amazing land. Decks without many heavy mana requirements, like double colors, can’t say no to it.
It’s hard to tell if Avacyn or Angel of Invention is a better fit for Blue/White Spirits—this new option is nice at making your small flyers bigger threats, but on the other hand, Avacyn has flash, which works better with counterspells and other flash creatures. Avacyn also has some combo value with Selfless Spirit. So theoretically, Avacyn sounds better. Theoretically, Jace, the Mind Sculptor sounded worse than Jace Beleren to me when it was spoiled, so I’m going to try Angel of Invention before making that assumption.
Insidious Will is no Cryptic Command. Still, versatility is always welcome in a tempo deck like Spirits. 4 mana is a lot for this kind of effect, so I would never play more than 1 or 2. My list will start with 1 and go from there.
Skywhaler’s Shot is going to have a spot in the deck—being almost a straight-up Murder with scry 1 is pretty nice. Lists used to play Declaration in Stone and I remember how mediocre it was to have to play sorcery-speed removal.
Since your creatures are not very good at blocking and you’re often caught in a race, I think Select for Inspection is worth a trial session. It’s going to be worse than an actual Unsummon when your opponent has flyers to block or creatures not meant to attack, but I think the scry 1 attached can justify the trade-off.
Revolutionary Rebuff—what a card. I’m kidding, it’s not that good, but it would be okay if this wasn’t an artifact set. Depending on how the metagame shapes up though, I could see it being playable—not exciting or anything, but playable. Let’s just hope not too many midrange/late-game cards are artifacts.
I haven’t gotten to play with Dovin Baan yet, which makes it hard to evaluate in Spirits because you don’t really want to tap out on turn 4 for a sorcery-speed spell that’s just not that impactful. If the card turns out to be great, maybe it’s worth violating the flash/tempo rule. Otherwise, I doubt it.
Spirits had trouble dealing with low-to-the-ground aggressive creature decks, namely White Weenie, in the past. If there is still a deck like that, Aerial Responder should be the perfect sideboard card against it.
Ceremonious Rejection is even better in Spirits that it is in Temurge as it’s a tempo deck. In case you haven’t noticed, yes, I will play this in all of my blue decks.