Top 8 Simic Cards

Well, I was planning on doing another Modern PTQ report this week, but let’s just say that the Pro Tour Qualifier in Toronto this past weekend didn’t go all that well for me. My partner in crime Kyle Duncan did make Top 8, and the tournament was taken down by none other than former World Championship semi-finalist David Caplan, so I’m not all that upset with the outcome.

Geist of Saint Traft
I decided to run back my R/W/U Geist deck with a few changes. I still think it’s a good deck, but as we all know, having a good deck is only part of the equation. If you’re interested in an updated list, I’ve included it at the end of this article.

What I did do was draft a pretty sweet Simic deck while I was there, which inspired me to do another “Top 8 [Guild] Cards” list. My Rakdos Top 8 List seem to go over pretty well, so I recommend you check that out as well.

Green and blue aren’t colors I pair very often. I typically like to make sure my Limited decks have access to some removal, something these two colors often lack. Nothing is quite so demoralizing as having your opponent play a bomb and knowing that you don’t have an answer to it. Not only does having removal let you answer your opponent’s bombs, it also lets you dictate the course of the game. I can think of a few Limited formats in which a Simic deck would have literally zero possible answers to some of the best rares.

That has definitely changed in the past few years. That was made eminently clear when I drafted Return to Ravnica with an old friend of mine who hadn’t played Magic in a long time. He commented, “You know, things have changed when the green/white deck has all the removal.” My aversion to draft G/U decks started to go away during the original Ravnica block, though to be fair, I usually insisted on including red.

As I stated there, this isn’t a list of the most powerful Simic cards; they’re just ones I like for personal reasons. It’s entirely subjective, so don’t be upset if I didn’t list your favorite Simic card.

So, let’s see what I have growing in my Evolution Vat.

8 – Shambleshark

Ah, the Land Shark. The Shambleshark is considered the cleverest of all sharks. Unlike the Giant Shark, which tends to inhabit trade binders and junk rare bins, the Shambleshark may strike at any place, any time.

Shambleshark is a fairly important component of any Gatecrash Simic Draft deck. It’s almost always an effective 3/2 for 2 mana that has the potential to grow much larger. Being able to lay down that kind of early pressure can really put your opponent on the back foot. The flash isn’t usually that relevant, but combined with an Ivy Lane Denizen, Shambleshark can lead to some blowouts. In fact, Gerard Fabiano (somehow, that name always comes up in my lists) used that exact trick to beat Patrick Sullivan at The Grandest Prix.

Even though I haven’t done all that many Gatecrash drafts yet, Shambleshark is already becoming a pet common of mine.

7 – Drakewing Krasis

Drakewing Krasis
Remember what I said about Shambleshark almost always being a 3/2? This is a pretty good reason for it. Curving Shambleshark into Drakewing Krasis is nothing to sneeze at. The obvious comparison is to Assault Zeppelid, but I think Drakewing Krasis is even better. Gatecrash is proving to be a blisteringly fast format, so having access to big and cheap threats is paramount. The only liability is the low toughness, but that’s fairly easy to work with given all of the green bloodrush creatures. Any sort of enhancement can make Drakewing Krasis a real nightmare for your opponent. I’ve been on the receiving end of a Drakewing Krasis enchanted with a Madcap Skills, and let me tell you, that particular combination ends the game really fast.

For as long as I’m drafting Simic, I’ll be happy if all of my decks include multiple copies of Drakewing Krasis.

6 – Coiling Oracle

This card just screams value. Well, okay, it’s an Explore with a 1/1 body attached, but value is value. A 1/1 isn’t nothing—it can save you a lot of life by chump-blocking, it can poke your opponent for a few points of damage, it can carry Equipment, and perhaps most exciting of all, you can reuse its enters-the-battlefield ability with all sorts of shenanigans.

My buddy Mike Vasovski made the Canadian National Team many moons ago with this Simic special:

Beyond the tribal synergies, Coiling Oracle did a lot of work in this deck, from accelerating the mana (revealing Simic Growth Chamber is pretty dirty) to helping power out a Chord of Calling to being best friends with Ninja of the Deep Hours.

Though it may look unassuming, Coiling Oracle is definitely among the sweetest Simic cards ever printed.

5 – Trygon Predator

It’s been a while since I battled in Vintage, which is a goddamn shame since it’s the most awesome Constructed format. I usually played some form of Dredge deck since Bazaar of Baghdad is insane, but who can resist the allure of playing Dark Confidant and Blightsteel Colossus in the same deck? Check out Stephen Menendian’s deck from the 2011 Vintage Championships:

Trygon Predator
Just typing that out gave me all sorts of nostalgia. Trygon Predator’s role is clear in Vintage: munching on Moxes. People often claim that Vintage is all about turn-one kills, but that statement couldn’t be further from the truth. Sure, turn-one kills are possible, but that’s the exception rather than the norm. Games do often progress quickly, as the availability of fast mana means something that costs 3 usually is cast before turn three. Trygon Predator is just a fantastic way of constraining your opponent’s development. It also does a number on commonly played sideboard cards such as Pithing Needle.

Trygon Predator was pretty good in Legacy as well, mostly because it was a decent answer to Counterbalance. While I don’t follow the format any more, Counter-Top decks were the bane of my existence when I did play, so having actual outs was great. Even in Extended (back when that was a thing), Trygon Predator was quite good against the Affinity decks of the day. Having 3 toughness meant it couldn’t be dealt with via Pyrite Spellbomb, it blocked Frogmite for free, and the flying made it difficult to block effectively. I wasn’t as insane as Energy Flux or Kataki, War's Wage, but decks that could afford to cast it definitely had a few in the sideboard.

4 – Fathom Mage

Fathom Mage
This is a card I have far less experience with than I have with any of the others on this list, but it’s probably one that I’m most excited about. I’ve only drafted it once, but every time I played it and it didn’t die immediately, I proceeded to draw multiple cards and grow a huge threat to boot. I took full advantage of the fact that you don’t necessarily only draw cards from evolve. Alternate means of adding +1/+1 counters—such as Ivy Lane Denizen and Burst of Strength—work just as well.

The only issue I have with this card is that it is a 4-mana 1/1 after all, and it is very unimpressive when you’re behind. For that reason, I like to have some number of creatures with high toughness such as Crocanura and Elusive Krasis to hold the fort long enough to get the engine going. These high-toughness creatures are good by themselves anyway, and they do good jobs of triggering evolve, so I’m usually happy to draft them even without a Fathom Mage.

I’m looking forward to trying out Fathom Mage in my Cube to see how good it is outside of the hyper-aggressive zaniness that is Gatecrash.

3 – Mystic Snake

Most of my experience with this card stems from when it was reprinted in Time SpiralApocalypse was a bit before my time. As a bit of an aside, I absolutely loved Time Spiral for all the sweet reprints.

Once upon a time, before the printing of Bitterblossom, there was such a thing as G/U Faeries. Mystic Snake featured prominently in those lists, and this was even when people had access to Cryptic Command. Check out Hong Fei Yeung undefeated deck from Worlds 2007:

Mystic Snake fulfills a similar role to the one Snapcaster Mage plays today, albeit a more limited one. For its time, though, a creature that doubled as a counterspell was a pretty big deal. Still, as a hard counter that isn’t affected by Deathrite Shaman, Mystic Snake would still be playable today. Considering how insane creatures are these days, that speaks volumes about how good Mystic Snake is.

2 – Simic Sky Swallower

There was a time when Simic Sky Swallower, or Triple-S as I call him, was among the best fatties around. This was a time when the Kamigawa Dragons were the finishers of choice, and Triple-S laughed at all of them. I got the most use of this card in G/U/r Tron. Playing a turn-three Simic Sky Swallower off natural Tron and a Simic Signet is pretty amazing. I did some digging and found a list Gavin Verhey used to Top 8 Regionals way back in 2006:

The list I played was a bit different, but you get the gist. When you have a ton of mana, Simic Sky Swallower is near the top of the list of what you want to be doing, Eldrazi notwithstanding. Triple-S was rare in its ability to shrug off almost anything your opponent could do about it. You could confidently tap out to play it and not have a second thought. It was even a decent reanimator target, though there are much better options today.

In a world of Dragons, the Leviathan is king. Triple-S is definitely my number-one Constructed Simic card of all time.

1 – Momir Vig, Simic Visionary

Momir Vig, Simic Visionary
I’m definitely cheating with the top entry. Truth be told, I don’t think I’ve ever cast a Momir Vig in my life. The reason this card is number one is this: Momir Basic is the most fun format on Magic Online. Well, okay, Momir–Jhoira Basic is the best, but I can never seem to find any games of that one.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Momir Basic, here’s how it works. Your deck has to be sixty basic lands, and you play with the special Vanguard rules. It’s kind of like a Commander in that it sits off to the side, but it’s not a Magic card. It just grants you some effect that you can use, and it also modifies your starting hand size and life total. In the case of Momir Vig, his ability reads, “{X}, Discard a card: Put a token onto the battlefield that's a copy of a creature card with converted mana cost X chosen at random. Activate this ability only any time you could cast a sorcery and only once each turn.”

If you haven’t tried it before, I highly recommend you do. It’s a ton of fun. As you would expect, the games are highly random, but there’s still a lot of strategy involved. You have to choose what turns you activate the ability and what turns you don’t. If you activate it every turn, you’ll run out of cards before you can start reaching the more expensive and powerful creatures. What I typically do is skip turns one and two on the play and turn one only on the draw. The reason for this is twofold: 1-drops are almost always horrible, and the best creatures cost 8.

There are a lot of insane things that can happen, and no two games of Momir Basic are the same. It’s a great way to kill time in between rounds, and best of all, once you acquire the Momir avatar, you never have to spend another ticket unless you want to play an actual Momir queue.

That about wraps up my Simic Top 8 list. If you’re looking for an updated Modern R/W/U Geist list, here’s what I played at my PTQ last weekend:

Until next time, keep watching the skies for Leviathans, may your 7-drop never be Phage the Untouchable, and good luck in your PTQs.

Nassim Ketita
arcticninja on Magic Online