Last updated on January 8, 2021
Fatal Push | Illustration by Eric Deschamps
It’s time for yet another amazing Historic deck. This one has recently made a huge comeback in the BO3 format: Sultai Midrange. Before Kaladesh Remastered was released, Sultai was doing okay but sat around tier 2 in terms of power level.
Now that we have Fatal Push, Sultai Midrange is a solid tier 1 deck just like many other black-aligned decks. The deck takes advantage of the infamous Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath, helping the deck ramp up quickly. Expect to see a large Hydroid Krasis or Nissa, Who Shakes the World early on. It can do this at such an extreme speed that many opponents simply cannot keep up.
With cards like Maelstrom Pulse in the mainboard and tons of other interactive spells, you’ll rarely find yourself in a position where you aren’t applying pressure. With that said, let us have a look at the deck.
Nissa, Who Shakes the World | Illustration by Chris Rallis
I’ve briefly gone over the strategy already. Still, generally speaking, Sultai Midrange functions by focusing on controlling the opponent during turn 1, followed by some power-ramping during turn 2 and 3. Usually, this opens up plays like a board wipe on turn 3 or a Nissa, Who Shakes the World on turn 4.
Once Nissa is on the field, though, you’re nearly doubling your available mana, if not more, with her plus ability since most of our lands are forests. At this point, it becomes effortless to keep on drawing and ramping further, casting sweepers, removal, and simply countering whatever may disrupt your game plan.
If you’re up against problematic opponents, the sideboard provides plenty of tools to stop most strategies.
The Ramp Spells
For our ramp spells, we have four copies of Growth Spiral, four copies of Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath, and four copies of Nissa, Who Shakes the World. The best part about this ramp package is that Nissa and Uro both function as independent win conditions.
Nissa can turn lands into 3/3 elemental creatures with vigilance. At the same time, Uro can come back from the graveyard as a massive 6/6 creature that draws you cards and gains you life. Having both on the board is very hard to beat, especially if you get to be on the play when the game starts.
When your opponent has just played their second land, you’re likely ready to cast your Nissa, Who Shakes the World next turn already.
Our package is split into single target removal, hand disruption, counterspells, and board wipes.
Single Target Removal
First we have Fatal Push, a versatile spell that allows you to remove a 2-CMC or less creature for just one mana. Thanks to the abundance of copies of Fabled Passage in the deck, you can even use your lands as a means to activate Revolt on the Push. This allows it to destroy any creature of 4-CMC or less instead.
We also run one copy of Heartless Act. This is our fifth creature-specific removal spell, not quite as good as Fatal Push sitting at 2-CMC, but it can get the job done.
Our second-best removal spell is Maelstrom Pulse. This one mainly gets rid of pesky enchantments and artifacts. Boards that went far too wide with tokens or the same creature are also a great target. This is our only planeswalker removal pre-sideboard, so try not to waste it on creatures in a non-aggro matchup.
If the opponent is running cards your Heartless Act and Fatal Push can’t deal with, there are a bunch of Casualties of Wars in the sideboard to take their place. So feel free to swap these in if needed.
As for hand disruption, nothing beats Thoughtseize. There’s a lot of merchandise out there with text like “turn 1 Thoughtseize,” and for good reason. It’s a very degenerate card that can disrupt the flow of pretty much any deck. And since we’re black aligned, that’s what we want to benefit from.
Your opponent kept a shady hand? It’s time to Thoughtseize and ruin their game.
Our counterspell package is on the light side, only running two copies of Essence Scatter. Depending on the meta, you can always add more counterspells if needed. Aether Gust, on the other hand, is our honorary third “counter” spell. It stops a card from being cast for one turn, putting the spell on either the top or at the bottom of the opponent’s library.
A single turn is huge in Sultai Midrange. It can literally be the difference between sitting at three mana or ramping into your fifth. Make sure to use these spells well to get into your end game plan as soon and safely as possible.
Extinction Event is an all-round great mass removal spell. It can only hit even or uneven creatures, whichever you choose. Still, with the current meta so heavily relying on odd-costed creatures, it’s pretty easy to hit a ton of them.
Be careful using this spell, though, because it can very easily exile lands you’ve turned into 3/3 creatures with Nissa, Who Shakes the World. Elemental lands, having 0 CMC, count as even creatures. The same risk exists for Languish, which removes any lands Nissa might have untapped.
Maelstrom Pulse can act as a board wipe in certain situations as well.
The End Game
You win your games is by ramping out either Nissa, Who Shakes the World or an escaped Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath. Both of these are hard-to-deal-with threats. Even if your Uro does get removed, usually you have enough spells in the graveyard to bring it back to the battlefield the next turn. Since Uro draws us a card each time it enters the battlefield, you’ll drown your opponent in value, especially if they’re playing against an aggro deck without too much card draw.
Hydroid Krasis is an absolutely insane card, though, especially with Nissa, Who Shakes the World on the board. Having an XGU casting cost, it allows you to draw and gain life equal to X divided by two, rounded down. Even casting it for X=2 means it cantrips itself and creates a 2/2 flying trampler.
The main goal is to cast it for a huge X value, of course. If you have Nissa on the field, usually you can cast it for X=8 or more, creating a powerful 8/8 creature. You’ll also be drawing four cards and gaining four life. At that point, even if the opponent removes your Krasis, it will have generated more than enough value.
And let’s be honest, they kind of have to remove it at that point or they risk losing the game. On top of that, the lifegain and card draw effects trigger when you cast the card, so even if it gets countered, you still get your value.
Hydroid Krasis | Illustration by Jason Felix
Mulliganing with a deck like this is a bit hit or miss. Generally, you want to follow these rules:
- Have at least three lands of various colors in hand;
- Have at least one spell that helps you draw and ramp;
- Have at least one removal spell.
In a perfect scenario, you’d also want a Hydroid Krasis or Nissa, Who Shakes the World. With the card draw that Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath and Growth Spiral provide, you can get away with just managing the game for a while until you draw into your finishers.
When you’re up against decks that use the graveyard, side in your copies of Leyline of the Void. If it happens to be in your opening hand, it starts on the battlefield. Still, since we ramp a lot anyways, even hardcasting isn’t a disaster and should stop most graveyard centric strategies.
I personally like to bring Casualties of War. Aggro decks really need their lands to function and removing those early on can be devastating to them. Aether Gust is also a great card to bring in against Gruul or red matchups since you can easily push them back a turn to set up your other removal. Putting a Muxus back in the deck is great.
Mystical Dispute is a great card when facing any type of blue matchup. It’ll likely be one of the better counterspells for a very long time in the Historic format. It draws its power from ensuring a safe game plan against those mono blue and Azorius decks. Don’t lose hope if you get your plays heavily disrupted in game one. Dispute can turn the game around for you and make you an absolute nightmare for your opponent to deal with.
An Extra Wincon
We have an extra win conditions in the sideboard: Shark Typhoon. This card is almost good enough to run in the mainboard. Still, many matchups simply won’t allow you the luxury of casting a 6-CMC without being countered. Thanks to plenty of counter-magic post-sideboard, the Typhoon will have a chance to shine.
Tips and Tricks
I think I’ve covered most of the tricks the deck has to offer already. Each component of the deck has an obvious role, after all. One trick I use at times when playing is to use Thoughtseize to target myself as a means of filling up the graveyard. This may help you urgently need to meet the requirement for Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath‘s escape cost.
Another tip is to tap a forest before you untap it with Nissa, Who Shakes the World. It allows you to generate up to four mana with a single land in one turn. A great way to cast a giant Hydroid Krasis.
Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath | Illustration by Vincent Proce
A card I’ve played around with and personally like is Yasharn, Implacable Earth. This card is top-rated over in the Japanese MTG meta and is considered a staple. Personally, with all the ramp we have available already, I think Yasharn is a bit of a win-more card. Still, the power to fetch yourself more lands can’t be denied.
To include Yasharn would require some slight reworking of the mana base to incorporate white mana. Thanks to the Triome lands that shouldn’t be too difficult. As for now, I won’t go into how a mana base like that would look, but if you want, you can always leave a comment down below, and we can chat about it there.
I’m also pretty fond of Tamiyo, Collector of Tales. This card helps you fill your graveyard. Especially for Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath, and pick up removal whenever you need it with her powerful minus ability. This card might even deserve a spot over Maelstrom Pulse in the mainboard, but I’d need to do further testing for that.
Finally, Elder Gargaroth. Depending on the meta you’re facing, you may want to bring some copies of this card in the sideboard. It can take Leyline of the Void’s slots if needed alongside an extra copy of Languish. Since Rakdos is such a big deck right now in Historic, I’ve taken this card out for the time being, but I might add it back soon.
Thoughtseize | Illustration by Aleksi Briclot
Sultai Midrange is a deck that has dominated Standard in recent months and has been looking for an identity over in Historic ever since Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath got banned. With Fatal Push being the literal push the deck needed, I think Sultai Midrange is likely to stick around for some time.
We have decks like goblins and mono red winning on turn 3 before an Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath can even hit the field. The deck is likely going to be kept in check by those archetypes. Sultai Midrange has a favorable matchup against pretty much every other deck. Even when it does face a fast red deck, if your opponent doesn’t have a busted hand, you’re likely going to end up in a position where your Hydroid Krasis and Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath are going to regain you more life than they can deal damage.
A truly busted deck with Nissa and Uro’s signature all over it, as in many formats. Maybe it’s time for one of this duo to get permanently banned, but as long as they’re not, you should take full advantage of their power.
Shark Typhoon | Illustration by Caio Monteiro
With that said, I love this deck in BO3 since it’s so flexible. I doubt its performance in BO1 because of the abundance of hyper-aggro decks cutting the win percentages down. That doesn’t mean the deck can’t perform in BO1, but don’t expect the 58 to 60% win rates it’s pulling in BO3. You’re more likely to win about 54 or 55% of the time.
If you’re looking for more guides, be sure to check out our full list here or chat with us over in Discord. Also, be sure to check out our amazing MTGA tracking app, Arena Tutor if you haven’t yet. Thanks again for your time today, and I’ll see you all soon with yet another tier 1 Historic deck!