Pondering—Under a Blazing Sun

Sun Titan

The big story this week, as you’ll learn on Friday, is Hunter’s INSANE run through GP Pittsburgh, finishing at an astonishing 56th place with a 12-4 record after going in with zero byes and losing his first two rounds. What a fucking boss.

I, on the other hand, didn’t get to play much Magic over the weekend due to work commitments, so I don’t have anything to report that even comes close to that level of excitement. That said, I like writing, I like reading, and I like reading my writing. So let’s write an article.

***

I have a torrid history with Sun Titan. At the tail end of Scars/Innistrad Standard, the Sun Titan/Phantasmal Image Solar Flare deck was all the rage because it easily crushed UW Delver and Naya Pod, the two most popular decks at the time. Being a Delver pilot, I took a severe beating from Solar Flare for several weeks, as it just had so many answers to my threats and more than enough ways to survive until the late game, where it inevitably took over.

It got to the point that, when I built an Esper Superfriends list with the spare cards I wanted to play, I intentionally left out Sun Titan due purely to spite, and opted instead for Grave Papa.

Times have changed. My once-arch-nemesis has weaseled its way into some iterations of my favorite Modern deck. And even though my initial reaction was along the lines of “You stay away from my baby,” as a lover of value, I can’t in good conscience not give it a shot. The fact that Jess wrote a couple of detailed theory posts about it only gets me more excited.

Deck: Titan UW
Counts : 60 main / 15 sideboard

Creatures:18
2 Phantasmal Image
4 Snapcaster Mage
2 Wall of Omens
3 Kitchen Finks
2 Vendilion Clique
4 Restoration Angel
1 Sun Titan

Spells:17
4 Path to Exile
3 Spell Snare
2 Mana Leak
1 Detention Sphere
1 Sphinx's Revelation
4 Cryptic Command
2 Supreme Verdict

Lands:25
1 Arid Mesa
4 Celestial Colonnade
2 Glacial Fortress
2 Hallowed Fountain
3 Island
2 Mystic Gate
2 Plains
1 Scalding Tarn
4 Seachrome Coast
4 Tectonic Edge

Sideboard:15
2 Celestial Purge
2 Negate
1 Rest in Peace
2 Spellskite
3 Stony Silence
2 Aven Mindcensor
1 Jace Beleren
1 Sword of War and Peace
1 Baneslayer Angel

Conventional wisdom (and this is outdated, I feel) dictates that there is no true control deck in Modern since the format lacks a good cantrip. While I agree with the part about cantrips, I also believe that Titan UW comes pretty close to being a true control deck. It’s not quite there yet, again due to the lack of card draw, but that’s just fine with me as I’m not a big fan of control, nor of durdling. I do love me some value, though, and this is a value deck above all else, with so many targets for your Titan and Angels.

On that topic, I don’t believe it is correct to run less than the full set of Angels if you want to play this deck. I see lots of lists with her as a three-of, and I get the reasoning. With four Cryptics and two Verdicts, your four-drop slot looks to be very cramped. However, I would look towards cutting a Verdict rather than an Angel, as she is your main engine for card advantage. In this deck, rarely will you ever play an Angel that doesn’t net you value in some form. Plus, since this deck does not play Geist of Saint Traft, you want as many evasive threats as possible to clock your opponents, especially if they’re on the combo plan.

It’s also partially why I’m still running all four Snapcasters when others are going down to as few as two. Against certain opponents (Tron, for instance), oftentimes you just need an Ambush Viper. That said, I feel much more comfortable cutting Snappies than I do cutting Angels. For now, I’m fine with four. Snapcaster Path, Snapcaster Mana Leak, and Snapcaster Cryptic are still things you can do in Magic last I checked.

Everything else is theory at this point. I’ll check back in post-TNM.

***

UPDATE: I took 74 cards out of that list to TNM and swapped out the Rest in Peace in the side for an Elspeth…’cause, why not play Big Sis? I ended up 4-0ing, beating Peter on Twin, Richard on Gifts, then beat an opponent whose name I forget in the mirror, before jumping a Sun Titan over Matt’s Kibler Naya to bring it home. Having played UW for an eternity and a half definitely helped, but in some ways this felt like a different deck. I don’t get free wins off of Geist anymore, but I always have a full grip and always feel like I’m in control, which is an odd thing to say considering I’m playing less permission in the early game.

It was fun to play with UW again after weening myself off of it for a good month or so, but it’s back to the lab for next week. Troll Tron still has places to go, I feel. We’ll see what silliness I come up with next week.

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Comments
3 Responses to “Pondering—Under a Blazing Sun”
  1. danaflops says:

    and shockingly, a lack of Jund/disruptive midrange in yet another meta leads to the rise of viable control strategies…

    • Li Xu says:

      To be fair, UW (at least the Geist/Baneslayer midrange version) used to have a favorable matchup against Jund even back in the Bloodbraid days. At least I thought so, anyway, having never lost to Jund or Junk or any Deathrite/Liliana deck ever.

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