Standard Brewing Between Slugs & Slime

There is slime on Innistrad. Some of it corrodes you to death; some of it engulfs you so thoroughly you can't even remember who you are anymore. Are these two kinds of ghastly mucus good for each other? Let's find out what kind of viscous reaction we can get when we go on a smear campaign!

toxrill - sludge monster

The first instance of a Magic card that creates slime counters was Gutter Grime in the original Innistrad. It was, at the time, an okay top-down take on the popular titular monster from the 1958 B-movie The Blob—an ever-growing, corrosive amoeboid from outer space. Gutter Grime could eventually overwhelm the battlefield, but it suffered from fatal "five-drop do-nothing enchantment" syndrome.

gutter grime

Of course, one could argue that most every Ooze in the game is a reference to either The Blob or The Thing (which is best known for John Carpenter's 1982 version but was filmed for the first time in 1951 as The Thing from Another World). No printed Ooze used slime counters so far though. Those seem to be an Innistrad exclusive, as they were recently brought back twice, one in each half of the Innistrad Double Feature package: Midnight Hunt had Sludge Monster, while Crimson Vow introduced the legendary Toxrill, the Corrosive. This places slime counters in three different colors, to date.

sludge monster toxrill

Each of these two Horrors puts one or more slime counter on creatures, then assigns an effect to the counters. If both of them are active at the same time, any sludged creature will become a vanilla 1/1, only to be completely dissolved at the beginning of the next end step. In the meantime, we'll have a couple of big sticky monsters to close the game with and even some additional little Slugs to turn into card draws.

slug token

Now, this is cool and everything, but can such a Tammy/Timmy interaction form the base of a build that won't feel entirely alien to the competitive field? As it turns out, it kind of can!

It Came from the Mucus

The top of the current Standard meta is dominated by a pair of aggro lists, Monowhite and Monogreen, both of which win, to different extents, by going wide on the board. Even some of the control decks that oppose them have a flock of creatures as their win condition, most notably the Bird tokens from Alrund's Epiphany. Therefore, a control build whose own win condition doubles as mass removal seems potentially well positioned. Granted, Toxrill and its slimy friend can only do so much about creature lands, which won't even be active during our turns.

But Dimir Control is in a very good place right now where card quality is concerned. It contains, after all, all the cards that make Monoblack Control a top contender in the meta. Here's a sample list for a Sludge Monster/Toxrill extravaganza by Luca Van Deun (who also recorded a gameplay video with it).

The game plan is really simple: we use all the very effective tools we have available to stay alive until the slime starts pouring onto the battlefield. The numbers in the list are completely customizable, as each included spell has some function to perform that other spells can sub for. Specifically, Fading Hope and Divide by Zero buy us tempo against aggro, while Bloodchief's Thirst, Infernal Grasp, and Parasitic Grasp eliminate most early threats. (It's interesting to note how one of the Grasps does so more efficiently but at the cost of life, while the other works in the opposite way.)

infernal grasp parasitic grasp

Against combo and control, Test of Talents is a strong weapon, utterly eradicating current-era card advantage nightmares like Expressive Iteration, Memory Deluge, and Alrund's Epiphany. Similarly, the flexible Dread Fugue and Pelakka Predation // Pelakka Caverns attack the hand, preventing problematic cards like Esika's Chariot from ever resolving while giving us precious information. The sideboard is not given, beyond the seven fetchable Lessons for best-of-one, but would clearly include more copies of all these three situationally crucial spells.

test of talents dread fugue

Aggro's board development is so fast these days that Toxrill might be too late to stop it. That's why we better bring along some earlier sweepers in the form of Crippling Fear (which, later, is able to spare our own Slugs) and Shadows' Verdict. The star wipe of Standard, The Meathook Massacre, is also present, as its residual enchantment can further ping the opponent every time we taste les escargots that Toxrill creates. Blood on the Snow (with a correct mana base) could also be an option, although it would slaughter our Horrors too, and its reanimation rider is incapable of bringing back a seven-drop.

crippling fear the meathook massacre

To dig into our library we have our own assortment of the indispensable Memory Deluge, as well as the looting from The Celestus, which also ramps us toward our viscid curve toppers. Cram Session reverses some of the bleeding caused by aggro's assaults and gives us access to the usual Swiss Army knife of sideboard Lessons. One could consider it a flex slot, but learn is actually a powerful mechanic to keep around, a sort of wild card that can adapt to the necessity at hand.

memeory deluge the celestus

The deck plays surprisingly well because the core of it is a solid control strategy with all the means to enact itself. Toxrill and the Sludge Monster are reasonable finishers, though admittedly replaceable with a number of different options. The same kind of brew with a red splash and more self-discard effects could easily opt to involve Olivia, Crimson Bride as endgame, thus reanimating Toxrill once again, perhaps alongside Hullbreaker Horror. But that would lose us all the gooey fun of winning by swamping the opponent's board with mucilaginous doom.

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Past0(14.12.2021 09:19)

Slug is love, Slug is life