Is Remorseless Punishment the Next Cruel Ultimatum… And is 64 the New 60?

This week Top Level Podcast run through Remorseless Punishment and a handful other quick hits from Oath of the Gatewatch, and meditate on both Ben Rubin’s highly successful sixty-four card Abzan deck and other “heavy” decks from tournament Magic history.

Remorseless Punishment
Remorseless Punishment

Remorseless Punishment is both a Browbeat and a Cruel Ultimatum… The question is, is it more Browbeat — a card with two different very good sides that failed to add up to a single Tier One sorcery — or more Cruel Ultimatum (the textbook Standard “greater power”)?

“They’re just gong to choose the Hangarback Walker.”
-Patrick Chapin

Linvala, the Preserver
Linvala, the Preserver

Mike was originally lukewarm on Linvala, the Preserver; but came around on her (at least a little) after reading Patrick’s article on Star City Games!

Neither podcaster considers Linvala veritable “great white hope” against beatdown, however.

Unnatural Endurance
Unnatural Endurance

“This card is going to revolutionize… Things.”
-Patrick Chapin

Unnatural Endurance is highly reminiscent of [playable] Theros Block combat instant Boon of Erebos… But without a certain drawback.

Patrick predicts that Unnatural Endurance will be a game-changing addition for beatdown decks, as there is a bigger gap between Unnatural Endurance and Boon of Erebos than Vapor Snag (cross-format Staple) and Unsummon (fringe playable spell).

Mike calls this one “a black Counterspell”

Reality Smasher
Reality Smasher

“It’s like a Stormbreath Dragon… but bigger.”

One of Mike’s favorite cards from Oath of the Gatewatch… and it’s easy to see why. Patrick thinks Reality Smasher will indeed be smashing a reality near you, and soon. It is “more Baneslayer Angel than Gaea’s Revenge” and already better in his mind than that playable blue-hating big boy.

Much of this podcast is spent discussing Ben Rubin’s sixty-four card Abzan deck. For anyone who hasn’t seen it, Ben finished second at Grand Prix Oakland (to the amazing Reid Duke) with this innovative deck:

2 Hangarback Walker

1 Duress
2 Murderous Cut
3 Tasigur, the Golden Fang
3 Ultimate Price

4 Stubborn Denial

4 Anafenza, the Foremost
2 Dromoka’s Command
4 Siege Rhino

3 Den Protector
4 Warden of the First Tree

3 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar

1 Canopy Vista
4 Flooded Strand
2 Forest
1 Llanowar Wastes
1 Plains
4 Polluted Delta
2 Prairie Stream
2 Shambling Vent
1 Smoldering Marsh
2 Sunken Hollow
1 Swamp
4 Windswept Heath
4 Wooded Foothills

2 Painful Truths
2 Rising Miasma
2 Self-Inflicted Wound
2 Disdainful Stroke
2 Exert Influence
2 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
1 Dragonlord Silumgar
2 Ojutai’s Command

The lazy analysis is that Ben added four Stubborn Denials to an otherwise black-green-white deck, taking the mode count of sixty up to sixty-four. That would be inaccurate, at best, of course; why then would he have twenty-nine lands?

The real reason behind Rubin’s decision surprises Mike… and will probably surprise you.

But Patrick would play this Abzan, for sure.

Find out all the secrets in “Is Remorseless Punishment the Next Cruel Ultimatum… And is 64 the New 60?”

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