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BUG Value

BUG or Sultai value is a fair Nic Fit build, splashing blue as its tertiary colour, with a fair gameplan. BUG Fit has one of the slowest and grindiest games of all the variants, because it lacks a combo finish, while the options available in blue tend to be excellent for generating card advantage but pretty awful at ending the game in any reliable or timely manner. The raw card advantage provided by blue options makes a ton of difference, though. BUG is also one of the most consistent builds of the deck, due to its access to card draw and filtering tools.

History of the Deck

Sample Decklists

Vanilla BUG Value

Creatures (15)

4 Veteran Explorer

3 Baleful Strix

2 Leovold, Emissary of Trest

2 Tireless Tracker

1 Eternal Witness

1 Nissa, Vastwood Seer

1 Titania, Protector of Argoth

1 Ishkanah, Grafwidow

Planeswalkers (3)

1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor

1 Nissa, Vital Force

1 Liliana, the Last Hope

Spells (16)

4 Brainstorm

4 Cabal Therapy

4 Green Sun’s Zenith

2 Abrupt Decay

2 Collective Brutality

Enchantments (4)

1 Search for Azcanta

1 Mirri’s Guile

2 Pernicious Deed

Lands (23)

4 Verdant Catacombs

3 Forest

3 Misty Rainforest

2 Bayou

2 Polluted Delta

2 Swamp

2 Island

1 Karakas

1 Phyrexian Tower

1 Tropical Island

1 Underground Sea

1 Volrath’s Stronghold

Sideboard (15)

2 Diabolic Edict

3 Lost Legacy

2 Maelstrom Pulse

1 Reclamation Sage

3 Surgical Extraction

2 Thoughtseize

2 Toxic Deluge

Core Deck Construction / Play Style

Core Cards

Leovold, Emissary of Trest

leovold_card

Leovold is one of the primary reasons to run blue. He pretty much always trades up in cards against any removal effect (other than countermagic and sweepers), while slowing down cantrip based game plans significantly. This means he is a creature who can be found off a Green Sun’s Zenith, who helps to shut down decks like Storm and Show and Tell. This is a pretty unique effect, and a major reason you should be running him. He also protects against a lot of other miscellaneous effects, like Wasteland, Rishadan Port, Punishing Fire, and Umezawa’s Jitte. Protecting your lands from mana denial is a big deal in a big-mana deck like ours. He also draws you a card if he eats a Karakas activation, which means D&T has a lot of trouble with him – their only real outs are Swords, and swinging past him with flyers or Mirran Crusader. Note that he also really stops Sword of Fire and Ice, since he draws off the shock and prevents their draw too.

Baleful Strix

Strix

Strix is the closest thing BUG gets to cheap efficient removal. It isn’t fantastic as a removal spell – it doesn’t deal with cards like Thalia very well – but what it does do is slow the game down a whole lot. Strix is pretty underwhelming against spell-based combo decks, but being a flying blocker is great everywhere else. Strix is fantastic at stonewalling a Delver or Flickerwisp while you progress your mana, and blocks Griselbrands like a champ. By being a flying blocker, Strix also allows you to use sorcery speed removal on Marit Lage, which is very relevant when in a colour with access to Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Strix in general fills out your curve very well, since 2 drops are something which is hard to justify in a lot of cases. We want our 2 drops to help stabilize us early, but also be relevant lategame – by cantripping, we always get that out of this bird. The one other thing this card really doesn’t do at all is pressure the opponent. 1 power in the air isn’t nothing, but it’s pretty close. This continues blue’s natural issues ending the game. You can resolve this one of two ways – either play more haymakers that end the game well, or run something that makes your Strix better at killing people – such as equipment.

Core Spells

Jace, the Mind Sculptor

jtms

JTMS himself is the premier 4 drop in a lot of Legacy. He works surprisingly differently here to in most control decks in the format, however. He’s just as backbreaking when we get the opportunity to play him onto an empty board and start activating him, but he has a lot of other synergies. His -1 is great at turning Cabal Therapy into a Murder in creature based games, which does a lot to upgrade the spell as a lategame topdeck. His +0 is also particularly relevant when we have as much of a power differential as Nic Fit does – drawing huge 3-5 mana haymakers and shuffling away Veteran Explorers is a big deal. His +2 also helps to lock combo decks out of the game once we have stripped their hand of gas – it’s important to have our high mana threats not be completely blank against combo.

Jace does have issues in this deck though. Primarily, we tend to be short on countermagic, if we even run it at all. This means Jace is much harder to protect. We can’t as reliably just leave Jace on the battlefield and assume he will bring us to victory, when a topdecked Maelstrom Pulse, or Council’s Judgment, has the potential to put him away without much we can do about it. This means often we are using Jace to draw lots of threats and outvalue our opponent before finishing them with other threats, rather than ticking him up and protecting him.

Cantrips

brainstormponder

Cantrips help us mitigate the inconsistencies of Nic Fit inherent in having poor lategame topdecks in the deck (i.e. Explorer). Brainstorm in particular does a lot for us, since we have a large number of shuffle effects which makes the cards we put back on top easier to get rid of. It should be noted that the best ‘cantrip’ effect in the deck is still Green Sun’s Zenith, which already does a lot to mitigate the deck’s consistency issues. Cantrips also help us to find sideboard cards if we need them, or other cards which are powerful in specific matchups.

The downside of cantrips is that they tend to result in more spinning of wheels and less actual action, since a larger number of our cards have no boardstate impact and cost us mana. We tend to run higher impact cards with higher mana costs, which means stacking the cost of cantrips on top of that leaves us with some mana issues. Cantrips generally want to be combined with narrow, cheap answers rather than expensive versatile ones, which leaves us in the position of either running the cheap answers (and wasting our mana advantage a lot of the time) or running the expensive ones (and have mana issues cantripping into them). BUG also has issues finishing the game, and cutting any finishers for cantrips gives you issues with threat volume (not velocity, the actual raw number of threats in the deck), especially against answer heavy lists.

Force of Will

force

Force is a fantastic combo hate tool. Unlike other decks which run it, we also can reasonably expect to hardcast it in a lot of matchups. The issue we have, however, is that the card is hard to support – usually we want a minimum of ~18 blue cards in the deck to consider Force of Will, and that’s a large number for a primarily green and black deck. The skew required to cast Force pretty much always requires cantrips to sustain, and often even then they’re in the sideboard for combo matchups only. It is a major upside to playing BUG, but it can be not worth the deckbuilding costs sometimes. Depends a lot on how much you get turn-oned in your meta.

Search for Azcanta

searchazcanta

Search fills a similar slot to Sylvan Library and Mirri’s Guile in the cheap, recurring card advantage slot. It has both upsides (free raw card advantage lategame, synergy with Therapy) and downsides (dies to REB and Wasteland, not as powerful digging without mana investment). Often a 1/1 split or similar is a good call, since pairing them together is particularly powerful. Azcanta is only good if you reliably hit a noncreature spell on its activation, so you can’t afford to run too creature heavy – also, you don’t get to take advantage of the instant speed of its activation very often, since we are much shorter on spells with flash than most blue decks. Holding up both Volrath’s Stronghold and Search isn’t bad, though, and it has great synergy with Sword of Feast and Famine if you get the opportunity to do that.

Vendilion Clique

clique

One thing Nic Fit really likes is disruption stapled to a creature. Clique does exactly that. It’s a bit on the blue mana intensive side, but otherwise very strong. Not being zenithable is a downside, but as a card on its own Clique is just fine. It’s also a fast clock and blocks Marit Lage – the card is playable in just about every matchup. Cliqueing yourself to get rid of lategame explorers is a nice tool to have available too. We are already quite heavy on the 3-drops – especially with Leovold – but Clique is always solid.

Sideboard Construction

Sultai sideboards are pretty much the same as a standard GB one with a few exceptions. It’s doable to run Force of Will out of the sideboard for combo matchups, as mentioned above. Otherwise there aren’t a ton of options in BUG sideboard that aren’t also played in green and black.

Mindbreak Trap

mindbreak

Mindbreak is an interesting card which frankly isn’t really what we’re looking for – it’s only really amazing in one matchup – Storm. However the reason it’s here is that it is particularly powerful in that one matchup because of its interaction with Leovold. You get targeted with ten copies of Tendrils – draw ten cards – and then get the opportunity to cast Mindbreak Trap, without getting hit with some Duresses before you get the chance. It’s a powerful tool. While quite narrow, it isn’t completely useless elsewhere – it’s solid against Omnitell too, and sometimes Reanimator – but if there’s a lot of Storm in your meta it’s worth considering.