Playing Sharuum


I finished my Sharuum build yesterday, and was able to play it last night. I have to say that I really like this deck, even though I didn’t win a game. First I have some quick notes about where I went with the deck, but then I’ll get into the games.

At some point during this build I decided to go almost creature-less. I had planned on using a few utility creatures (i.e. Solemn Simulacrum,) and maybe spells like Midnight Haunting to be able to flash in blockers if necessary. I also had the Time Sieve/Thopter Assembly infinite turn combo in the deck.  I was on-plan and had my giant stack of two-hundred-plus cards cut down to just seventy-one cards meaning I had to cut just eleven cards (with a forty land mana base,) and as I was doing so, more and more of the creatures and/or creature spells were falling out. In the end I have only two creatures, Sharuum and Disciple of the Vault, and I needed those for the combo. I also have a total of seven cards that in multiple combinations of two along with Sharuum can complete the infinite combo and win the game. This provides resiliency and the ability to naturally draw any number of combo pieces easier. I have a decent focus on tutors, and currently have seven or eight various tutors. Another way to get to the combo pieces is through card draw. I have a heavy contingent of card draw, probably nine or ten pieces. The last thing I wanted to focus on in getting to my combo is mana acceleration. I need nine mana to cast the simplest form of the combo all in the same turn. There isn’t much ramp available in an Esper deck, but there are a TON of mana-rocks, and I have six or seven of them in the deck to both ramp up colorlessly and fix the colors. I originally had planned on at least one infinite turn combo, and didn’t want it to take up too much space, so I settled on Thopter Assembly/Time Sieve, but in the end the Thopter was a creature, it cost a lot of mana and the combo took up two spots, so it got cut. I do have some extra turns in the form of Temporal Mastery and Time Stretch. That is all how I get to my combo, but I also need to protect myself, and since I don’t have ANY creatures outside of combo pieces, that means removal! I have somewhere in the range of twenty removal spells that very from targeted destruction to mass tuck and everywhere in-between. They cover the full gamut of instants, sorceries, enchantments, and artifacts, and range in converted mana cost from one to six or seven. I also have a small suite of protection spells that include things like Humility and Ghostly Prison, as well as a couple of bounce spells. All of these serve to protect me from opponent’s creatures. The final focus on protecting my combo is counter-magic. My deck is heavily leaned towards removal, but a good counter-suite is important, so I have seven or so pieces of counter magic in various forms. I tried to keep most of it as hard counters, but there are some conditional counters in there as well. The last step was the mana base. I typically sit at forty land in any three color deck, in addition to any ramp and/or mana rocks that I may use. I also am sure to include a decent amount of basic land so-as to avoid too much trouble from non-basic land destruction. My first Sharuum build had maybe three basic lands and I had problems with land destruction. This version still has a lot of non-basics, but the basics range from six to ten in each of the three colors. I just had to determine the correct ratio and I was ready to go!

Game One:

My opener was great. I had plenty of mana and a couple of rocks, and I was all set. I had an early Sensei’s Divining Top, and I was digging for my combo. I pulled a turn three miracle-cast Temporal Mastery off the back of a Mystical Tutor and tried to Beseech the Queen to find my Sculpting Steel, but it was countered. Rafiq went after Sol’Kanar first, and he couldn’t stabilize. Uril could have gotten in for some damage a few times but had forgotten that his Fires of Yavimaya gave all his creatures haste. Such a shame! Early in the game I had the great draw spells, a couple of tutors, and an extra turn, but soon my hand dried up. I was holding two synonymous combo pieces in my hand and just needed the other side to that puzzle. Sol’Kanar hates the combo decks and just wanted the game over so he cast a Braingeyser on me for seven… and I didn’t draw into a combo piece, tutor, or draw spell! I was using Sensei’s Divining Top like crazy trying to get to something. Rafiq took out Sol’Kanar, and Uril was beating me down… but not with general damage. I started removing creatures left and right, and cast a Reins of Power on Rafiq, hitting him with his own general for a ton… but not quite enough. He then took out Rafiq for me. At this point I was holding a few key pieces of counters and removals. He, of course, had Finest Hour, and after his first attack step which killed Uril he attempted to kill me. I cast Murder on  Rafiq. I took my turn using Top to try and find a tutor, a piece of card draw, or that last piece of my combo, but didn’t find it. I still had a trick or two though. The next turn, as predicted, he tried to cast Rafiq again… tried. Hinder did it’s job and put him on the bottom of the library! A short time later he tried the Sublime Archangel route, and I killed that too. At some point I should have cast Sharuum just to attack in for damage, I didn’t even have an artifact in the yard! But I was dumb and wanted to go off with the combo, so I waited. And in the end he got through all of my removal and took me out. My next card was Diabolic Revelation!

Game Two:

  • Me: Sharuum the Hegemon
  • Opponent 1: Rafiq of the Many
  • Opponent 2: Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund
  • Opponent 3: Uril the Mist Stalker

This game was horrible. I milled to six and had only two mana. I was taken out very quickly by Rafiq and that was all there was to it.

Game Three:

  • Me: Sharuum the Hegemon
  • Opponent 1: Rafiq of the Many
  • Opponent 2 (Nemesis!): Sol’Kanar the Swamp King
  • Opponent 3: Uril the Mist Stalker

This game went better for me. I was holding off my opponents, and I had all combo pieces in hand! I just needed that magic ten mana, and with that I was struggling. Uril was focused on Rafiq, and a timely Lightning Bolt from Sol’Kanar stopped Rafiq from suiting up with a Sword. This took Rafiq out of the game early. Eventually I hit Gilded Lotus and finally got enough white to cast Wrath of God. I finally hit the ten mana, but Sol’Kanar had Gauntlets of Chaos and wouldn’t tap down to under five, so I knew as soon as I started my combo he would swap out one of the pieces. I was under attack from Uril. What I should have done was cast Sculpting Steel copying my Gilded Lotus (tapped down by an Icy Manipulator), and I would have been able to sweep again with a Scourglass, but I was, again, being stubborn in not wanting to waste a combo piece. Uril took me out and shortly after took out Sol’Kanar as well.

Game Four:

  • Me: Ghave, Guru of Spores
  • Opponent 1: Rafiq of the Many
  • Opponent 2 (Nemesis!): Sol’Kanar the Swamp King
  • Opponent 3: Uril the Mist Stalker

Ok, ok, game four I switched over to my Ghave deck. So I know it isn’t my Sharuum deck, but holy crap was it fun. I was fairly lucky in that Sol’Kanar decided to focus on Rafiq for most of the game and I was able to get both Doubling Season and Parallel Lives on the board. Then I dropped Ghave with 10 counters, made four 1/1’s and pumped them to 3/3 with Oran-Rief, the Vastwood. I was then able to Exsanguinate for three which took Uril out of the game (he had been under attack from both Rafiq and Sol’Kanar). I dropped Cathar’s Crusade which is just INSANE with a token deck, and especially with Ghave, Doubling Season, and Parallel Lives! Then Ghave died and I was left with three 3/3 Saps, but on my next turn I was able to hard cast Entreat the Angels for three… which resulted in 12 4/4 angels thanks to my doublers! With Cathar’s Crusade on the board each one put 24 +1/+1 counters on my Saps, and 22 counters on each angel! I won.

That last game was epic in that I was able to go off, but this was largely due to the fact that Sol’Kanar would not let up on Rafiq, despite the other two opponents (myself and Uril) being much more threatening at the time. This is the very reason that I built the Sharuum deck in the first place… at least the Rafiq player got a taste of what I feel most every week.

So, how did the Sharuum deck work? Well, it obviously needs a little bit of tweaking, as I didn’t win a single game. In the first game my counter magic and removal worked great, but I couldn’t hit the card draw and/or tutors to get to the combo pieces. The second game I was largely mana-screwed, and didn’t have any ramp, card draw… well, much of anything really. The third game I had the combo but couldn’t protect it, and took too long to get to the ten mana needed to cast it. Still, in light of the fact that I was playing against Voltrons all night, one of which is very well-tuned (Rafiq), I think the deck did ok. I think I might tone down the card draw, and maybe some of the removal in order to get a couple more tutors into the deck, and maybe that would enable the combos a bit more. When I get some tuning done I’ll put up a list of the final build.

I also have ideas for a  low CMC Rhys the Redeemed build (top out at 4 CMC with Sublime Archangel!), and a Gisela, Blade of Goldnight aggro build, so look for posts about them in the future!

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