Surreal Ascension

Posted in Building on a Budget on May 26, 2010

By Jacob Van Lunen

Jacob Van Lunen began playing Magic in 1995. He has participated in organized play at every level of competition and was a member of the winning team at Pro Tour San Diego in 2007, thanks to an innovative draft strategy. As a writer, Van Lunen has had more than three hundred Magic strategy pieces published

Hello and welcome to Rebound Week here on Last week I examined the possibility of Enchantress in Standard. A lot of readers were very excited about the return of Enchantress.

This week I'd like to see what I can do with Surreal Memoir. I received an overwhelming email response last week. People have a lot of plans for their Surreal Memoirs. Most people suggested that I try to build a Pyromancer Ascension deck that abuses the rebound mechanic.

Pyromancer Ascension has always been near and dear to my heart. I love a solid combo deck and Pyromancer Ascension lets me combo off like an Extended deck in Standard. The rebound mechanic has obvious synergy with my Pyromancer Ascension. I get 2 counters on my Pyromancer Ascension if I have a copy of the rebound spell already in my graveyard when I cast the second copy.

Surreal Memoir
Pyromancer Ascension

I decided to build a Pyromancer Ascension deck for Standard. I scoured Gatherer for a few hours and eventually I was able to put together a list that I was happy with.

I'll start by explaining all my card choices:

Explore is one of the best cantrips available in Standard. Explore helps us accelerate our mana and draws us a card. A deck like this wants to sift through its library as fast as possible. I've always been happy with Explore in this type of strategy and I figured it would fit well in this type of deck.

Harrow is a great way to fix our mana. I'm being a little ambitious playing a 4 color deck with only 22 lands, but cards like Explore, Ponder, and Harrow help me fix my mana. Harrow also does a great job of thinning out my library so I can be assured that I draw enough gas once I start going off.

Naya Charm seems like a homerun for this type of strategy. I can use the "tap all creatures target opponent controls" option if I need a Fog, I can kill one of my opponent's threats with the bolt option, or I can set up infinite turns with the Regrowthoption. How do I set up infinite turns? I'm glad you asked. Once I have an active Pyromancer Ascension and a Naya Charm in the yard I can simply cast a Time Warp, copy it, use my extra turn to cast a Naya Charm returning the Time Warp from my graveyard to my hand, copy the Naya Charm returning Naya Charm from my graveyard to my hand, and take my next turn. Then I can just rinse and repeat as necessary to draw my entire library and have enough mana to cast a Banefire for half my opponent's life total. (The copy will finish them off.)

Pyromancer Ascension is the name of the game. A lot of your opponents may be packing cards like Oblivion Ring or Maelstrom Pulse. It's important to stick an Ascension early and force your opponent to spend time dealing with that instead of getting proactive. You shouldn't have a problem controlling the game once you have enough land in play with this deck.

Surreal Memoir: This really pushes the deck into a pretty competitive place. The synergies this card creates are really impressive. Most people that have known me for a long time are aware that Moment's Peace is my favorite Magic card of all time; I first started winning sanctioned matches with a Mirari's Wake deck back when I was in high school. Surreal Memoir is, often times, a Moment's Peace when it works in tandem with Fog or Naya Charm. An active Pyromancer Ascension really pushes this card over the top.

Surprisingly, though, Surreal Memoir didn't turn out to be the best rebound spell I tested. Survival Cache instantly proved its worth to me. The extra life is an excellent bonus and the rebound makes this card into a Divination. I especially enjoy activating my Ascension with a single card.

Time Warp is actually the best card in the deck. I would have played 4 copies of this if it cost a bit less money. Time Warp buys us time, digs us deeper through our library, acts as a win condition in the late game, and if we ever have an active Pyromancer Ascension in play, then our opponents are going to need a lot of help to win through this one.

Fog may seem a little out of place, but Fog is actually quite good in a deck like this. Most creature decks these days don't put any non-creature pressure on us. A Fog simply buys us an extra turn and helps to preserve our life total so our Survival Caches stay live.

Banefire is an obvious win condition of choice here. If you don't mind heavy thought you can simply chain enough turns to start looping your Lightning Bolt with Naya Charm and finish your opponent off that way. Most of my readers prefer having a cheat spell that lets them win the game without having to take a math test, though, so this seemed like a good one-of inclusion.

Surreal Ascension

Download Arena Decklist

I played a few games on Magic Online that I would like to share with you.

I won the play and kept Evolving Wilds, Jungle Shrine, Island, Pyromancer Ascension, Fog, Survival Cache, Surreal Memoir. I played my Jungle Shrine and passed the turn. My opponent played a Raging Ravine and passed the turn back. I drew a Forest, played my Island, cast Pyromancer Ascension, and passed the turn. My opponent cast a Lotus Cobra and passed the turn back. I drew a Mountain, played my Forest, cast Survival Cache, going to 22 and drawing another Survival Cache, and passed the turn. My opponent played a Stirring Wildwood and used the extra Lotus Cobra mana to power out a Knight of the Reliquary. He attacked for 2 and passed the turn. I went back to 22 on my upkeep and drew a Lightning Bolt and a Banefire. I decided to clear my opponent's board and I cast the Lightning Bolt on my opponent's Knight of the Reliquary and the Banefire for one on my opponent's Lotus Cobra. My opponent cast a Cunning Sparkmage, played an Evolving Wilds, and passed the turn. I drew a Surreal Memoir, cast Survival Cache, going to 24, drawing a Ponder, and putting a counter on my Pyromancer Ascension. I played my land and cast Ponder, I left Forest, Island, and Naya Charm on the top of my library, drew one of the lands, and passed the turn with one green mana open. My opponent pinged me down to twenty three on my end step. My opponent cast a Vengevine and tried to attack me for 4, I was ready with a Fog, though, and my opponent was forced to passed the turn. During my upkeep I went back up to 25, drew the Island, and activated my Pyromancer Ascension. I drew the Time Warp, cast Time Warp, copied it, and took my first extra turn. I drew a Ponder, cast it with the copy, saw three lands, shuffled my library, and drew a Harrow, the second copy revealed a Surreal Memoir and 2 lands, so I went for the shuffle again. I found another Time Warp and grabbed it. I cast Naya Charm with the copy and returned a Time Warp and a Ponder back to my hand. I took my next turn. Drew a Seaside Citadel, cast Harrow, copied it, cast Time Warp, copied it, and cast Ponder with a copy, the first Ponder found my second Naya Charm and I was then able to take infinite turns. Once my opponent saw the process by which I looped the Time Warp he or she conceded immediately.

I lost the roll and kept Terramorphic Expanse, Evolving Wilds, Forest, Explore, Harrow, Ponder, Ponder. My opponent played a Sejiri Refuge and passed the turn. I drew another Explore, played my Terramorphic Expanse, and passed the turn back. My opponent played a Celestial Colonnade and passed. I popped the Terramorphic Expanse on his end step and found an Island. I drew a Pyromancer Ascension, played my Forest, cast Explore, drew a Pyromancer Ascension, played my Evolving Wilds, and passed the turn. My opponent played his third land and passed the turn. I popped the Evolving Wilds and found a Mountain. I drew a Seaside Citadel, cast Ponder, kept Pyromancer Ascension, Ponder, and Harrow on top in that order. I played the Seaside Citadel, cast a Pyromancer Ascension, and passed the turn. My opponent played another Celestial Colonnade, cast an Oblivion Ring removing my Ascension, and passed the turn. I drew the ponder, cast Harrow to smooth out my mana, cast the second Pyromancer Ascension, cast Ponder, putting a counter on the Pyromancer Ascension and kept Island, Time Warp, Naya Charm, in that order, I played my Island and passed the turn. My opponent played a Plains and tapped out to cast a Gideon Jura, all my nonexistent creatures had to attack. I drew the Time Warp, cast Harrow, putting a second counter on the Pyromancer Ascension, cast Time Warp and copied it, and began to take my first extra turn. I drew the Jungle Shrine, cast my last Ponder, copied it, saw three lands and shuffled, I drew Surreal Memoir, I saw Fog, Fog, and a land and I shuffled that away also, I drew Banefire, I cast Surreal Memoir and got back both Harrows. I began my second turn with a pair of copied upkeep Harrows, Surreal Memoir resolved again and I got another Harrow in my hand. I drew a Ponder, played it and copied it, found a Time Warp with the first, and found a Naya Charm with the second. I played the Time Warp and copied it. I cast Naya Charm and returned the Time Warp and the Surreal Memoir back to my hand. I took my first of the extra 2 turns, I cast Surreal Memoir getting back a Harrow and the Naya Charm, I cast Time Warp with a copy again, and took an extra turn. During my next upkeep I used the Naya Charm to Regrowthmy Time Warp, Surreal Memoir went off again and returned the Naya Charm back to my hand. I played another Time Warp and put some extra turns on the stack. I eventually found a second Naya Charm and my opponent conceded while I was trying to take infinite turns.

This deck seems like it can do pretty well if it draws its Pyromancer Ascension. Maelstrom Pulse and Oblivion Ring are problems that need to be dealt with, but you can often wait for the turn you plan to combo before you cast the Pyromancer Ascension. The deck has enough thinning and card selection to find an Ascension with more consistency than your opponent has answers. I'd be worried about control decks that play a good number of counterspells in their main deck alongside Oblivion Rings. The sideboard should probably include a full play set of Into the Roil to help the Oblivion Ring problem. Negate is also a good sideboard option that helps us fight Oblivion Rings. I've thought about a lot of strategies against control decks. Perhaps Reality Spasm can be our Gigadrowse, perhaps we simply need to fight counterwars. Jund can be a problem, Maelstrom Pulse and Blightning can both be pretty obnoxious. Swerve may be the best war to fight Blightning, and Negate or Flashfreeze can help on both fronts.

If you're looking for a fun deck that can do some serious work against the top tier decks in Standard then Surreal Ascension may be the deck for you!

Happy Rebound Week!

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