Almost There: Sifter Wurm

Posted in How to Build on July 6, 2018

By Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa

Paulo has been playing Magic since he was eight years old. At fifteen, he ventured outside of Brazil for his first international tournament, and he's been globetrotting as a professional player ever since.

As US Nationals drew to a close, by far the most exciting deck was Eric Farchild's Sifter Wurm build. Eric started 10-1, but ultimately failed to win his last rounds and ended up in 14th place. Here is what he played:

Eric Farchild's Sifter Wurm

The idea of the deck is pretty clear: you ramp a little, clear the board with Hour of Devastation, and then play a Sifter Wurm. Because of the way the rules of Magic work, if you reveal an aftermath card, you actually combine both costs, so you can gain a huge amount of life without having to put that many expensive cards in your deck. Commit // Memory, for example, is just a four-drop, but gains you 10 life if revealed. Spring // Mind is a ramp spell that doubles as a draw spell in the late game, and it gains you 9 life if you reveal it.

At its core, this is an Hour of Promise plus Hour of Devastation deck. Sifter Wurm is the catchier card, but it's just what the deck uses to close out the game—you gain enough life to make sure you're not going to be burned out, you stack the top of your deck, and it's a 7/7 trampler to boot. Once you can make sure you aren't dead, you can win the game via Wurm attacks, via Zombie attacks (that you make with Hour of Promise), via the aftermath side of Cut // Ribbons (which deals a lot of damage in a deck with this much ramp), and also via decking with Ipnu Rivulet. The deck has ten Deserts, and you're often fetching them with Hour of Promise, so killing someone by milling is a very real thing, especially if they're a control deck and games are going long.

This is a cool deck, but I think it's currently lacking early interaction. Cards like Spring // Mind, Thaumatic Compass, and Gift of Paradise can be played in the early game, but they add no board presence. The best plan this deck has is to ramp into a turn-four Hour of Devastation, but sometimes that's too slow, sometimes it's not enough, and sometimes you just don't draw Hour of Devastation. Heaven // Earth is cool if you mill it with your own Ipnu Rivulets, but other than that, doesn't do enough to justify being played, and I think Consign // Oblivion is just too weak of a card regardless of its interaction with Sifter Wurm.

I'd replace some of those clunky cards for early interaction. I think a third Cut // Ribbons should work, and Abrade is also a card I'd consider since God-Pharaoh's Gift is very popular now. Sweltering Suns is also not out of the picture, though it's quite hard to cast it turn three.

After that, we have to see if the deck gains anything from Core Set 2019. The most promising card is Pelakka Wurm, which has a guaranteed 7 life gain but doesn't scry. You do draw a card if it dies, but most people are not killing it; short of Unlicensed Disintegration, it's likely either getting countered or exiled anyway. So, which Wurm is better?

Right now, the deck has twelve cards that cost seven or more mana. I'd like to cut Consign // Oblivion, so we'll make this ten. This means you're 40% to gain 7 or more life with each Sifter Wurm on your scry, and 50% if you're willing to bottom anything else and flip the fourth card. If you're happy with 5 life, then you're up to 70–80%. This is less than I expected. It's true that sometimes you'll gain more than 7 life, but do you ever really need to? The difference between gaining 3 to 7 life is much bigger than from 7 to 10.

So, Pelakka Wurm is better at gaining life, and Sifter Wurm is better at filtering your draws. Scry 3 is no joke. Which one is more important? In my opinion, the filtering is. This is a ramp deck, and it runs the risk of running out of gas in the late game, because a lot of your cards are effectively lands. Having a scry in that position is often as good as drawing a card, because you either really want some cards or really do not want others. So, to me, Sifter Wurm is still better, even if it gains less life.

I'd also change the sideboard a bit. I'm a fan of Carnage Tyrant in a deck like this; they'll probably take out their sweepers, and then you can surprise them with a card they can't interact with that wins the game single-handedly.

My Sifter Wurm deck would look like this:

Paulo's Sifter Wurm

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