Robert Russo

Special Guest

Jeff White

(Twitter: RealPokemoki | YouTube: Pokemoki | MTGO: pokemoki)

I started playing Legacy in 2017. I have two Star City Games (SCG) Tour Open Top8’s and two SCG Classic wins. I enjoy tuning blue midrange decks and attacking the metagame with underexplored cards.

Sultai Beanstalk by Jeff White

Main Deck
  • 4 [[Brainstorm]]
  • 4 [[Ponder]]
  • 2 [[Fatal Push]]
  • 1 [[Spell Pierce]]
  • 1 [[Stifle]]
  • 1 [[Thoughtseize]]
  • 4 [[Orcish Bowmasters]]
  • 4 [[Up the Beanstalk]]
  • 2 [[Daze]]
  • 2 [[Sheoldred’s Edict]]
  • 2 [[Witherbloom Command]]
  • 1 [[Force of Negation]]
  • 1 [[Sauron’s Ransom]]
  • 4 [[Force of Will]]
  • 2 [[Lórien Revealed]]
  • 2 [[Murderous Cut]]
  • 4 [[Murktide Regent]]
  • 4 [[Misty Rainforest]]
  • 4 [[Polluted Delta]]
  • 3 [[Underground Sea]]
  • 3 [[Wasteland]]
  • 2 [[Tropical Island]]
  • 1 [[Bayou]]
  • 1 [[Mystic Sanctuary]]
  • 1 [[Snow-Covered Island]]
  • 1 [[Swamp]]
  • 2 [[Hydroblast]]
  • 1 [[Carpet of Flowers]]
  • 1 [[Nihil Spellbomb]]
  • 1 [[Surgical Extraction]]
  • 1 [[Veil of Summer]]
  • 1 [[Powder Keg]]
  • 1 [[Tourach, Dread Cantor]]
  • 1 [[Winter Orb]]
  • 2 [[Dismember]]
  • 1 [[Energy Flux]]
  • 1 [[Pernicious Deed]]
  • 1 [[Force of Vigor]]
What is Sultai Beanstalk’s plan vs. The EPIC Storm (TES)? Kill fast with onboard threats and mana denial, or sculpt a hand of countermagic?

Like any midrange strategy, it’s draw-dependent. Many have told me that Sultai Beanstalk feels difficult to pilot. I think that’s because game plans vary based on one’s draw. Sometimes you have ”beatdown” draws, and sometimes you have ”control” draws. Figuring out which is which is the tricky part.

Typically against TES, I aim for a more ”controlling” role. Powering out a [[Murktide Regent]] to kill in two or three turns is often too slow. I want to sit behind a [[Force of Will]] and two copies of [[Up the Beanstalk]] to replenish my hand while interacting.

Is [[Up the Beanstalk]] too slow against TES?

[[Up the Beanstalk]] is actually very important against TES. If you look at fair to combo as a spectrum, I view Sultai’s Beanstalk’s role against TES as a notch toward the combo side — I’m trying to assemble two copies of [[Up the Beanstalk]] + [[Force of Will]]; that’s how I break ahead. That’s why I prioritize interactive one-mana spells like [[Stifle]] and [[Thoughtseize]] in the mainboard. Deploying [[Up the Beanstalk]] on turn two can feel like taking a turn off. Having ways to destabilize TES on the first turn can make that a much safer play.

Would you ever go “shields down” to deploy an [[Up the Beanstalk]] against TES?

If I’ve got relevant interaction that costs mana, such as [[Spell Pierce]], then probably not. I might if I have free interaction like [[Force of Will]] or [[Daze]]. Current iterations of TES rely less on card draw and life total than they have historically. If my choice is deploying [[Up the Beanstalk]] or holding up [[Orcish Bowmasters]], I may deploy my enchantment and pass the turn. Who knows, maybe [[Force of Will]] is my top card!

Sultai Beanstalk runs mana-efficient threats like [[Orcish Bowmasters]] and [[Murktide Regent]] alongside grindier cards like [[Witherbloom Command]] and [[Up the Beanstalk]]. Is Sultai Beanstalk more of a tempo or control deck? How does that impact how TES should pilot the matchup?

Sultai Beanstalk’s plan varies based on what’s in hand. Sometimes it’s [[Orcish Bowmasters]] into [[Murktide Regent]], sometimes it’s two consecutive copies of [[Up the Beanstalk]] with [[Force of Will]] backup. This informs many personal card choices: I’m only on two [[Daze]] and three [[Wasteland]]. Unlike a full-on tempo strategy, I see these cards as supporting tools, not a strategy unto itself.

Sultai Beanstalk has so many action spells at two mana. [[Wasteland]] isn’t always as strong as it is in Delver strategies, which can operate on a single [[Volcanic Island]] indefinitely in many games. Rather than a whole strategy, [[Wasteland]] a situational tool to handle problematic cards like [[Cavern of Souls]] and [[Urza’s Saga]].

How do you identify a combo opponent? What indicators tip off TES in game one? How do you adjust?

Early proactivity is a big tell. If, during the first two turns of a game, my opponent is just cantripping off [[Underground Sea]] without presenting any proactive threats, it’s unlikely to be Delver. Typically, [[Preordain]] is also a giveaway of something unfair.

Once I recognize what my opponent is up to, I cantrip accordingly. I run six black maindeck removal spells, which are great in an open field, but dead cards that don’t pitch to [[Force of Will]] against TES. Shuffling those cards away via [[Brainstorm]] plus fetch is huge.

Once in a blue moon, I may [[Murderous Cut]] my own creature to draw a card off [[Up the Beanstalk]] or grow my [[Murktide Regent]]. Drawing additional cards off of [[Up the Beanstalk]] can help dig to the cards I care about: [[Force of Will]], [[Thoughtseize]], [[Stifle]], and the like. Running cards like [[Fatal Push]] is the cost of being fair blue in legacy game one. You often have to take a backseat to combo pre-board and hope for the best.

How much does Sultai Beanstalk rely on looping [[Wasteland]] with [[Witherbloom Command]] to deny mana?

I’m definitely looking for that loop against TES. My primary objective against TES is to find [[Up the Beanstalk]] plus [[Force of Will]]. [[Witherbloom Command]] destabilizing TES’s mana buys time. My first priority is always finding countermagic. My second is exactly this kind of early mana denial.

Many fair Dimir strategies run a [[Reanimate]] package with [[Grief]]. Should TES expect that from Sultai Beanstalk?

No. That package doesn’t synergize with [[Up the Beanstalk]], which we’ve already made significant deckbuilding concessions for. [[Up the Beanstalk]] needs cards that trigger it. That doesn’t leave room for a [[Reanimate]] package.

How have you liked [[Stifle]] in this meta? Is it integral to Sultai Beanstalk? Should TES always plan for it?

Expect to see and play around [[Stifle]] from Sultai Beanstalk. It’s a Swiss Army Knife that does a little of everything in many matchups. It’s fairly easy to cash out as a one-for-one against most decks. When you high roll with it (and, say, [[Stifle]] a Storm trigger), it steals games. Current builds of TES often utilize [[Thoughtseize]] to strip [[Stifle]] before it becomes relevant on a combo turn. Rather than sandbag it, I use it to take out an early fetchland to destabilize mana if given the opportunity.

What is your sideboard plan against TES?

There are plenty of semi-relevant sideboard cards and plenty of totally dead mainboard removal spells. Against TES, I might cut more [[Orcish Bowmasters]] or not bring in [[Energy Flux]] to make room for [[Hydroblast]] to target [[Burning Wish]]. [[Leovold, Emissary of Trest]] doesn’t currently make the cut in my sideboard, but would be absolutely phenomenal here.


  • -2 [[Fatal Push]]
  • -2 [[Sheoldred’s Edict]]
  • -2 [[Murderous Cut]]
  • -1 [[Island]]
  • -2 [[Orcish Bowmasters]]


  • +1 [[Veil of Summer]]
  • +1 [[Surgical Extraction]]
  • +1 [[Carpet of Flowers]]
  • +1 [[Nihil Spellbomb]]
  • +1 [[Tourach, Dread Cantor]]
  • +1 [[Pernicious Deed]]
  • +1 [[Powder Keg]]
  • +1 [[Energy Flux]]
  • +1 [[Force of Vigor]]

How does TES compare to other combo decks like Oops! All Spells, Ad Nauseam Tendrils, Doomsday, etc?

Fundamentally, Sultai Beanstalk is a fair blue deck with access to some interactive cards. Our TES matchup will never be abysmal. That said, our volume of dead maindeck cards and TES’s current construction (that isn’t as dependent on its life total or card draw) make the matchup more challenging than [[Doomsday]], especially game one. I’d still take TES over a [[Blood Moon]] stompy strategy any day. Sultai Beanstalk can board into the basic [[Swamp]], but Sultai Beanstalk is at its softest when kept off relevant colors of mana.

Given TES’s density of artifact mana, do you keep [[Daze]] in on the draw?

[[Daze]] can be bad, but there are plenty of worse cards to cut, so I leave it in. I almost always advise against deploying [[Daze]] on turn one when piloting Sultai Beanstalk, but TES is an exception; if you can [[Daze]] a turn one [[Ponder]], do it.

Does Sultai Beanstalk struggle to pitch-cast [[Force of Vigor]]?

Absolutely. It’s not great. [[Force of Vigor]] is needed for the blood moon decks. It’s often solid to spend the full four mana in the mirror, but Sultai Beanstalk is not reliably pitch-casting it. Sultai Beanstalk’s sideboard cards need to be flexible and have legs against many different strategies. Against TES, I’d definitely prefer a more targeted hate card.

Do you miss artifact hate cards like [[Null Rod]] or [[Collector Ouphe]]? Should TES prepare for those cards against Sultai Beanstalk?

You can expect some Sultai Beanstalk pilots to play them, though I think it’s an incorrect metagame call. Half of the decks Sultai Beanstalk wants artifact hate for are [[Urza’s Saga]] based, which can basically ignore [[Null Rod]]. I want a silver bullet to deal with construct tokens.

Even against TES, [[Null Rod]] can shut down some boardstates, but sometimes TES only needs an artifact to bargain to [[Beseech the Mirror]] and a few copies of [[Dark Ritual]]. [[Null Rod]] is not the lock piece it used to be against TES.

Any final thoughts, comments, plugs, or shoutouts?

Thanks for having me on! I really enjoyed talking about Sultai Beanstalk vs. TES. I want to give a big shout out to Brian Coval (better known as BoshNRoll) for helping me tune and test Sultai Beanstalk for Eternal Weekend.

Big shout out to Jeff White for joining us Through the Looking Glass.

The Sultai Beanstalk matchup can be tricky, but I'm not letting it BUG me. Bang bang, Tendrils gang. See you next month.