"Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice. From what I've tasted of desire I hold with those who favor fire. But if the world should perish twice, I think I know enough of hate, to say that for destruction, ice is also great, and would suffice." -- Robert Frost
This thread is an updated version of the original thread found here. I'm currently in the process of updating and modifying, basically giving it a complete facelift. As I am very busy, this process may take awhile, please bear with it.
What is U/R Seismic Swans? Its a deck idea that was created to try and beat most of the top standard decks around. (Ok, mainly Faeries and 5CC) A variant of the original U/R CounterBurn Deck, Seismic Swans is an incredibly complex control deck that seeks to win all of its games by burying its opponent in card advantage. Yes, it wins many games by simply out-drawing its opponent.
Origin The original idea came about from the U/R CounterBurn strategy of Countering and Burning away threats to completely cripple the opponents' deck, while winning with various finishers. It later evolved when some people played a list on Magic Online exploiting the Seismic Swans Combo, to much success. This build then became the most popular and highly played. The deck's success rippled through the Japanese community, and a number of the players from that country played the deck in Pro Tour Kyoto. Shuhei Nakamura, a player of respected caliber piloted in Kyoto to a Top 32 finish.
So how does it work? The basic premise is simple: spend the first few turns countering spells and sweeping the board when necessary. As you amass mana, you can play Swans of Bryn Argoll and begin drawing an insane number of cards. Every time you play a sweeper spell, you will not only clear the air for your 4/3 flier to beat in, but also draw two cards (or more). The play style is mainly "Draw-Go" since counters and most burn are instants. Basically you do whatever you can to stall your opponent until you win using the combo or aggro them to death with Swans and/or other creatures (including man-lands) OR a combination of the above. Fun Right?!
Method of Playing This section describes in great detail how to pilot the deck to victory, as well as the many play mistake committed by players. Piloting skills are very crucial if you want to win with this deck. And this section has been requested by many members in the previous thread.
I meant to do a more detailed one, but that will take time. Meanwhile, you can read this little paragraph, courtesy or our good friend sisomic. ^_^
U/R is a bad match-up for every deck except Fae. (BB is really good.) But even that match-up is only like 45-55 at its worse.
ADVICE TO ALL: If you are going to play this deck; LEARN IT, PRACTICE IT, LOVE IT. If you do not have every card and quantity memorized in the deck and can't recite them forward, backward, and alphabetically, you have not practiced enough with this deck. It is way too complicated to just "pick up" or "throw together" like I keep seeing some of you say. I know that a lot of people want to try this out because it has actually seen some competitive play, but its not like the other tourney decks. Keep this in mind when you are playing this deck. If you lose, don't say, "This deck is bad against ." Instead say, "What did I do wrong, what can I do differently next time, and where do I need to improve at?" Mistakes in this deck are so hard to prevent because many of them go unnoticed. Recognize your mistakes and learn from them.
Plumeveil : I've found that Plumeveil is one of the most effective ways of dealing with the aggro decks of the format. And it is very hard to get past it, short of a Flame Javelin or Path to Exile . The flash makes it a very fun combat trick too. It can buy you enough time to set up your win. It's simply an essential card.
Remove Soul : Selective counter magic. But I usually prefer to run more Negate because it covers so much more (Instants, Sorcery, Artifact, Enchantments & Planeswalkers!). Plus, you have burn if there is a need to get rid of a creature.
Volcanic Fallout : An instant Pyroclasm that can't be countered. Considering that the average Swans list plays seven or more sweepers, it stands to reason that Swans should have a pretty impressive match-up with creature-based decks and even Faeries.
Firespout : Better than pyroclasm? Problem is we don't have green mana.
Seismic Assault : In all my testing, one thing became pretty clear over time - the games in which I resolved this card were the ones I had almost no shot of losing. Whether it is used to clear blockers for Swans of Bryn Argoll or your manlands, to draw cards, or to burn the opponent, this card simply makes the deck tick. You won't ever need more than two (as any beyond the first are useless), but with two you can be sure to draw it every game.
Tidings : Though questionable at first, this card is simply remarkable here. It digs for your win conditions if you don't have them yet, and later it digs for lands to fuel Seismic Assault. It also combines with the other draw spells in the deck to create a card advantage machine that simply is unmatched in Standard. No more than two are necessary, but I feel like any less than two is just wrong.
Proof of Concept I just thought that I should include the very first deck list which I worked with. The idea that started it all. This decklist is not fantastic, no Swans either, but it works (kinda), and it is definitely budget friendly.
U/R CounterBurn v1 x .0 U/R Control By:AzureKn1 x ght]
With the success of the Swans control deck, I decided that it might be worth to add black to the deck, and form a Grixis control deck. Many of the deck's main features are derived from the Seismic Swans deck. Although this deck is not exactly a Seismic Swans deck (no swans at all!), this deck uses generally the same strategy, playing heavy countrol and card advantage engines. The only difference here is that the win-con has been changed to Demigod which when played in multiples, can be quite devastating.
This decklist is not your standard U/R build, it doesn't play any control or CA spells. Instead, he chose to take advantage of the cascade mechanic, and Ad Nauseam, to quickly get out all the combo pieces. Then end the game by burning the opponent to death. This is an interesting build, really worth considering. This could be the direction where the Swans deck is heading.
Pro Tour-Kyoto Decklists
Among the players who decided to run the swans build, one of them in particular deserves special mention. And that is Shuhei Nakamura. If you don't know who he is, you might have been living under a rock. He is one helluva good player. Probably one of the best players around.
Shuhei Nakamura U/R Swans:
Shuhei Nakamura - U/R Swans Pro Tour-Kyoto, Standard
I guess this is the most successful build by far, I'm just puzzled by the single Pithing Needle? Of course, there are a fewothers that made top 8 as well. I decided to specially mention this because he made it to 1st place! Congratz YYsapporo! He has been constantly playing U/R CounterBurn on Magic Online and his Seismic Swans build has seen much success lately. If you check the link, you'll realize that he had beaten many 5 color control builds to the top spot this proves our superiority. I really wish he could post some of his experiences and match up details here so that we can further develop the deck.
Good Luck in your future matches YYsapporo! Keep up the good work! :D
Ysapporo - 4th Place Standard Event #176871 on 01/29/2009
YYsapporo tweaked his original list abit, deciding on a 3rd Jace and cutting the 2nd Tidings ( a good choice imo ), he also changed his SB, adding Flashfreeze in place of Swerve allowing him to have answers to more threats. I really like his decklists. YYsapporo whoever you are, your input on this forum would be greatly appreciated!
duotianshi203 - 8th Place Standard Event #160682 on 01/18/2009
Please note that the statistical numbers are only rough estimates derived from my playtesting, and the actual game match up can vary due to many factors. However, this can be use as a rough guide on how to play against the different decks.
Faeries - 60/40 While I can't say how entirely accurate it is to say that this match-up is always going to be 60/40 in the favor of Swans, that was the way it appeared to be after a good deal of testing. The Faerie player can usually win the average game as long as he gets a strong hand and a turn two Bitterblossom, but there are so many hands with Swans that just beat Faeries that it is truly a wonder why no one played this deck sooner. Volcanic Fallout as well as Pyroclasm help to keep the Fae player's board empty most of the time, and Plumeveil holds off any trouble-makers. Once again, resolving a Seismic Assault makes it almost impossible for them to beat you.
RW Lark (aka Boat Brew) - 65/35 RW Lark is generally the deck you want to play against when piloting Swans. With no way to make its men bigger than x/2, you're going to always get the most out of your sweepers. Your counterspells make up for what Pyroclasm and company won't kill. Post SB, Pithing Needle really shuts down Figure of Destiny , Siege-Gang Commander , Windbrisk Heights , and Ajani Vengeant . A pretty easy match-up overall, which is good considering the popularity of RW.
B/W Tokens - 55/45 This match-up is mostly in your favor (and thus might actually be higher than 55/45), but the success that Swans has against B/W is directly related to whether or not the Tokens player resolves a Glorious Anthem effect or not. Just like against Boat Brew, your sweepers will be able to clear the opponent's board while also gaining you card advantage. The plan of countering threats and periodically clearing the board works fine 90% of the time, but sometimes they will sneak a second Glorious Anthem into play and then you find your sweepers to be nearly useless. If the B/W player can make his tokens bigger than x/2, you've probably lost. Seismic Assault can help to bail you out of this situation by giving you more ammunition to pick off the stragglers, but generally it means game over. If they have Thoughtseize , expect a slight improvement in their deck performance against Swans. The good news is that Swans is innately resilient to Head Games, since they likely won't want to fill your hand with lands. It's still bad for you since they will give you the least useful cards at any given time, but it's a far cry from what happens to a Five Color player.
Five Color Control - 50/50 (possibly more) In this match-up, you want to be as aggressive as you can whilst also out-drawing them. It's difficult to strike a proper balance for this, but the ideal way to do it is to drop a Goblin Assault and allow it to act as a pseudo-Bitterblossom that will endlessly apply pressure without costing you any mana investment. Glen Elendra Archmage can help you go toe-to-toe with Cruel Ultimatum and also to win you counter wars. The match-up with Five Color is generally even. You may draw more cards than they will, but the card quality overall in their deck is better. If you can stick a Seismic Assault, you should usually win. They might have Runed Halo , though, so be sure to hold a Cryptic Command back when you have enough lands for lethal.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------- Match Up Details from previous thread.
Faeries: Quite a favourable match up. You have Negate, Broken Ambitions and a whole suite of counterspells for their Bitterblossom . If they do pull it off later in the game, you play a Goblin Assault to pressure them (they can trade with me forever, but lose a life a turn). You could have some Guttural Response SB to beat the counter war. In this matchup, use V. Clique to take mistbind, or remove soul it. Aim all burn spells at them until BB bleeds them to death? If all else fails, pyroclasm them when the numbers are up. All of their control against creatures is virtually useless as you have so few creatures. Demigods will wreck them too
Builds that splash a little green mana base can SB Naturalize or something?
Demigod/Red Deck Wins: This match up relies on the draw quite a bit. If you can set up with your control early enough, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem, follow up with pyroclasm/firespout for their smaller creatures. If they pull out several Demigod of revenge in Game 1, theres really nothing you can do. You definitely wanna Side in Faerie Macabre /Relic of Progenitus and Flashfreeze .
Hi, I've done 6-0 to my FNM Today and wanted to hear your thoughts about my list. I find it pretty fun to play, consistent and have enough win-cons to switch for control to aggro in the space of 1 turn. Heres my list and my MU
Game 1 : Elf Ball - Vithian Stinger out of the board kills this decks 2-0 Game 2 : Red Deck Wins - 2-0 Game 3 : Naya Agro - 2-0 Game 4 : Goblin Warriors - 2-0 Game 5 : Blightning Red - 2-1 Game 6 : Jund Ramp - 2-0
Kithkin/White Weenie: This match up could prove to be problematic. The important factor in this matchup is the early game. If you allow them to get a few early hits in, it’s not hard for them to surprise you with a Mirrorweave or Ajani Goldmane to take you down. Spectral Procession will be a thorn in your side to deal with. Pyroclasm combined with other burn spells can go a long way in this matchup. Also, Vendilion Clique can flash in when they attack, it can trade and get rid of their Cloudgoat or something. Post-board, they get forge-tenders, but we have options, too. Everlasting Torment neuters them, and Magma Spray seems good to hit a T1 figure.
5 Color Control: This matchup is typically favourable, all of their control against creatures is virtually useless as you have so few. Puncture Blast away their Finks. Just make sure you have your counters up for their Cruel Ultimatum. Post SB Fulminator Mage or Memory Plunder will prove useful. Resolve a Jace and the Card Advantage should overwhelm them. They typically die to your planeswalkers... So have your Jace and Chandra stick around.
Reveillark Control: This match up should be fairly easy for you. You just need to keep your counters up for any of their threats. Revaillark should never resolve and neither should Makeshift Mannequin. Shriekmaw does nothing to you. Demigod should more or less win you the game. Same as against RDW, you definitely wanna Side in Faerie Macabre /Relic of Progenitus .
Lemme know how your testing goes. I'd really like to hear it, and update the match ups here.
To Hodoku for the awesome dividers To neruka for coming up with the banner To WotC and the respective artist for the artwork. To Chris Jobin from http://mtgsalvation.com/996-thirst-for- … birds.html for a very informative article. To All of you who have contributed your ideas and Decklists
Well, thats all for U/R Swans. I really hope people can take it to some competitive tournaments, or just have fun with the deck. I would really appreciate if anyone could give me some opinion or suggestions on this deck. Send me your versions! I'll really like to see it, and we can all critique. [s]Also, I'm looking for a really good banner. I hope any of you who are more artistic can help me out.
Note: I'm quite busy these days, so I may take awhile to reply, but any comments and suggestions are most welcomed.
Here is all the match ups for the different Archetypes in Standard. (At least the most common ones) Note that this list was taken from Pro-Tour Kyoto, and may be subject to change, nothing is set in stone afterall. I'd just decided to put it up here to help everyone in their deck building, particularly the construction of a suitable SB for the current meta-game.
I hope this goes a long way to helping everyone with their deck building! :D
Detailed Swans Match Up Statistics (Taken From Pro-Tour Kyoto)
Here are the match up statistics for U/R Swans. Please note that this table is constructed using data from Pro-Tour Kyoto alone. Therefore, this table may not be very accurate. As you can see, the number of matches is relatively small, and this can make the data less accurate.
I hope this table can help you better understand how this deck fairs against the respective match ups, as well as to aid you in constructing your deck as well as preparing a SB that will even out tougher match ups. Good Luck!
I think the hardest deck to play against was RDW, I dedicated a lot of sideboard to RDW. Cancel is actually VERY good, late game hard counters are always a plus. I out controlled a 5cc deck twice through sheer counters once sideboard hits (think up to 22)