Hold your Horses!

Let’s cut to the chase because I’ve been pondering about this deck in my head since spoiler season and it came back to me after a quick chat with my friend, Sven, from Australia. He’s an amazing brewer that brings funky decks to the table too.

First of all, this is a competitive deck.

Crested Sunmare

Secondly, it’s featuring Crested Sunmare.

Therefore, we’re in for some serious horseplay!

When Crested Sunmare was spoiled, Reddit went wild and started brewing crazy life-gain decks that tried to push this card to its limit. People played cards like Lone Rider, Peace of Mind and Blessed Alliance hoping to flood the board with 5/5 indestructible horses with lifelink.

It has never topped any tournament that landed it on a featured match table but this should not discourage us from building a deck around it.


Lifelink as a mechanic was never seen as a competitive ability people use in constructed formats. Apart from Soul Sisters and Martyr Proc in Modern, I can’t remember the last time a lifelink was considered a ‘win con’. Exalted Angel saw some competitive play when Astral Slide was still a thing back in 2004.

Gifted AetherbornBlessed AlliancePulse of Murasa

Fast forward to 2017 lifelink, or lifegain in general, has helped certain decks excel in an ultra-aggressive environment dominated by Ramunap Red or Humans and Zombies from SOI. The life gain helps slower decks keep their life totals healthy as they slowly build their board presence.

My take on life gain is not just to stay healthy, but to actually run away with the game and create a huge gap on life totals that I can comfortably play my spells and focus on cards that specifically allows the opponent to catch up. To do this I chose Blue White as my base color.

White is the color of rejuvenation and damage prevention so it’s natural to find plenty of lifelink creatures in this color.

Sacred CatBishop's SoldierAerial Responder

The limitation of lifelink however is that it comes with a body and in the current meta, there are 5,384 ways to kill creatures and I won’t list them down here anymore. There is however a great alternative that helps us gain life, won’t be easy to remove, and can gain us life without even going to combat.

Dovin Baan

The blue dude from Kaladesh finally found its home. All his abilities are great in our control life-gain shell. He shuts down pesky attacks, gains you life and draws you card, and provides solid inevitability. He also curves very well with Crested Sunmare.

I’m so excited now so let me show you my decklist for UW Sunmare!

Creatures:  11

3 God Pharaoh’s Faithful
2 Sunscourge Champion
2 Vizier of Many Faces
3 Crested Sunmare

Spells: 25

4 Opt
2 Revolutionary Rebuff
2 Negate
4 Disallow
3 Cancel
3 Renewed Faith
2 Settle the Wreckage
2 Cast Out
3 Solemnity

Planeswalker: 3

3 Dovin Baan

Lands: 24

4 Irrigated Farmland
4 Glacial Fortress
9 Island
7 Plains

Sideboard: 15

4 Glory-Bound Initiate
2 Essence Scatter
1 Negate
3 Approach of the Second Sun
3 Supreme Will
2 Fumigate

God-Pharaoh's FaithfulSunscourge Champion

I love God-Pharaoh’s Faithful in this list because it’s so sturdy and gains us life whenever we play one of our 20 spells. We can get 5/5 horses from Crested Sunmare at the end of the opponent’s turn if we cast an Opt, or counter their spells. Sunscourge Champion is another great card that’s resilient and gains us a total of 6 life over turns 3 and 4.

Revolutionary Rebuff

I can see Revolutionary Rebuff to regain its usefulness with the decrease in the number of Vehicles played these days. In some ways I think it’s better than Censor because it can catch your opponent off-guard thinking you’re packing Censors and leaves one mana up. Apart from Walking Ballista and Gate to the Afterlife, there’s no other significant artifact worth countering on turn 2.

Renewed Faith

I wanted some cantrip but still cling to our lifegain strategy that’s why I’m playing a couple of Renewed Faith. It’s a good top deck if we’re behind on life totals while we try to stay alive for a turn 4 Settle the Wreckage. It also gains us some life if we cycle it and we can trigger Crested Sunmare as well in the process.

Vizier of Many Faces

Vizier of Many Faces is our Sunmare’s clone engine which will allow us to overlap indestructibility to both Sunmares and stampede to victory. But it’s not limited to just copying the Crested Sunmare but it can also copy horse tokens which are left behind. Most likely the opponent will direct their removal to the Sunmare and deal with the tokens later. Don’t forget it can also copy your opponent’s creatures like Regisaur Alpha (and we do get the dino token), Carnage Tyrant (we’re not targeting it). Sweet!

Solemnity again sees mainboard play because we’re not affected by it in general but it hoses a lot of decks easily, rendering Temur and Sultai energy decks klunky at best.

The sideboard again is transformative but now we have 2 options.

Glory-Bound InitiateApproach of the Second Sun

  1. We can go aggressive and play with Glory-Bound Initiate and tempo our opponent out; or
  2. Become an Approach deck which the opponent may not see coming and miss boarding in lost legacy and focus on removals to deal with the horses.

We have additional counter magic on the sideboard to allow us to tweak our control plan against specific decks. Essence Scatter for more creature heavy decks and an additional Negate for opposing control decks, then 2 copies of Fumigate.

That’s it for today and I’ll see you back here soon! Let me know if you’re as excited as I am with this concept by commenting below!



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