RW Sunbird’s Approach

In October 3, I posted a RW midrange list that used the best Planeswalkers Red and White has to offer, play the best sweepers, and win with Chandra ultimate, Gideon’s attacks, or Huatli’s 3/3 dinos.

I included a single copy of Sunbird’s Invocation and Approach of the Second Sun in case games go long and I needed an ‘I win’ card.

Approach of the Second SunSunbird's Invocation

A little over a week on October 13-14, a similar deck list topped 16’ed in the US Nationals played by Adam Bialkowski. In an interview with Eric Froehlich, Adam mentioned that the game plan was just control the board in game 1 and win with Approach cascading into another copy thanks to Sunbird’s Invocation. While Game 2 the deck can transform into a pseudo-vehicles with Heart of Kiran powering up from the many Planeswalkers that the deck has in the mainboard.

I can’t help but think that sometimes, my crazy ideas do work in the professional scene. I revisited my decklist which you can find here and compare it with Adam’s build here .

Combustible Gearhulk

I also noticed Adam packed 2 copies of Combustible Gearhulk and Captain Lannery Storm in the sideboard which made me revisit my RB Sunbird deck which I played in the recently concluded Gold Rush, deck list you can find here.

So why not merge both ideas and tweak the deck? Today I want to walk you through with my ideas to make Sunbird’s Invocation truly playable in Standard.

A chat with the man behind “Rogue Builders Alley”, Kevin, once told me that brewers need to understand the meta first before attempting to influence it. So let’s look into the Approach deck list and try to compare the RW and RB builds against the more prominent UW build – apples to apples.

Search for AzcantaAzcanta, the Sunken Ruin

Search of Azcanta is one of the primary reasons to play Approach with blue. The amount of card advantage and filtering this 2-mana enchantment provides the deck enables it to smooth out its draws to get the right answers at the right time. Flipping it makes digging for the tucked Approach must faster as well.

Essence ScatterSupreme Will

Counter magic is another reason play blue. The ability to select which card affects the board state and which ones get discard to the graveyard allows the Approach player to better use his life total as a resource to draw out the game and maximize his sweepers.

The problem with UW decks though is that the deck’s behavior depends heavily on how your initial draws and succeeding draw steps play out versus how fast your opponent is able to clutter the board and start shredding your life.

Farm // Market

The usual problems players share playing UW Approach is the lack of early interactions. Farm//Market is not as good as having access to Fatal Push or Abrade. The choice of taking in some damage to use Supreme Will to dig for a Fumigate or Settle the Wreckage can also whiff sometimes causing you to take even more damage.

Torrential Gearhulk

The sideboard choices is also limiting within the control shell, swapping in Torrential Gearhulks to take the beat down path and add more Regal Caracal to cushion the early aggro and try to gain some life back.

Shifting our attention to the RB build, I gave up using Approach and focused on extracting as much value as possible from Sunbird’s Invocation and play the best Red and Black threats like Glorybringer, Combustible Gearhulk and The Scorpion God.

Fatal PushGlorybringer

Having access to Red and Black also gave me better removal like Fatal Push, Abrade and Unlicensed Disintegration. I also have Hour of Devastation to replace Fumigate which performed surprisingly well in removing Gods and Planeswalkers in one clean sweep.

DuressGifted Aetherborn

The sideboard options felt better as well thanks to Black – access to Duress, Lost Legacy, Vraska’s Contempt and Gifted Aetherborn made the deck better equipped against certain match-ups.

The down-side of not playing Blue is there is no card draw. I didn’t use Treasure Map yet in my initial build which could have helped but still, not being able to refill the hand during attrition games has caused me some games. Nothing feels more awful that having a Sunbird’s Invocation out and no cards in hand to trigger it.

Adam’s top 16 finish is attributed to great early interaction and certain inevitability and I want to have a crack at improving Adam’s list with the lesson’s I learned playing my RB version.

RW Approach of the Sunbird

Planeswalker: 7

2 Gideon of the Trials
2 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
3 Huatli, Warrior Poet

Creatures: 3

3 Veteran Motorist

Spells: 25

2 Treasure Map
4 Abrade
4 Fumigate
3 Settle the Wreckage
4 Cast Out
2 Ixalan’s Binding
3 Sunbird’s Invocation
3 Approach of the Second Sun

Lands: 25

4 Inspiring Vantage
4 Stone Quarry
9 Mountain
8 Plains

Sideboard: 15

3 Glory-bound Initiate
2 Chandra’s Defeat
2 Gideon’s Intervention
2 Solemnity
4 Glorybringer
2 Regal Caracal

Main board Change Logs:

Cast Out

  • -1 Ixalan’s Binding for +1 Cast Out: Our removal is not cheap and I want more of Cast Out because I can cycle it early to fix my draws. It has helped me dig up more land in many occasions.
  • -1 Oketra and -1 Angel of Sanction:  I don’t think they made any sort of impact in the games especially if they are one-offs and you can’t consistently draw into them.

Veteran Motorist

  • +3 Veteran Motorist: These creatures are just there for the early blocks which I think is amazing against opposing Longtusk Cubs, forcing them to use energy to keep it alive. But the biggest pay-off for playing the Motorist is the early scry 2 which is huge in ensuring you’re making your land drops and getting the removal you need.
  • +1 Fumigate: Many times over I got murdered by so many creatures and I end up always wanting a Fumigate off the top. Having all 4 copies is very comforting knowing you can sweep the board many times over and still have enough in the deck for later.

Treasure MapTreasure Cove

  • +2 Treasure Map: Lesson learned from playing RB Invocation is that the early scry helps get us to the right answers and at the same time ramps us to an early Sunbird or Approach if needed. Flipping it also ramps us so that’s a welcome bonus.

Sideboard Change Logs:

  • -2 Combustible Gearhulk: I am still a fan of this card don’t get me wrong but I wanted a sideboard that lets me get lower to the ground and become more aggressive especially against control mirrors.


  • +2 Solemnity: I can say that the mainboard list is well position against energy decks but having Solemnity in game 2 helps solidify our match-up.
  • +4 Glorybringer: The opponent would not expect us playing a Glorybringer in game 2 after he siding out most of his removal. I also like the fact that we can play Glorybringer after a Settle the Wreckage the turn before.

Chandra's Defeat

  • +2 Chandra’s Defeat: I hate Glorybringers coming down and killing my Huatli and Chandra so I wanted a card that can effectively deal with it with minimal mana investment.
  • -1 Lannery Storm: She wasn’t doing much and her ramp is not so useful if we can’t effectively swing with her consistently.

Gideon's Intervention

  • +2 Gideon’s Intervention: This card shows the greatest potential in our shell since we can’t deal with permanents that already hit the battlefield. Creatures like Bristling Hydra is hard to deal with outside Fumigate but having Gideon’s Intervention mutes this creature well.

Overall I think the RW Approach is slightly less powered than the UW build in all honestly but in a meta filled with very aggressive decks I think it is slightly better positioned than the UW list.

Give it a try and let me know what works for you! Share your findings at the comments below!



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