Home Forums Highlander Decklists Control (Archived) UR / wUR Combo-Control – ANNIHILATOR SIX

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  • #936
    Sarven McLinton
    Sarven McLinton
    Keymaster

    PRIMER

    This archetype rose as a response to the preponderance of Grixis Control decks in the meta, circa early 2018. Sarven McLinton designed ANNIHILATOR SIX to thrive in a control meta with the mirror-breaking combo finish, and turbo lock pieces for the greedy manabase meta. If your local has an abundance of Kess Pile then ANNIHILATOR SIX is another great control alternative to the leading deck.

    ANNIHILATOR SIX is a deck name always written in ALLCAPS, representing the eagerness with which you will announce this trigger and hope that your opponent does not immediately concede. One of the most enjoyable aspects of the deck is the means by which you can use Emrakul as a Gaea’s Blessing effect in grindy control late-games; early looting with Dack, Loothouse, and Izzet Charm, selectively delving away dead cards with Dig and Cruise in the mid-game, then late-game discarding Emrakul to shuffle all the gas back in and maintain a high threat/power density). Sneak Attack and Cunning Wish don’t simply present a win-con with Emrakul but value and pin-point selection when the combo isn’t on your mind, including ridiculous loops with Gearhulk and counters that also bounce creatures, pseudo-flash on Dire Fleet Daredevil, hasted attacks out of nowhere to kill planeswalkers (and then later reshuffling those temporary threats back in with discarded Emrakul), and all manner of awesome “In response, Cunning Wish for…” plays.

    The list has placed very well in two events in 2018, wining one with a 4-0 finish, and then also Top 8-ing the 30-player AE Highlander Challenge. With the deck’s very strong finishes recently there is no hesitation in recommending this 75, especially if you would like to turn Emrakul sideways and say “Annihilator Six”…

    DECKLIST
    Win Cons (7)
    Sneak Attack
    Cunning Wish
    Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
    Snapcaster Mage *
    Torrential Gearhulk
    Dire Fleet Daredevil
    Jace, the Mind Sculptor *

    Interaction (11)
    Mental Misstep
    Force of Will *
    Spell Pierce
    Spell Snare
    Remand
    Censor
    Miscalculation
    Mana Leak
    Counterspell
    Vendilion Clique
    Cryptic Command

    Card Filtering (8)
    Gitaxian Probe
    Brainstorm
    Ponder
    Preordain
    Merchant Scroll*
    Dack Fayden
    Dig through Time **
    Fact or Fiction

    Removal (6)
    Lightning Bolt
    Abrade
    Izzet Charm
    Fire//Ice
    Fiery Confluence
    Mystic Confluence

    Moon Pieces (4)
    Back to Basics *
    Blood Moon
    Magus of the Moon
    Blood Sun

    Acceleration (5)
    Chrome Mox
    Lotus Petal
    Simian Spirit Guide
    Ancient Tomb
    City of Traitors

    Lands (19)
    Desolate Lighthouse
    Volcanic Island
    Steam Vents
    Sulfur Falls
    Bloodstained Mire
    Flooded Strand
    Misty Rainforest
    Polluted Delta
    Scalding Tarn
    Island
    Island
    Island
    Island
    Island
    Island
    Island
    Island
    Mountain
    Mountain

    SB: Through the Breach
    SB: Echoing Truth
    SB: Anger of the Gods
    SB: Submerge
    SB: Kozilek’s Return
    SB: Vedalken Shackles
    SB: Flusterstorm
    SB: Pyroblast
    SB: Red Elemental Blast
    SB: Keranos, God of Storms
    SB: Misdirection
    SB: Surgical Extraction
    SB: Relic of Progenitus
    SB: Null Rod
    SB: Hydroblast

    Budget Note: Although this is not a budget deck, for those who are limited on funds or collecting their Highlander staples sequentially, you can run this list without Volcanic Island (basic Island is fine) and you only lose 5% equity in the occasional fetch. You are almost always finding basics so that you can slam an early Back to Basics so it isn’t necessarily ‘strictly worse’. Mana Drain can easily be replaced with Logic Knot, giving you another point. I would however strongly encourage you to purchase City of Traitors. It is on the Reserved List so you’ll never regret the couple of hundred buck investment (same with Volc, when the time comes) but the consistency of Turn 2 Moons makes City a very worthwhile purchase. Owning one also facilitates other Highlander and Legacy decks so there’s that too!

    I manage Adelaide Eternal, a group running monthly tournaments in SA for Vintage, Highlander, and Legacy. We also commentate feature matches which are uploaded to our YouTube channel every month. Visit: www.youtube.com/adelaideeternal

    #962
    Sarven McLinton
    Sarven McLinton
    Keymaster

    Since April 2018 ANNIHILATOR SIX has been a tour de force in Highlander, surpassing alternate builds such as Blue Moon and Twin. In specific:

    1st place in its debut in SA at the Mt Barker Highlander (20 players)
    Top 8 in the subsequent AE Highlander Challenge (30 players)
    2x Top 16 in an AE Highlander Challenge (30 players)
    2nd and 9th places at the end of Swiss in Vic Highlander Masters (44 players)

    ANNIHILATOR SIX has surpassed all other UR moon/B2B lock style decks to become the leading configuration of this archetype, and has therefore been moved to Top Tier.

    Recent updates:
    -1 Treasure Cruise; +1 Merchant Scroll
    Since the Cruise pointing, Scroll has become the go-to 1-point card for ANNIHILATOR SIX. It fetches Dig for card advantage and ‘tutoring’, fetches Force to protect your combo/haymaker, and can also be chained into critical SB cards via Cunning Wish in the late game.

    -1 Miscalculation; +1 Spellseeker
    The moment this card was printed it was a windmill slam into this archetype. It fetches Merchant Scroll for the ultimate level of flexibility in the late game when mana is no issue, but in the early game it most often chumps to save life whilst finding Bolt against creature decks to help you stabilise, or in the mid game Mana Drain for an explosive subsequent turn. Post SB, Spellseeker truly shines!

    I manage Adelaide Eternal, a group running monthly tournaments in SA for Vintage, Highlander, and Legacy. We also commentate feature matches which are uploaded to our YouTube channel every month. Visit: www.youtube.com/adelaideeternal

    #968
    Sarven McLinton
    Sarven McLinton
    Keymaster

    Personal preference:
    -1 Jace the Mindsculptor; +1 Mana Drain
    This allows you to play a more control-followed-by-explosive-turns style of play. For example an early Drain followed by powering that mana into a FoF, Gearhulk, Wish, Sneak, and so on usually pulls you ahead much further than Jace (plus the new additions of Seeker + Scroll are very synergistic with Drain over Jace). I would recommend this build for an aggro or midrange meta because Jace rarely has a window to survive, however in a Control meta where you would like to win the mirror I recommend keeping Jace over Drain.

    I manage Adelaide Eternal, a group running monthly tournaments in SA for Vintage, Highlander, and Legacy. We also commentate feature matches which are uploaded to our YouTube channel every month. Visit: www.youtube.com/adelaideeternal

    #969
    Sarven McLinton
    Sarven McLinton
    Keymaster

    Why Sneak-Emrakul? They are bad cards when you draw them alone.

    It sure looks like this on the surface, however first comment I’d make is in regards to the Twin comparison, Sneak-Emrakul are in a world of their own. Not a creature combo therefore not susceptible to like half the interaction in the format, getting two-for-oned, and so on. Don’t get me wrong, I love Twin, played it in Modern for years, and in Highlander for years, and I LOVE the fact that 80% of games are won on tempo alone. Sneak is completely different, which is why SIX is a hard control deck with a lock-out subtheme and combo finish (as opposed to Twin which is a Tempo deck with combo finish). So that comparison aside let’s talk about the two cards themselves:

    it is legitimate to think about how terrible SA and Emrakul look without the other half. On paper. I had a similar feeling before actually brewing the list further (it started as UR S&show from Legacy, gradually cut Show, Griselbrand, and so on until there were only 2 cards left… why these two?).

    In action, it is a totally different story. Totally. The two cards aren’t terrible alone, and I would actively argue that SA is a good card (“by itself” not exactly, but you’ll get the gist in a sec). Let’s get Emrakul out of the way first. It’s terrible alone for most of the time however, the deck was actively built with 3 loot cards in it, and not only can you just discard Emrakul and find it again later when you need it, but the shuff is actually good in Control mirrors. Whenever the game goes long you work your way toward ‘the grind’ where there is no tapping out, lots of end of turn effects, jockeying for position, etc. At this point you get to often cast a Cruise and then a Dig (or just one), then if you don’t have SA pitch Emrakul to Dack, Loothouse, or Charm, shuffle your Dig, Cruise and any relevant spells into the deck, and your remaining deck is now X% more gas. I kid you not, in grindy control mirrors (which this deck was designed to beat) I have cast Dig, get it countered, Cruise, get it countered, exiled all the fetches, mediocre cards, etc. resolved Dack, pitched emrakul, the following turns continue to draw cruise again and by this time they are resolving. For reference this particular game I pitched emrakul once for the shuffle, the next was activated off sneak attack to take the opponent down to 2, reshuff for the second time, control opponent tried to get back into the game but obviously having said “annihilator six” this was largely moot. Dack then continued to dig for Emrakul again but found a Daredevil just to lethal anyway off SA. You get the point. The Emrakul shuff is an effect you can play toward in very specific circumstances even without the SA out. Without this the card is terrible by itself. Truly awful. But this very minor upside in my eyes makes it better solo than say griselbrand, etc.

    Now let’s look at SA. Again looks bad on the surface but it is anything but bad. First off, alone, it does something that few Moon decks have had the pleasure of doing in the control mirror (and sometimes midrange), which is proactively resolve a card and make literally the whole game immediately switch gears and be “about Sneak Attack”. You know those games where someone resolves Jace and it’s all about Jace, and the opponent needs to play in a certain fashion? Same here. Your control opponent on Kess Pile knows they have literal no outs (cryptic is very unlikely to resolve in control mirrors) and they need to change their game plan. They aggressively churn through their deck looking for threats to tempo you, or the one cryptic, or whatever (and they are priced into tapping out to make a threat and start a clock, etc.). You take advantage of this and get to resolve your own ‘real’ threat and otherwise take over the game – in essence you create a void in your opponent’s game plan and strike. So in effect, when you resolve SA you already “have” Emrakul in hand for the purposes of your opponent as they have to play in such a fashion.

    The above is the case of SA alone. Now let’s look at it resolved and what you can draw (comparable to the minor interactions Splinter Twin has with non-combo creatures, albeit not vulnerable to removal and proactively played). I’ll list some interactions for when you resolve a SA and leave it on the field in a control mirror… again applicable to many other matchups too, but I’m largely interested in spruiking this from a control mirror perspective because I extol the virtues of the “2 card control mirror breaker”, low cost high reward package due to SIX being an answer for the dominance of Kess Pile in the current meta!

    Any creature in the deck: R: destroy target planeswalker (opponents rarely play around the haste granted to your albeit limited number of creatures, and they also aggressively tap out for Jace to try and dig into cryptic)
    Dire fleet daredevil: upgraded to bizarro world snapcaster mage
    Torrential Gearhulk: R: flashback any instant for freeeeeee

    Now whilst we can only SA in like 5-6 non-emrakul creatures for the haste planeswalker kill, and occasional deece trigger (daredevil) the absolute haymaker is Gearhulk in the late game. For R you can cast your post powerful instant and most of the time this will string together like so: R: Mystic Confluence counter your play, draw a card, bounce Gearhulk to my hand. Next time they try something else R: Cryptic Command counter your play, bounce Geahulk to my hand. Next time R: flashback your finale for whatever you need, e.g. Dig or FoF to find Emrakul for the win, and if not just stock up again on value and it means you’re another step closer to Emrakul. For me, whilst SA + Emrakul is a pair, SA + Gearhulk is a pair too, because this usually wins the game through value alone.

    This was a magical-Xmas-land actual situation I can take as an example of the high-end value of SA + Gearhulk against a midrange deck (not even just a control mirror I’m rabbiting on about!):

    I was super behind, the midrange greed creep dark bant deck had out Tasigur AND Seige Rhino (5 toughness is impossible to kill…) and just resolved Jace TMS going up to 5 to fateseal me as they were tapped out (and afraid of emrakul as my out!). I’m only on 4 mana as I missed some land drops but I did resolve Sneak Attack last turn because I just had to jam it when my opponent tapped off Evasive action. Now that I’m live to drawing Emrakul my opponent aggressively tapped out for Jace and fatesealed, knowing that if I resolved back to basics (which they were holding the counter for most likely) it didn’t mean much since they have two 4/5s to kill me and UR has no answer (and I had my Mystic Confluence seized in the early game, and had to burn a Cryptic earlier). So the next turn I untapped, played the land they fatesealed to the top thinking “it’s not emrakul”, so now on 5 mana I spend R: flash in Gearhulk, Mystic bounce your two creatures, and bounce my gearhulk; R: flash in Gearhulk, cast FoF or something, can’t even remember it was insane…, go to attacks, hasty kill Jace. Remaining three mana cast Back to Basics when they are tapped out and now on an empty board. Gearhulk dies at end of turn sure, but opponent never got back into that game at all.

    The key was: gearhulk could never do such a line without sneak attack. The options that SA opens up for you are huge, and to summarise, when you look at SA and it appears to be terrible by itself, consider that 1) it is proactive and remains on the board, 2) it forces your opponent to play completely differently due to the threat of Emrakul (e.g. “playing around daze” mentality), 3) it grants your creatures haste, flash, and uncounterability. These boons are often niche and sure, not as good as say just resolving a 4 mana threat like Chandra which always does ‘something’, but for a combo piece I’d argue that it isn’t always ‘terrible by itself’. Hope this helps elucidate what I include these cards in SIX 🙂

    I manage Adelaide Eternal, a group running monthly tournaments in SA for Vintage, Highlander, and Legacy. We also commentate feature matches which are uploaded to our YouTube channel every month. Visit: www.youtube.com/adelaideeternal

    #1335
    Avatar
    Damo_Bne
    Participant

    Hi all,

    newish Highlander player here, i am looking at building Annihilator Six as im converting over to singleton format due to family/work commitments and having to “Sac 6” my legacy lyfe….. with that in mind i was looking obtaining a recall or a time walk to run in the deck. Would any one please enlighten me as to the power of points with current lists vs lists that run a recall/time walk as i dont see many running them at the moment.

    Cheers Damo

    #1364
    Shane
    Shane
    Keymaster

    I wouldn’t run both. For Ancestral you’d want to play scroll and dig since they all synergise nicely. With a time walk I’d choose snapcaster, jace and dig. The issue with all blue lists is the high number of one point cards that synergise well with your game plan (force, jace, snapcaster etc). I think you’re sacrificing too much by running either.

    #1506
    Sarven McLinton
    Sarven McLinton
    Keymaster

    The White-Splash version of ANNIHILATOR SIX can be found here:

    Went 3-0 with this today. Andrew Vance asked for points but a picture tells seven thousand points. In homage to its…

    Posted by Sarven McLinton on Sunday, 3 February 2019

    https://ibb.co/b2R7Lc0

    I manage Adelaide Eternal, a group running monthly tournaments in SA for Vintage, Highlander, and Legacy. We also commentate feature matches which are uploaded to our YouTube channel every month. Visit: www.youtube.com/adelaideeternal

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