When testing decks to see if I could find a good way to use Simic Manipulator I fell in love with Master Biomancer. I've heard a lot of people say that Biomancer isn't a card they can see having constructed play. Initially, my thoughts were pretty aligned with this because a 2/4 for four isn't amazing and without Evolve, you don't think he does that much. However, through testing of my Bant Manips list, I found that Biomancer could outright win games by turning previously irrelevant creatures into real threats and already good creatures into friggin monsters. Tusk and Resto Angel with boosts from Biomancer? Those are forces of nature.
However, the Manips list wasn't turning out quite as awesome as I wanted because Manipulator is a very secondary card in it. So I thought hey, why not turn this into a list that's I'm already pretty familiar with: aggro. Currently, I've been playing a lot of Mono red aggro and one thing that drives me nuts about Rx Aggro is that if someone can stall me out to turn 6-7 I still to fall apart. Sligh is a good list and it's early game may be something like 60% win but if you happened to hit a good stall deck and that other 40%, it can turn what would have been a 3-1/4-0 tourny into a quick 2-2 and not top 8.
Now, I'm far from claiming that this list is perfect and honestly I definitely want to see some changes to it. However, I'm having trouble deciding what should go in and what should. I've been doing a lot of proxy testing the last couple days against Red aggro and Jund/Naya midranges with decent results. My goal for this list has been to follow my red list which has about 10xone drops (four 2 power, four that can grow, 2 that do alternate things), 8x2 drops (4 with haste/resiliency, 4 that push damage), 4x3 drops (Pyrehearts, for a damage push), 4x4 drops (Hellrider: Game ender/damage pusher) and the top end finishers Zealous Conscripts. In addition to this 8-12 sources of removal/extra damage push. Now, this list was before Reckoner, which would have shifted the balance and obviously this can't be perfectly transfered to U/G. However, here is the current list I'm running.
So this list actually ends up variating from my original 10/8/4/4/2 plan a bit (a bit more than I wanted) because I wanted the deck to have some better capabilities in the midrange department post turn 6-7, while still being able to push some quickish wins and competing with aggro. My biggest problem here is I had a ton of ideas and card opportunities and it was hard to test to figure out exactly what ones I want, so some cards I looked at may not actually be bad in here, I just didn't get them tested enough. I'll explain my choices thus far though, and then mention a couple cards I also looked at.
Dryad Militant: This somehow ended up being the only 1 drop in the deck. It isn't exactly where I want the list to be because I wanted a bit more speed out of it. However, one drops were often some of my worst cards in Rx Aggro post turn 3. Dryad is nice in that it is a 2/1 with a semi-relevant ability against decks using flashback /snapcasters but doesn't hinder me any.
Wandering Wolf There were a lot of cards at the two drop spot but Wandering Wolf had a couple moments for me. It's creatures with power less than it can't block it clause is reminiscent of Pyreheart's push and can remind me of when I drop a Lightning Mauler to haste another creatures and swing with two to hit the 2 damage. It's not a perfect recreation of Red's 2 drops but the reason I like this card is its relevance late game. Where Red's 2 drops can sometimes be lacklust (Ash zealot on board with 3 toughness creatures becomes rather irrelevant apart from Rider/Pyreheart, as does its Haste and First Strike). Wolfie, however, synergizes with Biomancer, since if you drop him post Biomancer, he's a four power (or more with more Biomancers) and can push through more stuff than something like Zealot. Works well with Simic Charm and Rancor as well.
Strangleroot Geist Practically a given in green decks, his Haste plus persistent reminds me of Zealot in a lot of ways. Though First Strike might be better than Undying early game, you can get some decent mileage out of this guy, even when you are a few turns deep.
Predator Ooze Also a pretty popular green guy, POoze is a favorite of mine. Indestructibility is a friggin pain to deal with, he grows every time he swings, can chump all day long and discourages chumping since he'll grow further. A very friendly Rancor target.
Champion of Lambholt This is a card I can see people not liking. She's often discussed but usually deem "too risky". Honestly, most times I'm inclined to agree and I'm honestly not sure if she will stay. Her ability is quite similar to Pyreheart and thus is the reason for her inclusion. However, late game with Biomancer down, she becomes a force compared to Pyreheart. When your opponent fills his field against Pyreheart, he just has a more difficult time blocking and you'll still have to access what you're going to lose. With CoL at 5 or 6 power, you'll most likely being swinging with everyone, no blocks. Works nice with Wolfir too. However, her biggest drawback is that she's probably a pretty weak turn 3 play. She dies to everything, is likely a 2/2 maybe 3/3 when she goes to swing and probably wants Rancor to help your team get in. Very willing to move her out for something better.
Master Biomancer He's the reason I'm building this deck and probably the main reason Blue is even in here. I've looked for Blue creatures and spells, I'd love to play more of them but I'm not sure which I would. Biomancer, however, is the ultimate transition from aggro to midrange. Once Biomancer is on the field, creatures that come in after him that would typically be bad late game plays become far more effective. A 4/3 haste? a 4/2 pseudo-unblockable? 3/3 Ooze? It's pretty nice. How about follow this up with a Thragtusk? 7/5 +5 life? That's nice. Soulbond your Wolfir? 10/10. Sure, this stuff can get blocks but we've got Rancor, Unsummon, Simic Charm+currently CoL for unblockable. The other nice thing about Biomancer is that he's a 2/4. While that two isn't a strong stat, four toughness is very relevant in this format, dodging most burn and multi-color dodges ultimate price. The 2 power also starts to shut down aggro decks as most things they throw at you will die to no effect. Add another Biomancer to the mix? Now you have mayhem.
Thragtusk I don't know if much needs to be said here. 5 life, a 5/3 and a 3/3 is a lot of value and currently the definitely of a midrange deck. In danger of losing? Tusk brings you back and gets you blockers, helps you stabilize and transform into midrange. I currently only run two because I don't want to see more than one while in Aggro mode.
Wolfir Silverheart Another "staple" green card can have some nice effects here. Pair with your trampler? Good damage. Pair with CoL? Unblockable. Pair with Biomancer? Everyone comes in huge. Again, only two because I equate it to the Zealous Conscripts of Red. A big game changer but I don't want to see it too early.
I won't talk too much about Rancor, we all know why it's here. It's green, it's cheap, it recurs and it pushes damage through. Pure value. Unsummon is here to mimic the "burn" in red. Clear the way for an attack or play defence or slow the opponent down if midrange is your jam. Only two to get under 60 and because Simic Charm also offeres the same effect. Simic charm is also here for value. +3/+3 is quite relevant in this deck, Hexproof can protect our high value targets and the Unsummon was described above. Revenge of the Hunted may be a card that's under question here but honestly, I've never drawn it and not enjoyed it and the few times it's been in my opening hand that I've kept, it's had decent showing. Pumping your ooze and basically Bonfiring their field is nice. Pumping your Biomancer and dropping a giant creature works too. Pumping CoL and winning the game is awesome. Honestly, I like it.
Before I turn it over to you guys, I'll mention a couple other cards that may be conspicuously not here. I'm sure you will all tear this to pieces shortly enough.
Experiment One was a guy I thought would be in here for sure. However, in testing I found that far too few of my next drop creatures evolved him. Ooze and CoL don't evolve him, when I also ran Cloudfins, they didn't evolve him. After one evolve Wandering Wolf and Strangleroot Geist don't either. With the current set up, he wasn't the Stromkirk Nobel I wanted.
Cloudfin Raptor Is essentially the same as Experiment One, but to a worse degree. Drop him turn 1 and evolve him, he only hits for 1 damage. Can't evolve him and he's useless. I really wanted to use him, because originally I wanted to focus on evasion and honestly he may be better without the Experiment One's, but still not entirely sure.
Invisible Stalker Keeping with my evasion theme, I liked Stalker because he's hard to kill so his counter from Biomancer would stick and he's a decent late game pusher in this deck. Early though, he doesn't do much for me and I'm not sure he fits. However, never really gave him a real try.
ShamblesharkBasically the same as the other evolvers, but even harder to evolve and slower.
Dungeon Geists I dunno why, but I super wanted to use this card. 3/3 is okay, it flys and it taps down a card to help get damage through. Double blue was likely too hard to cast and too many 4 drops IMO.
Well, after a very wordy post..that's what I have guys. I'd love to have you guys test this out, give suggests and try to variations. I can't say for sure whether or not this will be power Aggro but I really want to see Simic do something and I'm a big fan of Biomancer.
Running grindy cards like Predator Ooze and Champion of Lambholt, which then prevents you to use good aggro 1 drop evolvers, kind of defines the direction that this deck is going.
Personally, I would start off with the evolve one drops in the deck and then afterwards looking whether the Ooze/Champion have a place. These 2 cards are large 'do-nothings' on their own. BG zombies for example used Ooze as a meta call against all the Supreme Verdicts/Red zombies lists, and could use him with a fight ability to make all of his abilities relevant. I would not run him if you can't do that.
Well, for now I'm just throwing ideas out there, but I agree with Profani. The one drops you mentioned seem particularly useful in a dedicated evolve deck. Predator Ooze MAY work (and I'm going to test 2-3 out in an evolve deck), but I think you need to figure out how to use the counters he makes as a back-up plan. Zameck Guildmage seems like an obvious addition in place of the wolf. The card draw is really good, in case you find the Ooze is acting as a chump blocker.
Champion of Lambholdt really seems a bit worse than the Ooze in the deck. I also really like Elusive Krasis--it is great at evolving your creatures and also unblockable. As three drops for the deck, I like the Ooze and Krasis better than Lambholdt. This deck has to be mainly creatures to function correctly.
I also don't understand Revenge of the Hunted. If you want to make a full on evasion deck, look to the Bant decks featuring GoST, Invisible Stalker, etc. For this deck, I'd play Increasing Savagery, which I think is a better card generally at this point in time than Revenge. No more than 2 in the deck.
Garruk, Primal Hunter also seems like a good addition. Popping out 3/3 tokens seems like a good way to evolve creatures, and the card draw could be nice. I think he's better than the prime speaker, unfortunately, which I mention in a sec.
For utility, besides the already mentioned Increasnig Savagery, I think some number of Simic Charms is good, as you noted. Ring of Evos Isle may even have a place in an evolve deck if you play Fathom Mage or something big like Primordial Hydra (which seems like a great mana dump for Gyre Sage in a pinch). Simic Charms and the Ring can help keep the Hydra alive. Prime Speaker Zegana is intriguing, but I think you can generate enough card draw with Zameck Guildmage and Fathom Mage (And Garruk). Maybe try one of her in the deck.
I also like Cyclonic Rift here. It helps you blow out problems on the other side that you can't normally deal with. Some form of counterspell might be good--such as negate or dissipate.
All that said, Bant evolve may be better. If you go Bant Evolve, then Sphinx's Revelation could fit as well, along with Gavony Township. GoST then provides some nice evolving with the angel token that pops out. Ajani and Mikaeus also may work well there. Plus, and this may be a big plus, you can play Predator Ooze AND add Supreme Verdict (likely out of the SB) if needed. Strangleroot Geist also works nicely with Supreme Judgment, and the Zameck Guildmage can get uses out of the counters on creatures that will die. Armada Wurm also evolves nicely and provides a nice beater.
I think the Simic Evolve cards provide a ton of options, which makes it tricky to come up with an optimal decklist.
I'm actually not super stuck on the Evolve mechanic. I do like it and there are some interesting creatures, but overall I'm looking for a aggro deck that can transition better to Midrange when the Aggro fails. Looking at a deck like Mono-red, it performs quite well against most decks with decent hand selections. However, a couple bad draws or some decent stalling can put a game out of reach when you draw back to back to back 1 drops that aren't useful at all in late game with a basically empty board. The Evolve creatures are those good one drops and they do have a bit more staying power late game, ramped up with Biomancer.
Increasing Savagery is a solid card and something I should probably give more play. It push a lot of my stuff even further.
Garruk is a card I looked at and would probably be something I'd put in the SB for when I want to move into more of a Midrange game two. My SB isn't done atm
Fathom Mage could be another good Midrange card (especially with something like Evos Isle) but not sure about that one.
Hydra is a card I'd love to play but it's not a good 3 drop. Too easily removed and doesn't evolve anything. I'd be interested in looking at it like a 5 drop, especially with a Biomancer on the field.
Zegana is a SB card in my list currently where in Midrange I wanna draw cards. Her and Biomancer play very nice together but I don't know if I want a main deck 6 drop that's not Revenge. I like Revenge because I can drop it on Biomancer and give a creature coming in a permanent boost, I can use it as a huge boost on a trampler, clear a field and deal damage or because I can get a bunch of mini guys through. I've never been sad to draw and and I've hard casted it effectively a few times when it was in a good opening hand and still loved it.
Cyclonic Rift is probably my favorite card you suggested. I've liked unsummoning and the full evacuation on the opponents stuff is great and the "Overrun" I was looking for. 6 would be better than 7 on the overload though too good though, I know.
My reasoning between some of the new changes:
Brought back in the Evolvers because they're pretty solid 1 drops and work well with the deck. Don't see the Cloudfins too much and they're a little meh so I'm not sure about them. With the list at 62, they're on my chopping block (and not currently running full fours of much, I'm looking to move the list toward 4-ofs in my favorite spots).
Dryads are still here because they can evolve being a 1 drop, which is nice.
Like the Wolf's unblockable, as he can be a pretty solid late game 2 drop with biomancer and he's still not a terrible early game two drop but I could see moving him out as well.
Brushstrider is great at evolving with his 3 power on a two drop, his 3 power is good on a two drop that's still able to block and there are times where his vigilance can be useful. His 1 toughness barely bothers me as the most played burn is 2+, so as a 2/2 or 3/2 (which is likely on a two drop), he's going to die anyway. Flame of the Firebrand is one of the only things he really makes better.
Wolfir Avenger is my favorite new addition, honestly. 3/3 for 3 is decent, especially on the evolve curve but his flash is where I really love him. He allows me to flash block, flash evolve, play around with unsummoning/simic charming. Cool dude considering I really didn't think that much about originally.