Oversliming the Meta: How Sanctum Broke Standard


Part 1: How we Got Here

This PT was a really interesting confluence of a lot of factors for me. cftsoc and I had been working on Slogurk for most of a year, so we went in before the spoiler already primed to gurk. And as soon as the spoiler dropped, and we knew the deck was busted.

I miss the Old Rutstein, straight from the 'Go Rutstein

I miss the Old Rutstein, straight from the 'Go Rutstein

As I'll go into more detail about below,

Honest Rutstein fixed basically every single major problem that Slogurk had as a deck, while also speeding it up AND giving it a much easier infinite combo. To give you a sense of how much it changed: as soon as it was spoiled, cft was basically locked on the deck.

A week after Rutstein was spoiled, we figured out how to use it in various combo lines. A week after that, I wrote a 12-page primer to help on-board those less familiar with Slogurk as a deck. By the time the PT rolled around, 13/14 of our team had registered Slogurk.

And as you might have heard, we did pretty well! As a team, we went 60-36-4 total in Swiss, not counting IDs or byes or team-kill matches. That's a nice 60% winrate, and on top of that our best performing players included Greg Michel at 17th, Nicole Tipple at 11th, Etienne Eggenschwiler at 9th, and me and cft in top 8!

I think it's safe to say that we kind of broke it. Neither me or cft made it past the quarterfinals, but the results kind of speak for themselves.

So, this article will primarily focus on the deck, how it works, and why it's one of the most powerful decks in Standard right now. I might write a more detailed personal tournament report later, but this will be all about the 'Gurk.

Part 2: How the Deck Works

So let's get to it!

First of all, if you haven't read my last three articles about Slogurk (not including the one about Analyst Gurk), go read those! Those will cover a lot of the midrange play patterns that this deck has, and since I don't have infinite space and time here I won't go as in-depth.

The Core Engine

To summarize: Slogurk is a deck about assembling an engine with various individual legends and channel lands, and using that to work towards an unassailable lategame, including an infinite combo.

Slogurk, the Overslime and
Inti, Seneschal of the Sun are your key card advantage engines. Slogurk lets you reuse channel lands and triomes over and over while hitting land drops and being a big threat; while Inti gives you free cards from channeling those lands and cycling those triomes, drawing to other legends and land drops to build resources for your engine.

Relic of Legends is your main mana engine - everything else stems from it. All of your legends tapping for mana even while summoning sick means Relic by itself often makes 2-5 mana per turn, which is a pretty insane rate for a 3 mana mana rock. And you can often use all of this mana, with 21 of your 29 lands also being spells (channel lands, triomes, and plazas).

Rona, Herald of the Invasion is an interesting part of the engine, in that it doesn't directly interact with your channel lands, but it augments all of your other pieces - it helps get lands in the graveyard for Slogurk, it gives you repeatable Inti triggers, and it kind of doubles your Relic mana by untapping every time you cast a legend. And because it synergizes with everything, it is often your most important bridge piece - having Rona alone with any one of Inti, Slogurk, or Relic is often enough to start running your engine at efficient enough rates to make meaningful progress.

And finally,

Honest Rutstein is the new card that plugs all of the holes in the deck - the way you usually lose involves getting forced into a low-resource solution by removal from your opponent, and Rutstein lets you really punish removal by letting you reassemble your engine pieces while also adding another piece that provides even more mana advantage.

Plus, of course, it's the first legend that provides several infinite combo lines that are quite achievable and regularly happen. And speaking of that...

The Combo/Endstates

The endstate of the deck is to have Relic of Legends in play to generate mana, and use that to channel many many channel lands. With both Rutstein and Rona, you can also go infinite without too much difficulty.

Relic Mana

An easy way to shortcut Relic mana is to think of how it changes the cost of legends:
Relic => legends give +1 rebate
Rona+Relic => legends give +2 rebate
Rutstein => legends cost 1 less

So with all three you get a net 3 mana discount on legends with some generic mana in their costs. This means Slogurk is mana neutral (costs UG, gives back 1 from itself and 1 from Rona) and 1C legends (Inti, Rona, Tinybones) are +1 mana.

The Double Rutstein Loop

This loop is pretty simple: with Rutstein+Relic+Rona in play, a second Rutstein costs net 0 mana (same as the Slogurk example above: tap Rona and Rutstein to cast Rutstein, trigger and untap Rona), and then you can use the legend rule to get the first Rutstein back with the second. So you can infinitely cast and legend rule Rutsteins.

Obviously this is just pointless wheelspinning by itself, but there are many outlets that convert this to something useful.

The most basic thing you can do is simply turn this into a looting engine - if your Rona isn't summoning sick, then instead of tapping it for mana each iteration you can tap a real mana instead and use Rona to loot. This lets you turn the double Rutstein loop into basically being able to pay 1 mana to loot - and this can be very useful for finding additional pieces that transition into an actual infinite, especially if you have Inti in play.

Any legend that triggers on Rutstein entering the battlefield or dying can be added into this loop for infinite output - two simple examples are

Vial Smasher, Gleeful Grenadier and
Elas il-Kor, Sadistic Pilgrim.

Mana-Neutral Channeling

As mentioned above, with Rona+Relic+Rutstein your 1C legends give +1 mana when you cast them. And once a legend is +1 mana, you can take the action "channel Otawara or Takenuma" for net 0 mana by bouncing or rebuying that legend and then playing it. For instance: tap Inti for U to channel Ota on Inti, tap Rona for R to cast Inti, trigger and untap Rona; both Rona and Inti end up untapped.

This lets you essentially turn Takenuma into "0 mana: discard this and mill 3 cards" and Otawara into "0 mana: discard this". And since Slogurk also is net mana-neutral to cast, you can bounce and replay Slogurk with its own ability every time it hits 3 counters to get back these channel lands. So if you have 3 copies in any combination of Otawara and Takenuma, then you can infinitely take these mana-neutral channeling actions, bouncing Slogurk in between to loop.

You need three Otawaras/Takenumas to truly go deterministically infinite, as you need to guarantee getting 3 counters on Slogurk to bounce it - but you can start with less than three, especially if one is a Takenuma and thus can mill more lands to put counters on Slogurk. You can make up for missing counters by channeling Boseijus in-between for 1 mana each, or looting with Rona, or very expensively cycling triomes.

Of course, again this infinite doesn't do that much - mostly you get to discard Otawara and Takenuma over and over again at no cost but not much effect. But importantly, if you have any Takenumas you mill 3 each time, and of course Inti will trigger off each discard!

So you can leverage this mana-neutral channeling loop in order to dig deeper through your deck, eventually finding an infinite outlet like the double Rutstein loop.

Infinite Life... Kind of

You can technically also gain infinite life with Titania this way, as it triggers on each land discarded - but this isn't as often useful because you're also digging through your deck as you do so and infinite life won't help you not draw from an empty deck. Still, it can come up if you have three Otawaras and remove your Inti from the board, or if you just run the loop enough times to gain something like 30 life to put you out of range of anything reasonable, and set you up to win in the near future.

Bonus Inti Mana

Also of note, if you have Inti in play while doing the mana-neutral channeling loop you will be impulse drawing extra cards, and every 1C legend or Rutstein you hit will just be +1 mana (Rutstein works because it costs 0 net itself and buys back a +1 mana legend). This is of course not reliable, but can affect things.

Finite but Large Gurks

Of course you don’t need to fully combo to win either. Once you assemble a board of Slogurk, 3 legends in play, and Relic, it’s pretty easy to just channel a few channel lands over and over in a way that invalidates what your opponent is doing. Repeated 1 mana unsummons/raise deads are pretty good at winning fair games, especially when backed up by a 6/6+ trample.

This does tend to pretty easily transition into comboing at a certain point though, it’ll just accidentally happen as you accrue more resources.

Generally in this spots, you should just try to do as much as possible each turn, and usually attacking with only Slogurk is a good default because every attack costs 1 mana and each 1 mana represents another land channeled.

At some point you can keep growing a single Slogurk while still recurring lands by looping with a second Slogurk (using the legend rule to kill off the new Slogurk and get back Takenuma to get back the Slogurk again, all while building counters). This can be a good way to kill someone from about 12-17 life.

Non-Engine Slots

Five copies of

removal let us interact and slow the game down a bit, so we can run our engine better.

Ertai Resurrected gives us stack interaction and a way to more permanently deal with anything we want to in the lategame, and is especially important in matchups like Temur Analyst, Control, and Domain.

Titania, Voice of Gaea just gains a lot of life and blocks very well. It's a bit hard to cast, but we've found that it's kind of just still good enough, and a powerful tool to have against any strategy that involves attacking with smaller creatures (including Esper).

And finally, we have the flex slots, which were the main sources of disagreement in Sanctum's lists. I'm partial to

Tinybones, the Pickpocket and
Aclazotz, Deepest Betrayal, but there's a lot more legends that you could reasonably run here. Ideally it should be something that can serve as a good low-resource midrange tool.

Part 3: Heuristics

Slogurk is a deck that lives and dies on micro-optimizations - and thus I would not recommend playing it without getting a lot of reps first. A lot of games will be won or lost on tight margins, but generally in a more tactical than strategic sense, if that makes sense.

The best I can do, I think, is to give some useful heuristics here for how to play. These won't always apply, but are a good baseline starting point for learning the deck, and speak to core concepts for playing the deck.

Spend Mana Efficiently

Spending your mana efficiently and completely is one of the most important play patterns in Slogurk. Obviously this is always true in Magic, but this is even more important for Slogurk specifically, since you will generally have a lot to do and eventually 1 mana converts to roughly a full spell in your endstate. Early unspent mana propagates forwards and causes problems quite easily, more than you’d expect; it turns out that happens when all your legends can make mana in two different ways (Relic and channel cost reductions).

It's definitely worth paying close attention especially during large Relic Gurk turns, as those have a lot of moving pieces. Make sure you’ve fully done everything you want to do before passing the turn.

Plan for Your Opponent's Turn

Speaking of passing the turn, the second most important part of playing Slogurk is figuring out what kinds of interaction and protection you're passing with. Having access to Otawara, Ertai, Boseiju, and Plaza gives you a lot of ways to affect things at instant speed - and it's important to know exactly what set of tools you need.

This is especially important because every mana you pass with is a mana you're not spending on your turn, and it's often easier to spend mana efficiently at sorcery speed. So generally I like working backwards - what do I want to pass with held up, and given that what can I do this turn?

Never Mulligan

This is obviously hyperbole, but Slogurk is a deck that is very bad at mulliganing. As an engine deck it inherently scales superlinearly, so every additional piece of cardboard you have is even more impactful than the last. You should obviously mulligan hands that can't cast spells, and there are matchups where you should more aggressively mull for hammers (especially sideboard); but in many matchups you shouldn't mull a hand just for being a bit slower.

Play Rona on Turn 2

You often want to play Rona on turn 2 instead of Inti, because Rona is more explosive but also more dependent on having other pieces. If your opponent doesn't remove Rona, then your other engine pieces all become so much better - but if they do, something like Inti will still do plenty on its own. Whereas if you play them in the opposite order, the Inti getting removed will greatly depower Rona.

It also helps that Inti's card draw ability isn't affected by summoning sickness.

Prioritize Mana - Relic or Land Drops

This deck is extremely mana hungry, so you often really want to prioritize sticking a Relic when you have one to make your draws a lot more explosive. However, there are some situations where you can get by without a Relic - but in those situations you really want to be making your land drops.

Don't Waste Inti Triggers

Similar to how it's important to maximize mana, it's also important to maximize how useful your Inti cards can be. If you've already played your land and already have a plan for how you're spending the rest of your mana, it's probably good to save any Inti cards you're getting for your next turn.

Thankfully, Inti says "until your next end step" - so any triggers in your end step or your opponent's turn will stick around. In fact, one common play pattern is to do your Rona loot on your own end step instead of your opponent's turn - this plays around removal on Inti, at the cost of locking in your loot and giving a small amount of information.

This also applies to Inti's attack trigger - if you already have a plan for your turn, and you like the cards in your hand, don't feel obligated to use Inti's attack trigger! Of course, sometimes it helps with the beatdown - but keep in mind that it's optional!

Slogurk Counters

Counters on Slogurk can be quite important, as you often will want to work towards bouncing Slogurk to get a burst of value. This can effect various decisions - for example, if you have Rona in play and Slogurk in hand and know you’re looting twice, it might be better to discard a nonland first before playing Slogurk so you can discard a land when you loot afterwards.

Playing Around Hate

Rest in Peace is somewhat hard to play around, and generally you just have to accept it’ll eat a Boseiju or similar. However it's nice that you can often build effective Inti engines even through a RIP, and can play big midrange threats to take over the game there as well.

Any graveyard hate that goes on the stack (as opposed to being continuous) is much easier to play around: Soul-Guide Lantern, Unlicensed Hearse, Turn the Earth, Kutzil's Flanker. You can often plan to force the activation and then channel lands and bounce Slogurk in response to save key parts of your graveyard. Deadly Coverup functions similarly, but can be hard to play around effectively if your graveyard is extremely full (while vs something like Lantern usually it’s fine to just save any three lands and go from there).

Dennick mostly means that you can’t get value form Slogurk or Rutstein and that you should try not to let a Slogurk get killed while it’s on the battlefield, but doesn’t need to be dealt with immediately - it's an annoyance mostly because it taxes your removal further.

Against artifact destruction like Abrade or Frillback, it can sometimes be good to hold Relic in hand until you can go off all at once, or have an Otawara to save it. This is probably most relevant vs Temur Analyst, especially if you don’t want to be doubly gotten by Frillback killing Relic and exiling your graveyard.

Stone Brain is a bad card and will just lead to you killing your opponent fairly.

Part 4: Kickflips & Tricks

Similar to the above section, this will be a potpourri of disconnected ideas - but as the above section focused on general play patterns, these will largely be cool, isolated gameplay tricks you might not have realized you can do.

Cast Rona, in response Ota Rona

If you’re starting to do the mana-neutral channel loop infinite, but you need to make Otawara mana-neutral without having a non-Rona 1C legend you can still do this with two Ronas (Rona#1 in play, Rona#2 in hand). Do this by tapping Rona#1 to cast Rona#2, letting the untap trigger resolve, then tapping Rona#1 to Otawara Rona#1 before the Rona#2 resolves to avoid legend ruling. You end up with an untapped Rona#2 in play and a Rona#1 in hand - and no net mana spent!

Legend Rule is a Positive

You will often actively want to play a duplicate legendary land, either to trigger Slogurk or just to put them in the graveyard without spending mana. This is especially relevant because it means you can kind of rescue lands from Inti exile and get them into hand/graveyard circulation.

In fact, because of this you should default to playing important legendary lands from Inti exile, over other less important lands. If you play a Takenuma from exile the first time you see it, then you can play the second one too to get it into the graveyard, which can be key for unlocking Slogurk loops.

Ertai As Joraga Visionary

Sometimes you would rather dig to more stuff than have interaction, and the deck generates a lot of extraneous triggers you can turn into a card with Ertai. Rona untaps, Inti attack triggers, and Slogurk counters are excellent sources of this.

Also sometimes it is actively positive to kill your own Slogurk to start a chain of channel land value, and Ertai lets you do that - of course you can also just use something like Go for the Throat for this.

The funniest Ertai cantrip is when your opponent casts Tidebinder to counter a trigger; it can be better to Ertai the trigger Tidebinder is targeting instead of the Tidebinder itself, so that you get the card instead of them (though they do have a 3/2, and your immediate trigger is still countered).

Part 5: Matchups and Sideboarding

If you want a quick one-and-done spreadsheet sideboard guide, you can find one here. I will expand below on each matchup and how you should approach it.

Esper Midrange

This is probably our toughest matchup, and is something like 50/50 against a decently respectful Esper list with a good pilot. It was 65% at the PT because many lists were not that respectful, and many pilots were not that good at playing vs gurk. But still, this being our worst matchup gives you a sense of how much I like gurk's positioning :P

The way you lose this matchup is that they interact 1-for-1 with you and force a small game, all while applying pressure. So generally to combat this you want to remove their sources of pressure (mostly Raffine) while trying to win the lategame by just getting more value through your engine pieces and Rutstein.

In: possibly 1 Path of Peril based on vibes, 1 Liliana if they don't have 1-drops (it's still fine vs Wedding), 1 Cut Down, 1 Long Goodbye, 1 Sheoldred, 1 Vorinclex

Out: possibly 1 Swamp based on vibes, 1-2 Rutsteins depending on how much hate they have, 2 Ertai, 1 Vial Smasher

Dimir Midrange

It's like esper but less scary because they have less hate, and Gix is the important card instead of Raffine so cut down is worse.

In: 1 Long Goodbye, 1 Sheoldred, 1 Vorinclex

Out: possibly 1 Swamp based on vibes, 1-2 Ertais, 1 Vial Smasher

Temur Analyst

This is a very tricky matchup to play but in my opinion 65%ish in gurk's favor. The reason why you're favored is that it is fundamentally hard for Analyst to take two relevant game actions in one turn, and so it's pretty easy to use Ertai as a timewalk. So basically you have a faster combo, a more resilient combo, and more interaction for them than they do for you. There still is a lot of difficult positioning to pay attention to, though - you can very easily flip that 65% to a 45% by not evaluating what matters well with Ertai or by making their Explosions too Well-Timed.

I should mention, one random point in your favor that comes up more than you'd expect is that an 8/8 Slogurk is fairly hard for them to remove, and kills them quickly.

In: 3 Duress, 1 Turn the Earth, 1 Ertai, 1 Jace (to grind, not to mill them out)

Out: 2 Titania, 2 Cut Down, 1 Tinybones, 1 Aclazotz


A fairly favored but again tricky matchup (wow it's almost like Slogurk is a very hard deck to pilot). Like Analyst, some of the game is about not playing into their wraths, but unlike Analyst they are the beatdown - the way you lose here is dying to fast Herd Migrations or unblocked angels. This is why I usually keep in one Titania, despite the fact that you wouldn't think you'd want it against a deck trying to go over the top of you.

In: 3 Duress, 0-1 Sheoldred (vibes), 1 Ertai, 1 Jace, 1 Liliana

Out: 1-2 Titania (vibes), 1-2 Go for the Throat (vibes), 2 Cut Down, 1 Tinybones, 1 Aclazotz


The other one of our worst matchups, in that it is only a bit better than 50/50. Generally the player on the play will win, but postboard you get more tools than they do to break serve - notably wraths.

In: 1 Duress on the draw, 1 Cut Down, 3 Glistening Deluge, 1 Path of Peril, 1 Sheoldred

Out: 1 Cavern of Souls on the draw, 3 Honest Rutstein, 2 Ertai, 1 Vial Smasher


Again tricky and favored, again you lose by playing poorly into wraths. You have a lot of ways to play flexibly into their answers and force them to engage with you on the terms you want to engage on. Utilize those methods to win, but play their game and lose.

In: 1 Turn the Earth (if they're trying to mill you with Jace), 1 Long Goodbye, 3 Duress, 1 Sheoldred, 1 Ertai, 1 Jace, 1 Liliana

Out: 0-3 Go for the Throat (depending on threats), 2 Titania, 2 Cut Down, 1 Tinybones, 1 Aclazotz

Red Aggro

Pretty favorable matchup, mostly about removal.

In: 1 Cut Down, 1 Long Goodbye, 0-2 Duress (more if heroic, none vs mono-red), 1 Path of Peril, 1 Sheoldred

Out: 0-1 Cavern/Slogurk/Inti (based on vibes), 2 Ertai, 1 Vial Smasher

Other Bx midrange decks

Like Esper and Dimir but less scary, probably just sideboard what makes sense vs their list.

The Mirror

lol. lmao even.

The mirror is fairly complex and can go a lot of different ways, from one player running away with better early combo to a lategame Boseiju-strip-mine-war. I will leave sideboarding as an exercise for the reader - as a hint, I board out a Deathcap Glade :)



Anyways, Slogurk is kind of broken right now, and I honestly don't have much at all in terms of changes I'd make to my PT list. It's just the best deck in Standard in my estimation, and I will keep registering it until I'm not allowed to anymore (which is sadly only for one more event).

I hope this guide was helpful to you, so that you too can experience the joys of gurk.


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