Magic Memories: Sun Titan


The Tentacled One
I've been playing Magic for almost 24 years. In that time, I've seen some of my friends quit the game and I've seen a few of them come back. Some people quit the game and return to the game multiple times. In all that time, I've never formally quit the game myself, nor have I gotten rid of my cards. But there have been periods of relative inactivity. In some of these, I'd actually kind of say that the CPA itself was my lifeline to the game, as even if I wasn't taking time to keep up with things in any other capacity, I was still dropping by these message boards and reading your posts. So yeah, thanks everybody! 😁

  1. The first significant lull in my Magic-playing was in late 2001. My family had moved out into the boondocks relatively recently. I was in my sophomore year in high school and was attending a different school from the ones the friends in my main Magic playgroup were attending. I'd opened two or three packs of the latest set, Odyssey, but didn't really know the set or care about it. At my old house, I'd been able to walk to my local game store. At the new house, I was kind of far away from everything. I kept a few decks together, but didn't have anyone to play with. I think that when Torment came out, I didn't even know about it. So I was out of the loop. At some point in 2002, my high school was subject to a bomb threat and all of the students were evacuated. I found a cluster of students playing Magic outside and chatted with them, which got me back into the game. We had a playgroup going for the rest of high school. It was while browsing the web for ideas to bring to our after school game club that I found the CPA, some time in 2003.
  2. That first lull was the most detached from the game I've ever been, and I've never come as close to quitting as I did way back then. But the whole interval in question was a matter of months. I had a more extended lull from 2005 through 2007, when most of my friends in my casual playgroups either quit the game or moved away. Toward the end of that, the CPA was pretty much the only place I went for anything Magic-related. In 2008, I changed jobs and started to focus more on Magic.
  3. Even though I can certainly find some activity here at the CPA, that second lull was somewhat more pronounced for my real, face-to-face gameplay and probably represented the most time, overall, that I wasn't really involved with the game. I delved back into Magic in 2007, but after a few more years, I hit a weird snag. The full context would take a while to go through, so I'll summarize. Starting in 2008, I was part of a three-person informal "team" that focused on the Legacy format and spent time together testing decks for Legacy tournaments, although I think we only actually attended two actual tournaments together. As part of this focused playtesting, all of my Magic cards were consolidated with the collection of my longtime friend, former CPA member Al0ysiusHWWW. We did our playtesting at his house and it was a better place to store the cards. When our "team" fell apart in 2010 (for logistical and time commitment reasons that is; we're all still friends), I no longer had my cards with me anymore. In a sense, this was a more extreme departure from the game than the first two: I physically didn't have my cards with me anymore. Also, during this time I went back to school at my local community college and took some classes in preparation for trying to get into a university. And I went on a couple of major trips, including that time I went to Europe. I maintained some presence here at the CPA and continued to follow the Legacy format on my own, but other than that, I wasn't playing Magic at all. This lull was broken when Al0ysiusHWWW and I moved into an apartment together in December of 2010.
  4. With Al0ysiusHWWW as a playtest partner, I remained somewhat active in the Legacy format throughout 2011. After that, I started to immerse myself in my schoolwork and mostly lost track of everything going on in Magic. I wasn't even here at the CPA very much. This final lull was broken after I graduated with my university degree.
So while I "never quit" in 24 years, there were times when I was considerably more absent from the game than I was at other times. It sometimes happens that I really gain appreciation for a card that I "missed out on" because it was printed during one of those absences. Thinking back to cards for which I was very much late to the party, a particular favorite of mine is Sun Titan. Even though it has been a prominent and iconic card since its original release, my "lulls" in gameplay let me almost completely miss the existence of this thing for the first couple years of its existence. Sun Titan was originally released as part of a cycle of five cards in the 2011 core set. That set came out right in the middle of my third lull. I pretty much completely missed what was going on with Magic 2011 at the time. When I did return, I was only focused on Legacy decks, and none of the decks I was testing used Sun Titan. Sun Titan was reprinted again in the 2012 core set, but Magic 2012 came out in the middle of my fourth lull, so I didn't even know that it had been reprinted, nor was I giving the card any thought. Determined to draw my attention to this card, Wizards of the Coast printed Sun Titan again for the third time in a row, this time in Duel Decks: Heroes vs. Monsters. And that was just when I was getting back into the swing of things. The third time, it turned out, was a charm. I was impressed with Sun Titan even in its mediocre Duel Deck, and have been even more satisfied with its performance in my own decks.

Sometimes I think that WotC overdoes things with reprinting a particular card multiple times in relatively short succession. But in the case of Sun Titan, I'm grateful that they persisted.


The Tentacled One
I hate trying to talk about specific core sets from after Tenth Edition in these threads because WotC made the naming conventions get all weird. The year that is in the name of a core set is the year after the core set came out, so I'll want to say something about playing Magic in 2014 and "the 2014 core set" but the name of that set is technically Magic 2015. I know that the reason WotC uses this system is that the core set is a summer release and they don't want people buying gifts for Magic players to see the current core set and think, "Oh, I won't get that one: it's last year's set." But it's really annoying!

I was actively playing Legacy with my friends in 2009, which was when Magic 2010 was released. That core set introduced Baneslayer Angel, which came to be thought of as the embodiment of power creep in creatures. Powerful new creatures were already well-known, but that's just it: cards like Tarmogoyf and Painter's Servant were infamous, but they were novel in how they worked and what kind of role they took on. They didn't feel like upgrades to existing cards. Serra Angel was an icon, and despite competition from situationally better options like Exalted Angel, the original beefy midrange angel still held its edge and wasn't just outclassed by something new. Exalted Angel's life-gain ability was often better than vigilance, but in some matchups it was weaker. Also, sometimes trying to play Exalted Angel facedown was untenable or poor tempo, in which case Serra Angel being a five-drop instead of a six-drop gave it an edge in comparison to Exalted Angel. And then along came Baneslayer Angel. For the exact same mana cost as Serra Angel, you got a 5/5 with five abilities. The two protection abilities weren't always relevant, but they were just the icing on the cake. Just having a 5/5 flying lifelink angel for the same cost as Serra Angel would have been strong. Throwing in first strike made Serra Angel just look weak in comparison. Stacking protection against demons and dragons onto that pile added insult to injury.

Baneslayer Angel shaped how a lot of players at the time viewed power creep, and kind of set up expectations that didn't reflect what would ultimately happen. As any tournament player could tell you, Baneslayer Angel is kind of no longer really good enough. Oh, it's had some appearances. It's currently legal in Standard and would crop up in some lists if tournaments were being held these days. It's still a decent card. But it's no longer a powerhouse and it just can't slot into decks the same way as it would have been able to when it was new. And that's not because new creatures follow the same pattern of power creep. Instead, what we've seen happen with creatures is that cards like Baneslayer are less potent than cards like the "Titan" cycle that came out a year later. The five titans from Magic 2011 (which came out in 2010) pushed the power of beefy creatures in a different way.

These titans were probably intended to be a recurring feature for core sets, but WotC seemed, at least for a while, to balk at just how potent the titans were and to waffle on how they'd fill the niche they provided. WotC reprinted the titans cycle in Magic 2012, but not in Magic 2013 or Magic 2014. Magic 2015 had the "Soul" creatures, which were unfavorably compared to the titans. The "Cavalier" creatures in Core Set 2020 seem to have been another take on this concept. What all of the creatures in all of these cycles have in common, a feature also shared by some of the strongest creatures printed in the same timeframe, is that they pose a significant board presence while also producing value that opponents can't take away simply by killing the creature.

As an example, let's look at what's generally considered the weakest of the five titans. Frost Titan. Compare that to Baneslayer Angel, one of the powerhouse creatures from the previous year.

Obviously neither of these cards is strictly superior to the other. They have different costs and do different things. But I think that I and lot of other casual players were, around that time, more impressed with Baneslayer Angel. And players who used these sorts of cards in tournament settings tended more to recognize the power that the titans presented instead. To use the example I remember Patrick Sullivan citing, Baneslayer Angel represents a certain level of investment and payoff. If the creature sticks around, its abilities on the battlefield make it very strong. Sometimes it just eats a removal spell and you traded a card for a card. Other times, you fare even worse on the transaction: if you cast a Baneslayer Angel and your opponent Doom Blades it and also casts Divination, you both spent the same amount of mana but you blew it all on a big creature that never did anything and your opponent has now gained card advantage. In contrast, Frost Titan doesn't work like that. Even if your opponent kills it right away, it still taps something down and prevents that permanent from untapping for a turn. And that's just the floor. If Frost Titan attacks, you're getting that same ability again. With the creatures like these titans, souls, and cavaliers, you get the combination of a strong threat on the board and you get value in other ways. Even the weaker members of these cycles hold up pretty well, and could push out a lot of older stuff in casual play.

Amusingly, in the case of the M11 titans, the blue member of the cycle is the weakest one. But I just want to emphasize that all of them are powerful cards in some sense, and they constituted a pretty harsh break from the paradigm that many of us held when it came to creature power creep. Because you can deal with a Baneslayer Angel in the same way that you'd deal with a Serra Angel or an Exalted Angel. Doesn't work that way for a Soul of Theros or a Cavalier of Dawn. I didn't grasp the significance of this development when the titans first came out. Like I said in the first post here, my Magic-playing was in a bit of a lull in 2010. I delved back into Magic in 2011, but was focused almost exclusively on Legacy (and on Legacy combo decks in particular). In hindsight, the Titan cycle from M11 was an important development in Magic's history.


The Tentacled One
I'll get into why Sun Titan is my favorite out of this five-card cycle. But let's go over the cycle itself...

Frost Titan
When WotC does a cycle of cards across multiple colors, it's not usually the case that the blue card is the worst one. That's certainly the case here. Even so, Frost Titan really only seemed weak in the context of being a member of this cycle, and in the context of being a mythic rare at a time when the mythic rarity was still new and somewhat special. As a creature for casual play, as a "kitchen table" Magic card, Frost Titan is no slouch. I'd say that if it had been in any set throughout the 90's, it would have been seen as an absolute powerhouse.

Like all of the other members of this cycle, Frost Titan is a 6/6 creature for 4 generic mana and two mana of its color. And like all of the others, it gets a triggered ability that happens when it enters the battlefield or attacks, as well as one more ability. Frost Titan's abilities are appropriate for a blue card, but they can be low-impact compared to what the other titans do. I'd say that the real deficiency here is in the ability that taxes spells and abilities opponents use to target it. There's a bit of divergence here from the formula that the other four titans use. They all work this way...

[Something] Titan
Creature — Giant
[Combat ability]
Whenever ~ etb or attacks, [do a thing].

See the problem? Four out of five titans have an ability that matters in combat in some way. Specifically, we see trample, deathtouch, vigilance and "firebreathing." Frost Titan doesn't get a combat-relevant ability. It gets "Whenever ~ becomes the target of a spell or ability and opponent controls, counter that spell or ability unless its controller pays 2." While that ability isn't completely worthless, it's highly situational. Sometimes it just doesn't do anything. The triggered ability on Frost Titan is probably fine. If it only worked on creatures, it would be a bit weak, but being able to tap down any permanent and keeping it from untapping for a turn is nifty. That trigger is at least arguably middle-of-the-road for these titans. But the cornercase mana tax on opponents targeting Frost Titan is so crappy compared to a real combat ability that I'm comfortable classifying this as the worst of the five titans.

I'm guessing that giving Frost Titan flying or some other form of evasion was deemed too overpowered. On the one hand, it's kind of too bad. On the other hand, there have been cycles in which the blue card was easily the most potent (Ancestral Recall, anyone?), so it's probably fine that Frost Titan is the weakest titan. After all, it's not even bad. Like I said, this would have been a powerhouse in the 90's.


The Tentacled One
Now that we've got the weakest titan out of the way, let's get the strongest one out of the way. And I'm not ashamed to admit that it isn't Sun Titan. While Sun Titan is one of the strongest and is the most fun and flexible, certainly earning its place as my favorite of this cycle, there's one titan that is just on another level.

Primeval Titan

Trample is decent and is in-flavor for green. Fetching one land would be potent. Fetching two lands? That's insane. And because the triggered abilities on these titans trigger both on entering the battlefield and on attacking, you're quite likely to get at least four lands even if your opponents have blockers that can kill Primeval Titan. Being able to fetch any four lands from your library directly onto the battlefield is well worth six mana. Of course, if your opponents can't actually kill Primeval Titan, then you can keep getting even more lands. They'll pile up pretty quickly, although at some point you probably just win the game.

Primeval Titan quickly became a tournament staple and its usage easily surpassed that of the other four titans combined. It's been a powerful tool in pretty much every format where it's been legal. I should probably note that it is banned in EDH and has been since 2012, although it was quite popular in EDH up to that point. I vaguely remember that being one of the more controversial bans. But the card has continued to see play in Modern, Legacy, and Vintage. I've also faced my fair share of Primeval Titan or "Prime Time" in Canadian Highlander, where it was pretty popular in my local metagame a few years ago. I wouldn't be inclined to do a "Magic Memories" thread for Primeval Titan and I don't have a ton of experience playing with the card, but I've played against it a lot.

Which lands do you fetch with Primeval Titan? Generally the same one I've talked about in the Memories thread for Life from the Loam. There are many lands that are strong in decks that interact with lands, but there tends to be considerable overlap. The classic one-two punch is Dark Depths + Thespian's Stage. Primeval Titan grabs both, then you get Marit Lage token and kill your opponent. Another one that was popular in the "CradleHoof" archetype in Canadian Highlander was Gaea's Cradle + Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. It doesn't take very many green creatures for those two lands to produce great quantities of mana. Another popular Legacy approach is to just grab multiple copies of Cloudpost. More recently, Primeval Titan has gained a niche as a potent enabler for Field of the Dead. Of course, there are always utility options, such as Bojuka Bog, Glacial Chasm, Blast Zone, etc. And then there's Strip Mine + Wasteland if you have an opening to break your opponent's tempo. In Modern, another popular trick has been to use Amulet of Vigor alongside lands like Gruul Turf and cards with landfall triggers. You get to make mana and then bounce your own lands repeatedly, getting multiple landfall triggers. Is it a land? Is it good? Then Primeval Titan can fetch it.

Despite everything I've just said, I don't think that Primeval Titan is quite as cool and versatile as Sun Titan. Sure, I enjoy my shenanigans with lands and Primeval Titan is an excellent enabler for that. And sure, Primeval Titan has proven itself for its raw power at winning games. But I prefer Sun Titan. And we'll get to why that is...


The Tentacled One
Inferno Titan

I have a soft spot for Inferno Titan because I've wound up playing it in precons and Limited formats and stuff. I do think that ultimately, Inferno Titan is the second-weakest card in the cycle of titans, but that's not much of a mark against it. For my own decks, I've kind of fallen for Balefire Dragon, and I'd be inclined to use stuff like Combustible Gearhulk over Inferno Titan, but on the occasions when circumstances did see me using this card, it held up pretty well. Perhaps I'm being too harsh toward Inferno Titan.

It's worth pointing out that in addition to seeing some play in Legacy and Modern, Inferno Titan found a niche in Vintage Oath decks. I'd forgotten about Titan Oath and getting into the details of that archetype probably goes beyond the scope of this thread, but it's an interesting case. I should go back and address this at some point. I'll try to.

Notably, Inferno Titan is the only member of the titans cycle that has an activated ability. Part of the evaluation of this card depends on how much one can leverage that "firebreathing" ability. For most decks, I do think that the trample on Primeval Titan is probably more useful than the activated ability on Inferno Titan. But hey, if you've got enough mana to spare and this thing goes unblocked, all that extra power could easily be lethal. The ceiling on Inferno Titan's combat ability is higher than what the other four titans get, but the floor is probably not much better than Frost Titan.

As usual, it's the triggered ability that's the star of the show. The flexibility and consistent damage make Inferno Titan one of the best red fatties out there. Being able to split the damage is handy and when I've played Inferno Titan, I've sometimes been surprised at how often splits come up, especially 2 damage on a target and 1 damage on another target.


The Tentacled One
I've said that I think that Inferno Titan is the second-weakest of the five M11 titans. I have some misgivings about that. I want to return to the topic of Sun Titan soon, but it's worth exploring this a bit further because the unusual trigger system of the titans has some gameplay implications, and it's interesting to see how that plays out with different abilities. What I mean is that all of five of these creatures have an ability that triggers when the creature enters the battlefield or attacks. That's a bit strange and has been the main reason that these cards are so powerful. Inferno Titan could serve as a kind of case study for this because the effect attached to its trigger is the simplest of the bunch: direct damage.

I mentioned holding off on talking about Titan Oath. Now I've changed my mind. So, for some background, there's a Vintage player named Brian Kelly who is somewhat notorious for his Oath of Druids decks. He has done well in tournaments by innovating on the construction and gameplay of Oath decks. A few years ago, he came up with an Oath build that ran two copies of Inferno Titan. Inferno Titan was a strong pick because it could start nuking planewalkers right away, could burn away utility creatures, and could potentially be hardcast if the board stalled. Oath players have generally shifted to other payloads as the format has evolved, but we might not have seen the last of Inferno Titan in Vintage. I think this sort of use showcases the flexibility of Inferno Titan and the sheer power of its triggered ability. Titan Oath would sometimes cheat in two copies of Inferno Titan or cheat one in and then hardcast the second one. That kind of repeatable damage can clear away pesky blockers, get rid of dangerous planeswalkers, and kill a player in short order. Also, this is markedly different from the use of Inferno Titan in other formats. A case could be made that the demonstrable versatility of Inferno Titan actually makes it one of the strongest of the bunch. This brings me to my second favorite titan...

Grave Titan

I have to admit that I'm kind of wildly speculating on these guys when it comes to tournament usage. I mean, I can look up some stats, but the sampling on Magic tournaments has never been consistent, and trying to gauge usage over the course of a decade across multiple formats might be impossible. I do think it's reasonable to assert that Frost Titan has seen the least use overall and that Primeval Titan has seen the most. The other three titans are all just great cards and only the most abstract comparisons can really be made here. I suspect that Sun Titan has been in the most decks across the most formats (it shows up as a kind of utility card in all sorts of oddball decks) and that Inferno Titan has been a centerpiece of more decks by volume (it seems to be the most popular of the three in Modern). Both of those two are versatile and have made strong showings in a variety of decks over the years. It doesn't seem like Grave Titan has that going for it. To some extent, the other titans (except Frost Titan) are multi-format jack-of-all-trades superstars, cropping up in decks to beat and in rogue archetypes across multiple formats and establishing a kind of scattershot presence in tournaments. I mean, Primeval Titan has done this on a larger scale than the others, but the overall concept is there. Not so for Grave Titan. No, Grave Titan isn't a jake-of-all-trades. Grave Titan does one thing well. Er, two things. Grave Titan does two things...
  1. Make zombies.
  2. Kill stuff.
Grave Titan has been a longtime staple of Legacy Reanimator decks. Opponents side in their graveyard hate against Reanimator, and with acceleration (Dark Ritual, Lake of the Dead, Grim Monolith), it's not difficult to quickly hardcast a Grave Titan, which can then clog the board up with zombies. While more expensive creatures like Griselbrand and Iona, Shield of Emeria are the default targets for spells like Animate Dead, Grave Titan works well there too. Killing Grave Titan in combat can necessitate poor trades, and once it's killed, the zombie tokens it made can still present a lethal threat.

There isn't a particular reason that Grave Titan couldn't function outside of a Reanimator deck. The card is powerful. But a black-heavy deck that uses big creatures might as well use the tools that make it a Reanimator deck, since they're so good. So most of the times I've seen Grave Titan, it's been in Legacy Reanimator decks. And almost all of the other times I've seen Grave Titan have probably been in EDH. I associate Grave Titan with Reanimator, but I think that's a quirk of the Legacy card pool. Casual players could make zombies in all sorts of decks. Grave Titan yields two zombies each time it enters the battlefield or attacks, and that can pile up into a zombie army pretty quickly. Alternatively, sacrifice those zombies to something and do shenanigans. Deadapult is always fun.

Deathtouch makes dealing with Grave Titan in combat a worse prospect than dealing with any of the other titans. Primeval Titan might trample over some blockers, but it does die if blocked by something bigger than it. Inferno Titan has some cornercase tricks if you have enough mana. But deathtouch is even better. Leaving creatures behind even after Grave Titan trades in combat lends some stickiness to the card. You can block it and kill it, but you lose your blocker and Grave Titan already made zombies at least twice.

If you've seen my Memories thread for Sengir Autocrat, it shouldn't come as a surprise that I like Grave Titan. It's kind of like a Sengir Autocrat that's actually good.


Staff member
You had me at Sengir Autocrat. Back in the day, that was one of my of my favorite critters. I even got a turn three win with one of those...


The Tentacled One
You had me at Sengir Autocrat. Back in the day, that was one of my of my favorite critters. I even got a turn three win with one of those...
Yep. Sengir Autocrat is an old favorite of mine. I did one of these threads for it back in 2018:

Sengir Autocrat is cheaper than Grave Titan and is still better at stuff like enabling Hecatomb, which was one thing that I used it for. But there is a bit of similarity, which is part of what has drawn me to Grave Titan. If your opponent can't kill it before it manages to attack just one time, it does an impression of Sengir Autocrat. If it stays alive for longer, then it becomes even better. Getting an instance of the triggered ability when the titan hits the battlefield and then a second instance the moment it attacks has been the formula that made these titans so successful. The results have spoken for themselves, and I think that perhaps even WotC were a bit taken aback by what they created. For most of the mid-to-late-2010's, I recall a perception by players that WotC was always seeking to recapitulate the power and success of the titans with some other cycle of creatures without making them overpowered. None of the would-be successors have been as popular.

Grave Titan mimicking Sengir Autocrat if it ever attacks might just epitomize the sweet spot that these titans hit. A creature like this that gets countered doesn't really do anything and one that gets killed right away only provides a simple EtB trigger. If the creature sticks around for a long time, then it probably just kills your opponent or something. But a lot of the time, realistically, you get an opportunity to attack with a big creature, but your opponent might block and kill it. That's a kind of sweet spot for these titans. It means that your opponent had to expend some kind of resource dealing with a 6/6 attacker that also has some kind of combat-relevant ability. In the case of Primeval Titan, that means fetching four lands from your library to the battlefield. In the case of Grave Titan, it means making four 2/2 zombie tokens. In the case of Inferno Titan, it means two instances of 3 damage divided up however you want. The runt of this litter, Frost Titan, doesn't actually have an ability that really matters in most combat situations and also kind of has the most situational triggered ability here. But my favorite is Sun Titan.

Zombie tokens are fun. The potential to just beat an opponent to death here is very real, and the proven power of Legacy Reanimator decks speaks for itself. Also, the tokens serve as sacrifice fodder, and like I said in that Sengir Autocrat thread, sacrificing stuff just might be my favorite "mechanic" in the game. Direct damage is simple, effective, and has a visceral appeal. I like direct damage effects and have been using them for a long time. And of course, I am enthusiastic about land-based engine decks. Despite all that, out of these M11 titans, Sun Titan is my favorite. A big part of that is how combotastic Sun Titan has proven itself to be. I'm impressed with how many different ways the card can set up and participate in combos. I mean, lands are cool, but what's even more cool is the recursion of any permanents with CMC 3 or less.
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The Tentacled One
I've used Sun Titan in a whole bunch of EDH decks, and most of those didn't use it in any kind of infinite loop. But it is worth noting that Sun Titan enables many infinite loops. The general formula here is to have a sac outlet, Sun Titan, and some card that let Sun Titan enter the battlefield and trigger. For instance...

Ashnod's Altar + Sun Titan + Saffi Eriksdotter
Ashnod's Altar + Sun Titan + Fiend Hunter
Ashnod's Altar + Sun Titan + Angelic Renewal
Ashnod's Altar + Sun Titan + False Demise
Ashnod's Altar + Sun Titan + Eldrazi Displacer + Cathodion
Saheeli Rai + Sun Titan + Karmic Guide + Clever Impersonator
Auratog + Sun Titan + Oblivion Ring
Auratog + Sun Titan + Animate Dead + Dance of the Dead
Auratog + Sun Titan + Dance of the Many

And I-don't-even-know-how-many other variants on similar concepts. It's very easy to make Sun Titan go infinite. Generally, these are three-card combos. But the non-Titan pieces tend to have considerable redundancy on offer in a deck. A sac outlet for creatures could be any sac outlet for creatures, Fiend Hunter could be Banisher Priest, False Demise could be Gift of Immortality, etc. When combo components have such redundancy, especially in EDH, a three-card combo can ultimately outshine a more highly specific two-card combo.


The Tentacled One
I tend not to think of Sun Titan as a tournament card, which is totally unfair of me. It's not as high-profile and enduring in Legacy as Primeval Titan or Grave Titan, but Sun Titan has seen its fair share of tournament play. Its versatility probably has it edging out Inferno Titan in that area. Getting a permanent back, often multiple times, is a powerful effect. While I won't try to capture the full scope of Sun Titan's tournament appearances, I do want to highlight some of them, particularly ones that date back to when I was less acutely aware of the card's existence.

In Legacy, there were three major tournament archetypes that adopted Sun Titan during what I've identified as my fourth lull in Magic-playing activity. I was going to simply list them, but of course not everyone is familiar with these archetypes, so some introductions are in order. By the way, none of these were what I thought of, at the time, as "Sun Titan decks." They were very much doing their own thing, but sometimes Sun Titan was a good fit.

In the wake of the Legacy banning of Survival of the Fittest, green-based toolbox decks went dormant, but it wasn't long before the printing of Green Sun's Zenith in Mirrodin Besieged caused a resurgence of this general concept. There have been other GSZ (Green Sun's Zenith) decks, but the "Maverick" archetype was the one that essentially imitated the white/green Survival decks that existed in Legacy before the rise of Vengevine and the banning of Survival of the Fittest.

Maverick is distinguished by the presence of 4x copies of GSZ alongside Knight of the Reliquary and Stoneforge Mystic. There's nothing intrinsic to those three cards that makes them seem like they belong together and it was really the way that they fit together into a deck with disruptive creatures that caused this to even work. Supposedly, the very earliest versions of the deck were based around Aether Vial before GSZ came out, and the name "Maverick" was based on the idea that they deck was "off the radar."

Sun Titan was certainly not in early versions of Maverick, but it seems that at some point while I was in college, people started throwing it into Maverick lists to top out the mana curve. It makes sense. Maverick could act quickly, but the deck was always more about utility and disruption than about trying to race opponents. It won through attrition. Typically, this involved establishing a lead early on in a game. Sun Titan could close the deal. Why Sun Titan and not some other big dummy? Because almost every other permanent in the deck aside from Batterskull could be brought back by Sun Titan. If an opponent was able to slow Maverick down by blowing up Umezawa's Jitte or Knight of the Reliquary, Sun Titan could bring those cards right back. A popular target would have been Eternal Witness, which could itself grab any card out of the graveyard, with no limitations. Six mana was a lot, but between GSZ for Dryad Arbor, Noble Hierarch, and Knight of the Reliquary for Gaea's Cradle, this was a deck that could reasonably get there.

Here's an archetype that's well-known outside of Legacy, and I think so well-known that everyone at the CPA recognizes it. I talked about Legacy Ichorid decks, later known as "Dredge", in a few of these Magic Memories threads. To recapitulate, this was an archetype that used Golgari Grave-Troll, Stinkweed Imp, Golgari Thug, and sometimes other cards with the "dredge" mechanic, to replace drawing cards with self-mill. They ran ample discard effects, including effects that could draw multiple cards, but those draws would be replaced with increasing amounts of self-mill. This could be accomplished very quickly, with an outsized graveyard being built up by turn 2. Ordinarily, discarding one's hand and milling oneself would be bad, but these decks then relied on an engine based around five other cards: Narcomoeba, Ichorid, Bridge from Below, Cabal Therapy, and Dread Return. Narcomoeba went onto the battlefield when milled, and could then be sacrificed to Cabal Therapy or Dread Return. Ichorid could enter the battlefield from the graveyard and would automatically die at the end of the turn. Having Narcomoeba and Ichorid die would generate zombie tokens with Bridge from Below. Cabal Therapy was a sacrifice outlet and could strip disruption out of the opponent's hand. Dread Return was another sacrifice outlet and could be used to put a big creature onto the battlefield.

That's a quick summary, but it might be hard to appreciate how this deck works if you've never seen it in action. Dredge decks routinely get two or three copies of Bridge from Below into the graveyard, two or three Narcomoebas onto the battlefield, and two or three copies of Ichorid onto the battlefield, all by turn 2. This means that an opponent is staring down 8–18 zombie tokens alongside whatever big creature Dread Return was used to cheat out, and that Cabal Therapy has been used to get rid of whatever cards in the opponent's hand constitute the biggest obstacle to the zombie army swinging in for the kill.

Dread Return targets in Dredge decks have always been a bit different from the typical targets a Reanimator deck would use. Sure, a Grave Titan could work here, but when you're already making a zombie army, it's better to use Dread Return on a creature that does something else instead. A go-to target in the early years was Angel of Despair, which could blow up a pesky permanent and also swing in for 5 damage. Flame-Kin Zealot was a greedier option, as it could boost the zombies and give them haste, aiming for a faster kill with fewer zombies, although attacking a turn earlier generally meant forfeiting one's copies of Bridge from Below in the graveyard. Sun Titan emerged as a kind of backup target for Dread Return. While there weren't a lot of gamebreaking permanents to bring back at CMC 3 or less, Sun Titan could do a neat trick of bringing back Lion's Eye Diamond, which could get valuable cards out of your hand and into your graveyard, where you needed them (yes, Dredge is a weird deck like that). The mana could then be used with Cephalid Coliseum and Deep Analysis to generate more card-drawing, which meant more dredging, which meant more zombies. Using Grave Titan and making four more zombies would be a mistake when you could use Sun Titan and make ten more zombies. In a pinch, Sun Titan could also bring back Putrid Imp to get another option for a discard outlet.

Nic Fit
Maverick and Dredge made good use of Sun Titan, but it was never really popular in those archetypes and I think they consistently dropped the card many years ago in favor of other options. Some rogue decks have used Sun Titan as well. But the major tournament archetype in Legacy that is most closely associated with Sun Titan, the deck that used Sun Titan most frequently and for the longest amount of time, was definitely Nic Fit. I don't think that Sun Titan has turned up lately, but Nic Fit is a silly deck and you can run pretty much whatever you want in it, so I wouldn't rule it out. If you haven't seen a Nic Fit deck in action, you're missing out. I suspect that if the members of the CPA had our own Legacy team, Nic Fit would have been a popular deck for us, because when playing it you get to do oddball stuff and make it work.

Nic Fit operates by sacrificing Veteran Explorer to Cabal Therapy and using the mana to cast Green Sun's Zenith. I already mentioned Maverick, and it might seem strange to associate Sun Titan with GSZ decks when GSZ can't fetch Sun Titan, but really, these archetypes don't have much in common. Maverick is a toolbox deck powered by disruptive and utility creatures. It can ramp mana a little bit, but mostly just attempts to use early disruption to take over the board, along the lines of an old Survival deck. To Maverick, GSZ is an engine. To Nic Fit, GSZ is a bomb. Cabal Therapy on Veteran Explorer lets you mess with your opponent's hand while ramping both sides of the field, as long as both players have basic lands to fetch. Despite being a multicolored deck, Nic Fit tends to run far more basics than most Legacy decks, which have always been light on basics. So opponents might get ramped a bit and be able to curve out, but the Nic Fit deck is deliberately built around jumping over the mana curve. So opponents with their cute little efficient creatures get overwhelmed by big, powerful cards.

Some of the cards historically used in Nic Fit decks have never really had a presence in any other Legacy archetype, because Nic Fit is the only deck that can get away with running those cards. Sun Titan isn't one of those, but it's a sensible choice here. A six-drop is no problem for Nic Fit and recursion is excellent in a deck that frequently sacrifices its own creatures as well as playing board wipes like Pernicious Deed. If I remember correctly, every Nic Fit list I've ever seen that ran Sun Titan also included Eternal Witness, so Sun Titan for Eternal Witness for something else was an option. Recurring Veteran Explorer itself can be nice under some circumstances.


The Tentacled One
Sun Titan has been employed as a niche card in Vintage, and I think Sun Titan might actually have been the first of the M11 titans to make its way into Vintage decks.

Vintage Dredge
As with Legacy, Sun Titan showed up in Dredge lists. These seem to have been the earliest showings for an M11 titan in Vintage tournament records. So, I've already gone over the idea of Sun Titan as a Dread Return target. There's only one real difference between this usage in Vintage and the usage in Legacy, but it's a big one. In Vintage, Sun Titan's triggered ability gets pointed almost exclusively at Bazaar of Baghdad.

I won't try to go over the full scope of Vintage Dredge in this thread. The archetype has become one of the most infamous in the game and has split and redefined itself with new tools. The archetype even took a hit from the 2019 restriction of Golgari Grave-Troll. This history of the Dredge archetype and its evolution across multiple formats over the years is interesting, but also a bit overwhelming and, for our purposes, off-topic. So I'll note that while current Dredge lists in 2021 have moved away from reliance on Dread Return, the card was very much a core part of the gameplan for a long time. And when that was the case, Sun Titan was a strong Dread Return target because it let the Dredge player grab a second copy of Bazaar of Baghdad from the graveyard. This meant more dredging and more chances to get copies of Bridge from Below in the graveyard, as well as more copies of Narcomoeba onto the battlefield. This could be the difference between a fourth-turn kill and a third-turn kill or the difference between a third-turn kill and a second-turn kill. This also enabled Dredge decks to practically ignore Wasteland.

Eventually, the gameplay patterns of Dredge forced it into a strange cycle. Stuff like Dread Return on Sun Titan followed by Dread Return on Flame-Kin Zealot made Dredge almost impervious to anything except for dedicated graveyard hate. Dedicated graveyard hate made Dredge worse in the metagame, which made players run less graveyard hate, which made Dredge good again. And along the way, Dredge players would adjust their lists to run cards that got around graveyard hate, which made graveyard hate less effective against them, but also slowed them down. This is weird. Doesn't have much to do with Sun Titan, though.

Since this is a Sun Titan thread, I might have buried the lede when I brought up "Titan Oath" and the role of Inferno Titan in Vintage. Inferno Titan found a nice niche, but Sun Titan was being used with Oath of Druids before that and will probably be used with Oath of Druids long after players stop running Inferno Titan. Everyone here at the CPA has been playing since forever ago, so even if you're not too familiar with Vintage Oath decks in recent years, the concept of dumping most of your library into your graveyard with Oath of Druids should be somewhat familiar: it's been a popular technique for a long time. And it's not too hard to imagine that Sun Titan, which brings stuff back out of your graveyard, would have some synergy here. Since Sun Titan's trigger happens when it enters the battlefield and when it attacks, it can simply grab both pieces of a two-card combo. The obvious choice for a two-card combo was Time Vault + Voltaic Key. Opponents could try to kill the Sun Titan before it attacked, but then the Oath player could just use a second copy of Sun Titan to retrieve the second combo piece. Running two copies of Sun Titan did come with the drawback that you'd be a bit more likely to Oath up Sun Titan and not also dig deep enough to fetch either combo piece, but Oath decks have been able to mitigate that kind of drawback for a while.

Another popular approach with Sun Titan was to use Oath of Druids to dump at least two copies of Saheeli Rai into the graveyard.
Saheeli's -2 makes a copy of Sun Titan, which triggers and brings back the other copy of Saheeli Rai. The first Saheeli Rai dies to the planeswalker uniqueness rule (this was before the rules changes to planeswalkers, although the combo still works). You can then -2 to the new Saheeli Rai to make another copy of Sun Titan, which triggers and brings back the first copy of Saheeli Rai. Rinse, repeat. Infinite hasty Sun Titans probably wins the game.

I've already expressed my obsession with Life from the Loam. So of course I've got to talk about the Sun Titan Oath variant that used Life from the Loam to enable a Marit Lage kill. As with other Vintage Oath decks, the idea was to dump a large portion of your library into your graveyard. Sun Titan would bring back Solemnity. Then, during your draw step, you'd replace your normal card draw with dredging up Life from the Loam. Life from the Loam could be used to grab a copy of Dark Depths from your graveyard, and when Dark Depths is dropped on the battlefield with Solemnity out, you can immediately get Marit Lage. In a pinch, the Sun Titan or Life from the Loam could help assemble the Dark Depths + Thespian's Stage combo as a slower way to get Marit Lage. There was so much to talk about with Life from the Loam that I don't think I even touched on Oath of Druids in the Memories thread for the card, so I've mentioned it here. Life from the Loam is amazing.

Historically, the Saheeli Rai combo was the most popular way to exploit Sun Titan in an Oath deck in Vintage. But ever since last year, Sun Titan has taken on a new role as an enabler of Underworld Breach. With that same big dump of cards into your graveyard, you have plenty of resources to get Underworld Breach going. The card is stupidly powerful and Oath players have been using it to win games with everything under the sun (titan). Heh, I made a pun.


The Tentacled One
Did you know that there are some formats where you can actually just cast a six-drop creature instead of cheating it onto the battlefield? Sun Titan has been a fixture of Modern for a long time, and has appeared in a wider variety of decks than the three or so variants historically prevalent in Legacy.

In 2015, Birthing Pod was banned in Modern. But the card made for a powerful deck up until that point. Modern Pod decks were part toolbox, part combo. They were somewhat reminiscent of Survival of the Fittest, but with different constraints. Their default combo was Melira, Sylvok Outcast + Murderous Redcap. Birthing Pod chains put lots of creatures into one's graveyard, and that meant Sun Titan would always have targets. Pod decks could reasonably hardcast Sun Titan or grab it with Chord of Calling. But often, the deck would just use Birthing Pod on a five-drop and grab Sun Titan that way.

Martyr Proc
This cheesy throwback of a deck is probably no longer competitive, but it would be a lot of fun. People like lifegain. The name "Martyr Proc" comes from the combo of Martyr of Sands + Proclamation of Rebirth. The idea was to load your hand up with white cards, sacrifice Martyr of Sands to gain a bunch of life, then forecast Proclamation of Rebirth to get the Martyr back and do it all over again. Once it got going, this deck could gain so much life that it could shrug off damage from aggro decks. Other than Ranger of Eos and possibly planeswalkers, Sun Titan could retrieve any permanent in the deck.

UW Control
Of course Modern has to have a blue/white control archetype. Almost every format has one. A control deck in these colors is one of the most enduring stereotypes in the game. These decks have been around since the beginning of the format and they've changed dramatically. But Sun Titan has been one of the most tenacious inclusions in Modern versions of the archetype. Actually, I suppose that this is notable: we've come to our first archetype in this thread that uses Sun Titan as a regular old value card the way WotC intended, rather than as part of some silly engine. I'm biased. I like my silly engines. I think that they're cool. But it's also possible to just use Sun Titan because it's good, rather than planning for it in some combo. UW Control tends to have stuff like Snapcaster Mage, Vedalken Shackles, Ghostly Prison, Oblivion Ring, Vendilion Clique, Detention Sphere, etc. Sun Titan likely has multiple viable targets to choose from and its triggered ability might recur disruptive permanents that opponents have already struggled to fight through once. Also, Sun Titan plays offense and defense simultaneously.

Solar Flare
Despite name, this deck wasn't originally a Sun Titan deck. It was actually the name of an old Standard deck based around using Zombify on big, powerful creatures in what was otherwise a grindy control deck. In other words, Solar Flare was kind of like Reanimator, only not very good. I kid: the deck had quite the following in Standard and Extended. Sun Titan was mainly popular here because of its synergy with Gifts Ungiven.

Copy Cat
The trick in Vintage of using Oath of Druids to grab Sun Titan and then using Sun Titan to go infinite with two copies of Saheeli Rai was likely inspired by the more infamous "Copy Cat" combo from Standard: Saheeli Rai + Felidar Guardian. Of course, the Standard version was quashed by the banning of Felidar Guardian, but the combo is totally legal in Modern. Obviously the Felidar Guardian version of this combo is more efficient, as it only needs one copy of Saheeli Rai. But the Sun Titan version works even if both copies of the planeswalker are in the graveyard, so it serves as a lategame backup. Most Modern Copy Cat lists use a full playset of Felidar Guardian and have a singleton Sun Titan

Kiki Chord
With Pod gone, the "Kiki Chord" deck kind of takes its place. Using Chord of Calling and Eldritch Evolution as toolbox cards and Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker as an accelerant an combo enabler, this deck uses a lot of one-off slots. As usual, Sun Titan can grab cheap permanents back from the graveyard, which helps with combo applications. Sometimes, this means an infinite loop. Other times, it's just having Sun Titan grab Voice of Resurgence again for a beatdown kill.


The Tentacled One
Sun Titan was probably also used in Standard or something, but right now, I want to talk about EDH.

I dabbled in EDH a bit starting in 2008 or so, but had misgivings about the format. Most of my early efforts were focused on Zur the Enchanter, as can be seen in the "Magic Commander #1" CPA forum game thread. I messed around with the 2011 and 2013 precons and played with some decks other people built, but didn't really have my own EDH deck after taking apart the Zur deck. In early 2014, I became enamored with the idea of a Dredge-based EDH deck.

I have a somewhat strange history with this deck. I was determined to make Dredge work and to use Bazaar of Baghdad in EDH, but back in early 2014, such decks were virtually nonexistent. I had to find a way to make it work. This started out as a Karador deck because Karador looked to be one of the only plausible options for a commander that could synergize with the Dredge mechanic. My earliest lists were full of cards that had been tried in Legacy and Vintage Dredge lists, but those cards didn't generally scale well with the change of format. Bit by bit, I wound up with something approaching the "Boonweaver Karador" decklists from the early days of what would become competitive EDH, but my list was wonkier than those and was hyperfocused on the Dredge mechanic. In the meantime, new commanders had been printed that challenged the notion that Karador was the best choice for a Dredge commander. In particular, The Gitrog Monster is a superior commander for using Dredge cards and for using Bazaar of Baghdad. So I made the switch. I kept the same forum thread here for the deck, which I later realized could be cause for some confusion. Oops.

I was running some kind of Karador list from 2014 to 2018. I couldn't remember offhand when I'd started using Sun Titan, and since I appreciate the card and have fond memories of it, I liked to assume that it had been in my list from close to the beginning. History shows that I was wrong about this. I forgot about it, but I owe my use of Sun Titan in this deck to Shabbaman. Although I included Sun Titan in a list of white cards I was looking at in May of 2014, but the actual list I posted one week later did not use Sun Titan. Despite numerous revisions throughout the year, I did not add Sun Titan to the deck until Shabbaman brought it up. He was smart and I was stupid. He was right and I was wrong.

Shabbaman said:
For me, the main reason to run W[hite] in EDH is Sun Titan. It's so much fun to recur your utility crap, and it has many good synergies and combo's. It might be the top end of your curve, but considering that it can bring back Saffi...

Another game-ending spell I miss in your list is Living Death. It's a classic, it's solid, it does double duty as removal, and you're a graveyard deck.
It took almost another month, but I did take Shabbaman's advice on Sun Titan. And I'm glad I did! Sun Titan was a powerhouse in this deck. It was one of my favorite things about the Karador version of "Lake Dredge Appraisal." While The Gitrog Monster took over as my Dredge-based commander in 2018 and I haven't built another Karador deck since, that same copy of Sun Titan did tag along with its friends when I built a Pattern Rector deck for the Canadian Highlander format.


The Tentacled One
Going through the records I have here, I'll list in chronological order my EDH decks that used Sun Titan, along with the commander and a favorite Sun Titan target from each deck.

Helcomb Municipal Lake Dredge Appraisal (Karador, Ghost Chieftain): Saffi Eriksdotter
The End of Eternity (God Eternal Oketra): Selfless Spirit
Gabriel Voltron (Gabriel Angelfire): Eternal Witness
You Can Fly! You Can Fly! You Can Fly! (Gosta Dirk): Ajani, Caller of the Pride
Erhnamagnus, Lord of the Loam (Lord Magnus): Horizon Canopy
The Worst Tooth and Nail Deck (Lady Caleria): Spore Frog
Unsavory Deeds Done Dirt Cheap: Throne of the High City