There are a lot of cascade decks that have been brought to Pro Tour–Honolulu. The lure of free spells is strong, so this is far from surprising. Equally, there are a lot of decks that are in some way prepared for such an attack. What is interesting though, is that there is one build of Five-Colour Cascade Control that seems to have risen to the top. Designed by Michael Jacob and Patrick Chapin, this build of the Cascade Control deck has put those two, plus Zac Hill, and Martin Juza in good position to finish near the top of the standings.
The differences are subtle but powerful. From the outset, the desire with this cascade build was to make “every spell a Flametongue Kavu.” In a format full of cascade, failing to hit a relevant spell is pretty horrible, and as such the end targets for this build were limited to Wall of Denial, Maelstrom Pulse, Celestial Purge, and Esper Charm. This way, cascade spells would virtually always be live, especially when those playing the deck would hold off playing any into an empty board.
Once this strategy was set up, it made cascade a little less random than is typical of many decks in the format. It also allowed for an anti-control plan where the cascade targets became only Esper Charm and Blightning. This effectively packs the deck very high on discard spells, such that resolving Cruel Ultimatums becomes more of a one sided affair.
Traumatic Visions is another card that sets apart this build of the cascade control deck. It will never get hit on cascade, and can either counter those key “big spells” around which the format revolves, or fix up mana, for a two-pronged attack.
Finally, we come to the finishers. It should come as no surprise that Cruel Ultimatum looms large in this equation. Against most decks, resolving it is a good step in the right direction to winning the game. The amount of discard this build plays is an acknowledgement of the fact that Cruel Ultimatums can start cancelling each other out. The existence of Thought Hemorrhage means that having such a singular plan is not a great idea, though. On top of the Ultimatums, Obelisk of Alara and Ajani Vengeant are solid backup plans. Ajani is often a Lightning Helix and some extra time in the early game, but once an opponent is out of resources, he can happily make life very tough if given the opportunity.
Zac Hill and Martin Juza have also turned to the scariest of all the planeswalkers, Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker, for a little more help. When asked, Zac declared his reasons for playing Nicol B. to be threefold. Number 1, the planeswalker provided a little more threat diversity. Number 2, he allowed for games to be finished faster, which was more of a concern for Zac, as he felt that he hadn’t played the deck sufficiently to be confident about finishing particularly fast. Number 3? Killing people with evil dragon legends is just damned cool.
Here is Zac’s list. Now with added cool.
Zac Hill's Five-Color Cruel Control