Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
Simic Ascendancy in Magic
Simic Ascendancy is a low-cost Magic enchantment with a powerful effect, winning the game at your upkeep if it has at least 20 growth counters. Whenever one of your creatures gets +1/+1 counters, Ascendancy acquires that many growth counters, and it lets you pay three mana to put a +1/+1 on a creature you control.
Whether used in standard or commander, it's a fun addition to counter-focused themes, giving two big ways to win: via Ascendancy's condition, or with repeated attacks from your boosted creatures. But with hundreds +1/+1 spells, which reign supreme? These are the 30 best blue/green supports for Simic Ascendancy in Magic: The Gathering!
30. Thrasios, Triton Hero/Kydele, Chosen of Kruphix
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 2/4
Okay, so neither of these guys actually play off +1/+1 counters. But they're still great commanders for blue/green decks; since each has the partner ability, you can have both as commander, and each has wizard synergy (plus merfolk on Thrasios).
Additionally, Thrasios has a great scry/draw effect and Kydele can tap for mana based on your draws that turn, which helps you find and afford the spells you need. We'll see another tempting pair of green/blue partners, but there's an advantage to using them as regular deck members instead of commanders (more on that later).
29. Incubation Druid
Druid's a weak 0/2 elf, but she can tap for any mana color that your lands could provide, doubling up on whatever hues you need. More than that, she can adapt three by paying five mana, which gives her three +1/+1 counters if she has none.
As long as Druid has a +1/+1 counter, she'll tap for three mana instead of one, a powerful ramp that you can trigger with adapt or other counter-providing spells.
28. Ravenous Slime
Slime begins play as a weak 1/1, but whenever an opposing creature would die, he instead exiles them and gains a number of +1/+1 counters equal to their power. That's Simic synergy plus graveyard hate in one, and as a bonus, Slime can't be blocked by creatures with less than three power, a fair alternative to trample.
27. Titania's Chosen
Chosen's another weak 1/1, but gains a +1/+1 counter whenever any player casts a green spell. If you're lucky enough to face other green decks, you'll rapidly amass these counters, and having the elf subtype only sweetens the pot.
26. Spark Double
Spark Double enters the field as a copy of any creature or planeswalker you control. He also gains an additional +1/+1 counter if a creature, or an extra loyalty counter if a planeswalker, and since his copy loses legendary, you can safely duplicate legendary spells!
True, Spark Double doesn't automatically copy the number of +1/+1 counters a creature has obtained, but his ability to both duplicate and improve on two card types makes him tempting for any blue deck, especially Simic themes.
25. Altered Ego
Unlike Double, Ego can't mimic planeswalkers, but it can duplicate any creature (including opposing ones). Plus, Ego can't be countered, and in addition to its base cost of four mana, you can spend X more to provide your copy X +1/+1 counters, a great outlet for leftover mana.
24. Vinelasher Kudzu
Another puny 1/1 that grows stronger over time; Kudzu gains a +1/+1 counter whenever you play a land (which Thrasios's ability can hasten). He's also cheaper than many of today's three-cost counter-gainers, mitigating your loss if killed before building momentum.
23. Roalesk, Apex Hybrid
Roalesk here offers a versatile beatstick/support combo, justifying his sizable price with 4/5 stats plus both flying and trample. Additionally, when Roalesk enters the field, you put two +1/+1s on another creature you control, and when he dies, you proliferate twice!
Proliferating a great boon that adds another of already-existing counters, meaning you can proliferate planeswalker loyalty counters, Ascendancy's growth counters, and creature +1/+1s (which will in turn provide more growth counters).
22. Fathom Mage
Fathom Mage only arrives as a puny 1/1, but her evolve trait gives her a +1/+1 counter whenever a creature with higher power or toughness enters your field. This quickly gets her up to par, and she also lets you draw whenever she gains a +1/+1 counter.
Use her alongside Thrasios and Kydele, where those extra draws will also provide additional mana and Mage's wizard subtype helps build a tribal theme.
21. Bioessence Hydra
This one depends on if you're using planeswalkers; even creature-focused decks might run some Nissas, Viviens, or Jaces. Hydra's bases stats are a respectable 4/4 with trample, but he gains a +1/+1 counter for every loyalty counter on planeswalkers you control! As if that weren't enough, he also gains a corresponding number of +1/+1s whenever one of your planeswalkers gains loyalty.
Even with just one or two planeswalkers, this quickly translates into insane stats and numerous growth counters for Ascendancy.
20. Scavenging Ooze
For his price, Ooze arrives as a solid 2/2, and he can spend a green mana to instantly exile a card from a graveyard. Plus, if it was a creature, Ooze gets a +1/+1 and you gain one life.
In addition to the always-welcome counters, this helps round out your deck by providing some lifegain and graveyard hate, useful when you're up against cards like...
19. Golgari Grave-Troll
Arguably the best dredge card in the game, Grave-Troll arrives with a +1/+1 counter for each creature card in your graveyard. And he's hard to eliminate; Troll can spend a mana and remove a +1/+1 counter to regenerate himself, and if he ends up in your graveyard, you can recover him with dredge six.
Instead of drawing at the start of your turn, dredge six lets you mills six cards from your deck to retrieve Troll from your graveyard, which helpfully stocks your graveyard and makes him stronger when he next arrives.
18. Primal Vigor
Primal Vigor offers a field-wide "Doubling Season", doubling the number of +1/+1 counters creatures receive and the number of tokens created with effects. Sure, your opponents receive these benefits as well, but they'll be especially useful for your deck. And since the effect isn't exclusive to you, Vigor doesn't paint a huge target on your back in multiplayer games.
17. Avatar of the Resolute
For just two mana, a 3/2 with both trample and reach (can block flyers) already has me sold. However, Avatar also arrives with a +1/+1 for each other creature you control that has one. So depending on when you draw him, Avatar might enter as a 3/2 or 10/9, rewarding you for swarming counters with other effects.
16. Hydroid Krasis
Krasis adapts to fit your current mana, requiring two mana plus X. He arrives with X +1/+1 counters, and you also draw cards and gain life equal to half of X (rounded down). Toss in flying, trample, and three subtypes, and you've got an adaptable creature that mixes battle prowess with card advantage and lifegain.
15. Verdurous Gearhulk
As an artifact-creature, Gearhulk works well with artifact-supporting blue cards, and he enters the fray as a 4/4 trampler. Better yet, upon arrival, he places four +1/+1s on any single creature you control. You can but don't have to choose Gearhulk for this; either way, you're getting a net total of eight power plus trample and counter synergy.
Vigor is today's most expensive card at six mana, but he provides a 6/6 elemental trampler who prevents all damage to your other creatures! As if that weren't enough, for each damage prevented this way, that creature gains a +1/+1 counter.
This only blocks damage, not destruction, but it's still an excellent way to swarm counters and punish foes for engaging you in battle.
13. Loyal Guardian
Guardian provides a solid 4/4 with trample whose lieutenant ability gives a +1/+1 counter to every creature you control (including himself) at the start of your combat if you control your commander. Whether you're using Thrasios/Kydele or our upcoming partners, odds are strong you'll have two commanders, and controlling either will trigger Guardian's ability.
12. Awakening of Vitu-Ghazi
This instant places nine +1/+1s on a land you control, making it a 9/9 elemental with haste. Nine counters at once means you're almost halfway to winning via Ascendancy, and that's a powerful creature—cast Vitu when your opponent attacks to catch them off-guard with a surprise blocker.
11. Forgotten Ancient
For his price, Ancient is a weak 0/3 elemental, but whenever anyone casts a spell, he gains a +1/+1, and he can move any of his +1/+1s to other creatures at your upkeep. So, Ancient empowers Ascendancy whenever he gains a counter, and he'll do it again by transferring them later, getting twice the bang for your buck. Plus, spreading out counters helps maximize proliferate abilities.
10. Hardened Scales
Simple yet effective, whenever one of your creatures would get one or more +1/+1s, this enchantment adds an additional +1/+1, sort of like a mini-proliferate. And the effect only applies to you, preventing foes from capitalizing on your play.
9. Fangren Firstborn
Firstborn specifically needs a lot of green mana and is only decent at 4/2. But when he attacks, you place a +1/+1 on all attacking creatures you control, including Firstborn himself. So, he basically swings as a 5/3, and the longer he lasts, the more your army will grow; try giving Firstborn trample and haste to further support him.
8. Lorescale Coatl
Lorescale gains a +1/+1 counter whenever you draw a card, especially tempting when you're using the extra draws from Thrasios and Kydele. Plus, unlike many of today's counter-gaining creatures, he starts as a 2/2 instead of a 1/1, and his snake subtype has a few synergies.
An easy pick for my own Simic decks, Lorescale is also surprisingly cheap, costing well under a single dollar!
7. Chasm Skulker
Like Lorescale, Chasm gains a +1/+1 whenever you draw a card. While he begins as a weaker 1/1, he only needs one color and when he dies, you create X 1/1 squid tokens with islandwalk, where X was the number of +1/+1s Chasm had. In addition to quickly empowering Ascendancy, this makes him a looming threat who spawns plenty of tokens to continue his onslaught if killed.
6. Managorger Hydra
For one less mana, Managorger has the same main ability of Firstborn Ancient, gaining a +1/+1 whenever anyone casts a spell (even if the spell is countered). This quickly grows him to monstrous proportions, and since he naturally carries trample, foes will be hard-pressed to fully block him.
5. Primordial Hydra
Primordial Hydra needs two mana plus X more, arriving with X +1/+1 counters. Try pumping X as much as possible, but don't despair if it's only one—Primordial doubles his +1/+1s at your upkeep, quickly gaining strength no matter his initial power. He also gains trample once he has at least ten, bleeding excess damage through blockers.
4. Kalonian Hydra
Kalonian arrives with four +1/+1s, adding several growth counters to Ascendancy off the bat and providing a solid 4/4 trampler. But his amazing effect doubles the amount of +1/+1s on all creatures you control when he attacks!
Even without other supports, this means he'll swing as an 8/8, then a 16/16 and so on, and unlike Firstborn, even your non-attacking creatures will receive the bonus counters.
3. Scute Mob
Scute Mob's especially tempting for commander since (unlike many one-cost creatures), he scales surprisingly well in the late-game. He starts at 1/1, but if you control at least five lands, he gains four +1/+1 counters at your upkeep! That's a lot of power for such a cheap card, letting you pressure foes while saving mana for other spells.
2. Pir, Imaginative Rascal/Toothy, Imaginary Friend
Both Pir and Toothy enter as puny 1/1s, but they partner with each other. You can use them both as your commander, but you might also want to simply include them in your deck—casting one will automatically search the other and add it to your hand.
No matter how you employ them, Pir gives your permanents an extra counter whenever they would get one (this also helps planeswalkers), and Toothy gets a +1/+1 whenever you draw. When Toothy dies, he also draws you cards equal to his +1/+1s, ensuring your hand remains stocked.
What can I say; both cards work great with the theme, and their ability to find one another forms a fierce combo.
1. Doubling Season
Of course, the infamous Doubling Season reigns supreme with counter synergy. If an effect would create one or more tokens or counters on your field, Season doubles the amount you receive.
Your creatures get twice the +1/+1s, you swarm bonus tokens, and your planeswalkers enter with double loyalty, often letting them trigger their ultimate effects immediately. Plus, if you control Doubling Season and Pir or Hardened Scales, casting Awakening of Vitu-Ghazi will immediately give 20 +1/+1s, enough to satisfy Ascendancy with one move—just remember Ascendancy has to survive until your next upkeep to trigger.
How to Gain +1/+1 Counters in Magic
Today we covered several counter-supporting spells, but it's just the tip of the iceberg when building a Simic deck—you'd be surprised just how many abilities add +1/+1 counters. Don't believe me? Try using anything with adapt, proliferate, evolve, devour, support, reinforce, bolster, amass, awaken, graft, scavenge, kicker, riot, tribute, megamorph, fabricate, renown, undying, persist, outlast, bloodthirst, etc.
Most Ascendancy players stick to blue/green, but some off-color supports deserve mention, like black/green "Corpsejack Menace". But as we await more Simic supports from Wizards of the Coast, vote for your favorite card and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
Questions & Answers
Question: How about "Hydra's Growth"?
Answer: Definitely some synergy there. I believe it wasn't out when I made the list, and I'll certainly consider adding it, but Growth does carry the classic aura-disadvantage risk (lose the creature Growth is on, and you lose Growth as well).
© 2019 Jeremy Gill
Rex H on April 04, 2020:
I think proliferate works the best with Simic Ascendency, since you can add a growth counter on top of the +1/+1 counters. A simple Courage in Crisis will often add 5 or more growth counters if played right.
Lunchbag on September 19, 2019:
I find galloping lizrog excels with ascendancy!