Monday, 4 June 2018

Tiny White Soldiers


Creature-based decks are amongst the most popular in Magic, but how they win has some incredible variance. Tempo, ramp and cheating creatures into play are just some strategic examples that exist in the game. Today’s deck looks to combine two such strategies: card advantage and ‘ramp’. You might notice the ‘’s; they’re not a mistake and they shall be explained. But let’s just start with what we’re playing - Tiny. White. Soldiers. So let’s thrust right in with our TWS and see how they stab our opponents, shall we?

TWS has approximately 45% Soldier-type cards in its library, which is done in order to help maximize Enlistment Officer’s card advantage. The deck also has 4 Land Tax which, played alongside Mox Diamond, helps to thin out the lands while also playing its own role as mana ramp. By helping to ensure you play less land than your opponent, Mox Diamond has dual uses and should be played as a complete set. Together, these cards allow both tempo and card advantage. Pretty neat, eh? Synergy!

Kjeldoran Outpost is another way that the deck allows you to create card advantage and help ensure Land Tax can keep grabbing you lands. While the normal threat to Outpost is Wasteland, your opponent might just think twice with Land Tax, so either way it is helping you gain an advantage. Now the previously mentioned cards, along with the lone Ancient Tomb, are how WTS tries to gain an edge in ‘ramp’; and while it is certainly an important aspect in today’s deck, let us now concentrate solely on the more prominent strategy in TWS  - card advantage.

Enlistment is the obvious draw engine in Soldiers, but there are numerous cards that help play their own role in winning the game. Icatian Javileneers can be a 2-1, Catapult Squad can wipe out a tiny horde, Gempalm Avenger can net you a card while +1/+1’ing your army during the attack.. see? You have options at your command. The last one I want to point out today is Soltari Champion. You may have noticed that many creatures in TWS help provide a Crusade-type addition, while being Soldiers rather than an enchantment. Soltari Champion is an exceptional example here because it is very rare that he won’t hit your opponent and provide +1/+1 to your creatures.

 So there we have it: Tiny White Soldiers. As a tribal deck with several options available to you, there is certainly some versatility in deck construction. Heck, you may even want to try other strategies that don’t concentrate on ramp or card advantage – although I recommend you at least use the latter to your advantage. But hey, the choice is yours on how you want to play the game. Happy Brewing!


Tiny White Soldiers

14 Plains
1 Kjeldoran Outpost
1 Karakas
4 Wasteland
1 Ancient Tomb

Total: 21

Creatures

4 Icatian Javelineer
4 Enlistment Officer
4 Daru Warchief
4 Longbow Archer
2 Lieutenant Kirtar
1 Catapult Squad
2 Soltari Champion
2 Gempalm Avenger
2 Whipcorder
2 Frontline Strategist

Total: 27

Spells

4 Land Tax
4 Mox Diamond
4 Swords to Plowshares

Total: 12

Sideboard

1 Catapult Squad
4 Tormod’s Crypt
4 Abeyance
2 Wing Shards
2 Ensnaring Bridge
1 Tithe
1 Smite

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

WR Midrange


It’s a bit strange to see a strict White/Red deck these days, wouldn’t you say? Sure, there are various strategies that might employ either/both colour(s), but we don’t really see deck variety when it comes to just playing WR. Heck, there’s a reason Plateau is the least expensive dual land. The thing is, I don’t really think the two can’t be buddies. A while back I decided to try my hand at a Mono Red Control deck, so today I thought it would be interesting to see what we could do with WR Midrange.

Many midrange decks seek to employ some control cards in order to, y’know, get to the mid-game and do their thing. WR Midrange is no exception, as it uses Moat and/or Humility to stop the opponent’s creatures’ in their tracks. The deck also has 4 Orim’s Chant in the main board, or somewhat obscure card that can act as a semi-Time Walk. Combine these with the numerous removal spells and you get a great way at hindering the opponent’s early game.

The land count might seem a bit high, but remember, 9 of these lands serve a role other than being mana. I want to mention that this is not a set in stone mana base, and should probably depend on whether or not you choose to include Humility or Moat in the deck. It should also depend on how you want to treat Blood Moon’s role as well – do you always want to land the Moon or is it a secondary, or even tertiary, tactic?

Now let’s take a look at the creatures. The Mother of Runes is there as a protector, but she can also be used to attack. She can attack, but also has use when you land a Moat. The same is true with Grim Lavamancer, however his main role is direct damage rather than protector obviously. The standout here is probably the singleton Weathered Wayfarer. I actually really like this card in a deck with so many utility lands. As it simply reads ‘a land’, you can go and retrieve and one you want, depending on the situation. And lastly - the Silver Knight. I know I know, there are certainly better choices, but I thought it was pretty cool to have on the board with a Blood Moon. Why? Because red spells then become your opponent’s primary way to remove your creatures. The Knight doesn’t even need to rely on mommy.

In conclusion, I think that WR has several tools at its disposal to take on any deck. There are even some pretty obscure gems that are worth considering, such as Powerstone Minefield and even Goblin Legionnaire. Midrange decks are based on how you want to play, so give your deck your own personal touch and enjoy. Happy Brewing!



WR Midrange

Land

4 Plateau
7 Plains
1 Mountain
4 Mishra’s Factory
1 Ghitu Encampment
4 Fetch lands
4 Wasteland

Total: 25

Creatures

4 Mother of Runes
4 Grim Lavamancer
2 Serra Angel
1 Weathered Wayfarer
1 Silver Knight

Total: 12

Spells

4 Lightning Bolt
4 Chain Lightning
4 Swords to Plowshares
4 Blood Moon
3 Moat/Humility
4 Orim’s Chant

Total: 23

Sideboard

4 Tormod’s Crypt
4 Disenchant
2 Wrath of God
2 Red Elemental Blast
2 Pyroblast
1 Pyroclasm

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Genesis Stone


Wow, so this may puzzle some, but I actually started writing about another deck today. Yep, it’s true. I then jotted down one or two rough ideas, did some thinking, and created some other decks; among which was the base that became this one. So why might you be puzzled? Well because the deck I decided to go with is probably the least likely to take down a tournament. But y’know what, it’s cool as heck so why not, right?? Let’s take a look at Genesis Stone.

At a glance, Genesis Stone can look pretty similar to an older deck I wrote about called Dreamstone. Both decks use Field of Dreams and Millstone to decide what cards the opponent has access to play with. While that remains true in Genesis Stone, the combo here is actually meant to be used on your own library as well. It’s true! Go ahead and take a look. See how the combo can work?

Let’s pretend you answered ‘no’. Alrighty, so the idea here is to get Draco to be the top card in your library. Infernal Genesis does its thing and your minions can then go and kick your opponent’s ass. Millstone can just help get you there and Field of Dreams can tell you when/when not to use the stone. I know I know, that’s some crazy genius deck building. What, you just think it’s crazy? Noted. Noted.

Anyway… hey, we know Genesis is awesome, so let’s take a look at another obscure but strong card. Obviously I mean Brainstorm, a great card that because it works well with Millstone, Volrath’s Stronghold and Infernal Genesis. Yep, Brainstorm’s a pretty good card. Aren’t you glad I taught you something new today? The real star here however is Volrath’s Stronghold because it lets you Genesis your Draco into an army. Sweet.

Lastly, let’s look at the other U Instant in the deck – Stifle, which is very important because it helps to slow down the opponent AND works to protect your mana ramping lands. Lake of the Dead is a seriously underused card. Now the why is obvious, a Wastelanded Lake is a 2-1 card advantage/tempo play that can destroy you. Here’s the thing though - a Lake that stays in play means your Swamp can now give you 5 black mana. That’s pretty amazing when combined with expensive but strong B cards!

And there you have it ladies and gentleman – Genesis Stone! I thought I’d end this article on an actual serious note however, as I think this deck provides some neat insight into deck construction. Many of these cards can be seen in other decks, but based on the strategy/game plan that you want employed, the cards’ roles/uses can be entirely distinct. I think that’s something to keep in mind when putting together your own deck – think about each use a card might have. Happy Brewing!


Genesis Stone

Land

4 Undergound Sea
1 Island
4 Swamp
2 Volrath’s Stronghold
2 Lake of the Dead
2 Ancient Tomb
4 Wasteland
5 Fetch lands

Total: 24

Creatures

4 Draco

Total: 4

Spells

4 Field of Dreams
4 Millstone
4 Infernal Genesis
4 Brainstorm
4 Counterspell
4 Stifle
4 Force of Will
4 Dark Ritual

Total: 32

Sideboard

4 Tormod’s Crypt
4 Daze
2 Terror
2 Innocent Blood
2 The Abyss
1 Portent

Friday, 9 March 2018

Sylvan Lavamancer


Despite being March as I write this, we’ve had 2 snowy days here. I thought it might be nice to write about a deck that celebrates keeping people nice and warm. And what deck concentrates on heating the people around it? Why a nice burn deck, obviously! But I didn’t want to just review the traditional RDW and make a tweak or two, I wanted to break the mould a bit and try something else. A deck that doesn’t just sizzle and burn out, but rather one that gives a nice slow burn. Today, we are going to look at Sylvan Lavamancer.

As previously mentioned, Burn decks tend to share a common weakness in that they can lose steam prior to zapping the opponent to 0. And because red isn’t really known to generate card advantage, it means you have to seek other means to do so. In comes today’s heart throb - you know him, you love him – your pal, Grim Lavamancer. The brother Grim is a great example when it comes to alternate means to card advantage. He can single-handedly take out an opponent’s creatures and/or their hit points. Talk about sweet!

The other namesake in today’s deck would be Olle RĂ¥de, also known as Sylvan Messenger. While it may seem as though his only role is to protect Lavaman, that is not entirely true. He actually works quite well in tandem with him as his protection also means providing the means to deal 2 damage to a creature or player. He doesn’t even need to tap do this, so he can also swing in the occasional damage or two.

At a glance, the spells section might seem like your typical Burn deck. While that may very well be the case, I do not think so, as it omits some serious considerations and replaces them with less obvious/traditional choices. One such example would be that the deck does not play Kindle, a pretty sweet burn spell that only improves as the game gets played. However, as with other choices in Sylvan Lavamancer, but they do not work well with our heroes, which we want as our main game plan and game winner.

You don’t normally see Wasteland in a burn deck, but I thought it was worth including due to Lavamancer. Wastelands not only add ammunition to our lava slinging pal, but with him in play we are also choosing a slight control aspect, rather than pure speed. Wasteland is a great card at slowing down, and even ruining, an opponent’s game plan, so it only makes sense to combine it with our red-cowled hero.

The other control aspect to our deck should be pretty obvious: Blood Moon. I had actually considered Raze to help control the opponent as they get burned, but decided on 4 Moon instead as it’s more consistent and not a 2-1 that works against you in card advantage. It also does not screw Sylvan Messenger, which should be a consideration as well. Remember, lands are not just mana in this deck, they also help you attack the opponent and protect your creatures.

The last thing I want to mention is that the deck also contains 2 cards that replace your hand – 1 Winds of Change and 1 Browbeat. With cards such as Price of Progress and Scent of Cinder in the deck, their value can either be great or garbage, depending on the situation. With this in mind, both cards allow you to change your grip, particularly Winds which works wonders with Lavamancer.

You probably noticed that many cards in Sylvan Lavamancer look to work with either Sylvan Messenger and/or Grim Lavamancer, the 2 namesake cards in the deck. It should be noted however, that each card is also simply good on its own; and generally has good synergy with each other and the game plan in general. You may not think the combination and/or support cards to be worth their place however, so be sure to choose a version that is right to you. Happy Brewing!


 
Sylvan Lavamancer

Land

1 Pendelhaven
4 Taiga
5 Mountain
5 Fetch lands
2 Barbarian Ring
4 Wasteland

Total: 21

Creatures

4 Sylvan Safekeeper
4 Grim Lavamancer
4 Mogg Fanatic

Total: 12


Spells

4 Lightning Bolt
4 Chain Lightning
1 Incinerate
2 Scent of Cinder
2 Fireblast
1 Browbeat
2 Shock or Assault // Battery
2 Price of Progress
1 Winds of Change
4 Overmaster
4 Blood Moon

Total: 27


Sideboard

4 Tormod’s Crypt
2 Red Elemental Blast
2 Hydroblast
2 Naturalize
2 Hull Breach
2 Pyroclasm
1 Cursed Scroll

Saturday, 10 February 2018

UW Standlands


Today we’re going to be looking at a pretty old and pretty awesome deck. I actually wrote about the UR version a couple years ago, but never revisited it to check out the UW one, despite it being a popular choice back then as well. Today I thought we should change that. To be honest, I barely made any changes to the oldest Legacy versions, as they were pretty darn playable as they were, and thought I’d keep it that way. Besides, you can make any changes you want as well. So with that, let’s take a look at UW Standlands.

As one can tell, due to Standstill being a build-around card, it plays a key role in any deck that uses it. As such, you want to get it in play both when you can and when it is to your own advantage. The card is pretty unique in that it allows you or the opponent to use it, thus making both players work around it. Now obviously, with your deck built around it, then it should be you who does so. That means drawing your win conditions, as well as additional control pieces, to stomp your opponent and take the match.

Because card advantage is so key in maintaining answers, you should consider other means to draw as well. A pretty standard piece to see in the meta game back in the day was Fact or Fiction, which allowed you to choose such answers. Now to those who might not know about this card, it is an awesome spell to cast and provides both you and your opponent with some decisions to dwell on. The good news is that generally, the hard calls are on your opponents’ shoulders since you have a pretty good idea what you want to do.

While the deck’s namesake enchantment is indeed awesome, it does make library construction a bit tricky. How do you get around casting your own spells once it hits the board? You could try Mercadian Lift or Quicksilver Amulet, but they seem a bit slow and should not be played once The Stand is sitting there. Manlands are the better way to go, as they provide mana and can be played/used whenever you want. This is not true with spells, as Standstill can be triggered by either player, allowing the other to draw their cards. We don’t want that! I also included 2 Jade Statue because they can avoid Humility and Wrath while providing some blocking power, but that is entirely optional on your part.

So we’ve looked at card drawing as an advantage, but let’s look at versatility. Wasteland serves several purposes in Standlands, which is why it is important you include a play set. Not only can it help control the opponent via mana denial, but it can also destroy opposing Wastelands that might target your manlands and/or destroy your opponents’. Versatility is always welcome in a control deck, as it means you never have a dead card in your deck, no matter the opponent’s strategy.

Lastly, let’s talk about why Daze? Despite this deck clearly wanting to go the long game, there are 4 Daze to help get there. Not only does it stop the opponents’ early attackers landing on the board prior to your own cards but it can also help keep combo pieces in check. With the card advantage and selection provided in the deck, later copies are easy to replace. Naturally, these are meta game and player choice calls, so do what you believe to be right. Happy Brewing!


UW Standlands

Land

4 Island
1 Plains
4 Tundra
4 Faerie Conclave
4 Mishra’s Factory
4 Flooded Strand
4 Wasteland

Total: 25

Creatures

Total: 0

Spells

4 Force of Will
4 Standstill
4 Brainstorm
4 Swords to Plowshares
4 Counterspell
2 Humility
2 Disenchant
1 Fact or Fiction
2 Decree of Justice
2 Wrath of God
4 Daze
2 Jade Statue

Total: 35

Sideboard
4 Tormod’s Crypt
4 Orim’s Chant
4 Stifle
1 Nevinyrral’s Disk
2 Disenchant

Sunday, 7 January 2018

BR Zombies ate my Neighbours


Are you smart? I know I am! But how did we get so smart? Being born smart is always a possibility, as is training your mind. Are you an avid reader and have acquired your knowledge through literature? Or maybe you enjoy eating brains and gaining your victims’ knowledge? Should you believe in the latter, then you are going to love today’s deck! Today we are looking at BR Zombies ate my Neighbours.

Traditional zombie decks tend to go mono Black - and with good reason. The creatures tend to be B, which makes playing your cards easier (and you don’t lose the game to a Blood Moon). So why add Red? You better have a pretty good reason. Originally I had considered Pyre Zombie to be that reason, however the mana base I wanted to use didn’t really allow that. I decided to stay with Red however because it allows some versatility via Lightning Bolt and some decent sideboard options.  Should you decide to stay the traditional mono black route however, there are certainly other options.

How do you play? The idea is to win via card advantage, both by attacking the opponent’s hand (aka Hymn to Tourach) and by gaining creature/card advantage. You achieve the latter by using both card draw and the graveyard to your advantage. There are numerous ways to achieve either so I want to point out the important, possibly obscure and even less obvious ones.

Let’s start with the most obvious – the card drawers. Grave Defiler is a card I hadn’t really seen prior, but assumed it existed due to its well-known Elvish and Goblin counterparts. Gempalm Polluter is another card that should be known, as the Gempalm cycling cards are also well-known. Both cards allow you to draw, thus providing you with card advantage. Lastly, I want to talk about Balthor, which to my knowledge, is a card I was not aware existed. He is amazing at getting your [un]dead creatures back into play, and combos nicely with Phyrexian Tower should you need the latter to pay his casting cost.

The zombie lords. Today’s deck has 7 lords at your disposal, and each one provides a pretty awesome addition to its +X/+X shenanigans. Yes, you read that correctly as 2 give your dudes +2/+1. Sweet, right? The others either let you regenerate your undead horde or bring them back to your hand via beyond the grave (actually, via the grave).

Some choices in today’s deck might seem strange, but each one has a reason that I put it there. As with any good tribal deck, synergy and play style are the key to victory. How you choose to play with zombies is down to you. Happy Brewing!


BR Zombies ate my Neighbours

Land

4 Badlands
4 Swamp
4 Fetch lands
4 Wasteland
3 Lake of the Dead
1 Phyrexian Tower
1 Volrath’s Stronghold

Total: 21

Creatures

4 Carnophage
4 Zombie Master
1 Lord of the Undead
4 Grave Defiler
4 Ghastly Remains
4 Carrion Feeder
1 Festering Goblin
2 Undead Warchief
1 Gempalm Polluter
1 Balthor the Defiled
1 Entrails Feaster

Total: 27

Spells

4 Lightning Bolt
4 Hymn to Tourach
4 Dark Ritual

Total: 12

Sideboard

4 Tormod’s Crypt
4 Terminate
1 Pyroclasm
4 Duress
1 Gate to Phyrexia
1 Shivan Zombie

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Holiday Hodown


There wasn't really any strategy to today's deck when I started creating it. Actually quite the opposite, I was thinking about it being December, Christmas etc and then I thought hey, MtG has the Christmas colours, why not write about a deck with holiday/winter-type cards? And thus, Holiday Hodown [or HoHo] was born!

Now obviously, a deck such as Holiday Hodown should be Red and Green, so the real question is whether or not to include White. I decided to do so because I had considered it immediately as a Christmas colour when the deck concept was conceived. Unlike the other decks that I write about, HoHo isn't that well tuned or researched despite being a mathematical equation. Don’t believe that? It's actually quite simple: WRG + Christmas = deck.

So even with the holiday theme being an inspiration to HoHo, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t need a strategy as well. When looking through the possible Christmas-y type cards, I decided to concentrate on a pretty simple premise: protect your butt with various cards as you collect the Stormbind/Squees ‘combo’ to destroy the opponent.

White. Let’s start with White and see why it earned its place in HoHo. When playing a deck with White, it should almost always start with 4 Swords to Plowshares. This is the single greatest creature removal card in the game, and has had that title since Alpha. We also want mom around to lend us her support and get us to the mid-late game. Lastly, White also gives us the lesser-known Blinking Spirit, which used to be a powerhouse card back in the day and does a good job here protecting its owner’s butt.


Red.

Alrighty so we’ve covered White, let’s see what the two main colours get us; starting with Red. Lightning Bolt. Moving on.


Ok ok, other than Bolt, Red gives us two key cards in the deck actually – it’s the R in Stormbind and it gives us our pal Squee. Now while he can protect us early on, we actually want the Nabob in our hands to drop to Stormbind. In this way, his Legend-status doesn’t even matter. It’s also worth noting that Stormbind doesn’t stack, however the play set is there as excess copies can just be used with the one in play to damage the opponent or their creatures.

Green.

Elves! Yep, and we went with the winter-themed Elves due to their added holiday-status. With G, we also get to play trees, both as creatures and as library manipulation/card draw. Nemata in particular was chosen because she can also act as an alternate win condition. Sylvan Library is awesome at re-stocking your hand, and isn’t two-sided the way Mine is. I did a 2/2 split however, as you want to keep drawing with Mine, which just isn’t possible with Library.

I had considered Land Tax in the deck, but it wasn’t really in the theme and is better in a Seismic Edge-type deck. There is certainly room to customize as you want, so put some personality into your own holiday deck and enjoy. Happy Brewing and Happy Holidays!


Holiday Hodown

4 Taiga
4 Plateau
1 Snow-Covered Plains
1 Snow-Covered Forest
4 Wooded Foothills
4 Windswepth Heath
4 City of Traitors

Total: 22

Creatures

4 Mother of Runes
4 Blinking Spirit
1 Nemata, Grove Guardian
4 Squee, Goblin Nabob
1 Goblin Snowman
4 Fyndhorn Elves
1 Mirrorwood Treefolk
1 Weatherseed Treefolk
1 Groundskeeper

Total: 21

Spells

4 Stormbind
4 Swords to Plowshares
4 Lightning Bolt
1 Enlightened Tutor
2 Sylvan Library
2 Howling Mine

Total: 17

Sideboard

4 Tormod’s Crypt
4 Orim’s Chant
1 Replenish
2 Disenchant
2 Humility
2 Pyroclasm