Friday, August 24, 2012

Building the Same Deck

I keep building the same deck over and over. It doesn't seem to matter what color or combination of colors I use, I'm always trying to accomplish a few specific things with "winning" being a distant contender.

I like "cheating" big creatures into play. I like having the card I need. And I like taking extra turns. I love incremental advantage, seeing all those little decisions add up to overwhelming superiority.

ZombifyDemonic TutorTime Warp

That's probably where the U/B Conundrum comes into play. That specific color combination seems to support my goals the best. But every once in a while I'll build a deck in another color combination and I find myself piling up cards that do the exact same things.
If it's green / white, I'll look at Lurking Predators and Hunting Grounds. Pretty soon, I'm cheating big creatures into play again.

Lurking PredatorsHunting Grounds

If it's blue, I'm looking at Show and Tell, Omniscience, and Dream Halls. Here we go big creatures.

Show and TellOmniscienceDream Halls

For white, I'm looking at Resurrection, Debtor's Knell, and Emeria.

ResurrectionDebtors' KnellEmeria, the Sky Ruin

Red? Sneak Attack.

Sneak Attack

Playing in the other colors always feels like playing a janky version of the deck I like. I'm not sure that I should keep fighting it. I was playing with someone recently who brought a few different decks to the table. After the first match, when he switched to his second deck, his entire mood changed. He said, "I don't know why I bothered with the other deck. This deck is cool!" His first deck was objectively stronger. But it wasn't the deck that worked for him.

So, maybe I'm not all in on black. Maybe I'm all in on black and blue. And I don't mean faeries or combo. Maybe I shouldn't be collecting cards for Grixis or G/W. I'm never happy to draw them anyway.

What are the themes you look for in a deck? When you read a spoiler list for the first time, what kinds of cards make you say, "Woah!"?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Backsliding with Grixis

I played in a three-player game over the weekend. My Commander was Nicol Bolas, vs. Will with Kaervek, and Chris with Teneb.

Nicol BolasKaervek the MercilessTeneb, the Harvester

I know that I said I was all-in on black. But my Forbidden Alchemy was just begging to be played. From there a Consecrated Sphinx showed up and pretty soon I had a pile of Blue / Black / Red ready to go. Don't worry, though. The mono-black demons deck wasn't touched. I thought we would have time to play a couple of games, but this one took a while.

Forbidden AlchemyConsecrated Sphinx

Although I ended up winning, it was Chris who would have won except for a house rule we use that saved me and let me turn the game around. Chris had played a huge Storm Herd, dropping a bunch of tokens on the table. I was certainly dead next turn. But I couldn't seem to draw any lands, so the house rule kicked in.

Storm Herd

The anti-mana-screw house rule works like this. "If a player misses a land drop for three consecutive turns, that player may reveal cards from the top of their library until they reveal a land card and put it into play. The other revealed cards are put on the bottom of that players library in a random order."

We understand that this rule can be abused, but it hasn't been a problem. Missing three lands drops in a row is bad news. So anyway, I end up revealing a mountain and cycling Slice and Dice to kill off the tokens. Then I proceed to attack with Wrexial by swampwalking over to Chris, connecting, and casting Storm Herd myself from his graveyard.

Slice and DiceWrexial, the Risen Deep

My U/B conundrum keeps bugging me. If only Wrexial was a demon so that I could keep the deck in-theme. Maybe I'll just cross out his creature type and write in "Demon" on the card. That will work, right?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Must... Fight...

I played a series of three games over the weekend, 1vs1 with Chris. He was running his Kaervek the Merciless deck. Man, that guys is merciless. I ended up losing 2 games and winning 1.

Kaervek the Merciless

The game I won was on the back of a top-decked Nirkana Revenant. She's supposed to be in the deck as a mana-booster. The lone vampire in an otherwise demon-themed deck. Instead, this isn't the first time she's dropped into play and rescued me from another game loss. I'm not against a vampire tribal deck, but that's not what this is supposed to be.

Nirkana Revenant

The games I lost were unspectacular. I don't mind losing. But I like losing in style. A close game, with a twist ending, is always fun. This was more like I did nothing for 8 turns while Chris summoned creatures and beat me up. When I finally did something, Kaervek was merciless. Heck, I even cast a Decree of Pain with Kaervek out and he blasted me. I would have died either way.

Thawing Glaciers
I kept thinking the same thing as I was playing: You know what would make this deck better? Nicol Bolas. At least if I was losing, I'd have a cool dragon to look at. But, no. I'm all in on black. So, I need to go about "fixing" this deck.

Drawing cards was not a problem. I was drawing them by the fistful. I might have too much card drawing. And I probably have too many lands and mana accelerators. Especially with all of the card drawing, it seemed like I always made my land drops. Thawing Glaciers is amazing, by the way. I need more business cards in the deck. Big, swingy ones. Suggestions?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Darker Than Black

What's Darker Than Black? I'm not sure. 24 episodes later, and I'm still not sure. A void or something. What else is darker than black? My deck. It's getting there, at least.

Recent card changes:

-1x Swamp / +1 Nihil Spellbomb

Swamp Nihil Spellbomb

I needed more ways to get rid of graveyards. Too many times a Sun Titan or Genesis has ruined my evil plans. Well, no more. Plus, it replaces itself. I can probably cut deeper into the land mix, but I really, really hate being mana-screwed.

-1x Avatar of Woe / +1 Abyssal Persecutor

Avatar of Woe Abyssal Persecutor

The Avatar isn't a demon. The Persecutor is. Plus, he's a big, flying beater for 4cc. And has a very "demon" flavor. Brimstone, with a hint of mint if you must ask.

-1x Something / +1 Ambition's Cost

Dreamstone Hedron Ambition's Cost

I had Dreamstone Hedron in this slot, but I never got that card to work. I never liked it when I drew it. I had been swapping cards around, so I really can't remember what was actually there before the Dreamstone. It might have been a Mind Stone. Ambition's Cost has very good, dark flavor though. Early-game: great! Mid-game: cross your fingers! Late-game: damn, damn, damn.

-1x Dread Return / +1 Sign in Blood

Dread Return Sign in Blood

I needed to see cards more than I needed another way to get creatures back. I still have a few ways to reanimate dudes and it seems like more then enough. I either get demons out and push damage through, or I'm stuck and another guy from the graveyard isn't going to help anyway.

A deck with only Legendary creatures and Homicidal Seclusion would be a good time. I'd have to call it, "The Usual Suspects" because I'm always running this same evil gang of legends. It's time they all make an appearance together. Drana, Geth, Nefarox, Kalitas, Kozilek, Ob Nixilis, Griselbrand, Sheoldred...

Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief Homicidal Seclusion

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Null Profusion vs. Future Sight

Since I am going all in on black, I've been searching for cards to "replace" what I like about blue.

One of my favorite blue cards is Future Sight. For 5cc, you get an enchantment that does all kinds of great and wonderful things when it is in play. Coupled with cards that allow you to shuffle your library or otherwise reorder the top card, Future Sight can end up being the equivalent of drawing a fistful of cards every turn. And that's without doing anything really crazy. Get these three cards out at the same time and draw your library!

Future SightHelm of AwakeningSensei's Divining Top

There's nothing quite like Future Sight in black, at least not that I found. When black draws cards, it doesn't mess around. It draws them. Sometimes by the fistful. Sometimes just a few at a time. But almost always with a payment of life.

Ancient Craving NecropotenceNecrologiaSign in BloodNight's WhisperAmbition's Cost

With just these cards, you can cram raw drawing power into your mono-black deck. But if you are looking for a card like Future Sight, check this out:

Null ProfusionFuture Sight

Ignore for a moment that Null Profusion is the timeshifted version of Recycle (a green card). What we have here is an enchantment for 6cc vs. the 5cc of Future Sight with massive potential. As long as you have some way to support this card so that you don't get stuck without any cards in hand, get ready to draw like crazy.

I like Null Profusion in black. There's some danger to it. If your hand ends up empty, you need a back-up plan or you're stuck. Also, it locks you in at two cards. But remember, the maximum hand size part only matters at the end of your turn, in the cleanup step. You can hold onto more cards than that during your turn or on the other guy(s) turns. Oh, and if your spell is countered, you get to draw anyway. You even get to draw off dropping a land.

It's not quite Future Sight, but hey this is blue's evil brother. Things aren't going to be easy. Don't bow to fate.

Monday, August 6, 2012

All In On Black

For a while at least, I'm solving my conundrum by going all in on black.

Black is like Blue's evil twin brother. Sure, black doesn't have the fancy bounce and counters of blue, but the black wizard can still draw cards. Plus, where blue lacks creature removal, black makes up for it in spades.

Sign in BloodMurderMutilate

Black also sports great tribes like zombies, vampires, and demons. It has the big, flying creatures of blue, but with blood and fear. It has the small, swarming creatures of blue, but without the fishy smell. And if I wanted to put the dead to work, black has options that blue just can't touch.

Merfolk of the Pearl TridentGravecrawler

Getting mileage out of my cards is an important consideration. I like signed-foreign-foils as much as the next guy, so instead of splitting my resources into five different decks, concentrating on one color and the ubiquitous supporting artifacts makes putting decks together all the sweeter. My foil, foreign Sign In Blood is at home in many different black decks. APAC Swamps are not cheap, after all.

Black deck ideas:
1) Black w/ Artifacts for Eldrazi beatings.
2) Skithiryx Voltron
3) The aforementioned Zombies, Vampires, and Demons tribal decks
4) Decision-based Cards (A "witch" deck) w/ Curses

Skithiryx, the Blight DragonFireshrieker

Most of these decks can be made by swapping out 30-40 cards and reusing the rest to support the strategy. Artifact ramp, swamps, specialty lands (Coffers, etc), card drawing, mass removal, and tutoring, all drop right in from one deck to another. And with a high basic land count, you can put your dollars into business cards instead of dual lands.