Monday, December 10, 2012

The In-Between Times: Judging a Book by its Cover

UR Delver was a fun, relatively strong deck that did alright at Friday Night Magic, but wasn't going to change the world any time soon and wasn't all that fun to play (except the look on my opponents' faces as horrible repressed memories bubbled to the surface whenever I flipped a Delver on turn two).

Electrocombo was incredibly fun, but also pretty bad. A much better list popped up in an MTGO Daily Event (here, third deck down). I'm sure the guy came up with his brew independent of my article, but a kid can dream, right?

In any case, I'm kind of stuck on what I want to work on right now. I'm restricted pretty heavily by budget, so I can't really commit to a deck right now to work on. The problem with brewing right now is that the format is so wide open, even the pros are playing insane decks!

Five Color Control is completely viable right now, and decks are going big playing Temporal Masteries and Increasing Ambitions and Door to Nothingness like it's nobody's business. Where does that leave me, the Uniquely Rebellious Teenage Girl Deckbuilder?

I don't know where we go when people are maindecking Omniscience at Star City Games Opens.

I've settled on my old standby, Grixis Control, to tide me over while I wait for inspiration. Now, I can't afford Blood Crypts at the moment. The funny thing is, I realized I was playing Grixis last standard season with only the M10 Buddy Lands. So I got my Drowned Catacombs and Dragonskull Summits again, and just skipped the Crypts all together!

Unfortunately, the lack of extra swamps nullifies the original intent of building Grixis:

Hey baby... You want to go on a massive fuzzy Santa Claus-beard ride?

I have 8 of these guys on a page in my binder (still looking for the ninth). The above picture is my desktop wallpaper. Sphinx of the Chimes has a sweet ability, a very nice body, AND good power and toughness!

See what I did there?

I didn't come up with this interaction, it's been around since Return to Ravnica was first being spoiled. But it's been largely forgotten about, and it's pretty awesome:

I love the concept of playing a creature solely for the purpose of discarding it; it reminds me of crazy Future Sight stuff like Bridge from Below. You can turn Faithless Looting and Izzet Charm into Divinations with the Ghoul, and then pick it up later to throw away to Sphinx of the Chimes.

Poor guy's stuck in an Eternal Infinite Trash Loop.

Veilborn Ghoul is a little cute, but as long as you have looting effects (you can play up to eight, so that's not a problem), he provides some sweet card advantage. Then, you resolve a Sphinx, draw four, draw multiples of something, discard those, draw four more, keep chaining draws, play Laboratory Maniac, and win on the spot out of nowhere.

With all the lifegain floating around, alternate win-cons are what's In right now!

Lab Maniac is probably pushing it, but he definitely belongs in the sideboard, at least.

Here's a sketch, though. It's fun to mess with, at the least.

Veilborn Grixis

Artifacts (2):
3 Rakdos Keyrune

Creatures (10):
1 Laboratory Maniac
2 Snapcaster Mage
3 Sphinx of the Chimes
4 Veilborn Ghoul

Instants (6):
2 Izzet Charm
1 Ultimate Price
1 Forbidden Alchemy
2 Tribute to Hunger

Sorceries (12):
1 Dreadbore
4 Faithless Looting

1 Mizzium Mortars
1 Sever the Bloodline
1 Blasphemous Act
1 Slaughter Games
3 Pillar of Flame

Enchantments (2):
2 Curse of Death's Hold

Planeswalkers (3):
2 Jace, Architect of Thought
1 Tamiyo, the Moon Sage

Lands (24):
2 Island
1 Mountain
4 Swamp
4 Blood Crypt
2 Dragonskull Summit
3 Drowned Catacomb
4 Steam Vents
4 Sulfur Falls

The (bold) maindeck Curse of Death's Hold and Slaughter Games are Patrick Chapin's idea. Curse blanks a few cards in the very popular R/B Aggro deck, and combos very well Jace, Architect of Thought. Obviously Pillar of Flame is very good in that matchup, but Curse of Death's Hold makes it relevant when they'd otherwise rot in your hand all game: 2 + 1 = Thragtusk!

Slaughter Games is definitely a skill-tester. It's hard to know what to name. Especially before you board in Duress against control. But without Sphinx's Revelation, we have a hard time preventing our White opponents from going way over the top with card draw. I'm still learning how to play the card effectively, I won't say I understand it perfectly. But it feels right.

A casual guy I played in FNM this weekend was running a spirits deck with Moorland Haunt and Misthollow Griffin. At the time it was just annoying, but in hindsight, I realize that this is actually a pretty solid plan. Standard gets insanely grindy right now. So it's not too bad of a deal to ALWAYS have a 3/3 Flyer. I give this guy credit for being clever, but he didn't go quite as far as Alexander Lapping, who maindecked two Rest in Peace (with a third in the sideboard!) in addition to his two Moorland Haunts.

If you're not playing somebody who interacts with their graveyard, Rest in Peace is all but dead anyway. Misthollow is cute, but it doesn't justify two slots just to support it. But jeez, who DOESN'T interact with their graveyard these days? I'm sure they come out against some decks, but they deal with so many things in the format that there are decks that play Snapcaster and Runechanter's Pike in the mainboard and still side it in.

I don't have much in the way of deck input for Misthollow Griffin, my Search the City brew didn't go so well...

But he sure fits the theme of weak cards with badass art!

Caw!!! Er, I mean... Hoo! Wh... Whinny?

Thanks to Sam Black's recent efforts with the archetype, I've also been playing some Turbo-Fog, which is a blast. Especially when you try as hard as possible to make Tibalt playable in an actual game of Magic: The Gathering.

The only thing you can actually do with him is use his -4 ability. That's his thing. Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded deals damage equal to the number of cards in target player's hand to that player. So let's start there!

Reforge the Soul and Otherworld Atlas are both reasonable cards in a Turbo Fog deck; they find fogs. Temporal Mastery gives us extra Planeswalker activations and extra Otherworld Atlas activations (it's basically a Planeswalker itself). So the idea is to lay down an Atlas or two, a Tibalt, and whatever other Planeswalkers, then fog our way to Temporal Mastery mana. Take a few turns, plus Tibalt, play some symmetrical draw, and -4 him. Wheee!!!

That does some damage, as do some of the other 'walkers. Then you kill them with Devil's Play. The end!


Artifacts (4):
4 Otherworld Atlas

Instants (7):
3 Clinging Mists
4 Fog

Sorceries (14):
2 Devil's Play
4 Farseek
4 Reforge the Soul
4 Temporal Mastery

Planeswalkers (10):
1 Chandra, the Firebrand
2 Garruk, Primal Hunter
1 Jace, Architect of Thought
1 Jace, Memory Adept
2 Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
3 Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded

Lands (25):
1 Desolate Lighthouse
3 Evolving Wilds
2 Forest
4 Hinterland Harbor
1 Island
1 Mountain
4 Rootbound Crag
4 Steam Vents
4 Sulfur Falls
1 Temple Garden

How did such a badass-looking card go so wrong...

That's about all I've got for this week. I hope you've enjoyed playing cards just because their art is sweet. If you don't, you probably didn't get this far...

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