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A Slaver For You

This article presents a new variation on the Mindslaver theme. The deck I’m introducing here can be considered as an hybrid between the standard Drain Slaver deck Kim Kluck created about a year ago and “Turbo Titan”, the Sundering Titan based control deck designed by my MeanDeck teammate Doug Linn. It tries to abuse one of the best artifacts from Fifth Dawn, Crucible of Worlds, in a way no one did before: setting up Mindslaver nastiness.

Introduction

The Mirrodin Block has introduced a lot of powerful artifacts into our Type One environment, probably more than the infamous Urza Block. Mindslaver is one of these powerful spells that can win games on their own.


The legendary artifact, more so than any other card released by Wizards of the Coast, has created a shift in the Type One metagame, with most decks trying to stay away from “loss” conditions as much as possible. In a single card, Mindslaver has the effect of doing, in conjunction with as few as one other card – Goblin Welder – what the most skilled Stax Prison players have been trying to do for years now by casting multiple lock components: preventing the opponent from playing a single spell to its own advantage.


This article presents a new variation on the Mindslaver theme. The deck I’m introducing here can be considered as an hybrid between the standard Drain Slaver deck Kim Kluck (a.k.a. Shades on TheManaDrain) created about a year ago and “Turbo Titan”, the Sundering Titan based control deck designed by my MeanDeck teammate Doug Linn (a.k.a. hi-val on TheManaDrain). It tries to abuse one of the best artifacts from Fifth Dawn, Crucible of Worlds, in a way no one did before: setting up Mindslaver nastiness.


Deck History

Back in November 2003, i.e. soon after Mirrodin was released, Team Meandeck started to work on a control deck based on Mindslaver we called “Slavery” or “Workshop Slaver”. This deck used Mishra’s Workshop along with Goblin Welder, Thirst for Knowledge, and Gilded Lotus in order to fuel fast Mindslavers after stalling the game long enough with Chalice of the Void and Force of Will, and used Pentavus beatdown and the opponent’s deck as its primary win conditions.


Meanwhile, in Germanland, Team CAB (“Creatures Are Bad”) designed another Mindslaver-based control deck. Kim is the first one who piloted what is now commonly known as “Drain Slaver” (Kim calls his deck “Enslaver”), and he had some strong finishes with it in one of the best Type One tourney in Europe, Duelmen.


// The Enslaver – Kim Kluck – Duelmen, second place, 21.12.03

1 Memory Jar

1 Mind’s Eye

2 Mindslaver

1 Pentavus

1 Demonic Tutor

1 Mind Twist

1 Yawgmoth’s Will

1 Ancestral Recall

4 Brainstorm

4 Thirst for Knowledge

1 Time Walk

1 Tinker

4 Force of Will

4 Mana Drain

3 Fire / Ice

4 Goblin Welder

1 Gorilla Shaman

1 Sol Ring

1 Mox Emerald

1 Mox Jet

1 Mox Pearl

1 Mox Ruby

1 Mox Sapphire

1 Black Lotus


3 Flooded Strand

1 Island

1 Library of Alexandria

2 Polluted Delta

2 Seat of the Synod

1 Strip Mine

1 Tolarian Academy

3 Underground Sea

4 Volcanic Island

1 Wasteland


Albeit not perfectly tweaked, Kim’s build already packed the core elements of the archetype. Namely, the eight standard counterspells, Goblin Welders, Thirst for Knowledge, a pair of Mindslavers and Pentavus (which allows infinite Mindslaver recursion). The deck also featured some nice artifacts from Mirrodin: Mind’s Eye, which is a perfect Tinker target in Control mirrors, and Seat of the Synod (more Welder enablers and artifacts to discard to Thirst for Knowledge), which was replaced by Darksteel Citadels soon after the release of Darksteel for a better resiliency to Wasteland and Gorilla Shaman.


After that, the archetype became stagnant, with only few minor updates. In April, Kenny Oberg brought some new tech to the deck by adding Intuitions and Accumulated Knowledge, turning it into a big draw engine with a couple of win conditions – like a better Tog deck. Intuition is key in the build. Basically, If you have Goblin Welder on the board, you can just grab Pentavus and the two Mindslavers, and win from that point. If you don’t have Goblin Welder, you can simply get three Accumulated Knowledge, keep drawing cards and eventually find the beloved Goblin.


// “Goth Slaver” – Kenny Oberg – Gothenburg, fifth place, 24.04.2004

2 Mindslaver

1 Pentavus

1 Platinum Angel

1 Sol Ring

1 Demonic Tutor

1 Yawgmoth’s Will

4 Accumulated Knowledge

1 Ancestral Recall

2 Cunning Wish

4 Force of Will

2 Intuition

4 Mana Drain

1 Mystical Tutor

4 Thirst for Knowledge

1 Time Walk

1 Tinker

4 Goblin Welder

1 Black Lotus

1 Mana Crypt

1 Mana Vault

1 Mox Emerald

1 Mox Jet

1 Mox Pearl

1 Mox Ruby

1 Mox Sapphire


5 Island

1 Library of Alexandria

4 Polluted Delta

1 Tolarian Academy

2 Underground Sea

4 Volcanic Island


One of the weakness of the deck was obviously the lack of Brainstorm to smooth the mana base in the first few turns, even if the five basic Islands were strong tools to fight opposite Wastelands. Kenny’s deck was basically a Yawgmoth’s Will deck. Its only goal was to keep drawing cards during the first three or four turns using Mana Drain as an accelerant, before casting a game breaking Yawgmoth’s Will on turn 5 with Intuition as a setup.


Strangely, “no one” in the Type One community noticed the deck, and Team Meandeck kept testing and refining it in secret under the name “Goth Slaver”. Doug Linn retooled the deck to fit in Brainstorms and another game breaking artifact from Darksteel, Sundering Titan. Doug’s deck was the first one to use both Sundering Titan and a heavy dual land mana base in the same deck. While this may seem counterproductive, you’ll almost never end up losing lands, since about 90% of the best Type One decks run Islands, Mountains, and/or Swamps (see Drain Slaver, 4 Color Control, Gay/Red, U/B TPS, Psychatog, Dragon, etc…). And even if you lose a land in the process, well, you still have a fat 7/10 body on the board which can be recurred thanks to Goblin Welder.


// Meandeck Titan – Doug Linn – StarCityGames P9 tournament

4 Goblin Welder

2 Sundering Titan

4 Thirst for Knowledge

4 Accumulated Knowledge

3 Intuition

4 Brainstorm

1 Ancestral Recall

1 Fact or Fiction

4 Mana Drain

4 Force of Will

1 Tinker

1 Demonic Tutor

1 Mindslaver

1 Time Walk

1 Yawgmoth’s Will


4 Volcanic Island

4 Flooded Strand

1 Polluted Delta

2 Underground Sea

2 Island


1 Mana Crypt

1 Mana Vault

1 Sol Ring

1 Black Lotus

1 Mox Sapphire

1 Mox Ruby

1 Mox Pearl

1 Mox Emerald

1 Mox Jet

1 Tolarian Academy

1 Library of Alexandria


Crucislaver

Then Fifth Dawn came out, and we got the infamous Crucible of Worlds. On its own, Crucible of Worlds allows some nasty Wasteland or fetchland recursion, and many players have been trying to break it by designing Combo-Control decks based around it and stuff like Zuran Orb, Horn of Greed, or Fastbond. The Workshop decks use Crucible of Worlds as an other recursion engine in order to set up a hard lock with Trinisphere.


The deck I’m presenting here (developped under the codename “Toadislaver”) uses Crucible of Worlds for totally different purpose. In fact, It does not even run Wasteland to destroy the opponent’s mana base. It uses Crucible of Worlds as a cheaper Pentavus, allowing a strong and fast Mindslaver lock thanks to Intuition. The basic plan is to use Intuition as a graveyard filler when you have Goblin Welder on the board, grabbing the pair of Mindslavers and Crucible of Worlds. With Crucible of Worlds in play, Darksteel Citadel provides an infinite supply of artifacts for the Mindslaver recursion. The most basic game plan involves a turn 1 Goblin Welder followed by a turn 2 Intuition grabbing Mindslaver, Crucible of Worlds and Darksteel Citadel while having a Thirst for Knowledge in hand or another discard outlet (considering the Mindslaver will likely end up into your hand).


While mana denial is not the primary focus of the build, the build uses Strip Mine because it breaks Control mirrors if you manage to get Crucible of Worlds on the board. Pretty often, you will never aim at a Mindslaver lock, but just grab Crucible of Worlds and Strip Mine with Intuition if you can resolve a turn 2 or 3 Intuition with Goblin Welder on the board.


// “Cruci Slaver”

// Mana Sources — 25

1 Black Lotus

1 Mana Crypt

1 Mox Emerald

1 Mox Jet

1 Mox Pearl

1 Mox Ruby

1 Mox Sapphire

1 Sol Ring

1 Flooded Strand

1 Strip Mine

2 Darksteel Citadel

4 Polluted Delta

4 Volcanic Island

5 Island


// Expensive Artifacts — 4

2 Mindslaver

1 Pentavus

1 Platinum Angel


// Recursion — 5

1 Crucible of Worlds

4 Goblin Welder


// Draw — 19

1 Time Walk

1 Tinker

1 Ancestral Recall

1 Mystical Tutor

4 Brainstorm

3 Intuition

4 Accumulated Knowledge

4 Thirst for Knowledge


// Protection — 8

4 Force of Will

4 Mana Drain


Card Choices

There is not much to say in this section, since the core of the deck is pretty standard. Goblin Welders, Mindslavers and Thirst for Knowledge are all well known stapples of the archetype and will not be discussed there.


Intuition

Intuition has long been considered as a win-more card in Goblin Welder-based decks. Believe me, it’s not. It’s the centerpiece of CruciSlaver, and even if It takes a lot of thought to properly set up unless you are aiming for three Accumulated Knowledge, it’s probably one of the cards I most want to see in my opening hands with a Mox. Intuition has two different purposes here.


If you have an active Goblin Welder on the board, Intuition becomes a win condition on its own. Against traditional Aggro decks, you’ll most of the time end up Intuitioning for your fat creatures, Pentavus and Platinum Angel, along with a Mindslaver or a Crucible of Worlds, depending on the matchup. Aggro has a hard time to deal with these big creatures which allow you to take the Aggro-Control route. Against Control, depending on the board position and the cards in your hand, Intuitioning for Mindslaver, Crucible of Worlds and Darksteel Citadel, or Mindslaver, Mindslaver, Crucible of Worlds is the key play. But sometimes, especially if you are in the very first turns of the game, you’ll just Intuition for Crucible of Worlds and Strip Mine to win the game.


If you don’t have a Goblin Welder on the board, Intuitioning for three Accumulated Knowledges is obviously the correct plan, since it will help you to draw into one while augmenting their density in your deck. Accumulated Knowledge was not a strong choice a couple of monthes ago because Tog was rampant and this draw engine was awkward in the pseudo-mirror, but now Tog has left the metagame, it becomes a strong choice again and is really reliable even in Control mirrors.


Crucible of Worlds

In this deck, Crucible of Worlds serves different purposes. Most of the time, Crucible of Worlds will be a less expensive Pentavus, allowing infinite Goblin Welder tricks (namely, Mindslaver recursion) when coupled with Darksteel Citadel. Crucible of Worlds allows a one-card lock (Intuition) by turn 3-4 with a small acceleration, which is key when you need to goldfish pretty fast. Crucible of Worlds is also pretty good in Control mirrors, when you can couple it with Strip Mine. It’s also an important card against decks that are highly focused on mana denial, such as Gay/Red. Note that the basic Islands (and the Darksteel Citadels, to a lesser extend) help a lot in these matchups.


Yawgmoth’s Will

My early builds featured Yawgmoth’s Will, backed up with Demonic Tutor and some sideboarded Duresses (with two Underground Sea). After some intensive testing, Yawgmoth’s Will became less and less needed, and too often I wished I had drawn Intuition instead for nasty Welder tricks. Back then, I was only running 2 Intuitions, and Yawgmoth’s Will soon got cut for the third one.


With Stax becoming a strong contender once again and Crucible of Worlds being played in every deck that can support it, having 5 basic Islands and 5 fetchlands is a real strength, especially since you only need to use your Volcanic Islands once to cast Goblin Welder. The deck is immune to a Wasteland – Crucible of Words lock and is really resilient to Trinisphere. Steven Menendian brought back Mono-U in Vintage, and Back to Basics is also not a serious issue, which is a great advantage in the Mono-U matchup. The Gay/Red matchup was also really improved.


Overall, I find Black to be a win-more color in the deck and I prefer staying away from it. Kim Kluck, who helped in the final tweaking of the deck, elected to run Black in Berlin because he “can’t play a Control deck without Yawgmoth’s Will and Demonic Tutor”. Carsten Kotter (a.k.a. Mons, Goblin Chief, another famous German player), ran it in Barcelona (to a third place) without Black too.


Sundering Titan

Sundering Titan is awesome. It breaks Control decks in half and is a big 7/10 body against Aggro. Nevertheless, I chose not to maindeck one because it feel It is simply not needed, and I want to drastically minimize the number of non hardcastable artifacts in the deck. Against Aggro decks, my weapon of choice are obviously Pentavus and Platinum Angel. Against Control, Mindslaver is a powerful weapon, as is Intuition since you can grab the Crucible of WorldsStrip Mine combo, which can be considered as a slower Sundering Titan that can also hit Bazaar of Baghdad and Mishra’s Workshop. This is probably a pure metagame call, and if your metagame is full of multicolored Control decks, then maindecking Sundering Titan is a strong choice, probably over Pentavus, since Crucible of Worlds does the same recursion tricks. I’m often playing with one in the sideboard though for this matchups.


Matchups Analysis

Stax

Sometimes, Stax can go broken and if you don’t have Force of Will in hand, there is nothing you can do. No skills are needed to drop a first turn Trinisphere followed by a turn 2 Smokestack. Nevertheless, CruciSlaver has a favorable matchup against Stax. By going back to two colors, you are quite immune to Wastelands, even backed up by Crucible of Worlds. Furthermore, your Goblin Welders are more potent than Stax’s one, especially because yours are backed up by Force of Will and Mana Drain. Basically, you’ll almost always win a Welder war. Also note that you have a far better access than Stax to