So where have I been, you ask… Or at least Jimmy Uxbridge of Couer d’Alene, Idaho asks? Well, I was taking my annual birthday vacation (how old am I? Old enough to start lying about it), then I was the guest of honor at UVALAN 3, a giant LAN party/convention dedicated to the Tribes brand of computer games, of which I happened to work on as a designer for three-odd years. For three days, I was treated, literally, like a big-shot celebrity, I kid you not, by the still-rabid fans of the game. I even got to sign a girl’s panties (no, she was not wearing them at the time).
I got an inkling of what Jon Finkel must feel like.
So now I’m getting back into the swing of things for IBC season. And, yes, mark your calendars, Dave will be attending his first ever Grand Prix event, as I’ve decided to cash in those frequent flier miles I’ve been saving up all these years and attend Grand Prix-Denver.
This, of course, means I’ll need to have a deck ready.
Those who have been reading my latest articles have seen my trials and tribulations in designing an IBC deck. Some have shown promise, some have promised to be a pile. But I’ve got two more decks currently in the works that are currently taking up the bulk of my testing time: One fairly original, one a rework of an old idea.
The first is my attempt at making a U/G deck work. I correspond frequently with that mad genius of Magic, Jay Schneider (well, one of the mad geniuses) and was discussing how I could make U/G work, and he suggested using Unnatural Selection. Everything fell into place and this promising beastie sort of fell into place.
The Unnatural Act (worth playing for the name alone)
4 Yavimaya Coast
4 Salt Marsh
4 Gaea’s Skyfolk
4 Unnatural Selection
4 Urborg Elf
4 Coastal Drake
4 Rooting Kavu
4 Mystic Snake
4 Jungle Barrier
1 Empress Galina or Tsabo’s Decree
The centerpiece of the deck is, of course, Unnatural Selection. Add in Coastal Drake, and for three mana you have a two-card permanent Unsummon, which ain’t too bad. And if you have seven mana, a Coastal Drake, Unnatural Selection and Mystic Snake in play, you have counterspell recursion.
Unnatural Selection has many other uses. For one, your Jungle Barriers can suddenly decide they don’t want to be walls anymore and start beating down. Or, if your opponent has, say, two Phyrexian Scutas in play, you can make them both Legends and voila! One goes bye-bye.
The Unnatural Selection/Legend trick also works with the single Empress Galina in the deck, basically giving you an endless Control Magic with this two-card combo. I’m also leaning towards putting in Tsabo’s Decree in the deck in lieu of the overpriced Empress, as it also combos well with the Unnatural Selection – however, to use it effectively requires at least seven mana, probably eight or nine to be a true board clearer. That’s a lot of mana, even with the Urborg Elf available to be our mana accelerator and provide a source of blue and black
Why Rooting Kavu in the deck? Well, it’s a four-power creature for four mana, which is a good bargain. It also allows you to recurse critters back into your deck, like your 2/2 fliers and counterspell snakes.
The deck shows great promise, but has the problem of being overcrowded at the four-slot, with Mystic Snake, Jungle Barrier and Rooting Kavu crowding for space. That just too darn much. Perhaps dropping two of the four Kavus, or Jungle Barrier for Exclude or Rushing River, might be called for to help balance out the top-heaviness of the deck. I also like the uncounterable, unbounceable Blurred Mongoose for extra beatdown in a field that is expected to have a fair amount of control in it.
Or it might morph into a U/R concoction that I’ll save for another article.
That leads to my next deck, my latest pass at W/B/r. My first attempt was more of a beatdown-oriented deck, but that didn’t seem to be getting the job done. However, when I decided to tweak it a bit to make it more of a defensive control-type deck, it started becoming much, much better.
Dark Angel v2.0
4 Caves of Koilos
2 Forge[/author]“]Battlefield [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]
4 Urborg Volcano
4 Spectral Lynx
4 Phyrexian Arena
4 Star Compass
4 Voice of All
3 Death Grasp
4 Desolation Angel
2 Orim’s Thunder
I would have liked to have thought of something slightly more clever for a deck title, along the lines of”The Better Angels of My Nature,” but even I, one given to extreme bouts of hyperbole, realized that”Dark Angel” was just better.
The idea is fairly simple. Use the Lynx and Voice of All, as well as the massive amount of removal in both Vindicate and Terminate, to maintain control of the board while hoarding mana. Phyrexian Arena draws you lots of cards, and Death Grasp doubles as life gain and critter removal (or even the coup de grace). But the basic idea is to get to seven mana as fast as possible, cast Rout at the end of your opponent’s turn to clear the board, then cast Desolation Angel on your turn, leaving a board virtually empty save for the 5/4 that should rule the skies.
My sideboard is still very much in flux. Urza’s Rage will definitely be there as anti-control. Some kind of discard, like Addle or Gerrard’s Verdict, might also go here. I took out the discard in favor of additional removal, primarily because Dodecapod just sucks against non-Addle discard. Two more Orim’s Thunders will be there as well. As it stands, the sideboard is woefully incomplete, but it’s getting there.
The deck has shown a great deal of promise in testing. Right now, if I had to play a deck for Denver, it would be this one.
Fortunately, I have a whole month to change my mind.