Feature Article – Constructed Ideas With Conflux

Richmond, Virginia hosts the first StarCityGames.com $5,000 Standard Open of 2009!
Friday, January 30th – The Conflux prerelease activities begin tomorrow, and the new cards are in everyone’s minds. David Irvine examines some cool strategies that spring up through the addition of the new cardboard, and brings us some spicy first-pass decks for Standard, Extended, and Legacy!

When I first started checking out the spoiler for Conflux, I was surprised by a few cards. They couldn’t possibly be making something like that. It must be wrong. Path to Exile, Nyxathid, Scepter of Fugue, Volcanic Fallout, Noble Hierarch, Malfegor, and Knight of Reliquary all stood out as above average cards that can immediately go into decks. Of course, there are plenty of other useful cards, like Celestial Purge, Ignite Disorder, and Controlled Instincts, and they will all make their way into players’ sideboards. Where can you go with some new cards? This is what came to mind:

Path to Exile — This goes in decks that play any White cards whatsoever. In fact, it might just get some existing decks to splash White. If you can play it, great… just remember to put one or more basic lands in your deck now.

Scepter of Fugue — I’m sure plenty of people can’t stop talking about this card. It’s just so cheap and so easy to use. The fact that it’s an artifact might come into play, but for the most part it’s going to be there against lots of control decks.

Nyxathid — For Standard or even Extended discard decks. The cheap casting cost, along with access to Scepter of Fugue, makes this guy quite effective as a big beater. Unless a Howling Mine/mill deck pops up because of Font of Mythos, this guy might be the biggest thing on the table. His biggest downside is Stillmoon Cavalier. The Cavalier is in plenty of decks, but there may be a way to get around it: possibly by playing a BR discard deck with Blightning and burn spells to clear the way.

Volcanic Fallout — I’m not sure I would try taking this card in new directions, but it does handle quite a few of the creature decks out there so it’s going to be played like crazy. Spectral Processions and Bitterblossoms aren’t going to be in the same deck as often now. The Black/White Token deck takes a big hit from this card. I guess its time to see if decks that can handle the double Red casting cost start being played more.

Noble Hierarch — Well, he does exactly what you want in a one-casting cost mana creature. He taps for Bant colors and lets you add to the beatdown. I think this might help the Blue/Green Standard beatdown decks with Shorecrasher Mimic to come back, but ultimately, there might not be enough new fuel to keep the engine going. This guy will probably have to wait for Block before I start trying to play this guy in a 60-card deck.

Malfegor — Jeez, what doesn’t he do? This card should be able to create a new deck archetype all on his own. I can’t wait to get started on a list for this bad boy.

Knight of the Reliquary — I saw this card just after Gabe Walls came up short of top 8 at Grand Prix: Los Angeles while playing Astral Slide. I read it, then reread it. This card is nuts. Not only does it let you get a really big creature in the late game with all the cycling lands, but it also has the ability to search your deck for “a land” and put it into play. I sure hope the spoiler is right on that one. The ability to tutor out any land will make the card a reasonable possibility for Legacy. Imagine searching out the additional Wastelands while getting the Life from the Loam engine going. With an Exploration, you can easily put the game away by getting rid of most players’ lands. You can even tutor out a Tabernacle of the Pendrell Vale or a Maze of Ith. With Grand Prix: Chicago coming up, it’s something to think about.

You would probably start with something like this:

4 Exploration
3 Life from the Loam
4 Intuition
4 Force of Will
4 Brainstorm
4 Tarmogoyf
4 Swords to Plowshares
3 Knight of the Reliquary
3 Engineered Explosives
1 Crucible of Worlds
1 Triskelion

2 Tropical Island
2 Savannah
1 Tundra
1 Forest
4 Mishra’s Factory
3 Windswept Heath
2 Flooded Strand
1 Tranquil Thicket
1 Lonely Sandbar
4 Wasteland
1 Ghost Quarter
1 Tabernacle of the Pendrell Vale
1 Academy Ruins
1 Nantuko Monastery

It’s a rough list, but the concept is to get ahead of the opponent using Life from the Loam and helper cards like Exploration, Intuition, and Brainstorm. It might be weak against combo, but the idea is that most decks in Legacy use way too many non-basic lands for their own good. If they do have a lot of basics, you can eventually lock them down in the late game with Crucible of Worlds and Ghost Quarter. They have to run out of lands at some point. With an Exploration or two in play, that might only be in a few turns. The Engineered Explosives and the Academy Ruins are a catch-all for most situations. Just play Intuition and get those two cards and a Life from the Loam and you’re on your way.

In Extended, you probably want to try out a deck based around Astral Slide and Life from the Loam, but with Knight of the Reliquary as the end-game card that will probably the size of a small truck. I’m guessing he’ll be a 10/10 by the late game. Pretty easy to win the game when you’ve got your creatures locked down with Astral Slides.

3 Kitchen Finks
3 Knight of the Reliquary
3 Duergar Hedge-Mage
2 Eternal Witness
4 Astral Slide
4 Edge of Autumn
4 Spark Spray
3 Gilded Light
3 Life from the Loam
2 Wrath of God
2 Engineered Explosives
1 Seismic Assault

4 Secluded Steppe
4 Tranquil Thicket
2 Forgotten Cave
2 Windswept Heath
2 Wooded Foothills
2 Flagstones of Trokair
1 Stomping Grounds
1 Temple Garden
2 Sacred Foundry
2 Forest
2 Plains
1 Mountain
1 Ghost Quarter

1 Boseiju, Who Shelters All
3 Boil
2 Plow Under
1 Duergar Hedge-Mage
4 Path to Exile
1 Gilded Light
3 Angel’s Grace

This list shares some similarities with the list that Gabe Walls played. Mostly it’s the manabase, since I haven’t tested it too much. I just wanted to show you what the introduction of Knight of the Reliquary could do. The Knight can now tutor up the one main deck Ghost Quarters and sacrifice the Flagstones of Trokair to get it. In the sideboard, he can also search for the one Boseiju, Who Shelters All so that your land disruption spells can’t be countered. A Boil against Faeries in the mid-game is near crippling. The addition of Gilded Light and Angel’s Grace within the main deck and sideboard are just my choice cards for the Slide deck now that Storm decks are doing well all over the place. Traditionally, Slide decks have been weak to Combo decks, but Gilded Light and Land Destruction have been the way to survive. If you want to play Slide at an upcoming PTQ, you might want to consider this.

For Standard I think a Malfegor burn or control deck has to be good. He’s a big, flying Wrath effect. Granted, there will be an abundance of Path to Exiles being played. But with this guy, Figure of Destiny, Demigod of Revenge, and Blightning all taking their tolls, Malfegor might actually stick when he hits play. Also, if you happen to discard an extra Demigod of Revenge, it’s not that big a deal, because it’ll come back when you draw the next one. I would also want to fit Volcanic Fallout into the deck since it probably won’t kill anything in the Red deck except for a small Figure of Destiny. Here’s the Burn version:

4 Figure of Destiny
4 Boggart Ram-Gang
4 Demigod of Revenge
4 Hellspark Elemental
2 Malfegor
4 Incinerate
4 Flame Javelin
4 Blightning
4 Volcanic Fallout
2 Magma Spray

4 Graven Cairns
4 Sulfurous Springs
3 Reflecting Pool
3 Auntie’s Hovel
6 Mountain
4 Ghitu Encampment

You have all the elements to finish off your opponent reasonably quickly, as well as the powerful late game cards. Instead of going the burn route, you could try discard to get rid of their options before dropping Malfegor to clean up all the creatures in play. By using discard, you can more safely drop Malfegor without having to worry about how many Path to Exiles are in your opponent’s hand.

4 Fulminator Mage
3 Siege-Gang Commander
4 Demigod of Revenge
4 Malfegor
4 Thoughtseize
4 Blightning
4 Magma Spray
3 Lash Out
4 Volcanic Fallout
2 Mind Shatter

4 Graven Cairns
4 Sulfurous Springs
4 Reflecting Pool
4 Auntie’s Hovel
2 Mountain
2 Swamp
4 Ghitu Encampment

This version has the ability to handle most of the early creatures with Magma Spray, Lash Out, and Volcanic Fallout. Fulminator Mage is there to block a creature and then sacrifice to kill a man-land. Once you are prepared to put some pressure on with your late game cards, you can hit the opponent with some discard to help clear the way. You might even hold a Thoughtseize for later in the game just for this reason. In the sideboard I would probably play an extra Mind Shatter and a few Vexing Shushers so that your Mind Shatters won’t get countered. I might even put some Firespouts in the board too for Kithkin and Elf decks. Against Faeries you would want an early threat to force them into making moves before they have the necessary protection. You could use Ashenmoor Gouger or even your own Bitterblossoms. Against Burn or another Red deck, one option might even be Dragon’s Claw, but there would really have to be a lot of red. I don’t really like playing cards that are so narrow. Anyway, that’s just a start to building those decks; you might have your own ideas.

Since Conflux does have quite a few domain cards, I though I might try a couple different ways to build Domain. The first thing to think about is what colors you want to base yourself in. Because you have to play a bunch of different basic lands to get the effect, I would probably limit myself to two or three main colors. Green seems like one of the more obvious ones being that you have access to cards like Rampant Growth and Civic Wayfinder. The addition of the new Basic Landcycling does make it possible to avoid Green, but that all depends on you want to cast in the first few turns of the game.

When reviewing Standard-legal cards for domain, I figured that I would pretty much want these cards in any build:

4 Terramorphic Expanse
4 Worldly Counsel
4 Path to Exile

Almost all other cards are pretty flexible because you can build a creature deck or a control deck based in just about any colors. I included Worldly Counsel and Path to Exile because they are so flexible that you should almost be happy anytime you get to play them. I’m pretty sure that you also want to fit the Maelstrom Archangel into the deck. He subverts one main aspect of the game: you don’t have to pay for a spell. I think if you can hit with him and then drop two big cards the turn you attack with him, you should be in good shape.

I thought I would immediately start with a Green/White based deck since it seems like the most ‘controllish’ of the combinations. You will want to play cards like Rampant Growth and Wrath of God type effects. In addition, you have access to useful creatures like Kitchen Finks, Rhox War Monk, and Matca Rioters. With a turn three Matca Rioters followed by a turn four Scapeshift makes for a nice little beatdown. Besides for Scapeshift, there aren’t that many ways to ensure domain in the early game so the combination of Rampant Growth and Terramorphic Expanse will have to play backup.

4 Matca Rioters
3 Maelstrom Archangel
1 Empyrial Archangel
2 Broodmate Dragon
4 Rampant Growth
2 Fertile Ground
4 Path to Exile
3 Scapeshift
1 Hallowed Burial
4 Firespout
3 Primal Command
2 Dramatic Entrance
2 Garruk Wildspeaker
1 Legacy Weapon

4 Terramorphic Expanse
3 Forest
1 Island
2 Plains
2 Mountain
1 Swamp
4 Reflecting Pool
4 Vivid Grove
2 Exotic Orchard
1 Fire-Lit Thicket

4 Kitchen Finks
1 Hallowed Burial
2 Wispmare
4 Guttural Response
1 Worldheart Phoenix
2 Voices from the Void
1 Realm Razer

At first glance, this deck appears to be a domain-based control deck that has the Primal Command and Dramatic Entrance helpers to get to a more consistent angel or dragon. It’s got some creature control with Firespout and Path to Exile, but wait — both those removal spells can clear most blockers for Maelstrom Archangel while not killing any of your creatures in the process. Also, the Hallowed Burial is there over Wrath of God for its ability to deal with Reveilark and Persist. If you have to play it and you have your own creatures out, you can always tutor them out with Primal Command. The Command pulls extra weight in this deck as it allows you the flexibility to gain life while getting key creatures for the late game. It’s also a nice follow-up spell the turn after you play a Maelstrom Archangel because you can search for the creature and then drop it into play for free because of the archangel’s ability. The Legacy Weapon was just to inviting to skip over. If this comes down after an Archangel hit, then you should be in better shape to take over the game completely. The sideboard was just an approximation of what you would most likely play against with a new format. Kitchen Finks and Hallowed Burial for beatdown decks; Wispmare and Guttural Response for Faeries; Guttural Response, Worldheart Phoenix, Voices from the Void, and Realm Razer for Five-Color Control decks. It might be right for the Realm Razer to be in the main deck, but I want to see if I’m going to add a fourth Maelstrom Archangel to the list first and I don’t usually want to kill my own Matca Riders when the Realm Razer takes away all my land. It’s just something to think about.

Have fun at the prerelease!


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