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Having Fun with White Cards in Type One – Introducing a New Auriok Salvagers-Based Control-Combo deck

As part of our continuing effort to bring you the lastest tech in Type One deckbuilding, today StarCityGames.com presents our newest Featured Writer, noted French deckbuilder Mattieu Durand. Matthieu’s topic du jour is a new version of an Auriok Salvagers control deck that seeks to abuse the power of Gifts Ungiven, complete with card-by-card analysis and matchup information.

Part 1 – Introduction

Ever since Champions of Kamigawa got released, Gifts Ungiven has been taking all my attention. Gifts Ungiven was originally seen as a weaker Intuition – for the inability to tutor for Accumulated Knowledge or a 3-of as well as for the increased mana cost – and a weaker Fact or Fiction – for digging less cards and letting the opponent choose the cards you get in hand. By that time, MeanDeck was starting to work on a Gifts Ungiven based deck. Jaypee was the first to publish a Gifts Ungiven-based Psychatog deck (October 2004), a UBr build that was quite like the conventional Psychatog builds, except it could randomly pull turn 2 or 3 kills, unlike Tog. That deck was extremely focused on Yawgmoth’s Will and used Recoup to maximize the Gifts Ungiven tutoring power. Meanwhile, the Germans from Team CAB where actively working on a Gifts Ungiven deck too, which got released by Carsten Kötter in an article published on StarCityGames. Their build is also a Yawgmoth’s Will deck, packing Tinker for Darksteel Colossus as its win condition. The basic plan there is to Gifts Ungiven for Yawgmoth’s Will, Tinker, Recoup and Time Walk, for example. You get to flashback the Yawgmoth’s Will, replay Tinker and Time Walk for a pseudo-hasted Darksteel Colossus. The deck also features a Burning Wish to replay the RFG Time Walk to a last lethal strike.


Nevertheless, that Tinker for Darksteel Colossus plan never appealed me. Even when that was the hype in GermBus-like decks, I was always relying on the more consistent Decrees of Justice or Exalted Angels for the kill. The idea was basically here to find the proper Gifts setup using the lowest amount of cards dedicated to the win. My first idea was to grab Mana Severance and Tinker, but the concept was far too mana intensive to be the optimal Gifts Ungiven setup. Carsten K̦tter also worked on a pretty similar concept, and rejected it too Рthough he had no Goblin Welders Рfor the same reasons.


// Gifted Charbelcher – November 2004.

// Matthieu Durand, Stefan Iwasienko

// Mana sources

4 Underground Sea

4 Island

3 Volcanic Island

2 Flooded Strand

2 Polluted Delta

1 Library of Alexandria

1 Mox Sapphire

1 Mox Ruby

1 Mox Jet

1 Mox Emerald

1 Mox Pearl

1 Black Lotus

1 Mana Crypt

1 Sol Ring

1 Mana Vault


// Deck engine

2 Goblin Welder

1 Tinker

1 Goblin Charbelcher

1 Mana Severance


// Draw and tutors

4 Brainstorm

4 Thirst for Knowledge

3 Gifts Ungiven

1 Burning Wish

1 Ancestral Recall

1 Time Walk

1 Mystical Tutor

1 Demonic Tutor

1 Yawgmoth’s Will

1 Recoup


// Disruption and Permission

4 Force of Will

4 Mana Drain

4 Duress


// Sideboard

1 Meltdown

1 Mind Twist

1 Deep Analysis

1 Platinum Angel

1 Turbulent Dreams

2 Goblin Welder

2 Lava Dart

3 Red Elemental Blast

3 Rack and Ruin


The basic game plan was obviously to Gifts Ungiven for Yawgmoth’s Will, Tinker, Recoup and Mana Severance, with Goblin Welder backup if needed. The fundamental problem was obviously the fact that you’d always get Recoup and Mana Severance in hand, and 10 mana to win after that (Recoup for Tinker + Tinker + Mana Severance + Goblin Charbelcher activation) was prohibitive. Hence, the idea got rejected and the deck sent to the dust bin.


After a couple of other tries, I focused my work on an Auriok Salvagers finish, based on everyone’s favorite German – Stefan Iwasienko – original decklists on that concept. The obvious plan is to get Auriok Salvagers and Black Lotus on the board for infinite mana and spell count. Then the win condition becomes quite irrelevant…


Part 2 – Gifted Salvagers, The Decklist

Here is the deck as I was playing it in February 2005. The last tweaks have been made with the help of the Germans Kim Klück and Stefan Iwasienko and a French playtesting partner, Benoit Foucard.


// Mana Sources

4 Underground Sea

3 Island

3 Tundra

2 Polluted Delta

2 Flooded Strand

2 Tropical Island

1 Black Lotus

1 Lotus Petal

1 Mox Emerald

1 Mox Jet

1 Mox Pearl

1 Mox Ruby

1 Mox Sapphire

1 Sol Ring


// Deck Engine

3 Phyrexian Furnace

2 Auriok Salvagers


// Draw and Tutors

4 Brainstorm

3 Cunning Wish

3 Gifts Ungiven

3 Thirst for Knowledge

1 Ancestral Recall

1 Mystical Tutor

1 Demonic Tutor

1 Regrowth

1 Time Walk

1 Yawgmoth’s Will

1 Skeletal Scrying


// Disruption and Permission

4 Force of Will

4 Mana Drain

3 Duress


// Sideboard

2 Disenchant (Dismantling Blow)

2 Swords to Plowshares

1 Vampiric Tutor (Skeletal Scrying)

1 Gifts Ungiven

1 Shallow Grave

1 Echoing Truth (Ray of Revelation, Capsize)

1 Brain Freeze

1 Coffin Purge

2 Pernicious Deed

1 Library of Alexandria (Mind Twist)

1 Balance (Aether Spellbomb)

1 Duress (Cranial Extraction)


The sideboard listed above is what I would run if I took the deck in a tournament now. I have listed some cards in italics too, as potential replacements according to metagame calls.


Kim Klück split the Type One side events with this build (even if he had a slightly different – and non tweaked – sideboard) and Luc Tremblay, a long-time Canadian friend of mine, piloted it to a first place in Quebec with 4 maindeck Thirst for Knowledge and no Skeletal Scrying.


Les Engine

Part 3 – How Do I Win With This Deck?

Gifts Ungiven is the fundamental win condition of the deck, because It usually grabs both of your Combo pieces in one shot. Once you have settled a nice mana base, you’ll want to cast Gifts Ungiven on your opponent End of Turn step, getting Regrowth, Yawgmoth’s Will, Auriok Salvagers and Black Lotus. If your opponent gives you the Auriok Salvagers, you just win. If they give you Yawgmoth’s Will, well, you just get to resolve Yawgmoth’s Will… Thus, they will probably give you Regrowth and Black Lotus in hand, and you just have to Regrowth the Auriok Salvagers to win the game if you have 5 mana sources on the board. Or you can randomly draw Auriok Salvagers off a Brainstorm or a Thirst for Knowledge, which happens a lot…


With infinite mana, all you have to do next is to grab a Cunning Wish to find Brain Freeze in the sideboard. Drawing into one is rather easy considering the big draw engine of the deck with its Brainstorms, Thirst for Knowledge and Gifts Ungiven. Phyrexian Furnace is probably the best Combo enabler there, because you get to draw a card per other card in any graveyard thanks to Auriok Salvagers recursion. Considering the amount of cards stuff like Thirst for Knowledge and Gifts Ungiven dump in your graveyard, achieving your goal should not be hard then.


Before you reject the Brain Freeze kill because of stuff like Goblin Welder welding in Platinum Angels or Gaea’s Blessing, remember the deck has 3 Phyrexian Furnace maindeck…


Part 4 – Card By Card Analysis



4.1 – The Draw Spells

Thirst for Knowledge

Thirst for Knowledge is usually associated with Goblin Welder. Well, this deck runs no Goblins, but enough artifacts to make the Thirst for Knowledge a reliable card draw. Thirst for Knowledge perfectly fits into Gifted Salvagers game plan. Early game, Thirst will draw cards to dig into Gifts Ungiven or Auriok Salvagers, while dumping cards in the graveyard to abuse later with Yawgmoth’s Will or Regrowth, for example. Then, when going off, Thirst for Knowledge turns into a strong “Draw6” thanks to the Phyrexian Furnace recursion. Trying to go off with a Thirst for Knowledge in hand will almost always be successful even if both graveyards are empty by then. My original build had 4 Thirst for Knowledge, but I sometimes found myself unwilling to discard a Mox or a Phyrexian Furnace. I soon cut one for the lone Skeletal Scrying (see the reasons above) and was pretty happy with that change. Depending on how the metagame adjusts after Trinisphere’s restriction, running a couple of Seat of the Synod maindeck could be a possibility, but it weakens the deck when facing Null Rod.


Skeletal Scrying

Skeletal Scrying is probably one of the most solid and reliable unrestricted card draw spells we can play in Type One. Nevertheless, the deck does not really want to play with a lot of Skeletal Scrying, since they hinder your ability to go off early with Phyrexian Furnace recursion. One Skeletal Scrying is pretty fine as a backup draw engine for Thirst for Knowledge, but you would never want to draw more than one in the game, so It’s fine as a singleton. That lone Skeletal Scrying is also pretty strong in Control mirrors if you want to Gifts Ungiven for card draw because you can get Ancestral Recall (Regrowth or Demonic Tutor if Ancestral Recall has already been played), Gifts Ungiven, Thirst for Knowledge and Skeletal Scrying now.


Gifts Ungiven

Gifts Ungiven is the centerpiece of the build. That deck is actually far more a Gifts Ungiven deck than an Auriok Salvagers one. Gifts Ungiven is basically a double Demonic Tutor there for a mere 4 mana in a deck running 4 Mana Drains and most of the fast mana artifacts. Against everything that is not Control, you’ll usually aim straight for the kill with the first Gifts Ungiven, getting Black Lotus, Auriok Salvagers, Regrowth and Yawgmoth’s Will. With a Mana Drain fueled Gifts Ungiven by turn 3, the deck can easily goldfish turn 4. Basically, if you have Mana Drain in hand by turn 2 along with Gifts Ungiven or Cunning Wish, just randomly Mana Drain whatever your opponent is casting, for mana acceleration purpose only. Yeah, call that “Interaction”… Against Control, the Gifts Ungiven usually become more tricky. Point is that resolving Gifts Ungiven for the aforementioned setup may lead to a disastrous play into Mana Drain. Hence, you’ll usually want to tweak your first Gifts Ungiven according to your board position, grabbing mana sources to extend your mana development (Mox Sapphire, Mox Jet, Mox Pearl and Sol Ring or Mox Emerald is a strong setup there), or a mix of draw spells and disruption. Basically, you can take your time there since you have a pretty strong draw engine and a really good disruption base with the maindeck Duress.


4.2 – The Tools

Regrowth

Most of the Gifts Ungiven based decks that have been released so far use a Red splash for Recoup, which has a great synergy with Gifts Ungiven thanks to its flashback cost. Nevertheless, there is only a single card that is definitely worth “Recouping” in the build: Yawgmoth’s Will. When setting up the lethal Gifts Ungiven against the fastest decks, you usually want to goldfish as fast as possible, and that “Recoup for Yawgmoth’s Will” plan is just decent. Regrowth solves that problem, because It allows you to go straight for the Auriok Salvagers out of the graveyard, saving a lot of mana. It’s also quite common to use the Regrowth in Control mirror in draw oriented Gifts Ungivens, getting, for example, Ancestral Recall, Thirst for Knowledge, Gifts Ungiven and Regrowth. Overall, Regrowth is far better than Recoup in this particular build. Recoup would only be useful with Reanimate, as Carsten Kötter suggested once, but I don’t really feel like running more cards dedicated to the win condition only (other than the obvious Auriok Salvagers).


Phyrexian Furnace

Once going off with Auriok Salvagers and