Insert Column Name Here – My Common Synergy Vs. Your Rares

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Monday, March 24th – A bunch of Merfolk that like to tap. A bunch of very nice things to tap them. But how can all of that tap-happy synergistic work compare with a crazy set of rares in the opponent’s hand?

To heck with clever intros! Smash the state! Heck, let’s just look at some cards. It’s what you’re here for, right?

Sealed Deck Pool
Ferrett Steinmetz
Test deck on 03-30-2008
Lorwyn Limited
Magic Card Back


Solid Playables: Ballyrush Banneret, Burrenton Bombardier, Burrenton Shield-Bearers, Kinsbaile Balloonist, Kithkin Healer, Kithkin Zephyrnaut, Neck Snap, Oblivion Ring, Springjack Knight, Swell of Courage, Veteran of the Depths

Swell of Courage is a capital-B “Bomb” in most Sealed builds, giving you an instant-speed boost to all of your dudes in one shot and turning any sort of blocking (or not blocking) situation into a nightmare — and Morningtide’s still new enough that people don’t see it coming. While it’s nice that Swell has another side to it, the Reinforce just seems a little fragile in this new world of removal everywhere to use all that often. I can’t rely on a single guy to carry all of those +1/+1 tokens when there are so many bounce, destroy, or neuter a dude spells out there!

What we have here is a very strong White for Sealed play — it’s got the heavy-hitting removal of Neck Snap and Oblivion Ring, some aggressive Kithkin early drops that turn into late-game boosters, and a solid swell for the tokens. It’s almost certain that White will be a component of anything we go with… And if we can have some tap effects, then Veteran of the Depths becomes excellent and Stonybrook Schoolmaster becomes an auto-include.

The only question — and this is an interesting one — is that if you have the choice between a third-turn Springjack Knight or a third-turn Kithkin Zephyrnaut, which do you drop? They both can do four damage, and be useless if they don’t trigger. The Knight can clear away the deadwood from the top of your deck and then die awfully in combat when it runs into a 3/3, whereas the Zephyrnaut can be a wonderful Serra Angel that does nothing to affect your card quality, but swings mightily in the air and stays back for defense. But the Knight can give bonuses to other guys, while the Zephyrnaut is more durable.

Generally, against R/B, it’s the ‘Naut, since a 1/1 is too fragile. But against White or Green, it’s the Knight. Weird.

Oh, yeah — and I’m off the Changeling Hero. He looks nice, and I’ll include him in certain decks, but the issue of “not being up a creature when he’s done” is often huge in races (as White decks are wont to do) and 4/4 with lifelink isn’t often enough to turn around a race where you’re on the back foot. He can be good, but I’ve lost so many games with him in play I have to think about including him now.

Solid Playables: Dewdrop Spy, Fallowsage, Inkfathom Divers, Mothdust Changeling, Nevermaker, Sentinels of Glen Elendra, Surgespanner

Here’s the thing: Distant Melody is creeping up on the list for me, since generally you can walk it into a trade-up for two cards, and netting three or four can be game-winning. Sure, it’s sometimes an absolutely dead draw, which is a trade-off, but I’m liking it more and more in Sealed all the time.

Nevermaker is also at the top of the list for me. It’s a great flying defense, since nobody wants to run into it, and when Evoked it can completely screw with a mana-screwed opponent. Unlike the Distant Melody, I’m almost never unhappy to see the Nevermaker.

What we have here is something I’m quite happy to see — two Mothdust Changelings, giving us an early tap outlet, to go with the Stonybrook Schoolmaster and the Veteran of the Depths. In addition, we have two other guys who love to be tapped for free — Surgespanner and Fallowsage — making this a strong Merfolk deck before we even exit the first two colors!

The temptation for Merrow Commerce here is nice, but I’m not sure whether we want it. It’s much more of a “win more” card, where if I’m getting effects with the Mothdust, I’ll have an extra counter, an extra card, an extra bounce if I have the mana. But if I draw this in the middle of a Kithkin onslaught, well, it’s dead to me. I might try it, but my suspicions say “no.”

Solid Playables: Earwig Squad, Footbottom Feast, Mind Shatter, Moonglove Winnower, Morsel Theft, Mournwhelk, Noggin Whack, Pack’s Disdain, Peppersmoke, Violet Pall

In case anyone ever wonders whether Mind Shatter is good, well, I’ve been absolutely wrecked by it on turn 5 in three separate matches. It might not be so great when your opponent has no cards in hand, but as an early drop it’s quite devastating, and definitely good enough to run in the slightly slower environs of Sealed.

We have some of the big hits of Black Removal here, and in convenient alphabetical order at the end, making this a strong splash. But otherwise, it lacks coherence. There aren’t quite enough Rogues here or in Black to go with a Prowl strategy (unless we want to rely on the Mothdust Changelings to chain upwards), and this pool features the Rogue-tastic set of Noggin Whack, Earwig Squad, and Morsel Theft.

We could go in that direction, I suppose — making a quickie Rogue build based on Changelings (for you may note there is only one Rogue creature in the whole shebang) and hoping to chain up, punishing them with brutal discard along the way. That might work. But sans enablers, it strikes me as being risky.

Solid Playables: Axegrinder Giant, Brighthearth Banneret, Countryside Crusher, Fire Juggler, Goatnapper, Seething Pathblazer, Shard Volley, Smokebraider, Spitebellows, Stinkdrinker Daredevil, War-Spike Changeling

The War-Spike Changeling is just a dang solid card. It’s made me change my whole plan of attack on any number of occasions, both defensively and offensively, when my opponent dropped it. And it’s not too hard to keep the Red open for the first strike, making this the kind of card I’m always, always happy to have in a Red deck.

The Red here is particularly Elementaly, if that’s a word… But it’s mostly the lower-end Elementals. If I get a Smokebraider I’m always happy, and certainly getting out an early Spitebellows never hurts. But after that, the quality drops off rapidly to the point where we’re going “Hmm, Ingot Chewer?” and that’s never a good place to be.

But did you stop when it came to Countryside Crusher? Oh yes you did. He’s quite nice even in Sealed, giving you a solid stream of card quality… Around turn 5 or 6. Drop him before, and unless you have a mitt full of lands, you risk screwing yourself over.

Still, I’m a little nervous about going into Red for even a fun card like Countryside Crusher. It just seems risky to me, especially when we can dip into Black for removal. I’m going to hold off for now.

Solid Playables: Bosk Banneret, Changeling Titan, Earthbrawn, Elvish Warrior, Everbark Shaman, Fertilid, Gilt-Leaf Ambush, Lignify, Woodland Changeling

Whoo. Nice cards individually, no synergy. There aren’t quite enough Elves to make the Elf grade, two out of our three Treefolk rely on other Treefolk to be good (by either reducing their cost or giving you life), and the whole pool is just flat. It’s not even really worthy of a splash!

…And The Rest
Solid Playables: Secluded Glen, Shimmering Grotto, Springleaf Drum, Thornbite Staff

“Self,” I asked me, “What would I want to see in a deck that has four creatures that do neat things when tapped?”

“Why, two things that tap them!”

Even though I had no Shamans in the deck, Thornbite Staff on a Fallowsage or a Veteran of the Depths is just mean. (Surgespanner would be even nicer, but who has that kind of mana?)

So How’d I Do?
The deck I eventually went with was this:

6 Island
7 Plains
2 Swamp
1 Fallowsage
1 Inkfathom Divers
1 Kinsbaile Balloonist
1 Kithkin Healer
1 Merrow Commerce
1 Neck Snap
1 Oblivion Ring
1 Peppersmoke
1 Secluded Glen
1 Sentinels of Glen Elendra
1 Shimmering Grotto
1 Springjack Knight
1 Springleaf Drum
1 Surgespanner
1 Veteran of the Depths
1 Ballyrush Banneret
1 Burrenton Bombardier
1 Kithkin Zephyrnaut
1 Mothdust Changeling
1 Nevermaker
1 Pack’s Disdain
1 Stonybrook Schoolmaster
1 Swell of Courage
1 Thornbite Staff
1 Violet Pall

The Merrow Commerce, as expected, was not particularly great, and I kept siding it out for Distant Melody. And I might have wanted another Mothdust Changeling, but considering that it was only really good with four cards and useless with anything else except for the Thornbite Staff, I think that would have been overkill.

The only other question I have is whether I wanted Cenn’s Tactician. The pumping-up would have been nice, but this was only a mildly-soldier deck, and I was concerned about having another one-drop that didn’t do much all the time. Admittedly, he could target himself, but I’m still a little leery. I’ll have to experiment in the future.

The first match was a very close one, going to three tight games. But ultimately, it looked something like this situation in the first game:

I’m at twelve life. He’s got two fliers in the air, able to do five damage to me a turn, but I’ve whittled him down to three and will kill him the next turn. He attacks over my head now that I am tapped out and casts…

Notorious Throng.

Such a buzzkill. Nothing I can do in the face of “An extra turn to kill me.” So I die. Game two, I manage to take advantage of some mild mana stall (he’s stuck at five lands) and polish him off, but game three is — you guessed it — me at a high life total, about to kill him the next turn, and Throng.

This makes me a sad weasel. I had a good deck, trumped by one rare card! What fun is that? I mean, when I don’t have that card?

The second and third match? Absolutely killer. The Merfolk came out, everything fired on all cylinders, and wham. I killed with tons of dudes. ‘Twas quite nice.

The fourth match, however… Well, here’s the situation. It’s game two. I had tons of Merfolk thanks to a properly-functioning Stonybrook Schoolmaster, and my opponent is at one thanks to a Swelled-up Fallowsage. I’m at twelve, I have four blockers for his guys, I feel good.

Profane Command for five removes those good feelings. Having no blockers and being at a dramatically-less seven life means that I iz ded. And looking back, I don’t think there was anything much I could do about it.

So it’s on to game three, the final match (since I had won the first game after a quick Kithkin beatings). The game stalls, but I’m feeling fine — he doesn’t have two black, so I can probably race him aggressively. Which I do.

Then he Titan’s Revenges me for seven and kills me. Ooof. I died to not one, but two silly-powerful rares.

The fifth match is just ugly. Mulligan to six in the first game, mulligan to five, and despite a close game in both ones — I got him under five in both games — the lack of cards spells my doom. This would be the definition of “a heartbreaker.”

2-3. I don’t feel bad, though. Sometimes, you just lose games to stupid rares. It happens. Then I go and win a bunch of games for fun afterwards, which isn’t so bad, because this is a fun deck!

The Weekly Plug Bug
Pete is a rocker. Pete wants to bring prosperity back to the land by making it all the way to the Hall of Fame, where he can heal the nuclear holocaust that destroyed everything. He wants to play the music that will fix the world.

But Pete himself isn’t enough. He must become something more. So today, they take his face away.

Signing off,
The Ferrett
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