I’ve been following the procession of articles on how to abuse Mind’s Desire in the current Extended format just in time for Worlds, and the question that keeps coming to mind is: How can people honestly expect to play silly tricks with Snap and Cloud of Faeries and expect the resulting deck to be good? Very simply put, a good deck contains good cards and tries to keep its combinations simple. Have we seen complicated but successful combination engines in the past? Sure. Squandered Resources/Natural Balance/Prosperous Bloom/Prosperity was a fine engine, but it tried to stick to as few parts as possible (Natural Balance, for example, wasn’t necessary for a turn 3 kill, just useful)… Likewise, Academy Rector/Yawgmoth’s Bargain/Skirge Familiar/Soul Feast was a fine engine with many parts, but some of these parts drew the other half of the engine for the affordable cost of one life per. What do these complicated engines have that Snap/Cloud of Faeries/Sapphire Medallion can’t offer? They actually powered up a deck that was able to work in a more than incidental fashion; what happens, for example, if you have Snap but not Cloud of Faeries?
Oh, you lose to Sligh? How embarrassing.
Articles about good combo decks don’t have sentences like this:
“Yet another matchup that is determined on your overall skill with the deck. Tog can snatch Medallions or card drawers out of your hand with Duress. It can also knock off Snap with a well-timed Smother on Cloud of Faeries. Add that into an arsenal of eight to ten counterspells, and you’ve got yourself a tricky matchup.”
Yet Another Mind’s Desire In Extended Article For [author name="The Ferrett"]The Ferrett[/author] To Edit, by Jacob Bagha
A good combo deck can work around countermagic (be it by speed, disruption, or its own countermagic) and probably doesn’t care about a creature removal spell. Its cards are independently good (or at least excessively redundant) so that it can do its job very consistently. But let’s look at the simple argument for this most recent offering to the Mind’s Desire discussion: Discard spells are bad for you, especially Duress and Cabal Therapy, but we can’t justify playing Brainstorm. In a monoblue deck (or at least the deck ought to be monoblue in the version listed; Orim’s Chant off of Mox Diamonds alone seems… awful). Snap/Cloud of Faeries doesn’t seem like it has that, since frankly the only reason you are playing either is to combine with the Medallion to ramp up mana. If it’s mana you want, why are you playing Snap and Cloud of Faeries instead of real mana?
I don’t know why this hasn’t been discussed yet, except possibly because the other decent people looking for anything other than a purely Enchantress-based combo engine (which didn’t really work well then either, and didn’t bother playing Snap most of the time) have kept their mouths shut for Worlds. Since the only reason I’m still into Magic at all involves an accidental Team Pro Tour qualification instead of going to Worlds, I think the notion should at least be let out to breathe… The notion of what a Mind’s Desire deck is more likely to look like, instead of the”Well, if everything happens perfectly I won’t get disrupted and I’ll go off” plan that the Snap/Faeries decks published so far have banked on.
There’s just one card that seems to have been neglected here, anywhere from”backup plan” to free mana when played off of Mind’s Desire to keep the engine running much as Snap or Cloud of Faeries could do… And conveniently, it’s an actual good card besides. But every time I see any of these Mind’s Desire iterations floating around, I wonder where their minds were when they played all that artifact mana without Tinker.
Streamlining a deck based off that theory is surprisingly simple, starting with”things you can’t make yourself cut” (like Brainstorm and Frantic Search in the support department) and adding the Silver Bullet section of things that might be useful while you’re going off… Or even might win the game by themselves if you have Tinker but not Desire. Which is to say, you play like a normal Tinker deck and do awful things to good people. Having a nice, streamlined deck with a proper combo-kill function (in the sideboard, where Cunning Wish gets them) and a strong plan against beatdown decks besides”Lose if I don’t go off turn 3″ also goes a long way towards solving the kill mechanism question, as some decks are relying on flipping over Black cards with Mind’s Desire instead of sticking with a relevant, castable plan that is equally effective. I keep coming back to the same point once I start trying to work from different perspectives, and I suspect that any Desire decks seen at Worlds will look more like this than the decks running around in the discussion forums of either StarCityGames or Brainburst.
If you’re just trying to build up spells cast to lead up to Mind’s Desire, only the Tinker bullets and Cunning Wishes clog up your hand with something you can’t sneak out the same turn you’re trying to pop Mind’s Desire. Even Tinker can turn three mana into three mana, breaking even and replacing itself with a Stormed copy of Mind’s Desire to continue going off… While Frantic Search will hopefully give a mana’s worth of profit from City of Traitors or the ever-painful Ancient Tomb, or at least sort through cards to find more Grim Monoliths and Voltaic Keys…
And, of course, Brainstorm is so inexpensive that a single mana can probably be spared to make another Desire copy. So except for the interaction you get by returning Cloud of Faeries to your hand to up the spell count by one for the turn, you have a reasonably equivalent starting point for ramping up to six mana while playing several spells to pump a Desire. The fast mana is still there – just in a different form than the more-situational Sapphire Medallion tricks – so the fast ramp-up will probably still work out on average, with a single source of mana acceleration pushing you over the top into”going off” range. But you also have a second plan in case if you don’t have Mind’s Desire or could quickly play the attack-or-block plan, and a toolbox of useful cards against fast damage and permission…
In short, the abridged version of a true Tinker deck’s threat cards, able to hold down opposing lands or crank out a stream of arbitrarily large creatures. Adding Cunning Wish as part of the kill mechanism gives us a lone Mystical Tutor (a.k.a.”A Wishable copy of Mind’s Desire”), which can substitute for any instant or sorcery in the deck – and therefore any artifact in the deck. This is also the reason behind the lone maindeck Upheaval as reset button against things going wrong. Both the Tinker silver bullet strategy and that lone Upheaval cost little enough space in the deck, and so shouldn’t disrupt the general combo (and might provide with more clear-cut paths to victory than Storming a bunch of times and casting Brain Freeze, as there is the ability to beat the opponent via the attack phase).
Conveniently, by adding a second overpowering card to the strategy you may very well make the Mind’s Desire deck viable against a wide range of decks… All without the Snap/Cloud of Faeries dependence on drawing situational (and generally underpowered) cards while trying to get where you really want to go. Admittedly, the matchup against Angry Hermit II is probably worse now that there are no copies of Snap in the maindeck to counteract an opposing Sutured Ghoul, but that is one very narrow matchup in the broad field of Extended. Instead, you gain the ability to combine two powerful cards into a functional deck without playing cards that would get you mocked on Team Academy just for registering. All in all, a fair trade.
Perhaps Worlds will tell us more about which (if any) version of the Mind’s Desire deck is a more likely candidate to do anything other than argue over on this here site here.
“‘Cause my lady is a peach among fruit
She’s sweet and furry on the tongue
And while I may not be getting any older
She keeps me feeling young…”
– Paul Emerson Leicht,”Unrelated Verses”