Round 1: Esper Deathblade
Round 2: Esper Deathblade
Round 3: Metalworker
Round 4: Affinity
I want to start by thanking you for making the poll feature of my last article a huge success. I love that hundreds and hundreds of you weighed in, and while it was a close call between Painter’s Servant and Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas, my heart has a soft spot for combo strategies with planeswalkers. If you want me to go deeper on the Painter deck, look no further than this article’s poll for your avenue to my ears.
Let’s talk about the decklist for a second. As constructed, the deck has a serious weakness to Swords to Plowshares. Unfortunately, we played against two Deathblade decks that beat us over and over with Swords to Plowshares, so our perception of that issue is certainly front and center when thinking about what could be improved about the deck.
A few nice things about the deck however:
- The Moxen are great, but Mox Opal is especially nice. Being able to open on artifact land + Sensei’s Divining Top + Mox Opal was super powerful, and I want to explore that more—even if it means moving away from Brainstorm for a bit.
- Lion’s Eye Diamond + Sensei’s Divining Top is unbelievably powerful. If your opponent doesn’t have Force of Will, it’s very hard to stop that combination, and it feels a lot like playing Vintage. I want to experiment with that combination for sure—Lion’s Eye Diamond feels like one of the most underplayed cards in the entire format, and I want to fix that. Sensei’s Divining Top is also no slouch, and it would be nice to see how far we can take that tag team.
- I want more ways to rebuy artifacts, and I want more artifacts to rebuy. This deck was nice, and it was cool to see how we could basically Jokulhaups with buyback our Affinity opponent (prior to, ahem, an unfortunate suicide) by using Auriok Salvagers and Engineered Explosives. I think that effect can exist in other decks and in other contexts, and it might actually be a more powerful effect than Auriok Salvagers itself. I want to work on a Vintage-inspired Goblin Welder deck that goes hard with cards like Lion’s Eye Diamond, Thirst for Knowledge, and maybe even Trash for Treasure.
- All of the planeswalkers were really weak without dedicated ways to defend them. Jace, the Mind Sculptor + Ensnaring Bridge is all we needed against Metalworker, but there are just too many incidental creatures in other decks for planeswalkers to stick around. Lesson learned: be more proactive with backup plans.
- The sideboard combo hate didn’t really come into play because we played two midrange decks, a control deck, and an aggro deck, but I liked being able to Thoughtseize our opponent. I’m not sure about Force of Will with as few blue cards as we have, but I’m willing to try adding more cantrips (Ponder, even Strategic Planning) and seeing how it fares.
- Artificer’s Intuition didn’t latently generate enough value to really shine in this deck. I wish it had. I would love suggestions on how to passively start winning with an active AI beyond “get Sensei’s Divining Top and shuffle a bunch.”
I really don’t know how much tolerance you all have for watching me play offbeat decks that may or may not work, so please Please PLEASE let me know if you’re getting sick of that sort of thing. I cut my teeth on writing primers for top tier decks, so it’s not like I don’t know how to play a Delver deck or anything—I’ve just been assuming that you all would rather watch cards like Artificer’s Intuition than cards like Spell Pierce.
This of course brings me to the poll for the article. You only get one choice this time around, so make it count!