“Instead of playing cards that aren’t just NOT BAD AGAINST ANYTHING, the Schneider-Ho school of thinking is to play the most powerful cards in the best decks.”
-Lan Ho, from Mike Flores‘ Dojo column”Building Broken Decks Volume IV”
Reading this statement by Lan Ho really got me thinking. Rarely have I approached deckbuilding by examining the whole field of cards available, identifying the most powerful cards, and building a deck that includes as many of them as possible. I tend to latch onto a few cards that I like and try to make the best deck around them. Last year I happened to like some of the most powerful cards available – Cradle, Masticore, Plow Under, Deranged Hermit – and walked away with the States trophy for my efforts. I don’t fool myself thinking I’ll stumble into another winning configuration; this year’s going to take some work. Especially with precious little time for playtesting, sound theorizing is going to save time. When I do playtest, I want it to be with decks that are already halfway complete.
So, what are the most powerful cards in the environment right now? That’s the real question, and the key to golden goose, as it were. I’ll propose a few that, in my opinion, have the ability to rock the environment come November. Who knows, maybe by the end I’ll have a deck or two started.
I’ll include these together because they both accomplish much the same thing; they punish such a slow, mana-hungry environment. They both only have a single colored mana in their casting cost, making them extremely splashable. I would guess there’s got to be a 4- or 5-color green deck somewhere in our future and these two cards are sure to be in it.
WRATH OF GOD/ROUT
The potential of eight Wraths in such a creature-heavy and relatively slow environment is going to be huge. The key is going to be figuring out how to force your opponent to play more creatures to maximize the card advantage. Kor Haven is a no-brainer, but suffers from the problem of being legendary. You can’t really afford to play with more than one or two. Story Circle seems like a safe bet; though not as good in the multicolor environment that’s expected, it should still do the job. Even multicolor decks are probably going to have most of its threat creatures in a single color or two. Nether Spirit, enjoying its moment in the spotlight, is an effective, perpetual blocker that comes back from your Wraths and might eventually win you the game… slowly. There’s no Icy available, but Amber Prison is in 6th edition; it’s no Icy or Ring of Gix, but the environment might be slow enough to support it.
BLACK REMOVAL/BLACK CREATURES
I’ve got a weird, almost contradictory feeling about black in the new Type 2. There’s few really good black creatures to make a mono-black creature deck with, so that would indicate to me that black removal like Snuff Out is going to be really good. At the same time, with black removal being so powerful, really good black creatures become even better. Trench Wurm in particular is looking good as both a hill giant that’s immune to the many Shocks in the environment, ignores black removal, and nukes non-basics too. Other candidates include Thrashing Wumpus, Derelor, Hidden Horror, Greel, and Avatar of Woe.
FACT OR FICTION
We all know this is good. But how good is it? I mean, can you really load your deck up with ways to make this card just sick? There are potential candidates… Squee, Accumulated Knowledge, and Nether Spirit all come to mind as ways to make your opponent’s choices difficult. This isn’t just card drawing; it also fills the graveyard. Much like Survival of the Fittest, we’ve got to look at how the card affects the graveyard, in addition to filling the hand to truly break this card. Which leads to…
We are gradually starting to creep back into the realm of viable graveyard recursion. There’s some damn good recursive damage-dealers like Hammer of Bogardan and Pyre Zombie. I anticipate this to be the backbone of a nasty control deck. But there’s an even better potential in combining Fact or Fiction with Twilight’s Call. In this manner, Fact or Fiction becomes like a supercharged Buried Alive to combine with the”Living Death Lite” Call. The trick is to load up your graveyard while keeping your opponent’s graveyard comparatively light. I suspect blue bounce to be the perfect complement to this. Speaking of…
Doesn’t blue have an amazing amount of bounce available to it all of a sudden? Wash Out is an amazing card, often turning into several Time Walks on your opponent if they’ve played a bunch of permanents over the course of several turns. Boomerang, Withdraw, Hoodwink, Waterfront Bouncer, Alexi, Repulse, Recoil, Distorting Wake, Overburden, even Glowing Anemone. There’s a lot of tempo control available, you just have to add card drawing or pressure to take advantage of it. There’s a deck built on this…
On that note, I’d like to present a deck I’ve been noodling around with. It reminds me of an old Ophidian deck I’d made back when Tempest first came out and I realized the power of Tradewind Rider. It had Boomerangs, Man o’ Wars, Tradewinds, and the almighty ‘Phid. I splashed black for the then-new Lobotomy. It slowly gained board control and then never relinquished it. A friend of mine likened it to the Borg from Star Trek – slow, steady, relentless, unstoppable. Here’s the new deck:
Borg2K (a.k.a.”Annoying Legends.dec”)
4x Fact or Fiction
4x Accumulated Knowledge
4x Squee, Goblin Nabob
4x Waterfront Bouncer
3x Hidden Horror
4x Greel, Mindraker
2x Alexi, Zephyr Mage
3x Wash Out
4x Salt Marsh
4x Underground River
I built this deck to try and maximize the power of Fact or Fiction and Squee; these two cards are powerful in their own right and downright sick together. The main goal is to try and get two Squees in your hand – at that point, your spellshapers take over. Bounce plus instant-speed Mind Twist is some serious removal, and once you’ve got one or two Squees in hand, you can basically deny your opponent their whole deck, baring instants. Greel is just sick in this deck. Hidden Horror is simply large, cheap beatdown that works particularly well with Squee, though I’ll have to see if he’s consistent enough to keep. A black 4/4 creature has got to be good in the new Type 2.
Does Borg2K have the muscle to do well in the new Type 2? I think it’s got real potential; card drawing and board control are potent combinations. Feel free to send me feedback on the deck, especially if you’ve been working on anything similar. Who knows, maybe we’ll craft a new archetype in the next few weeks!