Prismatic has proven to be an interesting field in which to venture. For a start, I found the format very deep. In normal Magic, you have sixty cards to work with; that’s not a lot of space, especially when anywhere from sixteen to twenty-four of those cards are occupied with the process of sitting around tapping for mana.
In Prismatic, your manabase weighs in typically at around 90-95 cards (you can afford to economise a little because of the gentle mulligan rules and the prevalent mana-fixing… you are running lots mana-fixing, right?), which means you have “only” a hundred and sixty cards in which to play. And oh lords, what a field it is.
I mentioned last time that there is this kernel of “Why aren’t you running these” cards. There’s a powerful argument to be made for many of them – why the hell don’t you run Electrolyze? Why aren’t you running Lightning Helix? Why no Orim’s Thunder? Why not-
And it goes on like this.
Cost is a real problem on Magic Online. Some people who started playing long ago paid four or five tickets for their Pernicious Deeds. We call these people bastards, because, for a start, the word’s not censored on Magic Online, and second, because they get to play with cards that are now worth as much as whole paycheques for your average MTGO-playing youth. Presuming McDonalds doesn’t really skimp on paying the burger flippers.
Last time I mentioned this, I pointed out the grotesque cost of Fetchlands and Duals. What was then mentioned in the forums afterwards was marginalizing a color. Now, this is something I’d been meaning to write about – I’d been playing with mono-colored Standard decks for some time now, trying to find better and better builds that didn’t rely on touching any color but one, so as to keep the overall cost down.
In Prismatic, having a manabase of entirely basic lands is a true thing of beauty. It gives you consistency, it gives you efficiency, and it lets you play some spells that are more or less completely unfair in that format. For example, Corrupt, Teferi, Cabal Coffers, Unyaro Bees (I am reaching for Green), and of course, the titan himself, Arc-Slogger.
I did some fundamental experiments in this. First thing I found is that I won a lot. Second thing I found is that people thought I was going against the spirit of the format. The first and easiest way to completely ignore color requirements is to play a redundant deck that outsizes the normal standards. If you run 400 cards, the twenty Red, Black, White, and Green cards you had to shoehorn in are pretty easy to make fit.
Another thing that came up was that aggressive strategies liked this more than control strategies. Control strategies didn’t need the help; they’re already slow, and making mana consistent in the early game isn’t nearly as valuable as having the best assortment of brutal, broken effects to achieve in the late game.
This week, we’ll be doing a quick run-through of ways to marginalise or emphasise a color in Prismatic – even to the point of being able to cut all representation of a color from your manabase.
In Five-Color Magic, Red is regarded as the dog’s color. People espouse Chartooth Cougar (who will go for a non-Red mana source) and Firebolt, because they do “enough.” Firebolt is built-in card advantage, especially in a format that wants to off cheap, two-toughness utility men and to gain some card advantage doing it. The same isn’t actually true in Magic Online. Hell – the poor quality of Red in Five-Color Magic compared to the other colors is what has most players saying “Arc Slogger who?”
See, in Magic Online, the single best Prismatic Creature – bar none, – is Arc-Slogger. There is no Contract, no Moxen, no Recall, no Skullclamp, and none of the ridiculously powerful pre-Invasion cards. Arc-Slogger is relatively cheap, going for only 1-2 tickets apiece, making him available to pretty much everyone. The only problem is supporting him. So Red isn’t actually a bad color to have as your focus. Marginalizing Red is something I’d recommend against.
That said… it’s doable, and in fact, remarkably doable.
The simplest and cheapest option for filling in those twenty cards runs as thus: first, you can cut eight slots immediately by using Cycling Cards. In an aggressive build (such as a deck that wants to lean more heavily on Green or White), you wouldn’t be happy with this, but… if you’re cutting Red, you’re not really going to be as aggressive as you could be, anyway.
Then the other slots depend on your type of deck, and cost availability. If you’re emphasising Black, you have an easy pair in Rakdos Guildmage and Riot Spikes, and a Dissension Split Card (with Pure/Simple being one of the less costly options, and Pain/Suffering being one of the less useful options). If you want to emphasise White control elements, you have Order/Chaos, Master Warcraft, and Boros Guildmage.
Green offers the best card to this group, in Giant Solifuge. While he won’t often come down hard and fast and he needs a deck reliant on Green, if your deck can support the 2GG cost, he’s one of the best ways to “burn” a red slot.
Now… if I haven’t made my case yet, burning Red is a bad idea.
If your deck opts to marginalise Red, if you do include the smattering of Five-Color lands that’s common to decks in Prismatic, you suddenly gain access to Pure/Simple, Order/Chaos, Fire/Ice, and the potential deal-breaker X spells that can close a game of Prismatic that has gotten utterly out of hand.
In turn, a mono-Red deck (taking the advice in the other colors to heart), gains access to the true deal-breakers of Prismatic. Blue is a powerful color in Prismatic, but I honest to god feel that Red offers a more powerful incentive. If your manabase is mono-Red, you can come to the gentleman’s knife-fight with a gun in your pocket – specifically, you can pack Land Destruction.
Tomorrow, we tackle the color with the most insidious lure to being mono-colored.