One sure road to success – in writing, in Magic, and in life – is to take any good idea you spot and make it your own. You may need to tweak it a bit – just enough to avoid charges of plagiarism or patent infringement – but it works.
This week, I’m ripping off JMS and Chris Romeo for the tuning precons idea, and Mr. Peatmoss for the title. Since those worthies have taken the good precons, I’m stuck with those from Eight Edition. On the plus side, I can do one per day for a whole week.
Here’s the rules:
Start with an 8E precon decklist.
Add extra copies of up the lands and commons in the deck to make it 60 cards.
Add cards, but use only:
1) the cards from the other precons, plus,
2) whatever I get doing one draft per precon
3 ) whatever I can accumulate by trading / selling cards from the precon
The goal is to have the deck win at least 40% of games in some format. That may sound like low expectations, but these are 8E precons, after all. You may also think that taking the leavings of a single draft is a bit limiting, but I am trying to mirror the efforts of the new player here. (Besides, this concept justifies doing five extra drafts, which sounds good to me.)
Today’s special is Lifeboost, the White Weenie precon. Here’s the starting decklist:
2 (4) Suntail Hawk C
2 (3) Tundra Wolves C
2 (4) Angelic Page C
2 (4) Crossbow Infantry C
3 Venerable Monk C
1 (4) Diving Griffin C
1 Seasoned Marshal U
2 Angel of Mercy U
1 Staunch Defenders U
1 Healing Salve C
1 Spirit Link U
1 Blessed Reversal R
1 (4) Pacifism C
1 Glorious Anthem R
1 Chastise U
1 Ivory Cup U
17 (24) Plains
There we go – 60 cards. This time simply increasing the number of good commons to four gets me to sixty cards, and I don’t have to play more Venerable Monks or Healing Salves.
Okay, there’s the deck. I’m off to the casual rooms to try it out.
In T2 games, the deck does about what you would expect. It is a slow, bad white weenie. It does not have the speed of WW with equipment, nor the power of 4 Glorious Anthems. The deck is slow: I timed out playing solitaire. It can get a win here and there in the casual rooms, since some people play slow, complex combo decks that struggle against anything with a curve, but that’s about it.
Time to draft.
I drafted 888. My rares were a Vernal Bloom, Warped Devotion and a BoP –Balance of Power, not Birds of Paradise – and I shipped them all. My first pick was a Zombify, but Black went dry. I second picked a Pacifism (rare missing, nothing better in the pack) and wound up with a mediocre R.W deck. For removal, I had the Pacifism, plus Shock, Guerrilla Tactics, Lightning Blast and an Anaba Shaman. I also nabbed a Wall of Spears and Wall of Swords, but my creature base was nothing special. Goblin Raider, 2 Canyon Wildcats, Seasoned Marshal, Samite Healer, Lightning Elemental, Lesser Gargadon, Ridgeback, Patagia Golem, Hill Giant. My utility was a Shatter and a Demystify.
Not a draft to be proud of. I wasted a couple picks in the middle of some packs on stuff like Urza’s Armor (because I haven’t bought the blue precon yet, and that is one of the rares), and The deck was so sparse I had to play two Lava Axes and Redeem.
Game one I was faster, and Seasoned Marshal tricks and spot removal let me get him low on life, then I cast Panic Attack and swung for the win. Game two he dropped a CoP Red, then CoP White, and while I got him low on life with Patagia Golem, he eventually drew an Aven Flock to stop the Golem. We both then drew and sat, and I conceded with 5 cards left in my deck. By that time, even if I drew Demystify, I could not kill him before decking myself.
Game three we both dropped Canyon Wildcats on turn two. He had Rain of Blades early, and Pyroclasm late, but I had some Redeem tricks and some removal of my own. Eventually a Lightning Elemental got through a couple times, then Lava Axe sealed the deal.
Round two my opponent opened with Grizzly Bears, 2 Trained Armadons, Aven Fisher, Glutinous Zombie, Moss Monster. I had Wall of Swords, Seasoned Marshall, Anaba Shaman, and both Redeem and Holy Day to slow him down. I got to the point where I could have won if I topdecked Lava Axe, but I drew another plains. Game two I kept a three land hand, and died turn 6 with the same three lands, and Lightning Blast, Hill Giant, Wall of Swords, Anaba Shaman and so forth in hand.
Pretty marginal draft, and I was lucky to win 2 packs. More importantly for this purpose, I did not get anything useful for pimping my precons. Since I only got about 10 playable white cards in the draft, I’m going to build for a cheap format here, Peasant Magic.
Peasant Magic allows a maximum of 5 uncommons and no rares. I will also trade away the Blessed Breath for commons. (Okay, in reality, I will look at the purchase prices of the various cards on MTGO and substitute accordingly. I’m not going to trade for cards I already own. Blessed Breath = $0.75. Bonesplitter = $0.15, Razor Golems = $0.05.) (Note: I have had some problem finding Bonesplitters, and I don’t have the time to keep hunting. I have one, the deck should have four.)
When I started this process, I decided that I could only use Peasant Magic once, as an ace in the hole. I had really hoped to save Peasant Magic for a later precon. It’s the easiest format to get into with marginal cards, because the no-rares rules means the decks are (relatively) cheap. That does not mean that the format is not competitive – even online peasant has some very serious competitors with highly tuned decks – but I can get into it with very little upfront investment. Moreover, with Glorious Anthems alone listing at $5.00, I could probably trade the Anthem straight up for a competitive Peasant deck, but that’s hardly pimping a precon.
I am also going to include a couple cards (Slith Ascendant and Blinding Beam) taken in another draft that I will feature later in this series. I am also replacing the Ivory Cup with an Angel’s Feather (14th pick, honest.) I substituted the Feather for the Ivory Cup because Cup is just unplayable, but I wanted to try to keep the theme. Chastise is unquestionably a better card.
I so want to change this to Nagao and the Seven Samurai, but “pimping a precon” by dumping everything but the lands seems a little excessive.
Mono White Peasant:
4 Suntail Hawk
4 Tundra Wolves
4 Angelic Page
3 Crossbow Infantry
1 Samite Healer
1 Kabuto Moth
4 Diving Griffin
1 Slith Ascendant
2 Seasoned Marshal
1 Angel of Mercy
4 Razor Golem
1 Bonesplitter (all I could get)
1 Vulshok Morningstar
1 Angel’s Feather
1 Blinding Beam
And I’m off to the PDC room for some beats.
And I’m back. I forgot that PDC is a commons only format. I took this deck to the casual rooms and asked for Peasant magic games. I probably had the game request up for an hour or more at various times, and the only takers were people who only paid attention to the Standard label. I lost to Burning Bridges and a Plow Under deck.
Since I could not get Peasant games, I played a couple standard games. Not smart, since I took out the Glorious Anthem and better uncommons, but I wanted to play something.
Game 1: MAwesome14: ninjas.
His deck is okay, but I got out a turn one flier, turn two Crossbow Infantry, turn three Diving Griffin, turn four double Razor Golem. Vigilance is some good against a Ninja deck. He never got anything through.
Game 2: Dark Urza: R/G burn
I curved out quickly, and started beating him down. Then he played a Pyrotechnics killing four of my 1/1s. He also had a couple Shock Troops and a Nantuko Disciple, and, eventually, Two-Headed Dragon. I beat him to 6, but could not recover from the big firestorm.
Game 3: Phalberg: Rats.
He had some fast rats, but Angelic Page meant the Tundra Wolves got through. Unfortunately, he also had Shortfang and a Sundroplet. He destroyed my hand, and I lost the race.
Enough T2 – peasant magic decks are not designed to play Standard, even in the casual room.
I rebuilt the deck for PDC – all commons. Here’s what I played. A few notes: Redeem left for the more aggressive Hundred-Talon Strike. Blinding Beam is, well, Blinding Beam.
4 Suntail Hawk
3 Lantern Kami
3 Tundra Wolves
4 Angelic Page
3 Crossbow Infantry
1 Kabuto Moth
1 Master Decoy
4 Diving Griffin
4 Razor Golem
1 Vulshok Morningstar
3 Hundred Talon Strike
2 Blinding Beam
I included the extra Infantry in the sideboard, plus 2 Demystify, Blessed Breath, etc. PDC players generally favor matches. It can also take a bit longer to get games, since there are typically only a few players in the room, and they are often already playing. Nice folks, though.
Match 1: SpikeBoyM: 5 color Mantas
He opens a little slowly, but drops some lands and a Pentad Prism. I curve out with a Lantern Kami and Angelic Page. He types “My next turn will be unfair,” then drops Pentad Prism #2 and a 5/5 Skyreach Manta. I simply drop a land, pacify his Manta and continue the beats. He has a Terminate, but I have more creatures and he soon dies.
Game two he drops more creatures, including Trinket Mage (fetching artifact lands) Gaea’s Skyfolk and Wild Mongrel, plus a Deep Analysis and a Terminate, but my hoard of weenies is chipping away at his life total and Blinding Beam seals the deal.
Match 2: BigSlick90: Soldiers
My notes are sparse. I win game one when I curve out and Blinding Beam for the win. I lose game two when I draw 10 lands. He has a bunch of soldiers, including several Daru Lancers (the 3/4 first striking Morph guys), so I can’t force enough damage through. He has to leave before game 3, which makes it a draw, I guess.
Game & Match 3: CoolHandLuke: Pseudoaffinity
I forgot to change from game to match, so my first challenge is just one game. I curve out and he gets stuck on one land. It’s over fast. I agree to a rematch, since the last game wasn’t much of a game. Game one I curve out, nail a Spire Golem with a Pacifism (but since he has an Aether Spellbomb on the table, it becomes a sorcery speed, single creature Falter) and eventually Blinding Beam for the win. Game two I start a little slowly and he drops Spire Golems and Myr Enforcers. I slaughter a Myr Enforcer with Razor Golem plus Hundred Talon Strike, but my Master Decoys, Crossbow Archers and Pacifisms are being stopped by Neurok Stealthsuit being equipped in response. Both games two and three are very long and complex, and I come close in several cases, but he wins them. A big part of that was Rush of Knowledge with Myr Enforcer in play – at one point, I noticed that I had drawn 14 cards, and he had drawn 41. Nice symmetry, but that’s the only good thing about it.
Match 4: CoolHandLuke: W/B Zombies.
I make a Lantern Kami, he makes a Festering Zombie. I drop a Bonesplitter, equip and beat. I drop Diving Griffin, he drops Nantuko Husk. I am smart enough to move the Bonesplitter before attacking, then make a Razor Golem. He is almost dead, but drops a blocker, then another.
Me: “tks for dropping creature #2.”
I Blinding Beam for the win.
Game two is closer, and I have it in hand, then get cocky and don’t keep Blinding Beam mana up. He has a couple Nantuko Husks and a Gravedigger, and drops Vengeful Dead. He does 9 damage on his last attack. I go to one. He is also at one – but I have 3 fliers and he has no blockers. Close, when it should have been a blowout.
It’s late, I have to crash.
I’m not sure the deck is really that good in PDC, but it looks worth tweaking some more. Blinding Beam is great – I’ll have to get another. It needs four Bonesplitters. Kabuto Moth is also very solid, but after several Champions leagues and drafts, I still have just one (and, no, I don’t take rares over the Moth, unless they are dragons or Meloku.) I’ll have to hunt around.
Crossbow Archer is marginal. Maybe sideboard. Angelic Page, however, is great – especially with Tundra Wolves and Razor Golems. Diving Griffin is also quite good, since Vigilance is tech.
Razor Golems have been amazing.
Since PDC is generally played as extended, I need to add some commons. The most likely first steps would be Noble Templars (fat butts, vigilance, plainscycling and cheap to buy) and Disenchants for the sideboard. Some form of card drawing would also be nice – too bad Mask of Memory is an uncommon. Leonin Bola could also be an idea, or Stasis Coccoon to deal with artifacts. Finally, circles of protection are commons in earlier sets, so they could also find sideboard slots.
I want to play more, but this has to go to Knut. Nonetheless, I’ll be playing more PDC, and this deck will probably be one I’ll grab.
For a first attempt, this went pretty well. Tomorrow I’ll see what I can do with Expulsion.