It’s kinda annoying how, now that I’ve lain down the central tenets of this exercise on Monday, the rest of these articles look rather short by comparison. Still, size is not what’s important here.
With the advent of Ravnica block, making a good multicolor deck has become a lot harder to me. Other, more fiscal writers can afford to start a decklist with Hand of Cruelty and Paladin En-Vec, knowing their manabase will support it. Without that reliance, you look for other, more readily available ways to improve your chances.
The main way you can do this is by playing with only one color. However, as I’ve been harping at Chris Romeo, this isn’t really the format for mono-colored decks; at least, not mono-colored aggro decks.
It’s been said that budget play favors the control decks. Barring for some of the real golden monsters – bad control decks buoyed up by an overwhelming quantity of insane win conditions (I’m looking at you, Exalted Angel, Decree of Justice, and Eternal Dragon) – this is true, putting aggro slightly on the outer. While I’ve been rubbishing on mono-colored aggro decks for a while now, I did spy the makings of a good mono-colored control deck – and to my surprise, it was rare-free.
Got The Blues
What it loses: Hinder. While it’s easily replaced by Cancel, that doesn’t fix every problem the deck has. I set this deck aside initially because if it didn’t get the counter wall up nice and early, it was basically dead in short order to any three-plus-power threat. In this world of two-drop Hill Giants, this is a pain in the ass, since due to deck design, you’re basically hosed depending on your opponent’s turn 2 play. This is the kind of control deck that I could believe having the classic aphorism “Make One Mistake And You Just Lose.” Though most of those mistakes come from bad mulliganing decisions, and it’s possible to make a mistake based on incomplete information.
When Chris Romeo made this deck in one of his other columns, he put in stuff like Vedalken Plotter, diluting the “core” goal of the deck for what I felt was no really good reason. Now, with Time Spiral added to the fray, we get a new counter, a really good bounce spell, and potentially, some very good win conditions.
Errant Ephemeron gets to do the job Telling Time used to do – something to do on turn 2. He’s a big meaty win condition, and he’s common. If we look up in the world, financially, we can run Draining Whelk, which I’m pretty happy with. It’s not going to hit many amazing spells, but even if it just hits a moderate, four-point spell, it’s going to be a quick clock. But still – as good as he is, if you want to keep in the cheap seats – there’s a better fatty win condition for this deck.
It’s very easy to get clouded with ambition when you have a counter like the Whelk. I imagine there’s some part of every Vintage player that dies inside when it has to use Mana Drain on a one- or two-mana spell, because it’s the only counter available. If I ever do get to counter a 9-10 point Blaze, then whooplah for me, but it won’t close the game much faster than before.
I was also not fussed with Confiscate. So that’s ten slots available. If Confiscate becomes Draining Whelk (upping the rare count to two), Hinder becomes Cancel (no change there), and Telling Time… Telling Time could become Truth or Tale – with the counter density in this deck, Tale will invariably hit one when you need it. Still, not a fan of Truth or Tale. My gut says Shadow of Doubt should go there – being a fine answer to such Amazing and Unbelievable decks as say, Dragonstorm.
Then there’s Repeal versus Wipe Away – I’m not sure. I’m going to test with the other changes first; if I find Repeal is doing me wrong (and in a world of suspend monsters, chances are I might well find Repeal too cost intensive), it’ll become Wipe Away. My gut says for now that Repeal must remain. You’d think Boomerang would do the trick, but the Split Second ability strikes me as the best option.
That would leave us with:
Got The Blues v 2.0
What’s Telling Time still doing in there? Well, there’s just nothing as good at what Telling Time does. If Peer Through Depths were still legal, I’d actually prefer to run that, because it nets you all but eight of your non-land cards. The more card selection you have, however, the better Rune Snag gets to be; and Careful Consideration, at least right now, isn’t up for consideration – it costs four and doesn’t give you much more than Telling Time.
Think Twice has a potential home, though. Again, this merits some consideration.
Overall, it’s a remarkably cheap deck to build; the Draining Whelks go for only two dollars fifty on SCG – and even though that’s expensive, Americanese money, it’s still the most expensive card in the deck. With all basics and commons for the manabase, twelve uncommons, and only two rares, this thing could pass itself off as a precon, for crying out loud.
Is its cheapness worth it, though, I wonder? I’ve had a lot of concessions from people (wimps) on turn 2 when they see a Rune Snag, or even a Remand. If I had to play an FNM and couldn’t find myself enough cards to make a “good” archetype, I daresay this is where I’d start. It’s got solid draws, and its natural desire – to slow the game down – is already facilitated by other decks. You’re generally the control, your opponents the beatdown.
As for sideboarding, I’d be adding Last Gasps and Ribbons of Night to start with; you have enough Black sources that you can afford to cast them, and they’re great answers to those Hill Giants I mentioned. Plus, I just love casting Ribbons Du Nacht.
More tomorrow, folks – no more decks, but instead, a quiet moment of what exactly we’re losing with Kamigawa.
Hugs and kisses
Talen at dodo dot com dot au