Talking In My Sleep: We Are Not A-Mused

I will freely admit I simply threw a Lavaborn Muse deck together and expected it to do hideously poorly. The thing is… The deck sort of surprised me. Lavaborn Muse did its job a lot better than I thought it would. Muse range is a great place to put your opponent. So with that in mind, I playtested the other four Muses to see how they did…

Each and every time a new set comes out, it will usually include what the designers of Magic like to refer to as”Cycles.” Cycles are sets of five, ten, or more cards that have representatives in each color. Sometimes cycles occur based on land – for example, the legendary lands from Urza’s Saga – sometimes they’re enchantments, like the disorders from Torment, and sometimes they’re based on mechanics, like Slivers or madness.

Cycles are generally where some of the best cards show up. It may simply be a matter of design style or the fact that cycles generally push the mechanics of a set. Wild Mongrel, Compulsion, Psychatog, Arrogant Wurm – these are all parts of cycles, to name recent cards of note. So when a new cycle comes out, I always end up looking through the spoiler for those cycles. In Legions, cycles of note include the Gempalms, Slivers and of course, the Muses.

The Muse cycle is an attempt to make the all creature set somewhat less”creaturefest” by grafting revised versions of old enchantments or artifacts onto willing and able creature frames. Each color gets a muse, and each muse presents a powerful effect! These are really exciting times, these days where we spring open boxes of Legions and are beholden to a new era of Magic gaming! Yes, Legions is truly the next …

Oh, whatever. Sarcasm only gets a man so far; the rest he has to go by walking. Let’s go.

One of the big things I don’t like here, though, is that a lot of the cards just come off as straight-up reprints of old ideas. The muses are generally all old ideas, recycled, but they aren’t quite as bad as Keeper of the Nine Gales in that they’re simply watered-down reprints. They’re at least sometimes somewhat new or adjusted.

First, Initial Impressions :

Windborn Muse

Q : When was Propaganda White?

A : When was Brainwash Blue?

As many people will note, the only problem with Propaganda is that it’s not going to do anything against a creatureless or creature light deck. If your opponent plans on doing nothing more than reanimating a singular fatty or smacking you with a Mystic Enforcer, Propaganda has the amazing effect of costing your opponent a payment of two per turn. Muse gets to trump Propaganda on that affair, since at least the Muse can attack and block like any able-bodied creature can.

The problem with Muse, then, is that the Windborn can not survive a Wrath of God. She’s not going to stay around after the big G slams down his abuse and sends the rest of the crew packing. Therefore, she moves almost instinctively out of decks which base their strategies on non-creature control, and into decks which use a lot of creatures and don’t plan on Wrathing. This means she ends up lending herself to White control or aggro decks that don’t use Wrath of God, which would be generally better at slowing your opponent down.

She does have an advantage that she’s only one symbol, not two.

W/G Accelerated Beats (or beasts, as it may be) decks that can use the time she buys to set up a superior board position against other Aggro-decks.

W/U Punisher, where the time bought will run your opponent right into being Opposition-locked.

W/U/G Ops, where the mana denial of Opposition combines with her to make your opponent unable to attack.

W/B Braids, where the loss of permanents leads your opponent into being land-light and therefore unable to attack.

W/b clerics, where your opponent’s inability to put up a solid offensive results in any attacks being thoroughly absorbed into the clerical damage prevention shields.

Of these, W/G beasts and W/b clerics are the only ones which really have any hopes of making it into block.

Dreamborn Muse

The effect immediately catches your eye – because unlike any of the others, Dreamborn Muse is completely symmetrical. In this situation, however, the effect is made dangerous by her ability to benefit you, while punishing your opponent – but the effect hardly punishes your opponent at all. Millstone was a likeable win condition because players simply do not maindeck large amount of artifact kill – and at two mana, it could sometimes slip under your opponent’s counter-wall. Dreamborn Muse isn’t cheap, and it isn’t all that durable.

However this doesn’t mean the card is utterly hopeless. Of the removal out there in standard, she’s killable by Shock, Volcanic Hammer, Chainer’s Edict, and Wrath. Most, but not all. She’ll never be nailed by Vengeful Dreams, and few decks are going to Wrath to remove a single 2/2 from the board. Smother can’t hit her, which puts her above Keeper of the Nine Gales in my book, and being bounced isn’t that big of a deal to creature which has no interests regarding attacking or blocking unless her effect is going to immediately kill them. Which, for her, will be rare.

Unfortunately for this pretty little Muse, she doesn’t fit into a lot of decks. There is, of course…

G/U flashback/threshold, but here she’s a 2/2 flier. Rapidly getting you threshold may simply not be worth the cost of mana to activate that threshold.

W/U Millstone, but White/Blue needs to be paired with Green and then everything just starts to look bad…

U/B Haunting Echoes/Traumatize, where she acts as a cheaper Traumatize and presents an interesting way to power up your burst spells and get”free” deep analysis. It’s really too bad Brainstorm isn’t in Standard, as her ability would make brainstorm incredibly efficient.

Graveborn Muse

Traditionally Black, for whatever reason, has gotten a lot of the best global enchantments out there. Look at the line-up of cards that black has spawned: The Abyss, Megrim, Necropotence, Yawgmoth’s Bargain, Sarcomancy, Phyrexian Arena, Yawgmoth’s Agenda, Zombie Infestation, Recurring Nightmare, and Pestilence. That’s a pretty solid line-up.

A lot of these cards have come back as creatures, or were initially spawned as creatures to begin with. It only makes sense for Black to get a damn solid Muse, then.

Graveborn is a lot trickier than other Muses, since its effects can be extremely detrimental given the wrong circumstances. Drawing a lot of cards is a good thing, but losing a lot of life sure as hell isn’t. Because of the need to commit both fairly hard to black, and to have access to zombies, Graveborn Muse is in my mind most effective with black as your primary color with only a light splash. This is currently a comfortable position for Black decks, as they can happily play Tainted lands to get them their double color needs without suffering pain or much trouble. For these reason, I envision a fair number of decks based around the Muse, but they all seem to be general variants.

Mono Black Aggro (MBA) – Using mostly a heavy commitment to creatures with sparse removal and perhaps a source of mass evasion (Dirge of Dread?), this deck would use the Muse to power it up in the late game where it might otherwise run low on cards.

B/g Aggro – Utilising much the same system but adding Roar of the Wurm, Arrogant Wurm, and Basking Rootwalla to be triggered off various madness activators within the deck. Since all of those cards are splashable and cheap, it doesn’t like that bad an idea at all.

Mono black or B/r Aggro control – Using cheap spells like Edict, Innocent Blood, Smother, Duress, Shock, Firebolt, or whatever, you’d ideally keep the board clear while beating your opponent down with something quick, such as a Nantuko Shade or just a horde of zombies. The red version would probably make good use of the red madness cards and Zombie Infestation, as well as Anger.

Monoblack control – Simply put, a replacement for Phyrexian Arena that can attack, block, and be disposed of on a whim (via Blood, Mutilate, whatever). In that sense, the one additional mana cost may not be such a bad exchange.

Lavaborn Muse

This is my personal favorite Muse, simply because of all the Muses she is the one I happen to enjoy the artwork and mechanics of the most. Certainly Windborn and Graveborn are likely stronger cards, but there’s a certain alluring charm of a flaming redhead adorned in white with lava flowing all ’round. Or maybe I’m just weird.

Lavaborn, unfortunately, demands a very specific style of deck to be utilized properly. Since the card is dependent on your opponent being in a certain condition, your deck type must be tailored around pushing your opponent into that position. However, as this sort of design is both fairly likely and reasonable fitting in B/R, that doesn’t make this Muse bad – just very selective. She also serves as a sideboard card against other aggro decks, dropped when they’re low on cards and putting them in a”cast and take damage or save cards and take damage” bind. Bear in mind that 3/3s for 3R aren’t utterly horrible or really, even that bad at all. It’s just a neutral card, given the power of its ability, it seems priced competitively.

Lavaborn, as I said, fits into B/R aggro decks much like the one I outlined above.

Seedborn Muse

Seedborn Muse is one of those cards that gets you to go”Wow” and then, shortly afterwards, wonder what you’re excited over. There is definitely a very powerful effect bundled with this card – but in this day and age, you’d be hard-pressed to figure out just what you’re supposed to do with it.

Do we create a bizarre control deck, based around Whipcorder, Static Orb and two muses? Do we slide it into Opposition? Use it to untap our permanents so our blue control deck can counter freely and use card drawing as it sees fit?

Well, do we? Are any of these actually good ideas?

The Opposition deck is the first and perhaps most obvious. When coupled with Static Orb, the orb becomes completely one-sided, affecting you only in weird and perhaps confusing ways. When coupled with Opposition, it makes all your creatures do double duty, which includes the muse itself. And with Squirrel Nest, it gets you, uh, a lot of squirrels.

Great. But does that actually matter? Frank Canu’s Opposition deck didn’t bother with countermagic, the only two counterspells in his sideboard being the ultra-cheap Envelop. This means the combinations you get are going to be of those four and that’s it. Does Static Orb belong in the maindeck when people have kept it out for so long? Is a fountain of squirrels really all that great?

So we have the following archetypes to stuff Seedborn Muse into:

A weird and unwieldy G/W lock deck that benefits from the synergy of the Muses/Orb

G/U/x Opposition decks, of various sorts

Some strange deck based around casting instants during your opponent’s turn or card drawing or something I don’t know. This one is not an idea I’m going to invest effort into, but I’m pretty sure we’ll eventually see something of the sort like that. Or maybe not.

The Decks

Lavaborn Muse

For whatever reason the first deck that came to mind while writing this article was centered around Lavaborn Muse. As I said, she’s my favorite Muse, based probably on looks alone. Also, people had the nerve to badmouth the card, which doesn’t do well in my mind either.

This is the deck, creatively named as ever;

//NAME: Burn-Up Muse

4 Duress

3 Blackmail

4 Firebolt

4 Nantuko Shade

3 Withered Wretch

3 Chainer’s Edict

3 Volcanic Hammer

4 Smother

4 Hollow Specter

3 Lavaborn Muse

2 Bane of the Living

4 Bloodstained Mire

4 Sulfurous Springs

5 Mountain

10 Swamp

SB: 4 Braids, Cabal Minion

SB: 3 Engineered Plague

SB: 2 Eastern Paladin

SB: 2 Skeletal Scrying

SB: 2 Haunting Echoes

SB: 1 Bane of the Living

SB: 1 Withered Wretch

Okay, perhaps it’s not very creatively named.

The emphasis of the deck is to deplete your opponent’s hand by forcing him to commit resources to the board. Killing his creatures, forcing him to use counterspells, or simply going right for the hand, the deck is pretty solid in its direction; it does its job well. The card choices are all generally solid, pardoning perhaps Hollow Specter.

Nantuko Shade really shines here, though. He is either savagely ripping into an opponent whose blockers have been forcibly escorted off the premises, beating up a control player, or simply chewing through blockers. Normally that doesn’t sound too great – but remember, you want your opponent to keep committing cards to the board. As he does, he will get into Muse range. Hollow Specter is also good at forcing them towards Muse range, although he often has the wonderful effect of simply getting killed by a stray Smother or Firebolt. He doesn’t like cards which reside in the deck.

Bane of the Living has shown himself to be pretty damn solid. It’s a Mutilate sometimes (not quite a Wrath; sorry) and other times it’s an Infest that leaves a 4/3 body. The ability to dictate the effect based on the situation has proven to be very nice. Sometimes he’s just 4/3 for four, which isn’t bad for Black. You may draw obvious parallels between the Bane and the other 4/3 for four in black: Mindslicer. No, I haven’t even thought about Mindslicer in this deck. And while it may seem to have synergy, its effects are often difficult to control which is what has kept Mindslicer out of a lot of decks since Odyssey came out. Bane has been moving up my list of favorite Legions cards for the work it’s done within this deck, and in decks I have tested against.

What is Muse range? That’s when your opponent drops his hand well below three cards. It may not, to your mind, seem like a”big deal” to drop to one card. After all, that’s two draw phases and you’re back out of it, right? Actually, most people don’t make it out of Muse range alive. If the Muse becomes active and your opponent can not immediately remove it, he’s in for a world of hurt. You’re sitting in a situation where the Muse player can keep dropping stuff on the board, while your hand size is effectively three cards, reduced in the hopes of staving off Muse damage. It’s a good position for an aggressive player to be in, and in a lot of ways I’d liken Lavaborn Muse to a very funky Cursed Scroll.

The deck tends to win in situations where it can keep the opponent from being able to kill it too fast. You don’t have a lot of ways to deal with 6/6 Wurms, but you do have generally the best ways. Sometimes you’ll get outmuscled and outmatched, but other times the removal will flow properly, the Shade/Specters will beat down properly, and the Muse will show up, deal six or nine points of damage, and seal the game. That’s pretty good stuff for a card that a lot of people wrote off as unplayable.

One serious weakness the deck has is Mono-black Control. You can deal with Astral Slide engine decks with Echoes, and you don’t commit a lot to the board so Wrath effects don’t hurt you so much … But MBC tends to simply have the upper hand on this deck at all times. After boarding the situation improves, as you take out useful removal and add Braids. But honestly, it’s not good times. Also, remember to Withered Wretch yourself. Getting Echoes’d out is simply embarrassing.

The other problem is simply Compost. You can not force out your opponent’s hand when he’s drawing so far ahead of you. The solutions in the sideboard are to add in removal that doesn’t require you throwing cards in the graveyard, which would be the Paladin and the Engineered Plagues (those are good anyways). I’ll admit I sound exactly like Alex Shvartsman did in this article – and yup, I’ve read it. It’s hard not to sum it up in exactly the same way he did, though, so I’ll just say I stole it and no one will hate me.

Well, for that, anyways…

Against control decks, side out useless removal and side in the two beaters in the board and side in whatever is useful in the board. Sometimes that will only manage to be the Withered Wretch and the Bane of the Living, but Skeletal Scrying can be pretty nice as well.

Verdict: I will freely admit I simply threw this deck together and expected it to do hideously poorly. The thing is… The deck sort of surprised me. Lavaborn Muse did its job a lot better than I thought it would. Muse range is a great place to put your opponent. The match up against MBC though; hoboy, bad times.

There is likely the kernel of a good deck hidden within this one. It’s kind of sad that the deck loses to the same cards that Wizards was hoping would both bolster black and keep black under control. Blah. I’ll keep testing it, one day I will find an answer to Compost.

Like the 8th rotation.

Dreamborn Muse

And our next deck will probably not go down in the annals of history. Obviously, when you take a card like Dreamborn Muse and decide you’re going to build a deck around it, you’re probably not starting from the best point. C’mon now. I’m not playing casual here. This isn’t Slivers. I know Slivers are fun.

Dreamborn Muse isn’t fun.

You’re sitting there, playing the game, wondering why is this card milling me more than my opponent?

It’s just that good. Really. I think the best possible thing to do with this card is construct a drinking game around it. Say, each time a card is milled, take a shot. You’ll be roaring drunk and playing with a bad deck, but the best part of that is you just won’t care anymore. Also, you won’t remember playing with this deck, which is a benefit I didn’t have during playtesting.

//NAME: Sin against Sanity

1 Words of Waste

2 Millstone

3 Deep Analysis

3 Compulsion

4 Chainer’s Edict

4 Aether Burst

4 Smother

4 Circular Logic

4 Counterspell

3 Haunting Echoes

3 Dreamborn Muse

7 Swamp

8 Island

4 Underground River

4 Polluted Delta

2 Darkwater Catacombs

There’s a certain point during deck design where you start to wonder if perhaps, you need to stop making the deck you’re building. For me, this point was when I first looked at the spoiler, reading Dreamborn Muse. I thought, wow, this is like Millstone only without any of the good parts of millstone and most of the bad. Actually, Dreamborn Muse invents a whole new sort of bad.

Certainly there have been such inventions before to this card – they’re known as bad cards. I will not disagree that, in fact, there are much worse cards printed. In fact, there are worse cards printed in Legions. But that’s hardly an accomplishment; Legions will go down in a long list of sets which simply didn’t have what it takes to be looked upon fondly.

However Dreamborn Muse heralds in a new age of Bad cards. If Bad Cards were a fleet of starships, Dreamborn Muse would be the Flagship, the USS Suck. If it was a boat, it would be the Titanic-Arse. If it was an internet writer, it would write mad dog rants. I really can’t explain the damage to my sanity that playing this deck has managed to do to me. Frankly, I was in fact winning the first game I tested out with it. I thought to myself: My God, perhaps it does work! I had complete control of the board, my opponent’s creatures slaughter, my hand with three counterspells in it, and to top it off, an Edict in my graveyard in case anything slipped through. This was actually an earlier, worse build, but how it managed to be worse I’m not totally sure.

You’ll pardon me if the smacking my head on the keyboard has caused some level of memory loss. Let’s just say that a version of this deck included Trade Secrets to”Fill up your opponents hand!”

Anyways, during this fateful, premier game, I was as I said winning. I had a pair of Dreamborn Muses on the board and I was thinking to myself, my God, I might just pull this out. No.

I decked myself.

This isn’t like losing to Pacified Grinning Demon damage, or anything else. This is just losing because, by God, Dreamborn Muse sucks. As I drew my last card, my opponent typed out a ‘lol’ and then apologized for”beating” me like that.

Good going, Wizards. You managed to give me a card that Traumatize seems to be better than. I should probably just put Guiltfeeder in this deck, or something, God I don’t know anymore. I feel like stabbing myself in the hand more just to remind myself I’m still alive and haven’t been damned to Hell where I must playtest”Dreamborn Muse.dec” anymore. I’d ask that someone kill me, but sadly I’ll go screaming now. I have seen Hell, and it’s this deck.

Just remember that when you’re having pre-marital sex or selling smokes to underage children: Hell has a new weapon to torment you with.

Verdict : Actually, the deck isn’t that bad. It did actually manage to win a game. I Deep Analyzed my opponent out after we had both Haunting Echoed each other. I think there might, one day, be some sort of combo possible with this card. It might end up in a deck, I don’t know. However, while this deck can certainly win games, I think there’s better win conditions to put in a U/B control deck.

Windborn Muse

This is an Opposition deck. I’m not going to talk about the Opposition deck, I just thought I’d throw one out for people to chew on. I’ve tested it, and I’m quite fond of it, but I’m not so sure I really appreciate the concept of taking out the black for a handful of white cards.

//NAME: Contest of the Tempests

4 Wild Mongrel

3 Windborn Muse

2 Living Wish

3 Call of the Herd

2 Roar of the Wurm

3 Deep Analysis

2 Quiet Speculation

4 Circular Logic

3 Llanowar Elves

4 Birds of Paradise

4 Opposition

4 Squirrel Nest

1 Brushland

1 Adarkar Wastes

1 Plains

3 City of Brass

6 Forest

5 Island

2 Windswept Heath

3 Flooded Strand

SB: 1 Roar of the Wurm

SB: 2 Static Orb

SB: 1 Nullmage Advocate

SB: 2 Disenchant

SB: 2 Envelop

SB: 3 Ray of Revelation

SB: 1 Seedborn Muse

SB: 1 Caller of the Claw

SB: 1 Ancestor’s Chosen

SB: 1 Mirari’s Wake

Actually, I’ll talk about it a little. I rather like this deck, as I said. The Black is better, generally, against control strategies. I’ve rarely if ever wanted to pull off a Duress against U/G or Sligh, although you might call me crazy in that I dislike risking the”wurm dump” or managing to pull an absolute nothing against Sligh.

The White seems to give you a little better against creature strategies. Sure, Smother is nice; so is locking down your opponent’s ability to attack completely and utterly. He has to kill the Muse, which for some decks can be quite difficult. Others, not so. You’ll notice Seedborn Muse in the sideboard as a Wish target. I’ve found the card so-so in Opps deck. I like the pairing of the two Muses, but didn’t want to put two of them in together. Sometimes they are not very good cards. That especially applies to Seedborn Muse, who occasionally performs a”Top deck into a vanilla 2/4 hurray” victory dance for me.

Verdict: Actually in the games I played, the Windborn Muse/Opposition deck turned out to be quite charming. The mana base proved to flow quite nicely and the various strategies worked together nicely. It’s funny that against some opponents, it was the Muse’s flying that won me games. Odd, eh?

Anyways I was initially interested in, as I said about, a Braids plus Windborn Muse deck. The immediate thought is, sadly, that relying on two four-mana creatures isn’t the single greatest strategy in the world. It can be done, but the results aren’t exactly tempo-pounding, palm-blistering action, if you follow my meaning.

Here’s the deck:

//NAME: Illuminated Pain

4 Withered Wretch

4 Nantuko Shade

2 Cabal Therapy

3 Oversold Cemetery

4 Smother

2 Shambling Swarm

3 Cabal Archon

4 Rotlung Reanimator

4 Duress

3 Spurnmage Advocate

3 Windborn Muse

5 Plains

4 Tainted Field

15 Swamp

SB: 2 Circle of Protection: Green

SB: 3 Reprisal

SB: 4 Braids, Cabal Minion

SB: 3 Disenchant

SB: 3 Engineered Plague

The deck is clearly the victim of an identity crisis in action. It’s was not only a Muse deck, but a cleric deck, a Braids deck, and a Cemetery deck all at once. Whoa. Talk about your janky internal synergies.

Many of the components work together quite nicely, but the deck’s immediate problem was simply that Braids is so bad against some decks, it hurts. I could list off a number of profanities I uttered while drawing the card, but I guess it really comes down to the fact the Ferrett will edit that out.

Originally Braids was in the maindeck, but she’s not good enough to make the cut. The disruption she lays down makes some decks, like U/G or Sligh, blink – and then, maybe if I’m lucky, let off some flatulence. She’s just not very good, Windborn Muse or not. The Muse, on the other hand, proved to be generally all right, slowing my opponent’s down and making them play at my speed. So Braids went out and a couple of cards were added; namely, Therapy and Shambling Swarm.

The Spurnmage Advocate and Withered Wretch combo is obscene and hideous in action. It is simply a very cruel thing to do to your opponent, especially if your opponent is playing U/G and unable to remove either creature from play. Spurnmage is nasty enough by itself, but once you make it an out-and-out bad situation, some decks simply shut down their offense and wait for you to kill them. It’s not always that good – Sligh kept poking my Spurnmages off the table – but when my opponent couldn’t get rid of them, they performed well enough. Wretch is fine as a bear and a foil to graveyard strategies; I have developed a deep affection for both these cards.

The serious flaw here is that the deck has a tendency to lock up the ground and then stare at the opponent while doing a handful of damage very, very slowly with the Muse or recursive Archon kamikaze beatings. The slow victories suit fighting against some decks that can’t expand their board position out of the problem – but on the other hand, it’s pretty damn bad when your opponent is slowly burning you out or might top deck a Haunting Echoes and shut you down.

Verdict: This deck has multi-personality disorder. Sure, it’s got synergy out the wazoo, but there’s only so much deck synergy can do for you. I think I need to hammer down whether or not it should be control or aggro deck, and then move its designs in the direction of one or the other. I’ll write about the resulting deck, assuming it’s any good. The current version occasionally makes U/G weep or pulls off God hands, but frankly it’s not quite all there. Something is missing or the disorder is keeping the deck down.

Graveborn Muse

This is the most hyped of the Muses, although not by a large margin. Why is Graveborn Muse so hyped? Well, certainly any card which has a resemblance to Necropotence will catch the eye of players. The Skull is one of the most powerful cards ever printed in Magic, and therefore to one’s mind this makes it a clearly outstanding card. To me, of course, watered down reprints have never quite held the joy of something new and wonderful, but I’m not you.

The problem with writing an article about Graveborn Muse is that, unlike Lavaborn or Dreamborn, you will see about half a million articles on this card as a centerpiece of the deck. In fact, not only will you see half a million of them, most of them will be really bad and totally sour your acceptance of the card. With this in mind Graveborn Muse, which should probably receive tons of testing, is given the least of all testing. I present to you but a single, simple deck.

//NAME: Burning Graves

4 Nantuko Shade

4 Graveborn Muse

2 Anger

2 Undead Gladiator

3 Withered Wretch

3 Zombie Infestation

4 Putrid Imp

3 Firebolt

4 Fiery Temper

4 Violent Eruption

4 Chainer’s Edict

4 Sulfurous Springs

2 Shadowblood Ridge

7 Swamp

6 Mountain

4 Bloodstained Mire

No sideboard was ever developed. This is more of an aggro-control deck than its contents will let on, as I’ve found it rarely fills the board up with aggressive dudes. It has many strategies to garner card advantage, and will generally force most decks into a topdecking mode… Unless they’re playing control, at which point it’s all right but nothing special.

As I said, I don’t really feel the need to talk about this Muse; everyone else will, so who cares? The one thing I’d like to note, though, is that Putrid Imp has been an absolute all-star in this deck. While many of the cards have been sub-optimal (Anger, Gladiator) or just outright bad (Zombie Infestation, oi! Is it terrible without the Muse!), the Pimp was quite charming for a one-drop, often doing lots of damage, flying in for a few more points, and triggering madness spells quite effectively. Due to the nature of the deck, he consistently got his threshold pump, which was a nice touch. Bear in mind he’s a Zombie as well, so he functioned perfectly in all respects within the deck.

I found this deck amusing. I rarely got the Muse out, just apprentice shuffler I guess, but the rest of the deck performed alright. I think the Anger, Gladiator and/or Infestations should go out, and smother should be added, as well as perhaps Duress/Cabal Therapy. However, eventually you’re going to end up with something like this with Red, which definitely has it’s merits as well. Frankly, that’s the only good article I’ve read about Graveborn Muse so far.

Verdict: I like the card, and I like the deck, but I don’t know if it’s all it’s hyped up to be. There’s a lot of freedom to design and build, though, so I’m sure something interesting will crop up. Perhaps G/B Madness Muse? Heh.

Seedborn Muse

Of all cards, this muse is the one with the least obvious applications outside of”going into Opposition.” Within Opposition-based decks, it gives you some additional freedom – but newer builds operate less around using blue spells during your opponent’s turn and more around using black to control them. With black as the primary control color, the traditional blue elements of using spells during your opponent’s turn do not necessarily require usage of the Muse.

I will admit that successfully using this Muse leads to decks which, in all honesty, did not function in any sort of sense. The problem was that the difference between having the Muse on the table and not having it was such a paradigm shift that the cards I was trying to use were, frankly, performing utterly horrible without the Muse around.

Thus, I was returned to blue with little interest in using the other colors. Muse Slide didn’t look good (it sounds more fun on paper) and R/G control (heh) just wasn’t that great. It sounds ridiculous – but once planned out, R/G control was so hilariously insane I may one day return to it. But not right now.

Hence, I produced the following initial list:

//NAME: Seedborn Control

1 Plains

8 Forest

10 Island

3 Grand Coliseum

1 Lonely Sandbar

2 Tranquil Thicket

3 Seedborn Muse

2 Genesis

4 Krosan Tusker

3 Cunning Wish

3 Deep Analysis

3 Compulsion

3 Memory Lapse

4 Circular Logic

4 Counterspell

2 Unsummon

4 Aether Burst

SB: 1 Spelljack

SB: 3 Naturalize

SB: 1 Beast Attack

SB: 1 Opportunity

SB: 1 Krosan Reclamation

SB: 1 Seedtime

SB: 1 Chastise

SB: 3 Ray of Revelation

SB: 3 Compost

The concept of the deck was pretty simple: Card drawing, and tons of it, leading into hands so big and full of counterspells no other late game deck could compete. Compulsion is ridiculous with Seedborn Muse on the table, allowing you to motor through your deck at warp speed. Never mind the fact that Genesis-Tusker recursion becomes dirt cheap or that your counter battles during his turn will be ridiculously one-sided.

Of course, the fact that the deck is slow, and no amount of bounce is going to really work as removal, made me bemoan the idea of playing it against a creature deck. The only real”removal” are a pair of Wish targets: Chastise and Beast Attack. Yes, I just mentioned Beast attack as removal, but it’s all the deck’s got. So I sat down to test it out and the deck performed exactly as I expected.

First, it’s very good at drawing cards. Very, very good. Refilling my hand in the mid to late game isn’t a problem if its plans get working. On the downside, it simply has no early game; the obvious idea is to add a certain set of white cards or black cards to the deck. I will try out the U/G/b version of this deck later on, but generally, the straight U/G version just doesn’t work unless your opponent stalls like crazy or doesn’t have any way to pressure you. Hollow Specter kicks this deck in the junk.

W/G/U control is something I’ve been testing since reading a certain excellent article by Mike Flores on the sideboard, and I’ll admit that deck doesn’t contain Seedborn Muse, but I like it a lot more.

Verdict: I will definitely be working to break this card, but only time will tell if it actually fits into a deck. Trust me though, it’s very powerful when it gets on the board and you have a serious mana sink on the table. Compulsion alone goes completely insane.


This hasn’t exactly been the best deck building session for me.

Lavaborn Muse and its descendent deck worked out nicely, showing pretty solid abilities when it came to disruption and burning the opponent out. In this, I rather like the Muse, and think it might actually find its way into a deck or two in the next two years.

Dreamborn Muse’s deck was stupid and worked so humorously I described one of the matches as”The Worst game of Magic ever.” That’s the one where I killed my opponent with Deep Analysis. Unfortunately, Ferrett refused to publish the paragraph discussing that victory in detail; in a sick twist of censorship, Ferrett was forced to graft morals onto me. You don’t know why that’s funny.

Windborn Muse shows a ton of potential. I’ve seen it used in a lot of decks, and the combination with opposition is much more impressive than it looks on paper. I find deeply amusing that its flying has lead to it killing people in a few games.

Graveborn Muse will be touched and tormented by other players for the next two months. I have a few ideas of what to do with it – but honestly, I’ve been (as you may notice) testing mostly black decks the last few weeks. I do think that the card has potential, though players may take a while to break it open.

Seedborn Muse is incredibly powerful. That being said, it has been printed in totally the wrong time. I am quite certain that any deck I produce using this card is going to have to use red or black – because in all honesty, Hollow Specter beat that poor U/G version around like some sort of red-headed stepdeck. I would definitely pick up four of this card, as it will be useful somewhere, sometime. It’s hard to argue with cards this powerful.

So where do I go from here? Well, I plan on building a better Windborn Muse deck, and I think I may continue to work on Lavaborn Muse decks, doing higher end testing after I get a better idea of just what the Standard metagame looks like once Legions rotates in. Expect that article in a couple of weeks.

Next week: The most sarcastic article I will ever write.

Iain Telfer