We’re back, and it’s time for part four… The Limited grinder where my manabase was a joke. Sometimes though, when whatever gods there are look down on you and smile, you can get away with a bad manabase and let your card quality carry you. It’s a gambit of sorts.
Two grinders have passed, and we haven’t had any of our six guys grab a Nationals spot yet. We’re starting to get a little antsy. I know that we have the talent to grind in – we just need to play well (something I haven’t done yet on the day) and get a little boost from that bitch, Lady Luck. She’s notoriously stingy with the Sarnia guys when it comes to the big time; we owe her alimony, rent, and child support. To us, she’s that sister-in-law that hates your guts, that lady who glares at you on the way across the street because you have a chain attached to your wallet.
I sit down and tear open my stuff. I open garbage and send it off to some guy who is going to either drop when he sees it, or go 0-1 and then hit Burger King for a combo meal. After the deck registration portion, I hear about how my teammate John Labute opened a tremendous set of cards, and everyone else was pretty average.
“Everyone go back to your seats… We will now be proceeding to deck construction.”
I open John’s deck. Registered by John Labute, and filled with enough goodies to make my deck look like a good but inconsistent draft deck.
Here’s the card pool:
Face of Fear
The black is pretty solid, and the Shambling Swarm in particular is insane, especially with Morgue Theft, but I could tell right away I’d never get the mana for it. The playable splash cards include Crypt Keeper, Fledgling Imp, Gravegouger, Treacherous Werewolf, and Patriarch’s Desire… But why splash for something as mediocre as a Treacherous Werewolf? With a deck that was 50% black, you could run the Trailblazer and the Swarm, along with Shade’s Form (also great with the Swarm) and you’d have something. I’ll look at alternative builds later on – maybe another color is deep enough to make this a two-color deck! At the time, I just didn’t see it.
Lost In Thought
Touch Of Invisibility
Solid stuff, but again there’s a really good card that isn’t very splashable – the Hydromorph Gull. Cephalid Looter, Skywing Aven, and Psionic Gift are all first-pick caliber (well, maybe not the Gift, but you always want to get one… I sometimes first-pick it if there’s not much else) and Aether Burst is a great trick. Wormfang Turtle is a solid creature, and Lost In Thought is great removal – I love having it in any deck I draft.
Two cards I seldom play are Dematerialize and Churning Eddy – but they’re good to have if I run into the guy with an Elephant Guide and a couple of Arcane Teachings! Sideboard stuff. Phantom Whelp goes into the deck in a pinch, and Hapless Researcher likewise could be much worse – he’s playable.
Call of the Herd
Well, I made back my $35 – it’s Call of the Herd! I’m glad John didn’t have a Mudhole in his pocket when he opened this. Another pile of first-pick caliber cards – this time we’ve got the infamous Wild Mongrel, Call of the Herd, Sylvan Might, and Centaur Chieftain to lead the way. Other very solid cards include Werebear, Krosan Archer, Nantuko Tracer, and Seton’s Desire. If I need some green cards to fill some gaps, Nimble Mongoose and Nantuko Calmer can find their way into the deck.
That’s one big dragon! Unfortunately, he doesn’t have any other big bombs to back him up – no sign of any strong red creatures, Violent Eruption, Fiery Temper, or Firebolt. The cards that catch my eye here are the Fledgling Dragon (the Looter will help me get threshold, too!), and two solid creatures in Barbarian Bully and Barbarian Lunatic. Halberdier, Sonic Seizure, Liberated Dwarf, Demoralize, and Lava Dart are all playable. That means if I really wanted, I could have eight playable red cards and run the Dragon… But I’d need to be playing Green too, so the Liberated Dwarf wouldn’t be totally useless. Then I’d have to splash my Looter and maybe a couple of other Blue cards. Let’s see what White has before we decide…
Testament of Faith
Check out the nice stuff! Resilient Wanderer, Shelter, and Mystic Zealot are all 1st picks… And Aven Cloudchaser is quickly becoming one of my favorite cards, what with Arcane Teachings turning up everywhere. Teroh’s Faithful, Prismatic Strands, and Mystic Visionary are all quite playable. The Auramancer could go well with the Patriarch’s Desire in my Black. Cagemail is a good control card, and if I wanted to take the deck in that direction, I have the Psionic Gift and the flyers to get the job done. Still – how can I ignore my strong green?
I love opening this card – it goes into every deck I build. Three cards closer to threshold, and it kills nearly every creature in the game including Iridescent Angel. Every time I draft or open this it seems to dominate, killing off otherwise deadly stuff like Stalking Bloodsucker, Roar tokens, Carrion Wurm… You name it.
I wish I had more experience playing this in Limited – considering the ridiculous manabase I had to play, it might have helped me. But how much does it really help? And how do you change your land ratio to take it into account? I didn’t know, so I left it out.
Here’s what I played:
Grinder 3 Sealed Deck
1 Cephalid Looter
1 Skywing Aven
1 Hydromorph Gull
1 Mystic Visionary
1 Teroh’s Faithful
1 Mystic Zealot
1 Aven Cloudchaser
1 Resilient Wanderer
1 Centaur Chieftain
1 Nantuko Tracer
1 Wild Mongrel
1 Krosan Archer
1 Call of the Herd
1 Sylvan Might
1 Seton’s Desire
1 Psionic Gift
1 Lost In Thought
1 Aether Burst
1 Prismatic Strands
1 Sandstone Deadfall
That has got to be the ugliest manabase known to man – 6/6/6 and not one mana fixer or 1CC cantrip! The card quality is extremely high, though, and only three cards have double mana in the casting (or flashback) costs, so I figured I could swing it with a little bit of luck.
Notable omissions: I didn’t play Nimble Mongoose because I had a lot of combat tricks and untargetability just seemed useless to me. I didn’t play Wormfang Crab because losing a land is not something I want to do with a 6/6/6 manabase. Mystic Visionary was chosen over other spot fillers like Auramancer because it was one turn faster and I like two-drops.
Were there any alternate builds here? How about G/B?
If you take every playable Green and Black card, plus the Sandstone Deadfall, you get this:
Alternate Build (Grinder 3 Sealed Deck)
Face of Fear
Call Of The Herd
That’s a tight twenty-three cards, probably running nine Swamps and eight Forests (or even ten and seven) and with far better mana consistency than what I actually played. There’s some good interactions, too… Shambling Swarm with Morgue Theft is reusable removal, and Shambling Swarm is also great with Innocent Blood. Shade’s Form combined with swampwalk from the Zombie Trailblazer can end games quickly, and it’s also pretty good when you put it on Face of Fear.
Would this configuration have been better than my three color special? The card quality isn’t as high, with far fewer overall first picks, but the mana is rock solid. It’s still pretty powerful because my Black cards aren’t too bad, with a bomb in Shambling Swarm, and most of my better tricks are in Green.
How would you build this deck? I went the”all killer, no filler” route, and paid the price in the mana department. Would you do the same?
That’s it for today. I’ll see you soon with the actual match by match story for Grinder 3. Will the three-color special hold up? Or, will I take a worse beating than”Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s wife? You’ll find out soon enough!