The Fairies’ Corner #2: Bad Decks for Bad People

The true tragedy of Sensei’s Divining Top is that it made everyone ignore Crown of Convergence… But those days are over, my friend. In today’s Standard, there’s no reason whatsoever not to play Crown of Convergence, assuming that’s your idea of a good time. And I’m going to try to make it fun for you, with not one, but two decks…

Sensei’s Divining Top did an awful thing, you know. I mean, besides doing more fiddling than David Cameron will when it’s two weeks before the election, and the party’s demanding that you cuddle (or is that cudgel?) the poor and lower taxes, all at once.

See, the true tragedy of the Top is that it made everyone ignore Crown of Convergence.

When I say everybody, of course, I do not strictly mean everybody. Somebody played with Crown of Convergence, but then he realized that he should be playing with Sensei’s Divining Top instead, so he stopped.

Well, those days are over, my friend. In today’s Standard, there’s no reason whatsoever not to play Crown of Convergence, assuming that’s your idea of a good time.

There are downsides obviously. Some people dislike losing. But some people like attacking with monsters, something which they don’t get to do very often when playing the sort of Pandemonium decks previously flogged in this very article series. That’s the great thing about Crown of Convergence: Much like Stampeding Wildebeest (and God, it feels great not to have to say Stampeding Serow anymore), Crown of Convergence allows you to let loose that inner Tarzan. You no longer have to feel guilty at feeling your deck with creatures rather than “real spells.” Heavens no, that’s the whole point. With Crown of Convergence, you want to have that juicy, two-mana Glorious Anthem effect more often than Elvis had starring roles in really terrible movies. Not an easy task in the best of times.

So now we have the basics down. Loads ‘n’ loads of creatures. Preferably Green or White. Even more preferably Green and White. No punters, please. Crown of Convergence might appear to be the epitome of Timmy-ness, but this really isn’t the case. The thing to understand is that the artifact is neither anywhere near as good as Glorious Anthem or Sensei’s Divining Top at any one thing, but it packages together two lesser things quite neatly.

It was somewhat misleading to say that what we want is a lot of Green or White creatures, for what we really want is a lot of creatures in one of these colors and then some multicolored creatures on the side. Serra Avenger may be White, but if your board consists of Thelonite Hermit and his fungus, all the revealed Angel will be doing on top of your library is showing herself off. Furthermore, note that, unlike Tolsimir Wolfblood, the Crown only gives multicolored creatures a single pump.

Besides all this +1/+1 business — which, assuming you have no library manipulation will only happen about 60% of the time, what with you choosing to put lands in your deck and all — there is the library manipulation to think of. On this count, Crown of Convergence is awfully slow and expensive to use — but then again, in contrast to Sensei’s Divining Top, it actually gets work done even if you have no shuffle effects. Unless you decide to fill your deck with huge monsters rather than, say, ordinary monsters, by the time you have sufficient mana to activate the Crown without setting back your board development, you really won’t be drawing lands all that often.

The Crown won’t directly provide card advantage, but it’s better card selection than most any other permanent in Standard. That and, unlike Divining Top, it actually improves in multiples.

So, after we’ve decided to play with ordinary monsters instead of huge monsters (and we have decided that, by the way), our next decision is to decide what our main color will be. Let’s look at the advantages the Green and White bring to ye olde table. This is less difficult than it may first appear, since many of the creatures you’ll want to play will be multicolor anyways.

Green Creatures

Llanowar Elves:
If our primarily color is Green, we will be playing Llanowar Elves. This might, incidentally, suggest that Green should be our primary color…
Arghh! Rating: 0.5

Spectral Force:
This is a huge monster that we might, actually, consider. Sure, it hardly ever untaps, but your opponent is already dead by then, right?
Arghh! Rating: 3.1

Giant Solifuge:
The connoisseur’s choice. Spectacular against Control and a heck of a lot better against Aggro when it’s wearing a Crown, Giant Solifuge looks like a sideboard must-have.

But is it maindeck material? Although Crown of Convergence makes Giant Solifuge hit harder than it would otherwise, the Insect does not necessarily like being previewed a turn in advance. There’s also the matter that a G/W deck isn’t really the best place for a card which loves spot removal like a Scot loves his black pudding.
Arghh! Rating: 1.5

Thelonite Hermit:
This is pleasant enough on its own, of course, offering that vaunted nine power for eight mana, but it truly shines with Crown of Convergence, as do all token-producers. The main problem with Thelonite Hermit is that it prompts one to include Glare of Subdual in a G/W deck. Not a bad option practically speaking — but if we wanted to play Glare of Subdual, then we probably wouldn’t be messing around with Crown of Convergence.

But hey, you never know.
Arghh! Rating: Practically a 2.6

Vinelasher Kudzu:
The Plant has not, like some other people we know, been getting much affection lately. Cruelly upstaged by lower life forms — the very-nearly-but-not-quite-plants Saprolings — we long ago reached the point where a slowly-but-surely-growing two-mana creature without trample just isn’t sufficient unless you’re playing some sort of gimmicky deck to support it.
Arghh! Rating: 0.0

Dryad Sophisticate:
The Dryad also enjoyed a brief flash in its pan, but especially now that Shadow is back, it just seems sub-par. Besides, not to foreshadow or anything, our deck is likely to have more two-drops than the landlord’s daughter.
Arghh! Rating: 0.5

Yavimaya Dryad:
Unlike its Sophisticate cousin, Yavimaya Dryad will never be useless. Just about everything imaginable kills this creature, but Crown of Convergence is greedier for land than you might at first imagine. Also, in another bit of not-foreshadowing, our deck will probably combine its two-drops with very few three-drops but plenty of four-drops. Mathematically speaking, if you cast the Dryad off of Llanowar Elves on Turn 2, you’re not only failing to waste a single, precious mana — you’re also sitting pretty for Turn 3.
Arghh! Rating: 0.2

Call of the Herd:
The Elephants will never disappoint, but there comes a time when one has to decide whether to build a decent deck or a theme deck. There is no combo whatsoever with Call and Crown of Convergence, though one could argue, with good reason, that if the question is whether or not to niggle over a +1/+1 here and a +1/+1 there, it’s never difficult to simply opt for the pair of 3/3s. Additionally, if we end up running Mystic Enforcer, Call of the Herd will grant a temporary step towards threshold.
Arghh! Rating: 1.0

Seedborn Muse:
Personally, I’m no fan of seeing a random copy of Seedborn Muse in a deck just because said deck also runs Chord of Calling. On the other hand, here, we finally have a deck which can really use the untapping. Seedborn Muse will let you just go wild with Crown of Convergence, guaranteeing a spicy card — and perhaps, a Saproling off of Selesnya Guildmade — every turn.
Arghh! Rating: -0.1

Loaming Shaman:
Loaming Shaman does a job, and it does it mediocrely. If you want to hit graveyards without lowering the creature count, this is obviously your best option, particularly if Solar Flare/Solar Pox continues its ascendancy.
Arghh! Rating: 1.0

Indrik Stomphowler:
This was definitely the premier utility creature until the rotation, but nowadays, there aren’t nearly as many evil artifacts to be concerned about. (Or perhaps, with Mirari and Gauntlet of Power around, there are good artifact targets — they’re simply as-of-yet-underutilized ones.) The ability to take out Signets might still let the Stomphowler rise above Ronom Unicorn, but there’ll be plenty of games when the only artifact or enchantment on the board is a lovely, fat Crown of Convergence.
Arghh! Rating: 0.8

Birds of Paradise:
With Crown of Convergence around, the Birds might actually attack. Hey!
Arghh! Rating: -Infinity

White Creatures

Icatian Javelineers:
If our deck has a White base, the Javelineers are a must. They won’t take down a Shadow Guildmage without either some luck or some help, but they’re a creature-based means of ridding the world of Dark Confidant.

You already knew that, though.
Arghh! Rating: 0.5

Soltari Priest:
The mana might be a bit tricky if you want the Priest down on Turn 2, but this is precisely the sort of creature we want to be pumped by Crown of Convergence. Fast, just as unblockable as Dryad Sophisticate, and with a form of protection to boot.
Arghh! Rating: 0.5

Savannah Lions:
In a world of Kird Apes, Lions are no kings… Unless they have a Crown. Savannah Lions opens you up to more Shadow Guildmage and Saproling risk, but they’re truly undervalued against Control as creatures which can put your opponent on a clock without either overextending too much or dying to Dragons first.

That still doesn’t make the Lions a necessity, though. Crown of Convergence decks have virtually no reach, and we want to focus on creatures with staying power.
Arghh! Rating: 1.5

Akroma, Angel of Wrath:
Tempting, isn’t it? I mean, we’ll have the mana, right? A singleton Akroma could make for a tasty tutor target in the late game, but this deck already has things — albeit less impressive things — to do with its mana.
Arghh! Rating: 1.25

Knight of the Holy Nimbus:
The mana is as tough as Soltari Priest’s, but the Knight can, say, block. Although in a White Weenie deck, you’d obviously run both, unless our Crown of Converge monstrosity is heavily White, we will have to pick one of the two even in the best of circumstances.

At the moment, my vote goes to Soltari Priest. The Knight is best against Elephant tokens and Haakon, Stromgald Scourge. You have a faster clock and a worse endgame than either G/U or Solar Pox. Soltari Priest — which is also at least as good against B/R, even considering Shadow Guildmage — is your man.
Arghh! Rating: 0.5

Ronom Unicorn:
This is an answer to Glare of Subdual, Moldervine Cloak, the odd Debtor’s Knell, and for the time being, little else. Likely a necessary sideboard card.
Arghh! Rating: 0.5

Serra Avenger:
A four-of.

Seriously. I can’t find anything clever to say here.
Arghh! Rating: 1.5

Celestial Crusader: I can’t help but feel that Celestial Crusader is underrated. It might be the lack of aggressive White decks that want to hit four mana, but to complain about the risk of the Crusader dying in mid-combat is tantamount to complaining about a trick on the board. So long as you’re always aware that the Spirit could die whenever your opponent sees fit, it shouldn’t be a problem. Many people fail to comprehend how much better cumulative packs of +1/+1 are than just a single one. A 2/2 Icatian Javelineers is irrelevant. A 3/3 Icatian Javelineers is a threat. It would probably never come to this, but a deck with four Celestial Crusaders and four Crowns of Convergence would make your weenies seem anything but. Arghh! Rating: 0.0

Mangara of Corondor:
This is almost certainly not aggressive enough for us. Perhaps from the sideboard instead of Ronom Unicorn to combat Glare of Subdual?
Arghh! Rating: A paltry -0.2

Leonin Skyhunter:
Much like Knight of the Holy Nimbus and Soltari Priest, only less easily protected.
Arghh! Rating: 0.5

Non-Creature, Non-Crown Spells

Moldervine Cloak:
Here, we finally have a deck which really would much rather have a random 3/3 creature than a +3/+3 boost.

Bathe in Light:
The savior of Saprolings everywhere, Bathe in Light gets a bit less respect than it did in its Boros heyday.

So what are the matchups where we really want Bathe? It probably won’t be extremely relevant against Glare of Subdual unless you have, somehow, incapacitated Glare of Subdual. If you’ve managed to cast a Loxodon Hierarch prior to Dragonstorm bringing out four Dragons, or if the titular opposing spell was only copied twice, this can let you break through blockers for the win. You’ll never want to have Bathe in Light in your deck against any sort of Control, since that involves playing hard and heavy against Wrath of God. Probably not a good option.

Search for Tomorrow:
Unlike Birds of Paradise, Search for Tomorrow will not be rendered useless by Shadow Guildmage. The inability to get extra mana on turn 2 if this is suspended on turn 2 will not usually be relevant since our deck will lack three-drops. This also ups the graveyard count for potential Mystic Enforcers. It does not, however, benefit or benefit from Crown of Convergence.

Congregation at Dawn:
While Congregation at Dawn isn’t a creature, it sets up the next three turns’ worth of Crown of Convergence as well as doing all of the Loxodon Hierarch-related and utility things it usually does.

Honorable Passage:
The ideal, of course, is to hit a non-Hellbent Demonfire, but that might not be too realistic. If you were to run this, it would be to finish-off a Dragonstorm deck. Note that this tactic only works if five damage is sufficient to win the game immediately or if five damage + whatever you can force past the blocking-hungry Dragons will do the job. The savvy Dragonstorm player will, however, realize that you have no means of dealing with three or four Dragons and will merely fry your creatures rather than damaging you, meaning that you’re only going to win if you have your opponent at five life or less at the time.

Devouring Light:
The best available removal for this sort of deck. You’re not a Control deck; you can’t afford to give your opponent life with Condemn.

The Decks
After all that exciting detail work, I came to the realization that there’s enough material for two decks. Goodness me!

G/W Crown is like a pumped-up Glare of Subdual deck, only without Glare of Subdual. I say pumped-up not because Crown runs better cards — far from it — but because Crown’s cards have more muscles on them.

This deck obviously has oodles fewer tricks than almost any deck you’re likely to play. It’s a veritable creature-fest. That doesn’t mean it’s easy to play, though. I gave it a brief run-through and found that, even though the deck probably doesn’t need more mana, you always want more mana anyway. There’s a brilliant balance between searching with Crown of Convergence, producer tokens with Selesnya Guildmage, pumping with the Guildmage, and flipping Thelonite Hermit.

So how does the deck do? It’s fine against other Aggro decks and B/R, thanks to its single-mindedness, but Solar Flare causes trouble since you really do want to over-extend. Now, this is a deck which can deal a lot of damage with very few creatures, but your most powerful creatures still shrivel up in the face of Akroma and, usually, Angel of Despair. Against Dragonstorm, even if you’re going first, it takes a highly improbable combination of multiple Watchwolves to get your opponent within Honorable Passage range by her turn 4, and you still, of course, have to be lucky enough to be holding Honorable Passage.

But what about our other deck variant?

W/G Crown is even more focused and absurd than its Greener variant. It’s capable of quicker starts, but has only the vaguest of endgames, since it lacks Saproling power.

I was right about Celestial Crusader deserving a few slots. True, I wouldn’t have minded a better card here, but so long as we’re going for this particular gimmick, it does the job. The deck has seven static (or semi-static pump) universal pump effects, and when needed, Selesnya Guildmage can step in to help out. That four-mana Guildmage pump will often speed up your alpha strike by a turn. Again, this deck has some power against Aggro, but it performs even worse the Green variant which is also, thanks to Llanowar Elves, fast in its own right.

I avoided placing Mystic Enforcer in either of these decks, since it’s almost always worse than Loxodon Hierarch if you don’t have threshold, and Crown of Convergence decks really want to keep down their casting costs. Although Mystic Enforcer would grant some late-game power, the heavy-White version is already going to be pretty much dead by the time it has seven cards in the graveyard, and the Green version has trickier things to do with its mana by that point.

The Verdict:
Not as powerful or likely to win as the Pandemonium deck previously featured in this column. Neither of these decks are, as we might have predicted from the start, quite up to snuff, and I’m not going to bother tinkering with them. That said, the Green-heavy deck is quite a bit of fun and virtually guarantees that you always have the largest Saprolings on the block.

Adam Grydehoj
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