Bonjour mes amis! Welcome back to the column that investigates the casual. I am your P.I. with the plan. For the last few articles, I’ve been talking about top ten lists, high value cards, what Wizards can learn from WizKids, and various online resources for your casual needs.
With four weeks of talking, I felt it was time for good old fashioned hardcore Magic. I mean decks, strategy, or alternate formats. The type of Magic you can use at your own kitchen table. Forget fancy card evaluations, opinion articles, and lists of resources. It’s time for a serious hardcore article.
Nothing is purer than a magic article about decks.
Strategy can get too highbrow, or just be wrong. Alternate formats might not even be used. Decks are the purest thing we have. We have a bunch of decks, and you can use them in various formats, variants, or whatever. You can get ideas that spark your own deckbuilding juices, or you can just observe more decks in action.
I have built hundreds of decks for you folks, but deck ideas are everywhere. Every single card has multiple decks that it suggests.
Today I am going to go back to an old favorite. I am going to randomly select a card from Magic, and then I am forced to build around said random card. I have no idea how this will turn out, but some of my all-time favorite decklists have come from these challenges, so let’s see what we get.
Ready for the fun?
Deck the First
I don’t have my trusty dice. When you cut all of your belongings down to three bags and go overseas, and then return again twelve days later, you don’t have much room for luxuries like dice.
That’s okay, because I have this thing called the Internet. I hear it’s all the rage with the kids these days. Say hello to Random.org.
There are 45 sets if you include ABU as one set, don’t include Portal and Un- sets, and don’t include any later base sets. With that framework, what set will I roll… erm… “randomly generate?”
#43 — Future Sight
This could be interesting. There are a lot of crazy cards I could get from Future Sight. Which card will come up?
#91 — Tombstalker
Well now, that’s interesting, because I just finished acquiring a few for my Pox deck. Why not show you my Pox deck?
Pox is a rough deck, so let’s take a look.
Pox hits everything a player has. Creatures, lands, hand, and life. The only resources that are untouched by a Pox are enchantments, artifacts, and card in other zones like RFG, phased, graveyard, and library.
The key point in Pox is the rounding. Because everything is in thirds, it can be devastating to any player with 3x+1 of something. If you have three cards in hand, you lose just one, but if you have four cards in hand, you lose two. This is why Pox is tough.
Except for maybe life, you want to maximize the amount of resources you have with 3x, instead of 3x+1. 3x-1 is alright, but 3x is ideal, so keep your resources at 3, 6, 9, etc.
Your deck attacks several different resources, so I feel it is best to keep attacking those resources. It attacks land, so keep going after land with Sinkhole and Wasteland, or even Strip Mine is your format allows it.
Pox destroys hands, so keep it up with Hymn to Tourach and Duress. Duress protects your key spells too. It also hits creatures, so use Innocent Blood to keep up the pressure.
Then, once you have knocked their hands, lands, life and creatures down, use your remaining recourses to keep hammering. Your man-lands didn’t die in the Pox, so start beating with them. Use The Rack to deal a lot of damage. Cursed Scroll can take out creatures or hit your opponent for a mad amount of damage.
And the beauty is that all of these things are relatively immune to the Poxing you expect to be doing. The Factories can get sacked if you need the Black mana.
Drop Baubles prior to Poxing, and then sac them afterwards to replenish your hand. You can stock Mishra’s Baubles if you prefer, but I went old school.
Although Tombstalker is hit by your Pox, it is ideal as a finisher in the deck. Having a big juicy flyer that you can drop for BB is great in a deck that dumped a lot of its cards in the yard and needs that final push.
This is a more duel oriented version of the deck. It you want a more multiplayer friendly version, strip out the Sinkhole and add more creature kill, like Barter in Blood.
There are some great cards that go well with Pox that are not in this deck, but you could try them out. Artifact mana can be key so Charcoal Diamonds or Mox Diamonds are helpful.
Gustha’s Scepter can hide key cards in your hand from opposing discard or from your own Poxes.
Contagion, Spinning Darkness and more give you nice options for removal. I’ve seen Pox decks run White for Vindicate off Mox Crystal and four dual lands. Then they can have removal of anything they choose, including more land removal when needed. I think that’s better in duels though, where you might want to increase your land destruction.
There are other manlands, including Mutavault from the recent set. Mutavault is not bad, but you need Black lands, because of the triple Black cost of Pox. For the same reason, don’t make the mistake of running Guardian Idol. Sure, having an artifact that makes mana and can be a creature appears to be good, but you need Black mana.
A secret tech card for Pox is Liliana Vess. She can keep an opponent under a Pox lock indefinitely, killing them off. She can also tutor for the right card. She is immune to Pox, and her winning condition can trigger and get you the game. Her only problem is that she costs five mana to play. You might be able to run her in multiplayer Pox, but I’d steer clear of her in a dueling deck.
Other options include Dystopia for serious Green/White hosing, Thoughtseize for more Duressing, or Oubliette for creature removal that hits anything and stays in play post-Pox.
I have won Legacy and Vintage tournaments with versions of Pox — it’s quite powerful.
Deck the Second
Alright, let’s take a look at the next card. What set will it be from?
#35 — Champions of Kamigawa
So which Kamigawan card is coming down the pike?
Okay, so what card is that?
Let’s take a look at the Deceiver:
It’s a 2/1 for two mana, which would suit an aggro strategy. It allows you to see the top card of your library, which helps clash and the cards in Morningtide.
- 10 Swamp
- 10 Island
- 4 Salt Marsh
This deck uses the Tombstalker from the last deck, and why not? It’s fun! It may not work perfectly with Avatar of Woe’s alternate casting cost, but it’s not bad.
Mise is Ancestral Recall when you know the top card of your deck, and Cruel Deceiver and Scroll Rack can help with that. Predict is a nice backup to that strategy. If you don’t want to run Un- cards, then toss in Foreshadow instead.
Sindbad can get those lands off your deck while Erratic Mutation can kill a creature with more precision than you might have otherwise expected in this deck.
Rend Flesh, Counterspell, and Negate are typical control cards, even if Negate just got printed. There’s no need to explain the presence of Avatar of Woe here either.
The deck wants to draw cards, and lots of them, while eventually serving with the big boys, using traditional methods of control to keep the board clear of nasties.
Deck the Third
What set shall I randomly select his time? How about…
#1 — That’s right baby. The first set of all time.
Well, that could be almost anything. Which card? #39. I head to the Wizards checklist for beta, and find card number #39 on the list…
The artifacts were listed first, and we just barely missed the Moxes.
Wow, building a deck around a vanilla, overpriced 4/6 artifact creatures is just so… hard. What jumps out at you?
I know, hold on.
- 1 Darksteel Colossus
- 2 Solemn Simulacrum
- 1 Karn, Silver Golem
- 4 Obsianus Golem
- 1 Sundering Titan
- 1 Beast of Burden
- 3 Arcbound Reclaimer
- 1 Mirror Golem
- 4 Brass Herald
- 2 Clockwork Gnomes
- 2 Jhoira's Toolbox
- 24 Island
That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, I built a golem toolbox deck!
This deck uses a few tricks and a lot of golems to good effect. Note that Jhoira’s Toolbox and Clockwork Gnomes are not golems, but they give love to the artifact creatures.
In the toolbox arena, you can Tinker or Transmute Artifact for a variety of cards to help you. Brass Herald is a golem himself, and will also pump your golems giving you a golem lord, which will pump himself. He’ll also give you any golems you might have lurking at the top of your deck.
Distant Melody is a great way to draw some extra cards. If you prefer you can go with Flow of Ideas instead, but that costs two more mana.
In the toolbox we have Solemn Simulacrum which can net you a land and a card when he dies. He also makes an ideal sacrifice for a Tinker or a Transmute Artifact. You can get Sundering Titan to hose someone’s mana. Karn, Silver Golem can wreak havoc on opposing artifacts and is a great 0/8 blocker. Darksteel Colossus is one of the classic threats at the multiplayer table. Mirror Golem can be given pro creature/artifact pretty easily, which makes it very handy. Even Beast of Burden can get really big.
A great target is Forge[/author]“]Darksteel [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]. Trust me, get one of those out, and even Obsianus Golem is good.
Arcbound Reclaimer works perfectly. You can retrieve it with a Tinker effect, and then restock your deck, or you can draw the best artifact creatures from your graveyard. It loves Brass Herald, so make sure you put some great golems on top of your library before you cast the Herald.
One trick in this deck is Invoke Prejudice. While it is out, every creature an opponent plays that has a color costs twice as much. That’s pretty handy. Just keep bringing your artifact creatures into play for their normal cost.
I tossed in three emergency Counterspells, to stop the occasional Final Judgment or Oblation on your Forge[/author]“]Darksteel [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]. This deck loves the artifact creatures a lot.
This would have been a perfect deck for Aether Storm under the old wording, but Wizards has never updated the wording to say “non-artifact” creatures, restoring it to its original intent. If your playgroup doesn’t care, run them like they used to read instead of the Oracled wording, which came out after the last printing of Aether Storm.
Hopefully there is enough in here for you to sink your teeth into.
Deck the Fourth
I’m hitting up Random.org. What am I finding?
Card set #19.
Which is Mercadian Masques.
What card from Masques?
What card is that?
That’s… um… worse than Obsianus Golem. What do you do with Remote Farm?
I’m not even sure how the flavor of Remote Farm is supposed to work. You get double the mana from a big huge Plains, but only so much, because it’s a farm, and it’s really hard to get to? That’s just plain weird.
What do you do with Remote Farm?
At first, I thought you might run something like Power Conduit. But Gemstone Mine is better for that.
Hold on, I got it.
So, follow my Johnny on this:
Play a Remote Farm or land with counters on it. It is an artifact because of Mycosynth Lattice and a creature because of Nature’s Revolt.
Tap the Power Conduit to put a charge counter on Forge[/author]“]Darksteel [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author] and pull one off a Farm or Woodlot.
Sacrifice the creature artifact land to Zuran Orb to gain two life. Yay.
When the land artifact creature goes to the graveyard, your Dross Scorpion will see an artifact creature hit the graveyard and will trigger. You get to untap an artifact.
Untap the Power Conduit
Using Crucible of Worlds and Fastbond, play the land again. Lose a life.
Repeat enough times for the Forge to go off. You win. Yay!
That’s a lot, so here are the cards you need in play in order to auto win
Crucible of Worlds
Remote Farm or Hickory Woodlot in play, hand, or yard.
This combo takes up so much room, that I only had space left over for two Scroll Racks.
This is arguably the wackiest combo I have ever put into a deck, but I turned a common land from Masques with virtually no value to anyone into the key component of a deck’s win condition. Yay!
And on that note, it is time to bid you all a fond farewell. I hope to see you again next Thursday.