The Kitchen Table #257 – Abe’s Prismatic Deck

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Thursday, October 30th – As any long time reader of my column will know, I love Five Color. I absolutely adore it! I also dig the online variant, Prismatic. Today, I thought it would be fun to look at my Prismatic deck, and see the cards I run.

Hello folks, and welcome back to the weekly column dedicated to the exploits of the casual. I am your writer, bringing you information to satisfy your casual cravings.

As any long time reader of my column will know, I love Five Color. I absolutely adore it! I also dig the online variant, Prismatic. Today, I thought it would be fun to look at my Prismatic deck, and see the cards I run.

Like all real life decks, we don’t always have all of the cards we’d otherwise want in our decks. I would love to have four Tarmogoyfs in my deck, but no dice. I’d love to have four Wrath of Gods in my deck, but no dice. Thus, my deck is limited by my collection.

Another point I want to make is that Prismatic only has available those cards that are online. This includes Invasion onwards, Mirage block, and the two Masters Edition sets. This explains the lack of cards from Masques, Rath, Urza’s blocks, Portal, and many earlier cards. They just aren‘t online. Perhaps someday they will be, and I’ll be able to roll with nice and fun cards from those sets, but that day is not today.

Also note that the format has a lot of weird bannings. Rude Awakening, for example, is banned, because people were apparently abusing it. Tooth and Nail is banned. Grozoth is banned. The B&R list is odd. Personal Tutor is okay, but not Dizzy Spell. Imperial Seal is allowed as a one of, but the obviously broken Ethereal Usher is banned. (Sarcasm gear engaged).

Therefore, you might wonder at my decklist, so I thought I would explain it all now, so there would be no questions later. Oh, and one more thing. I have full sets of Champions of Kamigawa, Ravnica and Planar Chaos awaiting redemption, so in the meantime, I have these great cards from those sets just sitting there, because redemption hasn’t been on in ages. This gives me a solid number of cards for my deck that would not be there if redemption were on, and which will be gone later, such as Kokusho, Meloku, Damnation, duals, and so forth.

Remember that Prismatic, like Five Color, requires a 250 card minimum and 20 cards of each color. Also note that Shards has not been released as of the writing of this article.

Without further ado, let me show you my current deck, alphabetically with the land saved for last.

Abe’s Prismatic Deck

1 Aeon Chronicler
2 Aether Mutation
1 Akroma’s Vengeance
4 Allied Strategies
2 Ashling the Extinguisher
4 Aven Mindcensor
4 Birds of Paradise
1 Bogardan Hellkite
2 Braingeyser
1 Brion Stoutarm
2 Browse
2 Chandra Nalaar
1 Citanul Flute
4 Civic Wayfinder
2 Damnation
1 Decree of Justice
4 Deep Analysis
2 Desolation Giant
2 Dismantling Blow
1 Electrolyze
2 Etched Oracle
1 Eternal Dragon
2 Eternal Witness
4 Evasive Action
1 Exalted Angel
2 Explosive Vegetation
4 Fact or Fiction
4 Far Wanderings
4 Fire/Ice
4 Flametongue Kavu
1 Garruk Wildspeaker
1 Genesis
2 Gloomdrifter
3 Imperial Recruiters
1 Imperial Seal
1 Iridescent Angel
4 Jilt
1 Kaervek the Merciless
1 Keiga, the Tide Star
1 Kodama’s Reach
1 Kokusho, the Evening Star
4 Krosan Tusker
1 Kumano, Master Yamabushi
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Liliana Vess
3 Loxodon Hierarch
1 Meloku the Clouded Mirror
1 Mortify
2 Mulldrifter
4 Nekrataal
2 Ninja of the Deep Hours
2 Order/Chaos
3 Ordered Migration
4 Orim‘s Thunder
2 Panglacial Wurm
4 Personal Tutor
2 Phyrexian Portal
2 Possessed Aven
1 Pristine Angel
4 Probe
2 Rend Flesh
4 Sakura-Tribe Elder
4 Sensei’s Divining Top
1 Skriekmaw
1 Sol’kanar the Swamp King
1 Spiritmonger
4 Spite/Malice
1 Sunscape Battlemage
1 Swords to Plowshares
4 Sylvan Library
2 Tarmogoyf
2 Temporal Manipulation
4 Terminate
4 Thornscape Battlemage
1 Thunderscape Battlemage
4 Tribal Flames
1 Vindicate
3 Werebear
1 Wonder
1 Wrath of God
2 Wrecking Ball
1 Yosei, the Morning Star
3 Adarkar Wastes
1 Azorius Chancery
4 Bad River
2 Boros Garrison
2 City of Brass
1 Coastal Tower
3 Flood Plain
2 Flooded Strand
7 Forest
2 Golgari Rot Farm
1 Grasslands
1 Grove of the Burnwillows
2 Gruul Turf
9 Island
2 Izzet Boilerworks
2 Karplusan Forest
7 Mountain
2 Mountain Valley
2 Orzhov Basilica
1 Overgrown Tomb
7 Plains
2 Rakdos Carnarium
2 Rocky Tar Pit
2 Sacred Foundry
1 Selesnya Sanctuary
1 Shivan Reef
2 Simic Growth Chamber
1 Stomping Ground
1 Sulfurous Springs
7 Swamp
3 Temple Garden
1 Underground River
1 Watery Grave
1 Yavimaya Coast

That is officially a horrendous manabase, by the way. Shards will help out a bit here with the tri taps.

Note that yes, my deck is 273 cards. This is casual land, not tournament land, so although I’d love to cut 23 cards, it’s hard for me to do. I play Prismatic pretty exclusively online, so if I cut it here, then I’ll likely not play it anywhere, and that’s sad.

A lot of my deck is weird, because I have some really high value cards, and then some obvious holes in my collection. I have just a single Kodama’s Reach, which is common, but I have two Tarmogoyfs. Crazy, I know. That’s what happens when you are a drafter, you know? All of my expensive cards, except for a handful of cards from the three sets I am redeeming in the future, came from drafts or casual trades, not from purchases with tickets. (I think Kokusho was purchased for my set, as was Meloku and a couple of duals from Ravnica.)

Let’s play a game. What card in here wins me more games than any other? What is, without question, the absolutely best winning condition in my deck? Eternal Dragon? Exalted Angel? No, I just have one copy each of those. Perhaps Tarmogoyf or Werebear? Nope.

Ordered Migration. Seriously, it wins games. There are a lot of Rend Flesh, Swords to Plowshares and Terminate type effects in the format, and Ordered Migration gets around that. It wins games. Tribal Flames gets me a ton of kills too.

Prismatic plays differently than a lot of formats. Both of you spend the first four or five turns fixing your manabase before you start slinging creatures and spells. As a result, the early drops are not as useful here as they are in some formats. An aggro deck can work, with a bunch of cheap creatures from Watchwolf to Isamaru and Savannah Lions, but I doubt it would be truly successful without a ton of duals. Does anyone want to invest a ton of money into a deck just so they can run an aggro strategy?

Also note that Prismatic in the causal room is broken, without the Big Deck Mulligans that come with the format. As a result, you cannot free mulligan a one or zero land hand. (Or a seven land hand). That means you need to have a weirder manabase. I have more of the Ravnica block Karoo lands than I’d wish, because I need a way out of a land-light hand.

Because the format is currently broken, I frown upon land destruction. Playing an Uktabi Efreet and taking out an opponent’s Signet is one thing, because artifact mana is innately fragile, and you know that when you run it. I am also okay with launching a Wrecking Ball at my opponent’s Academy Ruins or other special land. However, with a broken format, I disagree, in theory, with decks or plays that punish the weak land base innate to the format.

People are going to lose enough times just by having a weak manabase, that you should not exacerbate it. I played against a mono-Red Prismatic deck that used a bunch of the hybrid cards (and other tricks such as morph and cycle) fill the color requirement and just ran Mountains, plus land destruction like Stone Rains and such. In a tournament setting, I’d say my opponent was clever. This is the casual room though, so I took my loss to him, and then blocked him. The deck was not in the spirit of the format.

Some of the cards in my Prismatic deck do not need an introduction. If you do not know my love affair with Thornscape Battlemage by now, then you never will. Flametongue Kavu and Fact or Fiction serve obvious roles.

Also I am not saying that I have a fully tricked out deck. Some run Trinket Mages just to get their Top, but I don’t. I’m running Top, however, so there is that.

I actually had someone concede against me once when I played Temple Garden, paid the life, and then tapped it for Birds of Paradise. Looking at my decklist, do you think my deck really warrants people get upset about the rares and conceding? I have played fully foiled decks with tons of duels, Goyfs, and every power card you can imagine, and still pulled off a victory. That’s the nature of the format! Don’t concede just because someone gets a good first or second turn.

Nekrataal has really been a money card for me, and I wish I had more Shriekmaws because then my Nekrataal would be more of a beater and require less Black mana to play. Still, my Neks have gotten me out of plenty of jams, and I love them.

Jilt is a surprise to many people. It is often the perfect answer. I bounce your Call of the Herd token and kill your Flametongue Kavu is really strong. It can also be used with block tricks. I might block your Civic Wayfinder with my Thornscape Battlemage. Then I put damage on the stack, bounce my Battlemage and deal two to your Eternal Witness. I’ve even used it to kill a 4/4 Loxodon Hierarch before, by blocking with a 2/2, then bouncing and dealing two more with Jilt.

Along with Jilt is Aether Mutation. This is best against reanimation. I once took six from Akroma on the fourth turn, then proceeded to untap, play my fifth land, and Aether Mutate her. I had eight 1/1 saprolings, and my opponent had Akroma back in hand. I dropped my total to two because sometimes it is not that good, but when it is, it will win games. I used to run Death Mutation, but that cost too much mana and I pulled it.

Card drawing is great, and the best card drawing spell in the format is not Fact or Fiction, although that it really good. Allied Strategies is the power card here, almost always getting your five, and occasionally getting your four (which is still better than Tidings with its double Blue mana cost). Some people prefer Tidings or other cards, as a supplement. I run Deep Analysis because it does not require double Blue. Although I do run Braingeyser, it does not fill the same role. You play Deep Analysis and other card drawing spells in the early game, as you are sorting your mana, It helps you find lands, land search, and can be done safely before there are serious threats on the board. In the mid-game, when staring at a Ravenous Baloth and a Taurean Mauler, you do not want to play Allied Strategies. You want to play answers or your own threats.

Braingeyser is not meant to be played in that early game, unlike Fact or Fiction, Deep Analysis, Tidings or Allied Strategies. It is meant to be played much later as a means to refill your hand when you have hit the wall.

Panglacial Wurm is a staple of the format, since you can get it out of your deck and into play with any deck search. Later in the game, drawing a Sakura-Tribe Elder is not a waste, because you can turn it into a Panglacial Wurm.

Personal Tutor is allowed as a four of right now, so I have a bunch from my MED2 drafts. It does not get me much, beyond a single Vindicate and card drawing. The Vindicate allows me to kill any offending thing at the table, so that‘s nice. I usually just get Allied Strategies, although I have gotten Tribal Flames a few times in order to end the game in my favor. I’ve gotten Kodama’s Reach a couple of times in the early game as well.

I swear by Lightning Bolt. In Five Color it’s great, especially with a lot of aggro running around, but there are other things to do with your Red mana, if you want. Here it is downright essential because so many creatures are vulnerable to it. It is great at taking out an early threat and leaving me mana to still search up land or play a card drawer.

Sylvan Library is far better than Top in most circumstances, including the fact that it does not require mana, and yet I have never seen one on the other side of the table. You can use a Top aggressively on your turn to find something, put to the Top on your library and play it, or defensively on your opponent’s turn to set up your next draw. The Sylvan Library is using the Top defensively, but without any mana investment, which is really good. However, you cannot use it aggressively like a Top. On the other hand, you the Top takes mana and cannot draw you cards like the Library can, so normally I’d rather have a Library than a Top. Neither suck, but if I had to choose between one or the other, I’d choose Library. The fact that it’s Green rarely hurts because you emphasize Green so much when building your deck because of land search. I think I win more games because Library does not take mana or I draw needed cards than those I lose because I couldn’t play my Library to find my land in the early game.

Aven Mindcensor is good in theory but it has not been good in practice for me yet. I’ve stopped some land search before, and a Trinket Mage once, but that’s about it. I’ll experiment with it a little bit more before yanking it, but it had better start pulling its own weight, that’s all I’m saying.

Sometimes my deck does not have enough artifact/enchantment removal and sometimes it has too much. Orim’s Thunder and Dismantling Blow can help out, and Vindicate can always take out the artificial. Thornscape Battlemage dislike artifacts. I even run a single copy of Thunderscape Battlemage to off an enchantment. You don’t want cards like Naturalize or Seal of Primordium mucking up your situation, because you will not always need it, but when you do, you want to draw it somehow.

I have recently added three Imperial Recruiters to my deck from Masters Edition 2, and I love them. They can get me a Civic Wayfinder to fix my land. A Thunderscape or Thornscape Battlemage can take out an enchantment or artifact as needed. Nekrataal can take out an opposing creature. Mulldrifter will draw you some cards. Gloomdrifter can kill a bunch of small creatures. Wonder can get tossed in your graveyard for the obvious reasons. You can even get Meloku if you want something resembling a beater.

I find that adding tutor redundancy adds to my ability to take out on offensive permanent when needed. Personal Tutor can get Vindicate, Imperial Recruiter can get a creature to destroy any non-Land, non-Planeswalker permanent. Liliana Vess can do the same, as can Imperial Seal.

Garruk Wildspeaker was picked up by me in a casual trade a few months ago, and I haven’t been that impressed. He can go wild crazy with the untap lands by abusing Karoo lands, and his ability to make some 3/3s is solid, but his ultimate ability is weak, and I never use it. That makes him just an interesting little tool instead of a broken implement. Liliana Vess and Chandra Nalaar are worth it, but I am not sold on Garruk yet. I don’t have a Jace or Ajani or else I’d have information about them.

Although my deck has a lot of medium size beaters, like Possessed Aven; Ashling, the Extingusher; Brion Stoutarm; and Loxodon Hierarch, it is lacking in the bigger creature department. I only have a handful of the bigger and better creatures like Pristine Angel, Eternal Dragon, Exalted Angel, Iridescent Angel, Keiga, Kokusho, Yosei and such. I wish I had more beaters like Simic Sky Swallower or more Kokushos. I’d even take a Darksteel Colossus or three. When I redeem my Champions set, I lose a bunch of great beaters and I’m left with five beaters in the entire deck. (Sol’Kanar, Pristine, Exalted, Iridescent, Bogardan Hellkite).

In order to be a true beater, you have to be at least 5/5, and have an evasion ability (like Sol’kanar’s swampwalk or Eternal Dragon’s flying), or a 4/4 with an evasion and protection ability (like Iridescent Angel). By this definition, even Exalted is not a beater, but I made that an exception. That means Panglacial Wurm, Krosan Tusker, and the 4/4s I have are not true beaters. Still, you get the point. My deck has little is the way of true game finishers. I need to get some that are Prismatic friendly, and Akromas (either one) are not. They take too much colored mana. This might be why Ordered Migration wins me games, because I lack a lot of good finishers of quality.

Kaervek the Merciless has not earned his stripes yet either, and I keep waiting for a Kaervek win. My opponent got a Kaervek win with his Torch, but I haven’t gotten it to really work yet. Kaervek always gets Swordsed, and who cares if I deal one damage to the player of that? Kumano is another legend not fully pulling his weight, and he has a short string left.

I need some more of the better cards in the format. Two Etched Oracle. Two Eternal Witness. One Kodama’s Reach. I don’t have any Arc-Slogger. No Putrify. Just one Mortify. No Diminishing Returns. Zero Mirari’s Wake.

I have a bunch of IPA stuff that I opened long ago, but no Deed, just one Vindicate and one Spiritmonger. No Rakavolver or Anavolver. I pulled my Mystic Snakes because they often sat in my hand, and my counter magic has gotten smaller and smaller over the years. Perhaps it is time to pull the last ones. Nah, Evasive Action is too good to pull. I think domain is just so powerful here, Allied Strategies, Ordered Migration, Evasive Action, Tribal Flames. I would not yell at you for running Collective Restraint or Wayfaring Giant. I recently pulled my Recoils and I miss them, I had a full set in my deck but agreed that four Jilts, four Recoils, and two Aether Mutations was too much bounce.

Browse is strong, as is Phyrexian Portal. You can get a lot of cards off either. A smart opponent offs those as soon as possible.

I only own a small number of Wrath effects, so there are only a small number in my deck. Two Damnations, a Wrath, an Akroma’s Vengeance, and two Desolation Giants are my hopes for Wrathing the board. No Rout, no Hollowed Burial, nothing. I do own a Righteous Fury but I don’t think it’s good enough to play. Perhaps I’ll run it out of desperation, but I doubt it.

Despite my deck being far, far from perfect, it wins more than it loses, and that’s something I’m proud of. I hope you enjoyed this look at Prismatic and my deck. Perhaps you got some ideas for your own decks, whether online or off.

Until later…

Abe Sargent