Hello readers, and welcome to the column that loves to talk about various casual formats. Today, I want to do an update on Acid Magic and then actually build a deck for you.
Many of you may remember Acid Magic from my article on Pauper-Prismatic-Singleton. In it, I went over the online casual format generally referred to as PPS. I talked of many ways to bring it offline, using the rules of 5 Color, Pauper and Highlander (which abbreviated is 5PH, or Acidic on the pH scale). This little comment led to other sites and calling the real life version Acid Magic, so I have followed suit.
I have written on the format once in an official article, as an entry to the Compendium of Alternate Formats. I also talked about it at length in an article on card advantage and have mentioned it in several set reviews. Today, I wanted to revisit the format and actually build a deck for it.
As the combination of several popular formats, let’s take a look at the quick rules of Acid Magic:
1). Your deck must have at last 300 cards
2). Your deck must have at least 25 cards of each color
3). Your deck may only use commons
4). You may not use more than one copy of any card other than basics
5). You may use gentle mulligan rules like no land, one land, etc.
There has been a discussion in the community as to whether or not real life PPS, Acid Magic, should follow the new rules of Five Color or the old ones that are kept in the 250 format. In other words, stick with 250 cards and 20 per color, or move up?
This is an excellent question. Since Five Color has moved up, I think it is safe to move up as well, since Acid is supposed to be the intersection of three formats, of which Five Color is one. That way, if you sit down at a prerelease to duel someone in Acid Magic, you both have similar deckbuilding rules. However, if your playgroup wants to stick at 250 and 20 for their Tuesday Night Magic at the kitchen table, then please do so. The important part is to have fun with what you are doing!
There are always going to be questions about things like, “Can I have a Lightning Bolt from M10 and one from Revised?” or , “Which color does a hybrid card count as?” or perhaps even, “Can I play the uncommon Counterspell since it was printed as a common?”
For the answers to these and similar questions, hit up the original article here.
It goes over many of the side cases. Let me anticipate some questions though, as per the nature of their individual formats:
A. Gold and hybrid cards can count for any of their colors, but not more than one of them.
B. The rarity is the lowest of the card, not of that printing. Thus, you can play an uncommon version of a card if it has been printed, in real life, as a common.
C. You must play only one copy of each card by name, not by set or language or anything else.
That means this format is very, very cheap to play. What excuse is there to not build one? Everybody has extra commons just sitting around and taking up space. There’s no reason not to build a deck out of them, right?
Some of the principles of deckbuilding are explored in great detail in the first article, like redundancy and card advantage. Then there are others such as mana and flexibility that you need to worry about too. However, you need to understand that the Acid Magic metagame is going to be different than the one you are familiar with. Let’s talk about how.
Commons vs Everything Else
When you look at the sorts of cards that are common, you begin to see some trends, and I’ll give you some examples. Here are things that there are tons of at common:
1). Pinpoint Creature Removal — Everything from Dark Banishing to Terror to Snuff Out and more is common. There are a lot of options for pinpoint Black creature removal.
2). Burn. You will not suffer for Red burn options, from classics like Lightning Bolt and Incinerate to Firebolt and Thunderbolt.
3). Efficient beaters. There are tons of aggressive beaters with aggressive casting costs. Sure, you are missing things like Watchwolf, Savannah Lions and Woolly Thoctar, but look at cards from Kird Ape and Jungle Lion through Stormfront Pegasus, Fledgling Djinn, River Boa and Wild Nacatl.
4). Countermagic. Most of the common counters are those that just counter (Counterspell, Cancel, etc) or those that require a mana commitment to try and counter (Spell Blast, Power Sink, Syncopate, etc). The cards that counter as well as doing something impressive are typically uncommon or rare (like Desertion, Dismiss, Forbid, Undermine, and more). However, you can still build a powerful selection of spells like Faerie Trickery and Mana Leak.
5). Small flyers. I mentioned some in the efficient beater section, like Fledgling Djinn and Stormfront Pegasus. You can easily find flyers for five mana or less with three power in common. There’s stuff like Assault Zeppelid, Esper Cormorants, Aven Windreader, Soul Scourge, and Wayward Soul.
6). Green beef. There are lots of nice options for some bigger creatures, typically but not exclusively, in Green. The way your deck is built will certainly dictate what you want, but creatures like Crabapple Cohort, Blastoderm, Scuzzback Marauders, Sigiled Behemoth, and one of my faves, Streetbreaker Wurm, can find ways to be played in many decks.
7). Land Fetching. Luckily, there are a lot of common options for grabbing lands. The only ones that are uncommon or rare get a ton of lands, like Gift of Estates or Land Tax. We can focus on the tons of other land searchers, from Kodama’s Reach and Sakura-Tribe Elder to Rampant Growth and even Lay of the Land.
8). Disenchants. There are a lot of powerful Disenchant effects in uncommons, typically ones that get card advantage or do a lot of extra stuff. In plain ol’ common, we have a few Naturalize and Disenchant effects, plus many other Shatter and Demystify effects. Dismantling Blow and Orim’s Thunder lead the list, but you can get value from cards as diverse as Seal of Primordium and Ronom Unicorn.
9). Discard. Black has discard effects all up and down its commonalities, and you can find stuff like Duress or Mind Rot in common for your discarding needs.
10). Card sifting. Most card sifting spells, like Impulse and Sleight of Hand, are common.
There are also a few other ones that are commonly available, but not as good. For example, things like Giant Growths, Jumps, Stone Rains, and Firebreathing creatures are all often found in common slots, but I doubt you want to play Pygmy Pyrosaur or Defy Gravity in your deck.
Note that some things are missing — sweeping removal, mass card drawing, large flyers, defensive enchantments, planeswalkers, and more. The result is an environment without many swinging spells, like Armageddon or Wrath of God, Mind Twist or Mind Spring.
Alright, so let’s build a quick Acid Magic deck. What sort of deck? How about aggro?
Aggro Acid Magic
Kami of Ancient Law
Soltari Foot Soldier
Guardian of the Guildpact
Seal of Cleansing
Fire at Will
Raise the Alarm
Drift of Phantasms
Mysteries of the Deep
Reap and Sow
Search for Tomorrow
Dimir House Guard
Chill to the Bone
Golgari Rot Farm
Simic Growth Chamber
This aggro deck should clock in at just 300 cards. Each of the Blue, Black and White sections has just enough cards (25) in order to meet the requirements. Note that no card in these sections require double mana of that color. Green and Red are colors of emphasis. Because of the large number of gold and hybrid cards that are Red and/or Green in the other colors, it enabled me to find the right cards for the deck, such as stuff like Fire at Will for White, Gaea’s Skyfolk in Blue and Goblin Deathraiders in Black. A UB card is just as hard to play as BB, so I didn’t run any gold card unless it only had one non-Green or one non-Red mana needed to play it at most. With such a large emphasis on Green and Red, I was able to slide in cards that meet my needs, like Valley Rannet, as a way to get that crucial land early.
My deck certainly emphasizes early beaters from old school players like Ghazban Ogre to new stuff like Putrid Leech. However, there is also a place for creatures with a slightly higher casting cost, in order to ramp up a bit, in case you need to outsmash your opponent’s defenses. Stuff like Leonin Armorguard and classic Acid Magic creatures like Errant Ephemeron, Skyreach Manta and Guardian of the Guildpact make for great later drops. I would love to drop Kird Ape, Thornweald Archer, Hissing Iguanar and then Leonin Armorguard for a ton of damage from some minor creatures.
The deck contains some essentials like Deep Analysis, and land search like Armillary Sphere. You have a ton of burn, a smattering of pinpoint removal in Black and one card in White, some Disenchant effects, and Blue card sifting like Ponder and Portent. I have some evasive creatures in White/Blue/Black that meet the theme, such as shadow guys, unblockable dudes and flyers.
The only card tutoring in the deck is a few transmute cards in Blue/Black and land search. I broke my no “UB” casting cost rule in order to run vital cards like Perplex and Dimir Infiltrator. You have ways of getting any land, so you can grab the right non-basic such as Bojuka Bog, if needed. I only included three of the ETB/CIP common lands with an effect from Zendikar and Worldwake — the Peaks, Bog and Depths.
The cycling lands give you something to do with extra land draws, and also help you find vital cards and build threshold. They are very useful in this format, trust me. They are virtual essentials. Similarly, the Karoo lands from Ravnica Block, since they are really the only major dual mana making lands in the format, making them virtual essentials as well.
I haven’t done an analysis of the deck to determine if the spell/creature ratio is good enough or not, so hopefully the deck editor will work and we’ll get an analysis of it in order to see. If it’s off, you can start adding some creatures and pull out spells. Otherwise, you can play it and try it out.
This would not be my choice for the best sort of deck in the format. I’d think a more controllish deck with most cards having a card-advantage-sensitivity would be better. What this does you is a simple idea to build around and see. Here is a deck from the format, made in about an hour by me. It gives you a skeleton and jumping off point.
With that, I come to the end of yet another article. I hope you had a blast reading this week’s article. While I cannot comment on every card in today’s article, I’d be happy to address why I included certain cards in the forums, if you want. Hopefully, we’ll see you next week, when the casual column continues.