The Weekly Guild Build: The Deck So Strong, It Almost Won

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StarCityGames.com!This week, The Ferrett cracks open cards of such amazing power that he can mulligan down to four cards twice and almost pull out a win. Of course, that word “almost” is a bit tricky. Which also leads to the question of when you mulligan to four. But hey, that’s why we write articles, amiright?

I just realized that I haven’t lost to a misclick in the last week. Considering my amazing not-so-skillz on Magic Online, that’s a feat worth celebrating.

This is not to say that I haven’t misclicked. My Selesnya Evangels have been unmistakably suicidal lately, charging in to be eaten by Siege Wurms without so much as a by-your-leave. But that only happens for that final, all-out attack where I was going to win anyway, so I don’t mind the Evangel going out in a blaze of glory.

My misclicking is now at the level of “A severe irritation.” Occasionally I’ll choose the wrong critter and lose two points of damage with a Gather Courage, but those two points aren’t significant enough to matter. Which is good.

Still, I’d like to live in a misclick-free world, where MODO reads my mind and knows that I’m far too smart to cast a Dimir House Guard when I wanted to Transmute it. But what can you do?

Anyway, as usual, we have a deck for you. Take a look.

Solid playables: Condemn, Courier Hawk, Faith’s Fetters, Freewind Equenaut, Ghost Warden

A solid bunch of white here, with moderate (if unexceptional) strength all around; you got your White Flying effects, you got your White Removes Stuff effects, and you’ve got your White Protection effects.

You also have Condemn — which is a White Removes Stuff effect, but let’s talk about it anyway. Having played with it for a fair amount in this format, I’ll still say it’s decent for Sealed deck, but not backbreaking. I don’t like the fact that they can theoretically get the creature back with a shuffle effect, and I really hate the lifegain. Generally, you want to use it on their biggest creature, and from personal experience the four-point life swing from Condemning a Streetbreaker Wurm can destroy the offensive lead you’ve built up. You won’t be casting this if you can win the combat, which means that generally you’ll spend a minimum of two turns just catching up to the lead you’ve given ‘em.

That said, it’s often better than, you know, losing.

What I do not have here is Guardian of the Guildpact. This is a shame, since last week, people told me how darned good it was, and you know what? They were right. Having faced it a few times and been righteously annoyed, it’s as good as they say it is. 2/3 is surprisingly large in the world of teeny hybrid critters, and you can’t destroy it with most effects. It’s not a worldbreaker, but it’s good enough to be bumped up to an auto-include if I am in those colors.

Solid playables: Compulsive Research, Halcyon Glaze, Ocular Halo, Repeal, Vacuumelt, Vedalken Dismisser

Hey! Just like White, we have a solid smattering o’ the Blue Stuff What Does What Blue Does Best. We’ve got some bounce, some card drawing, and…

…Okay, we don’t have much flying. We could use some flying.

That said, this is darned good Blue because even the secondaries are okay. Convolute and Runeboggle have their places in Sealed, and Enigma Eidolon and Terraformer are perfectly acceptable bodies. The lack of evasion’s a little sketchy — Blue doesn’t win on the ground, it wins by zipping by someone — but I wouldn’t mind running this at all.

But I won’t. Keep readin’.

Solid playables: Darkblast, Demon’s Jester, Dimir House Guard, Last Gasp, Orzhov Euthanist, Stinkweed Imp, Strands of Undeath

All right, well, that works. Nothin’ but hits from top to bottom, starting with killer removal in the form of Darkblast and Last Gasp (my favorite destruction spell in this format), going to solid creatures, and finishing with the hand-destroying Strands of Undeath.

So what? We have three colors that are playable? Surely, the Red will disappoint….

Solid playables: Flash Conscription, Galvanic Arc, Tin Street Hooligan, Viashino Fangtail

As usual, Red needs to pair up with something, but this is good red — a great removal spell, an excellent combat surprise, and a pinger. Oh, what a pinger. And Flash Conscription often reads, “Hi! Remember that lead you had with that gigantor creature? Yeah, that’s gone.”

The depth? Not so much. I know some who swear by Mindmoil, but I haven’t tried it — and probably won’t this time, either. The rest are Red’s usual filler. Given that we have some potency elsewhere, we’ll probably go with that.

“What is this card good for?” Dmitri asked when he cracked open a Stoneshaker Shaman, looking at it with surprise.

“Not much,” I said. “Sometimes, Wizards prints cards with weird effects to see what people do with them.”

He looked at the card again. “But what is it good for?”

I had no answer.

Solid playables: Aquastrand Spider, Birds of Paradise, Civic Wayfinder, Elvish Skysweeper, Fists of Ironwood, Gather Courage, Recollect, Root-Kin Ally, Transluminant

Ladies and gentlemen, a round of applause… I just opened up my first Birds of Paradise online! Yes, I just did pay for my tournament, why do you ask?

And a second round of applause, since today is No Green Card Left Behind day! That’s right — every single card in the Green slot is a solid playable. There are no bad cards. When has this ever happened?

Okay, Elvish Skysweeper isn’t the greatest of cards these days, when we don’t have tokens a-plenty to fling around. But you know, today’s a nice day. I’m gonna give it to him.

Since this is such a momentous occasion, I will not point out that this totally-playable Green does not have any large creatures aside from the Root-Kin Ally, leaving us a little low on the tank when it comes to the ground battles. But what kind of a sick jerk would point that out in our moment of triumph?

Okay, so we have four strong colors and a fifth decent color. This means the Gold cards are key. So what do we do?

Solid playables: Agent of Masks, Lightning Helix, Loxodon Hierarch, Mourning Thrull, Odds / Ends, Pillory of the Sleepless, Selesnya Evangel

*Cartman’s Mom voice*

Oh my.

Solid picks all around here… Which means that well, we could pretty much do anything we darned well please, as long as it involves White.

The question is, what White do we want? Do we want the juicy goodness of Loxodon Hierarch and Selesnya Evangel? Do we want the blasting power of Lightning Helix and the pants-yanking power of Ends? Or do we want the slow drain of the Pillory of the Sleepless and the Agent of Masks?

I do note that I am vastly overrating the value of Mourning Thrull. However, I was just in a game where I was down 6 to 15, then I stabilized the ground with a host of creatures. Over the next ten turns, I switched the totals from 16 to 5 as my opponent had to spend his business spells on my groundpounders as the Little Thrull That Could kept plinking away.

Thus, today it’s a solid playable. Tomorrow? It might be merely playable. But we are the champions today.

And speaking of tomorrow, remember yesterday? When Rally the Righteous was a great card? But alas, it is today, and today involves creatures of all five colors smashing it out on the field, weakening its power. It’s still good with the Selesnya Evangel, but it’s no longer an auto-play.

I should also note that this leaves Blue behind, since it has no good Gold cards. I like Blue, but I gots ta have my gold.

So What Do We Have For The Fans, Alex?
It comes down to the Gold cards. Obviously, we’re going Green/White because a) we have two solid Green/White cards, b) our Green is solid all the way through, and c) Green has three mana-fixers, which will make it easier to play said Gold cards.

So then it comes down to the question of Red vs. Blue. But without all the Halo re-enactments.

Red gives us some nice options: Lightning Helix is a great card for removal (especially when re-used with Recollect), but it’s really Odds / Ends that I’m looking for. Ends in particular will completely pants the unsuspecting opponent, completely neutralizing a tentative offense in an instant.

Black looks stronger, and probably is, giving us more removal in the raw colors but weaker Gold cards overall. Fortunately, I have some free time, so I tried out both builds this weekend while watching reruns of Babylon 5. In all honesty, I would have gone with the Red build first, but that’s the lure of the new; I’m bored with all of the Black cards, but it’s been awhile since I’ve played with Red.

1 Birds of Paradise
1 Civic Wayfinder
1 Courier Hawk
1 Elvish Skysweeper
1 Faith’s Fetters
1 Fists of Ironwood
1 Flash Conscription
5 Forest
1 Galvanic Arc
1 Gather Courage
1 Ghost Warden
1 Golgari Rot Farm
1 Lightning Helix
1 Loxodon Hierarch
4 Mountain
1 Mourning Thrull
5 Plains
1 Rally the Righteous
1 Recollect
1 Root-Kin Ally
1 Selesnya Evangel
1 Tin Street Hooligan
1 Transluminant
1 Viashino Fangtail
1 Aquastrand Spider
1 Azorius Chancery
1 Condemn
1 Freewind Equenaut
1 Odds / Ends

This deck actually did pretty well, going 4-2 despite — as I said — two mulligans to four and a hell of a lot of mulligans to five. It was surprisingly strong thanks to two factors: The Ends, which really surprised a lot of people, and the ability to randomly crush Signets and Sunforgers and other artifacts with the Tin Street Hooligan. (Of course, that last factor is just in the games I played — I doubt this would happen on a regular basis.)

The deck started with a weenie rush, but actually did pretty well; yeah, I only got the opponent down to five before my offense vanished, but Galvanic Arc and Lightning Helix (or a surprise Flash Conscription) usually took care of business. And the one game where I got crushed legitimately was in a deck with its own Loxodon Hierarch, three Guildmages (including that Saturday Afternoon monster movie matinee, The Dimir That Ate My Hand), its own Lightning Helix, and a boatload of other power. I wasn’t anywhere near that one.

I did, however, splash the Viashino Fangtail. Sometimes, I should take my own damn advice….

1 Agent of Masks
1 Birds of Paradise
1 Civic Wayfinder
1 Courier Hawk
1 Darkblast
1 Dimir House Guard
1 Dimir Aqueduct
1 Faith’s Fetters
1 Fists of Ironwood
5 Forest
1 Gather Courage
1 Ghost Warden
1 Golgari Rot Farm
1 Last Gasp
1 Loxodon Hierarch
1 Mourning Thrull
1 Pillory of the Sleepless
5 Plains
1 Recollect
1 Root-Kin Ally
1 Selesnya Evangel
1 Stinkweed Imp
1 Strands of Undeath
3 Swamp
1 Transluminant
1 Vigor Mortis
1 Aquastrand Spider
1 Azorius Chancery
1 Condemn
1 Freewind Equenaut

This deck went 4-0, but that was due to at least one concession from a guy when we were 1-1 in a close game. The ability to Transmute the Dimir into a Loxodon was a backbreaker, and the Stinkweed Imp helped fill an air gap that the W/G/R build usually couldn’t match. In addition, between the Loxodon and the Faith’s Fetters and the Agent of Masks, I usually gained at least four life points in every game (which is true of the W/G/R build, but the consistency was better).

Still, the lack of removal did hurt. Ends is such a potent spell (especially when you can Recollect it) that even Last Gasp and Darkblast weren’t quite able to make up for it, and the games I won here were a lot closer (and uncomfortably) than the ones I won with the W/G/R, which tended to be blowouts.

The Agent of Masks, however, was golden, winning me two games by itself. There’s some sort of stall? Okay, cool, between that and Pillory, I can drain you. At one point, I lasted ten turns, and killed the guy with my Agent. That’s Orzhov for ya.

And lastly, Vigor Mortis is a very fun way to get around a Soulsworn Jury. Especially when you do it twice with a Recollect.

Probably the W/G/B deck is a little better. But the W/G/R is more fun. Take your pick.

How Low Can You Go?
I mentioned “Mulliganing to four” in the teaser text to this article, which I’m sure led people to wonder. Why would anyone possibly mulligan to four?

Well, I admit it may not be the best move. But each time, it looked like this:

Opening Hand: Two lands of the wrong color.
Six: Several expensive spells, one land.
Five: No land whatsoever.
Four: A land. A hope.

There are those who would debate whether you should go to four, ever. My answer is “Almost certainly not, but I do it anyway.” There’s a psychological aspect at play here; personally, I gotta have at least one land to start with, or my perception is that I cannot win. (Which doesn’t account for the unlikeliness of winning from four, either, but at that stage I’m pretty much doomed anyway.)

But what do you think? When you get a five-card, no-land hand, what do you do? Sound off in the forums.

The Weekly Plug Bug
This week’s Home on the Strange, the webcomic that refuses to go away, is about cheating on your wife. The problem is, of course, “How do you define cheating?”

Signing off,
The Ferrett
The Here Edits This Site Here Guy