Tribal Thriftiness #60 – There’s Gold In Them Thar Conflux

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Tuesday, March 17th – All this talk about Alara Reborn and its multicolor nature has Dave thinking about gold. It’s a word that has many meanings in Magic, and Dave hits them all while featuring some of Conflux’s inexpensive rares.

Today we take a peek into the dollar rare section of the Conflux store and check out a couple of the gold cards there, but first I thought I’d take a moment to talk about the big news about Alara Reborn.

Some Quick Thoughts About All-Gold

In the words of what is probably a dozen forum dwellers worldwide: “I for one welcome our new all-gold overlords.” I don’t think it’s any big secret that I am a lover of all things multicolored. Invasion was my favorite expansion for a LONG time – probably up until Ravnica came out. It appeals on so many levels. Timmy loves that he can get bigger and better things for an ostensibly cheaper cost – he doesn’t care that some of that mana has to be different colors, he’s getting a 5/4 for three mana! Johnny loves the design space that opens up, and allows for one card to do multiple things. And Spike loves the aggressive costing – let’s face it, Desert Twister is a lot hotter when it costs half.

Some concern has been expressed around the Internetz about the impact this will have on Limited. I don’t think that should be a big concern. Does it really matter if, say, Incurable Ogre was a 5/1 for 3R or a 5/1 for, say, 2RG? I don’t think so. Wizards has proven that they’re fully capable of producing filler cards in multicolor (Vectis Agents, I’m lookin’ at you), so there shouldn’t be a concern about the potential power level. So really then it’s all about one-drops, and there’s enough of those in Shards and Conflux to round out the front of your curve.

Heck, the last draft I was in, I think I had one two-drop and my curve started at three.

No, I didn’t win, so maybe that’s not a real recommendation.

To sum up, I like the idea. It’s gimmicky but it fits the block, definitely better than it would have in Invasion or Ravnica. It will only impact Limited for, what, three months, before M10 comes out and becomes the draft set of choice. And I’m hoping that having an all-gold set will let R&D really stretch out where the boundaries of being multicolored are. We already have multicolored artifacts, so that’s a no-brainer. Will there be lands?

Another thing I thought was that this is the perfect opportunity to bring back split cards. Here’s what I would have done: I would have made split cards for allied-color pairs where both halves are gold, and each half is something associated with one of the Shards. You could make a Black-Red split card, for instance, where one half is something Grixis and the other half is something Jund. There, that’s my free Design thought of the month. Take it for what it’s worth. (Which is what it cost – nuthin’.)

Right. I like it. Looking forward to seeing how Wizards will try and outdo themselves this time.

Now, into the dollar store to find some gold of our own! (See, it’s funny because they’re GOLD – ‘cause they’re rares – and they’re GOLD – ‘cause they’re multicolor! It gets less funny when I have to explain it.)

There Will Be Blood Tyrant

I am almost reluctant to talk about vampires. My wife has been on this Twilight kick recently after getting turned on to the book series by some friends. The movie, the books, the fan fictions … it’s been a downward spiral. But, in light of the fact that the movie releases at the end of this week, I imagine a vampire is somewhat… appropriate.

Thankfully, this one is more about eating people and not so much about the teen angst. Gag.

Blood Tyrant ($1.00) is, simply put, a big boy. He starts out at 5/5, takes his first attack at 6/6, and just keeps growing from there. Unmolested, he’s a three-turn clock. So why no love? He flies, he tramples, so you would think Five-Color Control would love this guy. Sure, you get TWO dragons out of Broodmate, but this guy is unimpeded by tokens, gets in a consistent ping every turn whether he attacks or not, and is even in the colors that Five-Color Control wants to focus on.

It would be easy to stick him into a Five-Color Control frame as the “big beef” alternative to Broodmate, but I think that the budget version of Five-Color Control is probably “less than spectacular” due to the loss of (a) Reflecting Pool and (b) Cryptic Command, both of which are probably outside the range of what a budget player would like to spend, especially in multiples. But I do think there’s still enough of the basic structure left to port a Three-Color Control version.

4 Blood Tyrant
4 Mulldrifter
3 Plumeveil

4 Negate
4 Volcanic Fallout
4 Countersquall
4 Broken Ambitions
3 Terror
2 Grixis Charm
2 Cruel Ultimatum

4 Crumbling Necropolis
3 Faerie Conclave
4 Grixis Panorama
4 Vivid Marsh
3 Vivid Creek
2 Vivid Crag
2 Island
2 Mountain
2 Swamp

Rare Cost Summary:
Blood Tyrant ($1.00 x 4 = $4.00)
Cruel Ultimatum ($2.50 x 2 = $5.00)

I can’t decide if I think the Vivid lands are actually good in this deck. You obviously don’t get the great interaction between them and Reflecting Pool, but I do think that they are probably passable choices in the budget version of the deck. They still clean up your colors to a certain extent, and you still aren’t overly bothered by them coming into play tapped. I cut back on the total number of Vivid lands due to the Crumbling Necropolises. Mulldrifter makes his way back into the deck since you can’t support Esper Charm, which has become the de facto “draw two” in Five-Color Control nowadays, but he’s still a pretty good guy. In fact, I think the questionable creature is actually Plumeveil – it might be tough to get UUU to play him regularly. In fact, I might go ahead and make them Wall of Air. You aren’t going to be trading with any Mistbind Cliques, but you still kill off 1/1 tokens, and you can hold off a lot of the creatures in today’s Standard.

Rares You Could Add, If You Had Them: The more rares you add, the closer this comes to being Five-Color Control, and I really like it as a Three-Color Control deck. Once you start looking at adding things beyond Reflecting Pool or Cryptic Command, you start having to ask yourself whether the fourth or fifth color really bring anything exciting – and how far you’re willing to go to make sure you can use them reliably.

Dollar Rares for Fun and Profit

Gwafa Hazid, Profiteer ($1.00) is my kind of guy. Underhanded, sneaky, and capable of influencing a battlefield for a small investment. He’s not expensive mana-cost-wise, and has a decent body for the price. Sure, he dies to Volcanic Fallout, but what doesn’t these days?

He comes across as a defensive creature. Bribed guys can’t attack, which forces your opponent to overextend and walk into a mass removal spell, which nets you more value, right? The problem is that Gwafa Hazid also (presumably) dies in that mass removal spell, which puts you right back into defensive mode.

I think Gwafa Hazid might be better served as an aggressive force. Despite the fact that I had to read it three times to be sure, Gwafa Hazid also prevents bribed creatures from blocking, which means that you can create a force of creatures of your own and swing in unimpeded by pesky blockers.

4 Gwafa Hazid, Profiteer
3 Sygg, River Guide

4 Merrow Reejerey
4 Cursecatcher
4 Silvergill Adept
3 Stonybrook Banneret
2 Cold-Eyed Selkie

4 Negate
4 Sage’s Dousing
4 Hindering Light
2 Tidings

4 Arcane Sanctum
3 Faerie Conclave
10 Island
6 Plains

Rare Cost Summary:
Gwafa Hazid, Profiteer ($1.00 x 4 = $4.00)
Sygg, River Guide ($1.50 x 3 = $4.50)
Cold-Eyed Selkie ($1.00 x 2 = $2.00)

Blue already has a creature-rush strategy in place, even though it’s not nearly as prevalent as it once was. Gwafa Hazid appears to be a pretty good fit. I really wish Sygg was better suited to protect Gwafa Hazid, which is why I ended up with four in the deck. Bribe counters from previous Gwafas are picked up by a new Gwafa, so the effort and expenditure isn’t lost when you are forced to run out a second one. It’s also how Hindering Light got into the deck – to protect Gwafa (or really any of your Merfolk) from targeted removal. Seems good in theory.

Rares You Could Add, If You Had Them: Glorious Anthem ($5.00) offers another way to pull Gwafa Hazid out of Volcanic Fallout range.

Playing For Gold

All this talk about gold has me thinking about money. So it’s good that I’m heading up to the Front Range Magic Team Challenge next weekend, where I’ll be taking my shot at the cash prize pool, as well as bragging rights for the whole Front Range area. Next week might be a departure for me, since I would like to talk about the deck I chose and how I did, so please bear with me for a not-really-budget week. At least if I do win cash, I’ll have a good topic for the week after that: What to spend all that hard-earned dough on.

Until next week…


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