Jay Moldenhauer-Salazar (feel free to call him JMS) started playing Magic for fun during Ice Age and for prizes during Mirage. He has since abandoned the big tournaments to focus on creative deckbuilding, moved from Ann Arbor, Michigan to the San Francisco Bay Area, and has a wife, a child, a dog, a corporate job, a weekly column at Magicthegathering.com, and a novel ("Birthright," published by Virtualbookworm.com). What the hell happened?!?
You may have noticed that every single card in the deck is currently from the Mirrodin block (that is, Mirrodin, Darksteel, or Fifth Dawn). This isn’t hugely surprising since the deck is based around the cog mechanic, a mechanic first seen in Fifth Dawn with most of the usable cogs either in that set or in the form of Mirrodin’s Spellbombs. However, it bugs me that no other Standard-legal cards have thus far made it into the deck. Can it really be true that nothing from Eighth Edition, Onslaught, Legions, or Scourge is worth including?
The previous changes I’ve made to the deck have been about focusing it on the cog theme and away from the weenie-equipment theme. The focusing stage is over. We have ourselves a relatively focused deck, and one that I’ve hopefully shown is capable of playing some incredibly wacky games. Now we move onto testing, swapping various cards in and out to see what I like best given the deck’s focus. This testing stage is where I’ll be trying out a lot of the suggestions in the Forums, discarding most of them but hopefully finding some hidden gems for the deck on my way to a stable decklist.
I think the remaining cards are all fine cards to have in a deck focused on cogs. Version 2.0 can show up in the Casual Constructed room unapologetically and feel fine about its chances, rarely cringing at a draw. My recent stretch of games has proven that at least now I can sometimes have a winning streak. Each card now makes at least a modicum of sense.
Which means that now the changes get interesting. Today it’s time to play: Weakest Link.
I have the quick Chromatic Sphere, Leonin Squire, Leonin Squire start and am attacking early and often. He has removal, but it comes in the form of Devour in Shadow, so his life is still going down. By the time he gets Consume Spirit, I have a Trinket Mage and Aether Spellbomb, so his spells fizzle (and grab me more cogs). To add insult to injury, I have a Leonin Elder, which brings my life up to twenty-five. He Fireballs to try and clear the board, I save a Squire with the Spellbomb, drop a second Trinket Mage to join him and my opponent concedes.
You thought Friday was big? As MyFeetStink said in Thursday’s Forum thread,”The fun is in the journey, not in the destination.” Well strap yourselves in, kiddies, because we’re going on a bit of a roller-coaster featuring more game recaps and ch-ch-ch-changes!
Before I make any other changes to the deck, I want to nudge it closer to cog-tacularity and further away from WW Equip. I fully admit that someone else doing this experiment would do the exact opposite, which is part of the fun.
As have mentioned, the Nuts and Bolts deck is getting pulled in at least two directions. On one hand, it wants to be a weenie beatdown deck with small creatures packing equipment and Qumulox as cleanup. On the other hand, it wants to be a tricky control deck with one-mana”cog” cards like Aether Spellbomb to go along with Salvaging Station, Auriok Salvagers, Trinket Mage, and Leonin Squire. Look at the two rares, Auriok Windwalker and Salvaging Station, and you’ll see another signal of its two competing directions.
One of the things I’ve been thinking about in preparation of this experiment is how truly bad preconstructed decks are compared to other Constructed decks. Don’t get me wrong – I actually enjoy the precons a lot. I get a full set of them at every release, playing them with my wife once a month or so. That’s sort of the point, though. I play them against other preconstructed decks; I would never play a preconstructed deck at, say, Friday Night Magic. Why? Why does Wizards make the decks so anemic
As promised, I rolled a d4 to pick a Fifth Dawn preconstructed deck (if this isn’t compelling enough of an image, let’s say I pulled four snails from my garden and had a race across the driveway… my son, he loves snails). The winner of this little experiment is…
As I started thinking about the spirit of this endeavor of mine, I started to realize there were some rules I could follow to force me to go slow and generally enjoy the experience of evolving a preconstructed deck. Then I realized these weren’t”rules” so much as”guidelines.” Rules would suggest I don’t intend to break them, but I think each of these guidelines, especially two through four, I may seriously challenge during this process.
Today my month-long blog experiment winds to a close. Today’s your chance to influence my thinking. If this blog hasn’t met your expectations, tell me why and what you had hoped to see. If you’re enjoying yourself, tell me so and what sort of content you’d like to see more or less frequently in the future. I’m feeling at a crossroads with the blog only thirty days in, and want to think through my next steps. I’m definitely energized enough to keep writing, I just need to decide whether it’s the blog I want to write or not.