Category: MTG Deck Techs


hydra-broodmaster-journey-into-nyx

Last time, we examined the “Fate” deck from the Magic 2015 Clash Pack, and found some replacements from the Theros block and Magic 2015 that made the deck far more solid. Today, we’ll be doing a deck tech for the “Fury” deck from that same Clash Pack, and see how we can improve upon it.

FURY (Red/Green)

Creatures (28)
Hydra Broodmaster (FOIL)
Elvish Mystic
Generator Servant
Voyaging Satyr
Nessian Courser
Reclamation Sage
Courser of Kruphix
Ill-Tempered Cyclops
Karametra’s Acolyte
Nylea’s Disciple
Nessian Game Warden
Arbor Colossus
Nemesis of Mortals
Genesis Hydra

Non-Creature Spells (7)
2 Lightning Strike
2 Plummet
1 Boulderfall
1 Font of Fertility (FOIL)
1 Fated Intervention (FOIL)

Lands (24)
Mountain
16 Forest
Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

Previously, we’ve discussed that Hydra Broodmaster is a fun card. In a deck based around Green Devotion, it will likely become pretty big. A single copy can remain. The playset of Elvish Mystic will also remain. The Voyaging Satyrs will go, despite being useful ramp cards, to be replaced by two more copies of Generator Servant. They simply do more for the aggressive theme.

courser-of-kruphix-born-of-the-gods

Nessian Courser comes right out, as we’ll need that deck slot later. Courser of Kruphix will gain three more friends. The Karametra’s Acolytes, while nice cards, will be replaced by Sylvan Caryatid, and the Nessian Courser that was removed earlier will also be replaced by a Caryatid. 

Ill-Tempered Cyclops will be replaced by better cards, as well. Nylea’s Disciple can gain you a good chunk of life, but we have an easy replacement for these, as we also have replacements for the Nessian Game Wardens. Arbor Colossus is solid enough to stay. The Nemesis of Mortals are nice, but won’t fit the theme we are going for here, so they’ll go. The one Genesis Hydra will also stay in.

The three new copies of Courser of Kruphix will replace the Nylea’s Disciples. The Nessian Game Wardens will be replaced by 3 Polukranos, World Eater. As you may notice, we’re lowering the mana curve considerably. We’ll be replacing the Ill-Tempered Cyclops with two copies of Fanatic of Xenagos. As good as Reclamation Sage is, they will come out for two more copies of the Fanatic since we need more aggressive creatures. The two Nemesis of Mortals will be swapped with two copies of “Xenagod” himself, Xenagos, God of Revels.

For the non-creature spells, there are some pretty obvious fixes. The two copies of Plummet come out of the main deck for two more copies of Lightning Strike. Boulderfall isn’t very good in Constructed and it will come out for a new card from Magic 2015, Stoke the Flames. We’ll also cut the 16th forest for another Stoke the Flames. The Font of Fertility and Fated Intervention also are kind of throw-ins at this point. We could replace them with two copies of a new Magic 2015 Convoke card, Nissa’s Expedition, which will help us ramp up to our bigger creatures faster, using our smaller creatures to help us Convoke it. With all of the green mana available to us through the Caryatids and Mystics, it will be easy to cast the 4G ramp spell.

stoke-the-flames-m15nissa-expedition

As this deck is still primarily green, Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx will be a valuable card. We’ll bring it up to three copies, cutting a two Forests. We’ll also cut two more Forests and two more Mountains to add in a play-set of Temple of Abandon.

The list will now look like this:

Creatures (28)
Hydra Broodmaster
4 Elvish Mystic
4 Generator Servant
4 Sylvan Caryatid
4 Courser of Kruphix
Fanatic of Xenagos
Polukranos, World Eater
2 Xenagos, God of Revels
1 Arbor Colossus
1 Genesis Hydra

Non-Creature Spells (8)
4 Lightning Strike
2 Stoke the Flames
2 Nissa’s Expedition

Lands (24)
Mountain
11 Forest
Temple of Abandon
Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

 

sylvan-caryatid

The deck is still heavy on the Green Devotion, which will be quite useful for both Xenagos, God of Revels and the Nykthos lands. There is now plenty of mana ramp in the deck, whereas before you were depending on Voyaging Satyrs to untap your lands and the Karametra’s Acolytes to gain you mana equal to your devotion. In a deck that needs to hit hard and fast, a four-drop needs to be aggressive, which the Acolytes are not. Add to that the Sylvan Caryatids have Hexproof and you have much more durable mana “dorks” to rely on.

Fanatic-of-Xenagos-Born-of-the-Gods-Spoiler

We also needed some creatures that could be aggressive. There are now four copies of Fanatic of Xenagos in the deck. Being a 3/3 with Trample isn’t bad for 3 mana but the Tribute ability can be quite relevant. It gives your opponent the choice of a 4/4 with haste until end of turn, or a 3/3 with a +1/+1 counter on it. Either is good for you, as the trample is there no matter what. He is, of course, perfect when combined with Xenagos himself.

polukranos-world-eater

The deck also needed some creatures that could hit hard, and who better than Polukranos, World Eater as a 5/5 for 4 mana with a potentially very useful Monstrosity ability? You still also have the Arbor ColossusGenesis Hydra, and Hydra Broodmaster as your heavy top-end hitters.

xenagos-god-of-revels

Now the deck also has a top end finisher in Xenagos. His ability to have a creature double its power and gain haste is extremely relevant in this sort of deck. Plus, seven devotion to red and green shouldn’t be too hard to get in this deck, and he’s probably going to be a creature a good amount of the time that he’s around.

In the non-creature spells, we added a bit more in the direct damage department, adding 2 more copies of Lightning Strike and the two Stoke the Flames, which late game can deliver the final damage to finish an opponent.

If you’re willing to put a little more money into the deck, another option is to substitute in the planeswalker, Xenagos, the Reveler.

xenagos-the-reveler

The pre-God version of Xenagos is pretty decent. He’s a 3 loyalty planeswalker for 2RG. His +1 gives you some free mana, and his 0 gives you a 2/2 creature with haste. His “ultimate” ability for -6 exiles the top seven cards of your library and allows you to put any number of creatures and/or lands from among them onto the battlefield.

To fit him into the deck, you could drop the Arbor Colossus, the Genesis Hydra, and the Hydra Broodmaster. The Genesis Hydra would probably be the best to keep of the three, but three copies of this planeswalker could go a long way towards making the deck a bit more consistent. Whether you run one, two, or three copies, he’d make a good fit in one of those slots.

Red/Green aggro is a fun archetype to play, and it looks to still be quite strong when Theros becomes the primary block in Standard come October 2014. Obviously, Khans of Tarkir could bring some enhancements to this deck, but until then, if you’re just breaking into Standard, this new list seems like a pretty good shell to build around.

Let me know what you think and how you might alter the list. Keep in mind that this is an exercise purely meant to improve upon the pre-constructed version with only the most recent sets. If you play other formats and are wondering what you could go after, please feel free to comment below and I’ll see what I can do to help.

Until next time,

– Elspeth for the Win

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The Magic 2015 Core Set Clash Pack and foils from the decks are available on Amazon.com.

vampire-onslaught-magic-2012-deck

The Vampire Onslaught Event Deck from the Magic 2012 Core Set may be one of the best event decks Wizards has ever released! Its Magic 2012 Core Set counter-part, Illusionary Might, was not a bad buy for newer players, as it formed the basis of a fun Illusion-based deck that with some tweaks was a playable FNM deck. But Vampire Onslaught was, and still is, easily the best money deck of the two. In fact, it may be the best money deck ever put together as a pre-constructed release by Wizards of the Coast.

Why is this? It has a Verdant Catacombs/strong> in it. As of June 2014, it’s still a $45 card.

Let’s take a look at the list, which is actually pretty solid even beyond the fetch-land.

Lands (24)
23 Swamp
1 Verdant Catacombs

If you could get this deck back in the day at its MSRP, you already had made an incredible investment. Alas, I sold my four Verdant Catacombs back when they were worth about $15-20 (so I technically still profited from the deck.) That was back in 2011. There was no Modern yet. Oops.

But wait, there’s a lot more in here that is pure value.

Creatures (29)
2 Bloodghast

Bloodghast is a very, very good card that was long a Vampire deck staple. A card that can come back from the graveyard any time you play a land is pretty ridiculous. In Modern Dredge, he’s a fantastic card. Back then he was about $7 a copy, and still sells for roughly that same price today. Two copies of this in a single deck is fantastic.

4 Bloodthrone Vampire

Not a bad common, but it was in Magic 2011, and not in the 2012 Core Set. It combos very well with other cards in the deck, as it gains +2/+2 each time you sacrifice a creature. It’s not bad when you see how many cards work off of sacrificing creatures in the deck. (Interestingly enough, for those that actually looked to play this deck, Bloodthrone Vampire was in fact reprinted in Magic 2013.)

4 Gatekeeper of Malakir – One of the best uncommons out of Zendikar, second only to Vampire Nighthawk, he’s a 2/2 for 2 black, but it’s his kicker effect of one extra black that he’s played for. It makes your opponent sacrifice a creature. On turn three, when this guy was ordinarily played, that is a major setback, especially against a quick swarming deck like Vampires. Basically, you only ever play him as a three-drop. Then he becomes expendable for your Bloodthrone or Viscera Seers, which we’ll get to.

As of August 2011, a playset of these could cost as much as $10 USD on the secondary market. Unfortunately, they are no longer nearly near that value, partly due to a reprint in the Sorin Vs Tibalt Duel Deck, but also because he doesn’t see much Modern play. Still a good card.

1 Kalastria Highborn – The Highborn has long been one of my personal favorite Vampire cards, and she’s quite deadly. Whenever one of your creatures goes to the graveyard, you may deal 2 damage to target player or creature and gain 2 life. It’s that deal 2 damage to a creature that is most deadly. With how many expendable creatures you have in this sort of deck, the Highborn can get ridiculous. Securing a second copy of her for this deck was a pretty darn good idea at the time. She used to sell on the secondary market for about $5 USD, although now in 2014, she’s about a $2-3 card – sStill well above a bulk rare.

4 Pawn of Ulamog – Not a card you see very often, but this uncommon from Rise of the Eldrazi certainly isn’t bad. Any time a non-token creature of yours goes to the graveyard, you may get a 0/1 Eldrazi Spawn token, which can be sacrificed to give you 1 colorless mana. Probably not the best card choice for competitive Vampire decks, but with this particular build, there are advantages to having these tokens.

1 Vampire Hexmage – It seems a bit silly to only run one Hexmage. She’s pretty darn good, as she can one-shot kill planeswalkers and remove all the counters from any card. Plus, she’s a 2/1 with first strike, and that’s always good, especially for 2 mana. There are 3 side-boarded, but 2 main-board is a better move.

4 Vampire Lacerator – A solid little one-drop that used to see tons of Standard play. He’s a 2/2 for one mana, but if your opponent has more than 10 life, you have to pay 2 life during each of your upkeeps. The sad part about this is that it’s not an upkeep cost, you can’t choose not to pay it. This isn’t really that bad, though. Most of the time, you’ll be ahead in life anyway. Vampire decks could gain life back in a hurry and deal a lot of damage before many other decks can get set up, so running 4 is perfectly fine.

2 Vampire Nighthawk – There’s probably no excuse not to run full play-set of Nighthawks in a Vampire deck. 3 mana (1BB) for a 2/3 Flyer with lifelink and deathtouch makes for a very strong creature. The Nighthawk helps you both gain back lost life,hold the air, and hold off opponent’s larger creatures. It’s just an all-around spectacular card playable in any format.

3 Vampire Outcasts – The only of TWO Magic 2012 Core Set cards in the entire deck and the only card in the maindeck that will be legal in Standard come October (barring any reprints in Innistrad, and it isn’t out of the question we could see a few of these other cards reprinted). Vampire Outcasts is for four mana, two of which are black, a 2/2 with Lifelink and Bloodthirst 2. Now, a 4/4 with Lifelink is certainly not too bad. The truth is that you could easily swap these out for 2 Nighthawk and 1 Hexmage and have a far better deck, not to mention a lighter mana curve. Just not really too good a card outside of Limited, and not worth being in this deck.

4 Viscera Seer – A 1-drop 1/1 with the ability: Sacrifice a creature. Scry 1. Now, scrying 1 doesn’t sound that great. It seems far too high a cost to just see what your next card is and possibly put it to the bottom of the deck. But with Kalastria Highborn and Pawn of Ulamog in the deck, sacrificing a post-kicked Gatekeeper or a Vampire Lacerator that’s already swung for damage or outlived its usefulness certainly isn’t too bad. Most good Vampire decks only run a copy or two, which is probably good enough. (Also an excellent card for those Modern Pod decks!)

Non-Creature Spells (7)
2 Blade of the Bloodchief – Not a bad rare from Zendikar. Very playable in a Vampire deck. It’s a good equipment, but equipment in Vampires probably isn’t the greatest play. Still, gaining a +1/+1 counter every time a creature hits the graveyard (this includes even token creatures), and gaining a +2/+2 counter if it’s a Vampire, is certainly a lot of fun. It’s perhaps the crux of this deck’s strategy, hit for a ton early on…

4 Dismember – One of the best removal spells, ever. While they no longer sell for about $5 USD a copy, a play-set of Dismember is still quite valuable.

1 Mimic Vat – This card is a bit of a head-scratcher. It’s not that it’s bad. It’s a fun rare in Scars of Mirrodin block Limited, no doubt about that. Whenever a creature would go to the graveyard, you exile it instead and imprint it to Mimic Vat. You can do this any time you want, but each time you do, the card that was imprinted before goes to its owners graveyard. You can then pay 3 and tap Mimic Vat to create a token copy of that creature, that gains haste and is exiled at the end step. Honestly, why would you use mana in this way for Vampires? It just seems to be a waste. It’s not a bad card, but it shouldn’t be in a Vampire deck. Sure, it can copy a really good creature of your opponents, but it’s still quite an investment of mana. Granted you could use the spawn tokens from the Pawn of Ulamog and combo with your Viscera Seers and Kalastria Highborn for some cheap damage, lifegain, and deck manipulation, but this isn’t really the best tactic. It’s a silly card that really doesn’t belong in this deck.

Sideboard (15)
4 Distress – The SECOND of two Magic 2012 Core Set cards in the deck. Double black sounds like a bit much for a discard card, but it can discard any of your opponent’s non-land cards. There are situations you may want to board these in, perhaps against combo decks, but ordinarily you won’t. Still, not a bad card, but I still prefer the original Kamigawa/Tenth Edition artwork. The new one’s too creepy for me. Still, with no Duress or Inquisition of Kozilek in sight past October, it’s not a terrible option.

2 Go for the Throat – Very solid removal card against any deck that doesn’t run artifacts. It’s not out of the question to main board at least one of these over the Mimic Vat, and another over a Seer. It helps you kill a lot of whatever Dismember can’t.

4 Skinrender – Far from being a bad card, it’s some decent removal with its ability to put 3 -1/-1 counters on target creature. It is mandatory, however. Still, 4 mana is certainly worth it, and he’s a 3/3 creature. But he is a Zombie, and not a Vampire. He’s not a bad card. Certainly hold onto your playset, but he’s far better in a Zombie deck (Call of the Grave, anyone?)

3 Vampire Hexmage – At least one of these belong in the main board. Two should be in the side to make cards like Shrine of Burning Rage and Koth of the Hammer/Chandra the Firebrand sad.

2 Vampire Nighthawk – These should be in the mainboard. ‘Nuff said.

In the “How to Play the Deck” pamphlet that Wizards always include in these sorts of product, it was suggested to add Bloodlord of Vaasgoth to the deck. As a one of, that card was never too bad, but it rarely saw play. The trick with Vampires has always been to keep a low mana curve and swarm the board. Malakir Bloodwitch is another suggestion, and she was never a bad option for the sideboard as far as her protection from White is concerned. (She could stop Gideon Jura, for example, who was a massively played card in those days.)

Overall, this was a fantastic value for the money. As far as “Bang for Your Buck” was concerned, you would have probably get about $60 market value per deck, at a typical cost of $25-$35 a deck, even back in 2011. It was a no-brainer buy. They’re obviously very rare now. If you happen to find any hanging around for less than $50, they’re easily worth the buy. But you’d be lucky to find them for under $100.

This has been another Throwback Thursday Deck Review. If there’s any pre-constructed deck or even a Top deck from the past you’d us like to review, let us know!

– Elspeth for the Win

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mtg_m14_eventdeck_rush_of_the_wild

This is the first in a series of what I’ll be calling “Retro Reviews.” I previously reviewed this event deck on my old blog, Elspeth for the Win, and am now taking an updated take on this deck, which even with the looming release of Magic 2015 in August, still has some amazing value!

As of Dragon’s Maze, Wizards of the Coast decided to only do one Event Deck per set. The Dragon’s Maze deck had decent value in it, even if only for the [mtg cardname=”Lingering Souls” setname=”Dark Ascension” linktext=”Lingering Souls“] and [mtg cardname=”Godless Shrine” setname=”Gatecrash” linktext=”Godless Shrine“]. Event Decks have been great value items for some time and are fantastic for newer players getting into the game!  The only trouble has been that Wizards used to do two Event Decks, one of which has always been strictly worse than the other. Now that there’s only one, all the value can go into one deck.

There’s something also very different about “Rush of the Wild.” Not only does it provide the building blocks for a competitive Gruul Aggro deck, but it had zero cards that rotated out of Standard in October 2013. Oftentimes, the more “valuable” event deck had cards rotating out of Standard just months after the deck’s release. But with this deck, if you paid $20 USD or less for it, you basically made your money right back.

Let’s take a look at the creature line-up.

2 [mtg cardname=”Burning-Tree Emissary” setname=”Gatecrash” linktext=”Burning-Tree Emissary“]
1 [mtg cardname=”Deadbridge Goliath” setname=”Return to Ravnica” linktext=”Deadbridge Goliath“]
2 Dryad Militant
4 Elvish Mystic
4 [mtg cardname=”Ghor-Clan Rampager ” setname=”Gatecrash” linktext=”Ghor-Clan Rampager”]
2 Kalonian Tusker
1 [mtg cardname=”Ogre Battledriver” setname=”Magic 2014 (M14)” linktext=”Ogre Battledriver“]
1 [mtg cardname=”Pyrewild Shaman” setname=”Dragon’s Maze” linktext=”Pyrewild Shaman“]
2 Rakdos Cackler
1 [mtg cardname=”Rubblebelt Raiders” setname=”Gatecrash” linktext=”Rubblebelt Raiders“]
2 Skarrg Guildmage
3 Slaughterhorn
1 [mtg cardname=”Wild Beastmaster” setname=”Return to Ravnica” linktext=”Wild Beastmaster“]
1 [mtg cardname=”Wrecking Ogre” setname=”Gatecrash” linktext=”Wrecking Ogre“]

Right off the bat, we have six rares! However, also remember that [mtg cardname=”Burning-Tree Emissary” setname=”Gatecrash” linktext=”Burning-Tree Emissary“] is a money uncommon. Dryad Militant isn’t money, but it’s a fantastic and playable uncommon in a wide variety of decks, even if its exiling spells ability was not quite as relevant in Standard after the rotation of the Innistrad block. Elvish Mystic is Llanowar Elves 2.0, and a full play-set is always welcome to see. [mtg cardname=”Ghor-Clan Rampager ” setname=”Gatecrash” linktext=”Ghor-Clan Rampager”] is another “money” uncommon that sees Modern play as well, and there’s a full play-set of them in here. Other notable uncommons are Rakdos Cackler, Slaughterhorn, and Kalonian Tusker.

We haven’t even discussed the rares, and frankly, they’re not at all big money cards, but worth a look. [mtg cardname=”Deadbridge Goliath” setname=”Return to Ravnica” linktext=”Deadbridge Goliath“] is a 5/5 for 2GG, which is in itself good value. Its Scavenge ability, while expensive, is also quite useful considering that you have some sweet combos with it within this pre-con (give the counters to Wild Beastmaster and swing out with a +6/+6 bonus?) Wild Beastmaster is a very nice aggro card, and while she is fragile on her own, she can Win Target Game for you if she’s big enough. She’s been a 3-of in top-tier mono-green decks, and she’s still considered a “bulk rare.” Rubblebelt Raiders is a card that I personally am a fan of, but it hasn’t seen play because it’s a 4-drop and there’s a card called Hellrider. But Raiders is a card that can get scary in a hurry, especially if you have the ability to give it haste with a card like [mtg cardname=”Ogre Battledriver” setname=”Magic 2014 (M14)” linktext=”Ogre Battledriver“].

[mtg cardname=”Ogre Battledriver” setname=”Magic 2014 (M14)” linktext=”Ogre Battledriver“], while we’re on the subject, is a card that I’ve always felt was underrated. However, he himself not having haste really dissuaded aggro deck-builders from wanting to play him. Still, having the ability to give any other creature that hits the board gets +2/+0 and haste until end of turn is pretty significant. Meanwhile, Pyrewild Shaman and Wrecking Ogre are okay Bloodrush creatures that are great for casual and Limited play, but not really the best options for competitive play.

Next we’ll look at the non-creature spells:

1 Armed // Dangerous
1 [mtg cardname=”Clan Defiance” setname=”Gatecrash” linktext=”Clan Defiance“]
2 Flames of the Firebrand
1 Gruul Charm
1 [mtg cardname=”Mizzium Mortars” setname=”Return to Ravnica” linktext=”Mizzium Mortars“]
3 Shock

Armed and Dangerous is a nice little Fuse card, especially considering that the two halves can target different creatures. Give your best attacker +1/+1 and double strike and make your opponent’s army block an Elvish Mystic. LOL. Mizzium Mortars is a fantastic burn spell, even if it’s sorcery speed, mainly because it does four damage for only one and a Red. Plus, Mortars has a sweet overload ability that can murder an opponent’s board. Gruul Charm is a nice little utility charm, even if not the best of them. One of its options makes me scratch my head: gain control of all cards you own? Huh? But the other two are nice. Deal 3 damage to all flyers and make no ground forces able to block for a turn. Pretty solid card, honestly.

This is then where I get sad. Flames of the Firebrand and Shock are the best burn removal this deck has to offer. Fortunately, Theros brought back [mtg cardname=”Magma Jet” setname=”Theros” linktext=”Magma Jet“] and also provided us with Lightning Strike. But anyway, Flames of the Firebrand, despite costing 2R, can ping up to three things, which against the right board state, is pretty devastating. Shock is only 2 damage, which doesn’t kill a lot of the things you would need to kill with it. So this is one of the places the deck can very cheaply be upgraded.

Lastly, I would like to make an honorable mention for a rare that I particularly love, [mtg cardname=”Clan Defiance” setname=”Gatecrash” linktext=”Clan Defiance“]. I know, it doesn’t get much love because a sorcery speed burn card doesn’t really fit into an aggro deck. However, it can kill three things! The best part is, you can do just one or two of those things. In the right situation, this card can kill two of your opponent’s best creatures, AND hit them in the face! I’d play one or two of these just to win out of nowhere. It’s a very underrated card, but it’s really only ever seen play in Commander, where it’s actually super powerful.

Now the mana base:

12 Forest
4 Gruul Guildgate
6 Mountain
1 Rogue’s Passage
1 [mtg cardname=”Stomping Ground” setname=”Gatecrash” linktext=”Stomping Ground“]

OK, Guildgates are neat, but in aggro they are not exactly what you’re looking for. [mtg cardname=”Temple of Abandon” setname=”Theros” linktext=”Temple of Abandon“] from Theros, even though it comes into play tapped, at least gives you the Scry 1. The [mtg cardname=”Stomping Ground” setname=”Gatecrash” linktext=”Stomping Ground“] is awesome value, though, and making it a bit easier for players to get is always nice (that and it’s kind of good in Modern Jund!) Rogue’s Passage is also a sort of neat tech to slip one of your double striking bit guys in for the kill.

SIDEBOARD

2 Act of Treason
3 Annihilating Fire
2 Enlarge
2 Gruul Charm
2 Naturalize
1 [mtg cardname=”Savage Summoning” setname=”Magic 2014 (M14)” linktext=”Savage Summoning“]
3 Skullcrack

The sideboard is solid, if not incredibly inspiring. The [mtg cardname=”Skullcrack” setname=”Gatecrash” linktext=”Skullcracks”] are obviously amazing against life-gain effects, Annihilating Fire is extra removal. Naturalize is, well, Naturalize. Enlarge is not as good as Overrun, but played on Wild Beastmaster is pretty fun. The extra Gruul Charms may come in handy, as well, and Act of Treason can steal your opponent’s best creature to use against them in an alpha strike. The most interesting card here is [mtg cardname=”Savage Summoning” setname=”Magic 2014 (M14)” linktext=”Savage Summoning“], a card that received tons of hype upon its release, but has only seen some fringe play since. Still, it has a nice effect that can be useful in control match-ups. Also, flashing in a [mtg cardname=”Wild Beastmaster” setname=”Return to Ravnica” linktext=”Wild Beastmaster“] on their turn is always useful. Flashing in, anybody, really, and it is a nice little trick… But yeah, it’s best against control decks, not really much else.

Overall, if you’re just looking for a shell for a red/green aggro deck, or you’re a newer player, it’s best to just hold onto the stuff. You could easily hold onto just the Stomping Ground and sell off the other pieces of the deck, though, and make your money back and then some. This is one of the best value Event Decks Wizards has printed since Verdant Catacombs was in the Vampire Onslaught Deck! This is a playable deck out of the box, but better if you buy a second copy to supplement the existing Dryad Militants, Burning-Tree Emissary, and additional copies of Wild Beastmaster, Ogre Battledriver, and of course, Stomping Ground.

If you can find this deck for a relatively low price, it’s worth buying simply for the [mtg cardname=”Stomping Ground” setname=”Gatecrash” linktext=”Stomping Ground“] and value uncommons. It’s one of the best value Event Decks around, without a doubt.

~ Elspeth for the Win

Thanks so much to The Mana Source on YouTube for this deck concept! Here’s the list on TappedOut: http://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/budget-simic-evolve-18-02-14-1/

My list is slightly different at the moment, with two Boon Satyrs in place of a [mtg cardname=”Gyre Sage” setname=”Gatecrash” linktext=”Gyre Sage“] and [mtg cardname=”Mistcutter Hydra” setname=”Theros” linktext=”Mistcutter Hydra“] (mostly because I have to go get them from dumb bots!) But I think the Satyr interaction, having Flash and the 4 power will help get me there!

In paper, this deck is probably about $30, but on MTGO it’s under 5 tix, which is STUPID for a Standard deck! Unfortunately, this deck did NOT perform well in play-testing at all! I only filmed the match testing, but the single game matches didn’t go well, either. To wit:

Unfortunately, this deck needs a lot of help. I was very upset with how terrible this deck performed. It has to mull aggressively and hit the curve perfectly to work. That happened maybe twice during my single game testing. Here in the matches, watch the deck get pulverized by mana flood and Desecration Demons. We even get mana screwed a couple times in a deck with 25 land.

Pretty disgusted with how this went. I was going to cut the last “round” out since the opponent conceded the match for an unknown reason. But you could tell I was extremely frustrated. Maybe this deck works way better in Paper, but on MTGO, forget it. If you’re not having fun, my rule is, dump the deck. That’s what I did

Sorry, Mana Source. Great idea, but I’m not going to waste any more time with this build. I feel like I mulled WAY too aggressively, but this deck has to have perfect draws to even have a chance. I think there’s a way to make this work, but you’ll have to get the Master Biomancers, at least, to have a chance.

I really, really want this deck to work. I KNOW 25 land is too much and there’s just too much depending on a perfect curve. If you guys have any suggestions, budget or otherwise, please let me know.

Regardless, thanks to the ManaSource! They have some great coverage of big tournaments, and hopefully their budget series gets better. Go check these bros out! http://youtube.com/user/themanasource

MTGO Deck Profile: Standard White Weenie/WB Humans

This is a super good deck, and it’s about 50 tickets (including the Godless Shrines) on MTGO, and a little over a hundred in paper.

As run by Vault2 (4 – 0)

Standard Daily #6710623 on 2014-02-08

CREATURES
4 Banisher Priest
4 Boros Elite
4 Daring Skyjek
3 Dryad Militant
3 Imposing Sovereign
4 Precinct Captain
4 Soldier of the Pantheon
3 Xathrid Necromancer

NON-CREATURES
4 Brave the Elements
3 Orzhov Charm
2 Spear of Heliod

LANDS
4 Godless Shrine
1 Orzhov Guildgate
12 Plains
1 Swamp
4 Temple of Silence

SIDEBOARD

3 Dark Betrayal
3 Doom Blade
2 Duress
2 Gift of Orzhova
1 Profit // Loss
3 Sin Collector
1 Xathrid Necromancer

Born-of-the-Gods-Event-Decklist

Here it is, folks: the Born of the Gods event deck! It’s a mono-black deck (what a surprise) with some real value rares within it! Let’s take a look at the list:

LANDS
24 Swamp

CREATURES (26)
1 Agent of the Fates
1 Blood Scrivener
1 Crypt Ghast
1 Desecration Demon
1 Erebos’s Emissary
1 Herald of Torment
3 Mogis’s Marauder
1 Pack Rat
4 Rakdos Cackler
4 Rakdos Shred-Freak
3 Spiteful Returned
3 Tormented Hero
Xathrid Necromancer

NON-CREATURES (10)
2 Bile Blight
3 Doom Blade
1 Fated Return
1 Gift of Orzhova
1 Hero’s Downfall
2 Ultimate Price

SIDEBOARD
3 Cremate
2 Dark Betrayal
4 Duress
2 Gift of Orzhova
2 Pharika’s Cure
2 Staff of the Death Magus

There are some pretty darn good rares in this deck. Agent of the Fates is a solid little Black Heroic card that has some ways to activate it in this deck. Blood Scrivener helps you get a couple of cards if your hand is empty at a minimal cost of 1 life. Crypt Ghast doubles the production of your black mana. Desecration Demon is the best rare in the deck, by far, and is a monster that is the primary beater in mono-Black Devotion decks. Herald of Torment could prove to be a decent Bestow card in Black, and is a 3/3 flyer on its own. Pack Rat is definitely a playable card that can pump out Rats by ditching extra cards in hand and paying 2B. Also, two copies of Xathrid Necromancer is super useful for when your Human creatures die.

In the non-creature spells, you have Fated Return and Hero’s Downfall as rares. Fated Return is a pricey reanimation spell but it makes the creature coming back indestructible. Hero’s Downfall is simply excellent removal that you would definitely want more than one of in a deck.

Already, this deck looks really good on the value side of things. I don’t need to quote prices to tell you that buying multiple copies of this deck is not a bad investment (as both Desecration Demon and Hero’s Downfall are modern playable, as is Xathrid Necromancer to an extent.) The most obvious exclusion in this deck is everyone’s favorite mono-Black Devotion card, Gray Merchant of Asphodel. That actually is not a mistake. The reason for this is that Wizards decided to include a different Devotion-based card in Mogis’s Marauder. Whereas “Gary” as he’s called, makes you gain X life and an opponent lose X life where X is your Devotion to Black, the Marauders give X creatures intimidate and haste until end of turn where X is that same number.

As someone who has witnessed the power of Gray Merchant, I honestly see why people are confused about that omission. But there’s a good reason for it. Wizards went out of their way to try a new take on mono-Black Devotion, an aggressive build, built around Xathrid Necromancer and a bunch of Human creatures. Tormented Hero, Mogis’ Marauder, and Rakdos Shred-Freak are all Humans. Therefore, this makes the Necromancers extremely good and allows you to be extremely aggressive. Spiteful Returned, a Bestow creature from Born of the Gods, is actually decent enough as a creature, as whenever it declares an attack, the defending player loses 2 life. This is a super aggressive deck.

There’s also a pretty good removal package in this deck with 2 Bile Blight, 3 Doom Blade, 2 Ultimate Price, and 1 Hero’s Downfall.

The sideboard includes more removal, plus 4 Duress for control purposes. The 2 extra copies of Gift of Orzhova to complement the one in the deck could prove useful if you’re playing this deck as is. Cremate is nice for messing up Graveyard-based strategies, but little else (although it draws you a card, as well). The Staff of the Death Magus is kind of a cute addition, as well, rewarding you by playing Swamps and black spells and giving you 1 life for each.

CHANGING THE DECK

The first obvious thing about this deck is that it’s combining two distinct strategies: an aggressive approach with the Human/Xathrid Necromancer combination, and Bestow. For devotion purposes, Bestow is extremely useful as a mechanic. Honestly, this deck can work as-is, but it’s not quite strong enough in a serious competitive setting.

First of all, Agent of the Fates is a really nice card, a 3/2 creature with Deathtouch, and there are ways to make it work pretty well with the Bestow abilities in this deck. It’s also a Human, which works with the Necromancer. Blood Scrivener is a bit too situational, and would probably be our first cut. Crypt Ghast is super cool, in that it can double mana, but one copy in an aggressive deck probably doesn’t cut it here. Desecration Demon is an auto-keep, and a second copy could easily replace the Ghast. Erebos’ Emissary is an interesting little Bestow card, but a third Desecration Demon replaces it easily on the curve. If you’re not going to spend on the Demons, two more Necromancers would slot in nicely! The reason for more Necromancers should be obvious: the more Necromancers, the more tokens you acquire!

Herald of Torment is OK, but it’s another slot better occupied by a Necromancer or a Demon. The Marauders might be okay, especially if you’re maxing out the Human potential with Necromancers. Pack Rat is nice, and good in mono-Black devotion in general, but not in this particular build. It’s still super solid if you go a different direction, though.  Cacklers are fine one-drops, as are Tormented Heroes, even if the Heroic ability is never relevant. Rakdos Shred-Freak is a bit sub-par on average, but super good with the Necromancer.

For non-creatures, the removal count is fine except for there only being one Hero’s Downfall. Fated Return is too pricey and situational to be worth main-boarding, so that’s an easy swap. Gift of Orzhova isn’t bad, and helps devotion, but another Hero’s Downfall or perhaps a Herald of Torment (which gives you more value) is probably better here instead.

Of course, you could go the more traditional route of mono-black, cutting Shred-Freak for more Pack Rats, cutting the Marauders for Gray Merchant of Asphodels, and cutting the Necromancers for Demons. But I think the mono-Black Humans route is much more interesting, and its possible to run 4 Necromancer and 4 Demon in the deck. Here’s the revised list.

LANDS
24 Swamp

CREATURES (27)
Desecration Demon
Herald of Torment
3 Mogis’s Marauder
3 Rakdos Cackler
4 Rakdos Shred-Freak
3 Spiteful Returned
4 Tormented Hero
Xathrid Necromancer

NON-CREATURES (9)
2 Bile Blight
3 Doom Blade
Hero’s Downfall
2 Ultimate Price

In the end, this is the list I’d go with. It keeps the Human factor alive, with the Marauders still in, cutting the more fragile and situational creatures with more heavy hitters. The Agent was nice, but it was 1 Human, replaced by two more. I also flip-flopped the count of Tormented Hero and Cackler. There’s still enough Bestow in the deck to make the Tormented Heroes sort of relevant. Of course, if you’re looking to go super-Human and not wanting to spend on the Demons, replace the 4 Demons with 4 Agents of the Fates.

As for the sideboard, I’d cut the Gifts of Orzhova for two more Herald of Torment, if you’re going to keep going to Bestow route. The Staffs are silly, and Pithing Needle could take their place to shut down activated abilities. Cremate is also pretty sub-par and Thoughtseize is strictly better than Duress if you can afford them. Sideboards really depend on your meta, however, so go with whatever works against your meta. Heck, Gild might even have a place in here.

Overall, I’d give this Event Deck a B for play-ability, but an A for value. I really like the different take on mono-Black Devotion, although do remember that in October 2014, the big value cards from the Return to Ravnica block and Magic 2014 (Desecration Demon and Xathrid Necromancer, plus the Rakdos creatures) will no longer be legal in Standard. Still, it’s worth picking up a copy, or several, just for the individual good rares in the deck.

~ Elspeth for the Win

 

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Forged-In-Battle-Intro-Pack

Next up in Win Target Game’s reviews of the Born of the Gods intro decks, we take a look at the Boros deck (red/white). Rather than a blow-by-blow description of the cards in the deck like with the Golgari deck (which took forever, by the way) we’ll take a look at the deck’s strong points, weaknesses, and devise a strategy to “fix” it on the cheap.

CREATURES

1 Akroan Conscriptor
2 Akroan Crusader
1 Akroan Hoplite
1 Akroan Phalanx
2 Akroan Skyguard
2 Arena Athlete
2 Cyclops of One-Eyed Pass
2 Elite Skirmisher
1 Forgestoker Dragon
1 Labyrinth Champion
1 Loyal Pegasus
1 Phalanx Leader
1 Priest of Iroas
1 Reckless Reveler
1 Two-Headed Cerberus
1 Wingsteed Rider

NON-CREATURES

1 Coordinated Assault
1 Dauntless Onslaught
2 Fall of the Hammer
2 Hold at Bay
2 Mortal’s Ardor
2 Ordeal of Purphoros
1 Pinnacle of Rage
2 Rise to the Challenge
1 Searing Blood

LAND

14 Mountain
11 Plains

Creature Analysis

Forgestoker-Dragon-Born-of-The-Gods

The “big” rare in the deck is [mtg cardname=”Forgestoker Dragon” setname=”Born of the Gods” linktext=”Forgestoker Dragon“]. He’s a 5/4 flying Dragon for 4RR. If he’s attacking, you can use an ability for 1R that deals one damage to target creature, and that creature can’t block during that combat. He’s a great Limited card, but in Constructed, he’s not an incredible creature.

The other rare in the deck is [mtg cardname=”Labyrinth Champion” setname=”Theros” linktext=”Labyrinth Champion“], an interesting Heroic card from Theros. He’s a 2/2 for 3R, which doesn’t sound too impressive. However, his Heroic ability states that any time you target him with a spell you cast, the Champion deals two damage to a target creature or player. In a deck focused around the Heroic mechanic, he’s decent.

There are lots of other good creatures in the deck. Akroan Hoplite gets +x/+0 until end of turn for each attacking creature you control, which is good. Akroan Skyguard is a 1/1 flyer that gets bigger every time you target it with +1/+1 counters. Arena Athlete has a Heroic ability which can prevent a target creature from blocking when it’s targeted. Loyal Pegasus is a one-drop 2/1 flyer that can’t attack or block alone (basically a better version of an older card called War Falcon). Phalanx Leader pumps all of your guys with counters whenever he’s targeted. Wingsteed Rider is another flyer, this one a 2/2 for 1WW that gets bigger whenever you target it.

What’s bad? Akroan Conscriptor has a cute effect, but a 3/2 for 4R is just going to die very easily, even if it can potentially steal a creature. The 2 Cyclops of One-Eyed Pass are vanilla 5/2’s for 2RR, which doesn’t sound bad for the power, but doesn’t fit the flavor of the deck. Elite Skirmisher is a 3/1 for 2W that has a Heroic ability that taps target creature, which is OK, but a bit mediocre. Two-Headed Cerebrus, while a nice flavorful card, and a 1/2 with double strike isn’t terrible, but can be replaced with more copies of the better creatures. Akroan Phalanx is a 3W for a 3/3 with Vigilance, with the ability to pump your creatures by +1/+0 until end of turn for 2R. It’s meh.

Priest of Iroas is nice, if a bit pricey, enchnatment removal and Reckless Reveler is decent artifact removal, but are more sideboard type cards that mainboard type cards.

Non-Creature Spell Analysis

Coordinated Assault is excellent, and in a deck focused on Heroic, there should be at least two or three copies, not just one. Dauntless Onslaught is a great Limited card, and it’s good in this deck if you’re maxing out the Heroic. A second copy is better than the one already included. Fall of the Hammer is a nice little Born of the Gods common that causes target creature to deal damage equal to its power to another target creatuer with no repurcussions. Solid little card that can act as removal and also activate Heroic. I may max these out. Ordeal of Purphoros is excellent, as it pumps creatures and can deal damage. The one Searing Blood is great, but a second or third copy would be better, as it’s just some of the best removal around right now.

Hold at Bay is a cute card, which can prevent the next 7 damage that would be dealt to target creature or player this turn, but I don’t think two copies are worth it. Mortal’s Ardor is a nice one-drop instant, but there are just better spells out there. Pinnacle of Rage is good in Limited but 4RR is stupidly expensive in Constructed. Rise to the Challenge is OK, but there are better cards that can take those two slots.

14 Mountains and 11 Plains is an okay split, but 4 temple of triumph can swap out 2 plains and 2 mountains fairly on the cheap. Boros Guildgate might suffice as well, and Sacred Foundry, if you have them, are definitely good here.

Adjusting the Deck

After cutting the weaker cards and substuting them for more copies of ones already in the deck, here’s what I’ve come up with. I’ve also cut Forgestoker Dragon, as it doesn’t fit with the spirit of the deck.

CREATURES (20)

2 Akroan Hoplite
4 Akroan Skyguard
4 Akroan Crusader
2 Labyrinth Champion
2 Loyal Pegasus
2 Phalanx Leader
4 Wingsteed Rider

NON-CREATURES (15)

3 Coordinated Assault
2 Dauntless Onslaught
4 Fall of the Hammer
4 Ordeal of Purphoros
2 Searing Blood

LANDS (25)
12 Mountain
9 Plains
4 [mtg cardname=”Temple of Triumph” setname=”Theros” linktext=”Temple of Triumph“]

Now the deck focuses on more small Heroic creatures, with an extra copy of Labyrinth Champion and Phalanx Leader. The Crusaders were maxed out for best effect, the Skyguards maxed and Wingsteed Riders maxed out for being flyers, and the Akroan Hoplites and Loyal Pegasus bumped up a copy each for their ability to do some extra damage in an alpha strike. All of the other creatures were cut for not being quite aggressive enough, even a decent card like the Arena Athlete wasn’t as good as the extra copies of the Hoplite and Pegasus. This also drops the mana curve a bit.

The Ordeal of Purphoros and the Fall of the Hammer are maxed out here for the damage that they can dish out while also triggering lots of Heroic abilities. Coordinated Assault got a couple extra copies, while Dauntless Onslaught and Searing Blood each gained a copy, as well. All of the cute stuff was cut.

If you were to build a sideboard for this deck, keeping Reckless Reveler around isn’t a terrible plan, but Revoke Existence is far stronger than Priest of Iroas.

Also, if you want to go out and get some new cards for this deck, you can replace the 2 Hoplite with two Vanguard of Brimaz to get even more Heroic token creation online. Soldier of the Pantheon might also be a stronger option than the Loyal Pegasus, although they don’t have flying. It’s also not a terrible plan to take out the 2 Dauntless Onslaught for 2 copies of Ordeal of Heliod, which can gain you a ton of life and help you outrace more aggressive decks. The Labyrinth Champions also, while useful, could easily be replaced with more aggressive creatures. Two copies of Eidolon of Countless Battles would be my personal choice if you can get them, giving you another way to activate Heroic while pumping up your aerial assault with the Skyguards and Wingsteed Riders. Also, if the Enchanted creature dies, you get a free creature out of it.

The other option is to dismantle the deck entirely and go with a Hero of Iroas/Ordeal/Bestow build. Win Target Game will be working on a build of that sort of deck in the near future!

Overall, this deck is better than Death’s Beginning out of the box, and with the tweaks made above, it can be a fun little aggressive deck for beginners or budget players that want to play a quick and easy Boros deck that can steal some wins away if your opponent starts out slow. As is, I give it a B-minus for providing a decent shell for what can be a Tier 2 deck!

~ Elspeth for the Win

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