Hey guys, I’m back! So after a long hiatus from Magic and an even longer one from the competitive scene my creative juices have started flowing and I just had to start up again. By the way I’m not just jumping into one format but I’ve been actively back in Standard, Modern and now stepping back again into my personal favourite which is Legacy. Now what could these three all possibly have in common? Well, I’m playing Eldrazi in every format currently and doing quite well with the massive titans and their spawn.
First off let’s take a look at Standard…
This deck is a lot of fun for the one piloting it but less so for the one who has to try and stop it. Basically you just have to stay alive long enough and you have the tools to do it with your cheap counter magic and efficient removal, including the very powerful Kozilek’s Return, all of which plays at Instant speed. As long as you’re making your land drops the removal keeps you going long enough to drop down a walker to really get ahead or a Drowner of Hope to put some pressure as well as use the tokens to ramp. Once you have the mana, which can be as early as turn 6, you drop Ulamog and it’s pretty hard to lose from there especially as you get to exile your opponents bests two permanents and clock them with his ability as well as damage. This deck matches up well against the GW/x decks like Tokens or Company and is generally well positioned in the current meta due to the fact that you really don’t care what your opponent is doing, and really you just need to make it to turn 5-6 to snowball advantage.
Moving on to Modern…
This Eldrazi deck isn’t strictly a ramp deck, yes you play a bit of ramp to power out your Eldrazi a bit faster BUT you are mostly an aggro deck which better creatures then other aggro decks and for cheaper too! It’s not uncommon to go turn two Thought-Knot Seer followed by a turn three Reality Smasher. That is an insane opening and an absurd clock that few decks can actually race against, not even taking into account the built-in disruption these monsters have! Looking at your opponents hand to exile one of their cards is already a solid ability then put that on a 4/4 body that can come out so quickly and it’s so amazing. The best part is if they kill it they don’t get that card back, yes they get to draw one at random but the card you stole is gone for good. Reality Smasher is a pain to deal with but you must because a 5/5 with haste and trample…well let’s just say it does a very good job of living up to it’s name while dealing with it is difficult at best. One of the cards that doesn’t get enough credit is Matter Reshaper because on defense or offense it’s just good and if the opposition isn’t playing Path then even if they get rid of it you get value. Easily the best card in the deck is Eldrazi Displacer giving your guys evaision, clearing your way for attack, actual removal for tokens, and abusing the hell out of Thought-Knot. He does it all and generally your opponent is going to try everything to get rid of him right away. Other key elements are Ancient Stirrings which hits almost every card in this deck and is arguably as good, if not better, here than it was in Tron and as a former Tron player that is saying something. Cavern of Souls makes control match-ups much easier and leaves them with a bunch of dead cards in hand while Eldrazi Temple itself is a straight-up ramp card. This deck is insane and provides a fast clock while causing some minor disruption all at the same time.
Finally looking to Legacy…
So as you can see this list is very similar to the Modern list in terms of the creatures used but is much more explosive and you get to play with one of the most disruptive cards in the format. Whenever you are able to drop a turn one Chalice of the Void for one it can just absolutely ruin many decks. Like they are out, it is game over, moving on…that’s just how devastating the card can be. Decks like Storm which rely on one mana cantrips and Dark Ritual effects or decks that try to deal with your monstrous creatures without the help of Swords to Plowshares will be miserable. You also pretty much just get a win against decks like Burn and if you are on the play against Elves it just completely shatters their game plan. We also still get to play with Eye of Ugin and the sol lands making turn two Thought-Knot Seer scarily common. The other thing this deck can do because of Eye of Ugin is toss down a bunch of Mimics on one turn and next just play Reality Smasher for a quick end to the game. Another big advantage that this deck has over it’s Modern counterpart is the use of Jitte because when you have it combat for your opponent becomes just awful with no profitable way for them to do anything. This deck offers amazingly crippling disruption paired with a combo finish as one avenue to win or just big fast efficient creatures that can end games quickly and prevent your opponents from ending games as another.
Until next time…
Hi again everyone and welcome back to another Casual Encounter! With Battle for Zendikar being out and now legal in Standard, there has been an explosion of decks being built. Brewers of all stripes have sat down and put their thoughts together to make a pile of sweet new decks. I have been in the process of building some of my own new decks, but instead of eyeing playing tier 1 Standard decks I’m looking to build decks to play casually. I’ve always had some unspoken guidelines that I’ve kept in mind when building these decks, but I’ve never actually sat down and laid them all out in front of me. Today I have compiled my personal top ten commandments for building my casual decks and will share them with you. At the end, if you have any others that you feel should be added or things that don’t work for you, leave a message or send me a tweet and let me know!
Let’s clear up a few things before we get started. When I say “casual” I’m talking about any time you just sit down with a buddy or two on a Saturday night and just jam a few games. You are playing Magic, but not with an express interest in winning (although winning is fun). You are looking to enjoy the company of your friends and have games of Magic where something interesting, surprising, or intriguing happens. So, if your deck is too powerful, or too weak, your experience is just not going to be as good because you will either dominate or get run over and your games will run out of steam. Neither experience lends itself to fun game play. So, when trying to build a deck I try to follow as many of these rules as I can. Without further ado let’s check out The Ten Commandments of Casual Deck Construction.
10) Thou shalt build a deck that is good…but not too good. Playing the oppressive tournament winning deck is no fun for your friends. It’s ok to have this built and to play it once in a while, but if this is your go-to deck you will quickly find that your friends lose interest or don’t like to play against that deck. Pull it out and play a game or two with your scary good tournament deck, but then put it back in your deck box and grab something else.
9) Thou shalt look for synergy over raw power. Synergistic decks are always more fun and can be deceivingly powerful. Once you get the momentum going you are hard to derail and can be capable of some pretty explosive things. One such example of a synergistic deck that is perfect for Casual play are Simic decks featuring the Evolve mechanic and lots of +1/+1 counters. The Simic deck can be slow to get going, but once you get that Zegana or Master Biomancer up to speed your deck gets hard to handle. Decks featuring somewhat obscure or tricky combos like Sanguine Bond/Exquisite Blood are other great examples of where synergy can totally take over a game, but the deck doesn’t need to ruin the experience for everyone..
8) Thou shalt play those janky bulk rares. Those terrible, unplayable cards can give you much joy and give everyone a good laugh because no one thought they would see play…ever. I’m looking at you Felhide Spiritbinder and Blessed Reincarnation. These sorts of cards can do powerful things if you are prepared to actually play them…sometimes with unintended consequences…and that always makes for great stories. Don’t be gun shy, just run’em. You’ll see.
7) Thou shalt remember that commons and uncommons are your friends. Most Casual players have boxes of commons and uncommons that just sort of sit around and don’t do very much. However, these very playable cards can be leveraged into good value during a game if you are committed to running them. A couple of recent examples are the uncommons from Fate Reforged like Elite Scaleguard, Temur Sabretooth, and Mistfire Adept that can be very powerful but often get overlooked in constructed in favor of just more raw power. Kitchen Table Magic is the perfect place for these to flourish.
6) Thou shalt play an imperfect mana base and that is okay. Really, it’s O-K. No one expects you to have all the most current dual lands / fetch lands / creature lands / make rainbows & skittles fly out of their back side lands. Plus it is way cheaper. WAY cheaper !!!
5) Thou shalt play seven mana (or bigger) spells and not even blink twice. I think this is self explanatory.
4) Thou shalt play expensive, but useful creature destruction. We all know how removal has changed over time. Long gone are Terror, Dark Banishing, Swords to Plowshares and Path to Exile. Instead we get much more conditional removal that is either slower (at sorcery speed), more narrow (like Ultimate Price) or just plain expensive like Spiteful Blow & Pinion Feast that tack on an extra effect. There is actually an incentive to play these less mana efficient cards outside of Limited when you head on to the Casual game. The extra ability (that usually makes the spell so expensive to cast) actually can help your deck do what it wants to do. I always use the example of Spiteful Blow in a deck with a fair amount of land destruction because now you get a 2 for 1 out of this spell that plays into the theme of your deck. Pinion Feast is fine removal in a deck looking to leverage lots of +1/+1 counters. Would I be clambering to play a full playset of these things? No. But there is a place for 1 or 2 of the more unusual spells. Besides to play a million copies of Hero’s Downfall is expensive and not fun.
3) Thou shalt play unusual artifacts. Hello Pixis of Pandemonium.
2) Thou shalt play answers to a little of everything. Since you really don’t get a chance to sideboard you need to play an answer to most sorts of things. Creature destruction obviously, but artifact and enchantment removal are key too. You can slide in some counter spells. No opponent wants to be locked out of the game on account of counter magic, but they do have their place. This takes up more card slots and increases your variance, but variance can make for fun game states with someone having the surprise answer in hand that can swing the whole game around.
1) Thou shalt remember that it is just a game and that you are paying for fun.
Notice I don’t say you can’t play this, that, or the other thing. Anything goes. Provided that your deck is mindful of things like your opponents and having a fun and interactive game, you can play that Ugin or Karn. You can go all aggro if you want, but maybe not quite as aggro as the winning deck at the last big tournament. You can do anything you like, but remember that you are playing for fun. Giving some consideration to the other players will help make your experience far more enjoyable for everyone.
Here’s an example of a deck I have built that fits many of these rules and would be an excellent example of a good casual deck:
So, let’s look at the number of commandments I’ve hit on with this list. It’s not just rares (#10), relies mostly on synergy (#9), plays a couple of janky rares (Foul Renewal for sure)(#8), has lots of commons and uncommons (#7), the mana base is a long way from being flashy or perfect (#6), and answers to a range of things (#2). That’s quite the number of goals that I’ve met and I have no doubt that the deck would fare just fine in a match with some friends. I’ve been toying around with this in the play rooms on MTGO and have seen some reasonable success by giving as good as it gets. More importantly, no one is going to look at this deck and just balk. It’s respectable, has a chance to win every time, and is looking to interact and make the game fun for everyone. It’s not a fancy deck, but it showcases many of the ideas I have been trying to illustrate.
Have I missed anything? Is there anything on my list you don’t agree with? Let me know. There are loads of people out there who play casually and I would love to hear what other people do as they sit down to make up their decks. So, leave me a message or fire me a tweet and let know.
Thanks very much for stopping by for a read. Until next time have yourself a great MTG day and I’ll talk to you guys next time!
By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters
@bgray8791 on Twitter
It is very exciting to hear that Wizards of the Coast will be printing a Path to Exile FNM promo for July. It is true that Path was already a WPN promo, but still this means that we can expect more of these Modern promos as well as other formats. I am sure that we will be seeing Commander and Legacy promos soon enough. The game is healthy and although these reprints will bring down there prices, it won’t be long till they go back up seeing it is a good format. Path to Exile FNM promo will flood the market there is no doubt about that, but I am usually complaining about the quality of cards picked for FNM promos. For this instance I will say to WoTC good move.
Shaun McLaren has already proven his dominance of the UWR Control deck in Modern so it looks like he felt it needed a tweak to keep performing for him. And while it was not able to propel him to the top spot, it was good enough to push him into the top 4 of a very strong field. His deck still has the classic control elements of draw, permission and removal but adds an interesting creature twist to grind out all the value.
Let’s start from the top with the title card which adds the new spin with Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker who is no stranger to Modern but has traditionally been found in either the Twin or Pod decks. Here we find him used to grind out some mega-value or even surprise combo for the kill. So looking first at that combo kill, when we pair Kiki up with Restoration Angel you create a possible infinite loop of tapping Kiki to copy Resto then blinking Kiki with the copies into play trigger to rinse and repeat. You can also flash in Resto as a blocker if Kiki is in play and create enough blockers to shut down an alpha strike from a Twin deck, very sneaky. The other key target for Kiki is Wall of Omens which works to shore up some ground defenses while providing a solid and steady stream of card advantage. There is also Snapcaster Mage which can continue to rebuy spent spells in the grave with Kiki. A singleton Vendilion Clique is extremely useful in the deck as a way to not only gain information about your opponents plan but also to help disrupt it as well. The manabase also affords us the inclusion of a set of Celestial Colonnade which are a key beatdown element and one of the main avenues to victory. As advertised this is a control deck and thus has a well rounded permission suite starting with a set of Mana Leak, a pair of Remand, and singletons of both Spell Snare and Cryptic Command. The removal is also very heafty including Lightning Bolt and Electrolyze to either burn creature or straight to the dome, and Path to Exile to decisively remove any creature threat in the way. The deck is also able to squeeze two Tectonic Edge into the manabase as an additional hedge against manlands or Scapeshift combo. The draw power of the deck lies primarily with the Wall, Electrolyze, Remand and Cryptic, but the are also singletons with a Sphinx’s Revelation and a Desolate Lighthouse to bolster the draw package.
Here’s information from the back of the box!
Your power is here.
Your time is now.
Get started with the deep-strategy Modern format in style! Draw on rare, high-powered Magic™ cards from past sets with this tightly constructed 60-card deck. Also includes a 15-card sideboard, strategy guide, Spindown™ life counter, 80 exclusive card sleeves, 5 double sided tokens, and a deck box.
Pick up the Modern Event Deck and find a Modern event near you.
March of the Multitudes
Leaders like Elspeth, Knight-Errant generate an army of token creatures, while spells like Intangible Virtue and Honor of the Pure inspire them to victory. White removal cards along with black disruptions keep your opponent off balance until you can strike the killing blow.
Here is the decklist:
It seems like the GW Hatebears motif was out in full effect this past weekend. In addition to the winner of the SCG Cincinnati we also saw this port over to Modern at the Bazaar of Moxen. And with good reason as the overall theme of the deck is a very strong disruption with aggro beats. While there are differences of course since the Modern card pool and metagame is not the same as Legacy it continues to show dominance across formats due to its incredible power.
The Modern version also utilizes Æther Vial as a very key component to the deck and while countermagic is not nearly as prevalent as it is in Legacy gaining advantage by dropping basically free creature and doing so at instant speed provides a huge disruption element which is the focal point of the deck. The other first turn play in the deck is Noble Hierarch which serves the deck well as a mana dork providing both White and Green for the deck as well as a bonus power boost if you are sending in a lone attacker for the beatdown. Moving up the curve to the two drop spot there is the all-star of the deck Thalia, Guardian of Thraben which does as much in Modern as in Legacy to slow down all non-creature based strategies, pesky Leonin Arbiter which shuts down searching the library unless you pay the price, and Scavenging Ooze to nullify the popular graveyard based strategies most especially the rampant Birthing Pod decks. We then go to our three drop slot where we have disruptive Aven Mindcensor to effectively shut down any deck looking to search the library for tools, we can Vial in a Flickerwisp as a way to protect our important pieces which may get targeted by removal, and even Blade Splicer can be a shocking surprise as the Golem Token it brings along to fight can First Strike an attacker to death which had expected a free and clear passage. And finally we get to the angels of the deck at the four cost with added protective redundancy from Restoration Angel and the unique disruptive ability from Linvala, Keeper of Silence which will shut down manadorks along with any other activated abilities from opponents creatures. The deck also runs a full set of Path to Exile to have some pinpoint removal to take out those most important threats. To assist in the beatdown plan the manabase includes Gavony Townships for additional creature pump and for disruption there is a full set of Ghost Quarter which combine with Arbiter and Mindcensor to effectively become Strip Mine.
While the main combo finish involves enchanting an Exarch with a Twin there is a redundancy package which includes Restoration Angel that can interact with Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker as a secondary plan to create infinite token creatures. One way the White splash helps in this deck comes from Wall of Omens which is part of the decks draw engine and especially abusive if you Twin in, but more importantly in a new meta which is partially defined by recently unbanned Wild Nacatl a four toughness two drop can be the sole difference between holding off a ruthless assault and holding on to combo the win. Additional draw comes from format staple Serum Visions with its Scry ability to not only draw valuable cards but also filter unneeded cards away and a one of Desolate Lighthouse allows you to dig through the deck to find answers or missing combo pieces. For removal with this deck having access to both Red and White we find the requisite format all-stars Lightning Bolt and Path to Exile both efficient and effective for their purpose. There is also Swan Song as a light permission suite to handle at an very cheap cost many of the problems that the deck might face and the token you give usually not problematic, with the removal able to handle most other problems. A full set of Snapcaster Mage are able to rebuy all of your used instants and sorceries to effectively double the amount of draw, removal and counters in your deck. As an alternate beatdown plan the deck sports a full set of Celestial Colonnade to bring the ‘death from above’ should the game stall into a draw out affair. Finally a one of Spellskite in the maindeck is there as a hedge preboard in the mirror and also a way to draw removal away from your combo creatures so you can go off unhindered when you’re ready for the kill.
18th Place at Grand Prix Richmond on 3/9/2014