I love spoiler season! The new cards start to open up so many crazy and neat new ideas to make decks, revisit old ones, and brew up some silly things that I can take with me to my next Casual card night. Well, Journey into Nyx is no different and has offered up loads of fun new ideas already and I wanted to take some time to share some of the Casual new brews I’ve been piecing together even before Nyx drops in May.
The first deck I started brewing up was for our return to “Hobo” night at our Casual card night. I wrote about Hobo night in a previous article, but basically we all agreed that we would play no Rare or Mythic Rare cards in our decks, but we could play commons and uncommon from any set. This really challenges you because many of the most potent spells that we all like to play are Rares or Mythics, so to force ourselves to play commons and uncommon is healthy and refreshing, and usually evens out the power level of the various decks. Yes, this format is usually called Peasant, but that just sounds dull, so we opted to call it “Hobo” and the name has stuck.
My inspiration for the deck came from watching the coverage of the MTGO championships a couple of weeks ago where I saw a Standard take on a “dredge” style deck. The deck exploited the power of cards in the graveyard to deal some pretty healthy amounts of damage and looked pretty exciting, so I sat down to see if I could create something similar for Hobo night.
I started with the auto include cards for this sort of deck, namely Satyr Wayfinder and Grisly Salvage. These cards allow me to start to burn through the top of my library to find land or creatures and fills up my graveyard to be used at a later time. These are the “raison d`être” for this deck and need to be there in suitable quantities to fill up your yard, but more importantly ensure you never lack for land so that you can chain together powerful spells as the game moves along.
The next creature that is an automatic in this sort of deck, particularly in a Hobo variant, is Nemesis of Mortals. The 5/5 for 6 mana sees the cost to cast him reduced by 1 colourless for every creature in your graveyard. As a result, you could be casting this guy for much less than the 6 mana in the casting cost without much trouble. However, Nemesis of Mortals gets better from there because his Monstrosity 5 ability gets reduced in cost by 1 colourless for each creature in your graveyard. This guy can very easily get silly big for a bargain basement price thanks to all the graveyard shenanigans in your deck and makes the prospect of going into combat very difficult because it is such a huge monster.
However, what happens when some of my key components end up in the graveyard because I’ve put them there myself? There are a number of ways to return lost creatures to your hand and have them be available to you again. Now, I will be honest, this isn’t the same dropping them onto the battlefield and cheating big fatties into play because you still need to cast the spells again, however it does ensure that you have access to the creatures and a chance to re-use them, which is very helpful. Pharika’s Mender, Odunos River trawler, and other “Raise Dead” effect cards allow you to get your most potent threats back again and force your opponent to burn more removal spells on things that just don’t stay dead.
The final piece is the plethora of Bestow creatures that this deck packs. Bestow has proven to be a very valuable ability in Limited formats, and once again this is a form of limited format. Baleful Eidolon and Nyxborn Wolf can come down early as blockers to plug up the ground and play solid D to get us through to the point where our bigger bombs can take over. Nyxborn Wolf, at 3/1 can trade up to take out larger creatures, but the Eidolon can shut down attacking by virtue of the Deathtouch ability. Once they have served their purpose they can then be brought out of the yard and used to Voltron up another threat and really do some work.
Here’s the deck list.
Hobo – G/B “reanimator”
So, people will point out that this decklist isn’t Standard and my response is, you’re 100 percent correct. However, without much trouble you could make this Standard playable. A few minor adjustments like replacing Sign in Blood for Read the Bones would be the first switch. I could absolutely replace the Disentomb, and Raise Dead with Treasured Finds. So without breaking the spirit of the Hobo deck I could make some adjustments and make it completely Standard Legal, but sifting through my boxes I came across these cards and they did the job just as well and for less mana. It can also be ramped right up to match the Standard “Dredge” decks running around these days making this a decent skeleton upon which to build a more robust Standard deck.
The next deck is entirely Casual based on one of recurring theme in Theros block on Kraken, Octopuses, and other sea creatures. Whelming Wave was given to us in Born of the Gods, and now with the spoilers from Journey into Nyx we have Scourge of Fleets. With these two sweeper effects in Blue’s arsenal the possibility exists for a viable Kraken/Control deck. Don’t believe me? Check this out.
Mono-Blue Kraken Control
The idea behind this deck revolves around the interaction between Archaeomancer and Mnemonic wall and Whelming Wave. When you hit turn 4 you are banking that you have Whelming Wave in your hand and return all creatures that aren’t Kraken, Leviathans, Octopuses or Serpents to their owners hands. Then on turn 5, cast your Archaeomancer or Mnemonic wall, buy back your Whelming Wave and restart the cycle. You will continue to cast the wave and buy it back with the Archaeomancer/ Menmonic Wall interaction as you stall looking for one of your bigger Sea critters. So, hit the Sealock monster and when you wash away your opponent’s creatures Sealock Monster stays and can now attack into a open board. If you get stuck, Sea God’s Revenge approximates the same effect as you wait to piece together the combination and the dissolves are there to protect your creatures, should things get ugly. Scourge of Fleets is another possible sweeper condition that comes with a huge body and is asymmetrical in design, so he’s sort of like Plan C if you need to go down that road. The last pieces of this deck, the Hypnotic Siren and the Voyage’s End are to play some early interference as you set up your board.
Now, you may have missed it, but I stated that this was a Casual deck list. There is no way I’d even attempt to play a Tier 1 Standard deck with this list, but the hilarious interactions between Archaeomancer and the Whelming Wave are well worth the risk. I can’t wait to see the face of my opponent when I repeatedly wash away his stuff as I stall…and then swim across the table with my Sealock Monster and crush him. That would be priceless. It would certainly be entertaining and very flavourful with all that we have seen from Standard.
So, there you have it. Some fun deck ideas that are flavourful, relatively inexpensive, and fun to play. By all means, give them a try and see what think. The Hobo Dredge deck might be really good for a player who isn’t convinced playing B/G Dredge is for them, but once they get the hang of it with this less high octane model might be willing to speed matters up and go play with the big boys of Standard. The Wave deck is just funny and I can’t wait to put it together.
If you have other ideas or more fun ideas for funky decks I would love to hear about them. I`m always working on some new deck ideas that could make playing at my Kitchen table fun, entertaining, and fresh.
As always Keep it fun, Keep it safe…keep it casual. Until next time!
In my never ending quest to dig up some fun cards that I can use to spice up my next casual card game I turned my attention to my box of Return to Ravnica and rooted through to see if there was anything else that I could dig out. Return to Ravnica was a terrific set that will be known for a few things.
Return to Ravnica brought back the 10 guilds of the original Ravnica set which is immediately a fan favorite. This interesting new twist made the set rich and very flavourful as each of the guilds got their own mechanic to make them interesting. It also brought back the shocklands, which in my estimation, are the 2nd best set of dual lands printed. Obviously, the best set of dual lands is the original set with no drawbacks at all, but the shocklands are intriguing in their own right. The shocklands present the option of coming into play untapped at a cost and are quite skill intensive in order to balance the need for untapped land with taking damage from shocking yourself. The shocklands also have the two different land types in the description (island/ mountain etc.), just like the original dual lands, making them very appealing in other formats where having untapped land is paramount regardless of the cost. As a casual player I can fully appreciate why these lands are highly coveted and extremely useful and pick them up whenever I can. Return to Ravnica also introduced a whole swath of terrific cards like Jace, Architect of Thought, Sphinx’s Revelation, Supreme Verdict, and Loxodon Smiter. These cards have seen extensive play in Standard since their release and with good reason.
Now, I’d like to take a moment and dispel a notion. I’ve played at my fair share of drafts, sealed events, and the occasional constructed event at the local gaming shop. The usual players consistently talk to me like I haven’t got a clue what is going on and like I have no idea how to play. Just because I usually play casually doesn’t mean I don’t understand what is happening, or that I can’t identify what is the difference between a powerful card and a weaker card. I actually have a very good idea what the difference is and it isn’t that I choose not to run the powerful card…it’s that I can’t play with them because I don’t have them. Many casual players operate on a budget and picking up the high end, pricey cards isn’t feasible. In my case, I crack a relatively small number of packs each month…that’s it…and I have to play with whatever I find. So, while I would like to play with all the best cards, I am forced, out of necessity, to get the job done with other things.
So, while Return to Ravnica yielded some terrific cards that are run extensively in Standard, it had some quieter gems that I would encourage you to dig up and give them a try, if only to diversify your next casual encounter.
The first card s exactly what the player of a White “weenie” or a control/tempo deck wants to run. It is cheap, suitably aggressive, and plays into the strategy to tempo your opponent to slow them down. Who is this guy? Why it’s Azorius Arrester. This guy is a staple in White. He is clutch in the late game to remove the opponents’ best creature for a turn. He is key in the early game to get out in front of the race by clearing the road for early damage. He trades up to take out “Bears” quite favorably. He is just a useful and versatile 2 drop and a nice addition to the deck. My friends often choose to ignore this little guy, but I’ll run a full playset every time. He’s just a meat and potatoes type of creature that doesn’t get much love and is often passed over for flashier cards.
Another favorite of mine is in a very different colour. I rarely choose to play Black, but this common has helped me to feel more comfortable because it allows me to play a little more aggressively. Sewer Shambler is a 3 drop (1 black, 2 colourless) for a 2/1. This is hardly earth shattering and is in fact a little overpriced for what you get. However, the real beauty of this guy is the Scavenge ability on this card. When I saw the Scavenge ability I was intrigued. It made creatures in your graveyard very useful and potentially explosive sources of damage. Some of the Scavenge costs on some of the creatures in Return to Ravnica are really steep and provide very little benefit (i.e Drudge Beetle). However, the Sewer Shambler has a very reasonable cost of…exactly what you paid to bring it into play. So, for 3 you get to give another creature in play +2/+2 (Sewer Shambler’s power)…wait…isn’t Sewer Shambler a 2/1…so by scavenging this creature I get MORE than I would if I had the creature in play? Wow…um…ok! Thanks. So, this inexpensive common can do double duty in a deck as a) a creature to apply pressure, but more accurately to block and die and b) a reasonable costed pump spell to boost another creature you control once it is in your graveyard. This is very applicable and sometimes the difference between finishing off your opponent or giving him an extra turn to dig up an answer.
At the uncommon slot there are a lot of choices, but the one that I always like seeing turn up is Thoughtflare. This 5 mana draw spell (1 Blue, 1 red, and 3 colourless) makes my opponents chuckle because it seems so ridiculous, but every time I see it I’m always thankful it comes up. It’s a massive hit. Let me explain why. Invariably I get stuck where I’ve got 1 or 2 dead cards in my hand. They just aren’t helpful at this point of the game and are sitting there and I need answers! Divination is ok…but it’s a sorcery and can be slow and clunky. Opportunity draws me 4 cards, but that may put me into the situation where I’m at 8 or more cards and need to discard anyway…plus it’s 6 to cast instead of 5. Thoughtflare acts like Opportunity and the discard ability is not unlike that of Faithless Looting. So, Opportunity AND Faithless looting…for 5…at instant speed. Sounds good to me! It is even better if the cards you discard have flashback or can be recurred by some means (Archaeomancer, Auramancer) so that you still have access to them, making this a very valuable way to draw cards. So, all in all, drawing 4 cards off Thoughtflare and then discarding two is just fine by me most times. It digs me far enough that I can usually find something useful. It slims my hand down by making me discard a pair of cards I don’t need that I can usually get back if I’ve planned for this. It can be cast on my opponents turn at instant speed. It also makes me laugh because no one else ever thinks to run it. Try it out yourself and you’ll see what I mean.
There were some bomb cards at the Rare slot in Return to Ravnica, but one of them that never saw Standard play just screams Casual Card. Perhaps it speaks to a little bit of my personality, but nothing makes me happier than taking my opponents creatures and then beating my opponent with them. Grave Betrayal is a hefty 7 mana Black enchantment that whenever a creature your opponents control dies, the creature returns to the battlefield under your control AND gets a +1/+1 counter at the next end step. If I’m running Black I’m packing as much removal as I can find slots in my deck and this card is great. It is even better in a multiplayer game, because the wording on Grave Betrayal stipulates when a creature of ANY opponent dies I get control of it. That includes board wipes, spot removal, combat or another form of removal, and they come back bigger thanks to the +1/+1 counter. It basically means you have a pile of creatures from your opponents’ graveyards in front of you and get to smack your opponents with them. Priceless! This is a perfect casual card and can take a multiplayer game from boring to ridiculously funny!
By the time you get to the Mythic rare spot it is hard to actually pick something that is “underappreciated”. Most Mythics find a home somewhere, but the one that lends itself to the most silliness and fun combat choices is Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius. He’s hardly overlooked by players who know their stuff, but he never really found a deck in Standard and still hasn’t, which makes him a candidate to slide into some sort of casual build. His casting cost of 6 (2 blue, 2 Red, 2 colourless) can be a bit steep, but hey, I’m the guy playing 7 mana enchantments and 5 mana card draw instants…so 6 is totally in my wheel house. You get a 5/5 flying dragon, which is always cool. These stats are largely on par with the classic dragon, Shivan Dragon. However, the ability to draw cards and deal damage without combat that accompany Niv-Mizzet make him an awesome addition to a deck and a real menace. Evasion, range, good stats, card draw…this guy does it all and sadly makes Shivan Dragon look like a powder puff. So, really the only drawback is the 6 to cast him, but I an a world of 5 mana draw spells and 7 mana enchantments, this can work and make your game all the more enjoyable.
No article would be complete without a deck list highlighting how some of these pieces can go together into a casual deck. The one I’m showing here is for what my friends and I called “Hobo night” where we couldn’t play any rare cards. Common and uncommons were allowed from any set, but no rares at all. Yes, this is usually called “Peasant”, but we preferred “Hobo”.
U/B “Hobo deck”
This deck is premised on building your own hexproof, unblockable creature and then dropping your opponents to the floor as quick as possible. Many of the creature can’t be blocked already (Keymaster Rogue, Deathcult Rogue) and Elgaud Shieldmate soulbonded provides the hexproof. The other option is the Mask of Avacyn which is surprisingly useful. To speed up the clock on your unblockable creatures, the scavenge ability of the Sewer Shambler and Zanikev Locust can be used to boost the crunching power of your attackers. The other cards are mostly removal (murder, ultimate price, devour flesh etc) or cards that allow for deck manipulation. Brainstorm is an all-star, but Sage Aven is extremely useful, Diabolic Vision is extremely powerful for a mere 2 mana and Pilfered Plans is an improved Divination thanks to milling of your opponents’ deck. All in all, a fun, very inexpensive deck to put together that has lots of interesting lines of play and provides for lots of options.
So, next time you go to sit down and play a game with your friends at your next casual encounter, take a moment and look for a few little treats that you can do to liven up your playgroup, bring some fresh cards to the table, and take the evening from the usual, to the unusual. Once again, thanks for reading and enjoy your next Casual Encounter.