Update and a New Brew
by Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters
Hey MTGers! I want to start with an apology for not posting much of anything in the last 2 months. I’ve been very busy with a course for my career and have been working at a summer camp helping to mentor a number of counsellors. It was a super rewarding two months, but it has meant that I haven’t been able to write much. Don’t worry, I’ve been playing plenty of Magic and have lots of ideas for some budget friendly decks, but I haven’t had a chance to sit down to write. With the new school year upon us, it’s time to get back into my routines and that includes writing. So, let’s get down to business.
Teaching New Players to Draft
One of the side effects to working at a summer camp is that there always seems to be people who want to play Magic. Some of the older campers have brought their cards and that’s fun because they get a kick out of playing with the counsellors or anyone else who happens to be around. I had a special invitation to come down and play once a bunch of campers figured I played too and they had a ball. It was fun and helped me to remember how much fun this game is and the wonder that you can experience just to watch and see what other people decide to do when they play. It was very refreshing and lots of fun.
While playing with the campers was tons of fun, some of the staff had decided to try and pick up the game as well. They were interested in more than just playing, but they wanted to learn how to play and play well. A number of them expressed an interest in learning how to draft and I jumped at the opportunity. I love to draft and I’m very willing to take the time to help people learn to draft. I’m no master, but I’m certainly good enough to help them with the fundamentals.
One of the other guys had a box of Dragons of Tarkir and we all agreed to take a first stab at that. I know it isn’t the official format, but it was easy and fun and made for a good night. Over the course of the evening I had to stop a number of the other guys and ask about their picks, their decks, and generally what their strategies were. I likely drafted the most busted Limited deck I’ve ever seen and amassed a whopping 9 rare cards in my pile, of which 7 of them were on colour. Needless to say, I pretty well smashed the other guys around, but I made a point of helping them clean up their deck at each game, talk better lines of play, and generally about how to draft. As a complete aside, I have renewed respect for the B/R Dash deck that you can draft. The combination of Pitiless Horde and Sprinting Warbrute won me games out of nowhere and were tons of fun.
Well, a week later I took a day off and picked up a box of Magic Origins and we drafted a second time. This time the guys were much better prepared and we had some really fun games. Every guy in the room had a much improved showing and a much more reliable draft deck and the games were much more balanced. My record was much less good as I went a respectable 3-3 (down from the 6-0 the week earlier) but I was happier because the guys felt like they had better decks.
My comments on the Draft format of Origins is that it feels really fast. I had a very solid G/B deck with some very solid cards, plenty of good removal, and a solid curve. However, if I stumbled out of the gate at all I was severely punished and often could not come back. I seemed to stumble more regularly than usual and was a little bummed out about that part because it doesn’t really make for good Magic, but it is part of the game and I had to take my lumps too. Reave Soul was undoubtedly the best card in my deck and I did not feel the least bit bad about firing it off at the first Renown creature I saw hit the table. Dark Petition was an interesting take on a tutor effect, but it was hardly spectacular. Was it useful? Yes. But I’m not going to lie to you and claim that it was awesome. I often used it to search up a removal spell, but often did not have enough mana to use it on the same turn due largely to the speed of the format. However, I did really enjoy the draft and I liked the chance to sit down and teach some keen players some of the fundamentals.
Budget Brew for you!
I am always on the lookout for a fun new budget deck that can surprise a few people. I know that everyone needs to keep their wallet in mind and this one is super easy on the wallet and has been surprisingly potent. Let’s take a peak.
When Magic Origins was spoiled, Archangel of Tithes immediately got noticed and there was some measure of discussion of a Mono-White deck that might be able to get a little toe hold. Mono-White is indeed a thing and seems to be badly underrepresented, but could certainly make some noise. I decided that the Devotion style of Mono-White deck doesn’t really have enough of a payoff to warrant leaning on devotion. If Heliod is your big payoff it sort of feels like a big let down because he just doesn’t do enough and his activated ability for the Cleric token is very expensive. Instead, Mono-White needs to rely on having a strong start, curving out and then overwhelming your opponent as you pump your creatures with some sort of trick. It is a very simple and direct strategy, but certainly can get the job done.
Here is the list I’ve been using:
More than just about any deck I’ve ever built, this one is super important to curve out or you’ll be dead in the water. When this deck comes together you have a turn two Lightwalker, a Turn Three Outcast and a Turn four Skycaptain. This puts you in pretty good shape to move to the offensive and start putting the hurt to your opponent. Things get really crazy when you land a Citadel Siege and can start pumping your guys each turn, but if you don’t find the Siege Echoes of the Kin Tree can play a similar role, just much less efficiently. The impact that Elite Scaleguard can have on the game can be tremendous if your opponent can’t answer it quickly and makes for a very powerful Turn five play as well.
The biggest weaknesses with this deck is the removal package and the fact that if you curve out and your opponent isn’t on the back foot because they have had answers you are in big trouble. Magic Origins offers some help on the removal front with Swift Reckonning and Celestial Flare instead of the very bulky Enduring Victory. I still have no solution for when you end up going into top deck mode because you have run out of gas. White rarely gets to draw cards and this is indeed a very real issue because almost every other colour can replenish their hand through some sort of mechanism.
Now, there are countless substitutions out their that could improve the general card quality of the deck and likely speed it up. Echoes of the Kin Tree is cheap, but it is also inefficient to use, so obviously another Citadel Siege would be preferable. I feel like the Eidolon of Countless Battles doesn’t offer much, but I’m not sure what I would rather play in its place. If I drop an Echoes of the Kin Tree and the Eidolon I would have room for a pair of Topan Freeblade, or perhaps just replace the Lightwalkers all together and go with 4 Freeblades. Glaring Aegis is hardly a frightening card and could stand to be upgraded, but the pseudo evasion it offers is nice and can help push through the final points of damage. There are lots of other things you could be doing too, but this is just a budget friendly starting point. Feel free to experiment and make it your own.
This list, as simple as it looks, has helds its own against many decks. It seems to fare best against Midrange decks. Control decks can wipe away the creature base and then win by virtue of card advantage, and the W/R token decks just swarm over and outnumber the deck, but against many others you can have a solid game plan. Great Teachers Decree is a blow out for sure and has helped me to win many games on the spot. Don’t overlook this relatively simple deck. It packs a mean punch and is very easy on the old wallet.
Thanks for taking the time to stop in and have a read. Like I said, I’ll be getting back into the routine of writing more now that the summer is winding down and things are getting back into their routines. So, until next time, take care and have yourself a fun MTG day!