Game Day M13: Get a Life

August 4th

Saturday’s Game Day at Hobby Station Osu was another painful reminder that I still haven’t figured out how to control the metagame. It was 6 rounds of hell for me as 47 people showed up to claim their Mwonvuli Beast Trackers and Magmaquakes. As usual, I went into the game with my UR Titan Control deck. It’s definitely lost its way lately. It wants to do so many things but can’t seem to do any one thing well.

(Tied 1-1-1) – In ROUND 1, I went up against a player using WB Control. It wasn’t your typical WB Control deck however. There were the  staples like Terminus and Sorin Markov, but the player had put Trading Post in along with a wide variety of artifacts. If you’ve seen the Mindslaver Lock deck from one of the Star City Game tournaments, then you know how it operates. The player will play Trading Post and cast Mindslaver, then  sacrifice it to take over your turn and make all your decisions. It’s genius, and as long as you have creatures to sacrifice you can keep the combo going forever by using Trading Posts ability to bring back the Mindslaver from the graveyard. In the first game my opponent got the combo off and took control of 3 of my turns before running out of creatures to keep the combo going. Thank god he didn’t have any finishers during that time, but the damage was done and I ended up losing the game.

In the second game I was a little bit luckier and my army of Augur of Bolas ended up getting me all the counters and Ancient Grudges I needed. They pinged away at him and then I finished him off with my Jace, Memory Adept. In the 3rd game we went to time.

(Lost 0-2) – I faced a UW Delver deck in ROUND 2 and didn’t have any luck against it. I didn’t draw any kill spells in either game and the Delvers pretty much had their way with me.

(Lost 0-2) – I couldn’t catch a break today, not even in ROUND 3 where my opponent was a newer player. He was running a GBR (Jund) Liliana of the Dark Realms control deck, and had plenty of Olivia Voldaren and Mutilates in his deck. I managed to counter a lot of his stuff or to remove it from the game with my Red Sun’s Zenith, but Olivia ended up being my undoing as he used her to siphon energy from his own creatures so that she’d survive my blasts of flame. In the second game it was Thragtusk that got me. At this point I was considering totally destroying my deck and rebuilding it with a new theme in mind (I’ll save that for another post though)

(Lost 0-2) – I went up against my friend from the other week in ROUND 4 who was using his UW Token deck which included 4 Intangible Virtues and 4 Favorable Winds. Even with my Ratchet Bombs, I wasn’t able to kill any of his Lingering Souls, Drakes, and his Midnight Hauntings were especially scary. His tokens just got bigger and bigger and there was NOTHING I could do about it.

(Lost 0-2) – Oh Mono green, how I hate thee . . . let me count the ways. In ROUND 5 I went up against the deck I’m probably weakest against. Anything bigger than a 3/3 Dungrove Elder spelled my doom, and with Rancor on it I didn’t stand a chance. There was nothing I could do. I really think it’s time to go back to full on control again.

(WON 2-0) – I went up against a UW Spirit Deck, and it was similar to the one I lost to, but this deck had cards like Blade Splicer in it which gave my some reprieve when playing against him. The other UW Token deck was incredibly aggressive and didn’t leave me any ways to get back into the game after he got out his first few spells. My last opponent wasn’t as aggressive and I was able to use Whipflare to great effect against him.

The day was done, and so was the damage. 1-4-1 for Magic Game Day M13. Red is dead (in control) in my opinion. It can’t cut it in this current standard environment. It’s time to move on to something else . . . . (I’m contemplating UG Fog Mill). I haven’t had one winning week since M13 came out. It’s time to move on. It’s time to . . .

Get a Life

Creatures: 21

  • 4 Cathedral Sanctifiers
  • 2 Rhox Faithmenders
  • 2 Wurmcoil Engine
  • 2 Stonehorn Dignitary
  • 3 Restoration Angel
  • 4 Fiend Hunters
  • 2 Healer of the Pride (or 2 Suture Priest)
  • 1 Serra Avatar

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to gain as much life as possible as fast as possible. The current metagame is chock full of decks that hit you hard and fast, but their weak point is turn 7. By turn 7, they run out of gas and then it becomes a game of attrition. Zombies, UW Delver, GR beatdown, etc . . . . if you can stay alive there is a good chance that you an win the game afterwards.

There are a lot of key cards in here but if they take out one even then it’s not the end of the world. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Let’s gain life together

Great on your first turn. You’re three life up, and if you have a Rhox Faithmender in play you’re 6 life up, and if you use a Cloudshift or Restoration Angel on it you’ll go up even higher. Great one drop.

Make it a double

This guy is a key part of the deck, but if they kill him it’s no problem. He makes every life gain card twice as good. Cathedral Sanctifier gains you 6, whenever you tap a Talisman or Chalice you’ll gain 2 life, Healer of the Pride will net you 4 life for each creature that enters the battlefield, discarding a land with Trading Post will gain you 8 life . . . the list goes on and on! Great card to have in here, plus he’s a big wall. (By the way, if you have 2 in play, you get life x4, with 3 you get life x8, and with 4 you get x16! With one Cathedral Sanctifier you gain 48 life!)

Healer of the Pride

Healer of the Pride brings us to our first infinite life game combo. Let’s say your opponent can’t counter, doomblade, or Incinerate any of these cards. Just bare with me for a moment . . . you have a Healer of the Pride in play, and you also have a Fiend Hunter in play. On one turn you use  a 2nd Fiend Hunter on your 1st one. Your opponent looks at you, confused, and thinks – “Okay, why did he just do that to his own creature? Whatever”. The following turn you cast a 3rd Fiend hunter and target the 2nd one. He is removed, the first comes back, targets the third, the 2nd comes back, he targets the 1st, etc etc etc . . . you just gained infinite life. Weeeeeeee! (You can also do this combo with a Suture Priest. I’ve been using it lately because it only cost 2 mana and is less of a target).

Restoration Angel

The Healer of the Pride combo was one way to gain infinite life. The other is with Restoration Angel. If you have a Healer and 2 Fiend Hunters in play, you can blink a Fiend Hunter, freeing the other Fiend Hunter, which then targets the Angel, but as the blinked Fiend Hunter comes back, he’ll target that first Fiend Hunter, and then the combo starts again. This will also gain you infinite life. But what if they destroy your Healer of the Pride? That’s what Seraph Sanctuary is for. If you have one in play and have the 2 Fiend Hunter/Restoration Angel combo going, this will also gain you infinite life.

Serra Avatar

Wow. So you have all of this life now. Let’s say 1,000,000 life. What are you going to do with it? Hmmm, how about a Serra Avatar? “Okay, attack phase, I’ll attack with 1 million”. I should probably put in a Rancor to ensure death with this combo, but oh well. Just be careful that the Avatar isn’t your only creature and they use a Tribute to Hunger on you! That would be awkward! Aside from Serra Avatar, your other finishers would be your two Wurmcoil Engines (which would gain you 12 life with Rhox Faithmender in play!)

Spells/Artifacts: 16

  • 3 Chalice of Life/Chalice of Death
  • 3 Trading Post
  • 2 Pristine Talisman
  • 1 Batterskull
  • 3 Cloudshift
  • 1 Mycosynth Wellspring
  • 3 Ichor Wellspring
  • 1 Ring of Thune

Okay, breathe in slowly . . . excited yet? Does this deck sound like fun yet? Well, We’ve only scratched the surface. There are plenty of other fun ways to kill your opponent. I think most of these cards are self-explanatory. Cloudshift is great for reactivating your Restoration Angel or to blink your Stonehorn Dignitary for one more attack free turn while you build up your life. Why would building up your life be important early on in the game? Hmmm . . .

Chalice of Life

If you’re playing against a control deck, and just cast 2 Cathedral Sanctifiers taking you up to 26 life, here’s what you do on turn 4. Play another Sanctifier (or blink one), go up to 29 life, then tap this card and hit 30. It will then flip.

Chalice of Death

As you keep your opponent at bay with Stonehorn Dignitary and keep your life high, from turn 5 onwards they’ll be losing 5 life each turn. If you have all 3 in play the game should go pretty quickly. But OH NO! What if they destroy it or want to remove it from the game???

Trading Post

Sacrifice a Goat or other small creature and bring it back if it’s destroyed, or sacrifice the artifact before it’s removed from the game to draw a card. Trading Post is really starting to explode on the scene in Japan in the metagame. It’s incredibly versatile and is amazing in this deck. If your Wurmcoil Engine is destroyed by a Day of Judgment, sacrifice one of your tokens and bring it back to your hand. If your other Trading Post was destroyed, just bring it back! The possibilities are endless with this card. With Ichor and Mycosynth Wellspring, hopefully it will help you draw cards and get the mana you need as well (though the only reason I have the Mycosynth in there is when I play with my sideboard).

I’m debating whether or not to switch one of the Mycosynth Wellsprings to another Ichor Wellspring, just because I’d rather have card advantage than mana advantage. You’ll usually hit 4 mana regularly in the game but if you can’t draw the cards to gain life it can be a problem.

(8/13 edit) – I decided to add in a Ring of Thune because most of the time your white creatures will just be sitting around, not attacking. This makes your beefy Rhinos even beefier, and gives your Rhox Faithmender more power for gaining more life. Try it out!

Land: 23

  • 4 Sunpetal Grove
  • 1 Razorverge Thicket
  • 2 Phyrexian Core
  • 1 Seraph Sanctuary
  • 1 Cavern of Souls
  • 3 Ghost Quarter
  • 2 Forest
  • 9 Plains

You probably don’t need that many Forest in here since they are mainly for sideboard cards, so if you plan on using this deck you can up the Plains count or just make this straight mono white/artifact (though you might have problems with flyers). The Sanctuary is in there for that infinite life gain trick, the Phyrexian Cores help you to accelerate card draw with your Wellsprings (plus gain you life), and the Cavern of Souls is in there just in case.

The most IMPORTANT land in this deck is Ghost Quarter. The only way you’re going to die in the current standard environment is against Infect. Once the Scars block rotates this deck should be freaking amazing, but until then be VERY careful of UG infect, GR Beatdown/Kessig, and Tempered Steel with Inkmoth Nexus. Ghost Quarter is going to be your saving grace.

Sideboard: 15

  • 2 Timely Reinforcements
  • 2 Celestial Purge
  • 2 Oblivion Rings
  • 2 Terminus
  • 1 Elixir of Immortality
  • 2 Natural End
  • 2 Stingerfling Spider
  • 1 Ratchet Bomb
  • 1 Spine of Ish Sah

3 Ghost Quarters might not be enough to take care of Inkmoth Nexus, so be sure to side in the Natural Ends and Spine of Ish Sah against an Infect player. Phyrexian Crusader might also be tricky to deal with, so put in those green creatures and keep that Wurmcoil in play as long as you can against them. Infect is also the main reason why you might consider putting Melira, Sylvok Outcast in the sideboard. As long as you can protect her with blinking, you shouldn’t take any infect damage.

I decided to put the spiders in there to deal with Delver of Secrets and other Angels. Stingerfling Spider becomes incredibly useful against cards like Gisela, Griselbrand, and other flyers that are difficult to shoot down out of the sky. With 3 Restoration Angels and 3 Cloudshifts, you should be able to get a lot of value out of it and take out any nasty flyer you see.

I did have Timely Reinforcements in the main deck before, but I didn’t think I’d ever be able to use the life gain part if my deck was working correctly, so it’s sitting in the side. It would go in against decks where I’m incredibly overwhelmed and need something to stay alive while I build up my defense.

So what do you think? Does it seem like fun to play? It might be a little expensive due to the Batterskull, Wurmcoil Engines, and Restoration Angels, but with Scars rotating out out in October the prices should be dropping on a lot of these cards soon. You could probably put this deck together for under $100, maybe even $80 if you shop around. I did play with this deck on Sunday at another Game Day event, but only 13 people came and it lasted only 3 rounds so I didn’t really get a chance to test it out. I went 1-1-1 with a bye after losing to Frites deck, which is also a dangerous deck to look out for since it has so much raw power it can hit you with (I should also state that this was with an older build of the deck and that I think it would do A LOT better now against Frites).

I’ll keep you updated with how this deck does against the other decks in the metagame but hopefully I’ll be able to find my winning ways again! If you try it out let me know how you do! Thanks again for reading and I should have a more in-depth article about Game Day on Star City Games sometime in the next few weeks.