I’m having an identity crisis right now. I don’t know what kind of deck to play, and I don’t know what kind of player I am anymore. Back during the Dragon’s Maze metagame, GR blitz ended up being the defining deck. So many people were using it in one form or another. It was all about dropping creatures fast and attacking with them as hard as you can. I lost to it countless times, which is what led me to build my GW token deck that was all about gaining a bunch of life and putting out big creatures. However, that doesn’t seem to be good anymore.
Nowadays in Nagoya, Japan, the metagame has shifted to UWR control, Jund control, and Naya Domri (which uses Domri Rade to put out tons of creatures). This has been incredibly difficult for my GW deck to handle, even though I have been making sideboard and mainboard changes. I just can’t find the right combination of cards to make it work. Perhaps it’s time to try something new. The metagame has grown stale in the last month or so, and it’s time to inject some new blood. Lately I’ve been brewing up new decks with the M14 cards that were just released. Here’s what I’ve come up with.
|75 cards, 15 sideboard|
4 Dragonskull Summit
4 Blood Crypt
|2 Runechanter’s Pike
3 Altar’s Reap
4 Pillar of Flame
4 Tragic Slip
3 Krenko’s Command
4 Doom Blade
4 Searing Spear
24 other spells
15 sideboard cards
This first deck is an update to my UR Delver list. I tried using it for a week or two and while I had some really explosive games with Artful Dodge and Nivix Cyclops from time to time, but I found myself getting outclassed by nasty creatures more often than not and not having any way to get out of the situation. That’s why I thought I’d approach using the Young Pyromancer from another direction. Black was an obvious pick. The idea is to cast tons of instants or sorceries and to put tons of creatures on the board. Tragic Slip and Doom Blade are some of the most powerful removal spells in standard right now, and when teamed up with Young Pyromancer you get some great value and are able to keep pressure on your opponent all game long.
The red spells from my UR Delver Mancer deck are still there: Pillar of Flame for cards like Voice of Resurgence, Searing Spear for instant speed removal, but I also decided to add in Krenko’s Command after getting advice from a friend. With a Pyromancer in play, you get 3 creatures for 2 mana, which is pretty awesome. You should have no problem flooding the board with Goblins and Elemental tokens, but the problem is what to do with them. 1/1 creatures by themselves won’t have any effect on the game later on. However, Blood Artist assures that you will get some value from them before they die. Every time a elemental passes into the great beyond, you get 1 life and drain your opponent for one.
Hellrider is also a welcome addition when you have tons of tokens in play, because even if it doesn’t attack you can send all your tokens on a suicide attack that will automatically deal 1 point of damage to your opponent for each attacker. I also decided that Mindsparker is a good three drop instead of a card like Boros Reckoner because of the the rampant UWR decks in the current metagame. They can still wrath your board with a Supreme Verdict, but with him in play they are going to take 2 points of damage for it. That means they’ll also take 2 damage for every Think Twice, counter spell, and Azorius Charm they play. It’s not going to be fun for them with him in play.
Altar’s Reap seemed like a good way to get cards easily in this deck, as well as putting in a new token to replace the one you’re sacrificing to it. Young Pyromancer has great synergy with each card in this deck. Twenty-Two instants and sorceries should be more than enough to overwhlem your opponent, especially if you have multiple Pyromancers in play. I also want to mention Runechanter’s Pike. It’s a great addition to this deck, and makes any 1/1 Elemental token a threat. I actually won some games in testing by equipping it to a Blood Artist!
The sideboard is a little rough right now, but I think it covers most of the bases. Cremate for reanimator, Tribute to Hunger for Hexproof decks (it acts as more removal and life gain if you need it as well), Electrickery and Ratchet Bomb for token match ups (as well as any other permanent you need to destroy that you can’t kill otherwise), Dreadbore for control match ups when you need to kill planeswalkers, and Burning Earth for greedy decks that are a little slow and have a lot of non-basic lands. Aside from the Ratchet Bomb and Burning Earth, each of these spells will add more elemental tokens to your deck.
How it Plays
The average casting cost in this deck is about 2 mana, which means you can keep a two mana hand and be alright. However, you should have both colors in that opening hand so you are able to cast all of your spells. Tragic Slips and Pillar of Flames are your turn one cards, which you want to be targeting mana creatures with to slow down midrange decks. Pillar of Flame is especially great against Voice of Resurgence. On turn 2, I’d probably play a Young Pyromancer (first) or a Blood Artist (second) if I had them. These cards are going to be your bread and butter and will help you to set the tempo for the rest of the game. Once you play the Pyromancer, it’s time to go to the races. On turn 3 you can start using Searing Spears and Doom Blades on everything to make elemental tokens, and from there on out just keep your opponent on the ropes and keep knocking away at them. With only 22 mana, you should be drawing mostly spells and will be able to add more tokens to the mix each turn. If it does slow down a bit, use those Altar’s Reap to get some more fuel for the fire.
It will probably take some getting used to in order to find out the best hands for each match ups, but it should do well against aggressive strategies such as GR blitz, as well as slower decks such as reanimator and Naya midrange. You can use this as both a BR aggro deck against slow opponents, and it can also work well as a token deck to overwhelm opponents with just a few threats in their arsenal.
|75 cards, 15 sideboard|
|1 Nephalia Drownyard
4 Watery Grave
1 Vault of the Archangel
4 Drowned Catacomb
4 Godless Shrine
4 Glacial Fortress
4 Hallowed Fountain
2 Isolated Chapel
4 Warden of Evos Isle
|3 Supreme Verdict
4 Thought Scour
4 Dimir Charm
3 Forbidden Alchemy
4 Unburial Rites
18 other spells
2 Sever the Bloodline
15 sideboard cards
I’ve always wanted to play a reanimator deck, but I never really had the cards or patience to play it. In the current metagame, GBW reanimator, Human Reanimator, and Frites have all but dropped off the map thanks to cards like Scavenging Ooze and Rest in Peace. They are also incredibly weak against turbo aggro decks like blitz and Aristocrats. Reanimator’s problem is that it needs to play faster and hit harder. How do you do this?
You switch to Esper (BWU) reanimator.
This deck has been testing insanely well against UWR control, Jund midrange, and pretty much every other deck out there. It’s able to compete with even the fast decks like Gruul blitz because it can mill your library every single turn. The whole point of a reanimator deck is to mill your library so that you can reanimate big creatures to win the game. Usually this can’t happen until turn 2 in a normal GBW build because they have to play a Mulch or Grisly Salvage. In my opinion, that’s too slow. My Esper reanimator deck starts out on turn 1 with a Thought Scour (which you’ll probably have to shock in a land to cast). Putting two cards in the graveyard and drawing a card before your opponent has even attacked is a good start.
On turn 2, you have a few choices. I went with Mind Shrieker and Dimir Charm. Dimir charm can be pretty useful. It can kill a turn 2 creature like Ash Zealot, but at the same time you can also switch modes to mill yourself for 2 and put a card you need on top of your library on turn 2 (not to mention countering a card like Terminus which would reck this deck). Mindshrieker is probably drawing some odd stares from a few of you, but hear me out. First off it’s a 1/1 flyer, and secondly you can mill yourself with him each turn if you don’t have any other mill effects. This can be a pretty big attack on turn 3 if he’s all you have. Milling an Angel of Serenity will give him +7/+7 on turn 2. Do you know any other creatures that can attack for 8 damage on turn 3? Probably not.
Your turn 3 choices are Warden of Evos Isle and Forbidden Alchemy. This is where the theme of “duality” comes into effect. From this turn you can go 1 of 2 ways. The first one is to continue on as a reanimator deck and to draw 4 cards and toss 3 with Forbidden Alchemy. This is usually a good play. You can end up tossing an Angel of Serenity and an Unburial Rites into the graveyard to set up a very nasty turn 4, or you can choose a Supreme Verdict to save yourself from an onslaught of green and red creatures in a blitz deck. Your second choice, playing the Warden of Evos Isle, turns your deck into a “flyer” deck with the sub-theme of reanimator. If you’re playing against control, you can focus on getting out your flyers and saving your Unburial Rites for wrath effects and mill them with Thought Scours and Nephalia Drownyard, but if you’re playing against Jund or some other Green deck, you can go over the head of Scavenging Ooze and still have the advantage. Sure it will be slower, but you’ll come out on top in the end. Lingering Souls is another card that could be put into this 3 spot, but I personally want to play with the Warden.
On turn four, you again have two choices. You can reanimate an Angel of Serenity and take out their most powerful creatures and dominate them in the air, or you can use Supreme Verdict to clean the board. Yet another choice would be to put down a Desecration Demon (for only 3 mana if you played the bird the previous turn! I could also recommend using the new Shadowborn Demon in his place if you have them). The game really opens up after this turn. You can keep putting pressure on in the air while getting the cards you need with your card draw (Thought Scour, Dimir Charm, Forbidden Alchemy). With all the card advantage and tons of ways to remove their threats, it should be pretty easy to dominate the game from there on out.
I really enjoyed putting the sideboard together. You can basically turn your deck into a control deck after the first game. Jace, Memory Adept and Detention Sphere are amazing against control match ups and he can also be used to mill yourself for 10 to get plenty of goods to reanimate quickly (just be careful not to do that too much). Crypt Incursion works well in reanimator mirrors, allowing you to remove all of the creatures in their graveyard from the game while gaining you 3 life for each one, and Sever the Bloodline works well against token based decks. If your opponent is playing Rest in Peace, I would take out 2 of the Unburial Rites for Jace, Architect of Thought so that you can still get the cards you need without losing them from a Forbidden Alchemy.
I put Mirko Vosk in the sideboard just because he’s so unassuming. Your opponent will let him hit the battlefield because they think he’s junk. They won’t waste a counterspell on him. That’s their fault, because he can mill for a large portion of their deck whenever he hits them. With Angel of Serenity there to clear a path for him, he should be able to hit your opponent and take quite a lot of their library with him. Last but not least I added in Avacyn, Angel of Hope. Why? Well she is a game ender against a variety of strategies. All of your cards will be indestrucible. Bonfire of the Damned will do nothing. Supreme Verdict will do nothing. Dreadbore, Putrefy, and every other spell will do nothing as well. She’s 8 mana to get out, but don’t forget this is a reanimator deck. You could get her out on turn 4 if you play your cards right. You’ll still have to worry about exile effects like Selesnya Charm, but you should get value out of her regardless.
So I lost my way. I didn’t know what to do in the current metagame. So what did I do? I learned to think differently and to put various levels of threats in my decks while also giving myself two different directions to go with each strategy. Pigeonholing yourself into one strategy makes your deck incredibly easy to predict and to handle with proper sideboarding, but if you can learn to attack from various angles and use cards that have more than one application on the battlefield, you can catch your opponent off guard and blow them out.
I recommend to use this thinking when you’re building and testing your decks. Don’t just play one way, but think of how to apply cards in different ways for various results. Hopefully by doing so you’ll be able to raise your game and to get more wins for this. Good luck in in the coming weeks and as always comments are welcome!
I’ve been subscribed to your blog through email and I’m kind of late when it comes to reading your post. It’s funny though, no offense intended, to hear you say or read something pertaining to MTG and having an identity crisis? I mean, I can relate personally in terms of deck choices, as I’m on the losing spree for the last few weeks. Its just that the way I look at, it is more on what am I doing wrong with the deck that I’m currently using or I totally change to another deck that my “budget” can afford. Well, I mostly play on MTGO and rarely that I get to play paper MTG. If I understand you correctly? Based from your GW Tokens deck and the above said decks that you’ve mentioned, you’re a deck brewer? Is that what trying to accomplish here?
Of course this post was meant as a joke. I love brewing new decks, and I used the backdrop of my currently losing streak to set up the “identity crisis” thing. The main theme of this post was to introduce new decks to my readers. I love being melodramatic instead of just throwing my list at people and having them fend for themselves. I’m still sticking with my GW token deck and I’m going to work at tweaking it before the Grand Prix in Kitakyushu next week. I actually ended up winning a GPT with my GW Token deck the day after posting this entry, so I guess you could say the identity crisis is over 😀