Welcome once again to Whispers of the Muse, the occasional series where a reader submits a deck they’d like some advice on, and we turn it over to you, the community! Our letter this time comes from Julián R, who had this to say:
We’ve had a number of Whispers of the Muse submissions as of late, and the preconstructed community has been offering up some great guidance! The next deck to go under the scalpel today is Magic 2012’s Blood and Fire, the deck built around the returning bloodthirst mechanic.
Alas, all good things must come to an end, and with Vampire Onslaught our time with Magic 2012 has finished (until next season’s Preconstructed Championships, that is!). As mentioned in our final review of Illusionary Might, the M12 Event Decks have proven to be quite popular in our house, and Jimi quite reluctantly stepped aside this time to give Sam a shot with them. Although Blue isn’t usually one of Sam’s preferred colours, the idea of cheap and aggressive beats is right up her alley. On the other side of the table, I am piloting Vampire Onslaught. Here are the notes from our three games. Read more
The decks are coming fast and furious as late, and today we have a new community challenge- how can we best improve Magic 2012’s Entangling Webs? Our latest request comes from Jonah L, who begins with the following.
It’s a simple truth: some decks are more fun to play than others. Having contributed to Ertai’s Lament for over a year now, I’d hazard to say that I’d put our “unique decks played per day” ratio up against almost anyone. Ours is a constantly adapting task- play four games with a deck, move on to the next. New cards, new mechanics, all of it tackled in the course of an evening’s work for a writeup, then left behind.
To be sure, there are times when it’s felt more duty than privilege, such as when we forced ourselves to sit down and suffer through something like Anthologies. More recently, the novelty of the freshly-reviewed simpleton decks of 7th Edition wasn’t exactly seeing us race to break out the playmats. But on the flip side of the coin, there are times when Jimi and Sam are fighting it out to see who gets to play which deck, and those are the most fun of all.
Since their inception during Mirrodin Besieged, the Event Decks have fallen squarely in the latter camp. Their tightly-focused theme and solid card selection have made them a blast to play. Today we look at the match notes from the first of our two matchups, this one from the perspective of Illusionary Might. As in times previous with the Event Decks, we’re looking at the stock 60 cards, the decks as they would be in the first match pre-sideboarding.
If there’s been one consistent complaint that’s been leveled at the Event Decks, it’s criticism of the value disparity. In essence, it is felt, having one deck packed with value cards and the other quite a bit thinner leads to some shenanigans with regards to pricing. A number of vendors, for exampkle, have marked Illusionary Might down $10, and increased Vampire Onslaught by a similar amount. This was not dissimilar to what happened for New Phyrexia’s round of decks, where War of Attrition’s two Stoneforge Mystics drove prices sharply upward.
In Wizards’ defense, the decks are made well in advance, and as Aaron Forsythe (head of R&D) once tweeted, the Mystics were a $4 card at the time the deck was designed. That might have been a happy accident (for some), but Vampire Onslaught is a much more deliberate case. As previously quoted, Event Deck designer Zac Hill made the case quite clear in his mothership article:
As formats get close to rotating, we’re more likely to try and get one last hurrah out of the previous block’s Constructed All-Star list, whereas earlier in a set’s lifespan we’re more likely to explore themes that have the opportunity to grow more robust with each release.
Today we’ll be looking at this ‘Constructed All-Star’ list with Vampire Onslaught. There are a number of familiar faces here from mono-Black Vampire aggro decks that have bounced around Standard, mainly as second-tier builds.
For many, building the right deck can mean starting with a preconstructed one, then tuning and modifying it to get better results. Sometimes the decks just build themselves. Other times a player might be uncertain about the best build, or seek the wisdom of the masses. That’s where Whispers of the Muse comes in. Each installment features an email we’ve recieved asking for deckbuilding help. We in turn open that up to the Lament readers to see how they might choose to tinker with the deck!
There can be little doubt by now that Event Decks are here to stay. With this being the third product release with more scheduled to come, the ‘gateway to competitive play’ design space has been found to be fertile, although Wizards has had to do some adjusting along the way. As expected, we’ve been treated to two different flavours of aggro deck this time around, but each deck has a little twist. The surprise here with Illusionary Might is the deck’s colour, which isn’t one ordinarily associated with its strategy.
In his excellent piece on designing the Event Decks, Zac Hill revealed an interesting rule of thumb Wizards has when crafting them.
As a general rule… we tend to prefer at least one linear, mostly aggressive strategy whose manabase can be made to work with minimal effort. The other strategy will likely be more set-specific and try to play up some interesting block themes. As formats get close to rotating, we’re more likely to try and get one last hurrah out of the previous block’s Constructed All-Star list, whereas earlier in a set’s lifespan we’re more likely to explore themes that have the opportunity to grow more robust with each release.
Welcome to a linear, mostly aggressive strategy. A virtually mono-Blue linear, mostly aggressive strategy. And much like the M12 Intro Pack decks, it is one that inhabits something of a crossroads which allows for tinkering in multiple directions once the times comes to improve the build.
Welcome to the next installment of our Whispers of the Muse, the occasional series where a reader asks for help tinkering with and improving upon a precon deck from the Ertai’s Lament community! Today’s request comes to us from Lawrence M., who would like to improve the Black/Blue Grab for Power deck from Magic 2012. He’s building it almost stock from the box, but says “so far I have purchased 1x Throne Of Empires and 1x Scepter Of Empires.”
“I’m fairly new to the game,” he adds, but mentions that he’d like to make the deck more competitive. As you may recall from our review, Grab for Power is a combo-style deck heavily dependent upon hitting it’s three-card combo (the artifacts of Empires) for maximum effectiveness.
Because Lawrence is a newer player, it may be more helpful to limit suggestions to cards more readily available at his local gaming store, but of course any suggestions for improving the deck’s performance are more than welcome. Here’s the stock list:
So… how would you make the deck better? Let us know in the comments below!
Our final playtest and review for Magic 2012, and the time has just flown by. With each deck having a very distinctive theme, we’ve really enjoyed pittone one against the other. For our last game, Jimi has accepted the challenge to serve as the opposition, selecting Grab for Power as her deck. Fresh off the deck’s successes in our last review she has every reason for optimism, but I’m angling to see how well Sacred Assault will spoil her dream and claim victory. Here are our game notes.