Happy New Year to everyone, and to kick off the cleanr slate each year brings we have a new Whispers of the Muse. If you’re a new reader to Ertai’s Lament, Whispers is a deckbuilding advice column for folks who are looking to base their decks off of a precon. What makes the column so fun is that the answers don’t come from one place, but rather throughout the readership of the site. Call it “the wisdom of the masses,” call it “crowdsourcing,” it’s a great opportunity for folks to put their minds together and come up with a winning deck!
Today’s Whispers of the Muse comes our way courtesy of longtime reader Prophylaxis, who’s looking to go competitive with an infect strategy.
I kept the core theme, but it has a lot of different card choices. This deck originated from the precon “Phyrexian Poison”.
Current decklist: http://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/bg-infect-55/
Yup, it’s an infect deck. Never tested against FNM crowd, though I’m planning to (I don’t go to tournaments all too often, as I’m usually late for them). All of my card choices and the reason I picked them are on the link. I know I need:
Verdant Catacombs – Expensive.. 12 a pop makes me vomit.
Inkmoth Nexus – Expensive and hard to find. I would put only 2 or 3 in there because of mana problems.
At last, we are proud to present our final Scars of Mirrodin installment of Ertai’s Meddling, the mighty Blue/Red Metalcraft. For those of you who have recently joined us, the Meddling series is where we take an intro deck and fine-tune it. We remove that which isn’t working, add in a few things that might work better, and at the end of the piece have a shiny new upgraded version of what we began with. Of course, as Mark Rosewater so often says, “restrictions breed creativity,” so where would we be if not for a few restrictions? Ertai’s Meddling has two, we call them the “rules” and here they are:
Why these rules in particular? Two reasons. The first is that we want to preserve the flavour and character of the intro deck. If we broke it open to the full spectrum of cards, we’d end up with a much more competitive deck, sure, but one fairly far away from what we started with. Second, we want these decks to be affordable. Stuffing in a fistful of rares and mythics might work for some, but it hardly is the norm for any number of reasons. We want folks to be able to grab their box or binder, pull out their intro deck, and get to work with the cards they may already have lying about!
Thank you for joining us today as we release the next installment of the ever-popular Ertai’s Meddling series! Today we’re putting Scars of Mirrodin’s Deadspread firmly in our sights, and seeing if we can’t salvage what is a promising mechanic from the somewhat mediocre intro deck it’s been given. As ever we’ll be invoking the rules of Ertai’s Meddling, to make sure that our finished product is something fun and easily obtainable for everyone. That means:
Deadspread was the showcase deck for the new Proliferate mechanic, and had a lot of promise. Get some conters on the board, proliferate like crazy and finish off your decimated opponent. At least, that was the plan! As you might expect, the execution was perhaps a little shy of the mark.
Here, too, are the raw materials that we have to begin with:
For this Meddling, we’ll be making one version of the deck. Frequently Meddlings in the past have made an improved version of the deck, then used its components to make a mono-coloured variant. This won’t work well for Deadspread- as the first set in a new block, it’s tools aren’t fully developed yet, and we need all the Proliferate we can get. A second deck could be made that would abuse all the charge-counter artifacts we have to play with, but for today’s purposes we want to arrive at a very tightly-focused proliferate deck that makes the mechanic work.
It’s time for another installment of Lament’s most popular series, Ertai’s Meddling! This is the series where we take a preconstructed deck and have our way with it, gutting the cards that aren’t carrying their weight and packing in ones that will. Of course, it wouldn’t be sporting just to toss in a heaping cup full of Rares and Mythics, so we look to build within the resources of what a new or returning player might have. As such, we’ve developed the following two Rules:
Today we return to the Scars of Mirrodin precons, and it’s anti-artifact poison pill, Relic Breaker. Scars is an artifact block, absolutely crammed with them, so it was only natural to expect that one of the five decks might be dedicated to smashing things up! When we last visited Relic Breaker, we found it to be a bit of a one-trick pony. Here are the qualities we identified:
Welcome back once more to the second installment of Ertai’s Meddling for the Scars of Mirrodin! In today’s column we’ll be taking apart the mono-White Myr tribal deck, and reconstructing it in an improved form. Like the previous Meddling, there will also be a twist thrown in to boot, based on the feedback from the Phyrexian Poison article. We’ll get to that later, but for now let’s review the rules of Ertai’s Meddling.
There are two fundamental rules this series has adopted, and they are as follows:
The goal of Ertai’s Meddling isn’t to make the best possible deck regardless your collection or wallet. Rather, by leaving out Rares and Mythic Rares, we look to improve upon the deck with cards most players may already have, or at least have easy access to. It’s often bemoaned- and correctly so- that to compete in Standard today you need to have fairly deep pockets to be able to build most decks. For many players who don’t have Pro Tour aspirations, however, a preconstructed deck and a little bit of tuning will yield up a deck that’s perfectly competitive for casual, table-top play. That’s our goal- take what’s been give to us in the deck, strip out its weaknesses and then build up its strengths.
Welcome back to another edition of Ertai’s Meddling, the ongoing series where we take a deck we’ve reviewed, strip out its weakest elements and look to rebuild it faster, better, stronger. It’s been awhile since we last Meddled (when M11 was new), so let’s take a moment to review the ground rules we’ve set down for the Meddling series:
Whoops! What our clumsily-rendered Goblin friends are trying to tell us there is that unlike past Meddlings, we’re throwing Rule #2 right out the window for Phyrexian Poison. Our first deck concept will be Scars and M11 only, as before. But the second- which is normally a mono-coloured version- will be something completely different: a Standard variant! There are two reasons for the change here. First, Infect is a new mechanic without a great deal of cards supporting it yet, and a mono-Black Infect deck would be a rather poor construct. And second, there are just so many great cards in the format right now that synergise well with Infect!
If there’s one unwritten rule for our reviews that’s developed over time at Ertai’s Lament, it’s that just as each deck is reviewed just once, so it will be in opposition just once. This left poor Sam in the unenviable position of having to square off against Relic Breaker (the most stridently anti-artifact deck in Scars) while piloting Metalcraft (the most artifact-dependant deck in Scars). I console her by fibbing slightly, telling her that each deck is designed to ‘hold its own’ against the others in the same set. This is something that one tends to believe in principle until one is using the mono-White Kor Armory against Rise of the Vampires and a Malakir Bloodwitch hits the table, but it’s good enough for now. Sam gamely starts to shuffle, and we’re off to the races.
Welcome to the final review of the Scars of Mirrodin intro packs! So far we’re explored the tribal-based Myr deck, a Proliferate-based strategy, a healthy dose of Infect, and the Metalcraft mechanic. The predominant theme here is obvious- Artifacts- and wouldn’t you know it but Wizards has included a solution to all these problems. And that solution comes in the form of the Relic Breaker deck, tapping the bash-n-burn strategy so well suited to a Green/Red combination.
While that is the deck’s greatest strength, in some ways it is also going to be its greatest weakness. The other four decks of the set are largely self-contained affairs in that they don’t much care what your opponent is playing. Sure, Deadspread would like you to have critters, and you probably will, but generally they will perform the same regardless of the opposition before them.
Not so with Relic Breaker. So much of its effectiveness hinges on a single question: is my opponent playing lots of artifacts? It’s not an unreasonable assumption in the midst of an “Artifact block,” but may well hinder its effectiveness in a broader setting (versus an M11 precon, for instance). That said, let’s see what’s on offer here and how reliant the deck is on facing down artifacts, and we’ll begin with the beaters.
As mentioned in the deck analysis, the Metalcraft deck is- not surprisingly- the flagship deck for the ‘fixed’ version of Affinity, Metalcraft. Not only did I want to see how it was going to perform in the field, but I also determined at the outset that I wanted to record one additional metric, which was the number of turns that Metalcraft was ‘turned on,’ and how long it took me to get there. The deck places a great deal of importance on having three or more artifacts in play, and indeed a scan of the cards shows that without the mechanic engaged, the deck itself is somewhat mediocre. I expected to struggle a little in the early game, then hit the ‘turbo boost’ once my third artifact manifested itself.
Volunteering to sit across the table was the ever-reliable Sam, who opted this time around to give Deadspread a try. I was pleased at the selection, as I’d wanted to see Deadspread in action a few more times. Today I would get my chance.