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February 8, 2011

33

Whispers of the Muse: Oscar’s Power of Prophecy

by Dredd77

Just today we recieved a comment from a new reader on one of the Meddling articles for Magic 2011- Power of Prophecy. Because so many members of the community here are quick to help with great advice no matter how inexperienced the player, I thought I’d go ahead and post it in the open rather than buried back on page 20 where few might see it:

Hi i was thinking about changing the deck quite a bit. I recently started playing MTG with my friends so i’m looking for a non tournament deck atm.

My biggest concern is a friend playing green/black deck based on elves and tokens if I don’t draw the Leviathan fast enough and have enough mana i’m screwed.

Besides i think i’d like to make this deck into one where the main focus is to get Leviathan protect it (with Whispersilk cloth, counter spells) and destroy the enemy with islandwalking/flying creatures. Therefore i was thinking about something like :
16 Islands
9 Plains
2x Harbout Serpent
2x Wall of frost
2x Stormtide Leviathan
2x Aether Adept
2x Cloud Elemental
2x Water or Air Servants
2x Whispersilk Cloack
2x Diminish
4x Cancel
4x Negate
1x Call to Mind
2x Safe Passage
2x Sleep
2x Mind Control
2x Ice Cage
2x Arrest

Though i’m still unsure about this since i’m totally new to the game.
I believe scrying would be quite usefull in order to obtain the leviathan and the needed mana for it’s cost but then again i dont know what to drop.

Maybe changing the wall of frost for 2x Crystal ball or Foresee. Or dropping cancels/negates though i really don’t like the idea of not having them. If anyone has some suggestions please post them I’ll be grateful for any advice.

Suggestions for Oscar?

Edit: ‘Retconned’ the title to reflect our new series.

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33 Comments Post a comment
  1. troacctid
    Feb 8 2011

    Harbor Serpent would be a weak choice even without the drawback. A 5/5 Islandwalk for 6 is not a very good deal, and having sometimes-defender doesn’t help its case. Ice Cage is also pretty bad–there shouldn’t be much reason to use a weaker version of Pacifism when you’re a white deck with access to the real thing (and Pacifism itself, while passable, is still mediocre). Diminish is okay in Limited, but subpar and clunky for Constructed play. Safe Passage and Call to Mind are just generally weak cards.

    There’s certainly a lot of room for improvement.

    Reply
    • Oscar
      Feb 9 2011

      I want to use Ice Cage for it’s ability to block skills, since even if i pacify an elf if he has a skill to for example summon a token he can use it.
      And also it’s a nice combo with mind control since you can block a enemy monster and take him over when u get the card.

      In my case. Safe Passage main target is to let me survive untill i get stormtide leviathan out, since it’s a card you usually need to wait for a bit, hmm maby i could swap it for 2 more sleeps ?

      I usually use diminish instead of Condemn since elves can heal really quickly i’d rather avoid giving him even more HP and diminish allows me to kill a monster which he thinks will survive. I was also thinking to for example getting Alluring Sirens so i can make him attack with his bonus cards (like passive auras +1 to all elves etc) and then diminish them and kill them.

      About Hardbour serpent, i think i could switch it for a flyer for example Serra Angel ?

      Call to mind is somewhat of an additional spell of any type (depending on what you have in your graveyard) so it can really save you if you need a spell and failed to draw it.

      Reply
      • troacctid
        Feb 9 2011

        Oh, sure, I know what the cards do. I’m just saying that doing things doesn’t make them good cards, if you know what I mean.

        Reply
      • Icehawk
        Feb 9 2011

        If you want a flyer, try the Sphnixes.

        http://magiccards.info/zen/en/68.html

        Sphinx of Jwar Isle not only has flying, but it has shroud. It’s, or was I really don’t follow standard, the go to creature for MUC’s as a finisher. Not being able to be the target of spells or abilities is a superb ability.

        You’re going to be managing threats and the field with your spells, so I don’t think you really need too many big finisher creatures. Your stormtide x4 should do fine as long as you have a few counter spells on hand to handle any creature removal.

        Reply
  2. Icehawk
    Feb 8 2011

    I’d go mono-blue. Consider throwing that white out for stuff like foresee/jace’s ingenuity, preordain, stuff like that. Draw power. Essence Scatter. Get a nice 8-12 counterspells. Then consider be bump spells like boomerang. It’s tricky since Elves are fast and dumping stuff onto the field like crazy. Really have to learn what are threats and what aren’t so you don’t use up your counter spells.

    In my deck, I use 2-4 Wall of Frost before I get to my 4 sphinxes. I run 12 creatures. Most controlish decks I’ve seen run less than that, but I don’t like playing pure “Mono blUe Control” aka MUC.

    If you want to play blue and white, then you naturally have to consider the WU creatures and spells. Wall of Denial, I don’t care for it but its a very strong defense. Wall of Omens too. If you’re up against lots of removal, you could side Hindering Light and slide it in as needed. It depends on how you want to play it.

    To me, you need a full playset of at least 1 draw spell. This should help you get your finisher out faster. Also, I run 18 lands. At most 22 I’d say. Depends on your curve and how many colors you run.

    Reply
    • Icehawk
      Feb 8 2011

      Wow. Talking about mumbling on the net and jumping around like a madman.

      Reply
    • Stric9 (aka Steve)
      Feb 8 2011

      I agree with Icehawk about the draw. Even though I know he loves card advantage already. It will move you through your deck faster.

      Reply
  3. Stric9 (aka Steve)
    Feb 8 2011

    So one of the ways you need to focus your deck is by deciding what is truly going to be your winning factor. It is always good to have options, but when you say that you want to islandwalk/fly/grant shroud/counter your way to victory, I think your scope might be a little broad. For instance, flyers all by themselves can be a victory because of the opponent’s lack of answer to evasion. If all you really want to do is crush your opponent in a turn or two with Leviathans then you might be better off with a playset of them. Store.tcgplayer.com has them selling for less than a quarter a pop. Now, if that’s the route you choose, then you also need a way to get that Leviathan out FAST. If you’re playing a black/green removal/elves deck, you’ll need to do some major stalling while you ramp up. I might go with Silver Myrs and Everflowing Chalices for the ramp. With a playset of leviathans and some ramp, all the Cyrstal Balls will do is use up your mana. Stoic Rebuttals, Negates, and Cancels to counter removal and Pacifisms and Mind Controls for his baddies. Whispersilk Cloak is fine for its unblockability and shroud effects, but if you’re playing blue you’re getting those same effects out of flying/ islandwalk/ counter. One of the hardest things to do in Magic is to focus your deck and refine it so that you have a SPECIFIC strategy to win and a predictable way to get there. Good luck.

    p.s. If you’re hesitant to buy cards to form a deck you can always create your deck on a website like tappedout.com and playtest to see how you like it. But there is nothing like drawing seven and going toe-to-toe with an opponent across the dining room table!

    Reply
  4. Feb 8 2011

    you can also go to http://www.magiccards.info and toward the bottom of each page use the “print proxies” option. print some stuff you’re considering buying, sleeve ’em up and test ’em against your green-playing friend.

    i still consider myself an utterly lousy player and even having played for about 10 months i still think of myself as a new player. that being said, the advice being given above about narrowing in on a specific focus for your deck is good advice. and the simpler you can make that in the beginning, the easier it will be to see the impact certain cards and interactions are having on you.

    i finally understood card draw when i began dabbling with blue more. things like jace’s ingenuity let me grab more cards. this meant i had more options in my hand. this made me HAPPY! then i started to explore scry via cards like preordain or foresee. now i could stack the deck before i drew those extra cards. HAPPIER!

    btw: playsets (i.e. 4 of a card) help increase your odds of getting those tools you need to use to make your deck work the way you want it to.

    so, my suggestion? do some scrying and then drawing to get those Leviathans (and the mana you need to cast them) out and bash away.

    Reply
  5. Morn
    Feb 8 2011

    So far, a lot of great advice here. One suggestion I have is to tighten things up a bit. So many 2-ofs creates the problem of not always drawing what you need when you need it. This is especially important for blue, which tends to be even more reliant on consistency than the other colors. I’m guessing the elf/token deck doesn’t care which creatures do they actual killing, as long as it has enough to overwhelm your defenses. Blue rarely has that luxury.

    As I said, lots of specific advice here, so I’ll leave it to people far better than I to tell you what to play. Just take my non-specific advice for what it is: pick the important stuff and play more of it and less of the unimportant stuff.

    Reply
  6. Hireling
    Feb 9 2011

    Hi Oscar,

    Welcome to meddling with precons. It’s a very addictive hobby and a good place to start if you’re new to Magic. A lot of players will tell you that boosters are your best value, but if you’re just starting out the precons can give you a good base to start with. Just be sure to take advantage of resources on the internet and try to avoid buying decks that have a lot of overlap.

    That being said, here’s my advice for running a blue deck that uses the Stormtide Leviathan as a primary win condition. I would approach it like a green beatdown deck, but with a focus on control instead of mana ramping and pump spells. You’ll have a few less creatures of course, since you want to control your opponent’s early game and have some defense for your Stormtide once it hits the table.

    With eight counter spells in your deck you don’t need to worry about having a lot of Fog type spells since you can decide which of his creatures enter play and which don’t. Drop the Safe Passage, but keep two Sleep since it’s a win condition on it’s own if you have even four or five creatures on the board. As for dealing with creatures that hit the table despite your best efforts, consider Journey to Nowhere (Zendikar) over Ice Cage, and Arrest. Drop down to one Mind Control and don’t focus too much on stealing creatures. Yours should do just fine closing the deal on their own.

    Bounce is fun, but I would add two Wall of Frost and drop the Adepts. The wall can block most anything green can bring against you in the early game and keep it tied up. Sit back comfortably on your Cancels and focus on denying the creatures with power 6 or higher. As for Doom Blade (his most likely removal spell) save your Negates. This way you can drop the Whispersilk Cloaks and add a couple of more counters. Try Mana Leak.

    Give this a try:
    Creatures:
    4 Augury Owl (these will help smooth out your draws with their Scry ability and they’re not a bad flyer for two mana)
    4 Wall of Frost (very resilient against aggressive creature decks)
    3 Harbor Serpent
    2 Stormtide Leviathan

    Spells:
    4 Cancel (save for big fatties and the most powerful spells)
    4 Negate (save for his removal)
    2 Mana Leak (situational, but useful)
    2 Sleep
    1 Mind Control
    4 Journey to Nowhere (Zendikar common enchantment) – Exiles target creature as long as it’s in play.
    4 Spreading Seas (Zendikar common enchantment) – target land becomes an island. you can starve him of one of his colors and this gives you some Islands for those harbor serpents. it also grants you one card when cast)

    If your opponent is simply overwhelming you with a huge horde of small creatures, consider trading your stripe of white in for a stripe of red and get your hands on 2 or 3 Pyroclasms (M11 uncommon). Red is also great for spot removal with Lightning Bolt (M11 common), Burst Lightning (Zendikar common) or Staggershock (Rise of the Eldrazi common).

    I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any more questions.

    Reply
    • Oscar
      Feb 9 2011

      Thanks for your input it really helped. I decided to make a deck silmilar to what you posted but with a slight changes.
      25 Lands(16 Islands 9 Plains)
      4x Augury Owl
      2x Wall of Frost / 2x Wall of Denial
      2x Stormtide Leviathan
      4x Cancel
      4x negate
      2x Mana Leak
      2x Sleep
      1x mind Control
      4x Journey to Nowhere
      4x Spreading Seas
      4x Silver Myr
      2x Everflowing Chalice

      The last 2 changes are mainly in order to get mana for the leviathan fast. and I’m still thinking if maby i should drop the Myr’s and get some more powerful fliers (since Harbor serpents are quite expensive for 5/5 though the islandwalk is nice having a decent flyer in their place could help if i dont get Stormtide Leviathan fast).

      Please post what you think about those changes. Maby I could cut a couple of lands like 2 islands 1 plain and add something more to it.

      Reply
      • Hireling
        Feb 9 2011

        I’d love to give more advice but while we can share theories all day long your next step should be playing at leas half a dozen games with it. Take note of which cards work and which don’t. Pay attention to what kinds of decks give you the biggest headahes. Then come back and report if you like and we can help you hammer out the kinks.

        Good gaming to you.

        Reply
  7. Jered
    Feb 9 2011

    I take it you’re playing standard, and not extended. I’m liking the suggestions here. Take out the diminish, use journey to nowhere. Spreading seas can help, so perhaps 4 of that. maybe some dual lands? i understand if you need more land for the shoal serpent, but.. it helps with colour, and it’s good. mana leak is very useful early game. you’ll probably need some of those.

    Reply
  8. Diennea
    Feb 9 2011

    I didn’t read all but if you still are going white-blue and you still need a way to stop activated abilities there’s a card named Faith’s Fetter of ravnica block that do that in addition to a pacifism effect (and four life point I believe, I got to check)

    Reply
  9. Feb 9 2011

    SOme great guidance here! One thing I didn’t see mentioned that I would consider is Choking Fumes. Oscar, this is a brand-new card from the latest set, Mirrodin Besieged, and as an Uncommon you can find them readily and cheaply.

    This puts a -1/-1 counter on all attacking creatures, and I imagine this could be devastating if your buddy is using a swarm of cheap elves or other weenies to get in for damage. The counter’s permanent, so even if it doesn’t wipe his board in the first go, what’s left will be permanently weaker.

    The other advantage to a card like this is that it will put the fear of attacking in your friend for every game afterwards. Not to say he will hole up and defend only, but he may commit less forces to the attack, or hesitate when you leave the mana open for it (even if you don’t have it).

    Just a thought!

    Reply
    • Icehawk
      Feb 9 2011

      The fewer elf “Lords” the other guy plays the better fumes shines. When I say lords I mean stuff like Elvish Champion. A creature that boosts other elves. It’d slow my deck down.

      Would have to try to protect my “Lords” more. Last thing I’d want is to lose one to removal or battle and as a result have a few of my tokens or creatures suddenly drop from a 1/1 with +1/+1 from the lord and a -1/-1 counter on it to being a 0/0 and dead.

      Reply
  10. Stric9 (aka Steve)
    Feb 9 2011

    I’m getting jealous of Oscar and all the feedback he’s getting on his deck. Is there any way we could involve the readers on other subscribers’ decks on a more consistent basis? I would love to make a deck and get this much positive, constructive feedback. I don’t have a particular method in mind, but maybe a forum or a weekly feature for a modified pre-con from a reader.

    Reply
  11. mart
    Feb 9 2011

    stric9: that’s a cool idea.

    after all this commenting, i started thinking that oscar should just make one or both of the meddled power of prophecy decks that ertai came up with. then i realised his comment was in response to that very thread. i’m surprised the meddled decks didn’t do it for him actually… his fears make more sense in terms of the original PoP precon. oscar: did you assemble either of ertai’s meddled decks and test against your elf-playing friend?

    Reply
    • Oscar
      Feb 9 2011

      mart I didn’t assemble the decks from the meddling since i just didn’t think they’d fit my playstyle. I really like to have some counters in my hands while playing and thats the way i want to go. Today i managed to assemble the deck that i wrote in response to Hireling

      25 Lands(16 Islands 9 Plains)
      4x Augury Owl
      2x Wall of Frost / 2x Wall of Denial
      2x Harbor Serpent
      2x Stormtide Leviathan
      4x Cancel
      4x negate
      2x Mana Leak
      2x Sleep
      1x mind Control
      4x Journey to Nowhere
      4x Spreading Seas
      4x Silver Myr
      2x Everflowing Chalice

      Since i didn’t want to buy cards without testing them and I’m playing with my friends i got them to let me print the cards i want to buy, so I could test them.

      I only managed to play 2 games, the third one was interrupted but I really like the control this deck gave me. My first match was against a Black deck: Eyes of the Shadow it wasn’t much tweaked since it arrived here today (since i started playing i managed to make about 6 of my friend sinterested so we’re bassicly buying decks on daily basis now :P) and i owned him hard, thanks to the Everflowing Chalice and Silver Myrs i managed to get my Stormtide Leviathan out in 6th turn, since my enemy didnt have any creature kill spells at that moment and i had 3 cancels the rest was a walk in the park.

      My second game was against my very hated adversary the Black/Green elf deck focused on tokens. This one was much harder since i didn’t have many creatures in my opening hand but still i held my ground by mana starving him changing his swamps to islands with Spreading Seas, and Exiling any elfs with bonuses with Journey to Nowhere.

      He still got me down to 10 hp though, but then i managed to get my stormtide Leviathan out(At this point he already had 62 HP since he got he’s plainswalker out Nisa Revane he had alot of healing done before i killed her), I already had 1 Harbour Serpent out and another one in my hand. I saved my leviathan from his destroy spell with cancel and then owned him hard. bassicly hitting him for 18 dmg each turn.

      The third match had a really nice start for me. I played against Phyrexian Poison deck, which proved to be extremely powerfull when battling my friends (the elf one (i think his deck is based on Elivsh Predation), Eyes of the Shadow, and Kor armory)
      I started with two Spreading seas and starved him from swamps early game had some dmg done (he was around 11 hp) and unfortunately we had to stop the match.

      I’m going to play some more games tommorow and post my thoughts, so far i am extremly pleased with this deck I think i’ll order the original cards quickly (as soon a shop in my country gets the goddamn stormtide Leviathan), since the only way i can obtain him now is by buying it on allegro (polish e-bay) and it’s price becomes x3 just because of the transportation fee.

      Reply
      • Stric9 (aka Steve)
        Feb 9 2011

        Yeahhhh! That’s what Magic is all about my dear “przyjaciel.” (My next door neighbor is Polish.)

        Reply
    • Oscar
      Feb 9 2011

      Oh, and sorry for the double post but I really wanted to thank you all guys for your positive feedback it gave me alot of information that led me to this deck, alot of this ideas posted here are really great so i think i might try those too when i get bored of my current deck or I’ll want a change. Also i hope my english is decent enough so you guys don’t have a problem since it’s not my main language.

      Reply
      • Feb 9 2011

        Are you kididng? You speak better English than some of my fellow Americans I know… 😀 You’re in Poland? Vacationed there for a week once, an absolute joy of a trip. Ahh, memories…

        Glad you’ve been enjoying the site. As Stric9 posted above, your deck excapade here might even prompt a more regular feature here, it’s definitely given us something to think about. I’ve always known our community to be unfailingly polite and helpful, but didn’t imagine that this thread would become so big so fast!

        Reply
        • Oscar
          Feb 9 2011

          I’m glade you liked poland. Also if this would become a regular feature you can be sure alot of people woult make those kind of topics, discussions about deck building (for example most of my friends who are starting to play MTG. even though there was 3 of us at the begginging now It’s over 7 and still expanding) . MTG is a scary game, even though i just completed a deck i’m thinking about other ones, how i’d play them set them up. I guess you need to watch you wallet or you can go bankrupt pretty fast ^^.

          Reply
  12. Jux2p0ze
    Feb 9 2011

    Oscar, all the great deck recommendations have already been stated, but there are a few things in your posts which I picked up on.

    1. Play style. While everybody possesses a particular flair, if you want to experience the game completely, you need to look at the strategy behind the deck more than just the style. You can become a better player by studying your opponent’s decks as much as their individual playing habits. I gaurantee that at some point you WILL branch into a very different color or play strategy, and when it happens you will become better at your favorite style.

    2. Mono-blue vs Blue/White control. Magic is a funny game because the archetypes we know now have been in existence far longer than players realize. One can learn alot from the deckbuilders and tournament reports on the past (ref. “Big Blue” and Weissman’s “the Deck”) and hopefully help you tune your own deckbuilding efforts. For now, seriously try both until you are familiar with what you wish to accomplish.

    3. Costs. I remember blowing $40USD as an early teenager on 12 booster packs and still get nothing good. Now it gets you 2-3 strong playable decks. While it can be expensive, you already have the best resource which is a core group of players to learn with and have fun. Stric9 said it best that you need to be out there playing more games, more for the experience and also to hone your perspective of how to play better.

    Well, looks like you’re on your way and welcome to the hobby. Happy gaming!

    Reply
    • Jux2p0ze
      Feb 9 2011

      Correction: I meant Hireling re: playing more. Stric9 posts good comments as well 🙂

      Reply
  13. Oscar
    Feb 10 2011

    I have one more question do you guys think Leyline of Anticipation is worth adding to the deck, since it gives creatures flash you could cast a creature at the end of your opponents turn and have all you mana back at the beggining of yours.

    It would be pretty effective since alot of cards in my deck need alot of mana which usually doesnt allow me to counter spell after casting them since i lack lands after casting a big monster (aka Storm Leviathan/ Harbor Serpent). But also my deck already has 62 cards so maby drop the Mind Control and try to add it. I think ill print one or two copies of this too and check it out today when I’m back from school.

    Reply
    • Feb 10 2011

      I’m not a big fan of that particular card- you need four of them to get the best chance of a free starter, and only the Green one stacks with itself. The rest are essentially dead draws later in the game unless you’re playing someone with enchantment hate. For four mana, the card itself actually doesn’t do enough.

      What I’d recommend is to leave it out. Get a solid feel for your deck as-is, as mentioned above, before making any further changes. But in the meantime, pretend you have it in your hand. Make mental notes of how often you’d want to cast a four-mana spell. If you’re worried about tapping out (and rightly so), when would you play this? No earlier than your 6th or 7th land drop, depending on what your counters are. Does it have a big impact on the rest of the game?

      I can’t speak to your meta, so it might well be a useful tool in your arsenal. But that’s how you can find out without having to buy them or even proxy them- ask yourself during each game if you didn’t get it in your opening hand, would there be opportunity to get it ouyt later, and would it make a difference in that particular game.

      If there is and it would, then it might be worth getting. But my hunch is that it’s probably not as glamourous as it looks on paper- a lot of spells are like that.

      Reply
      • Icehawk
        Feb 10 2011

        Agreed. Looking at the last list you posted, I’d put some draw power into it over this card. If you’re playing a deck that has a control focus, you need to be able to replenish your hand and get more counter spells.

        Blue is the king of draw. Might as well use it. ^-^

        Reply
    • troacctid
      Feb 10 2011

      I’ve played Leyline of Anticipation before. It’s a fun card, but not very powerful.

      Also, best to cut the deck down to 60. It’s pretty much always optimal to stick to the minimum deck size; makes your mana more consistent, helps draw your important cards consistently, and so on.

      Reply
  14. Diennea
    Feb 11 2011

    Consider Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir. It basically do the same thing of the leyline but he also force your opponent to play at sorcery speed. It cost a lot though, five mana.

    Reply
  15. Oscar
    Feb 14 2011

    Hey, once against I’m very thankful for the input. But i have one more idea. Since this deck is completed,i was thinking of making an aggro deck(blue).

    Based on cheap creatures sleep/safe passage/mind controls/ unsummons. Bassicly allowing me to tap/destroy/unsummon target creatures and quickly finish the player.

    I dont have many ideas about the creatures, but i think Leyline of Antipation would be quite decent in this deck (allowing be to cast sleep and other disable spells as they were instants) also adding Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir could be decent not allowing my enemies to use instants easli (though i think i’d have to settle for one of them either leyline or mage). Have you heard about such a deck, and what do you think about it usefulness.

    If you have any ideas please post them here.

    Reply
    • Oscar
      Feb 14 2011

      I’m thinking about something like this atm:

      4x Cancel
      4x Diminish
      22x Island
      2x Leyline Of Anticipation
      4x Mind Control
      4x Negate
      4x Sleep
      2x Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
      4x Unsummon
      4x Alluring Siren

      I don’t really know about other monsters but i guess i could drop something to get more monsters ? I’m thinking about focusing on swarm of weaker monsters but since i don’t really have that much expierience with MTG i would be verry happy if someone posted some suggestions. Mainly about monsters I’m trying to find something atm but there are just way too many cards ^^

      Also i decided to go for mono- blue since i didnt find many white cards to help me with this deck (but safe passage/blinding mages are quite a nice addition) therefore I’m not sure.

      Reply

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