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February 21, 2011

18

Whispers of the Muse: Stric9’s “The Sparkler”

by Dredd77

Welcome to the next installment of Whispers of the Muse, the occasional feature where a reader submits their tinkering of a precon deck and look for constructive criticism and feedback from the community. Time to put on the thinking caps, because we’re going way back in Magic’s history! Today we’re hearing from Stric9, who’s begun working on Stronghold’s The Sparkler. Here’s what he had to say:

Hey gang,

Speaking of Whispers of the Muse, I finally built up the nerve to crack open my sealed deck “The Sparkler.” Lo and behold! It has a copy of Whispers of the Muse. That’s the first time I’ve owned that card. For those of you who may not know, “The Sparkler” has been mentioned quite a few times in different articles both here on Ertai’s Lament as well as on Quiet Speculation. One of the main reasons it gets any discussion at all is because of its extremely unique nature. Going through the cards, it has only 3 creature cards. Yes, that’s right, THREE creature cards. And, no, they’re not bombs either. Can you imagine buying a pre-con like that today?
 
But this is old school Magic. This is a deck from the way it used to be played. I’m talking about grinding out an agonizingly slow win against your opponent through domination and frustration. If you never played during the era of Revised and Ice Age when cards like Winter Orb were present then you’ve probably never had the experience of playing a game that has lasted more than 20 turns. Don’t get me wrong, I love the way Magic is played these days. I love racing out the gate and having Terra Stompers do my dirty work on turn 4, but I wonder if this deck could be made viable with today’s cards. It would certainly need to be updated and I could only play it a Legacy tournament, but I would love to give it a chance.
 
The object of the deck is to counter any and every thing they have so that they’re completely powerless to act. Then, when they finally are able to cast something, you snatch it away and use it for your own machinations or burn your way there is necessary. The deck comes with an insert featuring the basic decklist for players just being introduced to the game (I feel sorry for anyone who wanted to learn Magic by buying this deck) which you can find here. There is also an “advanced” decklist that features quicker counterspells, more rares, and emphasizes using the sideboard to really dominate your opponent. My deck is modeled after this advanced version.
 
I’m sure this doesn’t need to be said, but recommending power-9 cards won’t be helpful nor will recommending cards that are ridiculously expensive (although I do own one copy of Force of Will in my Alliance’s set). I’m sure this will be a step outside many readers’ comfortable meta-game, but I’d really like to get some feedback since I’ve never been there either. My decklist is as follows:

14x Island

10x Mountain

4x Accumulated Knowledge

2x Power Sink

4x Mana Leak

4x Counterspell

2x Reins of Power

2x Capsize

2x Propaganda

1x Evacuation

1x Sunken Hope

1x Volition Reins

2x Firebolt

4x Lightning Bolt

3x Incinerate

2x Shock

1x Pyroclasm

1x Magma Phoenix

1x Red Sun’s Zenith

Sideboard:

2x Painter’s Servant

3x Pillage

4x Red Elemental Blast

1x Magnetic Mountain

1x Flashfires

2x Nevinyrral’s Disk

1x Anarchy

1x Guile

So a wide-open card pool to draw from, where Stric9’s using most any card in the game. Don’t worry if your knowledge of the older sets isn’t peerless- if you think he should swap out Accumulated Knowledge for Treasure Hunt, or reaplce Pyroclasm with Slagstorm, by all means suggest it!

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18 Comments Post a comment
  1. Diennea
    Feb 21 2011

    I don’t have much time now so my comment will be short, but I promise to return on it later. The first thing I see is that you always want a full hand, or at least ‘fuller’ than your opponent. For that I suggest a little favorite of mine, Rhystic Study. This enchantment force your opponent to chose if to play more for every spell he cast or to let you draw a card. Both ways is good for you, slowing him down or speeding you up.

    Reply
  2. Icehawk
    Feb 21 2011

    Boomerang seems like it’d be better than capsize. 2 mana to bounce vs 3 isn’t the issue. It’s the 6 to bounce and able to do it again that seems way to much. If this was a late game counter spell, I’d be down with it, but meh, too expensive for my taste. Heck, won’t be able to really use the buyback till turn 6 it seems in this deck.

    Reply
  3. Stric9 (aka Steve)
    Feb 21 2011

    Playing the deck through a couple times, I’ve noticed the deck needs more countering, but I don’t know what exaactly. It also needs better more useful draw so Rhystic Study looks promising. The deck can certainly stall for a long time, to the point where I can use the buyback features, but I have to make sure I don’t get annihilated in the first 6 turns. I also either need more reuseable burn to win or at least one really strong creature, like Kozilek.

    Reply
    • Icehawk
      Feb 21 2011

      Did you consider the creature and non-creature counter spells? Essence Shatter and Negate?

      For draw, foresee or that drawn/burn card from F&L looks good. The one where they either take 5 dmg or you draw three.

      Reply
      • Icehawk
        Feb 21 2011

        Browbeat. 3 for 3 cards is nice or 3 for 5 dmg is nice too.

        Reply
      • Stric9 (aka Steve)
        Feb 21 2011

        I’ve been considering Arcane Denial. I guess it’s highly debated because your opponent MAY end up drawing extra cards. You get one too though. But I could definitely see Essence Scatter and Negate being equally useful.

        Reply
  4. Hireling
    Feb 21 2011

    Capsize is very powerful. Boomerang isn’t what I would call a dead draw late game, but Capsize really outshines it once you’re in the late game.

    Stric9,

    You might consider Dissipation Field from Scars. It’s definitely a sideboard card, as you wouldn’t want to draw it against an opponent that’s using a lot of creatures with nasty “Enters the Battlefield” abilities, but I’ve found it very effective in shoring up the creature-less strategies of old.

    -H

    Reply
    • Stric9 (aka Steve)
      Feb 21 2011

      I could also start with Dissipation Field in the deck and bounce it off the field if I run into issues with those types of critters or Ball Lightings.

      Reply
  5. Diennea
    Feb 21 2011

    Another good spell in bounce department is Reality Strobe. It’s a sorcery but once casted (or suspended for half the price) is basically a boomerang on a permanent every third turn! There’s also an equivalent burn spell that is part of the same cicle but I don’t remember the name. Of course they’re made to be played with Paradox Haze to remove time counter faster and others ‘your upkeep do something’ cards. A set of reality strobe and paradox haze have won me many games but it may be a very large change for your deck because they require a dedicated strategy.

    Reply
    • Stric9 (aka Steve)
      Feb 21 2011

      Yeah, wow. Reality Strobe and Paradox Haze would be quite the combination. A couple Reality Strobes even on their own would get the job done, even if less efficiently. The good news is it’s an inexpensive card. And the massive stall would allow for a nice touch of Red Sun’s Zenith. Already, some great ideas. Thank you guys!

      Reply
  6. Hireling
    Feb 21 2011

    One more thing. I would include at least one Roil Elemental (Zendikar rare). It has a landfall ability that allows you to take control of a creature when you play a land. You only have control of creatures swiped by its ability as long as Roil Elemental remains in play, but when you’re playing control you should have few problems keeping this guy on the battlefield.

    Reply
  7. web8970
    Feb 21 2011

    As you seem to like to use the opponent’s tools against him, I suggest using
    * Ray of Command
    * Act of Treason
    * Grab the Reins
    * Legacy’s Allure
    And who ever said anything of giving stuff back? Here’s what to do with it:
    * Fling
    * Phyrexian Vault
    * Spawning Pit
    * Blasting Station
    * Culling Dais

    Have fun!

    Reply
    • Stric9 (aka Steve)
      Feb 21 2011

      The “Sparkler” includes two Reins of Power, but I haven’t been able to use them to good effect other than to stall an attacking opponent. Grab the Reins seems like it could really get some mileage especially it it was entwined. Perhaps, it would be a good sideboard card against someone playing with big creatures. Using the Roil Elemental and then sacrificing creatures is another option, but also might broaden my spectrum too much. I still like it on its own though.

      Reply
      • web8970
        Feb 22 2011

        May I draw your attention to Ray of Command being an instant? I like to play it as a combat trick, stealing a creature to block an attacking one in a way that none of them survives. Yes, those are the moments … *g*

        Plus, what would you think of Dominus of Fealty? It even comes in the right colors …

        Reply
  8. Stric9 (aka Steve)
    Feb 22 2011

    Well, guys, I gotta hand it to you. The recommendations thus far have been amazing. I manipulated the deck in such a way that the strategy of the deck remains the same, but with more powerful elements in place. I burn and counter until I can safely play Reality Strobe and Paradox Haze to control the battlefield. They provide the same function as Capsize although I haven’t decided if a playset is what I’m looking for. Multiple upkeeps allow Dominus of Fealty’s control to become absolutely ridiculous. Otherwise, Red Sun’s Zenith can be used to burn my way into a win, but I’ve managed to hard cast Kozilek several times since most games easily go through half the deck or more. Dissipation Field is still a great idea, but I got destroyed by a Mogg Fanatic so I’ll keep it in the sideboard. No, I haven’t had a chance to play seriously, but it is certainly a proper homage to the days of playing a game that lasts 30 or more turns. I’ve never played with something like this before so it’s unique among my decks. I have a bunch of proxies in there right now, but I like it enough that I think I’ll commit. This is what I’m playing with at the moment:

    4x Arcane Denial
    4x Counterspell
    1x Dominus of Fealty
    3x Incinerate
    14x Island
    1x Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
    4x Lightning Bolt
    4x Mana Leak
    9x Mountain
    3x Paradox Haze
    2x Propaganda
    3x Reality Strobe
    4x Red Sun’s Zenith
    2x Rhystic Study
    2x Shock
    1x Volition Reins

    As always, more suggestions are very welcome. Thanks again.

    Reply
    • Odin
      Jul 15 2015

      I think your list is quite good as it is. Actually I am building a deck based on the sparkler right now, so I am looking for some replacements and suggestions for the decl. In my opinion the precon just doesn’t work at all as it is. Its just impossible winning..

      However, through a lot og playtesting, I have come to the conclusion that the way to win is by building up enough mana, and then using fanning the flames buyback for the win. Propaganda works perfectly for slowing down your opponents attack, so I will have a playset of them I think 🙂
      Anyway, this brings me to my point, which is that propaganda has a really bad synergy with cards like reins of power and act of treason since when you take your opponents creatures, you do not have enough mana to attack.. How do you solve this?
      And also, what are some good cards for accelerating mana for blue /red?

      Reply
  9. Feb 24 2011

    Nice to see a return to the “old School”. Great deck.

    Reply
  10. Hireling
    Feb 24 2011

    That looks like a really fun deck! I’m glad it’s both fun and effective.

    I’m really enjoying this feature, btw.

    Reply

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