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August 18, 2011


Whispers of the Muse: Cory R’s “Illusionary Might” (Magic 2012)

by Dredd77

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!

This week’s Whispers comes to us by way of Cory R, who’s already set his sights on making Illusionary Might the best it can be. He did have a two requests for things he’d like to see come out of the feature. Says Cory…

  • I would like to keep it standard legal and any cards to add i would prefer to be ones that are not rotating out this fall.
  • I would prefer to lean towards the Illusion theme rather than the artifact theme. I have 2 extra copies of Lord of the Unreal, 2 copies of Phantasmal Image, and 2 Adaptive Automatons that might work well with the deck? And I also have another Phantasmal Dragon to round out that play set.
For the curious, here is the deck’s stock list:
And now, we turn it over to the precon community. Who has some ideas on how Cory might improve Illusionary Might?
10 Comments Post a comment
  1. Aug 18 2011

    The very first place I’d point you towards is Jake Van Lunen’s Building on a Budget article from two weeks ago, where he tested and tuned a budget version of an aggro Illusion deck. It can be found here:

    His list was:

    20 Island
    4 Tectonic Edge

    4 Adaptive Automaton
    4 Lord of the Unreal
    4 Phantasmal Bear
    4 Phantasmal Dragon
    4 Phantasmal Image

    2 Deprive
    3 Dismember
    4 Into the Roil
    4 Mana Leak
    3 Summoner’s Bane

    It’s heavy on the lords, with 4x Lord of the Unreal, Phantasmal Image to copy it, and 4x Adaptive Automaton on top of that (better than Grand Architect cuz the Lord of the Unreal pumps it). Summoner’s Bane is some pretty cool tech–turns out the token it makes is an Illusion.

    • Varo
      Aug 19 2011

      That’s a pretty nice deck, would it cost too much to buy it from pieces?

      The combo between the lord and the image seems key to the deck, never thought about it before.

  2. Cory
    Aug 19 2011

    Hey thanks that was a really good article. Also I was wondering what cards should I take out as I put new cards in? I was thinking the spined thropters and then the porcelain legionnaires any other suggestions?

  3. Achair
    Aug 19 2011

    In the TCG 75K $ tournament an illusion deck popped up that wreaked havoc among decks. It ended at place nine or something like that.

    4 Lord of the Unreal
    4 Phantasmal Bear
    4 Phantasmal Dragon
    4 Phantasmal Image
    4 Renegade doppelganger

    4 Mana leak
    4 Spell pierce
    4 Ponder
    4 Preordain

    1 halimar depth
    19 islands
    4 teutonic edge

    The deck is found here:

  4. Icehawk
    Aug 19 2011

    Stupid browswer erased my original post. >.>

    Anyway, I don’t’ like that hellkite. Could take it and the golem plus something out for more Lords.

    If you add in more draw via something like foresee, you might be able to slide more non-illusions out, assuming by drawing more you’ll get at least 1 lord out. Thus saving your counterspells to protect it. Probably could trim 2 islands off to make it room. I wouldn’t take all the non-illusions out. They might come in handy.

    I forgot what else I said, but I think that covers the gist of it.

    • Cory
      Aug 19 2011

      Okay so I really like the idea of taking out the hellkite and the golem because if anything goes right the illusions should be strong enough to sweep. And I also think taking out 2 islands might help as well because I’ve noticed as I’ve been play testing my deck the few times I have lost have been due to just getting tons of land and not enough other cards. So if I were to leave some non illusion creatures in which ones would be best spined thropter or porcelain legionnaire?

      • Icehawk
        Aug 19 2011

        It’s a toss up. Spined is blue and has flying. I lean slightly towards it due to interactions with the Grand Architect, but I’d keep the other in the side.

  5. lightside
    Aug 19 2011

    In my humble opinion, the following cards are non-negotiable for a serious illusion deck:
      4 Phantasmal Bear
      3 Phantasmal Dragon (the first 3 are non-negotiable, the 4th copy is up to the individual player)
      4 Lord of the Unreal
      4 Phantasmal Image
    The following cards may be negotiable, but I think the majority of players would agree are pretty good:
      4 Adaptive Automoton
      1 Phantasmal Dragon (the 4th)
    Now for some ideas for additions / removals:
    – Remove 4 Preordains: Replace with 4 Ponder. Preordain is rotating out with M11 (@Icehawk: Foresee is rotating with M11, too)
    – Remove Spined Thopters & Porcelain Legionnaires: replace with more Lords, Automotons, and Ph. Images
    – Remove Precursor Golem & Steel Hellkite: aggressive but don’t fit a nice low mana curve
    – 22 Islands: Speaking of low mana costs, you can probably drop to as low as 22 Islands and be okay. (Remove the Glimmerposts and Glacial Fortress ASAP!)
    – Mana Leak is good, but you need to be able to remove a threat once it is on the battlefield.  To that effect, blue doesn’t have anything as good right now as Dismember to take care of the job.  The 4 AEther Adepts are good for tempo gain, too. Into the Roil is another good Plan B (though it will rotate with Zendikar block).
    – 4 Mana Leak is good, but see if 4 Spell Pierce (again, Zendikar block) might be better if you are worried about board sweeping spells and other non-creature shenanigans.  Remember, countering a spell that targets one of your Illusions will not save it, because it’s already been targeted.
    – Darkslick Drake: More air presence and it replaces itself with a card when it dies.
    – I believe that almost every deck should be running 3-4 Gitaxian Probe.  It virtually shrinks your deck, making it more consistent.
    Here are some miscellaneous notes:
    – I would keep the 2 Grand Architects in the deck for now.  What makes some tribal aggro decks (Merfolk, Elves, Zombies, etc) so powerful is the sheer number of lords they have boosting each other around, and a 3-cost lord is par for the course.  I might replace the Grand Architects once you finish your playsets of Lord of the Unreal and Adaptive Automoton.  But until then, you should keep the lord count as high as you can in your deck.
    – Some of your lands could be Tectonic Edge and/or Halimar Depths.  You mileage with Tec Edges will vary, depending on the flavors of decks you expect to face (your “metagame”).  Halimar Depths sacrifices sheer speed/tempo for some extra knowledge and smoother top-decks.  These lands are rotating out with Zendikar block, so it’s up to you whether or not you want to put them in right now.
    – If you had to keep either Porcelain Legionnaire or Spined Thopter, I would go with the Legionnaire.  You get one more point of power for 2 mana and 3-power first strike will stop many creature armies in their tracks.

  6. Aug 19 2011

    Altho it contains some cards from the zendikar block, there is a deck based on illusions in the TCG tournament a few weeks ago.
    Here is the link:

    Notice the smart use of the doppelgangers!

    • Aug 21 2011

      After months without a glitch, your posts got caught up in the spam filter. Many aoplogies, and thanks for the link!


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