Skip to content

August 15, 2012


Whispers of the Muse: Depths of Power (M13)…and a contest!

by Dredd77

Magic 2013 brought some interesting Intro Pack decks our way, and players from all over have enjoyed cracking them open, tinkering under the hood, and seeing what they can come up with! One of the most exciting options for meddling about has been the instant-and-sorcery-heavy Depths of Powerfueled by Talrand, Sky Summoner.

We’ve received two different requests in the past few days to feature this deck here as a Whispers of the Muse feature. For those recently joining us, Whispers is our occasional deckbuilding series that takes a reader-submitted deck based on a precon, then turns it over to the community to tweak and modify. The timing couldn’t be better, as  just had an article published on Gathering Magic tinkering this very deck, so there will be ideas aplenty!

Oh, and one more thing- there’s a giveaway! That’s right, help our two readers tune their decks and you could be helping yourself to the Magic 2013 Intro Pack of your choice! Details to follow at the end of the piece!

Edward P.’s Depths of Delver

Our first missive comes by way of Edward P., whose kitchen-table adversaries need to be brought to heel. Writes Edward,

I’m more of a kitchen table player, and my usual opponents have moderately powered but “anything goes” decks (meaning there are plenty of Counterspells, Lava Spikes, Blazing Salvos etc).

I liked the Depths of Power intro deck, so I bought two and boosted it up with various spells (some with flashback).

My victory plan is simple: put Talrand on the table or abuse Archaeomancer + Talrand’s Invocation to generate Drake tokens. Delver of Secrets provide more aerial power (with a little help from Ponder), while Fog Bank blocks everything.

Think Twice and Faithless Looting dig for cards and help generating Drakes (being flashback is definitely a big plus), while Mystic Retrieval and Noxious Revival recycle Invocations and bring Talrand back from the dead.

Here’s what Edward’s put together so far:

Edward’s still not completely happy with the deck, knowing it’s got some room to grow. He concludes,

Keep in mind that I build this around the cards I had (that’s why there aren’t any Counterspells or Snapcaster Mages, and only 2 Ponder…)

Are there any other budget-conscious cards I should think of including ? Should I replace Essence Scatter & Negate for two more Silent Departures ?

The ring and the counterspells are the only ways to protect Talrand – do I have other choices I overlooked ?

What do you think, does anything jump out at you that might make Edward’s dream of crushing his mates a reality? While you mull that over, we also have a request from Steve S.

Steve S.’s Friday Night Depths

Steven and his son, he begins, have returned to Magic after taking a year’s break. Wanting to play at Friday Night Magic, they quickly refreshed their collection with a Deckbuilder’s Toolkit, Depths of Power, and some boosters. Here’s what he has in mind:

I want to use this deck for Friday Night Magic at my local game store so I’ll need to keep it standard legal. Ideally I’d like to steer away from cards that will be rotating out in October but if there’s something that will really help the deck I will gladly include it – especially if I already own it anyway!

I want to keep the basic theme and key elements of the intro pack, focused around Talrand and drakes (or other flyers) with lots of spells for control and/or removal.

I need help with what secondary color would help this deck most. I can see lots of possibilities and can’t decide what would work best. I have lots of very good white flyers and spells but I could also see Black enhancing the removal and control nicely. I could keep it as Blue/Red and just tweak it a bit but I’m also seeing a nice mono blue! Needless to say, I really need help deciding which color would best enhance the deck based on the cards I have on hand.

This is my first attempt to re-work it as a blue/white but I have a lot of cards I want to use and can’t decide what to cut. I’m also wondering if black or red would be a better choice for secondary color for more removal options.

Steve’s already put something together, but he expressed that he hasn’t found much glory with it yet:

He concludes with a look at some of the other cards he’s been considering, but says he’d love any suggestions.

Blue: 4x Thought Scour, 4x Unsummon, Redirect, 4x Mind Sculpt, Sphinx of Uthuun, 3x Harbor Serpent, Ring of Evos Isle, 4x Archaeomancer, 3x Mind Control, Chancellor of the Spires, Invisible Stalker

White: Terminus, Requiem Angel, Divine Reckoning, Phyrexian Rebirth, Safe Passage, Divine Verdict

Red: Warstorm Surge, 2x Mindclaw Shaman, Flames of the Firebrand, 3x Tectonic Rift, 4x Chandra’s Fury, 4x Searing Spear, 2x Pillar of Flame

Black: 3x Murder, 2x Rise from the Grave, 2x Diabolic Tutor, 2x Cower in Fear, Harbor Bandit, 4x Tormented Soul, 3x Mind Rot

Virtue is its Own Reward… Plus an Intro Pack!

For helping one or both of our readers on their quest to hone Depths of Power, you’ll be entered into a random drawing to win the M13 Intro Pack of your choice. Comment on Eduard’s deck for one chance to win, and on Steve’s for a second. And heck, drop a comment on my piece over at GM and we’ll throw you in for a third.

As always, comments don’t have to be the great American novel, they simply have to have some thought to them and be constructive. Veterans of our giveaways know we don’t hold up some ridiculous bar to cross over, we just want to make sure that these two gentlemen get the help they need for their decks!

The contest will be open for one week, and we’ll draw the winner on 23 August. On behalf of Eduard and Steve, thanks for the help!

40 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jon
    Aug 15 2012

    For Steve’s Deck:

    There’s a lot of 1 of cards in here, meaning that you’re deck is often going to be somewhat of a grab-bag instead of consistent. Also, with few exceptions, many of these one-ofs just aren’t that good. For example, Ludevic’s Test Subject is honestly, a terrible card. Sure, it can transform into a massive beatstick, but you have to invest a lot of mana and time into that. What happens if your opponent merely doomblades it? Seance is another card that’s kinda funky in here, and Stormtide Leviathan is simply ok.

    I would recommend adding more Talrands, it is his deck after all, and building around him. Talrand has been good enough to see constructed play already, and he can be an absolute beast. I would also switch the Jace’s Phantasm’s for Delver of Secrets. Both start as 1/1s, and Delver has a better chance of turning into an aerial threat, especially in a deck centered around Talrand. Invisible Stalker is a good choice for the deck as well. Instead of Unsummon, consider Vapor Snag, which is Unsummon, except your opponent is also losing a life.

    One last thing. Serra Angel was good in her time, but her time has long since gone. Restoration Angel, on the other hand, is quite good, if a little pricey. If the budget can’t afford it, you don’t really need it, as this deck should be about killing your opponent with the drakes you’ve gotten off your Talrand, rather than with a large flyer.

    For Edward’s Deck:

    You’ve also got a lot of 1-of cards, and you’re gonna want to solidify that list and make it more constant. The Ring of Evos Isle seems a little out of place, and, as you have the Ruse, and mana leak, some of those more conditional counterspells don’t seem so good. My advice would be take out the Negate and Essence Scatter for 2 Counterspells. You’re currently running very little red as well, and you could step the red up a notch. Lightning Bolt is pretty good, both with and without Talrand, and Firebolt is also good.

  2. Varo
    Aug 16 2012

    Edward’s Deck:

    Sometimes it’s difficult to protect your key creature even with lots of counterspells because you need mana to cast creatures or sorceries on your turn. I would drop the singletons negate and essence scatter, and get another Ring of Evos Isle, or maybe a pair of Protective Bubbles from Lorwyn (The turn after casting Talrand you can protect him AND make him an unblockable beater).

    I would also drop the silent departure and use instead vapor snags. They keep at bay your enemies’ creeps while damaging them, very useful. Another interesting bounce card is Repulse, which replaces itself for two more mana than the snag.

    And last advice, you should up your Ponder count to 4. After playing dozens of times with four copies of that card, i can assure you that it can turn a bad hand in a winning one, and also helps delver transform.


    Steve’s Deck:

    If you want to play around Talrand, i would up him to three copies, as it is made when playing a legend as core. I would also drop the mist ravens (4 mana cost better used for Talrand and its invocation). Also, as Jon said, the Delver of secrets goes great in Talrand decks, but if you prefer Jace phantasm, i would up him to four copies and definitely include thought scours or mind sculpts.

    As for counterspells, in my opinion, mana leak is better than cancel in two colour decks, so i would change them. Ludevic’s and Séance are weird cards in this deck, as said before, and you could change the serra angels for some bounce like vapor snag or silent departure (as you play white, this is interesting).

    If you don’t know what to add, think that with Talrand out, each sorcery and instant comes with a 2/2 flier for free, so adding sorcs and instants becomes a upgrade, even if they don’t do much on their own!

  3. Jacopo Sassi
    Aug 16 2012

    Edward’s deck:

    As already noted, splashing red just for Faithless Lootings and a flashback option is not that that effective, so I would replace your “recovery” package (Mystic Retrieval and Noxious Revival) with a strong, cheap, marquee red spell : of course, our beloved Lightning Bolt.

    My final concern is consistency: you already have a versatile and effective counterspell as a 4-of, so there’s little need for a singleton Essence Scatter or Negate. I would swap these cards (as well as the Ring and the Silent Departure) for a playset of Vapor Snag (great for buying tempo advantage).
    However, for a stronger burn core I would suggest only 2 Vapors and 2 “heavy” red spells (Fireblast/Fireball/Blaze); on the other hand, a more defensive approach could lead to 2 Vapor Snags and 2 Counterspells.

    Steve’s deck:

    In my opinion, your deck suffers from lack of consistency. This is especially evident in your creature selection, with many 1-ofs. I would add 2 more copies of Talrand (trading Ludevic test’s subject and Serra Avenger) since, after all, is the deck’s main engine. I would also remove all the Mist Ravens and trade them for a playset of Tower Geists, a card that I consider fantastic. It has the same cc and stats, it flies as well and has a more useful effect (on etb, you look at the top 2 cards of your deck, draw one and discard the other)

    As for the other spells, I would cut the Seance for another Invocation(much more cost effective) and a Switcheroo for a second Leak or a final Cancel. You have a strong selection of cards (Sleep, Switcheroo, Divination), with the drawback of heavy casting costs, so cutting at least a couple of them for cheaper spells will balance your curve.

  4. Steve
    Aug 16 2012

    Wow – great advice already!

    I agree with everything you guys have suggested, unfortunatly for now I kinda have to work with what I’ve got on hand. If I were going to buy specific cards, without question I would grab more Talrand, Delver, Invisible Stalker, and a few others that would fit perfect. I will be sure to look for those in trades this Friday.

    Unfortunatly the intro pack only gives you 1 Talrand and I only have 1 Invis Stalker and 1 Tower Geist which is why I’m looking to a secondary color to help out.

    Is there any way to make this Intro pack more effective with only 1 Talrand? Should I try for more of a mill approach with Mind Scuplt, Thought Scour, Jace’s Phantasm and Vedalken Entrancer? I tried that first and found that wasn’t really enough mill and adding those cards meant not having enough counterspell or early blockers. Not to mention my opponents could often pull creatures from their graveyard anyway (and I only have 1 Tormod’s Crypt).

    Considering that we are suggesting removing Seance, Serra Angel, and Serra Avenger should I forget white and look to a different secondary color or is it worth sticking with for the Oblivion Rings?

    Please take a look at the list of possible cards I included and let me know if something there looks promising!


    • Icehawk
      Aug 16 2012

      I’d go mono-blue.

      Just looking at your list of possible cards. Thought scour looks fun to me. It’s a light mill cantrip that if you have Talrand out, fun times. Redirect is one of my favorite cards, but I don’t know if it’d be super here or not.

      Archaeomancer is something I’d consider putting in. Recyle your thought scours, counterspells, and all that jazz. Countering > bouncing. So 4 leaks for sure if you can gnab ’em. Cancel is fine casual and all, but not outside it I don’t think.

      Then again wiht Archaeomancer, unsummon could come back for more. If you had more Talrand, I’d be okay running it. Bounce one of their creatures. You get a drake. Pop Archaeomancer, do it all again. It makes sense.

      You could stay WU, but I think you can easily make up for dropping W’s Avenger and Rings.

    • Aug 16 2012

      “Is there any way to make this Intro pack more effective with only 1 Talrand?”

      If you haven’t already, check out my piece over on yesterday. Once of my golden rule of Meddlings, either here or anywhere else I’m published, is to not add any rares or mythics to keep the decks easy to assemble. The “only one Talrand available” issue is one I had to build around with that version of the deck.

      • Steve
        Aug 16 2012

        I read your article and loved it. I wanted to comment but the website keeps telling me that I need a modern browser like IE9 even though I’m using IE9.

        I like that deck a lot but once again I don’t have exactly the cards needed to make it work. I only have 2x Brimstone Volley and I thought maybe I could use Wild Guess since I don’t have Faithless Looting but again I only have 2. I don’t have any Think Twice and only 1x Silent Departure. It’s amazing how many cards we have but never the ones I need!

        I have a couple questions…

        Augur of Bolas – Since it says you “may” reveal, does that mean I don’t have to take a card if I choose not to? I would worry about being forced to put my only Talrand on the bottom of my library.

        Ring of Evos Isle – Do you have to pay 2 mana at the begining of your turn to get hexproof and then again at the beginning of the opponents turn to keep the creature protected?

        Working off Icehawk’s suggestion here is a mono-blue idea. It’s light on creatures so I could work in the Augur or maybe the Jace’s Phantasm to work with the Thought Scour?

        Creature (12)
        4x Archaeomancer
        2x Fog Bank
        1x Stormtide Leviathan
        1x Talrand, Sky Summoner
        4x Wind Drake

        Artifact (1)
        1x Ring of Evos Isle

        Land (24)
        24x Island

        Instant (11)
        3x Cancel
        1x Mana Leak
        3x Thought Scour
        4x Unsummon

        Sorcery (12)
        4x Divination
        3x Sleep
        2x Switcheroo
        3x Talrand’s Invocation

        • Aug 16 2012

          Augur of Bolas: yes, you can choose to not reveal a card. But since you have to put the cards that weren’t revealed on the bottom anyway, there’s little reason not to. Anyway, Forbidden Alchemy is a superior card if you want to dig through your deck fast.

          Ring: yes, the ability states that its effect lasts ‘until end of turn’. But activating the ability at the beginning of a turn isn’t very smart – activate it in response to your opponent targeting the equipped creature with a spell, otherwise you’ll just be wasting mana.

          If you’re looking to add creatures, I’d suggest the ubiquitous Delver of Secrets, a card that synergizes well with your deck. Also, if you do happen to get your hands on more Invisible Stalkers, consider the equipment Runechanter’s Pike. It gives your creature first strike, as well as a bonus to power equal to the number of instants and sorceries in your graveyard. Even early in the game, the bonus can be substantial and the stalker is an excellent carrier. Jace’s Phantasm has very little synergy with your deck, so I wouldn’t include it. You never want to use Thought Scour on your opponent anyway, unless you’re running a dedicated mill deck (which you aren’t).

          • Steve
            Aug 16 2012

            If I only have 1 Talrand, and the idea is to search through my deck to find him I don’t want to risk sending him to my graveyard where I can’t get him back. So for that reason, Augur sounds like a really bad idea. Forbidden Alchemy might be a better choice but I can’t pay the flashback cost unless I add swamps.

            Thank you for explaining the Ring. For some reason I was thinking the hexproof had to go first to protect him from being targeted but now I understand that if he is targeted, I can then activate the ability and that will be on top of the stack and resovle first, correct?

            Can you elaborate on why you say, “never use Thought Scour on my opponent?” Using on myself seems like a good way for Talrand to end up in my graveyard, just like with the Augur.

            For Jace’s Phantasm, I was thinking that Thought Scour combined with the counterspells wouldn’t take too long to get 10 cards in opponents graveyard but you may be right there.

            Invisible Stalker, Delver of Secrets and Runechanter’s Pike are on my wishlist!

        • outhouseinferno
          Aug 16 2012

          I would take Jace’s Phantasm if you’ve found some more ways to mill yourself, Something like blue/green Boneyard Wurm/Splinterfright. Thought Scours alone probably won’t do it, especially since you’re going to be grabbing spells back with Archaeomancers.

          Milling the opponent is harder since these days a lot of decks like it if you mill them.

          Yeah, the Augur is a ‘may’ so you don’t have to grab anything, and the ring has to be activated once per turn for that.

          I like the Augur idea in your deck.

          • Steve
            Aug 16 2012

            Jace’s Phantasm needs 10 cards in opponents graveyard so getting my spells back with Archaeomancers won’t hurt that.

            I’m sort of against the Augur since I can only grab an instant or sorcery with it meaning that if Talrand shows up he’s lost.

            Do you guys really think 3x Thought Scour and the Cancel/Mana Leak won’t be enough to have at least 10 cards in opponents graveyard? I could add some Mind Scuplt but then I would have to remove something else and this isn’t really a Mill deck… just need enough to get the counters on Jace’s Phantasm.

            • outhouseinferno
              Aug 16 2012

              I misread the card LOL

              Talrand getting shoved to the bottom of the deck is just a small risk, one even the people playing straight out of the precon have to take.

              More counterspells isn’t a bad idea, but even with all 4 thought scours used on the opponent, that’s only 8 cards. It’s pretty conditional that you’ll get all of them used before someone wins.

              Mind Sculpt is indeed a better idea if you want your opponent’s grave filled, but yeah, it’s probably a better idea to cut the milling subtheme. If you’re not playing out of your own graveyard especially (and dont want to lose Talrand), try Ponder instead of Thought Scour.

              • Steve
                Aug 16 2012

                I wouldn’t expect Thought Scour alone to support Jace’s Phantasm. My opponent will be casting spells and creatures will die or be countered. Ten cards in the graveyard doesn’t seem like much but I could be wrong. Besides, Im not sure what I would take out to make room anyway.

                Ponder would be fantastic if only I had some! Too bad it’s rotating out.

  5. Jake
    Aug 16 2012

    Exceptional comments so far. Edward: I would cut the red altogether, unless you are willing to add a little more red and do something of a burning vengeance type deck to get more value out of your flashback spells. If you are going that route, then I would suggest Secrets of the Dead and Runic Repition.

    Steve: Have you considered trying a three color deck? I would suggest playing with a red blue black deck. You have stuff like searing spear and murder. You could also try a two color with either Blue red or blue black.

  6. Aug 16 2012

    Edward: Just cut the red and go mono blue. It’s much more consistent, and Gut Shot makes up for it’s weaknesses (no removal). Or, even more fun, put in a heartless summoning or 2, and make it blue-black control with an easier way to get out archeomancer and talrand along with removal and counters galore. Also, I suggest taking out Talrand’s Invocation, as it costs too much and in my opinion, it clogs up your hand when you want to have mana open for counters or to bluff. Get Time Warp and Penoptic Mirror, and see how many games you win, along with possibly Right of Replication.
    Steve: I would go with white to play an attrition game. The board sweepers are wonderful, and you’ll recover better from them because, as a blue deck, your hand is usually better furnished and you’re better prepared to play things while the opponents will have to rely on topdecking.
    Take out the Invocations, Switcheroos, and Mist Ravens, and put in the Unsummons, Thought Scours, and Redirect. This will help you play a better game until getting a closer or board wipe, and also just takes out high cost spells preventing you from countering things.

  7. Edward
    Aug 17 2012

    First of all, thank you for all the ideas! Now on to specific answers…

    Jon: I’ll add a couple burn spells and see how it plays. So far it worked very well even without burn, although I might have been lucky to have counterspells at the right moments. Actually, my plan is to have three slightly different versions of the deck, in order to surprise my opponents – so far mono-blue, blue-red-burn, blue-red-Burning Vengeance and blue-black- seem my best bets.

    Varo: Vapor Snags are a bit expensive locally (I guess that’s because everybody plays Delver at FNM….). Ponder is a great card, unfortunately I only have 2, as stated before; looks like I’ll need to do some online shopping soon 🙂

    Jacopo: Noxious Revival was the all-star of the deck so far, it saved the day during at least four of the five matches I played so far (got Talrand or the counterspell I needed back from the graveyard…), i agree it’s less effective once your opponents know you have it, but for now I’ll keep it maindecked.

    Jake: I usually play a little more aggresively, but having a go at a Burning Vengeance deck is a cool idea (and I have all the cards I need to build that).

    Dr. Skillz: Talrand’s Invocation is the reason I built this deck first and foremost – it’s fun to spawn three Drakes per turn and watch your opponents grumble. I agree it’s rather slow, but until my local meta adjusts I won’t sideboard it. If I were going Black, I would probably shell out for two Demonic Tutors, but that’s a hefty $40… Not sure what good is Rite of Replication except the Archaeomancer interaction – is there anything I’m missing out here? (Talrand is a legend, so putting another one on the battlefield is suicidal, and duplicating a Drake for 4 mana seems overkill)

    Steve: I think you need at least two Talrand to get a chance at drawing him reliably. Either buy another intro pack (which is also good for playing mirror in the kitchen…) or just buy another Talrand ($6).
    I also strongly suggest adding the Invisible Stalker you already have, along with a Butcher’s Cleaver; if you can, get one more Stalker and another Cleaver.
    Obviously, Delver of Secrets is also nuts in this deck (I won all the games where I had a Delver in my starting hand – then again, my deck has Ponder).

    About the milling engine – well, in my experience 10 cards in the graveyard is a lot and the fastest way to get there is a couple Mind Sculpts, which means you need at least 4 of in your deck to reliably draw them. That means 8 slots of your deck will be filled by 4 Phantasms and 4 Mind Sculpts… which isn’t a deck I’d want to build.
    Hope this helps, and have fun at the FNM!

    • Aug 17 2012

      Edward, the real reason you put Rite of Replication in is so that you can duplicate every turn with Penoptic Mirror for free, so you can use the kicker and get 5. Plus, you can replicate the opponent’s creatures too, which is especially fun with some overpowered creatures your friends could come up with. And lastly, having 6 Fog Banks out at the same time is really fun 🙂

      • Edward
        Aug 18 2012

        (facepalm) It seems so obvious now that you explained it 🙂 I guess I still need to improve my combo-detection abilities…

  8. Aug 17 2012

    Edward, would you get any mileage out of some humble Unsummons to protect Talrand? They are not as flashy as Vapor Snag but are significantly easier to get hold of and less painful to use on yourself in response to removal like Murder. It is also a cheap trigger for more drakes whilst stalling an opponents threat in a pinch. Just make sure to not let an opponent reuse a strong enters-the-battlefield ability.

    Of course, at the kitchen table turning Unsummon into Vapor Snag would be the work of a few moments…

    Steve is in a very similar position to me, with a new collection starting from a Toolkit, the intro pack and a set of boosters. I am waiting to play some sealed games with friends before opening the boosters but I am plotting a blue|white control and tokens deck that might appeal. I am travelling at the moment so I do not have a filled out decklist, but the basic plan for the blue part is very much the same as other suggestions with white bringing more token creators and support spells. A pair of Odric, Master Tacticians provides the alternate win condition with the blue and white miracles from Avacyn Restored giving a bit of spice. It may even be worth a single swamp and playset of evolving wilds to flashback Lingering Souls, in the absence of a more expensive manabase.

    As I say, I am yet to really formulate this list but my gut feeling is that pre-Ravnica it will be fun but a little lacking. After Ravnica I expect Azorious (blue | white) to beef up the controll side of the deck and Selensya’s white half to provide more tokens and – if the rumoured mechanic is true – an opportunity to copy existing tokens as you go.

    Unrelatedly, remember that it is casting an Instant or Sorcery that triggers the new drake so it does not matter if the spell is then countered or ends up having no valid targets…triggers the new drake so it does not matter if the spell is then countered or ends up having no valid targets.

    • Edward
      Aug 18 2012

      I’ll definitely use Unsummon in the mono-blue version of the deck (I already have the cards, so it’s an easy choice). I like your token-based battle plan, and Cathar’s Crusade seems like a perfect fit there.

    • Sep 11 2012

      Finally had the chance to get some cards together on this plan. Presenting V0.1 of Tokontrol:

      6 Island
      5 Plains
      1 Swamp
      1 Evolving Wilds
      4 Glacial Fortress
      2 Drowned Catacombs
      2 Isolated Chapel
      1 Moorland Haunt
      1 Vault of the Archangel

      3 Talrand, Sky Summoner
      4 Drogskol Captain
      4 Delver of Secrets

      4 Lingering Souls
      1 Midnight Haunting
      2 Silent Departure
      4 Thought Scour
      2 Think Twice
      1 Index
      2 Dissipate
      2 Entreat the Angels
      1 Devastation Tide
      1 Banishing Stroke

      4 favourable Winds
      1 Jace, Memory Architect
      1 Ajani, Caller of the Pride

      As V0.1 hints, I don’t think this deck is ‘finished’, it is simply the state of the deck after playing an eveningsworth of games and getting to the point at which it basically works. It hasn’t faced any kind of stiff competition, so I’m interesting in feedback. The overall plan of this deck is self-explanatory, so I’ll just hihglight a few cards.

      4 Favorable Winds – Why aren’t these Intangible Virtues? Because they haven’t arrived! These weren’t the only cards I hadn’t received – I proxied the black dual lands to get a feel for the ratios – but as I had a playset of Favrouable Winds I tried out a flyer focused deck, trading vigilance for imporvements to Drogskol and Delver. I thought Favourable Winds wouldn’t stay in the deck but I was actually impressed so I’ll consider a balance of the 2 enchantments and keeping 3-4 Drogskol Captains in the main deck.

      4 Delver of Secrets – Clearly I’m not playing the full Delver shell that’s all the rage these days, but building around Talrand and tokens means a high density of Instants/Sorceries for Delver to enjoy so that’s my 1-drop. Doomed Traveler would be a sensible alternative for a less spell-based deck.

      1 Ajani / 1 Jace – I was fortunate enough to find these 2 in the toolkit and intro pack. They ought to be 2 of one planeswalker rather than singletons of each and I think Ajani is the more relevant of the 2 to the deck’s plan but he’s also bewildering expensive so it’s staying as is for now.

      1 Index – This effect isn’t often worth a card but I’m happy to see it in my opening hand to stack land drops, miracles and generally set up my early turns. If I meet it in the late game then it plays well alongside the Evolving Wilds for a shuffle or Thought Scour to dig into the deck but those ‘combos’ aren’t good enough to justify more than one copy in the deck. If Ravnica includes any deck filtering spells this will be an easy card to replace but for now I think it’s helping.

      1 Moorland Haunt / 1 Vault of the Archangel – I orignally planned on a pair of Haunts with one Vault but the deck didn’t feel happy with this much colourless land. Like the planeswalkers, there’s a strong argument that this ought to be a pair of one land but I think this is defensible; the deck doesn’t have enough creatures to get into the graveyard that 2 Moorland Haunts is going to obviously profit us when drawn and as Vault of the Archangel relies on hitting a black mana source I’m in no rush to see it. In the late game I’d love to see both but would settle for either.

      The Miracles: 1 Devastation Tide / 1 Banishing Stroke / 2 Entreat the Angels – The first 2 are in because I like the miracle mechanic, but could probably be replaced by Oblivion Rings (which suffer from not being Instant or Sorcery) or something like Return to Ravnica’s Supreme Verdict (1WWU – Uncounterable; Destroy all creatures). Entreat the Angels is a reasonable deal when ‘hardcast’ at normal price if there are support enchantments in play but is an absolute all-star on miracle cost. One of the better feelings this deck supplies is the joy of turn one Index’ing into this, letting me set up a turn 4-6 Angel Swarm, with or without drakes from Talrand.

      2 Silent Depatures – At various times these slots have been Unsummons, Saving Graces and Silent Departures. I’m still not sure whether I want the flexibility of Unsummon, the repeatable defense of Saving Grace (with drakes!) or the ponderous Silent Departure. I keep floating back to Saving Grasp because it lets me 2-for-1 removal cards and in a pinch I can cast it both from hand and graveyard targetting a lone Talrand to swap WU for two drakes and a Talrand in hand.

      The Other Instants – Midnight Haunting is Lingering Souls number 5 whilst also ginving us things to do on our opponents turn. Think Twice is expensive for it’s effect but it gives us in-built card filtering and a nice flashback for Talrand. Thought Scour is again here to support Talrand and give us more filtering options. Both are reasonable cards to remove to fit in Azorious Charms: this deck would be happy to gain Lifelink, temporarily avoid an attacker/defender or draw a card. Dissipate is here more to keep an opponent off guard as much as anything, so once I’ve cast one in a game I can leave mana up for something like Think Twice and a drake whilst giving my opponent pause.

      Looking over this deck I don’t really have enough control elements, so that’s something to look for in Ravnica. What I do think this deck does well is fill (or refill!) the board with growing threats. It’s not unreasonable from turn 5 to follow Talrand with both uses of Lingering Souls for 4 Spirits and 2 Drakes which is a threat that *needs* an answer. More importantly, what this deck lacks in teeth it makes up for in fun. Tokens! Bigger tokens! Free tokens! Merfolk Wizard!

      • Sep 11 2012

        This looks like a lot of fun! Have you been keeping up with the spoilers for RTR to see if anything coming up fits the bill?

  9. Steve
    Aug 17 2012

    Well I’ve tweaked my deck a bit thanks to all the great suggestions here. I think the deck will really be hard to win with until I can add more Talrands or some sort of “search your library” card because that is really the main win condintion aside from maybe Stormtide Leviathan which again is 1 card out of 60.

    I was hoping that adding a secondary color might provide an alternate win condition or something useful like Diabolic Tutor from black or some good burns from red. That was kind of the purpose of my original post. At this point I still have a mono blue deck without the Jace’s Phantasm / Mind Sculpt alternate win.

    Here’s the deck I will go with for FNM tonight. It still has a lot of 1-ofs but they seem better than the 4x Wind Drakes for the same CMC. I liked the 4x Mist Ravens for the extra bounce but they’re expensive and this deck’s mana curve is already a bit high for me. I’ll let you know how it goes!

    Creature (12)
    2xFog Bank
    1xInvisible Stalker
    1xNeurok Invisimancer
    1xNiblis of the Breath
    1xStormbound Geist
    1xStormtide Leviathan
    1xTalrand, Sky Summoner

    Artifact (1)
    1xRing of Evos Isle

    Land (24)

    Instant (9)
    1xMana Leak

    Sorcery (10)
    3xTalrand’s Invocation

    Enchantment (4)
    3xMind Control

    Edward –

    I like the idea of keeping the Noxious Revival in your deck. In fact, I really need a graveyard rescue card in my deck! I wish I could be of more help but I’ve only played Standard so I’m not too familiar with all the older cards. I appreciate your suggestions. I don’t have Butcher’s Cleaver. I do have Heavy Mattock and Greatsword which are not quite as good and it seems like a long shot trying to get them equiped on the one Stalker.

  10. Edward
    Aug 18 2012

    Latest developments on my deck:
    2 Counterspells in, Esence Scatter & Negate out
    2 Diplomatic Immunity in, Ring of Evos Isle & Silent Departure out

    …and the two variants:
    Talrand Mono Blue (which includes the Panoptic Mirror / Rite of Replication combo, although I don’t know how soon will I get the cards)

    23 Island
    4 Delver of Secrets
    2 Noxious Revival
    2 Ponder
    2 Diplomatic Immunity
    2 Unsummon
    2 Familiar’s Ruse
    3 Fog Bank
    2 Mana Leak
    2 Counterspell
    2 Think Twice
    3 Archaeomancer
    2 Rite of Replication
    4 Talrand’s Invocation
    3 Talrand, Sky Summoner
    2 Panoptic Mirror

    Talrand UR Vengeance (upped Think Twice, replaced Lootings with Ravings, couldn’t decide to drop anything else and ended up with a 62-card deck – maybe I should just cut the Delvers + Ponder and go full Vengeance)

    15 Island
    4 Mountain
    4 Sulfur Falls
    4 Delver of Secrets
    2 Diplomatic Immunity
    2 Noxious Revival
    2 Ponder
    1 Silent Departure
    2 Desperate Ravings
    2 Familiar’s Ruse
    3 Fog Bank
    2 Mana Leak
    2 Counterspell
    4 Think Twice
    3 Burning Vengeance
    2 Archaeomancer
    1 Mystic Retrieval
    4 Talrand’s Invocation
    3 Talrand, Sky Summoner

    At first glance, mono blue seems the strongest deck; maybe I’ll sleeve some proxies and test them.

    • Aug 20 2012

      I tested the first version of the deck, and here are my experiences:

      – Your list contained only 59 cards – I added an extra Island for my testing, but 24 lands is way too much for this deck. 20-21 is a good number if you follow some of my suggestions.
      – Familiar’s Ruse is unreliable. There was only one creature I ever wanted to recur (the Archaeomancer), and even then, I found myself wishing it was just another Counterspell. Cut these, add more Counterspells or Mana Leaks, and add extra Unsummons if you really want the bounce. The Ruse is too situational and doesn’t have enough synergy to make it worthwhile.
      – Diplomatic Immunity: I take it you included this to protect Talrand, but shroud is inferior to hexproof. There were a couple of times where I had an Unsummon but not a counterspell when a boardwipe would happen – bye bye Talrand. Champion’s Helm is an option worth considering; other than hexproof, it also gives a P/T bonus. And as it’s an equipment, you can freely move it around.
      – Counterspells: your deck simply needs more and better counters. Counterspell, Mana Leak, Spell Pierce, Remand, Dissipate, Mental Misstep, … take your pick.
      – Rite of Replication/Panoptic Mirror is a cute combination, but I found it extremely clunky in this deck. It eats mana and doesn’t help Talrand in any way whatsoever. If you want to use it, you might want to consider building a separate deck around it so you can fully support and optimize the combo, rather than diluting this deck with it.
      – Talrand’s Invocation: a card I wasn’t too sure about because of the high cost, but when you have a Talrand on the board you get three 2/2 fliers for 4 mana which isn’t a bad deal. Still, including a full playset is a bit too much IMO. You’ll only be happy to see this when you have Talrand out, and you generally should only include playsets of cards you’ll always be happy to draw.
      – Talrand: you’re not taking full advantage of his ability in this deck. The number of instants and sorceries you have in this deck is rather low, and then I’m including counters which cannot be cast as you please. You already have Noxious Revival – why not include more Phyrexian mana spells? They are essentially free, and their effects are nice: Gut Shot removes utility creatures, Mutagenic Growth acts both as anti-burn and a combat trick, while Mental Misstep hard-counters several spells. Gitaxan Probe is a cantrip that also gives you a peek at someone’s hand. All but the probe are instants, which means you can flash them in EOT and enjoy their effects, as well as having a drake ready on your turn. You don’t even need mana to cast them, which means you can safely use counters without sacrificing tempo. My advice would be to include at least two of each of these.
      – Archaeomancer: I mostly used her to recur my counterspells, but the CMC hurts. Talrand allows you to be more aggressive than your average blue mage, and have difficulty seeing her fit that game plan. Needs more testing.
      – Fog Bank: this card is always a coint-toss. It can be an ace card against some decks (usually green), but it’s almost useless against red or black decks if they’re heavy on removal and generally less efficient against white decks. I’d drop these to two and put one or two in the sideboard.
      – Delver: needs more instants to be optimal.
      – Ponder, Think Twice: excellent. Include more of these. And if you can get your hands on it, Brainstorm.

      • Edward
        Aug 20 2012

        Awesome reply, thanks for testing this 🙂
        Cards I have and will try: Mental Misstep, Mana Leak, Think Twice, Mutagenic Growth
        Cards hard to get by: Counterspell, Ponder, Brainstorm
        I’ll try using Swiftfoot Boots as hexproof source (I don’t have Champion’s Helm, and Mask of Avacyn is a bit costly IMHO)
        I’ll get back with another version of the deck after playing it more extensively.

    • Aug 20 2012

      You were probably right about the Rite of Replication concept. But I also suggested Time Warp with Penoptic Mirror, which is more plausible because the combo essentially wins you the game by ensuring the opponent never gets another turn.
      I’m really going for fun here. But if you want to play so you win every time, at least don’t use the same Delver deck as everyone else. At its heart Magic’s about making YOUR winning deck, don’t be like everyone else and just play a guaranteed deck that wins most of the time using overpowered spells with minor variations to each deck. You’re smarter than that, you dont need to copy everyone else.
      I’m sorry. I just hate Delver.

      • Edward
        Aug 21 2012

        Well, it’s not right to reject optimal choices just because they’re commonplace 🙂 However, I agree with you and I think you’ll enjoy my UB variant, it’s quite different from what everybody is playing now – still need to tweak it a little, but I’ll post it here once it’s done.

        • Aug 21 2012

          I feel right to reject these cards because they wipe entire strategies. Vapor Snag? Kiss green fatties with the exception of Thragtusk goodbye. Snapcaster Mage? Let’s see how many times I can use Ponder or Vapor Snag, maybe even Bonfire of the Damned! Goodbye White Weenie! And don’t even get me started on Delver. Flying 3/2 creatures turn two at common is not right. And neither is the ability to counter anything the opponent plays to get rid of these cards (Mana Leak). These challenges are not insurmountable, but when a new player shows up to FNM and gets crushed because they have no idea what they’re going up against, I feel angry.

  11. Lee
    Aug 19 2012


    I like the idea of adding burning vengence to get some flashback in the deck to ensure you reliably have some instants and sorceries to cast. However, from your latest deck update i probably wouldn’t have burning vengence it without basing the deck around it. Otherwise you are likely to rarely be able to tale full advantage of the mechanic. Taking these out and adding some burn will jandle some of tjose weaker ‘ability on entry’ creatures without wadting a counterspell.

    I think that you mono blue deck it pretty spot on as far as a mono blue goes.

    Steve –

    From your latest deck build i can see your problem. You only have two realistic end game spells and both of those are creatures and relatively simple to counter. Everything else seems to be designed to delay. I would add in another colour to try and add either more delay or as you say another win condition.

    As you’re keen to keep the theme of talrand going more, keeping the deck focused on this seems the way to go. If you cant add more of him then addings cards to look for him in you deck and out of graveyard (i.e. Blue and back) may be an option.

  12. Steve
    Aug 19 2012

    I’m sorry to say our experience at FNM was not a good one and I doubt we will be returning. My son (10 years old) and I went together and when we first arrived I was glad to see there were three other kids there around my son’s age so he was not the only kid there.

    I was disappointed almost immediatly by the fact that most of the “adult” players were cursing and droping the F bomb all night. I know these people are regulars who get together every week and as the new guy, I don’t expect to walk into their regular hangout and expect them to change their routine. It just bothers me when people think nothing of cursing in front of children.

    What really upset me was when the first round began my son and I ended up playing matches on the opposite end of the store and I couldn’t really see what he was doing. Apparently after his match the other players around him asked if he wanted to make some trades and they proceded to rip him off in bad trades and laugh about it later.

    One guy traded a single Rise from the Grave (uncommon) for my son’s foil rare Terminnus card and another guy told him that two different Liliana planswalkers cards were the same but the one he gave my son was actually an older promo card no longer good in Standard, not the one from Innistrad he thought he was getting. I know people will say its his own fault for not knowing the value of his cards better but these people knew they were taking advantage of a kid who was just starting to learn the game and afterward they laughed about it. My son was almost in tears because he was initially so happy to have his first planeswalker card only to find out he couldn’t use it.

    On the way out I noticed the store had a current Lilliana card on display for $20. I really didn’t want to spend that on one card but he was so crushed and I wanted to cheer him up so I bought it.

    I greatly appreciate everyone’s help here and I will continue to tinker with my deck for fun but I don’t think we will be going back to FNM any time soon.

    • Edward
      Aug 19 2012

      I’m really sorry to hear this. Was the store owner able to sort this out and get your son’s cards back ? In my local store the owner always steps in when two players disagree – after all, it’s in his interest to get new long-term customers, and he knows the regular “troublemakers”.
      What I think you need is to get to know another MTG father – a serious player you could meet with once in a while, so that you both could play Magic alongside your sons as a team (two headed giant or any other 4 player variant). Maybe you could teach the game to one of your friends? Or ask the store owner if he knows someone?

      • Steve
        Aug 19 2012

        Yea, the store owner was not there. Just a teenage kid working the register and running FNM at the same time. I decided it was best for my son to learn a lesson that not everyone you meet in the world is going to be honest.

        • Aug 19 2012

          What a terrible story, I’m very sorry to hear that! If you don’t mind my asking, how old is your son? I can’t fathom taking a young kid to the cleaners on trades, but of course we must deal with life as it is and not how we’d like it to be. I hope that the FNM store owner cares enough about fostering a positive environment at his/her store and will address this in some measure.

          • Steve
            Aug 19 2012

            He’s 10 and my youngest son (age 6) wants to learn to play now. So we’ll have our own little FNM at home for now 🙂

            • Icehawk
              Aug 21 2012

              Sorry to hear this, but have you talked to the owner? Let him/her know what’s going on in his/her absence. It’s probably giving that store a bad rep and hurting his/her bottom line not to mention scaring people away.

              There has to be an adult running the store during events and just about whenever they’re open.

    • Aug 20 2012

      Wow, I really feel bad for you and your kid. It’s awful when things like this happen, and I’m glad that they wouldn’t fly at my own LGS. Kids can be so cruel to each other – that’s when the adults have to step in (in this case the organizer). Too bad this didn’t happen here.

  13. ezra the strange of MMM
    Aug 21 2012

    Yay Shandelar!!
    um, sorry about that, it is just whenever I see Talrand makes me want to say something like that. anyway to cut to the chase my advice

    I personnelly think that Burning Vengeance does not work the best with Talrand because you want to be playing cheap spells and flashback cards are often expensive to flashback. even so red is a good color to go with Talrand.

    here is a UR list with him that I just threw together

    UR Talrand

    12X Island
    4X Mountain
    4X Sulfur Falls
    2X Halimir Depths

    Creatures 15
    3X Talrand
    3X Augur of Bolas
    3x Wee Dragonauts
    3X Gelectrod

    4X mana leak
    4X counterspell
    3X lightning bolt
    4X Surging Flame
    3X vapor snag
    4XGitaxan Probe

    here is a pure blue Talrand token deck

    20X island
    2X halimir depths

    3X Talrand
    3X Augur of Bolas
    4X Talrand’s Invocation

    4X vapor snag
    4X snap
    4X brainstorm
    4X Gitaxan Probe
    4X Counterspell
    4X mana leak
    4X Favorable Winds

    I have not tested either of these decks yet so I don’t know how they play but I think they should work pretty well

    Tune in later to to read my thoughts on steves deck so long

    • ezra the strange of MMM
      Aug 21 2012

      here we are with Ezras comment part 2 “steves deck”

      if I understood correctly you are making this deck or FNM which is standard. now I won’t pretend that I’m a standard expert or anything but i’ll have a go since the one time I played standard I did all right, anyway here goes nothing

      UWr talrand

      4X Evolving Wilds
      4X mountains
      6X plains
      10X island


      1X Talrand
      2X Augur of Bolas
      3X Talrand’s Invocation
      2X serra’s angel
      1X Sphinx of Uthuun


      2X Divination
      1X mana leak
      3X cancel
      1X negate
      4X Oblivion Ring
      4X Thought Scour
      3X Unsummon
      1X Terminus
      1X Phyrexian Rebirth
      4X Searing Spear
      2X Pillar of Flame
      1X Flames of the Firebrand

      3X Mist Raven
      1X Unsummon
      3X Mind Control
      2X Mindclaw Shaman
      2X Sleep
      2X Fog Bank
      2X Archaeomancer

      that is just using card that I am pretty sure you have but here are some ideas of cards that you either don’t have or don’t have a lot of

      mana leak +3 cancel

      this is the best counterspell in standard period

      ponder +4 Thought Scour -4

      same as mana leak except for cantrips instead of counters

      delver +4 sphinx -1 Serra’s angel -2 Talrand’s Invocation-1

      delver is one of the best flyers ever in a deck playing a lot of instant or sorcery cards which this deck plays a lot of

      vapor snag +2 Unsummon -2

      just like the other above cases where we have one card that is just better then the other

      negate +1 Unsummon -1

      the deck needs a lot of counterspells for protection I don’t know if six is enough but five is not

      Gitaxan Probe +4 Searing Spear -4

      you could get away with playing less burn and the probe allows you to do so many things

      gutshot +1 Flames of the Firebrand -1

      since your playing Talrand you want free spells and while gutshot does not kill multiple guys it is free

      Talrand +2 Terminus -1 Phyrexian Rebirth -1

      you need more talrands to make the deck work

      rune chanters pike +4 Pillar of Flame -2 mountain -2

      an insanely powerful card that allows you to kill just about anybody

      island +6 mountains -2 Evolving Wilds -4

      no more red in the deck

      now as for sideboard you’ve got to figure out what you are going to play against a lot and the figure out how to beat that

      thank you for letting me help you


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Whispers of the Muse: Styles O’s ‘Fiery Dawn’ (AVR) | Ertai's Lament

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Note: HTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to comments

%d bloggers like this: