Home > Decklists, Spreading Cheese > Spreading Cheese – Showing your true colors (or lack thereof)

Spreading Cheese – Showing your true colors (or lack thereof)

Hello again, everyone. This time I’m going to talk about ‘real decks’, as promised. But first of all, I want to talk about something I call “The Deckspace.”

The Deckspace is an interesting way to think about deckbuilding and the Magic metagame in general (it’s also a nice way to tickle my inner Computer Scientist). Now, let me tell you what this is all about. Imagine all the possible decks in Standard right now. I’m not talking about Valakut Titan, UW Control and Mono Green Eldrazi. I’m talking about EVERY deck. For example, a deck that consists of 60 Mountains. Or a deck that has no lands at all. A deck that has all black cards and 15 islands. For the sake of the argument, let’s only consider decks that contain 60 cards. Now, let’s weed out the completely unplayable decks, like the ones mentioned above. Also, we should take out cards that are strictly worse than others; for example, Into the Roil kicks out Disperse. And we should take out decks that have less than 18 and more than 27 lands. Now, we will call this “The Deckspace”. Normally, people think about deckbuilding as a process of inclusion (picking cards to play), and not a process of elimination (picking cards not to play). It also makes deckbuilding simpler for budget players, since you can just eliminate deck ideas that contain cards you don’t have, instead of forcing you to think “What if I had card X?”

Now, there is a problem in the game, which is easily demonstrated with the Deckspace. Imagine a subset of the Deckspace, which is the Tier 1 and Tier 2 decks. Ideally, we want this subset to be as large as possible in order to have a healthy format. Remember Time Spiral/Ravnica Standard? There were all kinds of playable decks, from Mono Blue Teferi Control, Boros, Rock, Dragonstorm, Narco-Bridge, Project X, Martyr of Sands, UWR Control, and a few others that elude me right now. Now, think of Alara/Zendikar Standard. The competitive decks were Mythic Conscription, UW Control, Jund and Valakut. The size of the card pool in both formats is more or less the same (Coldsnap didn’t really contribute much to the format back in TS/RAV), but the ratio of competitive decks to noncompetitive decks is much, much less smaller for ALA/ZEN. This, in my opinion, creates an unhealthy format. I believe there are a few reasons for this situation. First of all, Zendikar and M11 really pushed playing bombs. Having very aggressively high quality cards in the competitive subset diminishes the value of the rest of the cards, narrowing the subset. Also, Alara block really narrowed down deckbuilding, forcing the hands of players with multicolor cards. If you make UW cards that have really high synergy with WG cards, you basically force players to play UWG. Note that Alara block’s synergy was very heavy-handed; cards were more or less designed to work together, where in Ravnica cards were designed with a certain theme and you just picked whatever kind of synergy you wanted to play with. I believe Alara block had lazy card design, for this reason.

Finally, netdecking has become more and more prominent, so people and up playing a much smaller subset of actual decks that exist, instead of pushing boundaries they just choose to go with what the pros do, which makes many decks overplayed and thus increasing their effect on the deck pool. Either way, in the end, we get a much narrower set up of competitively played decks. This saddens me as a player and as a deckbuilder, but makes “hating the metagame” much easier. The only problem with that is, some new cards are so powerful that you just can’t answer them; thus you are either forced to play those cards or lose. I’ll get back to this concept in later weeks, but keep this in mind when you are building your decks.

While we were on the topic of losing, let me talk about it. Thing is, sometimes the crazy tech you build doesn’t really work. I was originally planning on writing about a U/R deck I built. It had both Jace2 and Koth. The reasoning behind this was the idea that they’re the best planeswalkers available, and putting them together must be an awesome idea, right? Well, apparently not. My build was heavy on the artifacts, including the likes of Contagion Clasp, Lux Cannon, Throne of Geth, Wall of Tanglecord (great against aggro). I also ran my classic blue package, i.e. Preordain and Spreading Seas. In red, I had Galvanic Blast. As a finisher I ran Wurmcoil Engine. It wasn’t an awful deck per se, it could take control of the game. The problem is that it had low threat density, so it got worse as the game went along when real control decks started gaining the advantage. And it wasn’t fast enough to end the game early, so control decks were a problem for me. Also, Koth was win-more unless you played a dedicated mountain deck.

What did surprise me, though, was how solid a player Lux Cannon was. So I decided to build around it. But before I get to that, I want to share with you my current deckbuilding strategy for Standard right now. This current Standard is a very bomb-heavy format. Most decks are built upon leading up to a bomb, then playing it and winning. The bomb cards I’m currently scared of are: Frost Titan, Volition Reins, Avenger of Zendikar, and The Eldrazi Titans. Lux Cannon can pretty much deal with all of these. Now, if we are going to run Lux Cannon, it’s pretty obvious that we must run some proliferation. Contagion Clasp is a must, and also one Contagion Engine. Running so many artifacts, especially with activation costs, running Everflowing Chalice is a must. With Lux Cannon, Contagion Clasp/Engine, and Chalice, Voltaic Key is a real player.

At this point, we can go one of two ways. One is U/W control, which would be safe and strong. The other way would be colorless control. Guess which one is more exciting?

I’ll talk about colorless control, but for my readers who want to play actually competitive decks, I’ll outline the U/W list first. I won’t give numbers, that’s up to you to decide according to your meta.

You want:

Along these, you probably want to run a regular suite of card draw and counterspells in Preordain, Mana Leak, Negate and maybe Stoic Rebuttal.

This seems like an alright build, because you can also proliferate your planeswalkers for the win too. Late in the game, you can use Voltaic Keys to untap your Contagion Engine/Clasps multiple times and use them (you’ll have a lot of mana from proliferated chalices) to proliferate your Jace for a quicker win.

Now, while the Spikes are fiddling around with that build, let’s have some FUN! The same colorless shell I posted above applies. On top of that, you will want to run All is Dust along with Eldrazi Temple. That’s a lot of top heavy spells though. We need something to stop early game rushes. Again, Wall of Tanglecord is pretty good. In addition to that, Tumble Magnet will help survive early combats. Ratchet Bomb is also a potential . Also, Palladium Myr will help accelerate.
Then we need some finishers. Wurmcoil Engine is as good a finisher as any. Also, Steel Hellkite can go in from the air and kill their bombs. Now, I’ll share some secret tech of mine. I was going to play this dude in States, but I got really sick so I couldn’t go. The tech is Ulamog’s Crusher. It’s bigger than any titan, and the annihilator just wrecks your opponent when not dealt with. Alternatively, if removal is a problem (haven’t tested the deck yet), Artisan of Kozilek is good too. Also, since we’re running so many artifacts, we can also potentially run Darksteel Juggernaut. Finally, Chimeric Mass seems pretty good with proliferate.

As for the mana base, being all colorless gives us the option to play Dread Statuary, Glimmerpost, Mystifying Maze, Tectonic Edge in addition to the Eldrazi Temple.

Let’s look at a list:
4 Lux Cannon
4 Voltaic Key
4 Contagion Clasp
4 All is Dust
4 Everflowing Chalice
3 Wall of Tanglecord
3 Tumble Magnet
3 Palladium Myr
2 Wurmcoil Engine
2 Chimeric Mass
1 Steel Hellkite
1 Ulamog’s Crusher
1 Contagion Engine
4 Eldrazi Temple
4 Glimmerpost
4 Tectonic Edge
4 Mystifying Maze
4 Dread Statuary
4 Forest

The forests are for getting some value out of Wall of Tanglecord. I didn’t run some of the cards I mentioned, because they are just potential ideas. You might want to add those to answer your own meta. I’m not sure about a sideboard, but Brittle Effigy should definitely be in there.

One thing you should take into account here is that I’m proposing these lists, and then testing and tuning is up to you. I have a weird metagame, so these lists might not work as well in your metagame.

I know I said I would talk about tempo and ‘real decks’ today, but isn’t this much more fun? At least I can talk about wars of attrition. Maybe it’s the old Magic player in me, but I really don’t like the state of the game right now. I feel like the game used to be about wars of attrition with someone coming out as the victor after a tough fight; but now it’s about stalling/building up to a bomby creature and then winning with it. Aren’t the funnest, most crazy games you have are the games where each player barely has an advantage and then suddenly someone gives a little bit of way and then loses? This FNM, I was playing against David, a local player whom I always enjoy playing with. he was running elves, and I was running the aforementioned U/R Jace/Koth deck. I had a Wall of Tanglecord, Contagion Clasp, two Wurmcoil Engines and three Oxidda Scrapmelters that killed his Monuments. He had an Elvish Archdruid, a few elves, a Wurmcoil Engine, and a really, really annoying Tel-Jilad Fallen. I was at 7 poison counters. He kept trying to overpower me with his elves, and I somehow dealt with them. But I had to ration my Scrapmelters really carefully, because they were the only things that can block his Fallen. I draw a Jace2, proliferate him up to 10 over two turns, and then he overruns with Garruk to try to kill my Jace, but I last-minute sacrifice an artifact to my Throne of Geth to proliferate Jace, and he survives with one counter. Time is called. If only I could draw a Galvanic Blast, I can just swing in for the win, but I keep topdecking lands. He topdecks a Monument, I shatter it. Turn 5 is mine, and I draw a Blast. I kill his Fallen, but don’t have anything left to attack with due to blocking his alpha strike on the previous turn with my Wurmcoils. The game ends with a draw. We both made quite a bit of mistakes during the game, but it was a really, really fun game. Compare this, for example, to a game against Valakut Titan, where they just ignore you until they play Avenger of Zendikar and just win. I’m not complaining about the deck, because the answer to that is “Stop Bitchin’ and Start Brewin.’” It is possible to brew to beat those decks, but it seems that Zendikar/M11 has pushed the game to a state where bombs are the only things that matter. Also, intrinsically, players are more inclined towards playing bomby spells. Thankfully, Scars block seems to change this up a bit; which coincidentally was shunned by many Spike players. I’m excited for the future, to be honest. The Deckspace will expand more evenly, hopefully. I heard that a Mono Black Mimic Vat Control Top8’ed Ohio States. I’m an avid player of Mono Black (Joey mentioned last week in the podcast that I was playing a deck with 4x Sadistic Sacrament), and similar archetypes that slowly control the game will probably rise up from the woodwork soon. My colorless deck will hopefully help players think a little differently about the format.

Next week, I’ll talk about tempo (promise!), a blue/white control deck (not so promise), and whatever else comes to my mind during the week. Until then, stop playing bombs and start taking control of the game slowly!

P.S: Thanks to my friend Ali Mete from Turkey for helping with the deckbuilding!

  1. October 12, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    Note: I later added one Eye of Ugin, since it lets you fetch your bombs.

  2. maelstrom13
    October 12, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    well done mate! I was also a little bit annoyed what the meta has become. thanks for mentioning it in detail. Bombs are good but designing 5 incredibly bomby cards in a 250-card set is not helpful at all…

    was fun to read dude! looking forward to read the next episode 😀

  3. Celso
    October 12, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    Great article. I’m quite excited with how the “Deckspace” is evolving as well. Seems more balanced and fun.

    Trinket Mage seems an obvious inclusion to the UW artifact list. Palladium myr + Ulamog’s Crusher sounds sweet, thanks for that.

  1. October 19, 2010 at 9:09 am
  2. October 26, 2010 at 9:05 am
  3. November 9, 2010 at 9:02 am

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