Stidjen's Magic

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Tightening the thumbscrews

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First ArticleSecond Article

After I made the final decklist in my second article about this deck I quickly found out some things I couldn’t have by just making the decklist. If I would be able to, I’d not do it ofcourse. In this article I’d like to go over those, try to locate the problem and suggest a change. Second, at the end of the second article I already located some possible problems that might arise. No question will be left unquestioned after you’ve read this. Let me walk you through each issue or question there currently is. With each issue there is a possible solution. After reviewing all the issues I will try to make a new list of the deck based on the solutions to the problems below.

Lodestone Golem hurts me too much
A turn three Lodestone Golem is nice, especially on the play. However, it can seriously hamper our own ability to function. After fighting with the proverbial goldfish I just didn’t feel this deck could break Lodestone Golem‘s symmetry. For that we’d need to play much more silver and brown.

Possible solution
Take out Lodestone Golem ofcourse! Right now there are some contestants, like more Icy Manipulators, more Elephant Grass, and possibly Tumble Magnets. We’d need to take a close look at our artifact-count if we want Ancient Stirrings to do more than just dig up lands.

Orb of Dreams – also hurtful at times
Next up on our ‘looks nice on paper but hurts us more than it should’-list is Orb of Dreams. He throws the concept of the mana curve right out the window, which is nice, but as I said, we don’t benefit nearly enough. In fact, it hurts quite a bit. Not only with the lands, but imagine playing an Overgrown Battlement the turn after. Awkward.

Possible solution
Kicking out both Lodestone Golem and Orb of Dreams means the deck becomes easier to play against. That’s not what we want! Which means we need more cards to hinder our opponents, should we decide to cut Orb of Dreams. I’m just not sold on that. Cutting just Lodestone Golem might suffice. The key is to pay attention to the amount of disruption in the deck. Never start cutting cards from a deck while losing track of what each card was and is supposed to do. The most basic way for this to happen is when a two-color deck starts swapping just cards around, not the lands. Every once in a while you have to take not of the contents of your deck; better yet, monitor this stuff while adjusting your deck.

I could use a one-drop accelerant
Here we have one of the theoretical problems that arose at the end of my previous article. Playing a one-drop as accelerant provides us with the opportunity to play a three-drop on turn two. The biggest contestants for this position are Noble Hierarch and Llanowar Elves. I find the power loss on Noble Hierarch neglegible, not as negative at least as Exalted is positive. Being able to give your finisher +1/+1 is very appealing and gives this creature a wonderful way to still be relevant late-game.

Possible solution
It’s interesting how each change affects another. Taking out Lodestone Golem could relieve Orb of Dreams of the same fate, which in turn makes a one-drop mana guy a lot more appealing. When this happens, three-drops grow in value, which means taking a closer look at Ohran Viper. With Ohran Viper in the picture, Ancient Stirrings loses value. (Also, Ohran Viper is just so scary off of a turn one Noble Hierarch). And when Ancient Stirrings loses value, the need for colored cards to find is lessened. This, ultimately, leads to Root Maze re-entering the realm of possibilities. See how hard a simple deck-adjustment can be? Did I mention that the exiting of Ancient Stirrings could open the door again for Thornling?

Thornling has to go
Speaking of the devil, look who finds his spiky self being questioned. Thornling was the go-to finisher in the deck back in it’s Primal Command-fueled heyday. He combos so well with Wall of Roots it’s rediculous. Very multiplayer-friendly, unfortunately not so friendly with Ancient Stirrings. When you need a finisher, you can’t dig for it with Ancient Stirrings. And nothing hurts more than having to shuffle a Thornling to the bottom when you need him so.

Possible solution
The solution is quite simple, but the road to applying the solution is a tougher one. You see, it all depends on Ancient Stirrings. If that card leaves the deck, so does the incentive to have a colorless finisher to find.

Don’t worry about all this all-talking-and-no-doing, though. Right below I’ll take all my theoretical mumblings and mold them into changes to the deck.

What now?
We have four problematic areas, namely Lodestone Golem, Orb of Dreams, Overgrown Battlement (this is the lesser of the two defenders in my humble opinion), and Thornling.

The first thing I want to do is speed up the deck by playing a one-drop accelerant and by taking out Lodestone Golem. Overgrown Battlement is weaker than Wall of Roots as I stated above, since it can’t make mana and block. So:

– 4 Lodestone Golem
– 4 Overgrown Battlement

I have already discussed why I prefer Noble Hierarch over Llanowar Elves.

+ 4 Noble Hierarch
+ 4 ???

Lodestone Golem‘s departure means the loss of four hindrances for our opponents (and yes, for us too), and moreso, four less artifacts for Ancient Stirrings to find. Suppose I replace Lodestone Golem with non-artifacts, that leaves us with just ten artifacts left in the deck to supplement the 23 lands. Would that be enough? Probably not. So to complement Static Orb a little bit at least, one Orb of Dreams is added.

(Aside: be warned, faithful reader. As you read this I know nothing more of the deck than you. This article is a brain exercise for me, a way to elicit my thought process in order not only to improve the deck, but also to improve my train of thought. Expressing thoughts is a wonderfully effective way to gain more insight into them. It makes them physical, more concrete in a way, and therefore more easily handled.)

Let’s just wait with filling in the other three slots until we know more about the other problems the current version of the deck has. The last one is Thornling, which has lost a lot of value by not being colorless. It does have ways to protect itself and to punch through damage, which are major plusses. Looking for artifacts that do the same, the closest is probably Molten-Tail Masticore. It regenerates for 2 and can Flame Javelin the opponent out of the game, our clear a way for attackers. The deck has a lot of creatures to fuel Molten-Tail Masticore.

– 2 Thornling
+ 2 Molten-Tail Masticore

That’s all, right? Well, no. I really think this is a deck for Ohran Viper. Attacking exalted on turn three off of a Noble Hierarch is very decent. Plus, punching through for damage slowly adds up while fueling Molten-Tail Masticore. Masticore-locking yourself is not a nice way to surf through the mid- to late-game. We have three open slots from Lodestone Golem, but one of those wants to be the fourth Icy Manipulator. Two slots left; that’s not enough to be significant. I could trim one Eternal Witness, since her power is a bit reduced by Molten-Tail Masticore. Now we’re up to three Ohran Vipers.

On second thought, maybe the fourth Orb of Dreams isn’t such a good idea. We have four Ancient Stirrings to dig for it in addition to our slithery companions. So in goes the fourth Ohran Viper and we’re ready to go!

– 4 Lodestone Golem
– 1 Eternal Witness
+ 4 Ohran Viper
+ 1 Icy Manipulator

This way, there’s four of the two core combo pieces, if you will (Icy Manipulator and Static Orb), three Orb of Dreams, and 8 cards that can dig for them, as well as serve other purposes. Ancient Stirrings finds lands as well, and Ohran Viper draws cards, defends, and can deal some damage.

After some goldfishing it became apparent that Orb of Dreams wasn’t meant for this deck. While I didn’t know it at the time, these were the first signs of my almost instinctual pull towards control. I made the following swap:

– 3 Orb of Dreams
+ 1 Eternal Witness
+ 2 Oblivion Stone

Orb of Dreams is a hindrance, so I replaced it with a card that can blow up the world, plus one more Eternal Witness back in, to recoup cards lost to Oblivion Stone. I briefly considered All Is Dust in the place of Oblivion Stone, but I chose for the card I had a playset of. Both are cards Ancient Stirrings can dig up so I made sure to keep an eye out for the best card for this deck.

Taking the deck for a stroll
So that’s the deck I sleeved up and played against Rick in some one-on-one games yesterday. The first game was against his Loam/Terravore/Countryside Crusher-list. I managed to lock him out of the game while I was stuck with an extra copy of Static Orb in hand and without a good way to win the game quickly. This could become an issue, I said to myself while I made a mental note.

In the second game against the same deck I noticed the flaws of Oblivion Stone. I had to trade Garruk Wildspeaker and Oblivion Stone for two of his dudes. All Is Dust, a card I’d been pondering, would have been the perfect way to wipe his board before I even had to play Garruk Wildspeaker. It would’ve been a 3-to-1 trade (I believe Terravore, Primeval Titan and Countryside Crusher) with my Icy Manipulator and Static Orb staying in tact. This mishap cost me the game.

We started discussing the game afterwards. I was happy with most of the deck except for the above mentioned Oblivion Stones and Elephant Grass. Rick noticed the lack of synergy between Elephant Grass and both Icy Manipulator and Garruk Wildspeaker. Rick also mentioned how my life total could get really low at times. I had the board under control, but my lack of a finisher gave him time to draw the burn necessary to finish me of. So I need a way to gain life and a way to win? Well hello there to you, Primal Command, and welcome back to the team! I changed like so:

– 1 Static Orb
– 1 Eternal Witness
– 2 Elephant Grass
+ 3 Primal Command
+ 1 Wurmcoil Engine

Four Static Orb was too much. With Ohran Viper in addition to the Ancient Stirrings there was plenty opportunity to find them. Icy Manipulator is more universal, so I kept those four. With a creature tutor, Eternal Witness got cut back again after briefly enjoying three copies in the deck. And I found the room for a fun singleton in Wurmcoil Engine, which isn’t that lonely. It’s got three straight-up tutors (Primal Command) and eight ways to dig (Ancient Stirrings, Ohran Viper).

The Primal Commands are just amazing. They give me life, and with the emphasis this deck on disrupting the opponent’s development, the Fallow Earth-like ability is much more relevant. Versus Rick’s Loam-deck the graveyard shuffle was very relevant, taking out a Terravore, Loam, Wurm Harvest, and a lot of lands.

I really feel like Primal Command ties the deck back together. I have a variety of creatures to look for, gaining life is a nice bonus as well, and the other two abilities can be relevant at times. There isn’t much more I like than searching for a Eternal Witness and playing Primal Command again. Maybe I could cut a card for a tutorable Timbermare again.

Yes, with the exit of Orb of Dreams the deck probably lost most of it’s lockiness. I didn’t moarn the loss. The deck was more fun to play and was able to control the game and not die. The problem with lock decks is that they just slow down when they aren’t locking enough. That shouldn’t be a problem unless your deck, like mine was pre-Primal Command, unable to finish the opponent of. Primal Command ensures that I can find the right creature for the job. On the defense? Pull out Wurmcoil Engine and threaten lots of dead creatures and lots of life. Looking for a way through? Search up Molten-Tail Masticore and start pitching Flame Javelins! Primal Command was the final bit of glue the deck needed to not only hold it together, but to tear down the opponent at the same time.

This is, for now, my final list:

Mono Green Lockdown v2.2
15 Forest
4 Llanowar Reborn
4 Selesnya Sanctuary

2 Eternal Witness
2 Molten-Tail Masticore
4 Noble Hierarch
4 Ohran Viper
4 Wall of Roots
1 Wurmcoil Engine

2 All Is Dust
4 Ancient Stirrings
4 Garruk Wildspeaker
4 Icy Manipulator
3 Primal Command
4 Static Orb

At the beginning of my first article, Mono Green Control was dead. Now, it’s just as vivid as it used to be. Without knowing it, my internal control senses steered me towards a new take on the control deck I used to love. It was like taking a trip to a new country, then coming back home and applying newfound knowledge to improve or adjust your current way of living.

I guess this is my last article about this deck. My pilot trilogy, if you will, I find to be a good first attempt. Stay tuned for more. I still want to write about Mono Blue Proliferate and about the Contamination-deck I’m itching to build. See you next time!

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5 thoughts on “Tightening the thumbscrews

  1. Enjoyable series of posts. Not sure how mean you want to be, but if you wanted to go back to an artifact-heavy version, there’s always Smokestack and Tangle Wire for lock pieces. You could have Smokestack eating tokens from Awakening Zone or Avenger of Zendikar perhaps? Or maybe Mycoloth? Something that produces multiple tokens per turn, or just many tokens as a one-shot in the Avenger’s case. Just thinking out loud.

    Anyway, the deck looks like fun, so kudos!

  2. I’ve thought about Mycoloth, but in a Mono Green Proliferate deck. The tokens are a nice idea but focus too much on Smokestack. As someone who was cursed the Staxx-player, I prefer not to go down that route. I definitely agree that Smokestack and especially Tangle Wire would fit this deck perfectly. And besides the Staxx-argument, I just like control decks the most. Without me knowing it, the deck gravitated towards control and is in a place where I like it. You know, giving your opponent the idea he can win (control) as opposed to blatantly disabling his winning chances (lock). Maybe that’s even meaner 😉
    If you like this post you should stay tuned for an article about the Contamination-deck going up soon. There’s also a generic piece in the works about a Casual-specific problem, maybe even applicable on tournament level.
    Thanks for the feedback, it’s much appreciated. Keep on reading!

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