Wednesday last week I visited my good friend and aspiring shop owner Robert to help crack some Mirrodin Besieged packs. Twelve boxes of ’em, in fact. Cracking a lot of packs without taking any cards afterwards was surprisingly fun, although admittedly in good company. We did a Tezzeret-war, which ended in 3-3. We actually only opened ten boxes, so Robert got a bit above average with Tezzes. And then there was the hilarity of me cracking three Mirrorworks in a row, with Robert proclaiming “wouldn’t it be funny if I cracked one now?” – and he did. Robert rewarded my helpful efforts with a fresh-smelling Tezzeret. And so began my journey.
Brainstorming for proliferate
As you may know, I was working on a green-splash-black-splash-blue deck looking to proliferate a bit here and there. When Robert and I got back from the prerelease, we talked a bit about my deck and about Robert’s almost-identical-but-basically-Standard list. He gave me some cool tips, like Inexorable Tide.
It did mean I was going to have to add blue to my then-G/b list. No problem though; can you say ‘Trinket Mage‘? Visions of searching for Everflowing Chalices to proliferate, and Executioner’s Capsules to combo with Glissa, flashed before my eyes. Little did I know it would make the task of making a sixty-card-deck that much harder.
You see, the thing with suggestions is, if you don’t filter them immediately, you end up with too much. And if you filter too aggressively, you run the risk of missing out on a lot. I ended up at the broad end of the spectrum, and the blue splash wasn’t making things easier.
From a lot to just sixty
One week later, this past wednesday, I went to Robert to get Tezzeret’s number two and three, and to make a deck. Apparently trying to open a shop takes some paperwork, and working on my deck for me was a welcome thing to do for him inbetween boring stuff like a business plan.
Our first draft ended up at roughly eighty cards, twenty cards above the limit. It took some serious cutting, heartaches, smothering pet cards, and that gnawing feeling wishing you could somehow put two cards in each sleeve. But in the end, I was quite happy with what we managed to trim it down to. I present you the deck, in a easily-viewed list (as opposed to the above scribbled notes).
G/bu Proliferate v1.0 (lacking a good name)
1 Academy Ruins
1 Breeding Pool
1 Golgari Rot Farm
3 Llanowar Reborn
3 Misty Rainforest
2 Overgrown Tomb
2 Seat of the Synod
3 Tree of Tales
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
2 Vault of Whispers
1 Volrath’s Stronghold
1 Watery Grave
What is in
Looking at the list you’ll notice a lot of one- and two-ofs. This is partly because of Primal Command and partly because the deck is still in the construction-phase. Primal Command plays a big role in this deck, fetching ammo for Thrones (Servitors) and everything else. Ichor Rats and Mycoloth are win conditions, Trinket Mage also finds Servitors but also E-Caps and mana, Plaguemaw eats creatures and poops counters, and Grim Poppet is very good in this deck. The Command-package got a theoretical advantage over a Trinket Mage-package. We even thought of using a Treasure Mage-package, but felt Primal Command was the safest bet (and not too cute; if you look closely, we even had Expedition Map in there to fetch the special lands).
Proliferation happens through Throne of Geth, the singleton Plaguemaw Beast and three Engines. Cards like Myr Servitor and Necropede are ideal fodder for those, especially with Glissa and the self-recurring of Myr Servitor backing them up. Glissa in particular works wonderful here, since Necropede probably kills some stuff (either by himself or by proliferating), triggering Glissa to dig him up postmortem.
Spike Feeder is both a defensive measure and a card that your opponent can’t have proliferating too long. He can both gain life and distribute +1/+1-counters, the latter which is great if you can even proliferate once. Llanowar Reborn, a pet card of mine, has synergy with a lot of cards in the deck, not just Spike Feeder. For example, it lets you play your Mycoloth onto an empty board.
The singleton Wickerbough Elder and Lux Cannon are evidence the deck is perhaps doing too much. Lux Cannon can be found by Tezzeret while Elder is there at your Command. Also, the deck was a bit crowded at the four drop-stop, which is where you want to be casting Tezzeret above all else.
The deck has a variety of ways to win the game. Of course Tezzeret has two abilities (his minus and his ultimate) to win, plus the deck has other ways of dealing twenty. The best of these is Mycoloth, which can get out of hand easily with proliferating. Ichor Rats is another proliferatable win condition, capable of winning even on a clogged board. Finally, cards like Spike Feeder and Llanowar Reborn are able to win the game, combining proliferate with basically any random creature. Especially Spike Feeder can get out of hand if left unchecked.
What isn’t in
The list of cards that got cut from the deck is one of the longest I’ve ever had in deckbuilding. Trinket Mage was shifting between three and four copies, finally settling on… one. These are among the contenders fighting for a spot in the Trinket Mage-toolbox:
* Blade of the Bloodchief: a way of generating counters that can get out of hand quickly via sacrificing Myr Servitors to Throne of Geth, or just by proliferating creatures to death. The Blade-counters can later be expanded using proliferate;
* Expedition Map: mentioned before, used for Academy Ruins, Volrath’s Stronghold and Urborg (to make E-Cap Glissa recursion better doable);
* Vector Asp: a tutorable way of poisoning your opponent, but it needs to attack instead of just entering the battlefield, like Ichor Rats;
* Everflowing Chalice: mana acceleration, but we found out not many cards benefited from accumulating charge counters here;
* Chimeric Mass: felt a bit out of place in the deck.
Trinket Mage’s recently discovered bigger brother (or at least his brother who hangs out with the older kids) was also considered. We had – in addition to the still-present Grim Poppet and Contagion Engine – Spine of Ish Sah in the deck, as well as Triskelion. Treasure Mage fell by the wayside the same way Trinket Mage did: when we saw the targets they found were either Primal Command-territory or irrelevant.
At first I couldn’t imagine a deck like this without both Contagion Clasp and Everflowing Chalice, yet here I am. Clasp needs a lot of mana, mana Chalice wasn’t there to provide. Like Clasp, Inexorable Tide was another proliferator that got the boot.
That was just the beginning, but I’ll leave it at this. Needless to say, the deck wasn’t very easy to build, leaving a lot of options out of the deck. I feel like I could build three decks just using the ideas I jotted down for this deck, and I was concerned the deck would perform in the same way, feeling like three decks in one and losing consistency because of that. How did this go? Tune in for my next blog post to find out!