Stidjen's Magic

Anything I want to say about Magic

Four tidbits

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Working on some new decks, it’s funny how I subconsciously started thinking about a lot of the flashier cards I mentioned two times during Mirrodin Besieged-previews. Maybe writing about it did this, maybe it was a natural course of events. There’s the Tezzeret-deck with the singleton Spine of Ish Sah. In more recent developments, I can now write about Shimmer Myr, Galvanoth and Glissa, the Traitor in the context about both new and familiar decks.

TezzeREDRUM’s roles
Mike Flores once wrote about assigning roles during games: who’s the beatdown and who isn’t? It’s relatively easy to think about, and doing so helps you a good amount during the game. The key here is that you cannot assume your deck is beatdown all the time, or control all the time.

My Tezzeret-deck is proof for this statement. During my last blog post I wrote about a second mayor test-session against Robert. In it, I was mostly making Myr Servitors and Necropedes into 5/5’s ready to bash face.

Later that week, I tested my deck against Jeroen’s UW Bird deck, a deck that got a lot from Squadron Hawks and that can come out of the gates surprisingly fast. Feeding one bird to Seaside Haven the first time doubles your army’s power when Soulcatcher’s Aerie is involved. Yes, Aerie uses counters. And yes, Thrummingbird is a bird. I’m trying hard not to think of the possibilities right now out of self-protection.

Showing up in casual now, are we?

Anyway, in these games I truly found the amazing power of Tezzeret. Because I was pretty quickly on the back foot most games, I had to +1 Tezzeret to keep him – and therefore my personal recurring Fog; Constant Mists if you will – alive. Which isn’t bad when Impulse is attached. This bought me enough time to grind away his army, build up mana to Spine away his enchantments, and either -1 or -4 Tezzeret to win the game. It was then that I realized that my deck, and Tezzeret in particular, was capable of assuming both the aggro- and control-role with ease. This made me like my deck even more. Add to that the facts that it is nice to play and not overpowered (thereby unfun) to play against, and you’ve got a real solid deck. TezzeREDRUM is a good contender for a spot among the decks I can’t see myself breaking down.

TezzeREDRUM v2.1
Lands (24)
1 Academy Ruins
1 Breeding Pool
1 Forest
1 Island
4 Llanowar Reborn
3 Misty Rainforest
2 Overgrown Tomb
3 Seat of the Synod
1 Tree of Tales
3 Vault of Whispers
1 Vivid Creek
1 Vivid Grove
1 Volrath’s Stronghold
1 Watery Grave

Creatures (18)
1 Grim Poppet
4 Myr Servitor
4 Necropede
3 Spike Feeder
2 Treasure Mage
4 Trinket Mage
1 Triskelavus

Other spells (17)
2 Contagion Engine
1 Everflowing Chalice
1 Executioner’s Capsule
2 Lux Cannon
2 Serrated Arrows
1 Spine of Ish Sah
4 Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas
4 Throne of Geth

Final thought: mising a turn three Tezzeret off of your singleton Everflowing Chalice that happened to be in your starting hand? Good. Times.

Shimmer Myr, meet Prototype Portal
My Prototype Portal-deck always has a bit of tension when playing it. Do I tap out for a new threat on my turn, or do I hope I can make do with what I can Portal into during my opponent’s turn? This decision is made even harder by, y’know, my opponent making decisions of himself and trying to, y’know, win. Enter Shimmer Myr.

“O hai.”

You see, Shimmer Myr eliminates this decision, save for those four Leonin Abunases (Abunasi? Abunae?) in the deck. Other than those chaps – and lands -, I can play draw-go. The fun part is that Shimmer Myr has flash himself. Every time you leave open three mana, your opponent won’t know if you have it or not. Worst yet, four mana equals Myr plus Voltaic Key or Top. Five mana equals Myr plus Mind Stone. With six mana and up, we’re talking Sculpting Steels, Prototype Portals, and heaven’s forbid, Wurmcoil Engines.

Earlier I decided to cut two Mindslavers from the deck. I knew I wanted a third Wurmcoil Engine, but I was out of inspiration otherwise. What can you do with one slot? There weren’t a lot of cards I could add more of. Four Worn Powerstones on top of four Mind Stones felt a bit excessive, even with a curve that stopped at six.

So I cut one of those as well. Thinking about it, three cards caught my eye: Bonehoard, Etched Champion, and Shimmer Myr. I ditched Bonehoard because I had too few creatures to rely on that, and Etched Champion on the same premises: I felt it needed a shell that was more agressive than mine was. Without a reasonable clock and/or equipment, this was not his deck. It’s a good blocker, sure, but I have Tumble Magnets and Epochrasites already for that.

This left me with Shimmer Myr, just two copies – back then. Then I played a few games, and Shimmer Myr showed up, and it was great. I count myself lucky to have cast Wurmcoil Engine mid-combat once. Every deck has one or more of these moments of über-1337-ness. You make the deck and you think, ‘I hope I can ever cast this and that and do such and so’.

After some thinking, I decided to eject the remaining two Powerstones from the deck in favor of two more Myr, thereby completing the playset. I have yet to test how this goes, but I think the Powerstones were a bit too much. I rarely Portal’ed them, because I’d rather copy Mind Stones or artifact lands. Plus, some more dudes wouldn’t hurt the deck.

Shimmer Myr, meet Glissa
Well looky here. Another entry about Shimmer Myr? I guess Shimmer Myr does a lot of things right for me, something neither Leyline of Anticipation nor Vedalken Orrery ever did. I think it’s his flash-ability, which can turn him into a legitimate bomb given enough mana.

Anyway, reviewing some Mirrodin Besieged-cards I couldn’t help but notice Glissa. She got kicked out of a deck meant for her by Tezzeret, but now she’s back to claim another deck. The deck is not a deck yet, just a pile. I just wanted to go over some of the ideas that I feel can fuel a very decent deck.

Glissa does a good job recurring things herself, but a card like Myr Retriever is always welcome as well. Especially when you consider the angle I want to take the deck: using symmetric cards to my advantage. The two biggest culprits are Braids, Cabal Minion and Tainted Æther. I’m leaning towards the latter, since I can force a sacrifice via Forbidden Orchard. If I have Glissa in play, that synergy gets nasty.

We’ve got the abusable symmetric card down. Let’s move on to the removal. Obviously Executioner’s Capsule caught my eye, as did Attrition. If I can find the room for it, Attrition plus Memnite would rock. Someone in my MTGSalvation-thread suggested Beseech the Queen, which would allow me to work the numbers to fit in kind of a toolbox.

Attrition is one of a few potential sacrificial engines, the best of which is Jinxed Idol. Seriously, how can you look at Glissa and this Idol and not build that deck? I for one couldn’t resist. Wanna take two each turn? No? Fine, I’ll start retrieving artifacts then, ready to sacrifice to that Idol. You’re not gonna win that battle. Other cards are Mind Slash (sorcery speed, boo) and Piston Sledge (sorcery speed, boo again).

For sacrificial subjects, I got Perilous Myr down for damage, Myr Sire for a token, Chromatic Star and Ichor Wellspring for a card, and Myr Retriever for an artifact.

There are ofcourse cards that sacrifice themselves without the help of others. Cards I like the most here are Ratchet Bomb (I got removing a few big dudes covered, a lot of little dudes less so), Moonglove Extract, the aforementioned E-Cap, and even Mindslaver.

Mindslaver’s inclusion probably depends on if I go for Eldrazi-mana. You see, I have Mortician Beetle on my list as well, and this black ‘Goyf likes sacrifice, so I took note of cards like Kozilek’s Predator, Growth Spasm and Pawn of Ulamog. Of these, the Pawn is the most promising, but we’ll see what happens. Robert told me the Beetle is probably too win-more, and I guess I have to agree. A deck like this wouldn’t need a big finisher most of the time, since I can grind out the win.

These were the main contenders for the deck; the rest is more mortar than brick, so to speak. Like Shimmer Myr. This is another one of those cards that isn’t stellar but just ties everything wonderfully together. Everything gets much scarier at instant speed, especially should I include Painsmith. Don’t mind if I do!

You see, a card like Tainted Æther all but demands that you can actually use the cards you recover. Imagine someone sweeping the board, casting a bunch of dudes and attacking back. Or imagine a card like Piston Sledge acting like a pump spell, and Painsmith killing all sorts of creatures. Not to mention machine-gunning at will with Attrition and Memnite, ideal for scaring away attackers in multiplay.

I was thinking of writing a column about my way of building decks. I’ll probably use the yet-to-be-built Glissa-deck as an example.

The last item on my list today is Galvanoth. It’s not a very open-ended card like Glissa is, so I can keep this bit short. I chose to avoid blue again, since I end up in blue most of the time anyway. The deckname is what my iPhone autocorrected for me when I wanted to type Galvanoth. iPhone, now for making names for decks as well. Couldn’t have done it better myself.

Without blue, you gotta be a bit more creative. So I want to go with Scrying Sheets and snow permanents, along with Scroll Rack. That should have the basis covered. I have a lot of cards already down: 24 lands (4 Sheets, 4 Halimar Depths and 16 Snow-Covered Mountains), 4 Scroll Rack, 4 Galvanoth, 2 Mirari (remember what I said about über-1337-ness? That’s Mirari + Galvanoth for ya.) and 4 Coldsteel Heart, although the latter depends on how the deck rolls. There is only one reason for those accelerants, and that’s a quicker Galvanoth. Obviously, Scrying Sheets dictated using this particular accelerant.

The rest of the deck will consist of your basic – boring – utility spells, your usual array of bolts, shocks and whathaveyou. Don’t worry – when I have a deck I’ll go into the details in another blogpost.

The interesting part is the big spells. I wanted to reduce the amount of not being able to cast anything to a minimum, which is why I’m thinking of leaving that at two Cruel Ultimatums (duh) and two Beacons of Tomorrows. The other big suspects are Searing Wind, Volley of Boulders (first I let Galvanoth cast it, then I can usually flash it back in the same turn if need be) and Call the Skybreaker. For a deck like this, versatility seems key. That’s why I’m looking for card advantage in red, cards that do something more than once. Rack/Sheets, Galvanoth and Mirari already got a lot covered, but I feel it can’t hurt to look for little advantage in utility cards like Magma Jet and Staggershock.

A final thought on this deck is something Robert brought to my attention today: Cataclysm. This Exodus rare could completely change the deck, and it’s an option I’m keeping in mind in case this version shouldn’t work out. “I’ll keep my Galvanoth, Scroll Rack and Scrying Sheets. Your turn.”

I foresee two potential problems for this deck. One, big creatures, against which burn is not that effective. Luckily, red has answers, to my surprise. I got myself playsets of both Fissure and Aftershock. Second, I fear a dependance on Galvanoth. If both problems persist, white has the solutions two both problems. I’m not excluding the R/w option yet, but those are thoughts for another time.

Thanks for reading! Next up: either the Galvanoth- or the Glissa-deck.

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