Hi all and welcome back here. Last week I hinted at new developments. Well, today, before I start my article, I want to share an announcement with you. About a week ago, my attention was pointed to a fellow Twitter-user who was looking for Magic-authors. I was very interested, contacted this person, and long story short, you are looking at one of the writing staff at http://www.redsitewins.wordpress.com, a new Magic blog initiative. I’m very excited to be doing this, trying to reach out to as many people as possible. This doesn’t mean a lot for you, my readers. There will be a new article each weekend, as I’m posting first on RSW and a day later here. Give RSW a look and subscribe there as well, we have a varied arsenal of writers there. And just keep coming back here!
The name Galvanoth comes from my trusty iPhone Dutch autocorrect, turning ‘Galvanoth’ into ‘Galvanotherapy’. Dear deck, you have a name.
I made a deft attempt to exclude two things from this deck: one, blue mana; two, Sensei’s Divining Top. It seems that either one is in all of my decks, at least well over half of them anyway. So, I challenged myself to make a deck that wants both, have none.
I set about, gathering cards for the deck. I felt Scroll Rack would do the heavy lifting duty of getting Galvanoth food to spit out. All that was left was some other forms of library manipulation, preferably in sorcery- or instant-form. The deck I eventually ended up with was a mono red concoction that couldn’t resist flirting a bit with blue. Take a gander:
Galvanotheory and reasoning
Going from top to bottom, we start with the lands. The Scrying Sheets was in the deck from the start, and so most of the manabase was already in place. I found no reasons to play other (non-blue) colors here, so I stuck to being mono-red. I wanted lost of Snow for the Sheets and lots of red mana for the flashback on Volley of Boulders. Halimar Depths was the only concession I was willing and able to make. Sigh, darn you, blue mana!
A central theme you’ll see through most of this deck is mileage. I like cards in hand, I like drawing, I like cards that do a lot. That is embedded in almost all of the cards here. Galvanoth casts things for free; Mirari casts things twice. While Galvanoth’ing a spell and Mirari’ing it may be living the dream, it is possible. Also, both cards work well on their own. Scroll Rack, of course, lets me cherry-pick what cards I want to cast for free. Unfortunately, the deck is very low on shufflers, so bad cards keep lingering around either in my hand or atop my library.
With the exception of the just plain powerful Skred, all my burn does something extra. Magma Jet functions as a precursor to Galvanoth, Volcanic Fallout has the blowout-potential against rush-decks, and Staggershock just burns an opponent twice. All those cards have mileage, one way or another.
I went with ten big spells, a little low according to what my friend Robert advised me (he said I needed at least 10 to 12 big spells). Even for most of these cards, I chose for mileage. Beacon shuffles itself back for another go-round, being the only card that shuffles my library. Not the most efficient way to shuffle, the earliest possibility being the upkeep of turn six when Galvanoth successfully triggers. Shamefully I confess to having hardcasted this card once. Alas, so far for a deck without blue mana.
Call the Skybreaker and Volley of Boulders are there for additional uses. Usually, the turn you cast either with Galvanoth, you are able to cast them again. Volley of Boulders is the reason I needed so many red sources. Unfortunately, Volley is expensive the first time and a bit lacklustre both times you cast it. I mean, nine mana for six damage? Heck, even six damage for six mana is pretty inefficient.
Loving me some Cruel Ultimatum, I couldn’t not include this card. I have yet to Galvanoth into it, though. Being entirely reliable on Galvanoth to cast it isn’t ideal, but with Scroll Rack, it isn’t devastating either.
Playing the deck
Despite having played the deck on only two occasions, I still feel I have enough of a grasp of what works and what doesn’t that I can make some changes. Unfortunately, the deck is going to need a major overhaul.
The first experience I had with this deck was at Robert’s place, playing against him and two of his friends. I played about two games with the deck here and won neither, probably because my deck wasn’t geared for their way of playing: casting two lands per turn, drawing two per turn, and therefore being able to cast a lot of big spells. Sure, I had a few of those myself, but taking burn spells to a table full of game-changing effects sure felt like taking a knife to a gun fight.
The biggest epiphany came when battling my best friend Rick, him sporting his new Kuldotha Big Red deck, as I like to call it (starting now). It’s basically Kuldotha Red, but without Kuldotha Rebirth and with expensive red spells like Koth and Hero of Oxid Ridge. It also has a Goblin subtheme with Bushwhacker, Wardriver, Guide, Chieftain and even Goblin Shortcutter. Which, by the way, is much better than the red Spellbomb in his deck.
Two problems arose. First, the deck was slow. Sure, this was a very aggressive deck, and turn three kills are hard for more decks to stop, but even when Rick was slower I didn’t have much of a chance. The second problem was that I couldn’t pressure Rick enough to force him to use his Bolts on me. In Rick’s words, “I won’t cast a Bolt until I see a Galvanoth or until it is absolutely necessary.” He advised me to add some more threats, preferably an instant or sorcery as to not lessen the chances of Galvanoth hitting something. We came to the conclusion that there was one option that could potentially address both problems.
When in doubt, add green
Yes: I should add green! I don’t mean you should always add green when in doubt – I just needed a fancy header. In fact, when in doubt, you should add blue. Queue arrogant cackling laughter.
Green has a lot of spells (as I like to call instants and sorceries) that generate tokens. If I can find some of those spells that can lure fire (literally) away from Galvanoth, I could ensure his survival for a few more turns, making hitting a big spell more probable. If that happens, my opponent has a lot more to worry about than a measly 3/3 that has done most of its job.
Four cards caught my eye. At three mana, I had Call of the Herd. Flashback means another dude, and that can be very good against some decks. Curving Call into flashback Call into Galvanoth seems like a good way to start the pressure.
For four mana, you have Hunting Triad. While not as powerful as five-drop Bestial Menace (which generates a 3/3 Elephant, a 2/2 Wolf and a 1/1 Snake), Hunting Triad can function as a saving grace for a Galvanoth being targeted by burn.
Saving the biggest for last, we have Crush of Wurms. Crush of Wurms is insane – when you get to casting it. I feel Crush of Wurms can take the slots of at least a few Volleys of Boulders, the biggest underperformer of the first version of the deck.
The latest addition I want to try to make is Into the North. Not only can it find the snow-dual Highland Weald, I suppose adding one blue mana wouldn’t hurt. That would make casting Beacon of Tomorrows a bit easier.
A deck in rehab
Let’s analyse the deck and see what didn’t work. The manabase was fine. Ofcourse the manabase needs reworking after I add another color, but I won’t know the exact ratio until after I make the switches.
I decided to overhaul the majority of the big spells: out with both Call the Skybreaker and Volley of Boulders. Cruel Ultimatum is still fine, but I could see myself cutting it because I will never be able to cast it without Galvanoth. Not even Into the North can fix that.
Six slots is still way too few to add everything I want to add. I noticed a couple of Searing Winds lingering in my deckbox and pulled them to the front.
Another four slots can be freed by extracting Staggershock. Two damage isn’t worth much, at least not when it costs three mana. Not even the fact that it rebounds can remedy that. For what it is trying to do, Volcanic Fallout is just much better.
Adding green gives me another set of options, which is library manipulation. For example, Sylvan Library fits almost the same role as Scroll Rack, except the Library can’t help you when a card is stuck in your hand. However, the only cards that can get stuck in my hand are my two Ultimatums. Maybe it’s time to switch them out too? I guess not – the best part about Scroll Rack is that you can activate it during your upkeep after you’ve shuffled the turn before. Other library manipulation includes Reclaim, which can rebuy any used spells and put them on top. While this is a great way to set-up another Galvanoth-trigger, it can be underwhelming to cast is with Galvanoth. Lastly I have Harmonize, a card I’m keeping my eye on for possibly filling the gap my curve has at four mana.
So back to the deck. After looking at the spells, I decided I wanted to add the following:
This means cutting two more cards. I went with one each of Volcanic Fallout and Magma Jet. The Jet because my curve was pretty crowded at two, and scry becomes a bit less important with early fetching (Into the North) in the deck. Fallout was ejected because I have – at least I think I have – buffed my defenses by that playset of Elephant makers.
After splitting the biggies 2 and 2 and adjusting the manabase, the deck left rehab in this condition:
Apart from some goldfishing I have yet to play this deck versus real opposition. I’m looking forward to doing so. In the meantime, leave me feedback on my deck and my writing and I’ll get back to you.
Thanks for reading, and see you next week!