Last week I was about to give you a whole lot of deck ideas I got when Innistrad came out. Since I am genetically unable to write short texts, I had to cut that part off of last week’s article and make it into a new one. But hey, at least I don’t have to worry about coming up with a new topic, eh? But let’s cut the small-talk and pointless chit-chat about the birds and the bees when we should be talking about werewolves, zombies, humans, flashback, slime, and a whole lot more!
By now, anyone who has read a few of my articles must now what kind of a Magic-player I am. I like drawing cards, and control decks. Surviving the early turns and slowly grinding out the opponent while I have a full grip? Sign me up. So it should hardly be a surprise to you that the first card I start with today is…
Mentor of the Meek
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, draw engines in new sets do not escape my eye for long (to prove my point, let me tell you that Mind Unbound still isn’t out of the picture). This one, however, requires something I’m not really fond of: playing small creatures.
But hey, when a man wants to draw some cards, he’s gotta work for it, right? Take, for example, Trinket Mage. Hoo boy. Turn four, Trinket Mage draws a card while fetching one of many one-mana guys. In Standard, people are in need of new pants because of how great Mentor of the Meek supplements Puresteel Paladin. While I like that, I always look for ways to be creative. Taking a Standard deck and upgrading it with a few lands and a handful of other cards is not creative to me.
What I have is a few disconnect ideas that might just fit well together. The first one is Squadron Hawk (yeah, I’m sorry) with… Oblation! You play a Hawk (drawing a card from the Mentor, obviously) and fetch another. Then, when you chump-block with it, you Oblation it and draw two more cards. Next turn, you play a new Hawk and fetch the one you shuffled back in, waiting for the next Oblation. The great thing is that Oblation is a great catch-all to any kind of problem bar lands.
This is the kind of creature I can get behind. I love threats that generally take more than one card to dispose of. I’m mentioning Monk here in the context of Mentor of the Meek, which loves it (albeit costing a lot of mana). But there just happens to be another card that works great with Mentor of the Meek that makes mana, and that is Awakening Zone. The fact that you can sac a Spawn to fulfill its own Mentor-trigger is awesomesauce. Or, you can use them to build up to a devastating Geist-Honored Monk, either by facilitating Mentor or by keeping them around to pump the Monk.
The more I’m thinking about this, the more I’m getting excited about it. Right now, a Bant Mentor of the Meek-list looks very tempting. While I initially misread Gavony as a Novijen. How wrong could I be! As someone who likes counters and lands-with-benefits, the whole cycle of allied activation-lands in Innistrad greatly interests me. Just take a look at the next card on this list.
Man, how awesome is this Mentor-deck going to be? Pretty friggin’ sweet, that’s how! Awakening Zone, Squadron Hawks and Mentors provide a stream of dudes. Gavony Township pumps them. Oblation shuffles Hawks back. Should anything die, Moorland Haunt is there to rip its soul out (at least, that’s how I envision this card working – gross) and to trigger Mentor all over again. With little guys, equipment is pretty tempting, but I’m looking for ways to avoid them, since I’d almost assuredly end up at those darned Swords. So far I like the Wargate-approach, which is one I haven’t deployed all that much (in just two decks, one of which didn’t work). Mana-dudes like BoP, Llanowar Elves and Avacyn’s Pilgrim can power out Wargate while being important in the late-game for my two dual-color activation-lands (really guys, we need a better name for these – they deserve it).
Okay, that was all talk about one deck in particular. Although I discussed four cards, I did so in the possibility of just one deck. Let’s move on to another!
Endless Ranks of the Dead
This is really just a card I like. Well, the above cards where that too before I started writing, but while writing they turned into something more than disconnected ideas. The thing I like the most about Innistrad’s zombies is that most of them are slow, and slow is good for me. I love Graveborn Muse and built her a deck, but there weren’t a lot of Zombies back then that helped the slow cause. This time, things could be different. Although I fear that Endless Ranks of the Dead is too slow to work, as Jacob van Lunen recently discovered as well. But hey, this card reminds me a lot of The Walking Dead, and anything that does that is gold in my book.
This blue and science-created represents another breed of our brain-nomming friends. Hmm – breed sounds pretty literal here. Anyway, by now we’ve all read a lot about how R&D concepted all the zombies in Innistrad, and where they took their inspiration from, so let’s not go there.
Instead, I’m going to talk about what this particular card does (and since I can’t place my finger on what the flavor behind this guy – err, thing – is). It lets all your Zombies eat brains instead of limbs! Oh wait, there is the flavor-explanation. I get it, and it’s kick-ass.
Again, while writing this I stumbled upon some more ideas. The biggest problem I had with previous Zombie decks is that they were too fast for me to really get my game together. Yes, winning is fun, but having fun in the process is maybe even more fun than the fun of winning. (Disclaimer: I am not sponsored by the word ‘fun’. Sorry, Spongebob.) A blue-black Zombie deck using Endless Ranks of the Dead and Undead Alchemist sounds like a whole bunch of
Angel of Flight Alabaster
Onto the next card, we have the Angel-with-the-weird-name. To me, she represents the unbuilt Spirit-deck I have from Kamigawa-block. There’s so much ethereal goodness in there that it’s a waste to not build a deck out of it. Between the Angel and Soulshift, I should be ready for an attrition war – the only thing that’s left is to find the right kinda war I want to be attritioning. (I was hoping inspiration would struck me writing this like it did with Mentor and Zombies, but alas. Guess my sudden-inspiration-credit is done.)
This is the deck I’m actually building at the moment, so I won’t spoil too much of it. Don’t wanna rob myself of writing materials! But to be brief, I can unveil some things a little bit. The deck was supposed to have high-end cards like Mystical Teachings, Gifts Ungiven and River Kelpie. While that still sounds fun to me (Kelpie is one of my favorite creatures), it got in the way of a more potent approach to the deck. I’m not gonna say what it is, but I’ll give you a hint: my curve stops at three mana. What Burning Vengeance-compatible mechanic could possibly benefit there?
I have four of these from when I wanted to build a dredge-deck. Yes, it’s a reprint and no, the deck wasn’t going to be one of those boring dredge decks (that’s why it failed). If I’m gonna tell you Mulch would give my Burning Vengeance-deck an interesting but functional twist, you oughta figure out what it is. Mulch seems like such a fun card to play with that it’ll end up in one of my decks somewhere.
Werewolves… sigh – or should I say/howl awooooooh? I was impressed by how good and exciting the transform-cards were (I keep wanting to say ‘transformers’, aargh!) and what tension they bring to the table. So naturally, I want to build a deck with the howling manwolves someday. I should warn you; from here on out the deck ideas are getting more vague and less outlined. So right now, I don’t have anything concrete other than the fact that I like Arcane Laboratory. Yes, Rule of Law would work too, but saying that proves you know me too little. So let me remind you of my personal rule of law: if it’s blue, it’s good.
While they idea of playing with Werewolves gives you a pretty decent direction for deckbuilding, just ‘Gutter Grime‘ does not. While this means GG isn’t restrictive and therefore open-ended, it also means that right now I’m a bit stumped where to start. There are so many options! Or maybe I should just build a large number of Gutter Grime-decks just like I did with proliferate. Pro tip: don’t say “GG?” when you cast Gutter Grime.
Murder of Crows
Murder of Crows wasn’t on my radar at all when I went to the prerelease. Which is weird, since it’s a flyer. It was, however, one of my best cards, and that’s why I only played one round with it. To make a long story short, I should have played blue/red, but instead I went from red/green/black to red/green/blue to red/blue. I really wish I did, because resolving the Crows-triggers was one of the best things I’ve done that prerelease. What can I say? I’m a man who loves to draw cards.
I even had a pretty broad support cast for the Murder. Stitcher’s Apprentice loots, if nothing else, but I’m not planning on ending there. I had two Stitched Drakes and a Makeshift Mauler to go with it, letting me dump guys in the yard. I even had Traitorous Blood, which is very mean combined with Stitcher’s Apprentice. And finally, I had the blue Millikin – Deranged Assistant – to speed everything up. All in all, these new cards might be able to blow life into a former unearth-deck – how appropriate! I also don’t write off the possibility of Laboratory Maniac.
The good part about Bitterheart Witch is that it’s a very cool idea. The sad part is that there aren’t enough worthwhile curses right now. You could stick the Witch and Curse of the Bloody Tome in a mill deck, but won’t you rather have Belltower Sphinx or something? Bitterheart Witch is a classic example of a card that will only get better as the block progresses.
That’s it for now. Do you have anything to contribute to my ideas? Any ideas you’re dying to work out yourself? Leave a comment and I’ll respond. See you next week, when vengeance burns brightest!