The dark mage stood tall upon the hill, his billowing robes silhouetted in the setting sun, shimmering with green, black, and blue. He calmly awaited the lone attacker as it charged up the hill, a small, insect-like, wood elemental. It was a nothing creature, sent to irritate him at best. It was an insult to his strength by the neighboring mage. He put no defenses in place, this would be but a minor pin-prick compared to what he would do to his neighbor. He thought of the darkness that he had waiting in the depths of the graveyards that would utterly destroy his enemies while these minuscule threats uselessly attacked him.
The elemental raced towards the enemy, leaping for the attack at the last second. As its splintery limbs connected with its target, warm blood seeped into the bark covered cracks in its body.
The mage laughed off the tiny attacker that was now pulling back. It hunched over as if in pain. “Ha! Such a miniature creature sent against me! And look,” he gestured at its doubled over husk, “it is weakened by the mere effort of bat…” The last word trailed off as the creature started to grow in size. It’s wooden form shuddered and a split formed along its middle, and suddenly, two of the little wood elementals were circling him, thirsty for more of his blood.
It shouldn’t be too difficult to figure out which creature I’m talking about, particularly if you check out the deck list in Part 3. That’s right, it’s Spawnwrithe, and it can be a super star!
Welcome to the fourth and final installment of “From Scratch! Building a New Deck”. Up to this point we’ve gone through the process of culling a collection for cards (I should write for Batman circa 1966!) in Part 1, the process of cutting those cards down to a reasonable number in Part 2, and the process of fine-tuning those choices to produce a 100 card list that could tear through your opponents while still providing a great amount of fun in Part 3. The final step to the process of deck building is to play the deck, try and determine any weaknesses and shore those up by making a few different choices.
Last night was my regular game night. It consisted of myself, playing Ghave, Guru of Spores; David, playing Uril, the Miststalker; Eric playing Grimgrin, Corpse-Born in the first two games and Progenitus in the final two games, and Doug who played three different generals including The Mimeoplasm for the first two games, Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund, and Sol’Kanar the Swamp King.
David got off to a good start in game one, as usual with an early Ranger of Eos into Scute Mob and Serra Ascendant. The Ascendant It didn’t do too much in this game, as Eric got a decent start with some mana-ramp and a Decimator Web that actually did some work! David dropped below thirty life before he was able to get an attack off. Meanwhile Doug was mana-shorted so we mainly left him alone. This could be a mistake with The Mimeoplasm! I, on the other hand was able to land an early Spawnwrite, and that card is a house! Since Doug had no defense, I slammed the spawn into him the first couple of attacks until I had a decent number of tokens on the board. I had a Demonic Tutor that I could have cast on turn two, but not wanting to swing the game to focus solely on me, I held onto it until needed. Eventually I used it to find a Path to Exile that was used on the Scute Mob before it got too big. David didn’t really notice me as a threat because Eric was hitting him really hard between some creature attacks and the web. They all let me get quite a decent board presence with Ghave hitting the board around turn six. I was able to land a Geist-Honored Monk that soon got very big as I was attacking someone every turn with my army of Spawnwrithe! On top of that it had a Sword of Body and Mind attached to it making it immune to Uril and a Spellbreaker Behemoth on David’s board. Meanwhile, Doug had gained some momentum in the land department and was able to land a hasted Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon and hit me for four poison counters. I had lost my spirit tokens from the Geist at this point so I couldn’t block. I focused my army of Spawn on him and let the Geist head towards David. Eric had taken a beating from David and had very little on the board. He had lost the Decimator Web and was hitting David for two on everyone’s upkeep thanks to a Vexing Arcanix and an Unwinding Clock. I had to take care of Skittles. I really wanted to cast Elspeth Tirel but I instead cast Karn Liberated and made Doug exile the venomous dragon. It was a sad time for him because he couldn’t use it when casting The Mimeoplasm. Meanwhile David had taken Eric out of the game. David held back all of his creatures as blockers and passed the turn to Doug. He managed to cast a small blocker, but I was able to remove it with Karn. I swung into Doug with a 20/20 Geist and at the same time into David with roughly 16 Spawnwrithe tokens for the win.
Spawnwrithe is an amazing creature. It is small enough to not get much attention, and when you have one that becomes two that become four that become eight, and so on, it soon gets out of hand, and that is what happened here. The geist was a great complement to the ever-growing swarm as she has power and toughness equal to your creature count. I didn’t get any real token shenanigans that first game as I never found either my Doubling Season or my Parallel Lives, but it wasn’t a problem as you can tell. I was happy with my first game.
Eric’s Grimgrin deck was also a new deck, and unfortunately he didn’t draw any creatures to really get Grimgrin going or else it might have been a different game for him.
In game two I dropped a Khalni Garden on turn one, an Intangible Virtue on turn two, and was able to start getting in for one point of damage right away. I was lucky to get a turn four or five Doubling Season and then let Ghave enter the fray. Then I cast a Primordial Hydra with six counters on it thanks to the Season. The next turn it was an 18/18. Doug managed to hit me with a Skittles twice, putting me at 8 poison. He had another turn before I would be able to kill him where he could hit me for the finish, but Eric was able to get a Crown of Empires out, tapping down the dragon for me. Doug made a valiant effort and using an infect zombie from Eric’s graveyard coupled with a titan from David’s, he was able to get nine poison onto Eric in his final turn. A truce was made thanks to Eric’s crown, and the next turn the hydra was 54/54 and took Doug out of the game. Sadly David was able to kill it on his turn, so I didn’t get a 162/162 Hydra. I did have Ghave on the board, followed by a Juniper Order Ranger, and I started making tokens. Things were looking pretty good, but Decimate reared its ugly head and destroyed not only Ghave, but my Doubling Season, my Vault of the Archangel that I was really looking forward to playing, and one of Eric’s artifacts as well! That card is really good for only four mana! I was able to re-cast Ghave, sadly with only five counters this time, and things were looking up again. I attacked in with all but one saproling and I had three mana open. I was hoping that David would block with his two 5/5 dragon tokens from Dragonmaster Outcast and he did. I dumped the three mana into Ghave, sacrificed three of my saprolings and boosted him up to 11. Sadly I didn’t remember the Desert and Ghave was gone along with a bunch of my tokens. David quickly finished me off, then he took out Eric.
After game two I think that if I had made a couple of plays differently, like taking counters off of Ghave to make tokens instead of trying to save him, that it might have turned out differently. I don’t know that anything in the deck did or didn’t work well enough, but I was glad to have gotten Doubling Season and giant hydra into play.
At the end of the night we also discussed Eric’s Grimgrin deck and why it didn’t work as well as it should have. I found that he had only twenty creatures in the deck. In the end Grimgrin wants a lot of zombies to be sacrificed to it, and they just weren’t there. He didn’t cast Grimgrin in either of the games that he played that deck. He had some fun and interesting interactions, but in the end, if the deck isn’t primarily focused on doing what it is supposed to, then it won’t do what it is supposed to.
Game three was just Doug playing Karrthus, Eric playing his good ‘ol Progenitus deck, and myself still with Ghave. This game went by incredibly fast. At one point I was able to make Doug sac a creature with Liliana of the Veil, then killed a couple of his creatures, one of Eric’s and even one of mine with an Austere Command, but in the end Eric put me down to 10 with Sorin Markov and Karrthus focused all of his wrath on me and I was done.
Game four was just depressing. I knew better than to keep a two land hand, but I had Sorin, Lord of Innistrad, as well as a Doomed Traveler, a Khalni Garden, my first draw was Intangible virtue, and I really wanted to be able to play the Sorin! In the end I don’t know that it would have helped anyway to mulligan, because Eric’s Progenitus deck EXPLODED that game. He hit a turn four Quicksilver Amulet with a Consecrated Sphinx flashed in on Doug’s turn, followed by Niv-Mizzet the Firemind, then Elesh-Norn, Grand Cenobite, then Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger which made it possible for Progenitus to hit the board ON THE SAME TURN! No matter what we cast it was made smaller by Elesh-Norn and then killed by Niv-Mizzet combined with the sphinx’s card drawing ability. In the end both Doug and I could see no way out and we scooped.
After a long evening of Magic, it’s now time to determine what the weaknesses of the deck are and how to shore them up. The first weakness that I found was a lack of flyers. This tends to be an issue in many of my decks, and one of these days I’m going to get it right. Upon review I have exactly one naturally flying creature, a Requiem Angel, and five spells and/or creatures that create flying creatures, including the angel. I can see now that I need to get at least another one to three natural flyers, as well as maybe another spell that creates flyers. Baneslayer Angel would be ideal here, and her price has dropped substantially so I may be able to pick one up. What would make my day would be something like Eldrazi Monument which I also don’t have. Luckily the price on it seems to have come down quite a bit as well, so maybe I’ll pick one up before the next game night. What else was there? Removal seemed light, but upon second look through my deck I find nine cards that I would classify as removal; two mass removal and seven spot removal some of which are repeatable, and that seems fine to me. I might want to take out one of the spot removals to put in a Day of Judgement or an Hour of Reckoning… though I don’t like the triple-white casting cost on that one. Aside from that I felt the deck was pretty strong. I didn’t have any trouble with the mana base, even when I kept the two-land opener in the last game. I was able to power through turn four with only ditching one card to the board and after that I could cast most everything I wanted to… if only I had the chance.
In closing I hope that you have enjoyed this foray into my deck building process. As I said in part 3, I really enjoyed writing it and it has helped me be more critical of the choices that I’ve made in building the deck.
Until next time, where I really will discuss my Animar, Soul of Elements/Sliver deck, keep gaming!