I’ve been working on this Sharuum deck for several days now and I have to say it is coming along nicely. I want to take a moment to plug the Decked Builder app for iPad/iPhone. I have both versions
(had to pay separately and that’s my only complaint) and I regularly use them for anything from deck design to looking up card prices for a trade. It has several price databases linked, including one of my favorites, www.coolstuffinc.com. It is incredibly versatile in it’s search functions, even allowing you to search for what colors of mana something produces.
So far in this process I have not looked at a physical card. Part of that is because I can look at every card in existence through the app, so I have no need to go digging through boxes to randomly find cards that might work, only to have to sort them back into those boxes/binders later, and the other part is that I don’t want to limit myself to only cards that I currently own. I have a fair amount of store credit at CoolStuff and I have resolved to spend a chunk of it towards cards I might need for this deck.
Having decided that I want a mostly creature-less deck I have to figure out what cards I want to focus on. To do that I have to ask what I want the deck to do.
What do I want to do with this deck?
I want to win as fast as possible by assembling an infinite Sharuum combo.
Are there any other combos that you can exploit?
Yes. There are. For example, you can use Thopter Foundry, Sword of the Meek, and Time Sieve to take infinite turns. With those infinite turns you can assemble your other combo for the win.
What if your opponents take out your combo pieces?
This is an excellent thing to consider. When you sit down at a table and you snap Sharuum the Hegemon down into your Command Zone, your opponents should all be familiar with the combo, and they all know to look for Sculpting Steel and Disciple of the Vault. However, there are several options for this combo, which makes it incredibly resilient to removal. For example, Sharuum can force the “Legend” rule effect with either Sculpting Steel or Phyrexian Metamorph. But, there’s also another approach, Tainted Aether. This doesn’t use the legend rule, but rather the Tainted Aether ability which forces you to sacrifice a creature whenever a creature comes into play. Bring Sharuum into play, sacrifice her with the Tainted Aether trigger, leaving her own “ETB” trigger on the stack, and then return her to play. Rinse and repeat. On top of that there are multiple ways to win using this combo. The most well known is with Disciple of the Vault, but there are several ways. One example uses Bitter Ordeal to infinitely search up and exile cards directly from an opponent’s library. Another uses Dire Undercurrents to force your opponents to infinitely draw their decks.
By having multiple ways to infinitely loop and multiple ways to win, you give your deck insane levels resilience.
So many choices, how do you find the cards you need?
The first step I take is to find all of my “combo” pieces and add them to my list.
Next I start going through cards using the search functions of the Decked Builder app to find the things that I need or that might work. I have several categories of cards that I want to focus on in this deck; combo pieces, tutors to find my combo pieces, card draw to dig for my combo pieces, counter spells to protect me and my combo pieces, recursion to bring back my combo pieces should they get destroyed or exiled, removal, and so on. I go through my search results and find any card that I think will benefit the deck and add it to my list.
My next step is to appeal to the internet gods. In other words I start looking at deck lists online. It is entirely possible that my search misses great cards that I could use, or interactions that I might want to include, and by checking internet lists I am able to find these things. For example, I knew that there was some category of card that I was forgetting to search for, and checking internet lists led me to remember that I hadn’t included any extra turn effects… let alone the ability to take infinite extra turns. Then I went back to my list and started searching “extra turn” and threw a bunch of those cards into the list.
At these stages I lightly discriminate the cards I see. If it will work for a particular function, then I’ll include it in the list. Sometimes if a card is just too much money to justify spending, then I may not include it. I would love to have an Underground Sea for example, but I can’t justify spending that kind of money right now, so I don’t include it. Damnation on the other hand is on the fence. I don’t really want to spend that much on a card, but I just might, so for now it’s on the list.
Once I have a robust list of cards that I think will benefit the deck, it comes time to start sculpting the deck. It so happens that my current list is at roughly 232 cards (not counting mana base) that I have to whittle down to 60. The first round of this will happen “in app,” but I definitely get a better feel for things with the physical cards in front of me so that I can sort them out by various statistics, and see how they work together and such, and part of that is going to be to acquire those cards that I don’t have already… I better get hopping so that I will get my cards before the next game night!