There's no reason to play artifact-based decks in standard right now. Move along, move along.
[update 9/5/2011 - There probably won't be a part 2 to this. Don't have the time. If you'd like though, I can point you towards other resources referring to Birthing Pod and proper usage of it.]
It's been a while since I've spent the time and energy to write what I would consider an article-length style of post with regards to anything to do with MTG, the last time being a piece I wrote about Hyena Umbra (which turned out to be not quite so ridiculous as I thought). With a little coercion on the part of Samot (our almighty and eternal leader, hail!) I've come to the decision to type out a few lines here for your benefit and mine. If it is successful enough (and I end up not sacrificing myself to a mystical spaghetti god ) then I figure this may even turn into a weekly deal. At some point I might even bestow this potential series of ramblings with a title.
Now, dear reader, allow me to introduce you to a card that has truly spawned some inspiration in me, has created a deep-seated need for me to build a deck around it, has delivered through much labor a killer standard deck that I currently own, that has--
It's Birthing Pod .
At first it seems so innocuous. Okay, so I can sac a creature at sorcery speed... to get a creature with one more on its price tag. Big deal, right? IT IS A BIG DEAL. Birthing Pod is a gift from the gods, potentially the first green playable card they've ever granted us! (suck on that, you Timmys! just joking, it's all love here!). Birthing Pod is the illest. It's the Stargate of Magic. Okay, Stargate may be a faulty comparison, but it's really powerful nonetheless. Keep in mind when evaluating the card that the creatures we want to use with it generally have sick ETB abilities and/or don't mind being sacrificed. When you add those synergistic qualities to the list you can come out a winner.
There are nearly limitless possibilities with what this bad boy can do, but most of that will be discussed in part(s) 2 (and maybe 3?) of this series. This part is focused on the fairly narrow options available to us in standard.
It's a weird time in standard, with a short period between the introduction of M12 and the rotation of Zendikar and M11. The legal blocks are Zendikar, M11, Scars, and M12. Using this minimal pool of cards one can take a great number of different paths in creating the deck. Let's start by listing some artifacts that will aid us regardless of color (yeah artifice!): Phyrexian Metamorph , Wurmcoil Engine , Solemn Simulacrum , Perilous Myr , Clone Shell , Myr Sire , Pilgrim's Eye , Precursor Golem , and Myr Battlesphere .
Now that those have been listed, one can determine which colors to play and find creatures in those colors that curve nicely and are powerful in tandem with the pod. I won't make a master list of guys to play in each color (as that has already been discussed elsewhere) but we will be using colored creatures in our 75, don't worry. The one colored creature that is a staple in almost all pod decks is Birds of Paradise . Its utility is undeniable. It may not be a requirement in order to play the deck ( Joraga Treespeaker can subsitute) but generally anything you replace it with will be inferior.
One last important note must be made before introducing deck lists: Birthing Pod decks must be able to fend for themselves without the pod. You will not see it every game.
The first build I'd like to present is more optimal when used with Venser, the Sojourner . This is also very similar to the list I play in local standard tourneys.
GWU Bantpod Show
1x Roc Egg
4x Acidic Slime
2x Frost Titan
2x Sun Titan
4x Birthing Pod
The sideboard is pretty straight-forward, the claims and priests and corrosions for Tempered Steel or other artifact-heavy lists in the format and the leylines for RDW and RB vampires. Deceiver Exarch in the mainboard is deceptively good as one can use Birthing Pod to fetch him and then use his ETB trigger to untap the pod.
GU Quicksilver Pod Show
3x Lotus Cobra
2x Fauna Shaman
1x Acidic Slime
4x Birthing Pod
2x Fauna Shaman
2x Spell Pierce
RUG Twinpod Show
1x Acidic Slime
2x Frost Titan
3x Birthing Pod
4x Spell Pierce
3x Mana Leak
The sideboarded burn is against white weenie/other splinter twin decks and the counters are against control.
So those are all the standard deck lists I care to mix up for now. They're all variable depending on personal preference but they seem pretty stock for now. Other lists include RGB Jundpod and BG Rockpod. Basically any creature-based aggro deck in standard can be converted to a pod deck, it just takes some creativity sometimes. After rotation I'm sure even more options will become available to the deck, although the losses to the quicksilver list may be too much for that deck to survive. Splinter Twin leaving will be the end of Twinpod. Bantpod looks as if it may be able to carry on, however, depending on what tools Innistrad offers it.
So that's a wrap! Join me next time when I tackle Birthing Pod in the arena of casual play. I'll also write more about effective use of the pod and the strategy involved in when to cast or not cast it is appropriate.
Know what's funny? I don't think I made a single baby reference in this entry, even considering the card it's based on.
This time on "Better know an artifact deck" I'll be discussing my colorless charge counter deck. As much as I love this deck, I'm still not happy with it. There are SO many neat things you can do with charge counters it's very difficult to pare it down to one deck's worth.
This is the deck as it stands now, and is currently the best functioning version I've tested, but I'm sure it could be better.
4 x Cloudpost
The core of the deck is the production and manipulation of charge counters, with the end result being infinite turns. The most interesting part of the deck, however, is changing the number of charge counters on Chalice of the Void to run interference while you do your thing. You can lay down a chalice first turn for 0 and add charge counters to keep the chalice at the most annoying cmc possible for any given turn. Just be sure to plan your turns so that you don't lock yourself out of something you need to cast. Once the board is capable of placing 3 counters per turn (using Energy Chamber , Power Conduit , Surge node , or the scepter itself with Voltaic Key and mana) you can cast the Magistrate's Scepter and keep taking turns. If the opponent doesn't have anything in their hand to deal with it, you can take all the turns you like to wear them down with Spincrusher . Remember, you can use the -1/-1 counters placed on Serrated Biskelion as charge counters by moving them with the Power Conduit .
This deck is not done, however, and may never be. One version, using Aether Vial had a lot of promise, exploiting creatures which benefit from being snuck into play, specifically Epochrasite and Myr Superion , but lost many control elements in favor of increased aggro. Another version used even fewer creatures, using Lux Cannon to deal with threats, and Chimeric mass as a win condition, but didn't feel right in testing.
Every artifact with "charge counter" written on it is a piece of this puzzle, and I've enjoyed playing with its many forms.
On this edition of "better know an artifact deck" I present a green deck which uses modular creatures and a few combos to exploit +1/+1 counters.
Minion Reflector is a little expensive, but you want it out as soon as possible, because every arcbound creature you copy gets you additional +1/+1 counters for the ones that are sticking around. Additionaly, when an artifact creature is going to be killed, either in combat or at the end of turn due to minion reflector, sac it to the Throne of Geth and you get to proliforate the rest of your army while still moving their counters to another creature. Don't forget, in a pinch you can sac throne of geth to itself for a cheap proliferation.
The biggest combo in the deck is Triskelion and Rite of Passage . With two rites in play, Triskelion becomes an infinite damage/ infinite +1/+1 counter engine. Take off a +1/+1 counter to have triskelion do 1 damage to itself and it gets two +1/+1 counters in return. Just remember, the damage on the triskelion is cumulative until cleanup, so if you build up a ton of counters, then use them all to kill an oponent or a creature the same turn, Trisk is gonna die. It's a small price to pay for a game ender, but keep it in mind if you're playing multiplayer or taking out creatures.
Despite a lot of synergy, the deck is not as fast as most green decks because of limited mana accel, but I think it's pretty resilient once it gets going. Additionally, the game ending trisk combo blindsides many opponents because rite of passage makes so much sense in the deck thematically. If they havn't seen the combo before, you'll probably have to explain why they're taking an arbitrarily large amount of damage to the face.
By popular demand (all right, one guy voted) this edition of "Better know an artifact deck" is about my colorless control deck. When the deck was first envisioned, it had a creature aspect to it which has since been removed in favor of a creatureless build. The thread discussing the creature deck can be found here, but I will be discussing the deck as it exists now.
4 x Ancient Tomb
The core card of this deck is Bottled Cloister . Without instants, or flash, I've decided to embrace the fact that an artificer's hand is of very low use during their opponent's turn and exploit that for gain. We therefore put our hand in the bottle during our opponent's turn, and use cards which make use of small hand size( Ensnaring Bridge and Scalding Tongs ), or discarding your hand ( Null Brooch ), to benefit from it.
The rest of the deck is used to protect your combos and board position through the use of cost increasing cards ( Defense Grid makes counterspells a bit unreasonable), counters on sticks ( Null Brooch and Jester's Scepter ), or creature protection ( Ensnaring Bridge and Noetic Scales , or as a win condition (once they can't cast anything, Black Vise hurts pretty bad[/c]).
Ideally, you want Defense grid up as soon as possible, because if anything is going to ruin this deck's day, it's counterspells. An early black vise is also great in order to start the clock as early as possible. Then, as you build your mana base, look for some counter abilities asap, and don't be afraid to use null brooch even before the cloister comes out if it's only going to cost you dead cards (a second ensnaring bridge or noetic scales for example). Get the cloister up and then null brooch/Jester's Scepter whatever seems dangerous, while the bridge/scales protect you from creatures and the tongs/vise eat away at your opponent.
Being a deck vulnerable to disruption, it could always use more speed. The colorless mana base takes care of some of that, but I've tried several forms of acceleration without success. (Mox diamonds, chrome moxes, and mox opals, as well as jeweled amulets). So the only place to go from here would be Mishra's Workshop s, which are going in here just as soon as I get them.
As an added bonus, I'd like to talk about the creature version of the deck, which I was not disappointed with. I only turned it creatureless to "see if I could."
If I were to build this version again, there are several changes I would make. I'd probably use the same mana base as the creatureless version, since Glimmerpost was printed after this decklist was written. Also, I'm not sure I'd keep the mana web except perhaps as a sideboard against decks with large amounts of dual lands. It was not as disruptive as I expected in testing, especially with the removal of mana burn.
The main reason I like this version of the deck, however, is the Angel's Trumpet / Ensnaring bridge / Dolmen Gate combo. Cloister and ensnaring bridge says the opponent's creatures can't attack, and then the trumpet says creatures that didn't attack not only get tapped, but the opponent takes 1 damage for each one. And to add insult to injury, dolmen gate allows your creatures to attack without concern for their own safety, leaving you protected from the trumpet's mighty sound.
In all honesty, the deck may well work better with creatures, but I have a special place in my heart for creatureless combo control and that's the version I stuck with.
Next time on "Better know an artifact deck": Green +1/+1 counters!
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