7/14/2010 BoaB: "Phylactery Lich"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Building on a Budget, which goes live Wednesday morning on magicthegathering.com.
Damn, you beat me to it. This was one of my first ideas for M11, but it is a little sad to see it lose.

14 artifacts is probably overkill for Phylactery Lich purposes. Cutting some borderposts, adding some swamps and playing Tendrils of corruptions should be great help against red. As you mentioned, Phylactery Lich and Basilisk collar are guaranteed inevitability against mono red and Jund. Postboard, I guess it would be better to side out Liches and side in Malakir Bloodwitches against UW control because trying to fight all their Journey to Nowhere and Oblivion Rings looks like a lost cause.

The other artifact I like instead of Crystal Ball is Pithing Needle. It almost always has something to disrupt in any matchup besides enabling the Liches.

Any chances of playing Sadistic Sacrament in the SB? Taking out vengevines or Conscriptions looks nice.
If Limited gets in the way of printing good Constructed cards... Screw limited
Yea I was really hoping we would get something like wildfire back and destructive force is exactly what I wanted.

Destructive forcing while having a planeswalker on the battlefield sounds really awesome, maybe some borderposts and chalices for acc.
JvL, just build Wildfire 2.0
Borderposts + Chalice to just keep all your manas. Then, win with just a small complement of planeswalkers. Actually Ablaze's -7 seems disgusting with it. Also, it would give you an excuse to stick Cruel Ultimatum in yet another deck :P

EDIT: Wow, Phylactery Lich would actually be a better fit in this deck, than your deck today.
“Be alert to the rules of 3. What you give, will return to you. That lesson, you have to learn. You only earn what you deserve.”
Whispersilk Cloak seems broken with Phylacerty Lich. An unblockable 5/5 with shroud and it's indestructible? Yes, please.

With your deck, you don't seem to know what to do.

First: The Phylactery Lich is a 5/5 for 3, that's right. But you need an artifact. So it needs a precondition.

A Vengevine is a 5/4 haste for 3, if you've met the precondition - Noble Hierarch. That's why mana accelleration is nearly always better than powerful creatures with drawbacks in current magic editions.

The Sword of Vengeance is quite powerful, but R&D didn't make the card really usable by making it a cmc / equip card. (Of course it has to have cmc 3, because the planeswalkers have cmc 4)

The biggest problem in your deck: It has the same casting cost as your Lich. So if you draw only this artifact, you decrease your lich to a 5/5 for 4, since you can play the Lich only during your fourth turn.

So in my opinion, the best artifacts you should add are: Scepter of Fugue, Basilisk Collar and Mistvein Borderpost, because you need stable artifacts. Things like Executioner's Capsule are a gift for your opponents, because either you make the Capsule useless (-1 card) or you kill your lich (-1 card). Instead of the cmc 3 (= cmc Lich) Crystal Ball, I would have tested the Trailblazer's Boots making the Lich a "you've got at most 4 turns for an answer" problem.

It's a pitty that the Lich is in the 'wrong' edition. Cards like Scythe of the Wretched would have made him really flavorful.

Fot the rest of your deck:
The Nighthawk and the Gatekeeper are both cmc 3 cards, being in direct rivalry with the lich. With all the other cards, your mana curse isn't well balanced, but has too many cards with manacost 3. In addition, your problem are the 'weak' black creatures in general. Therefore, an attrition-type deck would have been the best choice... and not the 15 swamps deck-type.
The guys in my local playgroup (read: One) have already started working on mono-brown control 2.0. The deck isn't anywhere close to finished and it is already preforming great.
I'm not posting the deck  list though, because I plan on taking it to nationals if it matches up as well as it seems to be. 


The Lich seems like a fun card to try and make mainstream. 

The heavy commitment to Black & Artifact to get a 5/5 vunerable indestructible with no evasion doesn't seem that great on it's own.  The Lich needs and wants to be in play on turn 3.  Otherwise you'd better off playing some 4 or 5 drop that doesn't hold back on its own. 

I like Borderposts.  I also dislike losing 2 or 3 to a single maelstrom pulse (i've lost 3 before to one pulse).  The Pulse made me play negate.  Nothing else mattered as much as that insolent Pulse. 

I'd recommend that the Lich Splash BLUE.  

15 swamps
1 island
3 Dual lands (they're under $4 ea)
4 borderposts

everflowing Chalice  The chalice is here for a turn 1 post, or a turn 2 post while casting the Chalice.  2x swamps gives a 1 counter chalice.  The chalice then taps and cast the borderpost (say you just drew it).  Leaving B, UB, and 1 on the table for use on turn 3 PLUS the swamp in hand.  The chalice mid game allows big swings with BBB for the lich, while having enough mana to potentially play and equip an equipment. 

Because of the turn 1 or turn 2 playing of the borderpost (ideally) & chalice, you want to concentrate on singleton artifacts that cost 1 or 2.  That allows several cards to set up for you own special fatty. 

Given the vast amount of removal (from the game), burn to the head, planeswalkers, etc, you need to play NEGATE or consider playing Mana Leak.  

That puts your deck with LICH into "I want to spend BBB, but keep U1 available to protect him".  Turns 1 and 2 are used up just setting up the mana with artifacts.  Turn 3 is used to duress, counter or remove threats.  Turn 4, minor addition to board position if no chalice, or casting out the Lich with counter magic protection.  I'd dedicate 6 slots to counter magic since you need them on turn 5.  With 26 slots taken by the mana base and another 4 for the Lichs, only 24 slots remain to provide the alternate heat to win the game.  

My gut instinct is to use 2 fabricates and a tool box of artifacts.  Elimination via executioners capsule, pithing needle to stop planeswalkers, a basilisk colar to gain life, the sword to go nuts on offense.  Those six cards take leave 16 slots.  All of them need to be creatures.  Black Knight is a strong card, but you're in deep trouble against RDW and other fast environment creatures.  I'd think you'd be better off with 16 vampires running around.  Vampire w/kicker.  Given your life situation, I'd add in Kalastria Highborn and another first striker, the vampire hexmage.  Plus the vampire nighthawk. 

Now the deck has 4 slots for non-mana artifacts that are all good in every matchup you should face.  Needle: Check.  Lifegain/deathtouch: Check.  Trample/suprise/vigilence: check, kill the baneslayer: check. 

Add in two doomblades to round out the deck. 

24 lands and posts
2 everflowing chalice

4 lich
4 highborn
4 hexmage
4 nighthawk
4 gatekeeper

4 negate
2 mana leak
2 doomblade

2 fabricate
1 needle
1 collar
1 sword
1 executioners capsule

that's 10 artifacts with 2 means to find them.  3 creature elimination via spell.  5 anti-planeswalkers cards straight up.  5 life gain cards.  4 life-loss/life gain via vampire.  6 counter-magic. 

That should spell competitive. 

The idea of abusing a 5/5 indestructable is good, but I think the execution missed a few points. Not that it's a bad article or deck: it's virgin territory at the moment, let's not hold that against Van Lunen. 

First of all, the artifact count.  It probably can stand to a little tweaking, eight Borderposts are a bit much, who knows?  Nice way of working around Spreading Seas, though.  Gotta keep in mind the aim is to eventually be a match for more expensive decks.  If you want to give Jund a run for their money, I'd suggest adding in a few Contaminated Grounds.  It doesn't always mana-screw them, but it does act like a black pseudo-seas.  It also acts like Seas against...well...Seas.  To swap out, I'd have to go for the Bloodghasts.  Yes, they're recurrable damage and great with Equipment, but they cannot block and they are rare, so it helps the budget at least a little.  At least you can replace them with Reassembling Skeleton.  No land-drops required, and they're recurring blockers. 

As for the creature base, there is a pet peeve just waiting to be brought up, and if no one else does, I'll gladly be the first: the majority are Vampires.  You could swap out Black Knight for Vampire Hexmage easily, since there are instances where the Vamp is better (ie Ascension decks, Planeswalker-heavy decks, or anything where pro-white is irrelevant.  Heck, even the mirror match is better with Hexmages). 

That leaves the Lich feeling like the odd one out.  If you swapped out one Lich for another Nighthawk, and the Knights for Hexmages, you could just put three Anowon, Ruin Sage in there and be done with it.  Or Captivating Vampire, if you're feeling lucky. 

to be fair, the fact that are so many Vampires is most likely because all those Vamps are good on their own.  It's just an observation. 

So much for the negative comments.  Positive remarks?
You've got to give a guy credit for starting from scratch.  For all the comments one can write about the deck, there haven't been a lot in my own history that started from nothing.  So kudos. 

It's also a good answer to any deck that hopes to win by Wrathing everything in sight.  There's likely some relevance to having indestructibility in the face of green decks, but right now those are packing a) evasion (Eldrazi Monument or just Overrun) b) hordes (Beastmaster Ascension or Plant tokens from Turboland) or c) nothing at all, they just kill you instead (green acceleration into burn).  So on the face of it, it sounds like the deck really wants Basilisk Collar in the main, if only to have earlier Equipment and lifegain.  Sword of Vengeance, while awesome, shouldn't be the only thing you can stick on your creatures, perhaps?  It's also an added incentive to go for the cheaper Skeletons in lieu of Bloodghast.  Recurring deathtouch makes blocking so much more interesting...

Another good thing is the fact that he's looking at matchups he knows are bad.  At least now no one can complain that he ignores suchandsuch in Standard. 

I think the deck can be improved, and I definitely want to see it when it is.

On the Destructive Force deck...not to sound like a broken record, but this is exactly the kind of thing you want in a Bloodchief Ascension deck.  I know, I've littered the column with it before, and if I had a playset of the stuff I needed I'd build it myself and try it.  But I don't, so I'll stick to ideas. 

Bloodchief Ascension costs less than any enchantment removal, which is more than be said of the other Ascensions.  Of all the Ascensions, it is probably the easiest to charge up QUICKLY, requiring few cards. 
Example: turn one Ascension, turn two Contaminated Ground, end of turn three Staggershock. 

Then it triggers off of any card going into the opponent's graveyard.  That's a two-point lifedrain for every Bolt, Burst, or Fire RDW plays, and every Ponder or Day W/U uses.  For a creature base I'd go with Vampire Hexmage, since it kills opposing planeswalkers and first strikes weenies, or Slavering Nulls, an underrated and quick Spectre effect.  Speaking of Spectres, Liliana's Spectre nabs a card and has enough power to further charge Ascensions. 
Add in artifact acceleration in Everflowing Chalice or Khalni Heart Gem, some Fireball equivalents...and then the Destructive Force.  Three should suffice.  Once you get the required mana, blow everything up (the original idea was to use Earthquake in this slot).  If you have an Ascension active, you'll likely have won then and there, with a ten-point swing at least.  If not, your key card is cheap to cast, charging it requires you hit the other guy (which you want to do anyway) and in the ideal case, you've just negated a lot of land searching on the other end of the table. 

But it's just an idea.  I'm sure there's better options. 
But it's really the first time I've felt a BoaB deck was sloppily built, argued for and played. Even if it is virgin territory, it is somewhat disappointing to see a deckbuilding oriented column go wrong on something like the mana curve. Later on, to see him mention the putting of a second phylactery counter on the same artifact? :/

Forget to mention about Destructive Force

7 mana to cast.  Ideally you want to delivery it after your opponent's 4th land drop.  This is so you stick all those 5cmc cards in their hands with no hope of playing them. 

Two routes to go get there:  Red w/artifacts, Red with green. 

If you go the red/green route and add weenie creatures, I'd recommend heavy investment in anti-depressants.  Everything to accelerate you just gets kicked to the curb by your own spell. 
Conceiveably you could go Red-GReen with Kadoma's Reach, uhm I mean cultivate
Side note: My keyboard just switched to non-US English.  So no more card tags.  Instead of a bracket I am now getting ^¸ and  ^. I hate this site.I don`t mind that approach as it keeps that extra land in your hand safe from your own blast.  But it really doesn`t get you where you want to be: 7 mana on turn 5. 

I`d again go with Everflowing Challice.  Turn 2 challice for 1 ramps you 5 mana on turn 4 while a  turn 4 challice for 2 gives your 7 mana on turn 5.  Artifacts such as expedition map allows you to find extra lands, as well as armillary sphere.  If you chose to use Borderpost and obelisk of Jund.  Between the borderposts (up to 8), the maps, callices and obelisks, you should hit acceleration on turn 2, 3, and 4.  With some mixing of elimination you can then add in  Destructive force`s fairly easy.

For this deck, I would go with 32 cards that get me there: 7 mana on turn 5.  
4 count of BP`s.
4 obelisk 
4 challice
16 basic lands
4 spheres

In that instance, I am relying on straight draw of the mana needed plus a little luck of finding a single sphere or a single challice.  with over 50% of the deck producing mana then when you`ve hit turn 5, then half your cards should have been sources of mana (6cards).

with only 24 slots left to win the game with, I think I would rely on Chandra, staggershock, fireservant, lightning bolt, earthquake, and a big freaking dragon or two to get the win. 

Tons of stuff fighting for the 3 slot.  First off, please swap out the Sword for the Collar.  A 3-mana equipment vs a 1-mana equipment.  The Collar fits the curve so much better.  Swamp, Duress.  Borderpost, Collar.  Swamp, Lich.

You do run into the problem of having a Collar out and nothing to put it on but a Vamprie Nighthawk.  Meh.  However, that's probably a minor quibble.

also, mgiht be a bit heavy on Borderposts.  If we are going aggro, we want to be able to drop that Black Knight on turn 2.  That means 'post on turn one and Knight on turn 2.  Really, we only want ONE of our first three lands to be a 'post.
PS:  I wanted to make this deck as soon as I saw the Lich spoiled.  Black Knight, Sign in Blood, Tendrils, even a Corrupt on the big end (maybe). 

Love the idea.  I wonder how to tweak it to make it more than just casual, though.
Actually, I wanted to point out that I think this was a successful article.  Sure, the deck didn't work out, but if Jacob only ever wrote about proven winners, then this wouldn't be much of an article and more of just a "Top Decks" recount.

Building decks is sometimes taking an idea you like and just running with it.  Maybe it doesn't pan out (ask me about my Diety of Scars monstrosity), maybe it does.  But, you set out to do something and you did it.

What would be GREAT would be to see a Part 2 of this article on how to tweak a bad deck into a better deck.  Can Jacob point out to his readers why this deck failed?  Can he find ways to show us how to improve it?  What is the next step when you build a deck that doesn't work (which, as most of us know, is usually the majority of them)?  Should you just trash it and go 'netdeck?  Or are there some simple steps to follow to try improving failed ideas?
Of course the deck preformed poorly.  Jacob surrounded the Lich with awful cards.  Running 8 Borderposts is just praying that you never face Jund.  They play at least one Pulse every game, and if they don't, well congradulations on getting lucky... now you have an actual small chance of winning...

Gatekeeper and Nighthawk are good 3 drops.  Now you've got 12.  STOP THERE.

Especially since Sword of Vengeance is one of the worst equipment ever printed.  I know that statement gave some people heart attacks, but it's true.  6 mana investment for 2 extra damage per turn?  Pleeeease.

The absence of Basilisk Collar is just astounding.  I'd run some of them and some other cheap equipment just to be sure.  Something that gives shroud seems good.

Personally I'd go a whole different direction... maybe throw some things a little higher up the curve in there like Persecutors and Tendrils and Corrupt.  Either that or go all-in dark artifact aggro with Glaze Fiends, Steel Overseers, Lodestone Golems, and a couple Salvage Titans replacing the Bloodghasts and Nighthawks.  It's probably bad but anything beats the list that befouled my eyes this morning.
What if you played a disruption style deck that uses the 5/5 Lich as a finisher that hits the table really early?

Something like:

It uses more discard and less gimmicks.  

chalice, collar, prism and grappling hook.
Turn 1 Chalice / Collar
Turn 2 Prism or two drop
Turn 3 Lich
Turn 4 Hook
Turn 5 BOOM!
Chalice isn't very good in this situation since it ramps colorless mana, but it helps late game. However, I think that prism has a good chance at this deck making you nearly imune to seas. As for grappling hook, eh... I like a double strike 5/5 on turn 5 no question, but it gives your opponents time to set up with a path or whatnot.

Nice article. But the deck could use some tweaking.

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