Gentlemen, BEHOLD! I have noticed that the decklist and strategies pages sometimes get clogged up with discussions on 3 or 4 player FFA, 2HG, or people throwing around the term "Straw Man" like they just got back from a vacation to Oz. I feel, in a sea of OMG 5 Suntail Hawks threads, that maybe there should be a little sanctuary for competitive 1v1 discussions. All the content herein is to be taken Super Seriously as I am ranked in the top TEN THOUSAND on Xbox and iPad 1v1 play. Without further adieu...
0 (0): None
1 (1): 1x Joraga Warcaller
3 (10): 3x Beast Within, 1x Carven Caryatid, 1x Eternal Witness, 1x Manaplasm, 1x Spawnwrithe, 3x Wood Elves
4 (8): 1x Briarpack Alpha, 1x Erratic Portal, 2x Natural Order, 2x Vengevine, 1x Wolfbriar Elemental, 1x Yeva, Nature's Herald
- 1x Joraga Warcaller: Not as amazing as you think when you look closely (it specifically says "other Elf creatures you control"), but it's certainly not terrible either with 11 Elves (including himself) total in this build. Putting counters on him with a Ring is pretty sweet. It'll give you a reason to call Elvish Visionary and Wood Elves back after you've taken advantage of their enter the bedroom, errr, battlefield abilities.
- 3x Elvish Visionary: Play a 1/1 for 2 and draw a card. Can't really see a drawback there. You've got synergy with Joraga Warcaller, Erratic Portal, Natural Order, and sometimes he(?) even contributes to getting a Vengevine back on the field. Run all of them.
- 1x Fauna Shaman: Gotta creature you don't want in your hand (say, a Stingerfling against Garruk), well, if you get to untap with her, "upgrade". Early game I don't mind pitching a bomb like Revenge to get a Wood Elves, you can always GET A WITNESS! later if you want your Revenge. Just in case you didn't know, pitching a Vengevine in your hand to go grab something (even another Vengevine) is usually the correct play...unless you're off to a fast start and you really want to put the pressure on your opponent. Also don't forget, she's an elf!
- 1x Ring of Kalonia: A lot of people like to go the Taunting Elf route to break up theoretical board stalls. I prefer smart placement of (just one, two is a bit much) Ring to push damage through. It can even sit on an early drop "ramp Elf" and turn it into a threat. If my opponent wants to use a removal spell on what was originally a 1/1 that already drew me a card or got me a land, they are more than welcome to. Putting this on a dude with Deathtouch (in this case an Archer a Slime) can catch an inattentive opponent off guard as well, meaning, if he blocks your 6/6 Trample/Deathtouch with his 6/6, you only have to assign LETHAL damage to his blocker (in this case, 1) and the other 5 damage will still trample over. The only drawback the ring has in this build is that it CANNOT be used with Gaea's Revenge though (it's a non-green source).
- 2x Thornweald Archer: Even it were just a 2/1 Deathtouch for 2, I would still run it. The Reach is a total bonus. He is also an Elf. He will at least trade with any creature in combat with the exception of those that have First Strike, are pro-green (in that case, he's not even getting into combat with them), or pro-damage, like a Fog Bank or a Dawn Elemental. Anything else is totally in this dude's whealdhouse. Run both of them.
- 3x Beast Within: One of the few removal spells green even has. As long as you're smart about the drawback, this is a totally good deal as it hits any non-Indestructable/Hexproof/Shroud/pro-green PERMANENT. Hit a land if you want. Hit one of your own. Hit one of your creatures in response to a Tendrils of Corruption. Do whatever man. The power is within you. Run all of them.
- 1x Carven Caryatid: AKA: Elvish Visionary number 4. Though, she can be a house against the aggro decks. There must not be be many retirement homes in Ravnica as the flavor-text states that "old-wood" is rare and that I am 9 years old.
- 1x Eternal Witness: I wouldn't play a Nature's Spiral in this deck, but I will play a more expensive one if it comes with a 2/1 body attached. Remember, it's any card, you don't always have to get a creature. Sometimes you just need 2 Overruns to put a dude away.
- 1x Manaplasm: Originally I wasn't going to run him (and I'm only going to run 1, not 2), but with all the new unlocks, this deck doesn't always need to wait around for it's bombs or bounce engines to show up anymore. You can just pressure them from the get-go with this and things like Spawnwrithe. Remember, it says any spell, so you can theoretically go t2) Elvish Visionary, t3) Manaplasm, t4) Natural Order on Elf for Gaea's Revenge, swing for 13 Even going t3) Plasm t4) Vine gets you 9, unimpeded. Try not to man plasm over the mic when you pull this off though, it's only a game.
- 1x Spawnwrithe: In the world of Duels, I would consider this a 3 mana Must Answer threat (but in his case, Answer also includes blockers with > 1 toughness). Remember, if he hits he's not a creating just 2/2 token, he's creating another Spawnwrithe. It can get out of hand very quickly. Remember he has Trample as well. That being said, I wouldn't go overloading your deck with stuff like Giant Growth and Yeva's Forcemage just for him, because, well, there is only 1 of him.
- 1x Briarpack Alpha: A fine combat trick with a 3/3 body attached. Sometimes you just flash him in and give himself the bonus to take down a x/4 or x/5. I only run 1 though because once his trick his done, he's simply a 3/3 for 4 mana. Without a bounce engine in place, he's just all Alpha. No Omega.
- 1x Erratic Portal: My only bounce engine in this build, as I feel that particular engine is not essential to performing well with this deck. Your cards are already pretty much good on their own. Drawing the second one never made me happy so I dropped to just 1 to make room for other stuff and to lower my mana curve a bit. Once you got this online though, shenanigans WILL commence. Feel free to bounce your opponent's creatures too if they neglect to leave mana up (just not the ones with ETB effects, mkay?). I don't get what's so "Erratic" about this though. It's not like it says "bounce to random player's hand".
- 1x Wolfbriar Elemental: Even if you're only kicking this once, a 4/4 and a 2/2 for 5 mana is still ahead of the curve. The awesomeness only scales from there.
- 1x Yeva, Nature's Herald: Not essential, but once she's out makes combat for you opponent a nightmare if you leave any mana open. Also makes it possible to recur Vengevines on your opponent's turn as surprise blockers. The 4/5 body is nothing to sneeze at either. Also, she's an Elf.
- 1x Acidic Slime: I like having access to the effect, but I feel 3 is just way too much. One's fine to tutor as needed. Just drawing multiples of this never seemed too exciting unless my opponent was already mana screwed. The Deathtouch is great, but, the inability to get vertical like the Archers isn't worth it for 5 mana once he's done his initial business.
- 1x Overrun: Why not? Turn your "ramp" Elves into game winners.
- 2x Thragtusk: I'm not going to run all 3 because I don't want to overload on 5 drops. 2 is fine though because he is really that good. I don't want to go into detail because it would be a total thrag to type it all out. You're just going to have to figure it out for yourself.
- 1x Gaea's Revenge: He will run wild on the control decks and can't be touched barring something like Innocent Blood or double Flamebreak (or Beast Within in the mirror, don't forget!). Sometimes you just want to Natural Order up some Revenge and get the job done quickly.
- 1x Pelakka Wurm: Again, 1 is enough. If you're in a situation where you need 2 of these guys out to live, well, chances are, will resolving the second one save you, say, more than 5% of the time? Didn't think so. Obviously the go-to Goblin destroyer.
- 1x Terastodon: And then sometimes you just want to leave your opponent no lands and a trio of 3/3s. Make sure you're actually going to kill them sometime in the near future if you do this though. If I ever get to a point where I have to hard-cast this guy for 8, I usually just nuke 3 of my own lands as there are only 2 other spells in the build that cost more than 5. 18 power for 8? Seems Terastic. (also remember, it says "up to three" on the card, you can just shoot 2 of your opponent's lands or the like, if you'd want, or none at all, if you're worried about your new 9/9 falling in combat)
THE WHY NOTS:
- Bond Beetle: He's cute I guess when you get that engine going, but I'd rather just have my non-engine dependent 1-of ring for the (albeit 1 turn slower) same effect and (once it's equipped) less of a mana investment, plus....TRAMPLE.
- Giant Growth: I'll take a slightly-less powerful combat trick that comes with a 3/3 body attached. Thanks though.
- Taunting Elf: Sadly, you're never going to hear me plead "I hope I can topdeck my 0/1!" instead of Overrun . I'm sure it's fine for you 2HG folks though (when all you wonderful people aren't trying to glitch it that is)
- Awakener Druid: The deck is a lot faster now, yeah, but I certainly don't want to open myself up to getting Stone Rained on turn 3. I really only need my lands, to, you know, produce mana. If I really need to stunt my mana growth in a pinch, I can make due with a Beast Within or Terastodon
- Caller of the Claw: Flashing in a 2 power creature these days is rarely impressive outside of a Snapcaster Mage or whatever 2 power fairies are out there. As far as the ability goes...whether it's a beat-up jalopy or a Testarossa, would you get excited about "upgrading" either to a Kia Spectra?
- Ambassador Oak: Not a terrible card, and he does make an Elf, but he's outclassed by the other 4 drops. Only for the most hardcore of Two Towers fans.
- Herd Gnarr: I herd of a good reason to gnarr include this in your deck the other day. It sucks.
- Momentous Fall: Now that the deck actually has a little bit of game before it finds it's bombs/assembles it's engine(s), there's not as big a reason to go tearing through your deck looking anymore. Still wonderful with Vengevine and Thragtusk, just no longer needed. We had our Moment, but there's simply no Ous anymore.
- Roaring Primadox: There's going to be a lot of you who think I'm on the pipe for this dude's complete dismissal, but Erratic Portal does the job so much better and I'm not really missing the 4/4 body much. Don't even get me started on casting this guy into an empty board. When is it ever relevant? I'm sure it can be (emergency blocker), and I'm also sure that percentage begins with a decimal point. You know the bounce engine is not ESSENTIAL to winning with this deck, right? Right?
- Lurking Predators: Cute, can potentially get out of hand. But for 6+, I better get something like Debtors' Knell which WILL end the game in short order (most of the time, in that particular deck) than something that MIGHT. Filtering through unwanted lands is nice, but what happens when you reveal a Joraga Warcaller? AWolfbriar Elemental? A Stingerfling Spider? A Briarpack Alpha? A Terastodon? You HAVE to put that card on the battlefield. No may ability here. That seems poor to me.
- Primordial Sage: I'm referencing my game screen as I type this, and I just noticed how the art in Momentous Fall looks like a pack of hunters starved for better card advantage standing over a freshly-killed sage.
- Soul of the Harvest: This is essentially a beefier Primordial Sage. Looks totally killer at first until you read the fine-print where it says "NONTOKEN creature". That's really the soul reason why I won't run him.
- Wild Pair: What does this card do the TURN AFTER (in most cases) you cast it? Let's see:
- Taunting Elf <------------> Bond Beetle (depending on how the game lets you stack the triggers, I don't know if you can go Beetle into Elf on an empty board though
- Elvish Visionary <----------> Wood Elves <-------------> Awakener Druid <----------->Manaplasm <----------> Gigantomancer <---------> Joraga Warcaller (though searching him up seems like a terrible plan)
- Fauna Shaman <----------> Acidic Slime <----------> Caller of the Claw <----------> Yeva's Forcemage (trigger stacking alert, again!) <---------> Herd Gnarr <------------> Spawnwrithe
- Ambassador Oak
- Roaring Primadox
- Yeva, Nature's Herald <--------> Primordial Sage
- Thornweald Archer <--------> Eternal Witness (A Bond Beetle pumping itself on ETB can go into these two as well, again, depending on how the game lets you stack the triggers)
- Carven Caryatid <---------> Vengevine <---------> Stingerfling Spider
- Wolfbriar Elemental <---------> Thragtusk (though I don't know why you would ever go Thragtusk into Elemental, since you can't...............KICK IT! *guitar*)
- Elderscale Wurm <--------> Pelakka Wurm
Okay, that's not terrible, (and if it needs to be said, or if somebody was planning on reminding me, you can just get a copy of the creature you cast,
if you have one availiable, I know). I guess it just boils down to personal preference I guess, and my pessimistic outlook on life that if I do run this
as a 1-of (I don't think I could ever get talked into 2, let alone 3), what'll happen is I'll cast this and never have another creature to trigger it (since
I believe the whole, "let's hold on to these creatures I could be casting turns 2-5/6 until I grow a pair"-plan is a bad idea).
- Wurmweaver Coil: Oh look, it's one of those expensive enchantments that opens me up to the dreaded 2 for 1. You could have at least had the decency to put Trample on here.
- Elderscale Wurm: Wurm can shut an aggro deck down, sure, but a Thragtusk or Pelakka Wurm does pretty much the same thing, since if this just gets immediately removed you've gained, at most, 6 life... and Tusk and the other Wurm getting removed at least gives you something in return.
- Gigantomancer: The potential is there, but what happens if you Order this up (or pay the 8) and they just immediately kill it? You got absolutely nothing out of the deal other than a gigantic letdown.
- Primal Surge: For 10 mana I want a 100% guarantee that this will win me the game. Sometimes this is the Publisher's Clearing House guy showing up at your door with a gazillion dollar check, others, it's an email from a Nigerian "investor". I'm a fearful man.
BORN OF FLAME:
0 (0): None
10 creatures, 26 other spells, 24x Mountain (27.8%/72.2%)
- 1x Blaze: A scaling source of damage that hits creatures and players? Seems good. Yeah, yeah, sorcery speed, but you're rarely going to find any of these effects at instant speed.
- 1x Earthquake: A Blaze variant that hits both players and all ground creatures (and most of the time our ground creatures won't care). You don't always have to wait to pop more than one creature with this. Sometimes you have to just hit the one or you wouldn't be able to cast this the next turn anyways.
- 1x Lightning Bolt: The best one mana burn spell ever printed?
- 2x Red Sun's Zenith: A Blaze that shuffles back in your deck when you use it, with the added bonus of exiling a creature it kills? Let's see how often that ability can be relevant shall we? Doomed Traveler, Archon of Justice, Vengevine, Chandra's Phoenix, Purity, Dread, Goblin Arsonist...do I really need to continue? Remember, "dies" is shorthand for "put into a graveyard from the battlefield". That never happens if you Zenith it.
- 2x Ruby Medallion: Well, now that we're super burn heavy, one, many times we'd like to cast multiple spells in a turn, especially with Furnace of Rath in the deck, and two, there ARE some spicy creatures to ramp in to. Turn 3 Obsidian Fireheart or turn 4 or 5 Inferno Titan is pretty frightening. Even getting a Magma Phoenix out one turn earlier against the super-aggro decks can bail you out if your sweepers are MIA.
- 2x Searing Blaze: The landfall trigger is kind of a drag since we don't have access to fetchlands (shutting down the possibility of ever doing this on your opponent's turn, so it might as well say "sorcery" on the card), but again, with this build, most of the damage we do to an opponent is gonna come from our spells, not our creatures (Chandra's Phoenix doing most of the heavy lifting in that department (and you CAN use this to get said Phoenix back in your hand on opponent's EOT, if that situation ever turns up). If this didn't have the Landfall clause and did something like 2 and 2 (or even 1), running all 3 would be fine. As is, 2 is fine (until we get better 2 and 1 mana removal).
- 3x Chandra's Phoenix: Our heavy lifter when it comes to combat damage from creatures. Sure it's only (non-Rath) 2 points at a time, but Haste is important, and since we're built around directly nailing our opponent most of the time, he's easy to recur, unlike those other Phoenixes.
- 1x Chandra's Spitfire: Some may say an odd choice, but this little spitfire will make your opponent loathe to tap out without any kind of air defense. If they do, well, feel free to go to town (don't overdo it though if you can't finish them). If they want to not play anything and hold up removal every turn waiting for you to "power" her up, that's on them. At least they're not really developing their board to the fullest, right?
- 2x Flamebreak: It's your Dollar Store Earthquake. Remember, you shouldn't wait forever to pop this, "hoping" your opponent overextends, as you're still taking damage from the creatures actually on the board, and from the card itself when you do use it. A 2 for 1 is still a 2 for 1. Don't get greedy.
- 1x Sulfuric Vortex: Hate life gain but think Blood Hand is a garbage card? Well, here you go. Remember, your life total IS a resource too. Manage it accordingly. (sidenote: It may just be me, but I have accidently confused this with Furnace of Rath at times, and vice versa, because the art looks sorta similar? You're probably right, it is just me.)
- 1x Chain Reaction: A sweeper is a sweeper, right? Handy for those times when Odric has 99 anthems and they all grant +1/+1, and when you need to clear the skies.
- 2x Chandra's Outrage: I find overloading on 4 mana removal spells (even with the added bonus of Shocking your opponent) to be an outrageous proposition. 2 of these seem fine. If you reallllllly want to run the 3rd Searing Blaze, I would look here for the first cut.
- 1x Furnace of Rath: Again, as long as you're smartly managing your life total as a resource, this card is INSANE. Sure, the effect is global, but who cares if you win the game at 2 life or something? This isn't college football. People can talk about the Hostility + Fireblast combo all they want, I find Blasting a dude with this out to be equally as impressive. This will also make your little Chandra's Phoenixes hit as hard as those terrible Firewing Phoenixes people keep trying to cram in to decks. If your opponent starts dropping 5/5s and above and is still at a relatively healthy life total, this can let you actually come back without have to drop 2 spells on 1 dude.
- 2x Obsidian Fireheart: Not the most imposing of mythic rares, but if you get to untap with this even once, you've got at least a Goblin Fireslinger that an opponent can only deal with by Stone Raining himself...and hey, a 4/4 for 4 is still pretty good.
- 1x Beacon of Destruction: Our Megadeth Invitational Card, and the least impressive of our removal spells, but it shuffles back in, and I had no problem running one Lava Axe last year, and this has the added bonus of actually hitting a dude if needed.
- 2x Magma Phoenix: More potential crowd control on a 3/3 flier with recursion (though if you ever HAVE to recur and recast this, things are probably looking grim)...and yes, sometimes you just kill this yourself for the win.
- 1x Fireblast: Free spells! Sorta! I wouldn't ever recommend casting this for the alternate cost unless you already have 8 mountains out or something, or if you are going to win THAT TURN (or the next).
- 2x Inferno Titan: Well, we have two now, and something to do with those Medallions. Worst case scenario when this hits you Arc Lightninged your opponent and cost them a removal spell. I can live with that I guess. Don't forget he has Firebreathing.
THE WHY NOTS:
- Dragon Hatchling: A firebreather with evasion is certainly better than those without, but you're basically just skipping your turn to power one of these up, and begging for your opponent to Time Walk you if they kill it.
- Rain of Embers: Even if it were an Instant, this card is still emberassingly bad.
- [card[Torch Fiend[/card]: Odds are, we're going to kill in response anything that's attempting to be equipped, and if we lose to a Panoptic Mirror, so be it. Even if he's not already out on the field, you're still effectively paying 3 mana to Smelt something. If he hit enchantments too I would reconsider, but until that time, he's no fiend of mine.
- Fiery Hellhound: And now we have a firebreather without evasion. Fired anyone?
- Flames of the Blood Hand: A Flame Javelin that shuts off lifegain if you happen to leave the mana up. Hmmm. I think a Vortex accomplishes what you want to do with this bloody well, so you don't need it. Move on chaps.
- Firewing Phoenix: Okay everyone, reallllly look at this card. It. Is. Terrible. Even if they patch it to a 4/2 in the future (so your 4 mana investment doesn't die to Blister Beetle of all things), what are you really getting with this? It still dies to just about anything able to block it except the odd spirit token (and those usually tend to show up in 2s anyways). "But I can get it back!" you say? Okay. Spend 4 mana to initially summon. It dies. Spend another 4 mana to put it back into your hand, and then ANOTHER 4 mana to get it's fragile self back on the field. 12 mana to take advantage of it's recursion. Does that sound even remotely good? At least getting back a Chandra's Phoenix means we're furthering our goal of actually killing a dude. Geez, they could have at least gave him Haste or something.
- Cone of Flame: I just find it hard to get jazzed about 5 mana sorceries which sometimes require me to hit myself or my own creatures. The aforementioned 3 mana "sweepers" will do.
- Fire Elemental: Yes, vanilla comes in all shapes, sizes, and temperatures.
- Hostility: Now, now, tone down the hostility. I know this into Fireblast is, like, "the hottest thing ever", but how often do you get to fire the combo off into an empty or undefended board? Don't get me wrong, this card is still good, but I'd rather be doing direct damage with my spells than making poor man's Spark Elementals with them. It's what this deck is built for.
- Skarrgan Firebird: So a fair amount of the time this is going to be a 3/3 flyer for 6? Skarrrrr matey, walk the plank.
- Disaster Radius: Radius of a circle: D/2 Radius of a disaster: Palm/Face
- Dragon Mage: So if you get to untap with a 7 drop and actually hit them, aren't you usually winnning anyways? If you run this, just know that I am praying as hard as I can (to the point where I may have actually burst a blood vessel) that you rip 7 lands with this, and your opponent hits nothing but good stuff.
- Worldfire: You don't actually win if you cast this you know (unless you've got something under one of Odric's spells). Even the flavor text is horrible. What is "small" about 9 mana?
0 (0): None
5 (2): 2x Baneslayer Angel
- 4x Serra Ascendant: Now, since we're not playing garbage like Sanctifier, Missionary, and auras, you're going to have to do a little more work to get these guys into 6/6 monsters. Que serra serra. I like to think of these dudes as mainly another way to turn on a Pridemate turn 2 with their Lifelink. I certainly don't mind trading an opponent's x/1 for this if it is indeed getting my Thundercats Ho! on (terrible show by the way).
- 4x Soul Warden: Confirmed furry. The easiest way to turn on your Pridemate. Also, if you wanna get real funky, turns your White Sun's Zeniths into pseudo-combat tricks if you have a Pridemate (or even a close to active Ascendant) up.
- 2x Swords to Plowshares: It's a one mana exile spell, where the life your opponent gains hardly ever matters. Questions? You can get super tricksy by Swording your own dude to turn on an Ascendant mid-combat if you want, or even buff a Pridemate. I would never recommend this unless your opponent was tapped out AND close to death though.
- 4x Ajani's Pridemate: This is the true centerpiece of the deck, and in a perfect world you'll always have a hand with at least one of these guys. With all the religious undertones this deck has, I feel we could have gotten rid of the whole Pride thing and just referred to these dudes as Pope John Paws or something. Oh, we're referring to groups of lions and not rainbows? This whole Celestial Light thing has me very confused.
- 2x Knight of Meadowgrain: They could have just named these dudes Knights of Meowdowgrain to fit in with Ajani better. What you're getting here is a downright Meadowbargain. A 2/2 First Strike Lifelinker, for 2. With a Collar equipped, these guys can actually never be defeated in combat by anything that doesn't also have First Strike.
- 3x Kemba's Skyguard: So you may wonder why we're not running trash like Sanctifier and Missionary, yet I include these guys. Well, when those other dudes are done giving life, they are just garbage ground troops. Here, you're still left with a 2/2 Flyer for 3, which is always a good bargain in my book.
- 1x Loxodon Warhammer: Yeah, this is a bit on the slow side, but it is a WARHAMMER after all, and the Lifelink is extremely relevant. Another way to have your Pridemates buff themselves.
- 2x White Sun's Zenith: When people complain about a lack of finishers in this deck if you don't get an Ascendant or Pridemate going, I invite them to look towards the sun. Then we can all gather around the campfire and start singing "For I was blind, but now I see". Also, you better be using this on your opponent's end step, if you aren't using this as a crazy combat trick, nerds.
- 2x Chastise: Running all 4 of these is certainly a mistake, but removal is removal, right? Extremely easy to play around, but your opponent knows he always has a stern talking to in store for him if he ever attacks in to 4 open mana. Can also use on your own guys to get tricksy.
- 2x Day of Judgment: Well OF COURSE I do a Judge Dredd impersonation every time I cast this. You don't?
- 1x Well of Lost Dreams: Also known as the well of lost games for your opponent if you ever get to start drawing cards with this thing...and with this deck, there are obviously a lot of ways to do so.
- 2x Baneslayer Angel: Your Bruce Wayne invitational card. You people who run less than 2 slay me.
- 1x Felidar Sovereign: Well, what do you do when the game stalls out but you're at 665 life? Granted, I've won more games stealing my opponent's Purity than when I'm using it in this deck, but it's still fine for the 4/6 Vigilant Lifelinker you get.
- 1x Purity: Sadly, the second ability usually is more relevant than the first (from my understanding, it won't shut down a Sulfuric Vortex), but it's still a 6/6 Flyer, and he'll close out a game soon enough.
THE WHY NOTS:
- Cathedral Sanctifier: Yeah, they're great for aggro-ing out early with a Pridemate and an Ascendant, but if you don't have those dudes, these guys by themselves are gar-bage. Why is everyone in such a hurry these days? This deck can play a long game.
- Elixir of Immortality: Maybe I have this in hand against Jace, maybe he mills it. Every other matchup, stunningly mediocre.
- Ajani's Mantra: These were great in March to War last year, but that was because you had Pridemate AND Searing Meditation. These (for the most part) benefit only Pridemate and the 1-of Well of Lost Dreams. Plenty of other ways to gain life in this deck.
- Ajani's Sunstriker: I guess these would be fine if there was a strike going on at the Meadowgrain? That's not a thing that actually happens in this game though.
- Divine Favor: Only good to hold off an initial aggro-rush, and not even always then. Getting 2 for 1ed when you play this isn't as bad as other enchantments since you still gained 3 life out of the deal...wait, who are we trying to kid. That's still terrible. Would you really play a card that simply said "gain 3 life"?
- Moment of Heroism: Sigh, I love me at least one good combat trick, but there's simply no room for Heroism in this deck.
- Slith Ascendant: Even less intimidating than the Star Wars kid with a lisp.
- Solemn Offering: I'm sure some of you are solemn over the exclusion of this, and it is effective against just about every deck in theory, but how often is this simply a dead card in your hand? It's sad times when you start Offering up your own artifacts just to get some benefit out of this. If you lose to a Mirror or Vortex, feel free to offer up all the hate mail you can spare. I'll understand.
- Rhox Faithmender: The key life totals in this deck are 30 and 40. This is bit of overkill in a 4 mana 1/5 body. No thanks.
- Seraph of Dawn: Yeah, it's a pain for decks like Chandra and Krenko to get rid of, but you've already got a favorable matchup against those two. I don't really have anything negative to say about this card, but there's better things you can be doing than jamming these dudes in your deck and warping your mana curve. I'm dawn here.
- Archon of Redemption: 2/2 Fliers for 3 and gaining life is one thing, 3/4s for 5, gaining 3, and mayyyybe gaining life from future fliers is quite another. Sorry Marley, this isn't good enough.
- Landbind Ritual: Hooray! You gained 10+ life or something! If you didn't turn on an Ascendant or game-winning Sovereign, why are you celebrating again?
- Beacon of Immortality: Again. 30. 40. If casting this for 6 actually gets you there, you're probably already in good shape.
- Celestial Mantle: You already know how I feel about auras. Two. For. One. City. You know the dude with this on is just gonna get chumped all day right? If you're at a low life total trying to creep back up, this still isn't doing THAT much. If you're at a decent life total, Overkill. This ain't Final Fantasy X. You don't get bonus XP for finishing a game at 8999 life.
- Serra Avatar: Okay, so in theory this is a great finisher, I mean, even a 9/9 for 7 is pretty good. However, this thing is a terrible defender against any kind of board presence from your opponent. Example: Avatar is an 11/11, if I swing with a 4/3 and a 7/7, or any combination of dudes with power =11, if you don't have a removal spell of any kind, no matter how you block, your Avatar is toast. He is vulnerable on two fronts. I don't know if I'd straight up call this a "win more", but he's certainly closer to that than he is to simply "wins games".
0 (0): None
6+ (0): None
- 3x Sleight of Hand: Rip through your deck looking for answers. You have sleight problems if you're not running all of them.
- 2x Azure Mage: You won't always get to use his ability in some games, but he's fine for 2 mana. Plus, unlike a Hatchling or to a lesser extent, a Fog Bank, he's a terrific topdeck late game. 2 is fine.
- 2x Fog Bank: More stall. Funny thing Trampling through a fog is more effective than simply trying to walk into one. Again, 3 is slightly overkill.
- 2x Mana Leak: Of course is gonna run as much 3 or less countermagic as it can get it's hands on. Don't wait too long to play this though, as it obviously gets worse the longer the game goes.
- 2x Cancel: Again 3 mana or less counters are always going to have a home in blue decks.
- 1x Keep Watch: Situational card draw applicable to situations that happen all, the, time.
- 2x Rite of Replication: A clone to help you stabilize early and a flat out game-winner late. Remember, if you put this under Panoptic Mirror you only have to pay the kicker cost of (5) to get your 5 dudes. 2, not 3 of these, sounds about rite.
- 4x Talrand's Invocation: When you're not pulling off crazy Panoptic Mirror shenanigans or making over nine thou...errr, 5 copies of things, this is the card that's going to win the game for you. Run all four.
- 1x Talrand, Sky Summoner: If you get to create even one 2/2 with this you've gotten great value. However, it's not the end of the world if you run this out there on turn 4 and it just eats a removal spell. But if you have, for whatever reason, another Sleight of Hand on hand/in hand/handy, waiting until turn 5 to drop him is fine.
- 1x Bribery: Steal your opponent's best creature that's not in his graveyard or hand. Questions? Just don't be dumb and bounce a creature you steal, unless something crazy is going down like it's getting Rite'd for 9, or Followed Footsteps or something.
- 1x Followed Footsteps: Enchanting your opponent's creature is usually the best play with this, but you don't always have to follow the crowd's footsteps. Sometimes your own Archaeomancer is a perfectly fine target.
- 1x Future Sight: Card advantage machine (though the 2nd copy is unnecessary in my sight). If you're running this out after turn 5, don't play a land in your hand first before you cast this okay? There may be one sitting on the top of your deck. If you're planning on casting a spell off the top of your deck on your own turn, again, don't play a land from your hand, just in case.
- 1x Gravitational Shift: Sometimes you get to hose a ground force with this, and sometimes you just steal a game out of nowhere with your air force. Obviously, you want to know what cards your opponent potentially has access to before you just casually throw this out there.
- 1x Panoptic Mirror: For the new folks. You play this. Then, at the beginning of your next turn, PAUSE THE GAME, and then use this thing's ability to start the madness right then, well, you know, if it's prudent to do so. Even a Sleight of Hand on this is nuts. Also, in case you've Foucaulten, you can imprint more than one spell on this thing...just be careful, every deck with the exception of Liliana has a potential answer to this card.
- 1x Sphinx of Lost Truths: There are a lot of people out there who sphinx this guy is some kind of finisher. He's really not. He loots 3 cards for you for 5 mana, and he's a Concentrate with a 3/5 flying body for 7. You should be handling the truth.
- 1x Time Warp: Your favorite Mirror target. Don't sit on this forever waiting for said Mirror to show up though. It's not the end of the world if you have to warp this card in to an Explore from time to time.
THE WHY NOTS:
- Curiosity: I think there's enough card draw in this deck to not open yourself up to a 2 for 1. The earliest you can hit with this anyways is on turn 3, with a Mage or Hatchling, and do you really think your dude is getting in most of the time at that point? On the play against some of the control decks, sure. Does that scream consistency to you?
- Distortion Strike: What are you trying to do, cast this on something with Curiosity on it? (what up 2.5 for 1 city!) A 2 or 3 power guy? A Goliath Sphinx .335837% of the time? Really? Only Talrand, Sky Summoner cares about this card, and not for the damage.
- Hydrosurge: There's been a surge of bad puns in this guide lately.
- Favorable Winds: You can steal some Winds with this if you go the aggro-airforce route with the deck. Personally, I feel that is the inferior version of Crosswinds.
- Ring of Evos Isle: How is this the best Ring in the game again? What in your deck is so important that you have to give Hexproof to (for 2!!!) outside of Talrand himself? ... ??? ...
- Twincast: It's a fine card, just a tad costly to use on yourself, and a lot of the time your opponent doesn't play anything worth copying.
- Arm with Aether: Ummm, block your low P/T dudes or kill them in response? Thanks?
- Call to Mind: You know what the dude in the card is telling himself? "I wouldn't mind paying 1 more mana for a 1/2 body."
- Tidings: 4 cards is great, but you're usually ripping through your deck/recurring effects enough that this isn't really needed.
- Time Reversal: Oh boy oh boy oh boy. I hope I can draw this so I can really get all those Jace turbo-mill builds really good!
- Cerulean Sphinx: This card would be a lot better if it read: If Cerulean Sphinx is in your opening hand, reveal it, shuffle it into your sideboard, and go get a better card. Yes, even a Kraken Hatchling fits the bill.
- Flow of Ideas: 6+ cards is even better tidings, but again, the idea here is you don't really need this.
- Recurring Insight: Not the most consistent of cards. For a card and 6 mana sometimes you get a double Divination and sometimes you go big and hit a double Tidings. Still better ways to draw cards with this deck though.
- Day of Dragons: You know the turn you cast this all your shiny new dragons are summoning sick, right? I'd rather swipe a game out of nowhere with the admittedly less-offensively (and again, CHEAPER) but more defensively-impressive Gravitational Shift.
- Goliath Sphinx: Whether your bowl has 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream in it, or 10, it doesn't change the fact that it's still vanilla.
- Sphinx-Bone Wand: If you sphinx this card actually won you more than 1% of the games in which it was actually cast, you're wrong. In all likelihood your opponent was already boned. Just in case you were wandering.
0 (0): None
6+ (2): 2x Chancellor of the Spires
17 creatures, 18 other spells, 25x Island (48.6%/51.4%)
- 2x Hedron Crab: (Basically) free milling. It can turn on Jace's Phantasm and Body Double by itself fairly quickly. It can carry a sword. It costs one. This Hedron is totally solid, not just geometrically. Run both.
- 4x Jace's Phantasm: You're actually going to win with damage more than milling with this build, and this is the guy that's going to do it. Run all 4 and picture them in some kind of bizarro Ghostbusters outfits.
- 2x Unsummon: You gotta have some time to set things up, right?
- 2x Counterspell: Quite possibly the best 2 mana counter ever printed? Run both.
- 2x Into the Roil: Remember, this hits non-land permanents as well. Bounce their sword kill their guy? Seems fine. You don't always have to kick it, but you're usually better off waiting to do so.
- 2x Mind Sculpt: There's no need to run all of these as this isn't a dedicated mill deck, but it can help turn on a Phantasm by turn 2. Head massages turn me on too.
- 3x Crippling Chill: It's your sorta/kinda Unsummon/Adept that cantrips. Cast this on your opponent's turn on a creature not affected by summoning sickness and cost that creature 2 more attack steps. You can cast this on your own turn as well if you're desperate to hit a land drop, or if you want to force in some damage or something, but it's not something I would normally recommend.
- 1x Dream Fracture: Hey, it's another counter, even though both you and your opponent are cantripping. Worth the drawback as it's slim pickings here.
- 1x Stroke of Genius: Who needs those Mines and Fonts? I want to be the only one drawing cards. Also: Instant. Speed.
- 2x Sword of Body and Mind: Ahhh, turn your utility guys into absolute animals, that make other animals. One hit is usually devastating as it activates all your Phantasms from that point forward unless you're playing some weirdo running Elixir of Immortality or Time Reversal.
- 2x Clone: If you can't beat them, join them.
- 3x Dreamborn Muse: If you're gonna win through mill, aside from repeated sword hits, this is gonna be the card you muse. Don't go dropping multiples of this if your opponent is only sitting on 2 cards while you've got a grip of 5. Milling yourself out is just embarrassing.
- 1x Icy Manipulator: One is fine. Nice for keeping a dude locked down every turn (for 1 mana) or stunting an opponent's development by keeping a mana tapped down on "upkeep" (though this game really doesn't have that phase). It's even fine for tapping down an opponent's Mine or Font so they don't get to draw extra cards.
- 1x Archive Trap: Well, it's either this or Traumatize. The latter will usually hit for more cards, but the former is instant speed and is sometimes free. Trap is really the only "combat trick" we have in the deck as well. Also: Admiral Ackbar > YuGiOh
- 2x Body Double: We're not a dedicated mill deck, but we certainly don't mind it when we can sometimes pull out our opponent's bombs with this for 5 mana, or even something of ours in a pinch.
- 1x Mind Control: 1 is fine, as sometimes you just need to straight up TAKE something that's already hit the battlefield. Don't lose control of your mind and strap a sword on a creature you take though.
- 2x Chancellor of the Spires: Not a finisher per se, but the difference between this and say, something like Goliath Sphinx is that his ETB ability is pretty sweet *most* of the time. Don't be a nerd and try to cast an opponent's Mutilate though, you want to aspires for something more. You also get to live the dream sometimes swinging with a 5/5 flyer on turn 2.
THE WHY NOTS:
- Grindstone: Even disregarding the fact that all these decks are STACKED with land, do you really want to pay a 3 mana activation cost to maybe hit 4 or 6? Unless your deck has Painter's Servant in it, I can't see why you'd ever run this.
- Prosperity: I guess it's fine in a turbo-mill deck with Jace's Erasure and Dreamborn Muse and the like, mega-buffing a Sturmgeist, or decking your opponent. But outside of that, I just never want my opponents to draw extra cards, and I'm not completely dedicated to A MILLI A MILLI here.
- Thought Scour: Sure the cantrip is fine, but where does wasting a slot in your deck to mill for 2 really get you? Thoughts?
- Visions of Beyond: The Mariah Carey invitational cantrip. A 1 mana cantrip is usually all it ever is.
- Grindclock: How is this even good in TURBO-mill builds? You know it has "grind" in it's name, right?
- Howling Mine: Like hundreds have echoed before me, the best thing you can be doing in a game of Magic besides winning the game, is drawing extra cards. I don't want my opponent to draw extra cards, synergies be damned.
- Jace's Erasure: Since I don't like my opponent's to draw cards with Mines and Fonts (and Forced Fruition), and the only card draw we really have is cantripping off Crippling Chill and Into the Roil and casting Stroke of Genius. I'm not gonna lie, I like me some Erasure from time to time, just not Jace's version.
- Sands of Delirium: Nice alternate win condition I guess, if nothing's going on. When there's stuff to DEAL WITH, what is this doing exactly? If you're turbo-mill, don't your other cards do more for less?
- Sleep: So you cost your opponent an attack step for one turn. Maybe you even had the fortune of casting this AND leaving counter magic up. Now what?
- Vedalken Entrancer: Like their brethren in the Blue Man Group, it takes about an hour and a half for their performance to be over.
- Scalpelexis: Yeah, sometimes you get lucky and exile 20+ cards and your opponent becomes scalpoplectic with rage, most others he just not-quite Tome Scours your opponent, but, with the exiling, you lose utility with Phantasm, Chancellor, and Body Double.
- Sturmgeist: Drawing a card when you hit is nice, but since we're not putting those Mines and Fonts here, a lot of the time all you're really getting is a little bit more expensive Thieving Magpie, with a little bit more power. Sturm and hot Drang that's exciting! (not really)
- Telemin Performance: Yes, it technically mills too, but sometimes you hit the jackpot and sometimes you just guaranteed your child 100K in student loan debt. Too risky.
- Traumatize: It's either this or Archive Trap I suppose...and I like instant speed mill 13 (sometimes for free...and sometimes a wacky combat trick) more than the volume of cards you'd hit with this in a non turbo mill build.
- Forced Fruition: 6 mana is a lot to let your opponent get a "free" Griselbrand-effect every time they cast a spell. Sometimes all they need is to find that one answer after drawing 7...leave this to the turbo-millers.
- Isleback Spawn: This dude is pissed that a Crab gets to hold a Sword and he doesn't.
Note these are not my decklists. I couldn't be bothered writing my own. In fact, I own neither an x-box, nor an ipad, and am unlikely to climb to the heady height that is the TOP TEN THOUSAND!!!! In these formats.