I looked back a few pages and didn't see a thread for AD, so I thought I'd start one.
The main reason I wanted to post my decklist here is because I've seen a lot of people online playing it and using the wrong cards. After lots of playtesting with it, I am certain there is an optimal build that really don't have much room for deviation.
There's really two ways to focus this deck. You can go for a creature oriented build or you can go for ramp. To be honest, the creature build is crap. It's smaller creatures are easy to deal with and you have no other advantage except a single Levitation
to support them. So, I present you with UG Ramp, Magic 2012 style:
4 x Coiling Oracle
4 x Explore
1 x Compulsive Research
2 x Explosive Vegetation
2 x Skyshroud Claim
2 x Ondu Giant
3 x Living Destiny
1 x Levitation
1 x Rite of Replication
3 x Aether Mutation
1 x Mind Control
2 x Tidings
1 x Primeval Titan
2 x Simic Sky Swallower
1 x Isleback Spawn
1 x Lorthos, the Tidemaker
1 x Yavimaya's Embrace
1 x Inkwell Leviathan
1 x Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
1 x Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
13 x Island
12 x Forest
2 x Kracken Hatchling
2 x New Frontiers
3 x Cultivate
1 x Edric, Spymaster of Trest
2 x Assault Zephelid
2 x Giant Octopus
1 x Levitation
3 x Aether Mutation
This deck is really broken down into phases. Phase 1 (two lands), get a 2-drop off. You have 4 x Explore
and 4 x Coiling Oracle
(least reliable) to get you to Phase 2(4 lands). You'll need to cast one of the following (in order of preference): Skyshroud Claim
, Explosive Vegetation
, Ondu Giant
. Note also that if you have two more of your two drops, they can virtually do the same thing.
This gets you to Phase 3 (6-7 land). This is where you'll have the option to drop a fatty, gain life to buy you some more time, bounce a creature, ramp some more, Mind control
a creature and/or draw cards. When safe, you'll usually ramp some more and draw cards to get you to the next phase. Sometimes you'll need to take a couple of turns to cast Living Destiny
or Aether Mutation
to keep you alive or use a Mind Control
depending on the board situation. Let me stop right here and say I hate life gain cards. I generally don't want to play them because at heart I am an aggressive player and always want to play aggressive cards. However, I am also a scientist, so I'm willing to test anything. After seeing it buy me those extra turns in situations where I'd normally be dead, I was sold. You'll often get 7-11 life out of it at instant speed. Mind Control
is another card that gives you a lot of options. You generally want to take the creature that poses the biggest threat to you, but sometimes you just want to take the creature that is boosting your opponent the most or the creature he has that will be the hardest for him to deal with. It all depends on your life total. If you happen to have Primeval Titan
now it's usually a safe bet unless your life total is threatened on the next attack.
Now, you get to Phase 4 (8+ land). Here, you should be ready to cast a large creature (and not a moment too soon) in order to start controlling the board. At this point, it's pretty self-explanitory. Drop a fatties and take board control. There isn't much to talk about here other than Rite of Replication
. Rite of Replication
can often be a one card combo by itself with it's kicker ability and this is the kind of card that makes you want to play this deck. Much like Mind Control
and Yavimaya's Embrace
it can take your opponent's nastiest creatures and use them against him. The best targets for this are generally creatures with lifelink. There are so many other good targets for this though. One other thing to note about it, you can use it without kicker to kill a Legendary creature. It immediately make a copy of it and both simultaneously die. Also note that since many of your fatties have either Legendary or Shroud, the only creature of your own that you want to copy is Primeval Titan
So, in summary, you should generally be looking at hitting your phases at these times unless something distrupts you:
Phase 1 - Turn 2
Phase 2 - Turn 3
Phase 3 - Turn 4 (although sometimes you'll need to Living Destiny
here to stay alive)
Phase 4 - Turn 5-6
One caveat though, getting to Phase 4 doesn't mean you'll auto-win. Not all of your fatties are created equal and can lead to some randomness. Also, going 1st greatly increases your chances of winning, even against the best decks. I know it's not something you can't control, but realize that it's a blessing when it happens.
Now that we've covered that, let's look at some individual match-ups.
This should be a good match-up for you. Most UF are oriented to kill smaller creatures so you won't see a card like Lava Axe
or Goblin War Paint
as they aren't good against the other small creature decks. You can occasionally loose to early Kiln Fiend
draws as it only takes 3 direct burn cards with a fiend on the board to kill you by turn 5. The real all-star in this match-up for you is Living Destiny
. You'd be amazed at how much harder it is for UF to deal 28 damage instead of 20.
This is another match-up where you should be favored because of Living Destiny
. AP doesn't have enough of it's key cards to get an Overrun
off consistently on turn 5-6 and past that it can be too late. In order for AP to beat you, it needs to get a 2-drop (only has access to 4), a 3-drop and another drop on the 4th turn before it Overrun
s. Even then, you won't always swing for a kill at that point, and a Living Destiny
can make it even worse. The creatures in AP are generally higher casting cost than the other decks (except for AD or course) and are good targets for Aether Mutation
as most of them also don't have trample.
Here is an interesting match-up. I don't believe AD is favored in this match-up, but it can get interesting if they don't fly out of the gate with a nuts draw. They will generally beat you by dropping fast and efficient creatures and kill you before you can get your ramp up. Living Destiny
can help, but sometimes isn't enough. Cards like Kor Duelist
and Sunspear Shikari
with equipment can be too fast for you. You will win in this match-up mostly because you went 1st and your opponent didn't get his double-strike or lifelink up quickly and even then sometimes you can still loose. You really have no answer for things like Turn 2 Stoneforge Mystic
or Kor Duelist
with Sword of War and Peace
But, let's focus on winning. You're keys to winning this match is to take advantage if they have a slower start and work your control cards to their fullest. That means hitting Aether Mutation
on a 3-drop like Gideon's Avenger
or Kor Hookmaster
. Hookmaster is more of a challenge because you need to have a creature in play in order to make your opponent play it. Coiling Oracle
and Ondu Giant
are good for this. Also, you're phase 3 will usually involve playing a Living Destiny
in order to stay alive. You're really waiting to get control (aka make your opponent stop attacking you) by either playing Shroud fatties or using Rite of Replication
on one of his better creatures, namely Gideon's Avenger
or Kor Hookmaster
but if it gets that far also Serra Angel
and Baneslayer Angel
. You could also get a win by flying over with Levitation
Realm of Illusion:
Very bad match-up for AD. Small creatues that become bigger backed by counter magic is bad. Counter magic in general screws with AD as it literally has no way to deal with it other than playing through it and that's not a good plan if there are creatures attacking you every turn.
You have to slow him down. The cards you can do that with will be Ondu Giant
, Mind Control
, Living Destiny
and to a lesser extent Aether Mutation
. Lord of the Unreal
makes using Aether Mutation
difficult, so he's your main Mind Control
target. Mind Control
usually won't stick as Illusions tends to run bounce, but you can use this opportunity to force your opponent to use tap mana and use cards which can allow you to force through your better creatures or Rite of Replication
. If you can make it to the late game, you'll have a few options as to how to finish your opponent. Obviously, you can try to overcome him with the raw power of your fatties, but that can be difficult because of Illusion's counter magic. Your 4 Shroud fatties earn their keep if you can get them on the table as Illusions only has one option
to deal with them. You can also use a Rite of Replication
on a good target as well.
Strength of Stone:
You should be favored here. Generally by the time they can get something threatening to you, you can steal it with control magic cards or just flat out overpower it with fatties. Living Destiny
earns it's spot here as well. Keep in mind though that SoS has access to Act of Treason
and that can turn the tide on you very quickly so you want to prioritize your Shroud creatures. The worst thing SoS can do is Koth's Courier
and follow it up with Claws of Valakut
. That isn't as consistent as you'll be at getting Shroud fatties out.
Guardians of the Wood:
This is another intersting match-up for AD. I do think the Elves are a more potent deck than AD, but you aren't as helpless in this match as you are in others. Living Destiny
can keep in involved in games where they are just throwing cheap down elves and attacking. However, Elves has a lot of bombs to either ramp up elves or pump them up. The better Elf builds will need to use the removal because it can help win some of the top tier match-ups but it makes the deck slower overall and that can allow you the opportunity to control the game. The better builds also play Heedless One
which is a 4 CMC card that nets 4 token from Aether Mutation
. The best card you'll have against Elves is generally Rite of Replication
as it can do so much for you. Think of what happens when you have 5 x Imperious Perfect
or 5 x Heedless One
on your board. As long as you copy one of your oponent's better cards, he'll be hard pressed to use Maelstrom Pulse
. Beyond that, you'll win by stealing key creatures off of their board and attacking with your Shroud fatties.
In my opinion AD should be favored, but it depends on the list of DR. Mono-red is better against you because of the fast damage from the Goblins that will generally be unopposed. Living Destiny
can help you but if they get out a dragon on turn 4-5 followed by a Volcanic Dragon
on their next turn, it can be too much damage for you to deal with. Aether Mutation
can be especially good if you have a Levitation
in play as you can easily get 6 tokens off of AM and your dorks can easily block the dragons.
If you're playing against the BR version, you should done well. It's not fast enough to overcome a Living Destiny
and by the time they get a dragon out, you might have a Simic Sky Swallower
to block it. Overall, both builds can occasionally get a nuts draw of turn 3 Dragonspeaker Shaman
followed by dragons on turn 4-6. You'll loose to that occasionally. Also realize that DR doesn't recover well if you control magic a dragon. Also note that if you kick Rite of Replication
on Volcanic Dragon
you score an easy 20 damage.
Very bad match-up. Not much advice i can give except that most of my wins against Vamps have been due to Mind Control
and Rite of Replication
. Even then, you may not survive long enough to cast them even with getting off a Living Destiny
. Most Vamps bulds run all of the creature removal, so upon occasion they'll get too much of that and you'll survive long enough to actually get to the late game.
To those that think this deck is overpowered, it is. Anyone who thinks it's balanced doesn't understand the metagame. This deck has 5 unconditional targeted removal and 2 that force a sacrifice to get around shroud. On top of that, you've got to deal with lifelink, death touch, and evasion. And just when you think you have everything under control, he drops a Captivating Vampire
. Just realize your win rate against BH won't be so good.
Machinations come in different varieties. The small quick creature version is probably the worst for AD to deal with. The UB version isn't as bad. All versions of Machinations can drop a quick Steel Overseer
and a few cheap creatures for an easy win. However, it's not that consistent. Unless you're playing the small creature version, Machinations is a clock deck and you have to realize your clock is faster. You'll be way more consistent than Machinations overall and should be favored. The worst they can do is put Darksteel Plate
on a Wurcoil Engine
. You can just cast multiple fatties and attack with your fatties. Try to save your Coiling Oracle
and Ondu Giant
so you don't run into a Dispensing Justice
and you'll be fine.
Overall, I think AD has tested a lot better than people give it credit for. AD appeals to the Timmy, Power Gamer
in all of us. When optimized for ramp, the inclusion of Living Destiny
can push it over the limit. I used to think AD was the worst deck but after testing it more and trying out Living Destiny
, I easily think it's the 5th best deck. It is actually a lot more consistent than the lower tier decks but you don't beat the decks above you with any consistency. You can hang with WS and Elves most of the time but those decks are capable of nuts draws that kill you in 5-6 turns. Illusions and Vamps just don't play fair. Happy Spellcasting.