Categories
Magic

Magic the Gathering: Deck Design: Tokens!! and CardForge

I just finished making a page on an open source MTG card simulator project written in Java, go check it out, and download it. If you’re a developer, feel free to contribute as well.

Theme:
So today’s deck is called Tokens!!! It focuses on using repeatable token generating effects to overwhelm your opponent. It’s an all green deck, but can be splashed for white, since G/W has the best token generating cards.

Lands: (17/60)
In addition to forests, I have 3 Oran-rief, The Vastwood because they make EVERY token that you create get bigger. Cavern of Souls prevent your Elves from being countered, and Gaea’s Cradle is just insane, period.

//Lands:17
3 Oran-rief, The Vastwood
1 Pendelhaven
4 Cavern of Souls
2 Gaea’s Cradle
7 Forest

Creatures: (26/60)
Most of these great token generating creatures actually come from Elves. Llanowar Elves and Elvish Mystic provide mana. Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary is one of the greatest mana generating cards ever printed.
Essence Warden is a terrific life gainer. And the line-up of token generating elves is huge:
Imperious Perfect, Rhys the Redeemed, Wolf-Skull Shaman, and Wirewood Hivemaster.

//Creatures:26
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Elvish Mystic
1 Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary
4 Essence Warden
4 Imperious Perfect
1 Rhys the Redeemed
4 Wolf-Skull Shaman
4 Wirewood Hivemaster

Non Creature Spells: (17/60)
These non creature token generating spells are definitely a pain for opponents. Presence of Gond and Squirrel Nest generate at least one token every turn, and the latter actually generates infinite tokens combined with Earthcraft. Beacon of Creation is actually repeatable, since it goes back in the deck after use. Skullclamp and Spawning Pit will keep the card drawing and token generating going, respectively. Garruk Relentless and Garruk Wildspeaker round out the deck with some synergistic planeswalkers.

Final Decklist

//Lands:17
3 Oran-rief, The Vastwood
1 Pendelhaven
4 Cavern of Souls
2 Gaea’s Cradle
7 Forest

//Creatures:26
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Elvish Mystic
1 Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary
4 Essence Warden
4 Imperious Perfect
1 Rhys the Redeemed
4 Wolf-Skull Shaman
4 Wirewood Hivemaster

//Non-Creatures: 17
2 Presence of Gond
4 Squirrel Nest
2 Earthcraft
3 Beacon of Creation
2 Spawning Pit
2 Skullclamp
1 Garruk Relentless
1 Garruk Wildspeaker

And thats it! Another fun, casual, multiplayer deck to play around with. Feel free to add Priest of Titania for additional mana generation, Eldrazi Monument for indestructible tokens, and Master of the Wild Hunt, Parallel Lives or Growing Ranks for additional token generation.

Categories
Magic

Magic the Gathering: Deck Design: Venser (Flicker) deck

In Magic the Gathering, 187 or Blink creatures are creatures that trigger abilities when they enter the battlefield (comes into play). The recent Magic Expansion Avacyn Restored have alot of cards that work well with cards that enter the battlefield. Hence I began making a deck that I call the Venser or Flicker deck. The reason why to call it Flicker is because the first card that made creatures go off and onto the battlefield without recasting is called Flicker and since then, this effect has been called ‘Flickering’ creatures in and out of the battlefield. Of course, the deck is based around a Planeswalker card called Venser, which you will read more about below.

Theme:
Like my Persist deck, I like to build decks that are fun to play, yet reasonably powerful. I don’t like decks that are too weak, or too strong. Basically I’m going to exploit the triggered ability of creatures that enter the battlefield repeatedly to create card advantage.

Lands: (20/60)
Every one of my 60 card decks have about 20 land. For this deck, I relied on a blue/white mana base since alot of blinking creatures are in blue and white. Hence I have 8 cards that are blue/white dual lands.

//Lands:20
4 Glacial Fortress
4 Hallowed Fountain
6 Island
6 Plains

Creatures: (18/60)
For creatures, I just put creatures that are blue/white, reasonably cheap, and have a good effect when they enter the battlefield. I also tend to favor creatures that slow my opponent’s board development down. Wall of Omens is a good card drawing engine, and is much faster to cast than Mulldrifter, which I was also considering. Blade Splicer is going to be my card of choice for doing damage, and Gilded Drake is incredibly powerful, stealing opponent’s creatures for free! I also needed a way to gain life. Between Kitchen Finks and Aven Riftwatcher, I chose the Finks, just because its better at beatdown. Riftwing Cloudskate is my last major card, since it can bounce anything back to an opponent for 2 mana and 3 turns, or 5 mana. Man-o’-War didn’t have as much versatility. And of course, the best bouncer in the game, Venser, Shaper Savant because its amazing – it can counter spells and bounce anything back, it’s Riftwing Cloudskate on steroids. I also put a single copy of Restoration Angel in to fit the theme of the deck.

//Creatures:18
4 Wall of Omens
Kitchen Finks
3 Gilded Drake
3 Blade Splicer
3 Riftwing Cloudskate
1 Venser, Shaper Savant
1 Restoration Angel

There are other creatures I could’ve considered. Fog Bank and Wall of Denial are amazing cards for defense. Stonecloaker is good against graveyard decks, Glen Elendra Archmage can single handedly wing a game for you if you keep blinking her, and the aforementioned Mulldrifter, Man-o’-War and Aven Riftwatcher are also good choices for the deck. Galepowder Mage is also worth considering, though a bit slow.

Non Creature Spells: (22/60)
The final third of the deck are non creature spells. Here, I mainly focused on cards that slow down an opponent, and focused mostly on defense. The centerpiece of the deck is Venser, the Sojourner. This guy kicks ass. He flickers any permanent you have, and is basically the win condition for the deck. I have 3 copies each of Crystal Shard and Erratic Portal which function for both offense and defense, AND returns my own creatures to my hand so I can re-use their abilities. Parallax Wave has been amazing for this deck because it exiles creatures for free, and can be used the same way as the Shard and the Portal. Umbilicus, Blood Clock and Equilibrium are obscure Magic cards that I put in this deck; nobody expects them and they get really annoyed once I play them. Simultaneously returning my creatures back to re-use their abilities for free while slowing down my opponent? sounds great. I also have copies of Propaganda and Ghostly Prison for slowing an opponents attackers down. I’ve had opponents had to pay 6 mana(!) before just to attack with one creature which I just return to their hand. It’s great. Finally, I have one of the best commons ever made: Rhystic Study. So, every spell an opponent plays costs one more or I get to draw a card? It’s just ridiculously good, especially in multiplayer. So the final decklist:

//Lands:20
4 Glacial Fortress
4 Hallowed Fountain
6 Forest
6 Plains

//Creatures:18
4 Wall of Omens
Kitchen Finks
3 Gilded Drake
3 Blade Splicer
3 Riftwing Cloudskate
1 Venser, Shaper Savant
1 Restoration Angel

//Non-Creatures: 22
3 Crystal Shard
3 Erratic Portal
3 Parallax Wave
Blood Clock or Umbilicus
2 Equilibrium
Propaganda
2 Ghostly Prison
2 Venser, the Sojourner
3 Rhystic Study

And thats it! Another fun, casual, multiplayer deck to play around with. As you can imagine, this deck takes a while to win, and is incredibly annoying to play against. Imagine paying one mana extra for each spell you cast, then paying an additional 4 mana to attack with each creature, then having mana open in case it gets returned to your hand, which probably will happen anyway because of Venser and Cloudskate. I pride myself on having built such an annoying yet effective deck :). Of course, cards like Otherworldly Journey and Momentary Blink are one shot effects to immediately gain the 187 effect. Conjurer’s Closet is basically a colorless Venser, which I should test with. To make this deck even more defensive, you can add in more copies of Norn’s Annex, Dissipation Field, Collective Restraint, Parallax Tide, Crawlspace, Teferi’s Moat, Propaganda, Ghostly Prison, and the rest of the cards. You can also add in Jace, the Mind Sculptor, who is really good in this deck, but also very expensive (being one of the best cards in Magic). Tamiyo, the Moon Sage can also work, though not as good as Jace. You can of course add Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir and more copies of 2 Venser, the Sojourner. Angelic Chorus can be an alternative to gaining life. Sensei’s Divining Top is good in ANY deck, especially control decks. Finally, to make this deck 200% more annoying, please add in Tangle Wire, Sphere of Resistance, Lodestone Golem, Smokestack, Trinisphere, Thorn of Amethyst, Static Orb, Mishra’s Helix, Rishadan Port and your usual BS cards that will make your opponent hate you :).

Edit: I’ve made a Modern legal version below:

//Lands:20
4 Glacial Fortress
4 Hallowed Fountain
6 Forest
6 Plains

//Creatures:22
4 Wall of Omens
4 Fog Bank
Kitchen Finks
4 Blade Splicer
2 Riftwing Cloudskate
1 Venser, Shaper Savant
1 Restoration Angel
1 Glen Elendra Archmage
2 Phyrexian Metamorph

//Non-Creatures: 18
4 Crystal Shard
Blood Clock
4 Ghostly Prison
2 Venser, the Sojourner
1 Jace Beleren
1 Jace, Architect of Thought
1 Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
1 Elspeth Tirel
1 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion

Categories
Magic

Magic the Gathering: Deck Design: Persist deck

From my Last Magic article, I want to continue talking about how I build my decks.

Theme:
So, I don’t like building decks that are too powerful that win on the first turn (like my Hulk flash deck), because they aren’t fun to play against. Nor do I like to build crappy decks that always lose. I like to strive for the middle. A good combination of cards that are fun to play, and have some neat combo flavor to it (I’m a Johnny player). So every deck has a theme to it. A bunch of cards that work well together. I call this deck Persistence is Futile because it uses the mechanic Persist. Basically, any creature with Persist has the ability to come back from the graveyard after it dies with a -1/-1 counter on it. If it dies with a -1/-1 counter on it, it doesn’t come back. I’m going to exploit this mechanic to make a deck.

Lands: (20/60)
So by rule, every constructed deck I play is 60 cards, no more, no less. This is the optimal number of cards. The optimal number of lands is about 1/3, or 20 cards. So 20 cards are lands. Since a lot of hard to kill creatures with Persist reside in Green/White, I choose to use Green/White as my mana base. So what lands are good for green/white? Temple GardenRazorverge Thicket both give green white so I’ll put those in. Since persist also works well with +1/+1 counters (which cancel out -1/-1 counters), I’ll put Oran-Rief, the Vastwood in, which I can use to make my persist creatures near invincible by cancelling out -1/-1 counters. Since there are a number of nonbasic lands, I don’t want to use Sunpetal Grove, Windswept Heath or Brushland since they are suboptimal for this deck. I will put in one Yavimaya Hollow because its legendary, and it can regenerate my creatures, making them even harder to kill, and round out the rest of the mana curve with plains and forest. I have more plains because I’m going to be using more white cards. So the decklist so far looks like:

//Lands:20
4 Razorverge Thicket
4 Temple Garden
4 Oran-Rief, the Vastwood
6 Plains
1 Forest
1 Yavimaya Hollow

Creatures: (20/60)
For creatures, this becomes fairly simple. Put mostly creatures with persist, along with a few additional creatures that can come back after they die. So G/W creatures with persist are Safehold EliteKitchen Finks, and Heartmender, which I will put in since they have synergy with the theme. I will not put 4 Heartmender since they are a bit costly at 4 mana. I will also put in 4 Epochrasite as they come back 3 turns after they are killed. Some Eternal Witness are also nice to bring back some non creature cards back. A single Mikaeus, the Lunarch helps distribute +1/+1 counters, and Melira, Sylvok Outcast single-handedly makes persistence creatures invincible if she isn’t killed. So the creatures:

//Creatures:20
4 Safehold Elite
Kitchen Finks
4 Epochrasite
3 Heartmender
3 Eternal Witness
1 Mikaeus, the Lunarch
1 Melira, Sylvok Outcast

There are other creatures I could’ve considered. Green/White has a lot of creatures that are generally hard to kill, but I considered all the options. Troll Ascetic and Thrun, the Last Troll are hard to kill but require 2 mana open to regenerate. Mother of Runes requires one turn to be able to tap due to summoning sickness. Glory and Genesis are doable, but requires some mana open and a way to get them to the graveyard. Forgotten Ancient requires multiplayer to really shine. Vengevine needs more creature spells to be cast. Spawnwrithe needs to hit the player at least once. Phytohydra is too costly. Darksteel Myr doesn’t have any power. Anurid Brushhopper needs 2 cards to discard. Phantom Nantuko, Cho-manno, RevolutionaryWeatherseed Treefolk and Commander Eesha while durable, still doesn’t fit well into this deck’s theme. So there’s not much room for changing cards here.

Non Creature Spells: (20/60)
The final third of the deck are non creature spells. Here, there can be lots of options. I wanted some ways to get rid of creatures and permanents. Swords to Plowshares and Oblivion Ring will do fine here. A way to protect creatures from hate is needed. Lightning Greaves is the standard way to do that. Power Conduit is the combo card I use with Persist, So I’ll put 4 of those in. Since the creatures are going to be hard to kill, it wouldn’t hurt to add Worship and Luminarch Ascension in as well. Cream of the Crop is going in as a one of, since it works better than Sensei’s Divining Top in this deck. As for the remaining 3 slots, they are really debatable, but I’ll put Umezawa’s JitteGarruk WildspeakerElspeth, Knight-Errant, just because they’re good in any deck. So the final decklist:

//Lands:20
4 Razorverge Thicket
4 Temple Garden
4 Oran-Rief, the Vastwood
6 Plains
1 Forest
1 Yavimaya Hollow

//Creatures:20
4 Safehold Elite
Kitchen Finks
4 Epochrasite
3 Heartmender
3 Eternal Witness
1 Mikaeus, the Lunarch
1 Melira, Sylvok Outcast

//Non-Creatures: 20
3 Swords to Plowshares
3 Oblivion Ring
2 Luminarch Ascension
2 Lightning Greaves
Worship
4 Power Conduit
1 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
1 Garruk Wildspeaker
Umezawa’s Jitte
1 Cream of the Crop

And there you go! The construction of a fun, casual deck to play around with. Some of the more expensive cards can be swapped out. Swords can be replaced by Path to Exile. Greaves with Swiftfoot Boots. Jitte with Basilisk Collar (or Rancor, if you need a form of evasion). Temple Garden with Graypelt Refuge. Elspeth doesn’t have a good replacement, but Darksteel Plate can still make your critters indestructible, or Ajani Goldmane, which is generally easier to get than Elspeth, and fits well. If you want to make the deck legal for Modern format, you can replace Yavimaya Hollow and Genesis with something else. Add some more land in, or I would say Juniper Order Ranger if nothing else, since it fits so well :).

Edit: I decided I wasn’t using enough green in this deck, so I took them out and made the deck all white instead. I have three Mother of Runes and Glory to help protect creatures. Heliod, God of the Sun and Dawn Elemental cost 4 mana, but are very difficult to kill. Ajani Goldmane and Ajani, Caller of the Pride actually works much better in this deck too. And Story Circle makes it very hard for the opponent to get in damage. ALso, Kjeldoran Outpost is a really really good card. I have also thought about putting in Gift of Immortality or Indestructibility but haven’t figured out what to take out yet. So the final decklist is this:

All White Persist:

//Lands:20
3 Kjeldoran Outpost
3 Oran-Rief, the Vastwood
13 Plains
1 Kor Haven

//Creatures:21
4 Safehold Elite
Kitchen Finks
4 Epochrasite
3 Heartmender
3 Mother of Runes
1 Glory
1 Dawn Elemental
1 Heliod, God of the Sun

//Non-Creatures: 19
3 Swords to Plowshares
3 Oblivion Ring
2 Luminarch Ascension
Worship
4 Power Conduit
1 Ajani Goldmane
2 Ajani, Caller of the Pride
Story Circle