Monday, September 9, 2013

Monday Magic - Dragonshift!

Since I opened my first copy of Dragonshift during the Dragon's Maze pre-release, I have wanted to build a nasty Izzet deck with Dragonshift as the main win condition.  During my various Dragon's Maze shenanigans, I managed to acquire a full playset, which makes the dragon deck even more appealing.

The final straw came from seeing my favorite Magic Online streamer, callmechalk, build a pretty cheap (and surprisingly effective) Dragonshift deck, so I've given in and ordered my first set of singles online (it's not a huge investment, though, as some friends had given me a monetary gift with the provision that I only spend it to order cards).

Anyway, here's the deck, with primary credit going to chalk for smashing face with a very similar deck online.

Goblin Electromancer
Young Pyromancer

Battle Hymn
Think Twice

Faithless Looting
Krenko's Command
Molten Birth

7 Island
12 Mountain
Sulfur Falls

The basic strategy is pretty straightforward: Generate a bunch of tokens using the Pyromancers, Krenko's Command, and Molten Birth; use the Electromancer to make those spells cheaper, then Overload Dragonshift to end the game in a hurry.

Cards like Think Twice and Faithless Looting not only help find pieces of the combo that you need, they do double duty with the Pyromancers, making tokens when flashed back.  Battle Hymn raises the funds necessary to blast Dragonshift, and Shock cheaply generates tokens through Pyromancers while serving as early-game protection from pesky creatures.

While this deck is generally aggressive, looking just to get 5 or 6 tokens in play to overwhelm your opponent in one attack, Teleportal serves as a slower late-game win condition, if you can get to the point of having ten creatures in play (and you're desperate).

Teleportal is probably weakest link, followed perhaps by the Electromancers or Shocks, as those don't contribute as directly to the game plan, but I think it works pretty well as is.  Plus I don't have anything that seems to fit better, so I'll run with this for now.

As for the dual lands - I included some copies of Sulfur Falls primarily because they're pretty cheap right now; the more recently printed Steam Vents is nearly three times more costly.  I think Steam Vents are really only preferable if your starting hand has only nonbasic lands, as in that case, the Falls are guaranteed to play slowly.  Otherwise, I think Vents would be unnecessary, so I can justify the cost.

For an added bonus, this deck is currently Standard-legal, at least for a couple more weeks.  Get in there and dominate Friday Night Magic while you can!

To close it out, I want to plug callmechalk again, both for his fun stream and for the deck inspiration (and most, if not all, of the list, I honestly can't remember exactly what his Dragonshift deck runs).  Check him out if you're into Magic Online streams.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Monday Magic - Bruna the Aura Collector (EDH)

As I have gotten more experience with the EDH format, I've wanted to start using a somewhat less standard deck.  The two decks I've used to the point (Varolz, the Scar-Striped and Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius) follow a relatively simple formula: play big nasty creatures and try to capitalize on the commander's gimmick.

Instead of building a deck that emphasizes beefy creatures, I decided that I wanted to use Bruna, Light of Alabaster as my commander.  The game plan is thus very different - buff Bruna enough to get one-hit kills on my opponents.  Running an aura-heavy deck should make Bruna a significant threat the moment she hits the field, and removal isn't a problem, as she's able to grab auras from my graveyard.

This strategy is significantly more technical than the other decks I've built, so it's going to require a lot of tweaking to get right.  (It doesn't help that I don't have too many excellent blue or white auras...)

When choosing cards for this deck, I tried to keep three basic things in mind:

First, and most obviously, I need to run a bunch of things that pump Bruna.  Along with auras, I've included some other enchantments (like True Conviction) and a few creatures that synergize with enchantments (like Mesa Enchantress).  Since I'm expecting Bruna to draw a lot of hate, I've also included a couple ways to give her haste or hexproof (Swiftfoot Boots does both) to help mitigate the damage.

Second, Bruna's converted mana cost of 6 makes her a rather late addition to the battlefield, so I need to make sure I survive long enough to get her into play.  To keep with the enchantment theme, I've tried to include passive deterrents to attack (Sphere of Safety fits well, but other effects like Dissipation Field and the much less enchanted Norn's Annex seem good, too) in lieu of powerful blockers.  I figure this is the biggest hole in my current gameplan, but we'll have to see how it works out.

Third, I need to cycle through my deck to grab as many auras as possible, and I need to make sure I hit land drops (because I expect to be spending a lot of mana to revive Bruna repeatedly).  Tossing auras into my graveyard isn't a problem, as Bruna can fetch them from there, so I've included a number of ways to cycle cards out of my hand to run through my deck (I think Merfolk Looter is the most efficient), plus some general deck stacking (like Petals of Insight).

I think the whole thing comes together reasonably well, leading to a deck that is pretty cohesive.  I have a couple ways to deal with some of my biggest threats (exiling my graveyard totally castrates me, so I'm running things like Stony Silence to block some common graveyard hate).

Here's the current build:

Bruna, Light of Alabaster

Avacyn, Angel of Hope
Elgaud Shieldmate
Isperia, Supreme Judge
Kor Sanctifiers
Luminate Primordial
Merfolk Looter
Mesa Enchantress
Murder of Crows
Spectral Gateguards
Stoneforge Mystic
Urbis Protector

Banishing Stroke
Sphinx's Revelation
Think Twice

Divine Reckoning
Heed the Mists
Petals of Insight

Azorius Cluestone
Azorius Keyrune
Fieldmist Borderpost
Mask of Avacyn
Norn's Annex
Swiftfoot Boots

Angelic Destiny
Cloak of Mists
Dissipation Field
Divine Favor
Drake Umbra
Eel Umbra
Eldrazi Conscription
Ethereal Armor
Ghostly Touch
Green Scarab
Holy Mantle
Honden of Seeing Winds
Indomitable Will
Knightly Valor
Mind Control
Murder Investigation
Oblivion Ring
Orim's Prayer
Psychic Surgery
Righteous Authority
Sigil of Sleep
Spectral Flight
Sphere of Safety
Spirit Mantle
Stony Silence
Traveler's Cloak
Tricks of the Trade
True Conviction
Volition Reins
Way of the Thief

Venser, the Sojourner

Azorius Guildgate
17 Island
22 Plains

Assuming I can survive the first several turns, this deck seems like it'll be a solid threat, and I think it'll be a lot of fun to play.  There's still some fat that could be trimmed, as I've included some cards that don't fit with the above considerations or deal with direct threats (or at least, they don't deal with threats very well), but I don't think I own any cards that would fit into the theme more comfortably.   I also need to get some more powerful auras (I'd definitely like to replace things like Divine Favor).  Maybe some other changes will become clear as I test the deck a bit.