I honestly thought that I had lost the inspiration to build Type 2. The printing of Apocalypse had done little to inspire me... And if that set doesn't make you want to build new decks, then you just don't care too much about Constructed, do you?
I think part of the problem was that I got used to attacking an established metagame. The"beating Fires without losing to Rebels" puzzle was fun, and you flat-out knew what it would take for your choice of deck, rogue or no, to be competitive. Plunged into the uncertainty of post-Apocalypse Type 2, and not playing in any important tourneys to boot, I was not inspired to build.
I wasn't particularly inspired to build IBC, either. Basically, at the start of the IBC season (late July), I looked at what had been the top decks, and designed a deck that I hoped would give the established deck fits, and which no one else would be playing.
When you care more about originality then winning, you are not an inspired deckbuilder. The result of this folly was a R/W Sligh deck, and a much smaller Constructed rating. I had put in no effort to test the environment or to switch decks when I realized that mine wasn't matching up. I didn't care enough to test, and I paid for it.
Meanwhile, having Worlds in Toronto had given me a prime opportunity to build up my Limited rating, and focus more on Limited tournaments. I am always enthusiastic for Limited, and Drafting rarely ever gets stale for me. So while the rest of the Magic world was madly in love with IBC, I was quietly awaiting the PTQ San Diego season.
And then Odyssey was released. And Constructed has won me back (for a while).
I don't particularly care about States/Provincials, so Type 2 should not be overly relevant - but there is something about a set rotation and a new base set that inspires one. The face of Magic changes, and anything is possible yet again. A mere expansion set never has the same impact. I think the excitement is generated as much from cards leaving as from 300 cards coming in.
Either way, Odyssey has my attention, and I have the deckbuilding bug once again. And this year, I'm going to do it right. I'm going to get together a playtest gauntlet, and if I go to Provincials, I will know exactly what to play. And I'll talk about it, as I have come to realize that surprise value is not nearly as effective as tricking people into playing a deck just as bad as yours.
Prior to the release of the full spoiler, I thought I'd probably just end up playing Land Destruction again. I figured a flashback LD spell was a given, and there were other solid options... And one of the few cards I did know about was Mirari, which would let me dominate an opponent's mana mid- and late-game the way Port once did by doubling my efficiency. Added to that, people were playing Constructed decks where the mana curve started at two to three.
Looking through the set, however, I can't help but be overwhelmed by ideas. Ponza is still a possibility, but it's in the back of my mind. And the return of rush hurts the idea of winning by denying mana (although I did note that that new crystal land would allow a mono-red Ponza deck to run Legacy Weapon).
Anyway, I have two decks in my current gauntlet with more to come as I find other people's ideas. These are my early favourites for decks to play.
The Return of White Weenie
The first colour in the Odyssey spoiler is white, so I only had to get half through before I came to a realization:
After a long, painful separation, white weenie is coming back to Type 2.
Many might argue that it never left, and that Rebels were the representatives of white weenie for the past two years. Personally I don't think we've a seen a true white weenie since the exit of Tempest block. Urza's block gave us Mother of Runes and Worship, but was generally short on efficient weenies, while green and red were hyper-efficient.
Masques block introduced Rebels... But Rebels is inherently a mid-game creature deck more than a creature rush. Some people played grizzly rebels, but this strategy was always limited by the fact that the rebel grizzlies sucked. Your Ramosian Sergeant was searching out chaff, and the whole search mechanic just erased the feeling of playing a beatdown deck.
Invasion block was no help either (until Apocalypse). This was no surprise, as all mono-colour strategies were getting the shaft. Apocalypse gave us a ray of hope in the form of Spectral Lynx (despite that naughty black activation cost), but there still wasn't a weenie deck there unless you went with rebels again, which usually meant adding blue (which was more like CounterSliver than WW), or red (which was probably closer to Sligh) in pretty significant quantities.
Behold! Odyssey will be Type 2-legal in little more than a month, and the weenies are back. With the rotation of the rebels, white needed a new creature base, and it got one in the form of solid bears, a solid one-drop (finally), and some old favorites dressed up like new.
The initial weenie deck I will be bringing into testing is as follows:
4x Caves of Koilos
Obviously not a pure white weenie deck, as there is a very minimal splash of black. Verdict is relegated to the sideboard to help keep this splash small and the mana base solid. But with Port and Dust Bowl rotating out, WW no longer needs to fiddle with colourless lands, so it can easily integrate a splash - especially when the payoff is regeneration for your best bear and the most versatile utility card ever printed. Here is a brief rundown of my specific card choices:
Spectral Lynx: As I said, the best bear in the deck. Hard to handle and solid for both offense and defense.
Longbow Archer: Lynx's competition as a bear. Efficient and versatile, there is no way this wouldn't make the cut.
The new kids:
Devoted Caretaker: It would be easy to overestimate this card. One drops see little play these days, so 1/2 and 1/1 are pretty much the same. The ability is a solid answer to removal, though (and can even protect your Worships and lands if I read it right), and it's better than the alternative.
Mystic Penitent: An extra one-drop (I only run two) seems logical to try to avoid the mana problems a glut of bears can cause. Fairly vanilla, as the non-tapping is no big deal early, this guy is one of the last creatures in the deck. But threshold means you still don't mind drawing this guy late.
Mystic Visionary: A new bear, and one that grows teeth for the late game just as Penitent does. He fills out the curve early, and can win it for you late.
Patrol Hound: The last bear added, and the most likely one to leave, this can at least be a solid two-drop, and can help you get to threshold for that finishing kick.
Pianna, Nomad Captain: Attacks as a 3/3 with pumping for her friends. This card is still a maybe, but I always liked Soltari Champion - and he didn't even get the bonus himself! May be replaced by the pro-black-and-red grey ogre if these colours see widespread use.
Divine Sacrament/Glorious Anthem: Used to be an easy call. Crusade was cheaper, so you played that with maybe an Anthem as a 5th one. Now the mana is the same, so early on Anthem is as good or better. Until I see white creatures everywhere, though, I'll be sticking with the card that gives me a late-game kick.
Second Thoughts: A very borderline inclusion, to basically handle those creatures (read: Spiritmonger) that Vindicate can't handle. I don't like the cost, though, cantrip or no, so this one may well not stay or may go to the sideboard.
Sideboarded Verdict: Less strain on the mana base when this isn't in the deck, and between matchups where this is only okay and the threat of the 'Pod, I think the board is where this belongs. But it's solid option against many decks, so sideboarding it is important.
Cards Noted But Not Yet Included:
Mystic Zealot: This guy is a beating in Limited, and a great deal for the mid to late game, which seems fine as you would play it as a finisher anyway. However, he's just not Constructed caliber until you hit threshold, and has no protections once you do. If I needed a finisher, I think I'd just pay W more for Serra.
Serra Angel: Speaking of which, Serra might get some testing in consideration, as the new Crusade would put her out of Flametongue range and she is a great finisher. Just not on theme for weenie, however, particularly since we already have six creatures who will fly (and likely be big) in the late game.
Orim's Chant: Not really needed for forcing spells through in a weenie strategy (except maybe a key Vindicate), this might see the sideboard as a way to deal with overrun.
Kirtar's Desire: Much more efficient than second thoughts, but can be deeded away so not a great monger answer.
General Deck Discussion:
One of the key historical problems for the WW strategy has been sustainable pressure as other decks reach the mana for bigger threats. Now that playing fatties is no longer restricted to scrubs, this should remain a concern. The traditional answers here were Crusade (to make your weenies match up to their fatties) and Armageddons (hard to cast a fattie without mana!).
This deck would doubtless like to have 'Geddon as well. Instead, it will have to make do with the new Crusade and the magic of threshold. Now weenies that start off pecking at the opponent start getting massive mid-game bonuses and evasion to boot. Just like kicker should have been, threshold makes your early drops solid draws for the mid- and late-game as well.
It's not all sunny news for Weenie, however, as there are several other things you can expect to shake out of the metagame. First on your hit list has to be global removal. Pernicious Deed is rough against this deck, and Void is unspeakably brutal (on the plus side, Decree is no longer public enemy #1). Next, you must consider the cards that other decks gain from Odyssey. There are a lot of powerful and potentially combo-riffic cards out there to try out. Plus you need to consider things like Overrun, which can be a back-breaker against you for both Stompy and any squirrel decks that pop up. Hopefully, a good control presence with tons of counters floating around will help discourage this approach - but if not, you may need to consider sideboard options like Orim's Chant to counteract this threat.
The biggest problem remains the great unknown, though. Weenie will be back, and it will be solid, but until some deck types for November type 2 start to shake out of the woodwork, those last six to ten card choices and ten to fifteen sideboard choices are all guesswork. However, no matter what's on top, I predict that we will see weenie back into some top 8s at states/provincials this year.
It's about time.
Back From the Dead: Reanimator
The fact that Odyssey is centered on the graveyard is about as subtle as John Rizzo's sense of humour.
So it's not particularly surprising that I would build a deck to abuse the graveyard. At first I did a couple quick runs at Death or Glory or Twilight's Call; I was not impressed. With no mana acceleration its very hard to get a deck which fills that grave with fat, and simultaneously lives to cast one of these two.
This was not a complete waste of time though, as it introduced me to Entomb.
In an earlier article after the release of Apocalypse, I summarized cards that could be Constructed sleepers (and many of them weren't or haven't been yet... but oh well). One of those cards, however, was Life/Death. At a cheap cost for reanimation and in a set full of dragons and fat, Death looked great for it's cost.
Little problem: How do you put a fattie in the grave fast in IBC? (Answer: your opponent plays Ravenous Rats, or you draw first and skip a land drop).
Entomb solved this problem nicely, and also meant that you didn't need to have lots of fat in the deck to get one in your grave. In short, it made turn two Death a very good thing. Add in other solid options like Zombify, and there was potential there for an explosive deck. When I started building, I thought this idea would not fly. I had started off thinking as mono black, and I thought that you would be toast unless you got the Entomb/Death draw. But after some early building and testing, I came up with the following, which so far looks pretty solid:
4 Pernicious Deed
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Wild Mongrel
1 Iridescent Angel
1 Penumbra Wurm
1 Kamahl, Pit Fighter
1 Crosis, the Purger
4 Llanowar Wastes
Ways to fill the grave: Eight (Entomb, Wild Mongrel)
Ways to recur from grave: Eight (Death, Zombify)
Iridescent Angel: I missed her on the spoiler (didn't check gold cards) and some BD'ers pointed her out. Thanks, boys.
Penumbra Wurm: Thorn Elemental is a faster goldfish creature, but Wurm is infinitely harder to deal with. White RFG spells are expensive, so the only real solution to me bringing out this guy is bounce. Against bounce, I'll fetch the Angel instead.
Kamahl: This was once Reya, but I never particularly wanted to fetch Reya over the others. Against decks without burn, he is either great creature control, or a hasted clock, or both.
Wild Mongrel: Puts those uncastable fatties in the grave for me and gets bigger doing it. An excellent way to hold back opposing weenies, too.
Entomb and Life/Death give you a power draw that can often end the game for all intents and purposes on turn two. Zombify gives you the second wave, and thanks to Birds of Paradise can be cast by turn 3. But the main reason I love the deck is that I have room for Mongers, Deeds, and Duress. This gives me a weapon against control, lets me play a reanimator creature I can easily cast instead of animating, and means that I can often win without seeing Life/Death or Zombify just by getting the Turn 4 'Monger, turn 5 Deed for three or four to clear away opposition.
The weakness with this strategy will always be the focus on a single creature. It means sometimes you need to leave that early fattie back on defense until you can clear the board, and it is conceivable to lose races this way. Play first/Draw first is a very important distinction here (I have played four games against the white weenie I listed above, two where I played first, two where I drew first. The deck that plays first has won each time so far). Still, I have no doubt that this style of deck will make a popular appearance, too.
People just love turn 2 Dragons, Wurms, and Angels for some reason.
Side Rant on Rarity: Thinking up these decks is tons of fun, and I think I will enjoy new Type 2 the same way many have enjoyed IBC, especially now that I am back on IRC. But you may have noted above that I said,"If I go to Provincials." If is most definitely the operative word there. Forget the expense of the drive and the cost of a weekend and lots of time to play in a tourney that really means nothing - consider the cost of having a deck for it. If I was still regularly doing FNM it might be worthwhile to build a deck, but I'll have to be pretty darn confident to put a deck together to take to States (saying Provincials just sounds weird). Why?
My above WW list: 25 Rares. 41 cards which aren't basic land, and 25 of them are rare. White weenie used to be cheap. Eight to twelve rares, many of which were basic set staples like crusade and Armageddon. Maybe two rare creatures. The above list has ten rare creatures. Rare weenies, for God's sake! I suppose Wizards could justify this by suggesting that they want to have more playable rares so less people complain about always cracking Karn's Touch, but there is still tons of chaff out there.
So what's with needing your bears and dorks to be rare? Sacrament I understand. Vindicate I understand. Why is Spectral Lynx rare? Or Devoted Caretaker? If I ever do quit Constructed completely and stop buying cards (I've already slowed down a lot), it will be because of this.
Just to be sure it's not a rarity fluke, lets look at my other suggested deck. Spiritmonger, Deed, Birds, Painlands and more. Ouch.
I ain't made of money, and what's with the rare one-drops? Commons ain't just for Limited, ya know.
Dear John Rizzo,
Thanks for the clever 'letter writing' trick. Great for making a point. And all the cliches too. All your good times are belong to Becky (such references are always cooler when hopelessly dated).
With Deep but Platonic Love,
Things have gotten to the point where I fully expect Dark Ritual to eventually return, but under a different name and as a rare so you'll have to buy it.
We Just Fleeced You
Add BBB to your mana pool
Sacrifice this unless you control at least three rares (or two foil rares)
You and your opponent bid dollars (US currency only). The highest bidder sends a personal cheque or money order to Wizards (errata: Visa accepted). Once payment clears, the high bidder wins the game.
(Further errata: If you bounce a cheque, you get a five-year suspension)
End Side Rant.
Anyway, that's what I have so far as far as Odyssey decks are concerned. For now, I still have some Odyssey Limited tournaments (GP: Montreal? MAAYYBE) to prepare for, but I will try to do an update of how things are going and any new deck progress in Ontario.
Sharing tech (if it's really bad and can only help you lose, is it still called tech? I think we need some new slang for my articles) gives me a warm, tingly feeling all over.
Or maybe that's just the cough syrup.
Nevyn on IRC and www.bdominia.com