Rotation is in sight and the new cards are what has everyone's attention. Unfortunately I'm not allowed to play the new cards in Standard yet but that doesn't mean I can't have a little bit of fun. Typically I prefer combo decks but they are relatively hard to play and take notes on in real life. While combos that involve a lot of triggers can be rough to play online taking notes is a little bit easier. I can always just play my match then watch the replay afterward and take notes on that.
I decided that for the weeks leading up to rotation I will try to have as much fun as I can. Usually I try to play decks that are fun but can still crush events with some tuning. For the next couple of weeks though all bets are off. I will play the deck that looks most fun to me whether or not I think it can actually win games. A lot of times when I play on Magic Online or FNM my goal is not to win. While winning a few packs here or a promo card there is nice I can do that in my spare time. Plus you never know—one of those decks that was just supposed to be a fun idea could actually break the format.
For this week my friend Matt submitted a super sweet brew based around a combo that I've always wanted to play with. First look at Deceiver Exarch then Deadeye Navigator then Gilded Lotus. You may have noticed that these cards create an infinite mana loop. Here's how it works: you make sure that you have the Deadeye Navigator and the Deceiver Exarch paired. For two mana you can Blink the Exarch and re-pair untapping the Gilded Lotus. Since the Lotus taps for three you profit a mana each time. You can also put Zealous Conscripts in place of Deceiver Exarch since they can both untap Gilded Lotus. Zealous Conscripts has the added bonus of being able to steal all their permanents if you don't have one of your other win conditions.
Now that you understand the combo let's check out the list that Matt sent me to battle with.
My original idea was mono-blue but I definitely liked the looks of Matt's list. The Wrath effects give you more game against the creature decks in the format and the Zealous Conscripts give you more redundancy among combo pieces. When playing the deck you simply want to protect yourself until you can find the correct pieces to combo off with. I found that you typically play a Gilded Lotus on turn 5 use it to cast Deceiver Exarch end of turn then untap and combo off.
Matt didn't have a sideboard as he said he built the deck mostly just for fun so he hadn't put work into that aspect of the deck so I put the sideboard together. I feel that the Smelts are most important as it is the most efficient out to Torpor Orb.
I quickly discovered that you have to make almost a million clicks to win the game but I was able to get some matches done in time. As Matt had told me this deck is not very good but is fun. Just what I wanted!
Match 1: B/R Zombies
In game 1 I was on the play and started with Island Mountain two Ponders Deceiver Exarch Gilded Lotus and Whipflare. I started on my first two turns using Ponders and a Faithless Looting to find the last two pieces of the combo and some lands. My opponent started with a Diregraf Ghoul then another Diregraf Ghoul and a Gravecrawler. Whipflare helped buy me a bunch of turns but he was right back in the action with a Geralf's Messenger on turn 3.
I passed on my turn 4 and and Mana Leaked his Falkenrath Aristocrat on his turn. Going into my turn 5 I had the three combo pieces but no way to actually win the game once I made infinite mana. I cast Gilded Lotus played Deceiver Exarch right away to untap it and then flashbacked Faithless Looting. This made me a little weaker to removal but meant I could win next turn if I hit a win condition.
Luckily I hit a Devil's Play off the Faithless Looting so I was in good shape. The benefit of Devil's Play over Blue Sun's Zenith was that I could pitch it to Faithless Looting and virtually discard one less card. My opponent went for another Falkenrath Aristocrat which was completely fine with me. His attack didn't put me to zero and I killed him when I untapped.
He mulled to five for game 2 and I called his bet with a mull to six. My hand was:
He missed his first land drop which led me to believe that he kept a predominantly one-drop hand. I started developing my combo and trying to find the Gilded Lotus. He hit his land on the second turn but after his second one-drop he seemed to have hit a wall. Thanks to Spellskite he was only hitting me for two a turn which gave me a lot of time. I found the Devil's Play and when he hit his next two land drops and played Geralf's Messenger it felt pretty good to topdeck Gilded Lotus. I was able to combo off before he killed me.
After this match I began to realize just how many clicks you have to make before you get enough mana. It's more than twice as much when you use Blue Sun's Zenith too.
Match 2: U/W Delver
Anyway we both kept our sevens for game 1 with me on the draw. My hand consisted of:
My opponent led with a Delver of Secrets that flipped on a Ponder and then two more Delver of Secrets. It seemed like a good time to cast Whipflare and my turn 1 Faithless Looting had found me both a Deadeye Navigator and a Deceiver Exarch. My opponent cast a Geist of Saint Traft and I drew a Blue Sun's Zenith.
I was feeling pretty good as long as my opponent didn't have Vapor Snag Mana Leak or Dismember; a tall order by any means. I tried to use a Slagstorm on the Geist of Saint Traft but my opponent had a Mutagenic Growth to protect it. He was able to connect for six and I soon discovered that a Mana Leak backed by a Snapcaster Mage is tough to beat. Two more attacks from the Geist and I was dead.
I'll be honest game 2 went almost exactly the same as game 1. The only difference was that I mulled to six but I still Erathed away three Delvers and then died to a Geist with a bunch of Mana Leaks to back it up. Exciting!
While it would not have helped much in this match I definitely feel that this deck would like at least two Cavern of Souls. I could see Mana Leak being a very big problem for this deck so I'll keep that in mind in my conclusion at the end.
Match 3: Naya Pod
This was unfortunately the last match that I played where I didn't time out or mulligan into oblivion. I feel this one is a good match to close on though because you get to see me absolutely demolish my opponent. Unfortunately when playing a deck like this it turns out that you either die or win with not much in between. In the future I'll probably try to pick decks that have a little more game to them.
I started off game 1 on the play with a hand of:
The turn 1 Gitaxian Probe drew me into a Deadeye Navigator so I was ready to combo off at the first opportunity. My opponent played an Avacyn's Pilgrim into a Blade Splicer but I used a Mana Leak I drew to counter the Birthing Pod he tried to play on turn 3. He then used an Acidic Slime on my land but a Slagstorm took care of his board and I was happy to know that the Slime would not be hitting my Gilded Lotus. My opponent played a couple of mana dorks and lands for the rest of the game and about 3000 clicks later he had drawn his entire deck.
In game 2 I went to six with my opponent and kept:
My opponent played a turn 1 Avacyn's Pilgrim that met a Gut Shot and I had an Evolving Wilds fetch up an Island. On turn 2 my Ponder found me a Deadeye Navigator and I ran out my Grafdigger's Cage. My opponent missed his third land drop and I continued to play the draw go game. By the time he hit his third land drop it was his Blade Splicer against my hand of Deadeye Navigator Zealous Conscripts Gilded Lotus Mana Leak Devil's Play and Mountain.
I had four lands out so he was pretty close to dead. I played my land cast Gilded Lotus and was able to Mana Leak my opponent's Birthing Pod. I untapped and played Deadeye Navigator holding up two mana for a freshly drawn Mana Leak. I countered an Acidic Slime on my opponent's turn and won on my turn. I took all of his permanents and hit him with a more than lethal Devil's Play.
Overall I really liked the deck. I think it can be a sweet deck to play at FNM especially in real life where you don't have to click a million times to win the game. Some conclusions I came to with the deck:
- Cavern of Souls seems like it would be good.
- I would like a couple more Archaeomancers.
- Smelt is an important sideboard card as is Spellskite.
- Spellskite should probably be in the maindeck.
- Amass the Components is good for getting rid of extra combo pieces and finding the one you need.
- Ponder is sweet (though I don't really have to tell you that).
The deck is pretty straightforward and should be relatively easy to pick up and tune. The core should stay largely the same but a lot of the support cards are easy to move around. Thanks to Matt for this super sweet decklist!
Another important note before I go: I realize that lately my FNM column has turned into more of just a "cool deck" column. I haven't actually been playing FNM very often. It is hard to get the cards I need for basically a full 75 week after week to play with. I plan to get a bunch of boxes of Return to Ravnica upon release and I feel this will make putting together decks a lot easier. When I only need to get a couple of rares from Innistrad block I will probably be able to play FNM more often.
As is par for the course continue to submit decks for me to play with. Apparently people really want to see me battle with Tibalt the Fiend-Blooded. I've received three different decks with Tibalt in them that seem really cool. For next week I'll most likely play the coolest deck that I come across and will run it through some matches against a typical Standard gauntlet.
If you are playing FNM tonight good luck and hopefully you choose to Deadeye Navigator some people. Keep letting my know not just about the decks you're playing and what you thought of the deck but also what you thought of the article in general. I've been trying to improve my writing and the column and your comments can tell me how to do even better. Thanks for reading! See you next Friday.
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