Hello and welcome back to another edition of Thank God It's FNM! I was reading a few articles on this very website and I came across Ari Lax's most recent (sorry, Premium eyes only) article, Going Deep in Standard . “Going deep” is a term that I love. When I come up with ideas for FNM, I usually have to get pretty crazy to think of cards to build decks around. The style I like to use is to find a card or a set of cards with similar abilities and build a deck to abuse it as best and as fun as possible. While most people are thinking about Sire of Insanity, Sphinx's Revelation, and Burning-Tree Emissary, I am thinking about Master of Cruelties and Burn at the Stake.
Anyway, I was reading Ari's article and I came across his section about Progenitor Mimic. I had noticed that people were trying to jam the card alongside Acidic Slime, but I wanted to take it one step further. I wanted to ramp into a Thragtusk or Acidic Slime and start jamming as many clones as possible. Then I started reading further into Ari's article and I came across Heartless Summoning. I couldn't even finish the rest of the article. I tore a sheet of
paper from my notebook and went to work. Just like two weeks ago, I'm still waiting to start jamming games with Dragon's Maze online, so I am going to take you through my deck building process. While it likely won't be like this for much longer, I must say that I actually like this style of article. Not only does it help you all get a different view, but it actually helps me refine my deck building techniques.
When building a Heartless Summoning deck, I want to make sure that I have some ability to function in the games where I don't draw the namesake card. Without Ponder and other good card manipulation in the format, we simply cannot rely on having the card on turn two every single game. To fight this, I decided to add some redundancy in the form of Farseek. Farseek is definitely worse than Heartless Summoning in the deck, as it is less explosive, but it's what we have. I definitely want to draw at least one of these effects per game or my entire plan falls apart. While drawing too many can also make a game tough to win, I feel that will be easier to overcome as I play. For this reason, I decided to just add four of each card into the deck. That means we are starting off with:
4 Heartless Summoning
The next part, and probably the most important, are the creatures that we plan to ramp into. As I said, I wanted to play a version heavily based around clones, Acidic Slime, and Thragtusk. To make sure I could supplement this plan, I added four Acidic Slime and four Thragtusk. We have to be doing other things at some point though. And for the sake of this column, we also need to be doing some more cool things. Some people find a bunch of Thragtusks and land destruction boring, which is reasonable.
I decided to dig for other cool creatures to clone and came out with Sylvan Primordial and Sphinx of Uthuun as the best ones. Sylvan Primordial creates redundancy alongside Acidic Slime for killing lands, but in actuality I wanted a good way to kill planeswalkers.
Sphinx of Uthuun is awesome! It is a Fact or Fiction on a large, flying body. This gives us both insane card advantage as well as a way to win the game quickly. I decided that I wanted four of these seven-drops at most, so I went with a two-two split.
Before I get to the clones that I decided on, I wanted to briefly mention the four Borderland Ranger that I added to the deck. While the ramp spells help a lot, I need to hit my land drops. Borderland Ranger can chump block versus the aggro decks early while also helping me get the lands I need. Sometimes you need more lands and sometimes you are just missing a color. It also seems pretty cool with Heartless Summoning, though at that point we are just casting a Caravan Vigil and getting 1/1. If you decide to give this deck a run, let me know how the Borderland Rangers are.
Anyway, I went through the list of clones and came out with Clone, Evil Twin, and Progenitor Mimic as the best options. Progenitor Mimic is a sweet card that I will probably want one of each game, but it can be a little slow. What I really want to do is play a turn two Heartless Summoning, cast a five drop on turn three (hopefully Acidic Slime), and then jam a pair of clones for two mana each and destroy my opponent. I decided that eight clone effects was probably the correct number because I figured I'd probably want between two and four every game. Two Progenitor Mimic was obvious, but then I wasn't sure how I wanted to split up my four-drop clones. Evil Twin is certainly a better card discounting cost, but UB can be tough to cast in a three color deck sometimes, especially when compared to 1U. As you'll see though, my mana base has no basic lands, so every land will either produce blue or black in some form. Occasionally I may not be able to do the magical Christmas land sequence I spelled of two clones on turn four because of the mana cost on Evil Twin, but I think overall it will be worth it. This left the split at four Evil Twin and two Clone.
Rounding out the creatures, I wanted to see what other cool things I could play in conjunction with enter-the-battlefield effects and Heartless Summoning. The cool one-ofs I came up with were Aetherling and Deadeye Navigator. Aetherling is interesting because you can play it with one mana up to protect it on turn five if you have Heartless Summoning. This lets you start hitting hard on turn six if you need to protect it, and turn five against decks with no removal. Aetherling hits for a lot of damage and can race a lot of other decks pretty handily. Deadeye Navigator is also a cool one, though very likely more cute than good. Deadeye Navigator with any of the non-clone creatures in the deck is awesome, and it still works with clones as long as you have a creature to clone. Against control it can create insane amounts of card advantage and shut your opponent out. It does the same versus aggro, but if you've reached that stage in the game, most cards will win it.
Rounding out the deck is the manabase and a pair of Putrefy. I had two slots left and I wanted a good answer to creatures. Putrefy deals with any creature that may cross my path that doesn't have hexproof, so it fit the bill. It can also kill artifacts in a pinch, though the deck is already pretty good at that (*cough* four Acidic Slime *cough*).
The lands I went with were the full complement of shocklands, eight core set dual lands, and four Cavern of Souls. The Caverns may seem weird in a deck that has three colors and so many different creature types, but I think that they make the control matchup insane. If you can get one on Slime or Beast and another on Shapeshifter, your infinite Acidic Slime or Thragtusk plan becomes uncounterable. Remember, all of the clones are creature type Shapeshifter. Because the deck is so green-heavy, I went with three Woodland Cemetery, three Hinterland Harbor, and two Drowned Catacomb. This manabase and Putrefy brought the final main deck sixty to:
- 4 Acidic Slime
- 1 Aetherling
- 4 Borderland Ranger
- 2 Clone
- 1 Deadeye Navigator
- 4 Evil Twin
- 2 Progenitor Mimic
- 2 Sphinx of Uthuun
- 2 Sylvan Primordial
- 4 Thragtusk
Some of the cards that I considered but that didn't make the cut were Diluvian Primordial, Craterhoof Behemoth, Somberwald Sage, Bloodgift Demon, and splashing for Sire of Insanity and Ruric Thar, the Unbowed. As far as the sideboard, I'd probably try to dedicate most of it to Reanimator and aggro. Neither of those matchups seem inherently terrible, but they don't seem great either. Tree of Redemption and Fog help versus aggro, as does simply mulliganing aggressively to Heartless Summoning. For Reanimator, Ground Seal, Crypt Incursion, Tormod's Crypt, and Grafdigger's Cage are likely the best options. I've decided on Crypt Incursion for the time being, but I haven't actually gotten a good chance to try the card yet. Deadbridge Chant is a sweet card in the sideboard for control and midrange decks. It can mill some powerful creatures and reanimate them for you. This deck has very few cards that you wouldn't want to randomly hit with the trigger, so it seems awesome. Plus I just love the card, so I want to play it where I can. Golgari Charm and Duress are two more versatile cards that could fit the bill.
Overall, I hope you enjoyed the deck. While I went a lot less in depth than I did with Master of Cruelties, I still feel that this article got the message across. I can't wait until I can start playing with these decks and writing up some results. As usual, continue to submit decklists and ideas through my email and the comments. Until next week, thank God it's FNM!
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