I can't deny it any longer. My favorite card from Theros has surfaced, and I can't stop brewing with it. Maybe hooked is the wrong word; I'll say I'm strung along by it, I'm flying its way, I'm let loose by this permanent. I have Nylea worry or care. [Editor's Note: Okay, that one was bad. Real bad.]
If you know anything about my style, it should come as no surprise that this legendary artifact whistles right up my alley. Each of the five (yes, five) abilities has utility in one form or another, and its ability to function as both an artifact and an enchantment gives it tons of utility. If we're going to be honest, it's a green Trading Post.
I've sampled it in previous decks, but it's time for me to nock my first deck. You all know where I'm aiming. The first area we're shooting for is the Bow's only passive ability, “Attacking creatures you control have deathtouch.”
Now, this provides a lot of potential. First, alongside Nylea, God of the Hunt, your whole team can run over defenders by assigning just one point of damage to each defender (meeting Trample's “enough to destroy it” clause) and pointing the rest at their face. Seems good, no problem... but every time I worked at that angle, I either made it mono-green (which has already been done) or added another color, which mostly just made it worse.
There is, however, one creature who cares about this deathtouch damage in a very special way.
Turn an army of Slivers sideways and nuke the defense. Seems reasonable. It goes without saying that the rest of the deck practically built itself.
- 4 Blur Sliver
- 4 Elvish Mystic
- 1 Galerider Sliver
- 4 Manaweft Sliver
- 4 Megantic Sliver
- 4 Predatory Sliver
- 4 Striking Sliver
- 4 Thorncaster Sliver
This deck shouldn't need a lot of explanation, but basically, we're jamming all the remotely-playable red and green Slivers in a stack and enough Garruks, Bows, and mana ramp to hit our colors and our pieces. The mix of colors allows us to keep things spicy, and the machine-gun effect of Thorncaster's first attack phase will keep you grinning from ear to ear.
G/R Devotion is a well-known archetype amongst medium and large tournaments, and its abuse of Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx can be terrifying. I've taken the Sliver base, which kind of acts like Nykthos (admittedly a stretch) to get me to Garruk, Caller of Beasts or Thorncaster Sliver on turn three or four. With this level of push, you can reliably cast true threats (something G/R Devotion can't always do reliably,) and continually apply pressure to an aggro or control player's plan.
Elvish Mystic was a necessary complement to the far superior Manaweft Sliver. With so much ground to cover across each turn, I needed another reliable mana source that I wouldn't lose tempo playing; Sylvan Caryatid is better, but I lose more time playing it than I'd like. Also, you just can't kill someone with a lonely Caryatid. Elvish Mystic is nearly a Sliver as far as Manaweft Sliver is concerned, and he can be fed to your opponent's lions when the time comes. Every other Sliver appears in any Standard Sliver deck that fits these colors, which is most of them. Megantic Sliver is definitely the best, giving you an Overrun effect on a stick.
Only three Bows and three Garruk, Caller of the Beasts make up the rest of the list, and there are two players that, style-wise, don't make the cut.
Although both of these guys usually make the cut, I wanted to leave room for more Slivers. Domri Rade has thirty-one targets, but I will hardly ever be able to use his fight ability without Megantic Sliver, and the emblem is less useful than one too. Xenagos generates “useless” Satyrs and the ramp won't do enough good in most situations. Are they both good 'walkers? You bet they are, but Garruk does both of their jobs better in this instance.
The lands feature a full set of Mutavault, as the Sliver type and 2/2 stats will be very relevant in every situation. Slivers are used to being splashed, so their color weights are very manageable on a simple manabase. Although I'm splashing two colors of Slivers, Manaweft Slivers can help me cast them and Unknown Shores can help too. Shimmering Grotto never won any beauty contests, but Gruul Guildgate just seemed incorrect. I'd rather have an untapped colorless lands in this deck than something that always started tapped.
Speaking of the sideboard, a full set of Syphon Slivers help against any damage-based matchup. Not only do you gain life in combat but each Thorncaster increases your life total as well. Infinitely more synergetic and castable than Whip of Erebos, this effect can be managed by the fixing present in our Birds of Paradise Slivers. Mending Touch lets you save the crucial Sliver from burn, a Doom Blade, or Supreme Verdict. Even a combat with Bow of Nylea makes it Smite for G. Slaughter Games is a manageable stretch (perhaps I need more black sources), but it helps this creature-centric deck handle control cards like Anger of the Gods, Aetherling, or Elspeth, Sun's Champion (who can Smite the Monstrous your team.) Mizzium Mortars is easy to cast with a field of Slivers, and it helps you clear the way when attacking is otherwise not possible. Finally, a single Clan Defiance acts as a huge Fireball propelled by a stalled board chock-full of Slivers.
Is it perfect? Not even a little, but it's worth a shot.
Deck Two – Pull!
For you observant readers out there, I tossed a fun deck out there almost as an afterthought at the end of a July article.
This deck still has some wings, but it's changed a lot. While there aren't Delver of Secrets to swat down anymore, there are 2/2s we want to swat away.
Keep it steady.
Jump 'em up and mow 'em down! This deck makes no bones about its stock, but it sure does a fun job of picking off any creature, big or small.
The creature base features two bizarre creatures. Elite Arcanist provides us the fragile, expensive Isochron Scepter of the format. We're not so fortunate to have the Stick these days, but a four-mana 1/1 will have to do. The other, Nimbus Naiad, is straight out of a Theros Sealed pool. “Don't I already have thirty-six of these in a box somewhere?” says everyone. Well, you do, and here it serves a special purpose. On one hand, it's a Wind Drake. Fine. On the other hand, though, it's a way for you to enchant a target, Plummet it, then recover a 2/2 Drake! What... what could be easier.
Just this, Matt. THIS would be easier.
Arbor Colossus is a mono-green monster that can also, with Skygames and six more mana, clobber any creature and survive as a massive 9/9. Arbor Colossus is a fine win condition, brick walling the best threats your opponents can manage.
The spells fill the same roles as the old version of the deck did. Lots of Jump effects and lots of ways to swat them out of the sky. Bear in mind that, by itself, Bow of Nylea plus a Skygames or a Zephyr Charge activation can Shock any creature. Something else to bear in mind is the prevalence of flying finishers. Stormbreath Dragon, Desecration Demon, and an ultimated Blood Baron of Vizkopa all crumble with an unaided Plummet.
The draw spells feel a little awkward, but the deck itself functions off a single task. Once you've stabilized, they help you draw into your winning creature or lifesaving spell. Furthermore, copying Opportunity with Elite Arcanist sounds like the bee's knees. The lands and sideboard should explain themselves.
Who knows if this has a straight enough shaft to fly true?
I know that each deck can be optimized, and I welcome your comments about that below. As for the Bow's other three functions, they provided a little less juice for me, but there's definitely something out there. I'm a big fan of the Junktroller ability, which naturally protects you from milling to death, and the lifegain and +1/+1 counter abilities have merit, too. However, I figured the decks I shared would be the most exciting to share with you.
Each legendary artifact gets me excited about brewing, and I know this won't be the last time you see them here. While the Bow obviously has the most brewing potential, I wouldn't rule out any of them for a future build.
This is a short one this week, and I apologize; I just returned from a family vacation where my wife's StarCityGames.com shirt even got a couple nods of recognition and comments from passerby. Who knew!
Keep your eyes on the skies and I'll see you next week!
CaptainShapiro on Magic Online