Hello everyone. As promised, it is mid January and I am back writing. (Yay! - The Ferrett) Those of you who can remember back a month or so will recall that I was looking for decks in Type One that were capable of creating drawing engines that were on par with decks that utilize the Restricted List in one way or another. I received a few very good submissions, and some of them will be addressed later on in future articles. For this week, I am going to use a deck that I have become very enamored with after seeing a list and seeing it in action - so much so that I am going to work on constructing it over the next few months as I pick up cards here and there.
The deck is a mono-white control deck created by Raphael Caron (forgive me, but I can't find the accent symbol for over the 'e'), entitled the "Deck Parfait." The following is the decklist and explanation of the deck that he sent me, with my own comments added. What is most impressive about this deck is that it is capable of creating a huge amount of card advantage, negating most silver bullet cards in Type One, and has a very high level of synergy between all the cards in it.
It can also handle Morphling with surprising ease - which is a very nice thing, in case you didn't know.
This is what Raphael sent me, with some edits by me for space (it was maybe twenty pages long in twelve-point Times New Roman). As a side note, if everyone could write as much as Raphael did on each individual card choice in their own decks, it would be a beautiful thing. Some people I know don't even know why they use cards, other than seeing them show up in other decks. I suppose this is what happens when you spend months or years building something on your own.
DECK PARFAIT PRIMER by Raphaël Caron, December 22th, 2000
4x Land Tax
2x Scroll Rack
1x Jayemdae Tome
Survival Spells/Silver Bullets
1x Story Circle
4x Swords to Plowshares
3x Aura of Silence
1x Wrath of God
2x Zuran Orb
1x Ivory Mask
1x Ivory Tower
1x Enlightened Tutor
1x Planar Birth
4x Argivian Find
2x Sacred Mesa
1x Tormod's Crypt
1x Soldevi Digger
Mana Sources & Lands
1x Library of Alexandria
1x Serra's Sanctum
1x Strip Mine
1x Lotus Petal
1x Black Lotus
1x Mox Pearl
1x Mox Diamond
1x Sol Ring
Sideboard (changes every day)
1x Spirit Link
1x Jester's Cap
1x Black Vise
1x Tormod's Crypt
2x Rune of Protection: Red
2x Rune of Protection: Blue
1x Rune of Protection: Black
1x Ivory Mask
A TYPICAL GAME
Deck Parfait is a mono-white control deck using the Land Tax/Scroll Rack combo and " silver bullets " (cards that nullify whole strategies) to ensure card advantage. It usually kills with the Wild Pegasus tokens produced by the powerful Sacred Mesa enchantment.
The typical Magic game is usually divided in three parts: early, middle and late game. Let's see how Parfait passes through them.
The Early Game
This is the most important part of the game when playing versus aggresive strategies (Sligh, Stompy, Teletubbies, WW, Pox, combo decks). Basically, you search your deck for cards that will help you to live until you get a silver bullet on the table. For example, against Sligh, you want to draw Swords to Plowshares, Zuran Orb, Planar Birth, and Ivory Tower. These cards will allow you to survive long enough to play Story Circle. (It is important to note that against some strategies Story Circle is not effective, such as Teletubbies (a Su-Chi/Juggernaut Workshop) WW, which packs, Disenchants aplenty, and Pox, which is a loss of life and artifact damage. - Darren)
Versus counter-based control decks, you want to overwhelm them with powerful spells that have to be countered like Aura of Silence, Sacred Mesa, Jayemdae Tome, Land Tax, Scroll Rack, and sideboard cards. Abeyance and Argivian Find will help you to increase the number of these have-to-counter cards. Eventually, your opponent will run out of counters (your main objective). (The interesting thing about this is that the deck has enough effective methods to win a counter war, especially in the late game when one can simply gain a huge hand with Land Tax/Scroll Rack, and then Abeyance your way to victory.- Darren)
Your starting hand should contain some of these "survival " spells or a Land Tax/Scroll Rack/Enlightned Tutor. If not, mulligan.
The Middle Game:
This is usually the part of the game when a Silver Bullet holds off immediate danger. You then start to draw cards and play permanents (including additional silver bullets to make sure you're not in trouble if one is destroyed), building resources for your late gamewinners, Sacred Mesa and Soldevi Digger.
The Late Game:
At this point you should have acheive partial "immortality" through permanent control, lifegain, and silver bullets. If the opponent doesn't concede right away, you now have to kill him. You will usually do so by playing Sacred Mesa. You then start to produce Wild Pegasus tokens and attack the opponent until he dies. You can also win by "decking" your opponent; Tormod's Crypt will actually kill the recursive player who drew too many cards. (I hate people that are smart enough to realize how good this card really is, especially since people are all using Yawgmoth's Will like it's going out of style - Darren) You can survive from deck death with the obvious Soldevi Digger, but also with Scroll Rack, if the number of cards in your hand is greater than the number of cards in your library.
Okay, this is the way a normal game goes. But sometimes you will be able to pull what I call a "combo win." It occurs mostly when you play versus non-counterspell decks. You first play Land Tax and keep Taxing three lands each turn. Throw all excess land to the graveyard and when it's full of basic Plains, play Planar Birth. Now play Sacred Mesa and kill the opponent. Trey Young's own version of Deck Parfait, TurboGenesis, is centered on the combo win and has a lot of success, too.
You want to get this ASAP on the table. Land Tax is the key spell of the deck, so use four to draw it often. It has many uses such as:
- Avoiding Mana Shortage: Land Tax is basically a land destruction protection card. Don't be afraid to keep a hand with only one land if you have Land Tax, too. You might even keep a starting hand with no lands, as you will probably draw a land in the following turns and recover from the mana shortage.
- Thinning your deck: Removing the lands from your deck allows you to have better draws later in the game. I always take the maximum number of cards (three per Land Tax), and discard the extra at the end of turn. Note: Land Taxes are cumulative, so if you have two in play you can fetch up to six basic lands.
- Protection versus random discard: If your hand is full of lands, chances are your opponent's Hymn to Tourach will discard some. Your can "protect" key spells in your hand this way.
- Shuffling your library: This is actually very useful, especially with Scroll Rack and Soldevi Digger. Note: You don't have to fetch any land at all when you use Land Tax. Also pay attention, as this can waste your Enlightened Tutor if you're not careful.
- Putting cards in your hand: This is the most important of Land Tax's uses, as it fills your hand at no cost, every turn (usually). Note: this protects you from The Rack and allows you to win insane amounts of life with Ivory Tower.
Once Land Tax is in play, try to keep your number of lands lower than your opponent. You can do this easily with Zuran Orb, but you can also keep lands in your hand, or use Wasteland/Strip Mine on your own lands. I also recommend to play the extra Land Tax you draw, as they will power a stronger Serra's Sanctum or feed an opponent's Dystopia. (Why Dystopia isn't around much any more is beyond me-older cards DO work even if they're not in restricted in Extended, you know! - Darren)
By itself, Scroll Rack is a good search card when you need something better than what you have in hand. Its power is proportional to the number of cards you have in your hand, so Scroll Rack isn't so hot when you have a single card in hand. I think two copies are enough, as having multiples in play won't help you much.
Scroll Rack becomes much more powerful if Land Tax is in play. Land Tax will remove lands from your library, fill your hand, and shuffle your library. Those effects greatly enhance your chances to find the card you need when you use Scroll Rack.
When in a hurry to find a specific card, you might want to use other drawing effects (Abeyance, Tome, LoA, Enlightened Tutor) before activating Scroll Rack.
Scroll Rack also allows you to survive to "deck death." Just make sure you have more cards in hand than the number of cards in your library. (That's pretty cool, but if you get to this point, you probably have bigger fish to fry. ;) - Darren)
The Tome is great when you can't use the Land Tax/Scroll Rack combo correctly (for example, if you have more lands in play than your opponent). Assuming you have some artifact mana, it helps to recover after a Balance that destroyed your lands/hand. It's a "must counter" for opposing control decks. Can be replaced with Scrying Glass or Emmessi Tome. (Both are inferior options, unless you start running a Replenish-based version - but I don't think that would work as well. - Darren)
Swords to Plowshares
Cheap, strong, and versatile, the Plow removes from the game those pesky creatures. Very strong versus Rec/Sur and Buried Alive creatures. Play four to ensure you survive the initial onslaught. A possible replacement could be Spirit Link, which is very good vs those pesky Rancors.
Wrath of God
Cleans the table. You usually don't suffer from this (at worst, you'll have to rebuild your Pegasus army). Kills Morphling and other untargetables.
Silver bullet vs MANY decks: Sligh, Stompy, Pox, Zoo, you name it. Doesn't affect your flying army. Can be replaced with another Wrath of God or maybe the strange Island Sanctuary (you'll still draw cards with Land Tax and Scroll Rack, though). ( This card has fallen out of favor in a lot of cases for the Abyss, but I still swear by it - people use Masticore, and Masticore starts to suck against Moat really fast - Darren)
Silver bullet vs MANY mono-colored decks. Protects from creatures AND direct damage. Protects from Morphing. Note: Bad vs pre-sideboarded Pox, as most of its damage sources are artifacts (and you can't prevent Pox's loss of life).
The strongest card in the deck. Kills the opposing army (assuming you don't have Pegasus tokens in play) and destroys its lands (assuming you have Zuran Orb in play). Can be played aggressively, too, to make your opponent discard many cards. Allows the broken first-turn Balance that kills the opponent's hand (quite possible, as the deck uses many 0cc artifacts). Just think about a hand that looks like Balance, Zuran Orb, Black Lotus, Land Tax, Scroll Rack, Argivian Find, Tormod's Crypt.
Silver Bullet vs Pox, SRB, Sligh, High Tide, PandeBurst, and Trix, and good vs cards like Misdirection, Mind Twist, and, most of all, Tormod's Crypt.
Aura of Silence
A Seal of Cleansing with an added bonus. The extra W is usually not a problem. It's basically a Disenchant that doesn't stay in your hand and that can't be countered nor discarded while in play. The added bonus makes it a silver bullet if played fast vs Deck Parfait, Teletubbies, Pox, Stasis and other enchantment-based decks. Protects you from the evil Nevinirral's Disk. Note: The effect is cumulative if many are in play.
Helps vs Trix, SRB, Sligh, Stasis (to counter Black Vise) and creature-based decks. Good with Library of Alexandria, great with Land Tax, sick with Land Taxes. Survives the terrible Anarchy. (Which is about the only card this deck really has to worry about, and even then not too much if you expect it. - Darren)
Good by itself to survive longer. A must when you play Balance, a must when you play Land Tax. Comboes very well with Planar Birth (remember to sac your lands in response to the spell). The only bad thing is that it's not cumulative. That's why you don't want to play more than 2-3. A cheap lifegainer that helps vs Burn and especially Trix.
A great card that is always useful. Play these against Pox and other black decks during their upkeep to gain a turn (they can't play Hymn to Tourach, Duress, or Sinkhole, for example). Play Abeyance during your own turn to prevent other spells from being countered. Play it during Sligh's end phase to draw a card and increase your chances of drawing a silver bullet. Play it in response to High Tide. Play it to draw the card you just put on top of your library with Enlightened Tutor. Play it to force effects that would have been better if played later. Play it to make sure that Rec/Sur creature won't be sacrificed when you StoP it. The list goes on....
Allows you to get that silver bullet faster. Almost a Demonic Tutor in this deck. Just make sure you don't use Land Tax if you cast this during opponent's end of turn. Also shuffles your deck, which is good with Scroll Rack.
Originally a crap rare thrown in the deck because it fit well, it is now a card I wouldn't even sideboard out. Allows you to perform the combo win. Allows you to survive longer with Zuran Orb. Play this after a Balance and a Tormod's Crypt, and you get a big mana advantage. Allows to thin your graveyard too, making Soldevi Digger better at recursing your stuff. Great versus Land Destruction. (This is my favorite card in the whole deck - no lie. I use a Lodestone Bauble in my 1.5 WR Firestorm/Tax deck to do sort of the same thing after discarding basic land to Storm. - Darren)
In this deck it is basically a undercosted Regrowth that can be played at Instant speed. Wow! Your opponent can kill your Moat.. But it's gonna be back the next turn. Like Abeyance, it allows you to force a spell through counterspells. Allows to do crazy first turn things with Black Lotus. Almost four additional Aura of Silences, Tormod's Crypt, Jester's Cap, etc.
It allows you to return Soldevi Digger in your hand if it's destroyed, making it possible to then return used Argivian Finds to your deck afterwards, making you "undeckable."
Remember that game is not over if your opponent plays Tormod's Crypt against you, as you can play Argivian Find in response to get that invaluable card.
It is also very funny to see the opponent who played Duress see Land Tax AND Argivian Find in your hand. (I hate those Duress people. - Darren) (Say, isn't it my job to make snide comments? - The Ferrett)
The kill card. It's great, as it dodges many of Type One's favorite anti-creature cards. The card itself is an enchantment, making it good with the rest of the deck (Argivian Find, Enlightened Tutor, Serra's Sanctum, and Replenish) and more difficult to destroy than anything else. Plus, destroying the enchantment won't destroy the tokens.
The tokens are immune to Moat and create great card advantage. StP, Lightning Bolt, Diabolic Edict, and Wrath of God can kill your tokens - but only once. Even The Abyss is not a big threat. Remember that The Abyss is a targeted effect, so you can sacrifice the targeted token to Sacred Mesa. The Abyss' effect will then fizzle.
The tokens make good chump blockers, too! Paying six mana to kill an attacking Kird Ape without losing any cards is Some Good.
You should always create a new token to pay the upkeep. Basically, the upkeep cost of Sacred Mesa becomes 1W. That way, all tokens created last turn will attack this turn (the new one had summoning sickness). This won't work, though, if The Abyss is in play - in this case, sacrifice a token created last turn and save your mana.
While it's better when lots of mana are available, you can play Sacred Mesa as soon as you have four "steady" mana available (since a first-turn Black Lotus/Sacred Mesa is not so hot). Creating a single token each turn is all you might need, but of course you'll usually prefer to play it later, once control is established.
Sacred Mesa is a silver bullet versus most counter decks, as it produces uncounterable creatures which are even able to block Morphling.
Good vs Replenish, Gaea's Blessing, Buried Alive, Yawgmoth's Will, Timetwister, Hammer of Bogardan, Squee... Good before a Planar Birth to make sure opponent doesn't get their lands back.
A very strong card that allows you to recycle your graveyard. The drawback (putting the card at the bottom of the library) is negligible, as you'll often shuffle your library with Land Tax. Allows you to prevent deck death. Make sure you have an Argivian Find in your deck or your hand before playing this, just to make sure you can replay it if it is destroyed. Usually used at the end of opponent's turn.
Library of Alexandria
A broken card that works very well with Land Tax. Not necessary, but an added bonus if you can afford one.
Very good in this deck, as you'll eventually have many enchantments on the table. Will help you produce MANY token with Sacred Mesa, or recurse all your graveyard in a few turns with Soldevi Digger. Nice synergy with Land Tax since you don't have to play a lot of lands if you have some enchantments on the table. Unfortunately a Legendary Land so don't play more than one.
Basic plains are immune to Wastelands and are needed for Land Tax and Planar Birth. Thirteen might seem a low number, but you'll draw a lot of them with Land Tax.
Disrupts the other player. Protection against manlands, Library of Alexandria, Tolarian Academy, and other annoying non-basic lands. Strip Mine is fun to recurse with Soldevi Digger, too!
Allows you to play a first-turn Land Tax without putting any land in play. Speeds up the deck. Good when you need to dump your hand for an early Balance. (g)
A no-brainer if you can afford it (replace it with a Plains, otherwise). It has very good synergy with the rest of the deck, as you can use Argivian Find and Enlightened Tutor on it. Allows you to play first-turn Moat, Ivory Mask, or Balance!
Mox Pearl/Mox Diamond/Sol Ring
No-brainers that can be easily replaced by Marble Diamond, Mind Stone, and so on. Artifact mana is important with all those Land Taxes, Balance, and Armageddon.
OTHER POSSIBLE INCLUSIONS
Deck Parfait is an evolving project that will never be over. Many cards not included in my current decklist worth some attention as they could be good, or better, depending of your metagame. They can also be included in the sideboard.
A very good card against combo and control decks that can be played over and over with recursion. You might want to let this one in the sideboard if your metagame is filled with aggressive decks. (I think that since this can be an "I win" card in many cases, and can also deal with cards that would interrupt you in a significant way, including one in the sideboard is still worthwhile. - Darren)
Another good card against control/combo. Lasher's TurboGenesis uses some with efficiency, but note the additionnal Planar Births and Tormod's Crypts.
This could be better than Jayemdae Tome if your metagame is filled with mono-colored decks.
A very good card, especially against discard and counter decks. You might want to play it maindeck, but at least find a place for it in the sideboard. You also need this to counter Nevinyrral's Disk and Anarchy. (One thing that I had considered was running one of these maindeck in place of the second Zuran Orb. - Darren)
The sideboard is very variable. Here are some suggestions.
Circle/Rune of Protection : Red : Vs SRB, Sligh, Wildfire, etc.
Circle/Rune of Protection : Blue : Vs Fish, Acc. Blue, Draw-Go to prevent Morphling damage.
Circle/Rune of Protection : Black : Vs Negators, Hypnotic Specters, Drain Life... Mostly a "survival" card instead of a silver bullet.
(The CoPs are sort of redundant, since you are already running a Story Circle main deck - another Story Circle and an extra Moat might be better served here. Also, Masticore might work as a sideboard card should the deck need to become more aggressive in some case, since Land Tax makes the upkeep a cinch to pay. - Darren)
Ivory Mask : Vs Combo, Discard, SRB.
Black Vise : Might be good vs control decks packed with draw drawing.
Abolish : Prefered over Disenchant mostly because of Stasis, Nether Void and GLOOM. Yes, you'll still have to pay three when playing this, but it's better than five! The cost of discarding a Plains isn't really a problem when playing with Land Tax. You also want a non-enchantment enchantment/artifact removal against those opposing Auras and who knows? Maybe even Presence of the Master!
Defence Grid: Could be good vs counter decks. Note that it affects you too, but probably less than your opponent.
Cornered Market: I was looking for a white equivalent of Blood Moon and Back to Basics and found this. It could be interesting to test this card.
STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
One of the greatest strengths of the deck is its versatility. White has some of the best removal in the game. If you manage to get Land Tax/Scroll Rack going, chances are you'll win the game whatever the opponent is playing. The deck is also mana-screw resistant.
The deck is very good against creature-based decks, except maybe Stompy and Hatred. Stompy doesn't play a lot of lands, preventing you from Taxing. It also has enchantment removal, and Rancor proves to be a recurring nightmare. Side in Spirit Links. Powder Keg could help, too. Hatred is fast, and some of its creatures are protected from white. Powder Keg and StP are your best friends until you get Moat on the table.
You should be able to win most of the time against red and black decks. Oath and Rec/Sur shouldn't be a problem, either.
Mono-U is probably the deck's worst matchup. Bluff like you would do with any other deck (keeping the important spell for the end), except that you have Abeyance, which HAS to be countered. Your best bet is to wait to have more good cards in hand than cards in your opponent's hand. You can win if you manage to play Sacred Mesa. Side in Replenish.
Gaea's Blessing Keeper can give you problems, too. Play carefully, and play Ivory Mask as soon as possible to avoid being Mind Twisted and Tormod's Crypted. Once again, Sacred Mesa on the table is probably game.
Finally, another positive point is the low cost of the deck. A powerless version (without Black Lotus, LoA, Mox Pearl and Moat) is, at most, a $150-$200 deck.
GUIDE TO SURVIVAL SPELLS AND SILVER BULLETS
(Deck : Survival Spells -- Silver Bullets)
Keeper : Abeyance, Tormod's Crypt, Wasteland -- Sacred Mesa, Ivory Mask
SRB/Sligh : StoP, Wrath of God, Ivory Tower, Zuran Orb/Planar Birth -- Ivory Mask, Moat, Story Circle
White Weenie : StoP, Wrath of God, Ivory Tower, Zuran Orb, Planar Birth, Balance -- Sacred Mesa, Moat
Trix : Abeyance -- Ivory Mask, Aura of Silence
Stompy : StoP, Wrath of God, Ivory Tower, Zuran Orb/Planar Birth -- Moat, Story Circle, Sacred Mesa
Oath : Abeyance, Tormod's Crypt, Aura of Silence, Wasteland -- Sacred Mesa, Ivory Mask
Counter/Post : Wasteland, Aura of Silence -- Moat
Pox : Wasteland, Abeyance, Land Tax -- Moat, Ivory Mask, Aura of Silence
Nether Void : Wasteland, StoP, Abeyance, Land Tax -- Moat, Ivory Mask, Aura of Silence, Story Circle
Survival : Aura of Silence, Tormod's Crypt, StoP -- Ivory Mask, Moat, StoP
Deck Parfait : Aura of Silence, Tormod's Crypt - Ivory Mask, Balance, Sacred Mesa, Aura of Silence
Mono-U : Abeyance, Tormod's Crypt, Aura of Silence -- Sacred Mesa
Pandeburst : Abeyance, Tormod's Crypt -- Ivory Mask, Aura of Silence, Moat
Zoo : StoP, Wrath of God, Ivory Tower, Zuran Orb/Planar Birth -- Ivory Mask, Moat, Story Circle
Teletubbies : Wasteland, Aura of Silence, StoP -- Moat
TurboLand : Abeyance, Tormod's Crypt, Aura of Silence, Balance - Ivory Mask, Story Circle
SGD : StoP, Wrath of God -- Moat, Story Circle, Sacred Mesa
Suicide Black : StoP, Wrath of God, Ivory Tower, Zuran Orb/Planar Birth -- Moat, Story Circle
Hi, it's Darren - I'm back. I realize that this is obscenely long, but I think that it is very worthwhile as both an illustration of a fairly low-cost deck that can do extremely well in Type One, and also serves as one of the better examples of knowing your own deck. If you can't talk at this kind of length about the deck you are playing, then it might be time to do some consideration of exactly why you have each card in there. This is doubly true in Type One, where one or two differences in cards between two decks can be drastically altering in overall quality.
For those of you who made it this far, and I hope there were many, next week I will reveal the single most important secret you can know in order to win more at Magic, or anything else. No, really. ;)
Darren Di Battista
Azhrei at www.bdominia.com
Team Iron Chef