Monday, June 23, 2008

Deck Evolution: Lorwyn Elvish Predation

Over the last couple of weeks I have spoken with several people who are interested in re/entering the game, but wish to do so in a limited fashion, with minimal outlay of cash. The question always ends up, on what is the best way fro them to get the most fun out of meager resources. For the purposes of this article, I am going to work with a $20 budget, and ignore sales tax. I really consider this a bear
minimum of entry, and feel confident that almost anyone can accommodate this amount. More often then not, I recommend they buy a pre-con, because at about $12 it fits almost any budget, has known fixed contents, and is designed for entry level players. The remaining $8 could be spent on 2 boosters, or a variety of singles. Then I got to thinking, could a player do better, and frankly I think they can. If you take this same budget, and participate in the open-dueling at the prerelease event, you would get a random pre-con, a booster pack, a foil promo card, and still have $5 left for other purchases.

Over the next few weeks I am going to apply this method to the Lorwyn block to demonstrate just how much of a collection a beginner could compile even with these limited resources. In addition to the concept laid out above, I will restrict card selection to the current block, and most recent core set. Cards rares, and chase cards can be "cashed out" to a trade pool to acquire other rares or chase cards. Chase cards will be defined as un/commons which trade at above average values. Regular un/commons will be purchased from our remaining cash pool at the standard rates of the store. Regular un/commons which we have will not be traded, and either must be used, or held for future use.

We will begin this quest with the randomly determined Elvish Predation deck containing the following, in addition to the foil promo of Wren's Run Packmaster, and the randomly generated booster pack.
3Scarred Vinebreeder1 ManaBlack Mana
1Lys Alana Scarblade2 ManaBlack Mana
3Moonglove Winnower3 ManaBlack Mana
1Hunter of Eyeblights3 ManaBlack ManaBlack Mana
2Elvish EulogistGreen Mana
2Leaf Gilder1 ManaGreen Mana
1Wren's Run Vanquisher1 ManaGreen Mana
2Elvish Harbinger2 ManaGreen Mana
3Gilt-Leaf Seer2 ManaGreen Mana
2Imperious Perfect2 ManaGreen Mana
2Jagged-Scar Archers1 ManaGreen ManaGreen Mana
1Immaculate Magistrate3 ManaGreen Mana
2Lys Alana Huntmaster2 ManaGreen ManaGreen Mana
2Nath's Elite4 ManaGreen Mana
1Nath of the Gilt-Leaf3 ManaBlack ManaGreen Mana
1Prowess of the Fair1 ManaBlack Mana
2Eyeblight's Ending2 ManaBlack Mana
1Lammastide Weave1 ManaGreen Mana
2Gilt-Leaf Ambush2 ManaGreen Mana
2Elvish Promenade3 ManaGreen Mana
1Wanderer's Twig1 Mana

Lowland Oaf3
Woodland Changeling1
Aquitect's Will
Herbal Poultice0
Kithkin Healer2
Goldmeadow Dodger
Avian Changeling2
Scarred Vinebreeder1
Nath's Buffoon1
Fodder Launch3
Prowess of the Fair1
Jace Beleren1

I would immediately pull the Wander's Twig for the Wrens Run Packmaster promo card, since I believe it brings more to our deck then it's $5.00 could bring in trade. My next thought with this deck is to go mono-green, but this will force most of our removal, and discard out of our deck. When testing the deck, the only black card I am really going to miss is the Eyeblights Ending as removal. Since this is effectively only 2 pieces of removal, I think we can make the change. We can add 2 Prowess of the Fair, Shriekmaw, And Nath of the Gilt Leaf to our trade pool for a total value of $4.50. With a total of only 2 blue cards in our collection, I have to say Jace's $5.00 value is worth way more as trade, bringing our total pool to a respectable $9.50, and our cash pool remains at $5.00. Basic land is free so grab up another 9 Forrest to replace your Swamps. By the way, as you are going through the land box, try and find one picture you like, and get them all to match. This is a nice trick I learned recently, and a habit I am trying to build. It makes it harder for your opponent to know how much land you are running, if they all match. It will not make much of a difference with this deck, but habits have to start somewhere.

Now we have 12 slots to fill in our deck, and I will start by looking at the core set un/commons for anything that will help us level up, since our only unused green card is Woodland Changeling. It's a good card, but really doesn't bring anything to the deck. The very first card to come to mind is Llanowar Elves, and is practically a must have for this deck. No matter how many times they print it, this card always trades for a premium, so the play set of 4 is going to take $3.00 out of our trade pool, but is worth every penny. There are a number of other cards to consider, but none that add huge value to our developing deck. Next thing to consider is the under used uncommons in the deck. There are three cards in this deck that I would really like to have more of. We could use two Imperious Perfects at $3 each, 2 Jagged-Scar Archers at $1 each, and three Wren's Run Vanquishers at $1.50 each. Obviously we don't have enough in our trade pool to support all our wants, so we are going to have to pick a choose. After some testing with different proxied combinations, I have decided that the best mix is one Perfect, two Archers, and one Vanquisher. Not only does this fill 4 more slots in our deck, but uses all of our trade pool.

We still have 4 slots to fill in our deck, and since we have no more to trade with, we will need to look at the un/commons for purchase. I have selected the following cards for a grand total of $5.00.

4 Elvish Branchbender brings power to the deck with big hitters
4 Elvish Handservant a one drop elf
1 Gilt-leaf Ambush blocking, with possible removal, plus makes two tokens for one card.
4 Moonglove Extract removal for mono-green
4 Runed Stalactite it's a tribal block, this may be useful, and is playable in any color, or tribe
3 Woodland Changelings naked elf
3 Changeling Titan really big elf
2 Elvish Promonade more elves then the north pole
3 Incremental Growth steroids for elves.

This gives us a total of 84 cards, not including basic lands. Of these 59 are highly playable, and 19 are marginal, leaving only 6 cards that are unplayable in our collection. This collection yields the following deck. You will find that this has a high power level for the investment, and will fair well in a casual game. Not a bad showing for $20. Tune in next week, when we take our $20 to Morningtide prerelease, and see what we can come away with.

23 Forest
4 Moonglove Extract
3 Imperious Perfects
4 Jagged-Scar Archers
2 Wren's Run Vanquisher
3 Elvish Branchbender
4 Llanowar Elves
2 Lys Alana Huntmaster
1 Wren's Run Packmaster
2 Nath's Elite
2 Elvish Harbingers
2 Gilt Leaf Ambush
1 Immaculate Magistrate
2 Elvish Promenade
3 Gilt-Leaf Seer
2 Leaf Gilder

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