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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Grim Tidings #28 - Deck Diagnostic Part II

5C Proliferate, Part II - Draw

Everything seems to be progressing well with my 5C Proliferate deck, as my major overhauls are complete for the most part. Over the last three weeks, I’ve injected the deck with a substantial amount of removal and drawing capability to help build a strong skeleton that can be fleshed out with a 'proliferating counter’ theme.

One of the biggest problems from the initial games I played with 5C Proliferate was that I had no sustainability after my opening seven-card hand. I consistently went into top-deck mode after a few turns, and had to rely solely on luck to mount any sort of offense. In short, there was no sustainability at all.

Now, I did include some elements of card draw, but as I revealed last week, my initial intent was to have a highlander decklist, with a wide variety of spells to chose form. What I ended up with in result was a diluted deck that always petered out around turn 5.

Starting Point
What nice about the card drawing aspect is that I have more opportunity to incorporate the proliferate counter theme into the card selections. I immediately tagged a few notable spells that fit this description:

Jace Berelan
Enclave Cryptologist
Sphinx of Magosi
Etched Oracle

Sadly with just 1-ofs, these gems were the equivalent of a whisper at a Lamb of God concert. (Speaking of which, when are these guys going to release a new album?) It became evident that I needed to concentrate the ability to draw extra cards to keep the pressure on.

Card Advantage Basics
There are a few basic “laws” that govern Magic games, one of which is that the standard rules only allow you to draw card per turn. You’re pretty much guaranteed to get that card each Draw Step, but normally, that’s the only new spell you’re going to see. until your next turn. I find this “law” to be the biggest limiting factor to each magic game. It is the step I look forward to most each turn, as it presents me with the ultimate decision of whether to attack, activate, destroy or pass depending on what I draw.

So what if you draw an extra card? Well, now I get two choices. I am not forced to make a linear decision, as I have multiple variables which I can leverage to my advantage.

Additionally, you have broken a basic Magic “law” that you can only draw one card per turn. In some ways you have taken two turns. Granted, you don’t get a second untap or attack phase, but if cards in hand are the most important resource you have, you are essentially getting an extra turn when you draw that second card.

Besides, these are 300 card 5-Color decks. Not every spell is going to be applicable (or even castable!) at the precise time you draw it. If you are really desperate for creature removal, you’re going to need to dig as deep as possible to get that Swords to Plowshares in your hand quickly.

So How Many Jaces are Too Many?
After week #2, I had increased the card drawing density substantially, but as always, its never enough for me. I ordered additional cards online to help this critical elements, and here is the final suite I assembled:

4x Jace Berelan
1x Tezzeret the Seeker

4x Enclave Cryptologist
4x Sphinx of Magosi
4x Etched Oracle
1x Bringer of the Blue Dawn
1x Mulldrifter
1x Sphinx of Lost Truths
1x Sage of Fables
1x Myojin of the Seeing Wind
1x Dusk Urchins
1x Wall of Omens
1x Wall of Blossoms
1x Orhan Viper
1x Eternal Witness
1x Cold Eyed Selkie

1x Pursuit of Knowledge
1x Ancestral Visions
1x Ponder
1x Brainstorm
1x Cryptic Command
1x Future Sight
1x Steady Progress
1x Trigon of Thought
1x Crystal Ball
1x Sensei’s Divining Top
1x Skullclamp

I tried to maintain my highlander notion if I felt the card was somewhat conditional or out of theme, but overall, this is a lot of card draw. In addition, I started piling on the tutor effects as well, to reduce any topdeck mode and just go get you what I want when I needed it:

1x Tinker
1x Transmute Artifact
1x Academy Rector
1x Enlightened Tutor
1x Idyliic Tutor
1x Liliana Vess
1x Demonic Tutor
1x Beseech the Queen
1x Diabolic Tutor
1x Night Dealings

Alright, time to shuffle up!

Week 3 Results
Unfortunately, it was just Jedi Jed and myself this week, so I was forced back into one-on-one duels. (I’m certain 5C Proliferate is much better suited to a multiplayer setting to help divert attention away from my wicked machinations.) To make matters worse, Jed’s deck is absolutely fantastic too. I’m not going to put weight on going 2-8 against him that night. Rather, I’ll use the data I gathered it as a teaching tool to help me understand the tendencies of my current decklist.

Overall, I was impressed. I rarely ever had less than 5 cards in hand, and I was setting up my proliferate tricks quite frequently. Most games came down to being just a micro-second too slow to deal the killing blow, but I was drawing enough threats and answers to “do” what the deck is supposed to “do”.

I would love to play 4x Jace the Mindsculptor in addition to the 4x Jace Berelans, but I’m not dumping any more money into this casual theme deck.

I still have some smoothing of the mana base to work out, especially with my minimized red/black sources, but I am on the right track to success. Next week I’ll address those issues before I get to discussion of the final decklist and the weird proliferate synergies I’ve discovered in this diagnostic effort. Ciao!

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