Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Friday, July 6, 2012
The most recent expansion to come from Wizards of the Coast (Avacyn Restored) contains the card that has really shook up infect decks, it is Wild Defiance. This simple enchantment allows your infectious creatures to become super massive, and only having to deal 10 points damage to a player does not take long. With this card in play a plain old 2/2 Ichorclaw Myr becomes an eye-watering 9/9 when you cast a Titanic Growth on it.
The other card that is being reprinted in the forthcoming Magic2013 or if you have the original from the old Urza's Legacy set is Rancor. While this card does not trigger the Wild Defiance ability it does provide one important feature - Trample. And a trample that comes back even if your creature gets taken out.
- Small, fast, and cheap infect creatures.
- Cheap instant and sorcery cards to inflate your poison creatures.
The first part of choosing creatures is fairly straightforward, as there is only a limited number of infect creatures in the first place, and an even smaller number of them that meet the criteria of being fast and cheap (2 or less mana).
The selection of instant and sorcery spells that could be used is vast so some care needs to be taken here when making a selection with the main criteria being that the casting cost of the spells should only be 1 or 2 mana.
To find the best cards for this deck requires a bit of thinking. In order to kill our opponent we need to do damage quickly, so any card that provides increased power works as a double wammy with Wild Defiance. Big creatures are no good if your opponent can simply bring out a 1/1 blocker every turn, so cards that make your creatures unblockable, or give them trample are a good way around this. And you also need to protect your creatures as black creature removal will take out a 9/9 Ichorclaw Myr just as easily as a normal one. In addition to the actual powers granted by a spell, the meta abilities of a spell should also be taken into account. Any ability that allows a spell to be cast more than once works really well with Wild Defiance, so cards with Flashback, Rebound, and Buyback can work well here. Another thing to look for is the Phyrexian Mana capability allowing you to cast some spells such as Mutagenic Growth even when you don't have any mana available.
So here we have a deck that takes the above into account and can take out your opponent with lightning speed:
4 Glistener Elf
4 Blighted Agent
4 Ichorclaw Myr
4 Hinterland Harbor
4 Inkmoth Nexus
4 Wild Defiance
4 Might of Old Krosa
4 Vines of Vastwood
4 Mutagenic Growth
2 Ranger's Guile
2 Prey's Vengeance
2 Distortion Strike
2 Predator's Strike
The creatures that I have chosen for this deck are fairly obvious as they are the best cheap infect creatures in the game. The Glistener Elf is the only single mana infect creature, and the Blighted Agent & Ichorclaw Myr due to being impossible to block, or undesirable to block respectively. Potential other contenders would be the Blight Mamba, or the Plague Stinger if you wanted to make a variant of this deck with Black.
As mentioned earlier there are for key things we want in our instant & sorcery cards. Creature inflation, creature protection, unblockable creatures and trample. With trample becoming less important with the addition of Rancor. Creature inflation comes in the form of Might of Old Krosa which is easily superior to Titanic Growth, Mutagenic Growth, Prey's Vengeance, & Predator's Strike with Predator's Strike also giving trample, and Prey's Vengeance coming back for free the next turn. Creature protection comes from Vines of Vastwood & Ranger's Guile with both cards having the utility of inflating the creature they are also protecting. The only card granting unblockability is Distortion Strike, and as it has the rebound ability it will come back the next turn for free as well.
When looking at the mechanics of the cards, I have favoured the rebound ability over flashback and buyback. Buyback is generally too expensive in the context of this deck and would eat up too much mana. Flashback while better than buyback in terms of mana, and more flexible than rebound still requires mana to cast the spell the second time, and that's what gives rebound the edge.
As for sideboard considerations, certain cards fit in quite well. Gut Shot is an excellent utility card for dealing with annoying 1/1 creatures your opponent gets out early or also inflating your own creatures. Apostle's Blessing is another decent creature protection / potentially unblockable card. Counter magic is also important as there are some cards that can really kill this deck such as the Curse of Death's Hold.
One of the main problems that you can find with this deck is that it runs out of cards quickly, this can be quite problematic if you don't manage to kill your opponent early on. Further investigation could be done into using other cards to aid in drawing such as the Howling Mine, or Jace's Archivist, or other cards that allow you to sacrifice land such as Excavation, Sustenance, or Sylvan Safekeeper.
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Times have changed however. The Sengir Vampire would not make it into any self respecting vampire deck, and definitely not into the top 10 vampire cards of all time. That being said the forth-coming Magic2013 set is seeing the return of one of the all time top vampire cards --- the Vampire Nocturnus. I am looking forward to this as it should reduce the price of the existing card (currently $14-$25 US) and make it slightly more accessible.
- Ascendant Evincar While this guy is a little on the expensive side at 6 mana and is only a 3/3 flyer himself it's his other abilities that make him shine. Giving all black creatures +1/+1 and other non-black creatures -1/-1 gives him a space in a mono-black agro deck. Just remember to sideboard him out if your oponent is playing black.
- Bloodghast The vampire that keeps on giving. You can get this guy out early and bring him right back from the grave on every subsequent land drop. While only a 2/1 creature if you are running 4 of these and other cards that increase the power and toughness of vampires it does not take long for these guys to become a real headache.
- Bloodline Keeper One of the best new vampires in my opinion. 4 mana for a 3/3 Flyer is not expensive in the first place, but add in the ability to tap to create an additional 2/2 Flying vampire token, and the ability to transform into the Lord of Lineage when you have 5 more vampires in play makes this guy great.
- Kalastria Highborn Two mana for a 2/2 is not amazing, but the ability to play for a 2 point drain life when ever a vampire of yours is killed makes this card special.
- Kalitas, Bloodchief of Ghet A repeatable ability to kill any creature for is nice, but getting a black token of the same strength and power at the same time is just brutal.
- Mirri the Cursed Cheaper & weaker than the old Sengir Vampire, but coming with the added abilities of Haste Fisrt Strike, and a easier method of growing than big brother Sengir, Mirri the Cursed is pound for pound one of the best vampires in the game.
- Sangromancer Black is well known for its creature killing capabilities and its spells to make someone discard a card or two; it is not well know for healing. Well meet the Sangromancer.
- Stromkirk Captain In addition to Black, there are now also many Red vampires, so building a Red/Black vampire deck is a very real posibility. If you do then you should play 4 of these. Even in a all Black vampire deck this card is good as you can't really argue with giving your vampires +1/+1 and First strike.
- Vampire Nighthawk Another exceptional vampire card, a 2/3 flyer with deathtouch and first strike for only 3 mana could come out on the first turn with the aid of a Dark Ritual.
- Vampire Nocturnus In a mono black vampire deck this guy reigns supreme giving all your vampires flying and +2/+1 makes this guy the best.
Thursday, May 31, 2012
- You only need to do 10 points damage to a player rather than 20.
- Damage done to opponents creatures by your poison creatures is permanent. i.e) rather than dealing normal damage that is wiped at the end of the turn, poisonous creatures deal damage to other creatures in the form of -1/-1 counters that persist past the end of the turn.
- There is still very little poison removal cards in Magic, and because of the rarity of Poison decks most players will not have any in their decks or sideboard.
Another effect that what introduced to the game in the 'Scars of Mirrodin' block that has a strong synergy with poison decks is that of 'proliferate'. The 'proliferate' effect states that a player may choose any number of creatures and players with counters on them and add one additional counter of the same type. This obviously works well with poison counters on players and -1/-1 counters on creatures.
Below is a deck that specialises in poison and proliferation that I have used and has proven to be rather successful:
4 Ichorclaw Myr
3 Plague Myr
4 Blighted Agent
2 Hand of the Praetors
1 Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas
4 Drowned Catacomb
4 Inkmoth Nexus
4 Buried Ruin
2 Bladed Pinions
2 Livewire Lash
2 Throne of Geth
4 Corrupted Resolve
3 Grim Affliction
2 Mana Leak
2 Contagion Clasp
3 Virulent Wound
2 Tezzeret's Gambit
The key idea behind this deck is to get your opponent poisoned early, and then to continue to tick away at their poison count with various proliferate affects. Being a blue/black deck it also has strong control elements and as part of its strategy to prevent the opponent from becoming too powerful.
Inkmoth Nexus is essential as it is a turn two flying attacker with infect, the Blighted Agent is also great as it can't be blocked, and finally the Ichorclaw Myr is also a creature that your opponent will more often than not let through so it does not get its +2/+2 bonus when blocked.
The other creatures are secondary yet all play an important function. The Plague Myr ramps up the mana base while also having infect. The Thrummingbird provides a potential repeating 'proliferate' effect with every successful attack on a player. Finally the Hand of the Praetors, another infect creature makes your existing infect creatures bigger and provides another mechanism to give your opponent a poison counter every time you cast another creature with the 'infect' ability.
All of the spells and artifacts in the deck focus around two area's of game-play: Controlling the opponent or providing another mechanism to proliferate out additional poison counters. Traditional counter magic comes in the form of Mana Leak and Corrupted Resolve. Corrupted Resolve does require that the opponent has at least one poison counter, however you can expect that that will be the case from fairly early in the game.
Creature control comes in the form of Virulent Wound, Grim Affliction, and Contagion Clasp. All of these cards have the ability to potentially give your opponent a poison counter or to proliferate. Virulent Wound and Grim Affliction primarily deal with small creatures, but are there to maximise the poison/proliferation affects. Against decks where you face more powerful threats they should be sideboarded out in favour of more effective creature killers such as Doom Blade or Dismember.
The deck also includes two equipment spells, Livewire Lash, and Bladed Pinions, both of which work well in an infect based deck. The Livewire Lash is great as it inflates your infect based creature, but also states that if the equiped creature is targeted by a spell that the creature deals two damage to a creature or player. If the creature has infect however it deals damage as poison counters or -1/-1 counters. Equiping this bad boy onto an unblockable Blighted Agent makes him a target for removal, but also a guaranteed additional two poison counters for your opponent. Bladed Pinions also works well here by giving the equipped creature flying and first strike. The flying ability makes it more difficult to block the creature, and therefore more likely to get through to the player and give them a poison counter. The first strike affect is very useful with infect as the infect damage will also reduce the damage that the creature can do back to your attacker.
Ichorclaw Myr, Plague Myr, Contagion Clasp, Bladed Pinions, Livewire Lash, and potentially the Inkmoth Nexus), one additional artifact - the Throne of Geth is an excellent addition to this deck. This card allows you to proliferate poison counters to your heart's content, and is a great way of disposing of artifacts that are either of no use, or are being destroyed by an opponent.
I have included one planeswalker card in this deck too, 'Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas' because his abilities work in well with a deck that has a number of artifacts. The first ability allowing you to search for that specific artifact that you need, and the second one to change an artifact into a 5/5 creature is great for getting a big blocker, or making your Ichorclaw Myr really deadly.
The land cards in the deck are fairly self explanatory, all poison decks should have a complete set of Inkmoth Nexus cards, the Drowned Catacombs for versatility in a Blue/Black deck and the Burried Ruins are good for getting your artifacts back after they have been destroyed or sacrificed to the Throne of Geth.