A viable Standard deck in the making?
So, the “Soul Sisters” deck was a surprise this past weekend at the StarCity Games Open in Denver. 6th place for a life-gain deck is impressive (though it can be argued that its success was totally based on the surprise factor). Looking at the deck list, however, you can see that the life expectancy of this deck is short (both because of people being more aware of it now, and that several cards will rotate out of Standard October 1).
A few of the deck’s key cards rotate when M10 and Alara Block leave Standard on October 1. Most notably, these cards include Ranger of Eos, but also Soul Warden (which leaves the deck as Soul Sister singular). The loss of Ranger of Eos almost cripples the deck as it is currently configured. So, I thought about what is currently available in the future Standard (since we haven’t seen much of the goodies from upcoming Scars of Mirrodin) and put together this list. I opted for a wider variety of creatures and spells (most of which cause life gain) in order to compensate for the lack of Ranger of Eos creature tutoring ability. Unlike Soul Sisters as it currently stands, this deck is far more expensive to put together.
Oh, and by the way, I love Silence. Why it doesn’t get much credit is beyond me.
Also, I’m assuming there will be something Scars of Mirrodin that replaces Path to Exile. For the record, this deck would definitely run that.
Soul Sister Transcended
I almost ran 4x Squadron Hawk. I don’t think it’s a bad idea, since the hawks allow you to consistently hit a creature drop for Soul’s Attendant life gain (which you aren’t guaranteed any longer due to the lack of Ranger of Eos). I simply wanted to run some other cards in addition, specifically main-decking a Linvala, and the Transcendent Masters and Student of Warfares. I’m surprised the Students weren’t in the original Soul Sisters deck since they are great to tutor up with Rangers of Eos if you’ve already pulled your Serra Ascendants. Perhaps they were simply too much money?
Obvious additions would be Baneslayer Angels, but you have to own them to play them. I think I’d run 2x of them, dropping out the 2x Student of Warfare. I also kind of wanted to run 2x Elixir of Immortality. If we’re going to run life-gain, this is pretty cool, since it is a renewable source. Another possibility in this vein was Ajani’s Mantra. Cheap, but I felt the slots could be better served with a third Ajani Goldmane, a Gideon Jura (because, I mean really, why not?), and an Iona, Shield of Emeria. Plus a few additional lands to help pay for those higher cost creatures and additional level ups.
For an optional budget build, I had an idea of running a Defender version of this with Wall of Omens, Perimeter Captains, and Roc Eggs in place of the pricier creatures. Perhaps even some Wall of Reverence, at least until Alara block rotates out.
But I think a really fun idea would be Allies, making use of Ondu Cleric and Talus Paladin for life gain. Throw in some Narrow Escapes and you can rinse and repeat, plus gain life for the Narrow Escape itself. Or you could skip the Narrow Escapes, and with Ondu Cleric in play gain life and some buddies with Join the Ranks (this is the option I went with and actually lead me to remove the Survival Caches). With this build you wouldn’t need Soul Attendants at all. It’s a much more budget build than the one above, but I think the Sun Titans are well worth it here because so many of the cards are pullable (and thus reactiviting the Ally abilities!) with the Titans’ ability. Also, I really wish Mystifying Maze worked on any attacking creature, not just your opponent’s. It would have lead to some fun Ally interactions.
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Thoughts, comments? Post comments or tweet at me @CarlsonJJ.
I know this won’t be Standard legal much longer, but I had a fun thought of running a deck with Putrid Leech and Momentous Fall. Drain my life, pump the Leech, attack, at end of turn sacrifice the Leech to draw cards and gain my life back. I then threw in some other plays well with “sacrifice” things, and voila!
Sac it to me
What do you think?
First thing you Magic players looking at this are going to think is, “WTF, why’s old Jace the only Jace here?”
Well, the main idea is, I’ve wanted to use Runeflare Trap for a long time. In the Super Villains Deck, I was running a pair of Runeflare Trap main deck with all the Howling Mines that the deck was running. Along comes M11, and replaces Howling Mine with Temple Bell. And guess what? For Runeflare Trap, this is actually better! Now, rather than letting your opponent get tons of cards all the time, you can decide to let them draw multiple cards only when you want them to! In other words, when you have a Runeflare Trap in hand! Same deal with the poor man’s Jace. Good ol’ Jace Beleren, who’s been scoffed at since he was given a $6 million upgrade, does the same thing as Temple Bell, so he makes Runeflare Trap work, too! Throw in a few Jace’s Erasures and you’re punishing your opponent twice for the joy of card drawing.
Chandra Ablaze is the other counterpart to this deck. Some cheap red burn spells get the punishment started, but hopefully you’ll get to make better use of them after Chandra gets in play. That Lightning Bolt does 4 damage instead of 3 with her first ability, and her ultimate lets you play them all again. Her second ability, however, plays really well with (wait for it) ….Runeflare Trap!
I really wish Destructive Force did damage to players, in addition to, or even instead of, creatures (Earthquake it is not, though Earthquake wouldn’t work with Chandra’s ultimate). Destructive Force would be a hell of a finishing card if it hit players, especially if you were able to use Chandra to play it: +1 Discard Destructive Force to deal 4 damage, -7 Blow everything and everyone up! Unfortunately, it doesn’t do all of that. What the deck is missing is a huge Mortal Kombat “FINISH HIM!” type fatality. I’m not sure it needs it. Hell, you might mill your opponent before you even finish them off with Runeflare Trap or other burn.
What I see as negatives for this deck. No creatures. An opponent playing a weenie build would probably hit really fast and really hard. My hope is that the cheap burn and counter magic would hold off the opposition long enough, but I’m not sure. Thoughts?
@the_stybs sent out a challenge via Twitter the other day for Frost Titan deck ideas.
Here’s what I came up with:
4x Frost Titan
1x Lorthos the Tidemaker
2x Stormtide Leviathan
2x Lullmage Mentor
2x Mass Polymorph
1x Rite of Replication
4x Mana Leak
4x Spreading Seas
2x Wind Zendikon
1x Sword of Vengeance
2x Temple Bell
4x Halimar Depths
4x Paralyzing Grasp
2x Augury Owl
2x See Beyond
Key things about the deck:
“The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides with the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who in the name of charity and good will shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon those with great vengeance and with furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know that my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.”
-Samuel L. Jackson, as Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction
Update: On the Magic Online Trading League site, I received some praise for this deck: “the fun (or cool) factor of this deck is off the charts” and that it is “the very essence of what a black deck is meant to be.” Awesome!
When Death’s Shadow was first spoiled, I almost soiled my pants. I like cards that have a cool factor to them, and frankly the double 13s and the single mana casting cost definitely were cool to me. Sure, it has a draw back that you have to be low in life for those 13s, or anything high number, to actually be in effect, but it’s Black. Isn’t that what Black is about?
This deck was simply super fun to play at my last get together of casual players. It definitely came out of left field and made a statement. It does not work so well in multiplayer, but one on one it can hold its own. I doubt it’s competitiveness in Vintage tournament play, but, I thought I’d throw it out there for you.
Any suggestions for some really cool, but especially really FUN, things to add to this, let me know in the comments. For instance, I’d like to add Hall of the Bandit Lord, just for kicks, but I need a way to filter the colorless mana into Black mana, perhaps some Initiates (Bog or Ebon Hand), . Or perhaps a Tomb of Urami, without running any ogres.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” – Psalm 23
You can’t be afraid when playing this deck. Go for it, take the “plunge.” It’s a bit of a rush to first turn drop a Swamp, two Dark Rituals, a Lurking Horror, sacrifice it so you’re down to 10, then drop two Death’s Shadows on the table. Sure, they’re only 3/3 at that point, but when your next turn is Swamp and Plunge into Darkness? “I pay 9 life, get a card, swing for 28. Yeah, there’s a Horror flying at you too, you know, just because.” Bammo.
Some of the cards are truly unneccesary. You don’t really need Platinum Angel or Lich’s Tomb, but if for some strange reason you haven’t won or lost by your third turn, they can be crazy fun to have in play so that your Death’s Shadows become HUGE. Death Wish is another just silly fun card, though I have no idea what I would ever search for with it. Sometimes when you’re running a suicide mission, there just aren’t many options out there to save you.
I keep considering adding Pestilence to this deck, because it hurts your opponent (and importantly you) and clears other creatures off the board while your Death’s Shadows get bigger. We’ll see.
One of the cool thing about several of the cards in the deck are their ability to drop your life total into 13/13 Death’s Shadow range and also let you search for the beast. Infernal Contract and Plunge Into Darkness, for example. If I owned any Vampiric Tutors, Cruel Tutors, or Cruel Bargains, they would all definitely be in there, and this is what they would do:
“I want you to go in that bag and find my wallet.”
“Which one is it?”
“It’s the one that says Bad Motherfucker.”