Budget Pox Control: Initial Impressions

 Just for review, here is how the deck works.  The ultimate goal is to set up a lock by keeping the enchantment Contamination on the battlefield using token producers or recursive creatures.  You use hand disruption, land destruction, and removal to help set up and maintain the lock, and it works pretty well… at least against most decks.

The main problem I had with the initial decklist is its weakness to decks with black spells or decks that contain Aether Vial.  If they manage to land an Aether Vial, you will suffer for it, and hand disruption will only partially solve the problem.  Creature removal, though something the deck packs a significant amount of, probably will not be enough to stem the tide since they just keep coming.  Decks containing a good number of black spells can still function reasonably well, even under the lock.  Another strike against the build presented in the article: the lock is pretty useless against colorless spells, namely artifacts.

Nether Spirits are also proving to be harder to find than I could have imagined, and I am not happy about the price either.  I decided initially to replace them with Reassembling Skeleton and that worked reasonably well, despite consuming a significant portion of the mana I was producing every turn.  After experimenting with them, I decided I wanted a card that would not be as mana-intensive, so I snap-bought a playset of Nether Traitors, not thinking that the drawback would be all that severe.  With Nether Traitor, you need another recursive sacrifice outlet in order to make him useful.  That is a HUGE downside, increasing the number of cards you need to have online for the lock to be effective.

The price of Hymn to Tourach has also changed my build.  I opted for Distress for the time-being.  It doesn’t offer card advantage, but it does allow me a peek at the opponent’s hand, assuming it doesn’t get countered.  It may change again if I can find a more viable alternative.

Overall, I cannot complain about the deck’s performance, particularly since I paid almost nothing to build it.  Once the opponent figures out what Contamination does and how the lock works, they usually concede before the game goes any farther if the lock is effective against them.  I have tried and tried to make a decklist that can function well without the Contamination lock to play as a maindeck so I am not a dog in game 1 against Pox decks, Aether Vial, and decks relying on artifacts.  This has proven to be a very difficult task indeed.  Advice and criticism toward this end would be much appreciated.

I would put up a decklist, but there are a significant number of uncertainties at the moment, so stay tuned.  If you want something to start from for yourself, check out mtgsalvation.com.  Enjoy!

Budget Pox Control for Legacy

An article on MTG Salvation caught my eye the other day.  It is the first article in a 3-part series, containing a total of fifteen budget decks for Legacy that all cost $100 or less, some much less.  The Pox deck there really spoke to me since I have 3 Bitterblossoms laying around in my MTGO collection from when I threw away a bunch of money drafting Morningtide, and I’ve always thought about getting into Legacy, but the price barrier was a bit too much for me to get over.  Also helps that I like Pox and decks that grind out wins.  It should not be too hard to get most of the cards needed for the deck without spending any tix at all, given that I have some credit on several bots at the moment.  You can view the entire list of decks here.  Enjoy!  I’ll get the decklist I end up using posted up and try to have a few games to report on as well.  Should be interesting, as the last time I looked into legacy, Stax and Tooth and Nail were two of the top decks in the format.

Cards to Watch: Jace’s Phantasm

Spoiler season for Magic 2013 came very quickly on the heels of the Avacyn Restored release on MTGO and there is already a card that stands out.  Jace’s Phantasm seems like it should be fake.  In power level terms, Wizards has put far worse cards in the rare slot before.  Jace’s Phantasm is a 1/1 flier for a blue mana out of the gate.  When an opponent has 10 or more cards in his or her graveyard, it suddenly turns into a 5/5 flier.  Few cards I have ever seen got me as excited as I am over this card, assuming it is real.  The reason it gets me excited?

It makes an excellent tool for Delver players.  It is an enormous body for a minimal cost.  I can’t imagine Delver players passing this up, unless the meta just doesn’t favor it.  U/B control can be a pain since it can interact very well at all stages of the game with Delver’s plan.  If it continues to be a contender, Delver will need to look to other tools.  Most lists have token generation, giving them an edge in the matchup as opposed to a build like mine, which relies primarily on Invisible Stalker, and has a lot of trouble after a resolved Liliana of the Veil or Curse of Death’s Hold.

Access the complete Magic 2013 Spoiler at MTGSalvation.com.

Avacyn Restored Release on MTGO was Sunday?!

I completely missed the Avacyn Restored release apparently… I have been busy with Diablo III and trying to find a job.  I’ve had a lot more luck with Diablo III… Finished Hell difficulty the other night.  Inferno is… bonkers.  An entirely different ballgame.

Anyways, I’ve re-assessed things a bit, and I might be continuing with the Mono-Blue Delver project.  Delver is not a terrible deck right now, and I really like my chances against decks playing Wolfir Silverhearts.  The deck will still need some tuning.  4 Invisible Stalkers and 4 Runechanter’s Pike seem correct, even in the face of cards like Curse of Death’s Hold and Black Sun’s Zenith.  I’d like more answers to it than just Grand Architect and the already stretched thin Mana Leak, but the metagame may dictate that little more is warranted.  I toyed with the idea of using Spectral Flight instead of Runechanter’s Pike so my Invisible Stalkers get the benefit from Favorable Winds, but that seems incorrect… Too much has to happen for that interaction to be useful and it doesn’t have the raw power available in Runechanter’s Pike.  I’m still undecided on what I should add to finish out a long game.  Mill may be the way to go about it since it doesn’t involve attacking at all.  Increasing Confusion is an interesting card for this purpose.  Most of the time, it will make an equipped Runechanter’s Pike threaten lethal immediately, but it can polish off opponents almost on its own given enough time.  To couple with it, a card that made me giggle at how bad it seemed when I saw it in the Innistrad spoiler: Dream Twist.

I agree that mill is not the most effective possible way to win a game of Magic.  However, further enabling my primary route to victory while allowing for an alternate route in case the game goes late is something I want this deck to be capable of.  For this type of list, I will be moving back up to 23 lands and probably going for a slightly more controlling build.  That means Dissipate will probably make it back in.  Milling myself also makes my Snapcaster Mages all that much better.  Consider this slightly improbable scenario:  I finished my sixth turn and I was fortunate enough to have hit every land drop thus far (yeah.. probably not a good idea to keep 5-land hands, but with Runechanter’s Pike and Invisible Stalker?… tough call, at least in my opinion).  Unfortunately, my opponent is attempting to resolve a Curse of Death’s Hold and I have no way of dealing with it at the moment and he knows it (Gitaxian Probe).  I do, however, have Dream Twist in hand along with a Snapcaster Mage.  I cast Dream Twist, manage to find a Mana Leak, cast it off of Snapcaster, and my equipped Invisible Stalker lives.

Oh, and if you decide to use something similar to the deck I’ve described, I’d like to know what kind of results you had if you don’t mind.

Deck Review: Birthing Pod

Was going through my list of articles and realized this one never got posted.  It’s outdated and short, but its points are still pretty valid.

Podding has not produced as many sound results as anticipated.  The deck, despite its sound strategy of pouring a steady stream of threats onto the battlefield, is difficult to pilot perfectly. 

In addition, the deck fails to attack the opponent on multiple levels.  Two good examples of attacking the opponent on multiple levels can be found in two of the top tier decks: Wolf Run can win through Titan and friends attacks as well as Inkmoth Nexus, and Red Deck Wins has Shrine of Burning Rage.  While Shrine of Burning Rage isn’t exactly a different level, it allows the red deck to play a different game than the opponent is.  For every red spell cast and every turn that passes, the shrine can do an additional point of damage, forcing the opponent to play as though he had much less life than  he actually does.

Consistency issues are the final nails in the coffin.  The deck can’t count on having a Pod every game, and when it doesn’t, it plays out as an inferior ramp deck.