Monday, 9 November 2015
Did a draft and ended up with what I thought was going to be a bastardization of two combo decks. I had Emrakul, Show and Tell and some options on other ways to cheat him in as well as a couple of backup dorks like Wurmcoil to fill in for the Emrakul in his absence. I also had part of a storm deck with Mind's Desire and Brain Freeze. Normally the 'don't quite have one combo deck so ram in another combo and hope' strategies are awful. What I found was that the two directions my deck could go in really supported the other aspects well.
I don't normally force decks but I wanted to do a storm deck of sorts as I haven't had that as an option in my cube for a little while. Midrange is a bit too king of the hill at present and so I thought the reintroduction of combo would sort that out quite well. My first pick was a Wheel of Fortune over something like a Birds of Paradise or Courser of Kruphix. Whichever it was it was a dodgy pick but hey, the cube is for for funsies and I wanted to storm! I then followed that with a Grim Monolith over a Jitte. Less wrong due to having the Wheel already but still a very dubious pick, both from me and the player on my right! From that point I wound up going in a red artifact ramp deck direction. The blue was being hard cut with 2/3 of the table in blue! Half way through I managed to pick up a Time Spiral shortly followed by a Mind's Desire which made me really want to reopen the blue storm account.
Drafting combo means you will have several boosters with no relevant picks which does give you the opportunity to pick up speculative things like Desire and Spiral that you may end up not playing. Apart from the key cards in any given combo deck there is a great deal of overlap in the support cards. Ramp is great, card quality is great and so if you have a reasonable base of those cards you can end up in decks quite different from the one you had in mind at the beginning of the draft.
Sensei's Divining Top
Helm of Awakening
Wheel of Fortune
Show and Tell
Tezzeret the Seeker
Emrakul, the Eons Torn
Temple of Deceit
Dragon Skull Summit
The deck had two main plans, either get sufficient storm to mill someone to death with Brain Freeze or Show and Tell an early Emrakul into play and win with that. The overlap between the two main plans however gave rise to lots of other quite appealing ways to win. Hitting Emrakul off a Desire is a whole lot better than doing so with Show and Tell as it gives the extra turn and is much more of an immediate win. I won one of my games because the Show and Tell I hit with the Desire let my put an all important land into play! The utility of Emrakul reshuffling your graveyard was huge as well. It gave me all the confidence to blow or discard seemingly key spells early or chew through my library as I knew I could easily get it back. Wheel of Fortune does not take many casts before it is putting both players near decking themselves yet when you are sitting on Emrakul it is a Time Twister for you and still a milling Wheel for them. You can also just win with the -5 on Tezzeret!
Wurmcoil was more of a Solemn Simulacrum type card in that I played it as a speed bump. It allowed me to do some interacting and being normal. It forces your opponents into doing things and can simply end the game against aggressive decks without answers. Essentially it buys time and is just filler in the deck. It is nice when your filler can win the odd game but it wasn't something I was relying on. It really wanted to be an Upheaval but I was short on some things and so he got inelegantly rammed into the list. Against the control decks, especially the ones with exile and bounce effects I boarded him out a lot. I boarded out the Show and Tell and the Tormented Voice a bit too in the control matches as they are a little too risky for my liking. Despite this Emrakul never came out!
Although it never happened it is worth noting Ob Nixilus Reignited is in the format now and is a very good answer to an Emrakul that was not cast into play. You may have noticed this deck is very light on answers. I had a Wasteland in the board which came in a lot and a Tangle Wire than never came in. I had a bit of burn and that was it. No discard, no bounce, no counter magic or other removal. I had to be quick, consistent and robust enough just to be able to plow through anything and get a win. If someone makes a Bow of Nylea against me I have no way to remove it and no way to win with mill through it. That last statement isn't strictly true as you could force it though with the Wheel or respond to a Bow use in upkeep with a Freeze. All told, many things can make life really hard.
My other board options were light, I had a Memory Jar for extra draw and mill potential, a Magmatic Insight for some more digging and smoothing. I had some red dragons which I never had to resort too. Fortunately the deck was robust enough to get it done and could pull wins out of the hat from seemingly nowhere. Storm as a mechanic really doesn't care much about countermagic so compared to a lot of combo decks you can get away with far less disruption while not worrying about speed in that match-up that much either. I had a Sneak Attack but I figured it did so little on its own I would stick to just the Show and Tell route.
The Electromancer was fairly weak as I didn't really have the right setup for him. He reduced the cost of very few cards in the deck and nearly had as much impact on the games as a 2/2 as he did as a cost reducer. Beyond that and the Wurmcoil I wouldn't change anything else much in the list. It was surprisingly good for a draft deck. The standout cards were the Chromatic Star / Terrarion and the Ral Zarek! The one mana colour fixers did so much work, they could act as cheap of free storm generators, they could act as a card storage bank for using things like Wheel and Time Spiral optimally, and they would allow you to carry on going off in combination with the Dynamo, Monolith and Vault. Tezzeret did a lot of untapping Terrarion, Chromatic Sphere would have been better probably but not exclusively and I didn't see it. Probably would have played all three if I could.
Ral has never before impressed in cube but in this list he was the total man. A Lightning Bolt is good and is pretty much the disruption in the deck. Mostly however it was about the tap and untap which were both fantastic. Usually it is the case that it is hard to put either to much exciting use and very hard to get both being good at once. A normal good outcome is an extra mana or blocker but the good outcomes in this list were of significantly higher value. Because the ability is a sorcery and has no lasting tap down effect the tap and untap are quite cross purposes. One is aggressive, the other defensive or rampy. You want one before combat and the other after doing stuff post main phase or ideally in their turn! In this list however the tap down was great. It let me fog out mana that could be used as disruption on my combo things while setting up my mana. It even let me snipe out planeswalkers with Electromancer past blockers. Ral would come down quickly and supported Vault and Monolith brilliantly. Because the deck was not that artifact heavy he outperformed the Tezzeret who infrequently had two useful targets to untap. The ability to untap lands to colour fix or creatures to block was very significant. There was games were Wurmcoil or Emrakul would have had to sit back on defense if I didn't have the capacity to untap as I would have died to the swing back.
I thought I had underdone it in terms of adding support cards to the cube for combo but this deck somewhat proved me wrong. It felt like it was going badly but performed exceptionally. Rather than adding more combo support I think I will be focusing on rebalance in the other direction and try and get some anti storm and artifact cards in.