Wednesday, 31 January 2018
Affinity had this problem a tiny bit right when Mirrodin first came out. Without heavily using the power artifacts you simply didn't have enough on theme playables to make a singleton 40 card deck and even when you did you were still rather light on the bomb payoff cards with just one Ravager and one Plating. Time has been kind to affinity since then and it now has plenty of options without any need of using old broken power cards to fill out the ranks. This isn't too surprising as it is just artifacts that synergize with affinity. Eldrazi are not going to get the same kind of inevitable drip feed of new playables over time being a flavour thing rather than a fundamental part of the game. Basically, if I can't get Eldrazi working with what we have now I shouldn't really bother until we revisit an Eldrazi plane.
So, if Eldrazi are not going to work as a main theme I just need to find a theme that already exists that is either light on playables or easy to strip back to make some space in. Ideally that theme will have some good potential overlap with Eldrazi in some way. The first one of these half and half decks I tried was a fairly big success and, as the title suggests, was a green build. I used the shell of a mono green ramp deck and inserted my Eldrazi package into it and the results were good!
Search for Tomorrow
Grapple with the Past
Surrak, Hunt Caller
Ishkana, the Grafwidow
Nissa, Vital Force
Emrakul, the Promised End
Grove of the Burnwillows
Kessig Wolf Run
Field of Ruin
A few other cards that would work nicely in this list.
Talisman of Impulse
Vessel of Nascency
Skysovereign, Consul Flagship
All is Dust
Traverse the Ulvenwald
The core Eldrazi cards are the Matter Reshaper, the Seer, Reality Smasher and the Warping Wail. These are your powerhouse Eldrazi cards and the reason to be supporting colourless mana. World Breaker is nice and has some synergies but isn't exclusive to this kind of build with it not needing the colourless to play it. End Bringer is also nice (particularly to a green mage) but does require that colourless support. Emrakul is another odd one, she has some synergies with the Eldrazi package but only minor ones and while, like Worldbreaker, she is a card you can play independently of the tribe she does still require a lot of delirium style support. Due to her inclusion this list is almost a delirium Eldrazi list. The delirium support cards are all fine inclusions but they ending up taking up a significant amount of space in the deck and making a a number of the build options not really options! Emrakul is the main thing I am undecided about on this build thus far. I like how some of the overlap is neat and how it gives you a solid top end but you might just be solid enough in the middle of the deck not to need such an extreme top end. Certainly my next version of this deck will try and not include her or the delirium package to allow me some compare and contrast testing.
This list is essentially a green deck with a significant colourless splash of five (and a half if you count the activation on World Breaker) cards. The reason it works so well is that these few colourless mana cards complement green fairly well. End Bringer brings some creature disruption, direct damage and card draw to the party. Warping Wail is countermagic and exile quality spot removal and the Seer is highly potent hand disruption. Between these three cards green gains a huge amount of disruption akin to splashing Dimir Charm, Prodigal Sorcerer, Transgress the Mind and Last Breath. Useful effects from all the other colours effects in the pie that green has nothing like itself at all. Matter Reshaper and Reality Smasher are not quite so far away from green things in terms of the colour pie and do not offer quite such tasty non-green things to the list. What they do bring is just some very high powered and well rounded cards. They are often both tempo and value at the same time and that is the hallmark of a good magic card.
There are some nice support cards to go with this list. Ancient Stirrings is outstanding with over 60% of the deck as targets and with a nice range of effects within those targets. Card quality that can find land or action is a good start and Stirrings will find action all along the curve as well as the majority of the disruptive and interactive cards. Boreal Elf is also a nice one to have. It is essentially just an Avacyn's Pilgrim but for colourless. Due to already having the green mana to make the Elf means tapping for just colourless is about as good as you can get and should mean the card outperforms not just other mana elves but also things like Birds of Paradise because of the fixing. Much as green has all the two mana ramp options it could want I went with a Mind Stone in the list. It is a good delirium support card but also is just a good all rounder. The fact that it is fixing as well cycling ramp pushes it well above its usual expected power level. I considered a Talisman for the extra fixing but felt I would rather the ability to cash it in for more value.
The Ramunap Excavator is sitting in the slot usually taken by Courser of Kruphix in these kinds of deck. It just seems like it was a bit too good to miss out on with the many nice utility colourless lands and the various things filling up the graveyard. Without the delirium aspect of the deck and the many self mill cards the Excavator probably doesn't have enough support but it is totally fine to cut. While it fits in nicely it is not supporting anything else and so no deck reworks are required. Without the delirium aspect of the build lots of things could be trimmed or simply replaced with a more flexible option. Things like Unbridled Growth, Satyr Wayfinder and the like are purely support for the Emrakul (and the Ishkanah) and would just be filler cards without the delirium.
The mana base is one of the things I am happiest about. Eye of Ugin makes a deck like this worse, don't play it. There are a healthy amount of lands that tap for green and colourless but mostly the green will be painful. As such you want a good amount of these but not all of them. Ash Barrens is better than the 4th pain land and I even found myself cycling it for Wastes! Kessig Wolf Run was one of the reasons I chose to build this deck as I rate it as one of the best colourless lands in cube. It is a very good top end win condition but usually comes at a more significant cost to a mana base. In this list the cost of running it is pretty negligible and that is great. Part of the reason I am looking to cut the Emrakul in my next build of this is because I think I can just ride the Wolf Run in those games where I need a super game ending card. Sylvan Scrying and other such things are common in green. With access to Eldrazi Temple they are ramp, Wastelands make them disruption and Wolf Run makes them a threat. With land tutors I think I would be very happy losing the extreme top end and relying on lands to push through that win for me. Primeval Titan into Wolf Run Inkmoth Nexus has been a game plan for many a deck in many a format and that would work in this list better than most. Do not underestimate the value of Wastes either, always run one and two is not a bad way to go. Being able to find them with things like Tribe Elder and Search for Tomorrow is a very big deal.
To play with this deck felt like it was part Zoo and part green ramp. Sometimes it would just curve out with brutally all round powerful cards that it would just steamroll through any opposition. Other times it would casually ramp up to huge bomb cards while controlling what was going on. It has most of the strengths of a green ramp deck without any of the weaknesses. I didn't feel like I just needed to scoop if they made a pinger or indeed one of many hard to handle dorks with effects and abilities. I didn't feel weak to counterspells and mass removal. I felt like I had a healthy degree of options and interaction allowing me to properly play magic rather than just playing things out as the deck gives them to me. It wasn't just that this deck was seemingly very powerful that I was so drawn to it, it had far more to do with having a solid rounded feel, reduced weak spots and a greatly increased range and depth of options. The only real downside of it is that it might be a little too reliant on narrow cards to be a good inclusion in a drafting cube. I presently have most of these cards in my drafting cube and have had this kind of deck made a couple of times which is promising. It is far more than most of my "exotic" decks get in the limited formats. This is generic enough in its use of cards to be a viable deck for limited cubing and a powerful enough one for constructed cubing.