Friday, 17 August 2018

Podless Melira .dec

Vizier of RemediesI have written a couple of articles on this combo, however this is the best and cleanest version I have seen in cube. I cannot take credit for it either, as it is a version of the deck from a friend that I have slightly tidied up. His main breakthrough is losing the Birthing Pod, as the card isn't all that exciting given how slow and clunky it is. Your combo pieces are cheap and all of your fastest kills wildly outpace what a Pod could help accomplish. Losing the Pod makes you able to cut out the thick spread of CMCs in your dorks and have a far better-looking curve. The whole combo being dorks anyway, means you have more than enough tutors at your disposal to not have to lean on Pod. The combos are redundant enough that you are likely to fit it together with just one tutor effect. Part of Pods strength is that it can fish up multiple cards for you, and that shouldn't be something you need in this list. The redundancy in combo pieces you have also means that most of the dorks are combo pieces, and as such, not frequently something you want to sacrifice. I frequently found I was unable to use Pod effectively in my previous versions of the deck when I was running it. All my previous builds have felt like they under-performed, whereas this build seemed to over-perform - it felt pretty hard to beat. Fail to interact with it and it would kill you quickly and consistently. It was hard to play safe against and hard to rush down. It didn't drop a match and it managed all that while also being built wrong! The list given here is the version we came to, after discussing the merits and failing of his build.

Viscera Seer24 Spells

Vampiric Tutor
Viscera Seer
Carrion Feeder

Sylvan Safekeeper
Avacyn's Pilgrim
Birds of Paradise
Elves of Deep Shadow

Oath of Nissa
Adventurous Impulse

Eladamri's Call
Vizier of Remedies
Melira, Sylvok Outcast
Devoted DruidDuskwatch Recruiter

Walking Ballista
Devoted Druid
Cartel Aristocrat
Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit

Kitesail Freebooter

Kitchen Finks
Recruiter of the Guard
Anguished Unmaking

Murderous Redcap

Chord of Calling

16 Lands

Adventurous ImpulseThere are obviously some tweaks you can make. You can go a little deeper on the utility from your dig and tutoring cards, with Eternal Witness, Reclamation Sage, and Boneshredder  / Shriekmaw. However, while making you more robust, you are also making yourself slower. Given that this is a pretty pure and focused combo build, I think it is fine to scrimp on interactive cards. I might well entertain a Living Wish element if I had access to a sideboard. Mostly, however, if something is worth playing because of its EtB effect, you should probably look to playing the cheapest spell option. This I have done, with Duress included prior to Freebooter, however there is a strong argument for Thoughtseize over the pirate. The tutors are not enough of an argument on their own, but I concluded the additional card quality effects were.

You could crowbar in a Spike Feeder and Archangel of Thune, for yet another potential combo. Thune works to enhance the Kitchen Finks combo, thus providing a bit of overlap, but without the Pod I don't rate the eight mana combo containing a five drop nearly so much. This deck performed because it was clean and streamlined and tossing in five drop angels undoes some of that.

More Tutors is also an option. My friend used Worldly Tutor and Summoner's Pact in his build. The latter I dislike, as it only gets half of the combo pieces. I like Worldly a lot, however, it is probably better than the Adventurous Impulse and the Recruiter of the Guard. This deck is not too worried about card disadvantage and can afford to run Worldly along with Vamp, if it wants. I would love to be able to run Traverse the Ulvenwald and cut a land alongside it, but this list is awful at getting delirium. The other advantage Oath/Impulse have over Worldly is that they help a lot with the mana base. Having both does mean you can go to 15 lands pretty comfortably if you want and running Traverse too would absolutely make that correct. 

Eladamri's CallDemonic instead of Eladamri's Call would also help improve mana and let you go to 15, but I like the instant nature of Call a lot more than I thought I would in this list. It is also generally a lot easier to pickup. I find I like to play on the safe side with decks that want to curve out and win, and don't ideally want to go much beyond that stage. Zoo is a classic example and I feel this is in much the same category. If you are playing Demonic for lands, you are so far behind already that you want to just have the lands and piece as little remaining together as possible. That is why I am still running 16 despite easily being able to operate at 15. The deck isn't looking to go long so the risk of flooding is pretty minor, while the risk of just being a little slowed due to too few lands is a real one. That is a good general lesson in cube, two decks with the same curve exactly but one is mid range and the other aggro - I would likely run more lands in the aggro deck because of that aiming to win quick element and how it realigns the various risks. 

It is quite hard to resist playing Collected Company in this deck. In theory, it’s great, as you will get a two for one, some dig and selection with low risk, due to the lovely high number of targets. It certainly hits a lot more of your combo pieces than Summoner's Pact does. There are several issues with Company in this deck, though. One is simply that you don't much care for the card advantage, it’s nice but it isn't important. Secondly Company is just too much of an unknown for how late in the day it is. You probably need to spend turn two tutoring or playing a relevant card, but you won't know which card that is if you are relying on Company to do something relevant for you. By playing Company, you are slowing yourself down for fairly little gain.

The main takeaways of this study don’t really come as a shock:

·         Play lots of tutors and card quality relevant for your combo
·         Play as much good redundancy as you can
·         Focus your deck and keep the curve low

Do these things and you will have a quick, powerful and consistent version of your combo. My failings on this deck arose from too closely following the cards used in the modern builds, without being able to reflect the quantities of those cards so well. Modern decks have four of the good cheap cards and one of the top end ones while mine was one copy all the way up, resulting in the curve of a midrange deck and not a combo one. In cube, this is the general outline of how you should frame a Vizier / Melira deck.

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