Monday, 22 July 2019

Tribal Chandra .dec

Chandra, Acolyte of FlameThis is a meme deck I made purely for the joy of creating. Turned out to be surprisingly brutal, especially in oathbreaker formats! The idea started out simply trying to play as many Chandra themed cards as possible without building an actually unplayable deck. About half way through that build I found I wanted to make use of more planeswalkers ultimately resulting in a dragon sub-theme. The new Acolyte of Flame is ever so pleasing to play with other red planeswalkers and Sarkhan the Masterless becomes utterly busted when you have many other walkers on the board. Due to this deck looking pretty clunky what with being a planeswalker and dragon themed deck, most of which start coming in at the four mana mark, I lot of early ramp was included. Looting effects and a big top end incentivize a high land count. Those in combination with any of the walkers that can generate mana allowed things to get very out of hand far too quickly for opponents to cope with. How does two planeswalkers on turn three sounds? nasty? How about turn two then? Pretty unrecoverable on both accounts it seems and that sort of thing was happening with alarming regularity. Torch of Defiance and Acolyte of Flame both had a go at being the Oathbreaker and both had their merits. Ultimately Acolyte is more synergy and fun but Torch is more powerful. It was hard to trump Chandra's Triumph as the signature spell at least, regardless of the flavour of Chandra being run. This is just the standard cube version I ran.

Chandra's Triumph
Sarkhan the Masterless

23 Spells

Chrome Mox

Lightning Bolt

Chandra's Regulator
Oath of Chandra
Chandra's Triumph
Ruby Medallion
Mind Stone
Chandra's Embercat
Chandra's Pyrohelix

Chandra's Phoenix
Chandra, Acolyte of Flame
Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh
Sarkhan, Fireblood
Sweltering Suns

Chandra, Torch of Defiance
Chandra, Novice Pyromancer
Koth of the Hammer
Verix / Thunderbreak Regent

Sarkhan, the Masterless
Skargan Hellkite

Chandra, Flamecaller
Chandra, Awakened Inferno

17 Mountains

Ruby MedallionThe two best cards by a mile were Ruby Medallion and Chrome Mox. It made me want to run Mox Diamond as well despite the card disadvantage. The burst these cards provided is what made the whole thing so oppressive and so focusing on that aspect is no bad thing. In fair formats (non-combo) ramping planeswalkers out tends to be one of the more oppressive things you can do and this list was one of the best at doing it. Other cards that have been run in this sphere include Ancient Tomb, although this hurts Koth and can be awkward with heavy red cards. It makes you want to play red producing mana rocks like Talisman and Fire Diamond over colourless alternatives. Various rituals also appeal but they are generally further down the line than more ongoing ramp what with this broadly being a midrange deck.

If you are looking for space for other cards the easy cuts are all Chandra cards. It likely allows you to improve the deck but does detract from the elegance and meme aspects. Flamecaller is simply a little outclassed these days and might be better off as a Pyroclasm or Fiery Confluence. Fire of Kaladesh is a good card but much more of an aggressive one than a midrange one, she doesn't overly fit with the theme of the list. The Phoenix is cuttable too as it isn't supported that heavily and isn't that powerful of a card. It is a nice bit of flexibility offering value or pressure as you require but it is rather wishing there was a tad more looting on offer. A Faithless Looting is always welcome and would be a fine addition to this list, as would Seasoned Pyromancer. Either of these would make the Phoenix that little more reliable on the value front. Pyrohelix is a fairly easy cut too, there are just better burn spells you can run from Arc Trail to Forked Bolt to Abrade to Burst Lightning to Chain Lightning to Pyrokenis....

Chandra, PyromasterIf on the other hand you want to up the meme level of the deck both Chandra, Pyromaster and Chandra, Flame Artisan are high powered Chandra cards I didn't manage to find space for. They are certainly more powerful than a lot of the Chandra cards already in the deck and no less off theme than the low end of the Chandra cards like Fire of Kaladesh.

The worst thing about the deck is how little time you get to enjoy all your cool cards. When it gets ahead it wins very quickly indeed and it seems incredibly good at getting ahead quickly. Even when you are not ramping out multiple walkers on the same turn ahead of time you are still often flopping out a walker ahead of time and using it to produce mana so as to make further tempo plays. Especially common in oathbreaker is making Torch on turn three and adding two red and do five damage to the only relevant card on your opponents board. Without a very strong response this is usually game over.

Chandra's RegulatorIt was Chandra's Regulator that really made me want to build this deck. Acolyte too but I will get to play with her plenty in the cube as she is such a strong stand alone. I didn't get to play with the Regulator as much as I would have liked, in part due to lack of drawing it but also due to how quickly you win with it when you have it out! I had a lot of fun using Regulator with the growing effect on Acolyte for some surprise ultimate abilities and that was lovely.           

Red midrange decks have become pretty fearsome in cube these days. They have good tempo, reasonable value, and high power. They also have the added bonus of still having a bunch of direct damage and incidental damage. If a planeswalker survives a little too long or Oath of Chandra does a little bit too much work then without really trying to apply pressure you will find your opponents well within burst range. Suddenly aim a removal spell or two at face along with a planeswalker activation and perhaps toss in a hasting dragon and that is all she wrote. A game that was close and should have gone long is just over. This capability is well known and so people have to play against your midrange deck overly cautiously which is easily exploitable. It was only three or four years ago that a midrange red deck was a pretty meme thing in itself. Now the archetype is one of the best that sit in the midrange camp. In many ways it is more of an argument in favour of increasing starting life total to 24 or 25 that it is a plug for the archetype! Red very much continues to be the best colour in my cube.

Oath of Chandra
As for "tribal" planeswalker decks I am a big fan. I hope we see more cards that empower a specific type of walker as we have with Regulator, Embercat. and Acolyte of Flame for Chandra. I love tribal decks and getting to play a tribal deck that didn't revolve around creatures was delightful. It was fresh and fun and far more powerful than expected. The idea of tribal walkers is only really just becoming a thing. Chandra is the perfect candidate to launch it with having the most planeswalker iterations and cards with her name on them. Only really the main gatewatch characters have much of a shot at making a good tribal planeswalker in the near future and they will need to be pushed at least as much by a set as Core 2020 has done for Chandra. Jace is the next most common but it would be harder to frame an archetype around his cards. We are probably better off looking towards Liliana or Nissa for our next planeswalker to get heavy support in a tribal kind of way. They would probably need some better offerings in the four slot, at the very least more options there. Perhaps the Commander series of product is a good way to launch these things what with them having most appeal to the casual market. Regardless, I hope to see more. If you like tribal decks then I expect you will like planeswalker iterations.

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