Saturday, July 13, 2013

Ravnica Complete

I've taken a break from this blog for a while, mostly because I've become increasingly disinterested with the cubes that I've made so far. With Return to Ravnica coming to a close, I thought I'd give a crack at one of the more obvious themed cubes to make -- Ravnica Complete. This new cube only includes cards from Ravnica: City of Guilds, Guildpact, Dissension, Return to Ravnica, Gatecrash, and Dragon's Maze. I've been working on this new cube for a few weeks now and I'm very happy with what I have now.



Basic Structure (360 total)
  • 21 guild cards per guild (210 total)
  • 21 mono colored cards per color (105 total)
  • 40 guild gates
  • 1 Maze's End
  • 1 Transguild Promenade
  • 1 Pillar of the Paruns
  • 1 Maze's End
  • 1 Prophetic Prism
Notes
  • Limiting the number of huge flying "dragon"-type creatures was key to making the cube feel right. Most of them are limited to Azorius, Boros, and Izzet colors.
  • Most hyper aggressive creatures are found in Boros, Rakdos, and Gruul.
  • Most counter spells are limited to Simic & Dimir.
  • Orzhov cards have a huge focus on life gain & life loss.
  • A gate strategy is supported with 4 copies of every gate (zero shock & karoo lands), Maze's End, Hold the Gates, Crackling Perimeter, and all 5 gatekeepers.
  • A dredge/scavenge strategy is fully supported.
  • A bloodlust/graft/scavenge/unleash/evolve +1/+1 theme is fully supported.
  • A token strategy is mainly found in Selesnya, but there are many other token producers in the other colors as well.
  • A minor mill strategy is supported with a small handful of powerful cards.
  • Outside of monogreen, there are only 5 cards that fix for all 5 colors: Chromatic Lantern, Maze's End, Pillar of Paruns, Prophetic Prism, and Transguild Promenade.
  • There are a few build-around-me cards, like Immortal Servitude, where I intentionally stacked white, black, and green with as many 2 cmc creatures as possible.
Links
  • Check out my MTG Salvation Thread: HERE
  • Simulate a draft for this cube on Cube Tutor: HERE

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Miracle Deck

Here's a deck I've been playing in the MTGO Tournament Practice room for the past week and it's my favorite deck to play in this current Standard environment (M13, Innistrad Block, Return to Ravnica Block). I would have played it in a daily already, but I don't have the Geists of Saint Traft I need for the sideboard:


The Miracle Deck
(Standard)

Creatures (5)
4 Serra Avenger
1 Aurelia, the Warleader

Spells (18)
4 Azorius Charm
2 Izzet Charm
3 Terminus
4 Temporal Mastery
1 Bonfire of the Damned
4 Entreat the Angels

Planeswalkers
1 Chandra, the Firebrand
2 Jace, Architect of Thought
1 Ral Zarek
1 Tamiyo, the Moonsage

Artifacts (8)
4 Scroll of Avacyn
2 Azorius Cluestone
2 Boros Cluestone

Land (24)
4 Glacial Fortress
4 Hallowed Fountain
4 Steam Vents
4 Clifftop Retreat
1 Sacred Foundry
4 Plains
1 Desolate Lighthouse
2 Seraph Sanctuary



I've been working on different version of a standard miracle deck ever since Alexander Hayne won Pro Tour Avacyn Restored with his miracle deck. They were all never really any good and even though there still is no good library manipulation in standard, with the release of Dragon's Maze, I finally feel this deck performs fairly well:
  • There are only 5 Dragon's Maze cards in the deck and they really make the deck run much smoother. The 4 cluestones are essential for ramping so that you can hard cast miracles from your hand and they can also be cashed in for additional instant speed miracle draws. The singleton Ral Zarek is everything in a planeswalker that this deck wants. It controls the board, it ramps into expensive miracles, and it (rarely) gives you more turns. (Ral Zarek used to be Gideon in this list.)
  • There are 15 cards in the deck capable of giving you instant speed draws to activate miracle on your opponent's turn. In long games you can often get instant draws on just about every single turn, maximizing the miracles.
  • Serra Avenger - Great blocker & attacker at a cheap cost. Kind of a brick wall that protects your planeswalkers. The cheap cost matters when you're always using your extra mana to try and miracle. And the power matters too because the angels tend to peck away at your opponent's life total as soon as they hit the battlefield. They're mainly in the deck to be efficient blockers and turn on angel tribal stuff, but with vigilance, they also turn into free attacks. (They do it all.)
  • Aurelia, the Warleader - An alternate win condition that your opponent may not see coming, especially with things like Temporal Mastery.
  • Scroll of Avacyn - Believe it or not, Scroll of Avacyn might be one of the strongest cards in the deck. It activates miracles, it nets you life, and with a casting & activation cost of , it fills that perfect slot to use your mana efficiently every turn. Cluestone into scroll is a common play and it keeps the deck moving. Activate cost of means you can leave 3 mana open, activate it for and have enough mana left over for Terminus or Temporal Mastery. It also means maximum Entreat the Angels tokens. (I'm not saying it's the post powerful card, but its kind of like the glue of the deck that holds it together.)
  • Azorius Charm & Izzet Charm - Early control spells that buy time for miracles and planeswalkers to kick in and both charms happen to have "instant draw" as one of their modes. Izzet Charm in particular lets you get rid of miracles in your opening hand that aren't doing too much. (Izzet Charm also represents your only counter spell in the main.)
  • Seraph Sanctuary - Together with Scroll of Avacyn, every point of life helps as you try and extend the game. In the late game, with a pair of these on the battlefield and a miracle entreat for 5 is 10 extra life at no cost.
  • Entreat the Angels - Your main win condition.
  • Terminus & Bonfire of the Damned - I went for a 3-1 split for the board sweepers because there are many times when you choose not to pay for its miracle cost. Bonfire is almost always miracles and Terminus isn't.
  • Temporal Mastery - Double swings for all your angels and double activations for all your planeswalkers (including surprise ultimates). It's also possible to pull offa neat little trick where you miracle on turn 3, going immediately to turn 4, allowing you to cast any Serra Avengers from your hand a turn earlier. Of course this is decided purely on luck, but it's just a nice little interaction the deck has.
If I ever played in an FNM, this is the deck I would bring. It's just too bad that it will only be legal for a very short period of time after M14 is released and M13 cycles out. Chandra will be missed, but the deck would still function. It's the Serra Avengers which I feel are necessary for the deck. They're such a great blocker at the perfect CMC cost for this deck. They attack well in the air, especially alongside Aurelia. And they even net you a decent amount of life over the course of a game. (I hope they reprint it in M14.)

(The Geists of Saint Traft would be in the sideboard to be used against decks that I might be able to sneak in a free win against. They may not be angels themselves, but ut they create angel tokens and can still net you a little life.)