Twenty Cards or Fewer
2 Nicol Bolas
1 Isleback Spawn
2 Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker
4 Cruel Ultimatum
4 Gitaxian Probe
4 Desperate Research
4 Chrome Mox
2 Gilded Lotus
4 Serum Powder
4 Dark Ritual
4 Shelldock Isle
4 Bloodstained Mire
4 Volcanic Island
How does the deck work?
With the help of Serum Powder, Gitaxian Probe, Brainstorm, Desperate Research, Firesight, Bloodstained Mire, and Arc Slogger, the goal is to draw your deck down to 20 cards as soon as possible. Nicol Bolas (dragon), Nicol Bolas Planeswalker, and Cruel Ultimatum will be able to be cast freely with Shelldock Isle.
How does this deck differ from similar decks out there?
The biggest difference is in the way you mill yourself. If you go to Google right now and search "Shelldock Isle deck," you'll most likely find decks that include Doomsday and Emrakul. That's fine and I bet it works, but I had little interest in making that deck. It seems to me that every game would end up playing out exactly the same. (a.k.a. boring.) It would be fun the first few times, but in the end it would either work or it wouldn't. You would either draw the Doomsday or you wouldn't and that would be the end of that. I didn't want to go that route.
The very first inclusion was the Serum Powder. We all know how it works and what it does, but I think the best innovation of mine is the inclusion of a long forgotten, little remembered card from Alliances named Foresight. If you haven't figured it out by no, the sole purpose for Foresight is to remove excess Serum Powders from the deck. Serum Powder is great in your opening hand, but beyond that they serve little purpose. Foresight solves this problem and mills your deck an additional 4 cards in the process.
The other MVP of the deck is Desperate Research. I originally bought a set (very cheaply) for my Relentless Rats Deck. But in this deck, I think it works even better. Either by keeping track of which cards have been removed from the deck by the time you cast it or blindly searching for an answer to a problem in the moment, Desperate Research does the job nicely. If you're feeling lucky, you can even name "Desperate Research" as your card to dig even deeper. Also, if you want to take "luck" out of the equation, try casting this card after a Brainstorm and see what happens... not to mention the combo between Brainstorm and Shelldock Isle.
What is your favorite thing about the deck?
I think I already covered this in the last section, but it has to be Serum Powder. This card was made for people like me. And the fact that I can include it in a deck that actually uses it to it's full potential is pretty much the best thing ever.
Speaking of "Rule 1," how many rarely used cards can you spot in this deck? Between Serum Powder, Foresight, and Desperate Research, it's hard to pick a winner.