Saturday, January 21, 2012

High Tide FFA

I was reminded of an old blue/red deck of mine that I used to play all the time. I have very fond memories of this particular deck because I played it mostly in the years immediately following high school. And it's in those few years that I was still in touch with my friends who also played Magic. Lots of pizza, soda, beer, and Magic in those days. Good times.

The following is a modified and updated version of that old deck:

High Tide FFA

Creatures (6)
1 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
1 Palinchron
4 Cloud of Faeries

Combo (13)
3 Mana Flare
4 High Tide
2 Retraced Image
1 Candelabra of Tawnos
3 Empty the Warrens

Control (9)
4 Lightning Bolt
1 Urza's Rage
1 Snap
3 Treachery

Draw (12)
4 Time Spiral
4 Brainstorm
4 Ponder

Land (20)
4 Volcanic Island
4 Scalding Tarn
12 Island

How does the deck work?

Cloud of Faeries, Snap, Treachery, Time Spiral, Palinchron, and Candelabra of Tawnos generate huge amounts of mana when they're combined with the effects from High Tide and Mana Flare. You can then use this mana to fuel the deck's 3 main win conditions:
  • Emrakul, the Aeons Torn - This eldrazi wins games.
  • Empty the Warrens - The storm mechanic loves this deck and the goblins generated by Empty the Warrens should be more than enough to overwhelm your opponents.
  • Urza's Rage - This is really a secondary win condition for the deck used in longer games. This gives you the ability to deal direct damage to finish the job your goblins, faeries, and Palinchron have started.
By this point, many of you probably want to point out how poor some of my card choices are. After all, there are Legacy Tournament viable High Tide decks out there that you can Google that put this deck to shame. But you're forgetting one thing: I used to play this with a group of friends all the time and this deck is specifically designed to be played in both 1v1 and Free-for-All games. In truth, Urza's Rage is mostly used to get a free kill off someone already a beat up in the FFA mayhem.

How does this deck differ from similar decks out there?

There are many differences between my creation and a typical High Tide deck. In a tournament deck, Mana Flare would be replaced with Merchant Scroll, Treachery replaced with Candelabra of Tawnos, burn replaced with counter spells, and Empty the Warrens replaced with Brain Freeze.

Mana Flare is just fun in multiplayer, but more than that, the presence of a Mana Flare in a Free-for-All game becomes an argument for your opponents to keep you alive if they want to have access to free mana. That being said, one of the side effects of giving your opponents lots of mana is that they can cast really big things really quickly. Treachery helps to ease this pain and hilarity usually ensues when you take their biggest, baddest creature that you helped to get into play. Next, this deck could have used a few counter spells, even 1 or 2 would do, but I decided against it. Most of the time in FFA games, spot removal is much more beneficial. After all, if an opponent cast a creature, who says they're going to attack you with it? On the other hand, if an opponent attacks you with a creature, you know you have to kill it. Finally, we get to Empty the Warrens...

When it comes to win conditions with storm, both Tendrils of Agony and Brain Freeze. Those two spells because they can kill an opponent immediately. But Empty the Warrens does something that neither of those two can do; the goblins created with the warrens can attack multiple opponents, multiple times.

In short, the tournament decks are built to kill one opponent as fast as possible while this deck is designed to kill multiple opponents over a longer period of time.

What is your favorite thing about the deck?

I like how each of the finishers (Emrakul, Empty the Warrens, Urza's Rage) are all immune from your opponent's counter spells and yet this deck runs no counter spells of its own. When you play multiplayer, there's almost always someone who has a couple counters in their deck and this deck kind of shrugs them off.

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