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CasualNation #61 – ’Tis the Season to Deck

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Hello, Nation! One of the core things in any casual player’s arsenal is decks! You need weapons to go to war and decks to go to the kitchen table. Building decks is fun. Do I spend more time building decks and thinking about it than actually playing them? Perhaps. We have thousands of articles about the tiniest minutiae—is three or four of a certain card the best in a deck? Should the sideboard contain four of this or two of it and two of something else?

With our obvious need and love of all things deck, today I have created five decks that you can use, modify, or disdain as you please. Now that we’ve passed Thanksgiving here in the States, it’s fully the seasonal time of holidays and winter and snow and festivals. Why not build a deck or two today that uses holiday cheer? Enjoy!

Deck the First – Ixiwolf

The last time I read the rules about double-faced cards was when they were first spoiled two months ago. Then I had to go back and check out a minor ruling, and I reread them. Did you know that you cannot flip over a double-faced card for things like Morph? It makes total sense, sure. Playing a deck built around Ixidron and Werewolves seemed like a good plan. I can play the Ixidron and shrink other creatures while keeping my big guys out. Let’s take a look at the deck.

We have sixteen double-faced creatures that cost between 2 and 5 mana. These will retain their abilities and stats even through an Ixidron scouring. Even if they haven’t been transformed to the good side, they all have stats or abilities that make them better than a 2/2 vanilla creature.

Additionally, the deck has six other creatures that don’t mind being flipped into a 2/2 creature. Wall of Blossoms is a good early drop with no card loss and willing to jump in front of fellow attackers. Once you start your Ixidron games, it will flip into a 2/2 beater just as you are starting to take over the game and need an attacker rather than a defender. It works very well here.

AEther Adept also works well. It can bounce an Ixidron for another go, doesn’t mind the flip into a 2/2 since it’s already one, and its great tempo. Once your opponent is rolling in 2/2 creatures, he will play a new one, which may change the board state. You can give your Werewolves and beaters an extra turn against a horde of Gray Ogres by simply dropping the AEther Adept. In fact, I think bouncing is so important in this deck that I included a pair of Capsizes. You can even bounce a Wall of Blossoms to replay it for another card.

I rounded out the deck with countermagic. It’s rough, because after the bounce, the creatures, and the land, I had just six slots left. I wanted card-draw, removal, and more. I choose countermagic due to the generic role it plays. Plus, you can always bounce plus counter to essentially Desert Twister something.

I hope you like the deck enough to look at another.

Deck the Second – Silence Will Fall

For the last few years, I had dismissed Decree of Silence as a card that was good only on the cycle. As a Cycling card that replaces itself and counters something, it was adequate at best due to the high cost, save in Type 4, where it is one of the most powerful cards. However, a few months ago, I looked at a copy and realized that there was a lot of power under the hood, and I wanted to build a Decree of Silence deck for duels. Here it is.

The key point to consider about Decree of Silence is that the next three spells played by your opponent are countered. Therefore, I was looking for a way to reset the number. Perhaps I could pull off counters with something, or I could bounce and replay it (expensive), or maybe just blink it out and back into play. The last one seemed the easiest to do in the U/W framework that was already in my deck.

I included all of those ideas. Capsize is here as well, primarily to bounce something played before a Decree of Silence came out, and forcing your opponent to try to break the Decree with it. However, you certainly could bounce a Decree with 2 counters on it to replay it. It’s not ideal, but it works.

We have two ways to pull counters off. Chisei is one of the few aggressive creatures in the deck, and this Legendary Spirit eats a counter every upkeep. In order to feed it, you can use counters from lands, the Decree, or even a Chalice if you have to (last resort, please). You can also hop a counter from a Decree to a better source with Power Conduit. It can be used to permanently pump a creature or increase the mana-production of a Chalice.

I also have a quartet of Flickerwisp, which gives my deck some needed bodies and will reboot any Decree of Silence. You can also use it to reset the counters on a Vivid land, or to reuse the next card.

I wanted some built-in protection against a player who destroyed a Decree of Silence. He can save up, blow three spells, and take care of it. In order to fight that, I have a pair of Auramancers. Play one to bring back that Decree of Silence for another go. You can also Flickerwisp one if you need to recur another one. These tricks are also useful if you cycle a Decree of Silence as an emergency counter spell.

Academy Rector was a must. You could easily increase this number if you need to. I’m just sad I don’t have an automatic trigger mechanism to sacrifice it beyond a single High Market. Perhaps you can find something else to add to the deck without taking away anything else.

I knew that I needed some counters and removal for anything that might prove too much for the deck to handle on its own. I needed card-draw, so I packed in Dismantling Blow as my Disenchant spell. Swords to Plowshares and Counterspell give the deck enough cover for emergency situations. I added a pair of Tidings to finish everything up. With just a little countermagic, creature removal, and card-draw, plus artifact and enchantment removal, I wanted to give the deck enough gas against random foes.

(Note: If your playgroup allows silver-bordered cards, this deck’s nastiness level increases to massive levels with Giant Fan and Magosi, the Waterveil.)

Deck the Third – Bubble Gifts

What is the iconic aspect of holiday joy? Giving gifts! I was trying to find an idea for a fun little Johnny deck that just wants to do something interesting. I came up with this idea while hitting “random card” in Gatherer a bunch of times until I found something interesting. Nothing goes better with Beebles than gifts. It’s a pleasure for the season!

Apparently, today’s goal is to build every deck with a need for a pair of Capsizes! This deck wants to play an enchantment, and then Donate it and attack with a now-unblockable Bubbling Beebles. Yes, you are doing all of that work just to attack with a 3/3 creature unblockably when you could just play Covert Operative. This is fun!

This deck needs a lot of bounce to keep the bad guys away. You can also exchange something with an Infiltrator, and then return that Phyrexian Love Machine back with a bounce by a Capsize or Linessa. The deck only has ten creatures (fourteen if you count Sarcomancy). You need the bounce for defense. Recoil is particularly nasty here.

You have two options for enchantments to Donate. The first is the aforementioned Sarcomancy. When your 2/2 dude dies, there aren’t likely any Zombies in play, leaving you with a 1-point life loss each turn. Why not give it to your opponent? The ideal gift is Carnival of Souls. You play it and Donate it happily. Then, every time a creature enters the battlefield, your opponent loses a life (and makes a b).

Remember that the Carnival of Souls will trigger on your Zombie tokens. My favorite play here is to keep bouncing your foe’s creatures. If he replays them, he loses a life. If not, you can swing with little dorks at a defenseless foe. Either way, you’re taking away life very quickly.

Phyrexian Infiltrator becomes broken at 8 mana. You use its ability twice in a row. First, you target some chump of yours (maybe a Zombie token), and second, you target your opponent’s best creature. When they resolve, the first trigger swaps your Infiltrator for his great creature. The second will resolve and swap your dork for his Infiltrator. The result is that you have his best creature and he has a meaningless 2/2 Zombie token, or something about to be bounced back to your hand. Gilded Drake would also work, but it requires a bounce spell to keep going, whereas the Infiltrator can keep it up and just exchange bad creatures for good ones. Wouldn’t you want to trade a 2/2 Zombie for Akroma, Angel of Fury or Blightsteel Colossus?

Rounding out the deck is a smattering of counters and kills. Break only in case of emergency. Normally, I’d put Counterspell in a U/B deck with a synergetic feel like this one. However, this deck is all about tinging your foe’s life a bit at a time—attack by an unblockable 3/3, Carnival of Souls, or even Sarcomancy. As such, I felt the extra cost to play Undermine was worth it. I think you’ll find the life loss particularly useful.

Yay, Beebles!

Deck the Fourth – The Volcano Blues

I randomly hit Circle of Protection: Black in my Gatherer journey. I decided that it was probably the most played Circle of Protection, although Red might have that slot, two. Pestilence and Earthquake both suggested Circle of Protection as a deck mate. You also saw tons of Circle of Protection: Green with Hurricane. I also remember COP: White with Karma in a B/W deck to protect you while using cards like Evil Presence, or playing COP: White against White Weenie decks of the day. What was COP: Blue used against? It had to be the least used Circle of Protection ever. So I wanted to play it. What old-school Blue card actually dealt damage to everything? Volcanic Eruption!

Now, I have built a Volcanic Eruption deck once before, for a “bad rare” article. It went with Black and played Blanket of Night and Magical Hack to make everything a Mountain, and then destroy all Mountains with Volcanic Eruption. This one is going a different direction.

(I know, I know I know I know . . . a blue deck without Capsize—what am I thinking?!?!?!?) I envision this deck as a multiplayer deck, as opposed to the last one, which feels more like a duel deck. There should be lots of Mountains running around, especially after you drop Blood Moon. Then blow up all of the bad lands and deal a ton of damage to things around the table. Rawr! After all, nothing turns lands into Mountains better than Bad Moon.

After that, I just chucked in several tricks. You have COP: Blue in the deck anyway, so why not run Cerulean Wisps? It draws a card and prevents damage from a Blue creature with a COP: Blue. You can also just play it to untap a creature to block or early when you need that card. Distorting Lens also turns anything Blue to prevent with the appropriate COP: Blue.

Voice of Reason is perfect here. It stays alive through a Volcanic Eruption and keeps alive in the face of a suddenly Blue creature via Distorting Lens or Cerulean Wisps. Dawn Elemental and Cho-Manno will also live through Volcanic Eruption.

I wanted some more creatures, so in went a trio of man lands, and a pair each of Guardian Idol and Genju of the Falls. These guys will help survive mass removal by not being a creature, and then swing in for some damage. I thought about Gideon Jura, but this wasn’t the deck for him.

Psionic Blast is included solely to be cute. Sure, it should be Swords to Plowshares or something else. But it isn’t, so . . . ha! Since we were hosing all Red and Blue decks by the very nature of this deck, I felt a surprise hoser against Green and Black decks was appropriate. Say hello to Acid Rain and Karma. We have just one of each to pull out the hammer. It’s not often that I honestly feel that a hoser like Acid Rain belongs in a casual deck, but this is one.

This deck is fun, right? Okay, I have a super-special version of this deck, circa 1996. When all of your combo cards are from the same era, you have to do this!

Without the great White creatures that work so well in the first deck gone, and nothing good to replace them, I slide into a solely Red creature base. The deck emphasizes its three-color nature more with a regenerating Troll (Uthden Troll), a creature that wants to die (Rukh Egg), and a creature that will come back after it does (Firestorm Phoenix).

Without Protection from Blue creatures, the value of making opposing creatures drops. It’s useful as a trick with COP: Blue (Sea Kings' Blessing to the rescue, and also one of my favorite pieces of art). But we’ve removed the Distorting Lens and reduced the number of instants by half. I put the two cards for Distorting Lens into Blood Moons.

We still have mana lands with Mishra's Factory, and we still have most of the deck intact. In fact, we could pull Mystic Compass and make this circa 1995. I added two Compasses to make them a larger part of the combo, but you could pull them and the deck would still work. Perhaps you could add four Mana Drains (or Counterspell for those without the big guys).

Anyway, I thought this super-special deck would really tweak your fancy.

With those decks, we’re calling it a day. I hope you enjoyed these decks of gifts and love.

See you next week,

Abe Sargent

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