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Deck-Building, From Idea to Finish


It all starts with an idea. Rebuilding the wheel entirely is a waste of time because we stand on the shoulders of those before us.

After watching a billion matches of Brian Braun-Duin and Chris Van Meter destroy people with Acidic Slime on many turns in a row, NicotineJones and I had a discussion about whether a Bant-style deck focused on Clones and creatures with enters-the-battlefield abilities could work. John Cuvelier also had sent me a deck of this style (although he included cards such as Elvish Visionary, Ghostly Flicker, and Simic Manipulator).

We sketched up the initial list:

Before we do anything, I personally thank this video for the deck name.

Analyze Strengths and Weaknesses

Mana base:

  • Green: 13
  • White: 12
  • Blue: 13

Mana curve:

Mana cost 2 4 5 6 7
Number 11 5 8 4 1

While sketching up this list, I realized a few things: Why are Supreme Verdict, Azorius Charm, and Selesnya Charm good in this deck? You don’t draw an overabundance of cards and you’re not trying to stall to your Sphinx's Revelation late-game as in normal Bant control decks. To top it off, this style of deck is still going to lose to Naya Blitz’s and mono-red’s best draws even with four Azorius Charms and two Supreme Verdicts.

Alchemist's Refuge is also not very good here, although the idea of Refuging in a Slime (or Angel or Clone) is certainly very attractive. The colored mana is a bit of an issue.

I would much rather solidify the matchups in Game 1 against midrange decks (eight Clones and Garruk Relentless both shine there). You can Acidic Slime any control or midrange deck to oblivion and perhaps even cut them off from a color entirely.

However, completely writing off aggressive matchups seems quite awful, and I also gained some inspiration from the CVM/BBD rites deck: Fiend Hunter. You can either Fiend Hunter your opponent’s guy or Fiend Hunter your own guy and then Fiend Hunter the Fiend Hunter as sort of a slow Restoration Angel—or just leave it Fiend Huntered to play around an opposing Supreme Verdict, Terminus, or other removal spell.

Receiving feedback from multiple people and taking all of these considerations of strengths and weaknesses and potential issues led me to this:


Mana base:

  • Green: 14
  • White: 13
  • Blue: 13

Mana curve:

Mana cost 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Number 4 4 3 11 8 4 1

In reanalyzing the deck, we can see the mana curve is a bit wonky (a huge clog at converted mana cost of 4 and up). This implies we would like to add more things to do at the 1- and 2-mana spots. Garruk Relentless and Progenitor Mimic are both likely candidates to clog our hand, so chopping one of each seems more than reasonable. In addition, it feels as though the fourth Fiend Hunter belongs in our main deck. Arbor Elf provides additional acceleration, even if it is not the most reliable source.

This seems to be a pretty solid starting point to jump off from for actual playtesting.

Receiving Feedback

I am but a single man who seeks the wisdom of others.

The first few suggestions I received were from people on Facebook and Twitter:

Chris: Why no Voice of Resurgence in the seventy-five? He seems okay to Clone.

Voice of Resurgence only goes under everything here. It might be useful as a blocker, but you don’t actually need it against control decks here.

Mark: If we're going to go the Clone/Acidic Slime route, why not just Deadeye Navigator?

Another clunky 6-drop is about the last thing we need here, but maybe one Deadeye Navigator is fine over one Progenitor Mimic—drawing it in conjunction with an Acidic Slime or Thragtusk probably means you win the game.

David: What about cutting Garruk Relentless for Jace, Architect of Thought?

Garruk Relentless is superior to Jace, Architect of Thought in basically every way here. It fights small creatures, which we already have issues with, and on the flip side, it lets you tutor up a never-ending stream of Thragtusks and Acidic Slimes.

Brian Braun-Duin: Just cut Garruk for Trostani? Trostani is the nut high in decks like this. Believe me.

Trostani, Selesnya's Voice seems to have diminishing returns in multiples, but I’m willing to believe two in the main deck is correct—it provides more life-gain effects to try to offset the aggressive decks.

Matt Sperling: Apologies for trying to provide valid and sincere feedback, but I would try to get Sin Collectors in here somehow; I know the mana is a strain, but for matchups in which the opponent isn’t developing on board as much as in his or her hand, you could rip the opponent apart with it.

This is actually an interesting idea, and it’s one I want to look at—it also gives us access to another Slime-like effect (Dinrova Horror).

Evil Twin is essentially an upgraded Clone. With access to more Forests, I felt that a slightly reduced land count was justifiable (since Arbor Elf is more reliable here). I am not entirely sure if this is a better deck (the mana is more unstable with us adding a fourth color, and losing Garruk Relentless is not irrelevant). The mana curve is also much worse, and your aggressive matchup suffers from that. The sideboard is trickier here, but there’s a plethora of options to explore, as in the above lists, but I’ll leave that as an exercise to the interested reader.



I hope you enjoyed this look into how I work on decks from the initial idea through several iterations.

Please leave any comments or concerns here or on Twitter @jkyu06, and thanks for reading.

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