Last week I wrote about a new list I designed and piloted at a PTQ, just missing out on top 8 by losing the last â€œwin and inâ€ game of the swiss, details can be found here: http://www.manaleak.com/mtguk/2011/06/crucible-of-words-team-italia-in-type-2-by-cyrus-bales/ . This week I’ve re-examined the weaknesses of the deck and found a way to improve it significantly.
The basic core of the deck was fine, [card]Squadron Hawk[/card] and [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card] generated a lot of card advantage and with the equipment, a strong board presence and power. However [card]Dark Tutelage[/card], the other side of my card advantage package, was somewhat inconsistent, whilst a lot of the time, it was brilliant and won me games, I’d often draw a second copy and waste a draw, or have to board them out for aggro decks, leaving me with four dead slots in game one. It seems that four was definitely not the right number.
Another issue I found with the list, was [card]Cunning Sparkmage[/card], I never fetched [card]Basilisk Collar[/card] since it was a waste of a Stoneforge Mystic, but his ability to deal with 1/1 creatures was very useful still. I needed a creature like this, but one that did not cost three mana to cast, and was the worst candidate in the world to hold most equipment.
Lastly, I found there was a lack of bigger creatures in the deck, the average natural power of my creatures was below 1. And I also wanted a second [card]Batterskull[/card] to fetch, so I quickly found my Basilisk Collar replacement as well as a way of beefing up the deck.
So, how did this all affects the main deck, let’s take a look:
Type Two Italia.
4 [card]Spikeshot Elder[/card]
4 [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card]
4 [card]Squadron Hawk[/card]
2 [card]Phyrexian Metamorph[/card]
4 [card]Lightning Bolt[/card]
3 [card]Go For The Throat[/card]
2 [card]Divine Offering[/card]
1 [card]Sword of Feast and Famine[/card]
1 [card]Sword of War and Peace[/card]
2 [card]Dark Tutelage[/card]
4 [card]Lavaclaw Reaches[/card]
4 [card]Blackcleave Cliffs[/card]
4 [card]Arid Mesa[/card]
4 [card]Marsh Flats[/card]
Firstly, the most important part of the changes is [card]Spikeshot Elder[/card]. An incredible card in the deck, he comes down below counterspells and still fits nicely if you need to drop him and activate Stoneforge on the same turn. He has the ability to ping away small creatures, however unlike Cunning Sparkmage, he is excellent when holding equipment. Rather than being able to only ever ping for one, this guy gets the ability to shoot down enemies or players for much more damage, whilst still being able to attack. Having a [card]Sword of Feast and Famine[/card] equipped to this guy is incredible, allowing you to remove blockers and get an untap to burn anything else you need to. To reflect this inclusion, I dropped the [card]Tectonic Edge[/card]s for [card]Mountain[/card]s to support his ability.
The other addition in terms of creatures is [card]Phyrexian Metamorph[/card], who is incredibly versatile. I noticed when playing with the deck before, decks running Stoneforge Mystic can’t afford to have their opponent play one without you having your own, so these guys are Stoneforge 5-6 if needed, but can easily become Batterskulls if necessary. Also, it can become the extra â€œbeefâ€ if needed as it can happily become anything from a [card]Vengevine[/card] to a [card]Grave Titan[/card], or even just a humble [card]Tumble Magnet[/card] if needed. I found this creature very useful in testing, since if you cheat a Batterskull into play and they remove the token whilst you are short of land, you have a three mana backup Batterskull if needed.
The last change was dropping a couple of Dark Tutelage. As I mentioned earlier, having four dead cards in the aggro match was too much, as is drawing multiples of them. Their value in some match ups though, meant I couldn’t cut them completely, so by having two, it means I’m unlikely to draw multiples and have less dead cards against aggro.
After some testing, I found the deck reliable and took it to a small local game day, which was only four rounds, then cut to top four. I noticed there were a couple of [card]Tempered Steel[/card] decks so I build my sideboard with that in mind. I managed to keep a clean sheet and win all four rounds as well as winning the semi and the final of the tournament. I used the following sideboard:
1 [card]Surgical Extraction[/card]
1 [card]Sword of Body and Mind[/card]
1 [card]Phyrexian Metamorph[/card]
1 [card]Go For The Throat[/card]
2 [card]Divine Offering[/card]
3 [card]Arc Trail[/card]
3 [card]Inquisition of Kozilek[/card]
From the tournament, I learnt that my changes had made the deck much more powerful, Spikeshot Elder, whilst good on paper, was incredible in practice and won me an awful lot of games as well as making the deck run much more smoothly. The Metamorphs regularly became Batterskulls and won me games, and the manabase worked well in terms of casting spells and shooting things with Spikeshot. I only had one game where my mana let me down, but I was able to recover from it still.
With Vampires and RDW on the rise as a means to beating Caw-blade, this deck gets a bit of a boost, since it has the ability to interact on a meaningful level with aggro decks, thanks to its disruption and removal, giving it a much better red based aggro match up than UW Caw-Blade decks, obviously this match up isn’t ideal, but definitely better than UW Caw-Blade has it. Also, the deck still keeps the ability to take on Caw-Blade, making it a really good choice for the current metagame.
Thanks for reading, and thanks for sharing.
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