Deck Building with the Magic 2015 (M15) Deckbuilder’s Toolkit by Christopher Cooper
A few days ago, this popped through my door (thanks Wizards!).
My mission, should I choose to accept it, would be to use it to build a variety of decks to battle against each other, and have some jolly good fun whilst doing so.
For that I’d need another player. Meet Danni:
Danni is my long-suffering Magic widow. She is awesome at opening packs. That picture was taken just after she opened her first Modern Masters pack. She plays a little Magic and knows the rules enough to get by in the odd game of EDH, but by and large is the sort of player that this kind of product is aimed at.
The Magic Core Set 2015 (M15) Deck Builder’s Toolkit
We started by laying everything out, taking a look at what was in the toolkit and thinking about how it compared to what you might expect to find in a standard toolbox. Let’s break it down into the individual components:
The Toolbox — The thing you keep your tools in (duh).
It should be heavy duty, hard wearing, and have space to hold everything you need, safe and free from damage. The DBTK (deckbuilder’s toolkit) box does this well, being a well-styled box with space for a few sleeved decks, a very important consideration when we’re trying to keep our cards in pristine condition. The actual box itself is gorgeous too — black and white with a hint of pale purple, Garruk’s rugged face leering up at you. I absolutely adore the colour palette of M15 in general — limited colours, almost monochromatic. WotC have really knocked it of the park (nice one creative dept!).
DIY Instructions for Dummies — The thing that tells you everything you need to know.
We were very self-disciplined and looked through all the inserts before looking at the cards, which we found pretty hard. The insert on building decks rankled with Danni a little. She found useful the part that talks you through how to build a deck, and the input from the pros was a nice touch. However she found the reverse side, which went through eleven different archetypes in pretty much every colour combination, to be a bit too much like a set of instructions. She objected to the idea that she had to build a deck based around one of these ideas, but to her credit managed to pull off a deck that hadn’t really been discussed in the insert. More on that later…
Hammer – The tool that hits things. hard.
Yep, it contained Fall of the Hammer. NEXT!
Fine. The rares in the pack really do this well, with Shivan Dragon, Terra Stomper and Mahamoti Djinn all being great big smashtastic threats. These guys will hammer home the win most games they stick around.
Screwdriver – The tool that lets you keep the nails turning.
Here we’re looking for something that gains an incremental advantage, turn after turn, to help sculpt our game plan. Witches’ Eye and the huge amounts of Scry achieve this by filtering through to exactly what you want and grinding out an advantage in the long game. They fix draws, smooth curves and get rid of situational cards.
Nails and Screws – The glue that holds everything together.
These are functional — they don’t provide the flesh and bones of the the deck, but they play a crucial part. Sometimes they have a nice, decorative quality to them, but they mostly go unnoticed. We’re talking about lands here. The toolkit has a really nice amount of these, with 20 of each basic land and 4 Evolving Wilds, giving you plenty of lands to build a two- or three-coloured deck with fixing, or a monocoloured deck with a little card-thinning from the Wilds.
Nuts and Bolts – When you really don’t want stuff to fall apart.
The Monkey Wrench – The adjustable tool to fit the job that needs doing.
Whilst there are no “X”-spells like Heat Ray or Genesis Hydra in the kit, there are spells that rely on devotion like Aspect of Hydra. These can start off small, but really scale up over the course of a game and can really break a stalemate in the late game when you’ve both built up a board position.
Pliers – For getting rid of one specific thing; gripping, holding and plucking it out.
This is where the spot removal comes in. Cards like Banishing Light and Feast of Flesh can deal with most issues we’ll come across in a game of magic, though Banishing Light is by far the more flexible of the two.
Sand Paper – For scouring the surface and leaving things smooth and clear.
Scouring Sands is a great fit for this. Not only is the name appropriate but the function is too, just skimming a little dirt across the surface of the opponent’s side of the board, and leaving you with a nice smooth draw next turn thanks to the Scry.
Power Sander – For when you really want to go at something.
This is something that, if you’re not careful with it, can do a lot of damage in a very short period of time. We’re looking for a card to overwhelm the opponent, to outstrip what they’re doing and completely go over the top. Well, Overwhelm seems appropriate, really.
Power Drill – Used to puts holes in things.
Whilst I’m dissappointed that I didn’t get to make a joke with the Spell Pierce flavour text, the toolkit does have ways of putting holes in your opponent’s plans in the forms of Cancel, Negate and Nullify.
Gouge – For digging into things.
Hose – Because I couldn’t think of a more appropriate tool.
We have a great big hoser in one of our boosters in the shape of Ruric Thar, the Unbowed. However, there’s little else in the way of cards to hose specific strategies, instead leaving us to play happily without having to worry about too many situational cards leading us down the metaphorical garden path.
The Extra Bits and Bobs – All toolboxes have, in the bottom, a collection of things being kept to one side for something useful.
This one has an assortment of four boosters, just there for that rainy day. It came with one M15, one Theros, one Born of the Gods and one Dragon’s Maze. The Dragon’s Maze booster seemed very out of place compared with the other three. There weren’t the same synergistic qualities found in the rest of the cards in the kit, there were no other cards from the block and it just felt completely disconnected from the rest of the pool.
So, having unpacked it all and had a good rummage through all these wonderfully shiny things, we decided to actually BUILD SOME DECKS! Danni wanted to go first, and made me leave the room whilst she mapped out her deck, so at this point I’ll hand over to her to fill you in.
Editor’s note: From this point on, anything written in green is the words of Danni, and anything in blue is the words of Chris.
Essentially, because I didn’t want to do any of the suggestions on the insert I needed to look out for a theme or ability to build a deck around which would be cohesive, and work well with the cards available.
As we opened the packs up I noticed plenty of flyers, and a lack of ways to deal with them. On closer inspection blue and white offered loads of flying goodies. Once I had the core of the deck constructed from these I then added in cards such as Ornithopter, primarily as a flyer but also a boost to the number of artifacts in the deck for Aeronaut Tinkerer. I wanted to put in some strong tempo plays such as Voyage’s End and Gods Willing to help the cheap, aggressive fliers force through some damage, as well as a small token theme to keep piling on pressure.
I also needed some defence and removal, which came in the form of Coral Barrier, Guardians of Meletis, Banishing Light and Divine Verdict. The Guardians also had the additional little synergy with our Aeronaut Tinkerer, a nice little bonus!
I, on the other hand, had my eyes set on different things. I’d seen a minotaur theme when we first opened up the cards, and I wanted to have some fun with it. Ragemonger is incredibly powerful, Kragma Warcaller can really pump out some damage, and black/red seemed to have some very strong removal and tempo plays that would get me there. Rollick of Abandon is a phenomenal card in this deck, turning all our X/3s into huge threats and hopefully taking out any little blockers that happen to be in the way.
This is the list that I came up with:
We then decided to play a few games with the decks. I suggested that we swap decks to level up the playing field (I wouldn’t want to embarass Chris too much), and so he took to the skies with my fliers and I grabbed his minotaurs and prepared to lock horns.
In the first game he completely out-tempoed me over the first few turns, making a 2/1 flier on each of the first three turns and topping it out with a Triplicate Spirits. A Scouring Sands got me back into it, but it was little more than a stopgap before the beefy rares came down.
The third game saw the more reactive side to the Blue/White fliers deck. Surprise blockers from Raise the Alarm proved frustrating alongside cards like Divine Verdict and Negate. The convoke ability on Triplicate Spirits allowed him to keep the pressure on me whilst my cards were far less effective. But that was Chris’s fault, obviously, as he’s the one who built the deck.
After the games we decided to make a third deck from what was left, seeing as there were still areas we’d left unexplored.
We didn’t actually manage to play any games with this deck, but whilst there are obvious flaws with the deck, it does look like it packs some raw power. Like the other decks, it has a solid core that can be built upon as your collection grows.
This was a very interesting exercise for both of us to perform. The toolkit gave us a variety of options to build decks around and would have allowed us a plethora of other options to build around given a little more time. It gives a balanced grouping of tools to provide a great start to a Magic journey, or to help build your collection as you continue on the one you’ve already begun.
Get your own Magic Core Set 2015 (M15) Deck Builder’s Toolkit today for a special price of only £13.89! Click here now!
Thanks for reading, thanks for sharing,