All the best Magic: the Gathering decks are Mad!
This week I want to talk about one of my favourite mechanics included in the most recent sets, Madness. Madness is a mechanic that allows you to cast discarded cards for a cost. There are lots of reasons that this is good, but all the best ones point to the fact that when used in synergy with cards that include discard as a cost, you can really hit hard and often for much less Mana than usual. There is a good introductory article about Madness here: A Beginners Guide to Madness in Shadows over Innistrad, by Joe Butcher
Synergy is great, my favourite decks to play with are full of themes and synergies. I just find it more entertaining to play with a deck that feels like it all works together than to just play the best cards in each slot. I am talking more about playing for fun than playing competitively, although sometimes you get a deck which is both. The recent rise and rise of the Red White Vehicle deck is full of synergy, which is great, it’s also very competitive, which is also great.
Finding an unused card, and making it play well
I like trying to find cards (Like Bomat Courier) that aren’t necessarily the obvious choice, but that in the right deck, can be the key to winning. It is one the main reasons I love deck building, I just love finding unused cards and making them play well. At some point I will go more into my style of deck building, but for today, I want to show you a list I have put together using the Madness mechanic. I love the mechanic because if you can build around it you can do so much work for very little mana.
A couple of my pet cards at the moment are Alms Of The Vein, which in the right deck is a single Black mana to drain your opponent of three of their life, and Bloodhall Priest which in the right shell is a three mana 4/4 that allows you to either take out a pesky chump blocker or shoot your opponent for two damage before it even hits them.
I have been trying to figure out where to put Bloodhall Priest for a while, at the moment she is in a Jund Delirium shell, because she was in a Red-Black aggro shell then I took apart three decks and made three different ones instead. The fact that you can discard her to a Smuggler’s Copter on turn three and you suddenly have a 4/4 with the upside of dealing two damage if you want to your hand that way. I think Delirium is an okay shell for her, all things considered she suits Black-Red very well and should probably stay in a Madness dedicated deck, I’m probably just being greedy.
Alms Of The Vein also fits in a Jund Delirium shell. Draining your opponent isn’t negligible, for one mana, it is a very big deal. I assume it isn’t played because it can’t target creatures, but I still think with the various decks out there, very few are ready to deal with some life draining goodness. I do however think there is a better place for Alms Of The Vein and I think we should start with a deck list.
I heard you like Value, so I put some Value in your Value
As I have said, one mana for a six point life swing is a very big deal. So is one mana for three points of damage from Fiery Temper. Being able to discard these cards is incredibly useful so you need discard outlets, this is where Lightning Axe, Tormenting Voice and Collective Brutality come into their own. Casting cards and using discard as an advantage is just fun. I would say good clean fun but it never quite feels fair, to be honest, that’s why I like it so much.
So the deck lets you cast lots of spells, always fun, to make the most of this Dynavolt Tower and Thermo-Alchemist let you get a lot of value out of all of the Madness you are causing. Then you have Fevered Visions which is both on theme and also helps with card draw and burning your opponent from twenty life to none. If you get multiples of any of these, then you are probably winning.
If you cast two spells with a Dynavolt Tower out, you are up to four energy, the opponent is probably down some life, you are probably up some life and they may well have lost a lot more than that. Add in the one damage here and there from the Thermo-Alchemist as well combos like Collective Brutality discarding Alms Of The Vein you are getting an awful lot out of each card.
I was testing this deck the other day and managed to get two Towers out, the game quickly became ridiculous as every 3 spells I cast got me an extra 6 damage wherever I wanted, I completely ran over my opponent.
Madness and discard are a match made in heaven. If you have been playing at all during the Shadows Over Innistrad block then you will know that. To me, these mechanics haven’t had enough love yet. As it stands there are a few cards which give Madness an entirely new life. I don’t think for a second that we have seen the end of the way Madness cards can be used. As it stands if we take two cards from Kaladesh we can see too fantastic discard outlets.
As thanks for saving the city you get the…
Key To The City is a great card, I mentioned it briefly in my last article but I want to dive into it a little more here. Key To The City allows you to make one creature unblockable for a cost, you have to tap the Key and also discard a card. Potentially this is a hefty cost, losing resources just to get some damage through isn’t necessarily wise, that being said, if you can discard something and that be an upside, well then that’s perfect.
As an example of some scenarios that could occur, your opponent has a blocker they can just chump with but you want to finish them off, thankfully you have a Fiery Temper in hand but only one Red mana. Good job you have Key To The City, you just tap it, discard the fiery temper, cast it at them to do three damage, then swing in for lethal. As much as this could be Magical Christmas Land (which at some point I may well write an article on) it actually isn’t that uncommon if you are playing with these cards.
The card lines up wonderfully with Bloodhall Priest as well, you can make it unblockable, get rid of the last spell in your hand and make sure the Priest can’t be killed by a blocker. Not to mention that being rid of your hand you can do two damage to a target of your choice. That is value, making the most of every facet of a card is how you get the most out of the deck you are playing and the synergies you have built around. There is of course, one more very good Madness enabler in Kaladesh.
Definitely Han Solo’s Kaladesh Vehicle of choice
I am of course talking about Smuggler’s Copter. As well as being a 3/3 flyer for two mana. As well the fact that either an Eldrazi Scion or a 17th century villager can pilot it (I’m looking at you Thraben Inspector. It also let’s you draw a card and then discard a card. Oh yes, looting ends with discarding a card. That feels relevant somehow.
Oh yeah, Madness.
So you can swing in with your Smuggler’s Copter draw a shiny new card, discard let’s say a Welcome To The Fold cast it, steal your opponents creature and deal some damage. The best thing is, even if you draw it off of the Copter you can choose to discard it and cast it straight away. That means if you top deck like a pro, you can have no hand and still cast a spell with no issue.
Madness also let’s you do some strange things when it comes to casting speed. Assuming you have an instant speed enabler, Lightning Axe for example, you can cast whatever the spell is at instant speed, that means your creatures get Flash, which is a silly mechanic to really mess with your opponents heads. When they know you can cast creatures at instant speed it makes them a lot more careful, which you can make the most of by bluffing and keeping them from attacking when they should be.
Plus you can give some of your Sorcery spells Flash as well, stealing an opponents creature at instant speed with Welcome To The Fold always feels good. Not to mention getting an army of zombies and extra life with From Under The Floorboards is an amazing defensive combat trick, you can wipe out an entire attack and come off better for it.
Madness is a fantastic mechanic, it let’s you do some really silly things and can change up the speed at which you play your game. It means your opponent is never sure what the state of the board actually is and always has to be worried about what you can do at any given moment. Playing around with some of the less popular mechanics let’s you really change the status quo of Standard or any format.
What mechanics do you like that you feel are undervalued? Are there any cards in particular you think should see play but don’t? Or cards you would like me to look at? Leave a comment and I will see if there are any other cards or mechanics that are ripe for breaking open.
Thanks for reading,