I don’t know about you, but I like to win. However, winning isn’t everything, and recently I have felt my desire to win clash with my desire to brew up fun decks. I primarily play at FNM, and one of the great things about FNM is the diversity of deckbuilding styles that the people at my LGS bring to the table. The problem I have come across is that the decks that I have been building have enough efficiency to beat the other brews, but lose resoundingly to the tier-1 decks that some players bring. Interestingly enough, I don’t mind losing to the tier-1 decks as much as I mind thumping the other brews. Beating an opponent isn’t much fun when they are playing a way cooler deck than you. So this week, I am going to get back in touch with the starry-eyed brewer that lives within me, and play a new deck.
Brewing up decks is my great passion, and I am always pulled towards cards that I think are underrated. I usually end up abandoning them for more powerful cards, but this week I am going to stick to my guns. When I am building a new deck, I generally start with one card or interaction and then follow it down the rabbit hole to see where it leads. For this deck, I am going to start with a card from that has called out to me since it was first spoiled. Halimar Tidecaller, I’m looking at you.
Before you laugh me off like I’m crazy, let’s just talk about what this card does. First up, it is a 2/3 for 3 mana. These stats aren’t amazing, but they aren’t bad. It can block well, and sometimes trade. However, the really juicy stuff is in the text box (it always is). When it enters the battlefield, you may return a card with awaken from your graveyard to your hand. That is just pure value, as it replaces itself. The caveat, of course, is that you have to be playing awaken spells for that effect to do anything. Up next is perhaps one of my favorite lines of text that I have ever seen on a magic card. “Land creatures you control have flying.” Isn’t that beautiful? It at least has me drooling over the possibility of sending a flying land army over the top of my opponents blockers. Now we just have to figure out how to utilize this card to its maximum potential.
So, we want cards with awaken and cards that turn our lands into creatures. Unfortunately, there aren’t all that many powerful awaken spells. Ruinous Path, Planar Outburst, Scatter to the Winds, and Part the Waterveil are basically the only ones that I would be excited to play. Unfortunately, Ruinous Path is just about the only black card that I would want to play in this deck, and with 2 black symbols in its cost, that is not going to work. Part the Waterveil is an awesome card, but since it exiles itself, we won’t be able to loop it with the Tidecaller. That leaves us with just Planar Outburst and Scatter to the Winds, and I’ll throw in Clutch of Currents as well. Clutch isn’t very good on its own, but it can help us slow our opponent down, or bounce our own creatures out of the way before we wipe the board with Planar Outburst.
As for other ways to turn our lands into creatures, we have a couple options. Wall of Resurgence is a nice card, giving us a 0/6 and a 3/3 for just 3 mana. We have to be careful with it, though, as many opponents would be happy to attack your mana base early if you give them the option by turning lands into creatures. Luckily the awaken ability is optional, so early game this can just be a way to stop some damage, and late game it becomes a real threat. Noyan Dar, Roil Shaper and Cyclone Sire are also cool ways to turn lands into creatures, but they just don’t do quite enough on their own for me to really want to play them, though they just might find a home in my sideboard.
There is one creature that is good enough to be played in a wide variety of decks, but is especially awesome in this one, and that is Sylvan Advocate. What can be said about this little (but not really that little) elf that hasn’t already been said? Maybe just that this is the deck he was born for. The pros may be enjoying their 4/5 with vigilance for 2, but here we’ll be getting the maximum value out of this land lord.
Now that we have looked over some of our options, I’ll show you the list I came up with and break down my reasoning.
Awaken the Tides
This list might seem a little strange at first glance, so I’ll tell you what’s going on here. First, since we are turning our lands into creatures, and creatures are disposable, we need to keep the lands flowing. Explosive Vegetation and Ulvenwald Hydra put extra lands right out onto the table, while Nissa, Vastwood Seer and Kiora, Master of the Depths help make sure that we aren’t missing land drops. Also, turning on your Advocates or Nissa a turn or two early will throw off opponents who thought they had more time to deal with them.
Planar Outburst might seem odd in a deck with so many creatures, but since it lets land creatures live, we are often going to come out ahead after casting it. There is also a combo here that is going to be absolutely ridiculous when we are able to pull it off. It starts like this: Play any of our creatures in the early turns, building our board presence and hopefully discouraging our opponent from attacking. Then, once we have the requisite 5 mana available (as well as Outburst in hand), cast Eerie Interlude on our opponents end step targeting all of our creatures. Due to the wording of Interlude, our creatures won’t come back until our end step, so we can cast Planar Outburst in the main phase, wipe out our opponents creatures, and then have all our creatures come back safe and sound, with fresh ETB triggers to boot. This combo won’t always play out, but both cards are still good in this deck even if you can’t get into magical fairy land.
Thraben Inspector and Elvish Visionary are here just to help us with card flow and to put out some early blockers when needed. They also play well with Eerie Interlude and our copies of Ojutai’s Command in the sideboard, although our primary target for the Command’s return mode will be Sylvan Advocate. Since this deck is rather slow, Immolating Glare will help stem some damage from our opponents creatures before we can get off a Planar Outburst.
I took this deck to FNM and went 3-1. Not bad at all, and my one loss was to a Green White tokens deck piloted by one of the better players at my local game store. I even managed to take a game off of him, though to be fair he got stuck on lands.
Overall, I was quite happy with how the deck played out. The Eerie Interlude/Planar Outburst combo came together even more than I had hoped, as this deck is quite good at slowing the pace of play and giving you time to draw those spells. Clutch of Currents is also quite good against Hangarback Walker and Ormendahl, Profane Prince, cards which seem to show up in a lot of decks right now. Halimar Tidecaller performed exactly how I needed it to. When I won, it was with giant lands that flew.
This deck was a lot of fun to play, but I don’t think I’ll bring it again. I feel like I’ve scratched an itch. Now that I know what it feels like to swing with a flying 12/12 Forest (it feels great), I don’t feel like I need to again, at least not anytime soon. Perhaps when I sense the metagame is weak to flying lands, I’ll pick it up again.
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