"Do you like magic?" –Barney Stinson, How I Met Your Mother
So I actually took some time out while Phoenix was sleeping and I was watching the last half of the Jets/Dolphins game to look through my Magic cards. Needless to say I was upset.
Since leaving Chicago I've had to make a switch to playing exclusively Type 2. Type 2, or as the newer players call it, Standard, is the current core set and last two blocks. As of right now, before the anticipated Scars of Mirrodin drops, Type 2 is made up of: M10, M11, Shards of Alara and Zendikar blocks. Building decks within this Standard was easy since I played heavily when Shards Block came out. Shards was so awesome because Alara Reborn was SOLID GOLD.
Since Legends dropped in 1994 (or was it '95), I've always been in love with Gold colored cards. Gold cards are cards with multiple colors in their casting cost. Gold cards may have been the reason I got back into Magic in the first place. When I saw cards from Time Spiral block as well as going as far back as Ravnica block, I was hooked all over again. When I first got back in I built a budget Gruul Beatdown deck for Standard that featured Kird Ape and gold staples Scab-Clan Mauler, Burning Tree Shaman and Rumbling Slum. But the newer Gold card that clinched Magic for me was Lightning Helix. God. Such a beautiful card. It was Healing Salve and Lightning Bolt rolled into a beautiful 2cc Instant. I think I own 20 Lightning Helixes. I was hooked.
So why was I upset? When Scars of Mirrodin drops I say my farewells to M10 and all of Shards Block. That makes me sad since I was a fool for Shards Block. I think I have 20 Bloodbraid Elves. I have 5 Ajani Vengeants, Knights of Reliquary x 4, about a billion Terminates and Qasali Pridemates. I loved me some Gold cards. Now I have to start from scratch and try to build with my meager Zendikar Block and M11 cards. I really don't know how much of Scars I will actually try to acquire. I've traditionally been a trade first kind of Magic player so I'll have to get rid of tons of my older stapes in order to compete. There lies my dilemma.
Do I even bother with Type 2? Not sure.
Should I concentrate on Legacy? Holy $#!t!!!
Trolling www.deckcheck.net I came across an Affinity deck with maindeck Force of Will. Maindeck FOW seemed odd to me since the Affinity deck, historically, is a beatdown first strategy. This deck had something else that piqued my interest in ways unimaginable...
Thopter Foundry x 2
Sword of the Meek x 2
WTF? Why didn't I think about that super extended combo for the 95% artifact deck?!? I immediately took apart my UW Thopter control deck and tried to shove the combo in my traditional Ravager Affinity shell. It was difficult to say goodbye to some standard Affinity cards like Myr Enforcer, Blinkmoth Nexus and especially Shrapnel Blast but the fat needed to be trimmed.
I think the issue with the base Ravager Affinity deck was the occasional color screw. Sometimes you burn your color fixers early for the card draw and have Great Furnace with Thoughtcast in hand. Or you have Seat of Synod and Shrapnel Blast in hand.
With the new Thopter Affinity it is a baseline UW aggro/combo deck.
Here's what I put together so far:
Ravager Affinity x 4
Ornithopter x 4
Master of Etherium x 4
Frogmite x 4
Arcbound Worker x 4
Cranial Plating x 4
Springleaf Drum x 4
Thoughtcast x 4
Thopter Foundry x 4
Sword of the Meek x 4
Ancient Den x 4
Seat of Synod x 4
Tree of Tales x 4
Academy Ruins x 1
City of Brass x 3
Adakar Wastes x 2
Mystic Gate x 1
Skycloud Expanse x 1
Ethersworn Canonist x 4
Meddling Mage x 4
Pithing Needle x 3
Krosan Grip x 4
First note: I work with what I have so I don't try to run out and get all the money cards to compete. I'm not going to go out and get all the fetches and duals that I need for Legacy. It's not in my nature. Secondly, when I first started playing the game it was obviously casually until me and my friends learned how to play competitively. Type 1, Legacy and Extended were my forte at the time. As I hit the PTQ circuit in the Midwest I became obsessed with Type 2 and Block. I even PTQ'd in Iowa during Urza's Saga Block with UG Squirrel Prison. I was first out of 111 players. With my resurgence into the game with Time Spiral Block I did Standard for a while but switched to Casual after Lorwyn/Shadowmoor rotation. I refused to upkeep for Standard. The whole Mythic Rare decks upset me to no end. It just makes it more difficult to compete for newer players or players without a bankroll. Playing casually was the best thing I ever did. The playgroup at Westwood College was amazing. It is probably the most fun I've had playing the game. While playing Casual I tried tons of different strategies and built tons of decks (something like 50). I actually became a deck designer. And I fell in love with combo decks.
Segue back to Thopter Affinity...
Thankfully I already had all the money cards for this deck. I was able to pick up Arcbound Ravagers on the down swing for very cheap a few years ago. I also traded up for a playset of Masters of Etherium when they first dropped. And the Thopter combo pieces are $1.50 uncommons. Traditional Ravager Affinity is a straight beatdown deck that uses either huge Ravagers or plated up dudes to Fatal Frenzy or Fling them. I'm opting to combo on opponents' faces with hundreds of 1/1 flying dudes. Why is Thopter combo better then Fling or Fatal Frenzy? Sometimes it takes time to get your dudes big enough for a lethal Fling. A well placed Swords to Plowshares or Echoing Truth can shut you down. Or just a good old fashioned Force of Will is enough. With the Thopter combo once you get online, it creates inevitability at that point. With the nut draw you can be online by 3rd turn. They MUST stop the Thopter Foundry from resolving otherwise they are dead. If they stop the Sword of the Meek it just comes back. If they stop the Foundry I can get it back with Academy Ruins or hopefully buy some time with the beatdown game to draw into another one. If you can get Thopter online and can untap, that should signal the game. When Master of Etherium drops shortly after it creates an even faster clock.
The deck works in a beatdown capacity. If you get the aggressive draw where you drop your hand by turn two you probably win. Against other aggro decks like Zoo or Mono-Red Burn, your Masters and Ravagers are critical. You have to play your Ravager sacrifices correctly or you lose. But once you get Thopter online it is game over. They won't be able to deal with the wall of flying defenders and advantage of the perpetual lifegain.
Against control decks game one is probably a win if they try to play you straight up as a regular Affinity deck. If you can get your combo online game one and win then your sideboard comes into play for games 2 and maybe 3.
Legacy is a wide open format with tons of different deck choices. It's hard to say what is a good deck or not. But the top decks at the moment I'd say are as follows:
Show and Tell/Hypergenesis
Last time I bothered with competitive Legacy I rocked a home-brewed Mono-Red Burn deck. I went in knowing nothing. I did fine against scrubs and lost 1-2 to one of the two ringers. If a Legacy Tournament arises I want to be ready. I came up with a down and dirty sideboard to try and combat the current Tier 1 decks. The biggest thing I'm worried about is combo decks so I set up my sideboard to combat that.
Pithing Needle is for Tops, Aether Vials, Barbarian Ring, Engineered Explosives, Jace the Mind Sculptor, Jitte, etc. Anything with an activated ability the Needle shuts down. Survival of the Fittest is huge right now so Needle is key.
Ethersworn Canonist is strictly for combo decks like Storm, Belcher or Cascade. You have to aggressively mulligan to get stick a Canonist turn 2 during game 2 or you lose.
Meddling Mage is for combo decks and control decks. Naming Force of Will or Top or Vial or Survival of the Fittest, etc. will help to shut down or slow down plenty of decks.
Krosan Grip is to stop Counterbalance, Top, Vial, Survival, Engineered Explosives, Back to Basics, etc.
I probably should make room for Tormod's Crypt for graveyard active decks like Dredge or Reanimator decks. I'll have to see. Not sure yet.
But all in all I think decks that need creatures to win will lose once Sword/Thopter is online. The advantage it creates is too great for a bunch of 2/3's, 3/3's and even Goyfs to handle. Against control decks you have to get the beatdown going then set up the combo.
I have to do some playtesting to see how she runs but all in all it could be fun! From what I saw at Armada Games in Tampa, there is a big Legacy crowd. I'll see if I can get a few games in the near future.