Thursday, January 19, 2012

War Ensemble

Named after the song by Slayer, I originally thought of this deck as a aggro B/G thing. War Ensemble was one of the first decks I ever built and B/G has been a favorite color combination ever since. It's never really quite come together, though and I'll talk a little bit about that after the decklist.
2 Aspect of Mongoose
3 Pernicious Deed
3 Sarcomancy
4 Rancor

3 Consume Strength

3 Odious Trow
2 Nantuko Vigilante
3 Gravedigger
3 Bramble Elemental
3 Bone Shredder
3 Albino Troll
2 Endless Wurm
3 Troll Ascetic

3 Pine Barrens
10 Swamp
10 Forest
There's a subtheme of enchantment use, with Endless Wurm there to let me recast Rancor or Aspect of Mongoose, to cast again on Bramble Elemental or to get rid of Sarcomancy, should I have no zombies. However, there's a slightly bigger issue here. If one is to take a look at the casting costs of the deck, the focus is at 1 and 3 CMC.

That isn't true though. There is a huge bottleneck at 2 and 3, with the Albino Troll and Boneshredder, due to the echo costs. This puts me back a bit and can be considered a hidden cost, bumping things up just a little bit and reducing this deck's aggro plan. In addition, the reliance on cards like Rancor, which cannot be played on turn 1, pushes the aggro element back again.

I mention this because these hidden costs are on all kinds of cards, depending on the mechanic and I think that deckbuilders tend to overlook or neglect these costs, thinking that once you've paid for the spell, it's all over! Equipment would be the simplest example of what I'm talking about, which is why the Living Equipment mechanic in New Phyrexia and Mirrodin Besieged were such a big deal.

Really, this is more of an aggro control deck, using recursive/regenerative elements to bring back creatures, weather Pernicious Deeds and eventually win the game.

So now that I've got the actual theme worked out, what's next?

Well, consistency. Unless I have an Endless Wurm, I can't reliably sacrifice enchantments. That doesn't have to be problematic but it does mean that I need to ensure I can engage in this deck's strategic theme if I have a wurm or not.

Also, less strain on the 3 CMC slot. I like Consume Strength a lot but it's not in theme and it's eating up space. The question is: What does this deck need then, after one more Endless Wurm?

Something that a) regenerates (to survive Deed activations), b) is more expensive to create a swingy-effect, c) is less expensive but can possibly be cast for free since the 2 and 3 slots are eaten, d) is disruptive in a way consistent with this deck's ideas or e) I don't know, I'll just know it when I see it.

It's times like this that having collaborators is a good thing. A braintrust to bounce ideas off of is usually more efficient and fun than just grinding through pages of cards. Sometimes, though, that's what you gotta do.

Befoul seems like a decent idea, since it's modality means I could go after a variety of troublesome permanents. Deity of Scars looks like a scary, cheap beater that I can both target with an enchantment and will create an impact on the board when it arrives. More relevant: I have those cards already.

However, that doesn't mean that they are auto includes. If I want to continue to mine an aggro-control element, something like Acidic Slime might be preferable but keeping the costs low is also relevant and I think there's space in the four slot. As of now, I'm not sure where to go but I'll make some decisions before testing (hopefully!) later this week/weekend.

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