Building Decks Around Quality Uncommons (MtG):

Whilst I am always looking for so called “Crap Rares” to build decks that accomodate them as best as possible I come across a lot of overlooked and underrated Uncommons as well. In this article I want to introduce you to two decks I built centered around two of these qualtiy Uncommons that did not, at least in my opinion and as far as I know, receive the attention they rightfully deserved. This decks are built with the Legacy Format in mind, not aiming to be competitive at all but rather to have a greater card pool to choose cards, that would go well with those Uncommons, from.

The first deck, which is probably the weaker one out of the two I want to present in this article, revolves around this “hidden gem”:

At 3/3, Sigil Captain’s stats are not too exciting for a slightly hard to cast (because of the double white in its cost) 4 Mana Creature. But its ability to turn any 1/1 Creatures you will be putting into play into 3/3s immediately when they are played is something I found to be begging to be made proper use of in the right kind of deck. This is what I have come up with:

Sigil Captain Beatdown:

Creatures…24

4 x Doomed Traveler (W)

4 x Wild Nacatl (G)

4 x Loam Lion (W)

4 x Kird Ape (R)

4 x Mogg War Marshal (1R)

4 x Sigil Captain (1GWW)

Enchantments…7

4 x Fists of Ironwood (1G)

3 x Promise of Bunrei (2W)

Instants…4

4x Raise the Alarm (1W)

Sorceries…5

3 x Spectral Procession (W/2,W/2,W/2)

2 xOverrun 2GGG

Lands…20

8 x Plains

7 x Forest

6 x Mountain

1 x Vitu-Ghazi, the City Tree

The Strategy:

The basic strategy is to apply some early pressure with your cheap yet powerful Kird Apes, Wild Nacatls and Loam Lions until you manage to drop a Sigil Captain, which will turn all the 1/1 Creatures you play henceforward into 3/3 right upon when they are played. You have many Creatures and other Spells that generate multiple 1/1 Creature tokens. Cast Overrun to overwhelm the opponent with those. Here a more detailed look at the individual cards:

Doomed Wanderer:

A 1/1 which will be 3/3 with Captain that generates a 1/1 Creature Token with Flying when he dies, which will be 3/3 with Captain as well.

Kird Ape, Loam Lion & Wild Nacatl: 

All these Creatures will grow considerably when certain types of Lands are in play. Loam Lion and Kird Ape can be 2/3 and Nacatl up to 3/3 even without Sigil Captain. When they come into play with Captain already in play, they will be 4/5 or 5/5 at their maximum power, and that for 1 Mana each!

Mogg War Marshal:

This is a 1/1 itself which brings a 1/1 into play when it comes into play and when it dies. If you don’t pay its Echo cost your next turn after you sommone it, it will die. However what will remain are two 1/1 Creature Tokens. Imagine that combined with Sigil Captain and you can have three 3/3 Creatures for the cost of twice 1R if you want to pay the Echo cost.

Sigil Captain:

The key card in the deck, which I already discussed above.

Fists of Ironwood:

An Aura that gives any Creature Trample and, and this is what matters, generates two 1/1 Saproling Creature Tokens. Under Sigil Captain you will get 6 Power worth of Creatures for just 1G.

Promise of Bunrai:

The only Rare in the deck is one of the notorious Crap Rares I keep talking about. In this deck it is amazing. When a Creature of yours dies, and this is bound to happen a lot, you can sack this Enchantment to generate a total of 4 (!) 1/1 Spirit Creature Tokens, which will be the equivalent of 12 Power when you activate this effect under the Captain!

Raise the Alarm:

Generating two 3/3 Creature Tokens at Instant Speed for just 2 Mana is quite a good deal.

Spectral Procession:

Generate three 1/1 Flyers for 3 Mana in the best case. Having three 3/3 Flyers is certainly a good thing.

Overrun:

This is a killer card in this particular deck as it will give Trample and a considerable stats boost to your multitudes of Token and non-Token Creatures.

Vitu-Ghazi, the City Tree: 

I am running one copy to provide me with a re-usable token generation engine for the later part of the game.

—————

The second deck I built around a quality Uncommon could actually be half decent and stand a real chance against other, more serious Legacy Format decks as it features overall efficient Creatures and has considerable card draw potential, especially the latter being a key factor to the success of many decks, in any format. Let me show you the central Uncommon that inspired me to build this deck after which I will show you the card list and proceed to discussing the individual cards:

In and off itself, without any further effort and scheming, Lorescale Coatl will be a 3/3 Creature for just 3 Mana when it gets to attack for the first time, as you will be drawing one card per default each turn as anyone familiar with the most basic rules of the MtG TCG will surely know. Now as blue is the color of card draw more or less, I thought there would be some awesome cards to be found that would go well with Coatl and constantly feed it with thought so to say to make it grow larger and larger. And as expected, I indeed found a great abundance of (cheap, mana-wise) cards that would serve that purpose very well. What I have come up is certainly no new Legacy Deck to Beat but I think it is quite potent and would at least stand a fighting chance against other, more serious Legacy Decks, for several reasons which I am going to detail shortly. But first, let me show you my decklist and then provide my comments and thoughts on my card choices:

Lorescale Drawbeat (Legacy):

Creatures…21

4 x Birds of Paradise (G)

4 x River Boa (1G)

4 x Wild Mongrel (1G)

4 x Cold-Eyed Selkie (G/UG/UG/U)

4 x Lorescale Coatl (1GU)

1 x Wonder (3U)

Instants…4

4 x Brainstorm (U)

Enchantments…12

4 x Rancor (G)

4 x Spreading Seas (1U)

4 x Snake Umbra (2G)

Lands…23

13 x Forest

10 x Island

The Strategy:

There are various reasons that make me think that this is actually not half bad and would probably have a fair chance against other (more expensive) Legacy builds. Firstly, the deck features only quality Creatures with either great stats or great abilities or even a combination of both, like the classic Wild Mongrel, the ace mana-maker Birds of Paradise and the regenerating and islandwalking River Boa, a staple in many aggressive decks with a splash of green ever since it was first released in the earlier years of the MtG TCG. Secondly, the deck has great draw potential in the form of cards like Brainstorm, Snake Umbra and especially Cold-Eyed Selkie, which draws you a card for each damage it deals to your opponent. The third reason is that many of your Creatures have the Islandwalk ability, meaning they cannot be blocked if your opponent controls at least 1 Island. Now while a lot of Legacy decks run at least some blue I do not want to rely on this and simply press my luck. To the contrary, I included a card which turns an opponent land into an Island permanently, namely Spreading Seas, which serves the double purpose of a) making your Islandwalkers unblockable and b) acting as incredibly cheap blue (!) Land Destruction by turning an opponent land into a slightly less useful land, at least for opponents who don’t run blue in their decks. And on top of that, Spreading Seas draws you a card, boosting Coatl and giving you a new card at the same time, this being the reason why I run this over Sea’s Claim and will gladly pay the 1 extra generic Mana. And what is best about Spreading Seas is that one of your key Creatures, Cold-Eyed Selkie, has Islandwalk and draws you one card per damage it deals to your opponent. Just slam a cheap Rancor or the versatile Snake Umbra on it and you will be drawing you a ton of cards and at the same time make your Coatl’s stats skyrocket. As I am playing blue and a considerbale number of blue cards you will be wondering where the heck my countermagic is. While Force of Will and Daze would certainly be great cards for such a deck, I adopted another approach for this build. Rather than protecting my key cards with countermagic, my bet is on drawing into replacements through the tremendous draw potential this deck offers.

Here some additional thoughts on the individual cards:

Birds of Paradise: 

Enables you to play your Coatls and Selkies one turn earlier and speed up the deck considerably. Can be a good target for Rancor to get some damage through, provided your opponent does not have flyers of their own.

River Boa:

A 2/1 Regenerating Islandwalker for 1G. An awesome deal, especially when combined with Spreading Seas which will make the Boa unblockable while messing with your opponent’s mana base. Certainly the number 2 target for Rancor and Snake Umbra.

Wild Mongrel:

If I had more room in the deck I would love to run 4 Basking Rootwalla along with my 4 Mongrels, but even without the Madness Lizards, this wild dog has a great home in this deck, considering that you will always, or in most cases, have a full hand to power it up by discarding a card to give it +1/+1 and change its color until end of turn. A card you should be discarding is Wonder, which will turn all your Creatures into Flyers – just in case the Islandwalk does not work out or is not enough already!

Cold-Eyed Selkie:

Probably the most important Creature in your deck on many levels: Firstly, it is your main Draw Engine, which can draw you multiple cards if powered up with Rancor or Snake Umbra, secondly, and this follows from firstly, it will boost your Lorescale Coatl greatly and permanently and thirdly, it has Islandwalk and will in many cases be unblockable. Enchanted with Snake Umbra, Selkie will, provided it is unblocked, deal 2 damage and draw you 2 cards from its ability and one card from Umbra’s ability. If you have Lorescale Coatl out, it will get a permanent +3/+3 boost everytime you attack and deal damage with your enchanted Cold-Eyed Selkie.

Wonder: 

This is pretty much useless in your hand so discard it to Wild Mongrel if possible. Once it is in your Graveyard it has the very useful ability to turn all your Creatures into Flyers, which is a great backup plan if the Islandwalk strategy does not work out, if you don’t draw into a Spreading Seas that is.

Brainstorm:

Overall a great and useful card, this offers an amazing combo with Lorescale Coatl. In fact this is the combo I came up with as the starting point of designing this deck. Brainstorm draws you 3 cards, then you have to put 2 cards from your hand on top of your deck in any order. The “Draw 3 cards” part is what matters most in conjunction with Lorescale Coatl. Yes, you already realized by now that Brainstorm will, at instant speed and at the mere cost of 1 blue Mana, put three +1/+1 Counters on Coatl, making him at least a 5/5 for just 3 Mana. Besides, it is never a bad thing to cast Brainstorm and cycle through your deck in search of useful cards.

Rancor:

Gives +2/+0 and Trample to any one of your Creatures for just 1 green Mana and returns to your hand when it or the Creature it enchants would be destroyed. Your best target would be Cold-Eyed Selkie, preferably with Spreading Seas already enchanting an opponent land so Selkie cannot be blocked any more, which will mean 3 damage to your opponent, 3 cards drawn for you and three +1/+1 Counters placed on Lorescale Coatl all at the same time. Other good targets for Rancor would be Coatl himself, as adding Trample to an explosively growing Creature without any inherent evasive abilities would not be a bad idea, or on an Islandwalking River Boa.

Spreading Sees:

Virtual blue land destruction that makes some of your quality Creatures unblockable which draws you a card when it comes into play. I would happily spend the one extra mana to get Spreading Seas instead of Sea’s Claim for instance.

Snake Umbra: 

This Enchantment is costlier than just running Curiosity for example but it works so well on so many levels, and this is why I chose the 3 Mana Snake Umbra over the one Mana Curiosity. While the latter cost 1 blue Mana and draws you a card when the enchanted Creature deals damage to a player, Snake Umbra does three things: Firstly, it does the same as Curiosity, drawing you a card whenever the Creature it enchants deals damage to an opponent, secondly, it gives the enchanted Creature a somewhat lackluster +1/+1 boost and thirdly, it protects the Creature it enchants with Totem Armor. When the enchanted Creature would be destroyed, you may destroy Snake Umbra instead. This can be very useful against pinpoint and universal destruction effects and save the live of one of your key Creatures.

Cards I wanted to add but had no more room left for:

As mentioned above, Basking Rootwalla would go very well with Wild Mongrel and if I would be running them, 4 Careful Studies would be great as well. Careful Study would let you draw 2 cards for 1 blue Mana, giving your Coatl two +1/+1 Counters, and then force you to discard 2 cards – in the best case scenario you’d discard two Rootwallas and play them for free via Madness, or one Rootwalla and one Wonder. Breakthrough would go well with Coatl as it would let you draw 4 (!) cards inexpensively, the downside being that you would have to discard your hand excpet you invest a fair amount of Mana in the X in Breakthrough’s casting cost. Kami of the Crescent Moon would give your Coalt a regular boost, but I found that I do not need any symmetric card draw effects like that of Kami. Hence no need for Howling Mine and “Double Howling Mine” Font of Mythos either. There is enough potent one-sided card draw in this deck as you can see for yourself in the above list. Of course a Legacy Deck with so much blue would benefit from Force of Will and, to a lesser extent, from Daze, and furhtermore I do own a playset of FoW so that would not be the problem. But as stated before, I prefer to run a more aggressive version of the deck, which relies on drawing backups for destroyed or neutralized cards rather than countering removal and such.

Overall I think this deck has potential and I am looking forward to try it out to see for myself if my aggressive, counterless approach will work out or not!

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