Dear readers and friends of the Magic: the Gathering CCG!
These days I am totally into my all-time favorite Customizable Card Game, you guessed it, M:tG, and am thinking quite a bit about some casual and fun deck ideas I have had years ago and wanted to revisit and re-evaluate some of those.
This article will be split in two parts, in each of which I want to showcase one deck I was pondering about for quite a long while. The first I like to call “Lock around the Clock” as it features both a clock and a lock (as in lock down your opponent) while the second will be a tribal deck centered around one of the less popular and more obscure creature types, which I think is undeserved as I will tr to demonstrate later on: Birds!
But first a bit about an unusual control/lockdown deck I had built way back in the first Mirrodin era:
Lock Around The Clock (Casual/Legacy Format):
As every so often, it all started with a card that caught my attention back in the days of the (first) Mirrodin Era. Here it is:
You know Clock of Omens is a card that just gives me a certian itch. An itch which makes me want to build a deck around this card. And that is what I did what is now an unbelievable 10 years ago. I built a deck revolving around making use, diabolic use of Clock of Omens and I would like to present you with a version of that decade old deck I tinkered with back then in an updated form, as I would play it nowadays. Nothing much has changed in the decklist though, with the difference that the deck would only work in Legacy Format today, and back then all that was needed for the deck was still Extended legal (I think…). So here’s the deck:
Lock Around The Clock Deck:
4 x Path to Exile
4 x Mana Leak (1U)
4 x Fabricate (2U)
4 x Wrath of God (2WW)
2 x Propaganda (2U)
2 x Ghostly Prison (2W)
3 x March of the Machines (3U)
4 x Talisman of Progress (2)
4 x Darksteel Ingot (3)
3 x Static Orb (3)
3 x Clock of Omens (4)
3 x Icy Manipulator (4)
4 x Seijiri Refuge
8 x Island
8 x Plains
About the Deck:
Well, the main combo here should become apparent when I show you the second combo piece needed in addtition to the Clock itself:
So yeah, obviously you would have both Clock and Orb in play, which would allow your opponent to untap two permanents only during each of their untap steps while you would be tapping Orb and Clock itself some time prior to your own untap step so you would shut Orb down and get a full untap step by doing so. A popular deck type in the past did a similar trick with multiple creatues, the enchantment Opposition and Static Orb.
All the rest of the deck revolves around this basic, easy to set up (thanks to the artifact-fetching Fabricate) two card combo.
For instance attacking will become nearly if not totally impossible for your opponent if you have Propaganda or Ghostly Prison out alongside Orb. The latter require your opponents to spend 2 mana per creature they want to attack with so they’d have to either untap two lands to launch one attack or untap their creature(s) and then probably lack the mana needed to pay for Propaganda/Ghostly Prison.
Similarly, Icy Manipulator is a great supplement to the “Orb-Clock Lock” as you can pay 1 to tap one of the permanents your opponent was allowed to untap. Then you’d tap Clock of Omens and another artifact, ideally your Static Orb, to untap the Manipulator, pay 1 and tap it again to tap the second untapped permanent your opponent controls. So once you have this 3-card-combo set up, your opponent will be completey locked down. Icy Manipulator is not a bad deal even without all the other combo components set up as well.
Mana Leak could just say “Counter target Spell” once you have your opponnent under the “Clock Lock”. You should use it to protect any of your important combo pieces from opponent “artifact hate”.
The rest of the deck is just some cheap and/or efficient control especially geared towards stopping fast creature rush decks: The cheap Path to Exile banishes any threatening opponent creature while Wrath of God efficiently exterminates all creatures on the battlefield at once, without disturbing you as you don’t have any creatures at all.
But the important question on all of our mind is probably this: The Clock Lock sounds awesome and all, but how does this deck win?
The answer is simple and will become apparent when I show you the “win condition” in the deck:
Yes, this card will actually win you the game! By turning all your artifacts into marching machines that will attack an opponent without (untapped) blockers left due to the Static Orb – Clock of Omens – Icy Manipulator “trinity”. Your Talismas will be just 2/2s and your Static Orbs respectable 3/3s while your Clocks and Manipulators will be formidable 4/4s. But the most fun artifact to “animate” is surely Darksteel Ingot, which will be a 3/3 with INDESTRUCTABLE which is kinda nice. If it is even necessary you can kill everything on the field with a Wrath of God and then follow up with March of the Machines, although since your main goal is to lock down your opponent completely with Orb and Manipulator, so you wouldn’t care about your opponent having some creatures out most of the times.
Before I proceed with part 2 of this twofold casual deck article, I have to make a honorable mention of Howling Mine.
Howling Mine would really make up for the missing card draw in this deck and what is really cool when you think about what Clock of Omens does, you can shut the Mine down during your opponents’ draw steps so only you would get the quite awesome effect of drawing an additional card each turn. The more I think about it the more I like the idea of running a playset of Howling Mine, maybe swapping them in for the Talismans (which could be skipped in a control type of deck like this one is). I will seriously consider that as I even have a spare playset of Howling Mines at my disposal!
But now on to part two of this article:
Waaay back in the olden days, when the Onslaught block brought us many tribal goodness, there was some support for a little known and even less popular Creature Type. The fact that it was unpopular and obscure all the time is why I have tried long ago to find a home for that Creature Type in its own deck. I am talking about Birds! There are some quite powerful cards that were already available more than 10 years ago, many of them being from the Odyssey and Onslaught blocks. I have recently been thinking about this old deck design of mine, with which I wanted to “redeem” the Bird “tribe” and proof the point that Birds can actually shine if only combined to form the right deck, and have updated it a bit with newer cards that I think the deck could benefit from.
Here’s what I got:
Birds Tribal Deck (Casual):
4 x Suntail Hawk
4 x Judge’s Familiar (U/W)
4 x Stormscape Familiar (1U)
4 x Soulcatcher (1W)
4 x Thieving Mapgie (2UU)
4 x Mana Leak (1U)
3 x Battle Screech (2WW)
3 x Airborne Aid (3U)
4 x Soulcatcher’s Aerie (1W)
3 x Shared Triumph (1W)
3 x Seaside Haven
4 x Adarkar Wastes
8 x Island
8 x Plains
About the Deck:
This deck does many things but my plan is that all the pieces fall into place neatly, not that it does a bit of everything but nothing well in particular. First of all this is a fast Creature Rush deck similar to White Weenie, just with more staying power because of massive card draw and with all 20 out of 20 Creatures being flyers. The problem with many swarm decks like White Weenie is that they tend to run out of steam quickly after a powerful start. With lots of ways to draw extra cards, I tried to prevent that from happening with this deck. There are also some control elements which are easily splashable such as Mana Leak and Judge’s Familiar, which is a circumstancial Forc Spike attached to what is better than the classic 1/1 flyer for 1 Mana, Suntail Hawk. I have to show it to you because it is so awesome:
Furthermore, Shared Triumph and, far more substantially, Soulcatchers Aerie boost all your small Flying Birds at once, taking the role of what the classic Crusade and the more modern Honor of the Pure would be in a typical White Weenie Deck.
I was tempted to add a few copies of my all-time-favorite Equipment, Skullclamp, to the mix, as it would turn all your many 1/1s into potent and re-usable card draw. I opted for the more thematic Airborn Aid, which has more draw potential, and Seaside Haven, which is a land an thus can’t be countered, instead of the ‘Clamp.
Here’s some thoughts on the individual cards:
Suntail Hawk: A 1/1 Flyer for 1 Mana. Pretty sweet.
Judge’s Familiar: A 1/1 Flyer for 1 Mana, either White or Blue, which doubles as a Force Spike against Instants and Sorceries. Super Sweet.
Stormscape Apprentice: His stats are lackluster but the ability to reduce the cost of all my white Spells by 1 is just awesome, even though “just” a few cards qualify for this, namely Soulcatcher, Battle Screech, Soulcatchers Aerie and Shared Triump. Quite a few afer all so I think this one is a good choice.
Soulcatcher: This one should be your main beater as he gets a +1/+1 Counter whenever a bird dies. This works really well when you “chump-block” with some of your smaller, less important birds and also with the sacrificing effects of Judge’s Familiar and Seaside Haven. Soulcatcher will grow pretty big pretty fast in this deck, so you’d better protect it from removal. That is what Mana Leak and Judge’s Familiar are for in this deck!
Thieving Magpie: Your reliable, flying = hard-to-block card draw engine. While the Magpie has a low power of 1 for a 4 Mana creature, it will draw you one card each time it deals damage to an opponent. And with Shared Triumph and Soulcatcher’s Aerie you can boost its power (and thoughness) considerably. I faced the choice between either Thieving Magpie or the much cheaper Curiosity but decided in favor of the bird because it will benefit from Shared Triumph and/or Soulcatcher’s Aerie.
Mana Leak: Your main way of dealing with anything nasty from your opponent. Your Mana Leaks are best used to protect powered-up Soulcatchers and Soulcatcher’s Aerie. Those should be saved from removal at any cost as it takes time to build up their power and once they are destroyed or anythings their counters and thus their power boosts will be gone.
Battle Screech: This gives you two birds for one card plus you can Flashback it by tapping the two birds you just made plus one other random white creature, which will have you end up with 4 additional 1/1 flyers. Combine with Soulcatcher’s Aerie and Shared Triumph and you are good to go.
Airborne Aid: This will draw you a lot of cards if you use it under the right circumstances. If we look at the last card, Battle Screech, you will have like 4 Birds from Screech and maybe some others too so Airborne Aid can draw you a new hand pretty much.
Soulcatchers Aerie: This Enchantment is probably your ace card, as every time a bird dies you may put a counter on it and for each counter Aerie has, ALL your birds will get a +1/+1 boost. There are many ways to have birds killed or to sacrifice them in this deck so the Aerie will get out of hand pretty soon. All the more it is essential to protect your Aerie(s) at all costs, with, say for instance Mana Leak, as it takes time and many dead birds to power it up and once removed in whatever way all these things will be lost. With (multiple) Soulcatchers out, Aerie is even greater. If you have both and a bird dies, Soulcatcher will gain a +1/+1 counter and Aerie will get a feather counter giving your Soulcatcher (and all your other birds) an additional +1/+1 boost.
Shared Triump: Serves the same purpose of powering up all your Creatures at once, just as Soulcatchers Aerie. It has the upside that you dont have to get a bird killed in order to make it of any use but the downside that +1/+1 will be the maximum boost to your birds, which is not a bad deal anyways for a card that costs 1W.
Seaside Haven: At the cost of just 2 Mana (1 Blue and 1 White) you can tap this to sacrifice a Bird in order to draw 1 card. The ability to draw a card is quite awesome for a Land card. It is best used in response to one of your Birds getting killed anyways and will boost your Soulcatchers and Soulcatchers’ Aeries considerably.