OK here we are on day 2 of the indefinitely ongoing Magic: the Gathering deck marathon and I am back again with yet two more rather unusual decks. This time it will be all about more or less unconventional “Weenie” type decks. If you wonder why the hell I got the time to write blog post after blog post these days – I am actually taking a break from my “work” (as in paid projects and unpaid projects of my own) and this is what I do when I wanna relax! 😀
Well back to topic: White Weenie was probably my first real attempt at a competitive deck in Magic. And boy was it competitive back then. Ever since I loved the Weenie deck archetype, in which you would power out a horde of cheap but efficient creatures to overwhelm your opponent fast and furious. I have played (White) Weenie in various forms again and again over the years and here are the latest two Weenie deck designs I have come up with just today, including newer cards and intended for the Modern format. The following Weenie decks are not “purebred”, all white builds but something of a different nature, with white still playing the role of the “lead color” or makes up a major part of the deck. But let’s get on with this and have a look at the first deck:
Modern Artifact Weenie (V.1.0)
Well if I like one thing as much as White Weenie, then I would have to say it is artifact decks of all kinds, and I have built countless of thoses. Especially the colored artifacts of the Alara era and the ones released after that have a special place in my heart and I have built countless artifact decks including some of these cards. Over the course of a prolonged time, I came across some awesome artifact creatures which would be a perfect fit in a Weenie deck geared towards artifacts that intrigued me quite a bit. I had planned to build an artifact Weenie deck on the lines of a more or less classic White Weenie approach. What REALLY did seal the deal for me and lead me to finally attempt to make a viable and powerful artifact Weenie was when I discovered this card, just today:
Holy schmoly, I thought, a double Crusade for artifacts at just one and a half times the cost of Crusade (or the much better Honor of the Pure)! Just imagine your 0 Mana Ornitopthers becoming awesome 2/4 Flyers with just one of these babies out.
Well I dug up some cards I had been wanting to run in an artifact weenie and this is the result of my deckbuilding efforts:
4 x Ornithopter 0
3 x Court Homunculus W
4 x Vault Skirge 1B
4 x Etherium Sculptor 1U
4 x Ethersworn Canonist 1W
3 x Steel Overseer 2
4 x Porcelain Legionnaire 2W
3 x Juggernaut 4
4 x Dispatch W
4 x Tempered Steel 1WW
3 x Mask of Memories 2
4 x Adarkar Wastes
4 x Seat of the Synod
4 x Ancient Den
8 x Plains
About the Deck:
Almost half of this entire decks consists of creatures, but that is how it is supposed to be. 7 of the 29 Creatures are in the deck not to serve as attackers or blockers (they can however if necessary) but got into the deck for their amazing effects, which are, in my opinion, key to the success of this particular build. After I will discuss the actual attackers, I would like to highlight the 2 cards I am running for the sake of their effects rather than their offensive and defensive capabilities:
Steel Overseer is not really a Weenie at 1/1 for 2 generic mana, however he will act like a lasting, incremental “artifact crusade” for all your (artifact) creatures in play. In fact since I played my sole copy of Steel Overseer at great success in the Commander format, he has become one of my favorite cheap artifact creatures. I demonstrated my fondness of him already in my previous deck article installment. So at the mere cost of 2, Steel Overseer can be tapped to put a +1/+1 counter on each of your artifact creatures, including itself, and that basically every single turn. This way you can boost all your artificial soldiers each and every turn and the +1/+1 counters will remain even if Overseer gets killed somehow, contrary to Crusade, which will cease to boost your Weenies once destroyed and gone. Since this deck is about 50% Creatures, one should expect to have an army of formidable size for Steel Overseer to power up!
Etherium Sculptor can not by any means be called your typical creature you would expect in a Weenie deck, of any color, being just a lowly 1/2 Creature for 2 mana (1U). The reason why I added him to the deck and what makes him so awesome in this particular context is the fact that he reduces the costs of all artifacts you play by 1 generic mana. This will make it much, much easier to generate an increasingly large army of artifact creatures in a rush. Just for instance, Steel Overseer will cost only 1 Mana with one Sculptor in play, and if you manage to drop a second copy of the latter, the former will be free to cast. I think Etherium Sculptor shines especially combined with my “Phyrexian Mana” creatures, as their colored cost can be paid in life instead, while their colorless cost can be reduced down to zero through one or two Sculptors.
The real beaters in the deck are quite a powerful cast, starting with the zero cost Ornithopter, which has 0 attack to begin with but can become huge through Tempered Steel and through repeated activation of Steel Overseer, which is a pretty good deal since he will fly over your opponent’s defenses whilst powered up. Then I am running 3 copies of Court Homunculucs, which will be a non-legendary Isamaru, Hound of Konda most of the times (he is a 1/1 that gets +1/+1 if another artifact is in play). Probably my favorite Weenies in this deck are the ones that can be cast through “Phyrexian Mana”. Have a look at this one first:
So Vault Skirge can be cast by paying 1B OR by paying 1 generic mana and 2 life. What a deal, a 1 generic mana Suntail Hawk with Lifelink. The cost of having to pay 2 life instead of the one black mana is neglectable, since the Skirge will repay you in life from lifelink manyfold for that initital investment. Imagine him with Tempered Steel, which would make him a 3/3 flyer immediately and with Steel Overseer, which will make it more and more menacing. But it CAN get even better. In case you have an Etherium Sculptor in play you will get the Skirge basically for free. Well 0 mana and 2 life. I’d pay that life happily.
The second Phyrexian Mana creature is Porcelain Legionnaire, which is a 3/1 First Striker for 2 generic mana and either 1 white or 2 life. Again, imagine him cheaper or for free with Etherium Sculptor. Not to think of him becoming a 5/3 First Striking beast with Tempered Steel!
Juggernaut is a classic card they thankfully reprinted in more recent core sets which saw a lot of play in the earlier days of the game. It just has so much nostalgia stuck to it for me and I think it is a great addition to this deck being a 5/3 by with some drawback for just 4 generic mana. I like the idea of dropping one of these on turn 3, enabled through Etherium Sculptor and follow it up by a turn 4 Tempered Steel to start attacking with my big badass 7/5 Juggernaut!
Etherium Canonist is where it becomes tricky for your opponent. I would call that one a Weenie for starters as she is a 2/2 artifact creature for 1W. With cost and power/thoughness being equal, it meets the basic requirements of weeniehood for me. Usually those 2/2s for 2 mana have some nice additional abilities, so what does the Canonist offer? Well actually her ability can be crippling to any non-artifact deck player, since it says if a player cast a non-artifact spell this turn, they are not allowed to cast furhter non-artifact spells one the same turn. That should hamper the progress of any non-artifact player considerably, and this is why I chose to run 4 of these in this deck. Needless to mention Ethersworn Canonist will get counters from Steel Overseer and would be a 4/4 under Tempered Steel.
Well one thing a deck that is almost half Creatures needs would be a means for backup. What I needed to keep swarming the field, recover from creature mass removal á la Day of Judgment or Damnation, and to not run out of steam mid-game was a potent draw engine. Since I was already playing some blue in this deck my first thought was Curiosity, a creature enchantment for just U that lets you draw a card whenever enchanted creature deals combat damage to an opponent. But then I thought of something better: Mask of Memory, an equipment for 2, equip 1, which lets you draw 2 cards then forces you to discard 1 each time the equipped creature deals combat damage to a player. I prefer the costlier Mask over the cheaper Curiosity for many reasons. First and formost, an equipment is not lost if its bearer perishes. You can just equip it to a new creature if the old one dies. Furthermore, it is an artifact and its cost can be lowered down to 1 or even 0 with Etherium Sculptor(s). I think this kind of draw if combat damage was dealt type of draw engine is the perfect fit for a deck with many (cheap) flyers such as Ornithopter and Vault Skirge and should serve its purpose of drawing you backup forces constantly and reliably.
One more card I have to mention is Dispatch. In this deck it is basically a Path to Exile / Swords to Plowshares devoid of any drawback, as normally, it taps target Creature for W, but if you have 3 or more artifacts in play (Metalcraft), you get to banish target Creature instead. Meeting this requirement seems laughable easy in the context of this deck, so I had to include four copies of Dispatch.
A Card I am not playing is of course Mox Opal, which is ridiculously expenisve to get a hold of, and I prefer to keep my decks on a budget. Also some might wonder why I don’t run Glint Hawk and Ardent Recruit is simple. While they are both awesomely efficient 1 casting cost Weenies (Hawk is a 2/2 Flyer with a minor drawback and Ardent Recruit will be a 3/3 if you got 3 or more artifacts in play) they are not artifact creatures themselves. This means neither will their cost be reduced by Etherium Sculptor, nor will they get +1/+1 counters from Steel Overseer. That is pretty much why I prefer their, in my opinion, equally powerful artifact counterparts in this particular build.
OK on to Weenie Deck number 2…
Twilight Weenie (v.1.0):
The color combination black-white has intrigued me ever since the Invasion era, which is so long gone and in the past that I sometimes can hardly believe how fast time flies by us. Back then, only the most smug kids of rich parents could afford to own a black-white Magic deck, featuring the still unmantched in power Vindicate as well as the regenerating Spectral Lynx (which ironically costs like 50 cents nowadays, contrary to the still high in value Vindicate) and other kickass cards.
Today, looking back at 2 blocks of Orzhov Guild card-ridden Ravnica, I want to attempt, just as a mental experiment, without the intention to actually buy the stuff together I would need to actually construct this deck in real life, to make an at least decent black-white deck, with the Modern format in mind. And since this installment of my Magic deck marathon (Or should I say “Magic deck madness”??) is all about Weenie decks, this deck will be a Weenie type build of sorts as well. Let’s have a look at one of many possible decklists:
4 x Nip Gwyllion W/B
4 x Vault Skirge 1B
4 x Nightsky Mimic 1B/W
4 x Tithe Drinker BW
4 x Tidehollow Sculler BW
4 x Vampire Nighthawk 1BB
4 x Mortify 1BW
4 x Unmake B/W B/W B/W
4 x Sign in Blood BB
4 x Edge of Divinity B/W
4 x Bad Moon 1B
4 x Marsh Flats
4 x Godless Shrine
4 x Caves of Koilos
4 x Plains
4 x Swamp
About the Deck:
Well with 12 out of 24 Creatures having Lifelink, this could be called a “Lifelink Weenie” pretty much and what is more, after listing all the cards I realized that I might be building this for real some time after all, since almost all cards are cheap uncommons and commons. Well all except the Bad Moons and the non-basic lands. However I happen to own 4 Marsh Flats so that would be a start. The problem would be the Godless Shrines which go for around $15 USD nowadays which is harsh… On the other hand, the Caves of Koilos are cheap and the deck could probably do with 4 white/black fetchies and 4 white/black painlands. But on to the actual deck.
The deck’s focus is a bit more on the black side actually, so funnily and thanks to the Time Spiral “timeshifted” cards, I am running Bad Moons instead of Honor of the Pure in a Modern Format deck. 8 out of 2o creatures are just black and not white or black/white which is the reason why I opted for the black creature boosting Bad Moon.
So the creatures could be called Weenies, with their power and cost being at least equal. There is one exception: Vampire Nighthawk. His stats are decent at 2/3 for 1BB but what makes him really shine are his numerous special abilities. For just three mana you get a creature with flying, deathtouch AND lifelink! What a deal! Also we see a “familiar face” in the decklist: Vault Skirge. Well you will gladly pay the 2 life to reduce his effective casting cost to 1 generic mana gladly under pretty much any circumstances, which will give you a turn one 1/1 flyer. And he’ll be a 2/2 lifelinked flyer with a Bad Moon out. And he’ll be a 3/2 Flyer if you enchant him with the 1 casting cost (either black or white) Edge of Divinity. Edge of Divinity becomes truly awesome on a Creature that is both black and white, giving its full +3/+3 boost for just one mana. It will turn a lowly Nip Gwyllion into a fearsome 4/4 lifelinked beast and a Tidehollow Sculler into a monstrous 5/5 beatstick. Tidehollow Sculler is a creature which I have liked a lot since I first laid an eye on it. It is a 2/2 artifact creature for BW (so yes, it would qualify as a Weenie for me) that lets you banish a non-land card from an opponent’s hand for as long as the Sculler remains in play. That is quite awesome. One more creature with quite some potential is Nightsky Mimic, a creature I just today became aware of. Most basically, it will be a 2/2 for 1B/W but if you cast a spell that is both black and white, it becomes a 4/4 flyer until end of turn. Now in a deck with a total of 28, mostly inexpensive, spells that are both black and white, this guy will be a 4/4 flyer most of the times.
Supporting your rush of lifelinked beaters are some high quality, effective spells such as Mortify, the poor man’s Vindicate as I like to call it, which lets you destroy a Creature or Enchantment and Unmake, which costs also 3 mana and banishes any Creature right away. Sign in Blood makes sure you draw some extra cards to prevent you from running out of steam too soon. The cost of 2 life is something that will hardly bother you with all the ways to gain extra life. What is funny about Sign in Blood is that you can also niftily use it to kill off your opponent if they should be down to 1 or 2 life, since you can target any player for the draw and life loss!