Dear readers and friends of Magic: the Gathering!
I recently purchased the Jace vs Vraska Duel Decks (read the article here) which is full of Illusions – Illustion-type Creatures that is – one card caught my interest in particular and made me curious if a proper Illusions deck could be built – with casual play in mind, not aiming to make something competitive out of this. Here’s the card I am talking about:
I think this one is pretty amazing as he can grow really huge in the right deck, the right deck obviously being one full of Illusions! Most of the times this will enter play as a 2/2 Flyer for just 1U, which is a decent deal, provided you played a turn 1 Illusion. But once you start flooding the field with cheap and efficient Illusions (and there are a ton, but many of them have one common drawback to which I will come soon), Krovikan Mist can become a huge threat, as even with 3 Illusions in play, Mist plus two others, he will be a 3/3 Flyer again for just 2 mana. In the best case you play an Illusion on turn 1, then Mist on turn 2 followed up by another Illusion on turn 3 so Krovikan Mist will be attacking as a 3/3 and potentiall grow even larger over the course of the game.
As I said there are many high-power/low-cast Illusions, but all of those have one drawback in common. Here is a good example:
Phantasmal Dragon is a hell of a deal being a 5/5 Flyer for just 4 Mana but as you can see, he is pretty easy to kill off, as all your opponent has to do is target him with anything and the Dragon will be gone! Well, this pretty common drawback in Illusions must be the reason why Wizards (of the Coast) came up with this awesome card, obviously in a (well-done) effort to show the Illusion Creature Type some love:
While not being an Illusion himself, Lord of the Unreal is just perfect in an Illusion Deck for obvious reasons as everyone who has some basic knowledge of the English language can guess from the above card image. So if we go back to Phantasmal Dragon, Lord of the Unreal will not only give him a +1/+1 boost (as well as to all your other Illusions) but also HEXPROOF!! That completely nullifies Phantasmal Dragon’s and his other Illusion friends’ drawback but ALSO protects them from any targeted nastiness your opponent may have up their sleeve to get rid of your Illusions.
Since Lord of the Unreal is sooo vital in this deck, I thought back of one card from the first Ravnica Block, that is useful as is in this deck, but can also be used as a tutor to fetch Lord from your deck. The odds of drawing 1 out of 4 cards in a 60 cards deck are pretty low, so I added 4 cards that let me get the Lord out of my deck and into my hand. Have a look at this obscure card from Ravnica: City of Guilds:
Muddle the Mixture, at the mere cost of UU is a great way to counter anything Instant or Sorcrey, a good way to protect your Illusions from harm if needed, but you can also Transmute it for 1UU to search your deck for any card with converted mana cost of 2 and put it into your hand. Obviously, Lord of the Unreal would be your prime choice, unless you have him in hand. In that case just use Muddle the Mixture to counter stuff or to tutor for a Krovikan Mist for example if you need a good Illusion creature.
With most Illusions being either Flyers or unblockable, I think a great way to keep the influx of new Illusions (and other useful cards) up would be 50 cents crap rare – Coastal Piracy:
Of course it costs four times as much as Curiosity, but the latter is out of question since it is an Aura, that would target the creature you want to attach it to, thus killing off your Phantasmal Dragon for instance. Plus, Coastal Piracy gives all your Creatures Curiosity so to say and it does not die with the Creature as would be the case if I went with the Creature Enchantment/Aura Curiosity. Anyways again, as most of your Creatures either fly or are unblockable, Coastal Piracy should generate some massive card draw / advantage in your favor.
I included a second card besides Lord of the Unseen, because it is hyper-awesome in this particular deck, albeit a bit costly:
Goddamnit, Meloku the Clouded Mirror was so popular back then in the times of the Kamigawa Block and now it has been reduced to a 70 cent crap rare. Anyways whilst not being an Illusion, she can turn your every land, or rather your excess lands into 1/1 Flying Illusion creature tokens as you can see for yourself in the above card image. How awesome is that?? Krovikan Mist will grow to be a force of nature so to say with Meloku spawning tons of small Illusions. These Illusions will be 2/2 Flyers with Hexproof if you got a Master of the Unreal out!! And Meloku flies so you can attack with her to draw an extra card via Coastal Piracy. Needless to mention her flying tokens will net you cards with that as well. Cards, cards, more cards than you’d ever dreamed of and maybe more than you’ll need! There is also a minor combo with Halimar Depths…
You can return Halimar Depths to your hand with Meloku, creating an Illusion token of course, and then replay it to look at the top 3 cards of your library again and again.
What rounds up the deck is some cheap but efficient countermagic, which is mostly in there to protect your “killed-if-targeted” Illustions if you don’t have Lord of the Unreal in play OR to protect the latter from any harm if he is in play already. Dispel costs 1 and neutralizes any Instant, Spell Pierce costs the same and neutralizes Instants or Sorceries unless the opponent pays an additional 2 and Muddle the Mixture was mentioned before already. Notably I do not have any answer to threatening creatures, artifacts or enchantments – mostly because I don’t care for those as the plan is to swarm the field with a rush of high-power/low-cost Illusions which all but one, Phantasmal Bear, have some kind of evasion and try to dish out 20 damage as fast as possible. This deck is supposed to be pure Illusions beatdown!
One card deserves a honorable mention as I sooo wanted to include it but I wanted the deck to be Modern format so this one didn’t make the cut, sadly:
Well not being able to run Mistform Warchief is no real problem for me after all. Sure reducing the cost of Krovikan Mist to 1 blue mana and getting a 5/5 Flying Phantasmal Dragon for just 1UU would be awesome, but I think I can do without it. I am running Aether Figment instead…
…but am not sure if Illusionary Servant…
…wouldn’t be the better choice. There are pros and cons to both cards. Servant is an impressive 3/4 Flyer for 3 mana but has that notorious “killed-if-targeted” drawback – Figment on the other hand is only a 1/1 but is downright unblockable (securing you some hits and extra cards from Coastal Piracy even against an opponent with Flyers or creatures with Reach) and a third cheaper than servant. And if you got the mana in the later stages of the game you can make Figment a 3/3 unblockable for 4U. Overall I prefer to play Aether Figment in this particular deck, though, as noted before, Illusionary Servant has its benefits as well.
One last thing before I share the full deck list with you: I added 3 Chrome Moxen to the mix to speed up the deck and allow for a turn 1 Lord of the Unreal, Krovikan Mist or a turn 3 Phantasmal Dragon etc. The Moxen are the only expensive cards in the below decklist and the deck would work well without them as well I guess, but as I happen to own them, I added them to my list!
OK so let us wrap this article up with my very budget-friendly and Modern Format legal cardlist of my Illusions Deck.
Illusionary Beatdown (Modern Format):
4 x Phantasmal Bear U
4 x Lord of the Unreal UU
4 x Krovakian Mist 1U
4 x Aether Figment 1U
4 x Phantasmal Dragon 2UU
2 x Meloku, the Clouded Mirror 4U
4 x Dispel U
4 x Spell Pierce U
4 x Muddle the Mixture UU
3 x Coastal Piracy 2UU
3 x Chrome Mox
4 x Halimar Depths
16 x Island
OK you guys, that was my article about one of the more (or even most) obscure creature types in Magic: the Gathering: Illusions.
I already ordered all the cards I need to build this deck – I think all in all I didn’t even pay 20 bucks for the whole thing – and am really looking forward to how this one will work out. I love designing decks that do things their colors aren’t particularly well-known for or good at, such as a mono-blue beatdown decks as the deck I showcased above is supposed to be.
So thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed my visitation of the Illusion creature type in Magic: the Gathering!
P.S.: MUST BUILD DECK AROUND THIS GUY: