MtG: Streamlining a Good Friend’s Deck (Just a non-binding Suggestion!)

Dear readers and friends of Magic: the Gathering!

These days I am writing more about other people’s MtG Decks than about mine – and I have a crate-o’-decks myself that are newly built and would be worthy to be mentioned in an article, but yeah, I just love to play “deck doctor” and rather try to suggest decks or help streamline them for friends and acquaintances (If YOU want me to do that for any of your decks, just send me a mail at andreas.propst31@gmail.com and a 16 years magic veteran will gladly come to aid you!) these days.

So today I am going to take a look at a deck a very good (gamer) buddy of mine, Robin, whom you can see here in his usual attire…

farcino

…came up with and which I think has quite some potential, which I liked but at the same time had the feeling it could or rather should be modified in some ways and streamlined so to say so its performance would greatly increase. I know I couldn’t care less about what Robin’s deck looks like, and I am not sure if he would even appreciate my efforts on doing this, as he has a few “quirks” or “peculiarities” when it comes to building MtG Decks (I introduced him to the game only 1,5 years ago or so). Still I am doing this and hope that you, dear friend Robin, aren’t offended by this and don’t think I want to pester you with meddling in your MtG deckbuilding efforts. So here is a

DISCLAIMER: The following is just a friendly, non-binding suggestion.

You, dear friend and loyal “boy companion” Robin, do not have to do any of what I am going to propose but please keep in mind that all I want is to increase the consistency and overall performance of your new deck which I think has some potential if only modified to some degree, without changing anything about the great plan for a strategy you came up with. Also, the following changes I would propose to your deck would probably cost you less than 10 Euros if you buy the missing cards in our local magic shop. I know you don’t do that actually but you may want to consider it at the very least!

What I will do now is the following:

1.) I will take a look at and share with you Robin’s current decklist.

2.) I will try to identify some of the problems the deck might have and list some things that need to be changed in my PERSONAL opinion.

3.) I will suggest what I PERSONALLY would change about the deck to tackle these issues.

4.) I will post the final deck list SUGGESTION and will let you, Robin, decide whether or not you like any of it and will be making adjustmenst accordingly or not. Entirely up to you. Not trying to be a busybody, just trying to help a really good friend to improve his deck!!

1.) The Deck as it stands now:

Robin’s Deck is basically a Blue/Red/Green Aggro Control Deck making heavy use of Scrying, with his main victory condition being this nice lady mage here:

The first problem I saw was he was being running only one copy of the Flamespeaker. I instantly gave Robin a second copy of the card I had at hand and also provided him with 4 copies of Magma Jet and 4 copies of Serum Visions I had available and at the ready. He added the second Flamespeaker and I suggested to run 4 copies of each of Magma Jet and Serum Visions as most people go by the deckbuilder’s rule of thumb of generally accepting it as a good idea to run important/quality/key cards in playsets of 4 so your odds of actually drawing them would increase to the possible maximum. So the following decklist is what Robin’s Scry Deck looked after we added the second Flamespeaker Adept as well as 3 Magma Jets and 2 Serum Visions out of the cards which I had suggested and provided:

Robin’s Scry Deck (In its original state):

Creatures…17

1 x Voyaging Satyr 1G

1 x Kiora’s Follower UG

2 x Goblin Electromancer UR

2 x Omenspeaker 1U

2 x Frost Lynx 2U

1 x Two-Headed Cerberus 1RR

1 x Guttersnipe 2R

2 x Flamespeaker Adept 2R

1 x Horizon Chimera 2GU

1 x Prognostic Sphinx 3UU

1 x Prophet of Kruphix 3GU

1 x Savage Ventmaw 4RG

1 x Horizon Sholar 5U

Instants…11

1 x Titan’s Strength R

2 x Magma Spray R

1 x Spark Jolt R

3 x Voyage’s End 1U

3 x Magma Jet 1R

1 x Artisan’s Sorrow 3G

Sorceries…5

2 x Serum Vision U

2 x Spite of Mogis R

1 x Curse of the Swine XUU

Echantments…5

2 x Singing Bell Strike 1U

1 x Paralyzing Grasp 2U

1 x Quiet Contemplation 2U

1 x Temur Runemark 2G

Artifacts…1

1 x Bident of Thassa 2UU

Lands…21

1 x Temple of Secrets

3 x Izzet Guildgate

1 x Terramorphic Expanse

1 x Evolving Wilds

6 x Forest

5 x Island

4 x Mountain

2.) Identifying Possible Problems:

I think the first thing I keep asking people who are fairly new to M:tG is “what is the aim of this deck” or “how do you win” or even “how would you name the deck”. The first and most severe problem I see with the above deck, which again I like and think has a lot of “untapped” potential (no pun intended), is the lack of focus. There are lots of one-ofs and off-theme cards. So many random stuff that doesn’t do anything for the deck in particular are in the above lists. I do not intend to be rude, just trying to improve the overall composition of the deck in order to improve general performance. This high level of randomness is due to Robin’s particular approach to building a magic deck, which is rather random and he does is VERY reluctant to buy specific cards rather than some random boosters every now and then, even if the specific cards would be all Commons and/or super cheap. I do not intend to “convert” Robin to my approach, which is the approach of most of the “veterans” like myself, but maybe after this article, he will be accepting some of my suggestions. Anyways, and this goes directly to you Robin, do not complain if you lose more often than necessary with your deck if you don’t want to do something to fix it haha!!

So what I will be doing in the next part of the deck is to suggest VERY cheap ways to increase focus. I see two themes in the deck now but Robin only mentioned he wanted to win mainly through a massivley boosted Flamespeaker Adept, so this should involve a lot of Scrying. The secondary theme I see and which Robin did not tell me he was trying to pursue is keeping Creatures from untapping with Frost Lynx (a terrible, terrible card in general in my honest opinion), Paralyzing Grasp etc etc. As Robin said he wanted to win with boosting up a Flamespeaker through massive scrying, I will be focussing the deck on just that. That being said, each deck needs a secondary win condition as I think and we already got a great start in Robin’s Deck with this awesome guy (who goes for 50 US cens according to magiccards.info:

My second issue which I noticed when looking through the deck I asked Robin right away about was this:

“What for is the green in the deck?” or rather “Why do you play/need green in this?”. Well I think and said – and Robin agreed to some degree I think – we should cut the green altogether in order to get some additional card slots freed to make room for more to-the-topic cards! Honestly there are just 7 cards that require green to cast and all of these are one-ofs and, while they are not bad cards by themselves, do little to nothing to enhance the deck’s performance or rather nothing that helps the Scrying strategy and theme.

The third issue is a rather small one compared to the first two and is about the Mana Base. I think in such a deck, 21 Lands is just not enough (and Robin constantly suffers from lack of mana and mana screw as he painfully had to realize far too often than necessary) plus the color distribution is way off with the main colors, red and blue, getting only 4-5 basic lands of that color while the color needed the least gets 6 Forests.

How I would fix the Deck:

Basically, besides fixing the Mana Base a wee bit, which will be not that hard to accomplish, I would take out the small number of green cards altogether as well as get the deck focussed on the Scrying-Flamespeaker Adept Strategy with Prognostic Sphinx as the secondary win condition. The latter is great in and off itself as it flies, has decent stats, is not too expensive (both mana- and money-wise) and you can protect it via Hexproof anytime by just discarding a card from hand, BUT to top that off you get to Scry – for 3 (!) nonetheless – everytime it attacks which would, again, boost Flamespeaker Adept. And I would be taking out all the “tap” and “doesn’t untap” stuff as it has nothing to do with the main win condition (Flamespeaker Adpet) nor with the secondary one (Prognostic Sphinx). Also there are some some cards like Omenspeaker and Serum Visions which have better (?) alternatives. In the case of Omenspeaker I am quite sure that Augury Owl would be the preferrably option as it flies, giving you a blocker against big flyers and grants you Scry 3 instead of the Scry 2 Omenspeaker does upon entering play. Same case with Horizon Scholar. At 5U casting cost he is strictly inferior to Prognostic Sphinx.

So what I would be taking out in specfic would be:

1 x Voyaging Satyr 1G

– 1 x Kiora’s Follower UG

– 2 x Omenspeaker 1U

– 2 x Frost Lynx 2U

– 1 x Two-Headed Cerberus 1RR

– 1 x Guttersnipe 2R

– 1 x Horizon Chimera 2GU

– 1 x Prophet of Kruphix 3GU

– 1 x Savage Ventmaw 4RG

– 1 x Horizon Sholar 5U

-2 x Magma Spray R

-1 x Spark Jolt R

-1 x Artisan’s Sorrow 3G

-2 x Serum Vision U

– 1 x Curse of the Swine XUU

-2 x Singing Bell Strike 1U

-1 x Paralyzing Grasp 2U

-1 x Quiet Contemplation 2U

-1 x Temur Runemark 2G

-1 x Bident of Thassa 2UU

-1 x Temple of Secrets

-6 Forests

Well, not counting the lands I boldly propose to take out 26 cards so almost half of the deck. However the “heart and soul” of the deck that my buddy Robin had in mind when coming up with this new deck, which is very creative and has potential as I can’t emphasize enoug, will stay intact and in fact what Robin was aiming for will work out much more often, so the deck would become more consistent in performance and in fact more competitive, although I don’t think Robin will want to participate in any real (Modern) tournaments with this and we’d be just casually playing that deck. Still I think with the changes, which are highly inexpensive to make, Robin will have a much more enjoyable playing experience and his chances against my more obscure decks will be greatly increase.

So I have basically 26 non-land slots to fill in with cards I think will do the deck good. Well let’s make that 25 slots as I think the deck NEEDS at least 22 lands to work at all.

This is what I would add:

+2 Flamespeaker Adept

This is the main killer in the deck so I think running 4 of these is a must, even with lots of deck manipulation via Scry.

+4 Augury Owl

This is great as a cheap but effcient Scryer that doubles as a small flying attacker and blocker.

+2 Prognostis Sphinx

I think running a total of 3 of these should be enough for this being the secondary win condition!

+4 Condescend

This is a solid altenative for Mana Leak and can protect your Flamespeaker Adept plus it has Scry 2!

+1 Magma Jet & +1 Voyage’s End

I think we should make these 4-ofs!

+4 Preordain

I might be wrong but these could be better than Serum Visions in this deck as you get to Scry first and then draw!

+4 Aqueous Form

Come on, have a look at the card and then tell me that is not a match made in MtG heaven with Flamespeaker Adept:

You can also slam this onto your Prognositc Sphinx if you opponent has strong flyers or Creatures with Reach!

Also a great card for this deck from while back in the first Mirrodin block would be:

+3 Eye of the Watcher

So yeah with most of your instants and sorceries having Scry anyways you will scry the shit out of the deck if you got an Eye of the Watcher out, which will probably boost your Flamespeaker (if around) to mythical proportions!

My final Deck Proposal:

Again I have to stress the point that the following list is just how I PERSONALLY would run the deck. It is of course non-binding and nothing more than friendly advice. So please Robin don’t feel yourself pushed by me to apply any of my suggested changes at all. This is just what I think would get the most out of the deck you have and will make it work very well in the way you initially intended it to work out! So here’s the Deck List:

Andi’s Scry Deck Suggestion:

Creatures…13

4 x Augury Owl 1U

2 x Goblin Flectomancer RU

4 x Flamespeaker Adpet 2R

3 x Prognostic Sphinx 3UU

Instants…12

4 x Condescend XU

4 x Magma Jet 1R

4 x Voyage’s End 1U

Sorceries…6

4 x Preordain U

2 x Ire of Mogis R

Enchantments…7

4 x Aqueous Form U

3 x Eye of the Watcher 2U

Lands…22

4 x Izzet Guildgate

4 x Swiftwater Cliffs

7 x Mountain

7 x Island

OK and that’s it as for my deck enhancement suggestions. Please, dear friend, do not take offense in this or think I am being a busybody who meddles in stuff which is none of their business. All I wanted is give you some input in how to improve (and inexpensively so… most of the cards I suggested are commons and uncommons with the exception of Prognostic Sphinx as the single Rare, totalling in on an average of 50 US cents a copy) your great deck idea.

Thank you for your patience with me Robin and thank you to all of my reader’s for your attention. I hope you enjoyed my “deck pimping” article!

Happy gaming!

Yours,

Andi

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