How Card Advantage Works, Part 1: Bad Decks, Good Theory

Ironically these terrible decks I made last week will ultimately produce a very nice and useful model for card advantage that you may not be using at present. Really!

It might not be all-inclusive, but I am pretty sure it will change how at least some readers look at card economics.

To begin, I made some bad Extended decks.

Inspired by LSV in Kyoto, I decided to make B/W Tokens in Extended.

Really!

I mean B/W Tokens is a competitive deck in Standard, and recently the Philly 5K champion showed us that you can translate Block Kithkin to an easy Extended Top 4 (and if he hadn’t lost to Osyp’s infinite creature control, I’m guessing Corey could have beaten Josh and his Fae in the finals)… Fae is an Extended Deck. Kithkin can be one. Why not B/W Tokens?

Here is the first iteration:

3 Umezawa’s Jitte

4 Bitterblossom
2 False Cure
1 Ghost-Lit Stalker

3 Beacon of Immortality
4 Eternal Dragon
4 Martyr of Sands
4 Path to Exile
3 Proclamation of Rebirth
4 Ranger of Eos
4 Spectral Procession

4 Fetid Heath
2 Ghost Quarter
4 Godless Shrine
2 Mistveil Plains
4 Plains
4 Windbrisk Heights
4 Windswept Heath

sideboard:
3 Relic of Progenitus
4 Thoughtseize
4 Kataki, War’s Wage
1 Proclamation of Rebirth
3 Wrath of God

I decided I wanted to hybridize three major principles:

1) Three-for-ones. Two-for-ones are so passe. I played many cards that can single-handedly trip a Windbrisk Heights, viz. Spectral Procession and Ranger of Eos.

2) Martyr Combo. I figured that as long as I was running Ranger of Eos for card advantage, I might as well go and get the bestest available ones, and splash in some copies of Proclamation of Rebirth. At last check, Fae was the most popular Extended deck, and I wouldn’t be frightened of Fae with Rangers, Martyrs, and Proclamations at my beck and call.

3) False Cure combo. For those of you who haven’t seen it, the combo is Beacon of Immortality + False Cure. I pulled this off one time, ever. In a game I was just going to win with Dragon beatdown anyway.

The dream was to get in there with Windbrisk Heights to complete the False Cure + Beacon of Immortality combo. This never fit together and I think I won a total of one match with the deck.

This version was going nowhere so I tried one with Ghost Council of Orzhova. I have a soft spot for the Guildpact mobsters (especially Teysa), so I tried to make it a little bit differently.

4 Umezawa’s Jitte

4 Bitterblossom
1 Ghost-Lit Stalker

4 Ghost Council of Orzhova
1 Teysa, Orzhov Scion

4 Eternal Dragon
4 Martyr of Sands
4 Path to Exile
2 Proclamation of Rebirth
4 Ranger of Eos
4 Spectral Procession

4 Fetid Heath
2 Ghost Quarter
4 Godless Shrine
2 Mistveil Plains
4 Plains
4 Windbrisk Heights
4 Windswept Heath

sideboard:
3 Relic of Progenitus
4 Thoughtseize
4 Kataki, War’s Wage
1 Proclamation of Rebirth
3 Wrath of God

Like in my Pro Tour Charleston deck Teysa can do some damage with token teammates.

Between the two builds I don’t think I took down an actual match. That means they are probably pretty dismal.

But I decided I could try to resurrect a different old deck. This time I went for Gaea’s Might Get There.

2 Umezawa’s Jitte

4 Dark Confidant

4 Lightning Helix

4 Might of Alara
4 Tarmogoyf
4 Wild Nacatl

4 Kird Ape
4 Mogg Fanatic
1 Seal of Fire
1 Tarfire
4 Tribal Flames
4 Viashino Slaughtermaster

1 Blood Crypt
4 Bloodstained Mire
1 Godless Shrine
1 Mountain
2 Sacred Foundry
1 Steam Vents
1 Stomping Ground
1 Temple Garden
4 Windswept Heath
4 Wooded Foothills

sideboard:
2 Umezawa’s Jitte
4 Duergar Hedge-Mage
4 Ancient Grudge
1 Volcanic Fallout
4 Ethersworn Canonist

Gaea’s Might Get There was a respectable deck, and Viashino Slaughtermaster is offensively just better than Boros Swiftblade in a deck like this one.

Sad to say I have only ever completed the turn three big swing one time, but stuck on two lands, was only capable of striking for 10. I lost that game to Swans when he locked me down with a Blood Moon the following turn (though I “got there” match-wise, eventually).

I am not hugely in love with this deck, and if you asked me today what I would play at the next PTQ, I would for certain speak the words “Naya Burn” … But this strategy definitely has legs. The reason I like it less than the somewhat similar (though admittedly “less powerful”) Naya Burn is an issue of consistency.

Consistency is a word that gets batted around a bit in Magic (especially with regards to opening hands evaluations)… And thinking about this consistency was the catalyst to this three (or so) part article set on card advantage.

Intrigued?

What do you think about this screen shot?

Fabulous winks!

LOVE
MIKE

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9 comments ↓

#1 starwarer on 03.09.09 at 10:20 am

What do I think about that screenshot? WTF?!

All I know is, you have a dude on the board and I have no clue, whatsoever, about what the opposing deck wants to do. I mean, Dreadship Reef, Breeding Pool, Blood Moon and Simian Spirit Guide occupying the same 75? I suppose it COULD be a good idea, but I don’t see it.

#2 zeilend on 03.09.09 at 4:25 pm

I’m pretty sure that you’re being a bit too cute with the first BW deck you posted considering that you’re spending five slots on an eight-mana combo that has worked out for you exactly once. I know you love your big mana decks, but that seems outright ridiculous to me. Also, 4x Martyr of Sands in a non-Martyr deck that runs Ranger of Eos seems overkill. That said, I don’t think there’s that much you can do with this particular color combination in general….although I think Will has found a list that makes him happy, if it means anything.

Also, you said that you prefer Viashino Slaughtermaster over Boros Swiftblade…do you think that the extra point of toughness could have some relevance against opposing Mogg Fanatics, etc? Any opinions on Path to Exile in this sort of deck? Seems fine to me, especially since blockers can be a problem for getting the GMGT ‘combo’ to go off.

4 Boros Swiftblade
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Wild Nacatl
4 Kird Ape
4 Wooly Thoctar
4 Tarmogoyf

4 Tribal Flames
4 Might of Alara
3 Path to Exile
4 Lightning Helix
1 Brute Force
+ Land (inc. U and B duals)

Only real difference is no Confidant and PtE to get rid of blockers..but card drawing is probably better..?

#3 GRat on 03.09.09 at 4:46 pm

Haha, what the hell @ the screenshot.

#4 StaplerGuy on 03.09.09 at 5:00 pm

It’s clearly a particularly bad hand of Swans.

The Moons are standard-ish, the Pool is for Grudge or possibly Explosives for three, and the Reef is burgled tech from TEPS.

Or something? Could be TEPS burgling the Moon but then you have to explain the Pool AND the Guide as opposed to just the Reef.

#5 wrongwaygoback on 03.09.09 at 7:48 pm

I was suffering so much cognitive dissonance from that screenshot I couldn’t even tell why for about ten minutes.

#6 kabux on 03.09.09 at 9:23 pm

Looks to me that he’s protecting himself quite nicely until he combos off with his swan. Since his deck is probably running 8-9 islands and red removal his blood moon effectively shuts down the domain deck, at least long enough to win.

#7 KZipple on 03.10.09 at 6:10 am

So your Swans(?) opponent six-for-one’d you because your deck isn’t consistent enough?

#8 Joe on 03.10.09 at 11:16 am

Great article, can’t wait to read the rest, but yeah, wtf is going on with that shot. I can only guess it’s just because you actually got in there for damage with Viashino Slaughtermaster which should never happen ever.

#9 lunarodin on 03.10.09 at 2:30 pm

i wanna see flores resurect the Korlash decks…i think they look decent.

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