Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Casual Gamer

The Spread Offense

It's been awhile. Nearly 4 months since we began our journey into the land of Tarkir. This weekend the time stream shifts and the events of the past will be changed to alter the present.

After such a strong set like Khans of Tarkir, it is hard to be the follow up set. Khans is one of the best sets in Magic history. The fact that two cards have already found their way to the banned list, including Treasure Cruise pulling the hat trick, is a testimony to the strength of the set.

Fate Reforged isn't Khans of Tarkir. It is however one of strongest support sets I've seen. The amount of commons and uncommons that are going to see regular play across formats is a pretty impressive list. Also cards like Monastery Mentor & Soulfire Grand Master will have huge impacts on the tournament scene. All in all Fate Reforged might not start off with the kind of hype that Khans did, but after people play more with the set it will turn out to be one of the more popular sets because of all the utility and diversity that it brings to the game.

As always I have found my favorite card from the set. In fact I have two favorites. I love the card Dragonrage. It will be a card that Magic players keep playsets of for decades. At face value it is a great card for game ending finishes. Load the board, swing with all, funnel all your red mana into an unblocked creature. Good Game.

Then there are the combos that this card lets you pull off. This card can generate a lot of mana fast. The drawback is you need to use that mana during the combat phase. I have three other options for that mana besides funneling into a dragon's breath mechanic.

Option one is Purphoros. His ability for giving +1/+0 for all creatures becomes really good when you have all that extra red mana. Why pump seven creatures with seven +1/+0 pumps when you do double Purphoros for +2/+0 to all creatures and use the left over mana for an extra +1/+0 pump to whomever.

Option two is Dictate of the Twin Gods. It's five mana to double all your damage. Seven 1/1 tokens are attacking. Drop the dictate and turn a potential 14 damage into 18 damage. Gets even better with more creatures.

Option three involves my other new favorite card, Arcbond. This one is a bit tricky, and brings tons of risk. With Arcbond you can turn anyone into an insta-bomb. Add in Dragonrage and you turn that bomb nuclear.

Here is the combo:

Attack with all your creatures. When they declare blocks cast Dragonrage then use three of that mana to cast Arcbond targeting one of the blockers. Then funnel all the left over mana into the creature being blocked. The arcbonded creature will then deal all that damage to every creature and player. Add in a deflecting palm to prevent all that damage and double the damage on your opponent.

I'll give you a scenario:

I'm attacking again with my seven 1/1 tokens. My opponent has a 2/2 Runeclaw Bear that he uses to block a token. He's at 16 life so he's not afraid of the six damage my other tokens represent. 

As he declares the block of his bear I then cast Dragonrage to produce seven mana. I then use three of that mana to cast Arcbond targeting Mr. Bear and then use two untapped lands to cast my deflecting palm on the bear. I finally funnel the four remaining mana from Dragonrage into the creature being blocked to give him +4/+0 for a total of five assigned damage.

As damage resolves it would play out like this: 

He would take 6 from my tokens, then his blocker would take 5 from my attacker. That blocker would then deal 5 damage to all other creatures and players. My Deflecting Palm would prevent that 5 from me and deal it to my opponent. He would take a total of 16 damage, our boards would be clear, and I would take no damage. That would give me the game. 

(Big Thank You to MtG Judge Randy Tice for helping me cross all my T's and dot all my I's)

Using this combo, and my love for Dragonrage, I have built a new budget deck for under $50. Take a look.

"Block This"

Creatures: 8

Humble Defector x2
Mardu Scout x3
Iroas, God of Victory x1
Purphoros, God of the Forge x2

Spells: 29

Defiant Strike x3
Launch the Fleet x3
Titan's Strength x3
Raise the Alarm x4
Deflecting Palm x1
Arcbond x1
Dragonrage x4
Hordling Outburst x4
Howl of the Horde x2
Dictate of the Twin Gods x1
Triplicate Spirits x3

Lands: 23

Temple of Triumph x3
Mountain x10
Plains x10

Again with budget building there are some restrictions to card selection. Red/White Spread works really well with Goblin Rabblemaster, Monastery Mentor, and Brimaz. Yet those three will run you about 200-225 to fit into your deck. Not very budget friendly.

The idea behind the deck at your core is to spread your opponent super thin. He may have 3 HUGE creatures but you've go 13 small ones. Over three turns, if nothing changes besides attackers dying to blockers, that is enough to deal 21 damage. (13-3=10, 10-3=7, 7-3=4, sum=21). Then add in combat tricks.

Attack with your 13 and go to the bread n' butter of Dragonrage. Now you've got enough to do 23 damage in one turn with your opponent's 3 blockers on the board. Defiant Strike & Titan's Strength will help add damage to your final total while filtering your deck out. Humble Defector is good for card draw and gives your opponent a blocker when you need one for the nuclear option.

The "one off" spells are for situational flavor such as Arcbond, Dictate, Palm, and Iroas.

The Howl is great when you attack with one 1/1 then cast that for a triple cast of either Outburst or Spirits (9 tokens). Even better when you convoke down for the spirits to do it all for three mana. Also it can double Dragonrage if cast pre-combat.

Purphoros is a doomsday engine. You drop tokens, he does damage. You produce a ton of mana then he buffs your tokens. You dash out your scout, it becomes a 5 damage Goblin bomb. If I had him in my opening hand, I'd hold back token spells until I got him out. Purphoros paired with token spells is dirty.

I didn't include a sideboard yet, because this deck will require heavy play testing to see all the holes. Without direct removal there will be some who urge putting that in the sideboard. I feel that keeping removal out of the deck helps streamline the true theme of the deck which is full speed ahead with little concern for what will happen next.

Should be an interesting play and worth the $50 to put together.

What decks are you brewing on a budget? Let's brew together this Friday during our Fate Reforged endless drafts. $13 entry into an 8 person pod. They'll be single elimination pods. We'll keep drafting all night until there is nobody left to play.

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