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By: CottonRhetoric, Cotton Rhetoric
Oct 06 2011 12:25am
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Sometimes my three decks have a connecting thread.  Sometimes they don't.

Deck 1 Hermit Druid

The idea for this deck started when I was flipping through all the WUBRG spells in Conflux and wondering what the best way was to cast them.

    crystal quarry

Crystal Quarry, I said.  The Hermit Druid avatar, I said.  With one of each Urza's land.  Literally, those are the only 4 lands in the deck.  One Crystal Quarry and three Urza's land singletons.  All of which our avatar will fetch for us.

This gives us access not only to 2WUBRG by the 4th turn, guaranteed, but also to 8 colorless if we need it.  I probably don't need to explain why this is good.

With that premise alone you could build several different types of decks.  Reaper King and scarecrows?  Horde of Notions and elementals?  Scion of the Ur-Dragon and dragons?  Atogatog and just kidding he's terrible even when you build the entire deck around him.

In the end I went with slivers, thanks to the combined efforts of Sliver Queen, Sliver Legion, and Sliver Overlord.  Although you'll see in a moment, this is far from a typical sliver deck.

Because of the unusual manabase, we will not have colored mana on turns 1–3, no matter what order we receive our lands in.  So we'll have to omit ordinarily great slivers like Muscle Sliver, Winged Sliver, and (Crystal Sliver) (no sympathy though — they have enough of the spotlight already).  Instead, our cheap slivers will need to be the colorless ones!  Metallic Sliver and Sliversmith may be the only low-cc colorless slivers currently in print, but they're all we'll need.

Here's a quick math interlude.  Once we have a single Sliver Queen online, we have enough mana to make up to 4 tokens a turn.  And even after only one turn of that, casting a Sliver Legion will make each of those four tokens be a 7/7 and our two legends be 13/13s.  (54 power total to save you the time.)

It's decent!

So what else should we add to the deck?

Lightning Greaves    

2-mana artifacts are key, not only for early casting, but to give us something to do on turns 4+ with the 2 part of the 2WUBRG we can produce.  Lightning Greaves is an obvious complement to the huge legends we're casting.  Sun Droplet can provide some early defense while we wait to get that 13/13 (or higher) set up.  Aeolipile is, if not a great control card, at least sufficient for the early game, which is when we need it the most.  Ankh of Mishra is humorous in a deck that only has 4 lands.

Since we only have 4 lands, there's still pleeeenty of room in the deck, so let's keep going with the suggestions.

Mirror Gallery can be a fun addition to a deck that has three playsets of legends (and, with Sliver Overlord, the ability to tutor for duplicates).  We should also add more 7-8 mana spells, since we'll spend most of the game with that much available.  Eldrazi Conscription is too good to pass on (even when cast on a lowly Metallic Sliver).  Spine of Ish Sah is decent removal in a deck with this much mana.  Bosh, Iron Golem is great in a deck with expensive artifacts and extra mana.  And makes quite a combo with Spine of Ish Sah, too.

And since there's so much expensive stuff in here... we'd be foolish not to add one last WUBRG card in Maelstrom Archangel.  Just read her text box.  Then look at all the expensive cc's in the deck.  You'll get it.

Here's the casual and customizable decklist!

Avatar: Hermit Druid

Land (4):
1 Urza's Power Plant
1 Urza's Tower
1 Urza's Mine
1 Crystal Quarry

Creatures (30):
4 Metallic Sliver
4 Sliversmith
2 Bottle Gnomes
4 Maelstrom Archangel
4 Sliver Queen
4 Sliver Legion
4 Sliver Overlord
4 Bosh, Iron Golem

Noncreatures (26):
2 O-Naginata
3 Aeolipile
4 Ankh of Mishra
4 Lightning Greaves
4 Sliversmith
3 Sun Droplet
3 Mirror Gallery
4 Spine of Ish Sah
3 Eldrazi Conscription
Maelstrom Archangel Sliver Legion

I almost ran Akroma's Memorial, although it seemed inferior to Eldrazi Conscription.

Legacy Weapon was almost in here, but it really demands all of your mana every turn.  And this deck has other things to do.

Solarion was the hardest card of all to cut, because isn't 2WUBRG exactly what he wants??  But in the end playtesting just proved him to be too slow and too outclassed by modern cards.  Sorry, Solarion.  I'd say "maybe next time" but it wouldn't be true.

Deck 2 Heartwood Storyteller

This deck actually started as a regular ol' classic deck, with no vanguard, until I realized that I never did anything on the first turn, and most of my creatures cost two mana... and I wouldn't mind slowing my opponent down... so in went the Heartwood Storyteller avatar and I had my vanguard deck.

    Endless Swarm

This deck is centered on Endless Swarm because, as it cannot be debated, epic spells are awesome and people should use them more.  (And WotC should design them more.  Maybe in M2013?)  It poses a few deckbuilding and gameplay challenges: you have to take pretty good control of the board before you cast it, and without letting your handsize drop too low.

Green's able to do a good job of this with its many cantrips.  And unlike blue, its cantrips affect the board.  Wall of Blossoms, Elvish Visionary, Rending Vines... even Bind and Frog Tongue.  Don't laugh, they've won me games.

Cantrips also help us get to our copies of Endless Swarm, which is vital because they are our only wincons.  I also added Crystal Ball to find them even faster.  Before I figured that out, a few of my games went by very slowly.

Thran Dynamo is a counterintuitive choice, because it would seem that mana acceleration empties the hand.  However, consider that this one card replaces three lands you would need to play, and you'll understand why it's in here.  (Side note: an early build featured Lotus Blooms for the same reason, but they just didn't work out.  They produced more mana than I needed, they weren't useful in duplicates, they'd sit on the board for too long if I dropped them early, and I never wanted to drop them late.)

Lignify is an all-star in this deck.  It can deal with a huge number of threats, and when you start attacking with fifteen snake tokens you really don't care about the opponent's 0/4 tree.

The lands: Reliquary Tower isn't relevant every game but it comes up more often than you'd think with all of these cantrips.  And Ghost Town is relevant any game in which you cast an Endless Swarm, ie the only games you have a chance of winning.  I would run more than four of it if I could.

Here's the decklist.  Casual and customizable.

Avatar: Heartwood Storyteller

Land (24):
4 Ghost Town
2 Reliquary Tower
18 Forest

Creatures (11):
4 Wall of Blossoms
4 Elvish Visionary
3 Carven Caryatid

Noncreatures (25):
3 Frog Tongue
2 Bind
4 Lignify
2 Crystal Ball
3 Rending Vines
4 Thran Dynamo
3 Harmonize
4 Endless Swarm
Ghost Town Crystal Ball

Deck 3 Eight-and-a-Half-Tails

Could it be?

Has the count of avatars I've never used just gone down from 8 to 7??

Yes, this is the first time in 54 articles I've used Eight-and-a-Half-Tails.  His +2 handsize is nice, although outclassed by Squee's +3.  If you want to use this guy, it's because you want to protect your stuff.  And because you have a lot of mana to spare.  Fortunately, I made just such a deck.


Thawing Glaciers

Blood Clock

This all started when I was trying to maximize Thawing Glaciers.

  • Exploration helps you play regular lands and the Glaciers
  • Horn of Greed helps you capitalize on all the land drops you make
  • Amulet of Vigor lets you use it more often (as well as use the lands you fetch immediately)

Which is great!  But still not enough!  Because even with all that going on, I still had to wait until the end of my turn to bounce the Glaciers, so I couldn't drop it onto the battlefield as often as I wanted.  So what cards would let me bounce it earlier than that?

Vedalken Mastermind?  Too slow.  Tradewind Rider avatar?  Too much mana!  If only there was a free version... that triggered every upkeep... like Blood Clock!

The more I thought about it the more sense it made.  My untap phase would come, I would use my Thawing Glaciers, I would bounce it during my upkeep with the Blood Clock, and then I would play it back down on the battlefield that same turn!  If I had an Amulet of Vigor or Exploration in play, so much the better, although they weren't even needed to have a Glaciers activation every single turn.

This was the genesis of my deck.  I then started wondering about what kind of deck would want so many basic lands in play, when I started thinking about Lashwrithe.  And Korlash, Heir to Blackblade, Nightmare, Corrupt, Tendrils of Corruption, Mutilate, Mind Sludge... I had my theme.

After some whittling and fine tuning, I realized my deck had those exact requirements mentioned above for the avatar.  Tons of mana to burn, cards it needed to protect, and the +2 handsize wouldn't exactly hurt... especially when I was trying to open with an Amulet of Vigor....

There are 7 lands capable of producing green mana, which is enough for the green cards I have (Exploration, Mirri's Guile, and Crop Rotation).  It may seem foolish to take any of our land drops away from basic swamps, but remember how many we'll be fetching with the Glaciers.  And if you're worried about not getting the Glaciers, that's where the Crop Rotations come in.

Lashwrithe got the nod over the seemingly superior Korlash, Heir to Blackblade for its ability to stick around after a Mutilate.  A deck this gradual relies pretty heavily on the board sweepers to stay afloat.  Here's the list!

Avatar: Eight-and-a-Half-Tails

Land (25):
4 Thawing Glaciers
4 Forest
3 Savage Lands
14 Swamp

Creatures (8):
4 Lashwrithe
4 Nightmare

Noncreatures (27):
4 Amulet of Vigor
3 Crop Rotation
4 Exploration
2 Mirri's Guile
2 Last Gasp
4 Blood Clock
4 Mutilate
2 Tendrils of Corruption
2 Corrupt
Lashwrithe Amulet of Vigor

See you next time, and have fun with vanguard!


Customizable indeed! Great to by Paul Leicht at Thu, 10/06/2011 - 00:38
Paul Leicht's picture

Customizable indeed! Great to see that creative mind of yours continuing to pour out gems for us readers even though I myself do not ever play Vanguard. Your ideas bring other ideas to mind. :D Keep up the great work.

thumbs up! by marzial at Thu, 10/06/2011 - 08:31
marzial's picture

Nice concept... and really original! Congs!