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By: CottonRhetoric, Cotton Rhetoric
Apr 19 2016 11:00am
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Today I've got two versions of two different decks.

Casual decks, by the way!!!

Decks 1a & 1b Maindeck Sideboard

Zodiac Rooster

This all started with a premise: what if I crammed a deck full of strong situational cards, and used Merfolk Looter-types to get rid of the ones I didn't need? That way, I would be able to play cards that are overpowered against my current opponent but not suitable against all opponents.

The obvious place to start with is color hosing. Every color has protection-from and landwalking creatures, so just pick the strongest ones. But don't also forget about the other ways to hose colors. Cards like:

Spinal Villain  Tropical Storm  Seedtime

Reap  Slay  Hunt the Hunter

Next, let's get to some non-color-based situational cards. Empress Galina isn't likely to do much in most games, but in some games, she just wrecks house. Same thing with Hex—usually uncastable, but sometimes a magic-bullet game winner. Some other cards to think about:

Timely Reinforcements  Retribution of the Meek  Steal Enchantment

Rootwater Matriarch  Ashen Powder  Spike Cannibal

For a sample deck, let's start with blue, because it has the most looting effects, which is the only thing that makes this deck work (to the extent that it could be said to work at all). Blue naturally hoses green and red, and green naturally hoses blue and black, so it would seem like only four of the five colors are covered. But thanks to the wacky Zodiac Rooster, pictured above, we can hose white as well. (And do note that blue can also hose blue, with Seasinger, and green can also hose green, with Somberwald Dryad.)

As a starting place, let's pick two color-hosing creatures to for each of the five colors. (And colorless too, thanks to Nacatl Savage!) I'm focusing on the two-mana ones, to set up some early defense. Sea Sprite over Weatherseed Faeries, that sort of thing. That's already twelve cards, meaning by the time we add our looting, wincons, and other favorite situational cards, we'll already have a full list. That's what happens when you plan on discarding half your deck in a given matchup! Here are my choices:

 

The Intervenes are to preserve what few relevant threats we will have in a given game. The 3x Lignify is a catchall—for example, this deck has no other way to deal with a 7/7 trample. And the Forced Adaptation is how we win the game. Often we will just grind it out with our small unblockable creatures, but if they're unblockable anyway, why not speed things up a bit?

    Curse of Chaos     Dystopia

But you don't need blue to loot these days! Red is getting better and better at it, with Rummaging Goblin, Curse of Chaos, Tormenting Voice, and the like. So for another take on the same premise, let's hit red-black.

Hosing against white, green, and blue will be easy, with powerhouses like Dread of Night, Dystopia, and Spinal Villain. We can also hit red and black though, with Dark Betrayal, Canyon Wildcat, and Thick-Skinned Goblin.

As for non-color situational cards, I've already mentioned Ashen Powder, Kulrath Knight, and Hex above. My favorite part of this deck is what black allows for: tutoring. This is after all a toolbox deck, so why not just pull up the exact response we need for any given moment? And there are by now plenty to choose from. Dark Petition should be easy to enable, with the looting we already have, and most of our spells are 3 mana or less. But I'm going with Demonic Collusion, since the buyback should be painless enough in a deck where most of our cards are blank.

With all of this discarding, Runechanter's Pike seemed like the buff of choice. Here's my list!

 

 

Decks 2a & 2b Damping Engine

Damping Engine

This is a build-around-me card if there ever was one. The name of the game becomes, how can we subsist on as few permanents as possible? And/or: how can we gum up the opponent's side of the board?

For example, removal. Journey to Nowhere is ordinarily a great card, but here would be terrible, for it decreases the opponent's permanent count while increasing ours. Instead, look at something like Crib Swap, which lessens the opponent's card quality without decreasing their permanent count at all. Alternately, we can run Mind Games (but not Icy Manipulator!) to negate a threat without removing it. Aurification is another example of this—one of the few instances where it's preferable to No Mercy.

Crib Swap  Mind Games  Aurification

Then we can run cards capable of removing themselves. We'll use Mind Stone for its mana, keep it if we can, and trade it for a card if we start getting ahead of our opponent on permanents. Vexing Sphinx is another card that comes and goes when we need it to.

Ugin's Construct not only keeps our permanent count consistent as we ramp up, but it also enables a combo I'm always on the lookout for: Hatching Plans. Same goes for World Queller, who goes even further in controlling the count.

  Hatching Plans  World Queller

Even the lands can be optimized to account for the Damping Engine! Azorius Chancery and especially Lotus Vale add to our resources without adding to the count. And cycling lands like Lonely Sandbar give us the option of adding to our count or not. Once this deck reaches five mana, it probably doesn't want to drop any more lands.

My list:

 

For the second take on that premise, why don't we look at the king of solitude—black!

    Skittering Skirge     Riding the Dilu Horse

We can start with solitary creature extraordinaire Reclusive Wight (kidding!). But seriously, Skittering Skirge and Skittering Horror boast impressive stats for their size. Splashing green, we can use the oddly templated Riding the Dilu Horse to turn them into legitimate must-answer threats without adding to our permanents. (Note that the templating causes them to receive the boost permanently.)

Augur of Skulls and Wall of Mulch allow us to control our permanent count while also accomplishing things—most notably, early-game stall. Constant Mists is a great way to control things late-game while still managing our count. (And it also explains this deck's lack of Lotus Vales!).

Dusk Urchins is this deck's Vexing Sphinx, improving our hand without leaving a lasting effect on the board. And note how he can accumulate two extra counters (and therefore two extra card draws) with a Riding the Dilu Horse!

Corpse Dance is a non-permanent way of getting some extra mileage out of those creatures we keep sacrificing. And remember it's an instant, so you can in fact use it on Augur of Skulls during your upkeep and activate his discard ability at once. Blood Artist capitalizes off all the coming and going. And last, I'm running Edge of Autumn over last deck's (Mindstone). It's not only ramp, and not only a way to reduce our permanent count when needed... it even helps restock our Constant Mists ammunition! Truly an all-star.

Resource Management, take two
 
Creatures
3 Augur of Skulls
4 Skittering Skirge
4 Wall of Mulch
4 Dusk Urchins
2 Skittering Horror
17 cards

Other Spells
2 Blood Artist
4 Constant Mists
4 Edge of Autumn
2 Corpse Dance
4 Riding the Dilu Horse
4 Damping Engine
20 cards
Lands
12 Swamp
11 Forest
23 cards
 
Constant Mists

 

See you next time!