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By: Necropotent, Steven Moody
Nov 29 2007 12:00pm
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It's All About Community

One of the greatest aspects of Magic for me is the community that accompanies the game. I can still remember clearly my first time playing Magic around my kitchen table, trying desperately to convince my friends that the Obsianus Golem in my 4th Edition Starter Deck was actually an amazing creature. As it turned out, Obsianus Golem was quite terrible compared to most of the other creatures floating around our circle of friends; he was simply the biggest creature I owned.

For several years, my weekends were filled with games upon games of Magic around my dining room table. Long nights where we started one game with eight guys, all competing against each other to come out on top. Or getting together, packing up the van and heading to Durham, NC to play in the pre-release of the latest set. Or meeting everyone at the Book Exchange and trying out our latest and greatest ideas.

While Magic Online doesn't provide opportunities like those, it does open the door (albiet virtual) to interact with other players who love the game. And while we can't meet those other players at Taco Bell and then head to the house for some late night Magic, that pervading sense of community still exists. For me, I've discovered it in a group of fellow players who, like me, don't have the resources to play "on table" but find the time and money to play online. Much like my old group of friends, the "new crowd" comes up with ideas together and play tests all sorts of different decks, discovering what works and what doesn't. We act as a living sound board for each other, bouncing ideas around and receiving feedback. What's neat is that, as a group, we represent a wide variety of play styles and deck-building preferences.

I never realized how useful we could be until I wrote my previous articles on building a deck around a certain theme. I sent the rough draft out to my comrades and received a different response from each guy, all directing me in a uniquely different direction. It was incredible! All of a sudden, my one deck idea turned into three different approaches. And while my weaknesses at deck-building were boldly revealed in the initial deck list, the strengths of the group were all the more revealed in the way the guys pointed out different flaws and presented different ways of addressing those flaws.

I've decided to try to use this feature to start a series of articles in which I pitch a certain card or theme to the group. I plan on presenting a deck from each man, breaking down the strengths and weaknesses of their submission and exploring what works and what doesn't. Hopefully, at the end of it all, there will be an interesting article to read with a few cool deck lists to take home and try out.

To begin it all, I couldn't be more pleased to start with the card we already know and love: Doran, the Siege Tower!

I must admit, as soon as I learned who Doran was and what he was about, I became a lifelong follower. Of all the new cards, card types, and mechanics that Lorwyn has given us, Doran, the Siege tower has captured my heart more than any other. I know, I know: Garruk, Wildspeaker is sooo cool with his ability to hit an Overrun by untapping two lands the previous turn. And this whole goblin recursion thing through Wort is pretty neat, too. But did you check out Doran?!? To start off, he's a (virtual) 5/5 for three mana. On top of that, he turns all of your low-powered creatures into attacking machines. Birds of Paradise sitting idly by? Not anymore! Is your Ornithopter a lame duck without his equipment? Hardly! He's a 2/2 flier now! And to top it all off, Doran is a treefolk shaman! You know... for all those abusive shaman abilities out there.

What's the drawback? Obviously he's not up there with Morphling and Masticore. He could prove to be problematic with his tri-color casting cost. He can't regenerate or make himself bullet-proof like Superman, so he's pretty susceptible to removal. He's a Legend, which puts a weird spin on deck building; how many copies should I run? But you've got to admit: he does look fun. And exciting! He's a hoss and he can turn even the lowliest of creatures into genuine threats. And if you can just get that mana right, he's pretty cheap to put on the table.

Doran, the Siege Tower

 My initial reaction upon reading Doran's ability was to begin brainstorming a number of cards that would work really well with him. Obviously, there was his Lorwyn set counterpart, Treefolk Harbinger. But I knew there had to be more. A few minutes of brainstorming produced a list about twenty cards long, including everything from Castle to Kami of Old Stone. Not only does Doran work well with cheap, high-toughness creatures, he's got root synergy with every other Treefolk in the game (a creature type which has significantly increased in number with the release of Lorwyn). I realized immediately that the problem wouldn't be in finding enough cards to build a deck but in finding the right cards with which to build a deck. Let's briefly look at a few cards that either benefit from Doran being in play or significantly help his cause.

Friends With Benefits

Guiltfeeder
Accompanied by Doran, Guiltfeeder gets just a tad meaner. In most cases (once you have the five mana required to get him in play), Guiltfeeder will already be costing your opponent several life points. He's got Fear, making him difficult to block. With Doran, he gets to deal that extra four points of damage. This could really pay off if your opponent happens to have a black or artifact blocker. With Doran in play, Guiltfeeder will bowl right over most creatures standing in his way.

Deadwood Treefolk
Nothing tricky about this guy, he just turns into a 6/6 with that same ability and casting cost.

Blessed Orator and Veteran Armorer
With Doran in play, these guys are walking Glorious Anthems.

Slagwurm Armor
This card was designed to significantly boost your creature's toughness for an equip cost of three colorless. Doran turns it into the biggest power/toughness raising equipment in the game.

Scalpelexis
With Scalpy, your opponent won't have to worry about running out of cards in the library: he'll be dead from flying damage before it ever reaches that point.

Guiltfeeder

After browsing through the long list of viable options, I began to piece together what I though might work best together. My first deck idea looked something like this:

26 Creatures

4 Birds of Paradise
4 Blessed Orator
1 Deadwood Treefolk
2 Doran, the Siege Tower
1 Guiltfeeder
1 Harmonic Sliver
4 Kami of Old Stone
1 Nekrataal
4 Treefolk Harbinger
4 Veteran Armorer

10 Other Spells

4 Chord of Calling
4 Harmonize
Slagwurm Armor

24 Lands

4 Godless Shrine
4 Overgrown Tomb
4 Temple Garden
4 Windswept Heath
8 Forest

 

A Quick Breakdown of the Deck

The Birds and Harbingers were pretty obvious choices to me. Being a Legend, I felt like two copies of Doran could be that "magic number". I knew that I'd have to have a way of searching for him in order to see him consistently. While the Harbingers helped, I wanted to see Doran on a more consistent basis - in any case, the deck is all about getting him into play. For this purpose, I chose Chord of Calling. When I began building the deck, I realized that I had so many creatures that I wanted to run that I couldn't possibly run them all. I started trimming down to one copy of each, knowing that with the Chords I would have ready access to all of them. I also added the Nekrataal and Harmonic Sliver so that I could use the Chords as an in-deck tool box. This is a questionable call in that Nekrataal actually gets weaker with Doran in play. I stuck with him because I had no other easy way to get rid of creatures.

The Harmonize went in to keep the deck flowing smoothly. I thought the Slagwurm Armors were too funny to be kept out. It's not everday that you get to equip a creature +6/+6 for three colorless.

The land choice was pretty simple. Both the Harbingers and Heaths gives you access to all three colors of mana which I assumed would be necessary given Doran's casting cost.

How It Fared

Playing with this deck was a real blast. My win percentage was about seventy five percent in the casual room. The eight toughness-boosting creatures were really cool. I usually ended up with some really big toughness numbers across the board. When Doran hit, the team was often too much to handle, simply plowing into my opponent. The Chords were amazing for their shock and awe factor. In most cases, I'd have a stable board position with three or four creatures out, each one having seven or eight toughness. Calling for Doran at the end of my opponent's turn generally ended the game. Few saw it coming and even less could deal with it. The Harbingers were handy in retrieving Doran but I think I actually liked Chords of Calling better. It was faster, not terribly expensive, and brought Doran into play rather than on top of my library. That's huge.

For this deck, the Harmonize was really good because the deck seemed to slow down mid-game. With creatures on the table, I didn't mind tapping out, casting Harmonize, then passing the turn. A couple of important notes: (1) the deck never once had a problem with needing more mana or not having the right color (those duals are incredible!). (2) In each game that Guiltfeeder came into play, I ended up as the victor. I started to shift my playing strategy to saving up enough mana to Chord of Calling him into play but it was just too expensive. Most of the time I drew into him off of a Harmonize and the Chords were used to call out Doran.

Exploring Other Builds

As I shared earlier, the goal of this article isn't to break down and analyze just the deck I built but to explore the other decks built by my counterparts. In each case, I played about a dozen games with each deck, focusing on how the deck played and determining its strengths and weaknesses. I also spent some time discussing the builds and ideas behind them with the creators. I thought it might be helpful to add a brief description of each guy before going into depth about his deck. Hopefully this will be helpful in understanding the uniqueness of each deck and why it contains certain elements that the others are missing.

Player Profile: Shivan Bird

If there's a resident genius in our group, I'd have to give that title to Brian, aka Shivan Bird. Bird's ability to put together cards that work amazingly well together is just uncanny. He loves playing big combos, taking his time to meticulously set up the board for some optimal condition and then laying waste with some powerful spell or enchantment. He's also notorious for building a deck that you REALLY don't want to play against. I'm talking Stasis-lock utter shut down. I kid you not, one of his decks is called "Forced Suicide.dec" and is designed to make the opponent concede. Here's what Shivan Bird came up with:

Wish Upon A Treefolk.dec

19 Creatures

4 Birds of Paradise
1 Doran, the Siege Tower
3 Guiltfeeder
3 Scalpelexis
1 Shadowmage Infiltrator
4 Treefolk Harbinger
3 Trygon Predator

16 Other Spells

4 Gerrard's Verdict
3 Glittering Wish
4 Living Wish
3 Putrefy
2 Writ of Passage

26 Lands

4 City of Brass
4 Forest
2 Godless Shrine
2 Island
2 Overgrown Tomb
2 Plains
3 Polluted Delta
2 Swamp
2 Temple Garden
2 Watery Grave
1 Windswept Heath

Sideboard

1 Armadillo Cloak
1 Doran, the Siege Tower
1 Dromar's Charm
1 Eternal Witness
1 Gemstone Mine
1 Glimpse the Unthinkable
1 Guiltfeeder
1 Harmonic Sliver
1 Loxodon Hierarch
1 Necrotic Sliver
1 Pernicious Deed
1 Putrefy
1 Scalpelexis
1 Shadowmage Infiltrator
1 Vindicate

The thing I immediately noticed was the presence of seven (count 'em, seven) main deck wishes: Four Living Wish and three Glittering Wish. I really like the idea of running Glittering Wish: it gives you access to Doran as well as a host of other very useful multi-colored spells. Brian didn't hold back in loading up his sideboard with an incredible array. Armadillo Cloak to give a creature trample or gain some much needed life, just in case. Vindicate, because it's incredible. Shadowmage Infiltrator to draw some cards, if that's what you need. Pernicious Deed to clear away any excess rabble that might be around. Harmonic and Necrotic sliver are in to serve as permanent destruction, if there happens to be something that's just standing in your way. And, one of my favorite cards, Dromar's Charm: because you never know when you need to counter a spell, kill a creature or gain life.

The Harmonic Sliver and Necrotic Sliver in the 'board opened up some neat plays. With the seven wishes, it wasn't difficult getting both into my hand. Once there, I could drop the Harmonic Sliver to kill a pesky artifact (aka Platinum Angel), then sac both the Harmonic and the Necrotic to take out two additional permanents. You can easily wreck the other side of the table with that little play.

With seven wishes, Brian was able to run only one copy of Doran maindeck. He had eleven different options for searching for Doran and when I played the deck, I had a Doran in play every time. The Gerrard's Verdicts really helped clog up whatever the opponent was doing and simultaneously gained some life - which turned out to be quite handy with the duals and sac-searchers. Scalpelexis and Guiltfeeder were terribly rude, as aforementioned. Writ of Passage turned out to be pretty tricky, as well. With the Forecast ability, Guiltfeeder could be made unblockable each turn for devastating effect.

Glittering Wish

How It Fared

Overall, this build seemed to work much better than mine. It certainly won more - I only lost one game in ten. In some cases, it took a bit more forethought and planning. With so many options of different cards to cast or search for, I found that I had to really take stock of the board before I could progress. It felt like each card in my hand would take me down a different path and I wasn't always sure I knew which one to travel. Do I drop an early Shadowmage Infiltrator and go for card advantage? Do I immediately begin the process of getting Doran in play? Should I go ahead and take out my opponent's big creature or wait?

This is pretty typical of a Brian build. He doesn't hold back in putting ruthless cards in the deck. He has a lot of decision-making cards that can overcome just about any situation. He added a color beyond Doran's black-green-white casting cost (blue) for the added advantage of drawing cards and controlling the board. And there are interactions between just about every card in the deck, each helping something else in some way.

Player Profile: Basic Land

The next guy in on the team is Andrew "Basic" Land. His is the tactical mind of the group. I was once told that he and his three brothers have a "knack for games". I've found this to be true on a consistent basis as he has excelled naturally at every game imaginable. From Settler's of Catan to Halo, Basic Land breaks down games in a way I can't even comprehend. As such, I sometimes find most of his decks to be strategic in nature and cunning in execution. This was Basic Land's idea:

Sliver Doran.dec

25 Creatures

4 Birds of Paradise
1 Doran, the Siege Tower
2 Harmonic Sliver
2 Might Sliver
2 Necrotic Sliver
4 Plated Sliver
Sinew Sliver
4 Treefolk Harbinger
3 Watcher Sliver

 11 Other Spells

3 Glittering Wish
3 Harmonize
3 Living Wish
2 Hivestone

 24 Lands

6 Forest
4 Godless Shrine
4 Overgrown Tomb
1 Plains
1 Swamp
4 Temple Garden
4 Windswept Heath

 Sideboard

1 Brood Sliver
1 Darkheart Sliver
1 Doran, the Siege Tower
1 Essence Sliver
1 Gemstone Mine
1 Genesis
1 Harmonic Sliver
1 Might Sliver
1 Mortify
1 Necrotic Sliver
1 Putrefy
1 Root Sliver
1 Spinneret Sliver
1 Vindicate
1 Ward Sliver

Watcher Sliver

I thought the idea of running Slivers with Doran was pretty classy. Evidently, it all stemmed from wanting to really abuse the toughness-boosting Plated Sliver and Watcher Sliver. Combined with Glittering Wish, the Slivers act as a living, answer-to-all team. What's neat is that it's a pretty straightfoward Sliver build, the addition of Doran is to make the Slivers just that much more abusive.

Basic Land took a standard build of "Slivers" to a PTQ several months ago. I don't know how heavily that impacted his decision to build something similar here. Maybe it was just coincidence. While this deck isn't anywhere close to the power level of a deck with Firewake Sliver and Dormant Sliver, it is rather enjoyable to play with.

Following Shivan Bird's trend, Basic Land uses the Glittering Wishes to access a tool-box sideboard. The Slivers in it have a answer to just about every viable threat. I especially like that little Spinneret Sliver in the sideboard to provide flyer-blockers in a pinch. Some notable main deck Sliver choices are the Might and Necrotic. Might Sliver in to make things that much worse for the opponent while Necrotic serving the role of a real problem solver.

I appreciate the fact that Basic stuck to a black-green-white build. He could have very easily dipped into the other colors, specifically blue, but he chose to stick with Doran's natural three. The deck gets going pretty quickly with four Birds and four Harbingers, making things difficult for the other side of the table even if he doesn't have a single Sliver in play. With those eight creatures and Doran, Hivestone appears to be a pretty smart decision.

How It Fared

The Slivers seemed to get along really well with Doran. There were a few amazing plays where a Hivestone hit the table and all of a sudden Doran, as a 3/10 Treefolk Sliver, was running wild over the opponent. Without the Hivestone, the deck usually found itself attacking with some monstrous Slivers. The Plated Slivers fell early and often, and once Doran was in play they were downright crucial. Combined with Sinew Sliver, most games saw the Slivers averaging a virtual +5/+5 bonus, sometimes even better.

While playing, it seemed that if the Slivers could be given trample things would get even more powerful. While that's true, taking the time or card slots to make trample work would be a little pointless. The Slivers seemed to be overwhelming in their own right without trample, usually finishing the job even while the opponent was able to chump block. They were just that big. The sideboard was incredibly fun (albiet overkill in most games). A Root Sliver or Essence Sliver would hit play and things would get degenerate.

One possible card that could be included would be Patriarch's Bidding. I had two games where I got absolutely rocked from a Damnation and Wrath of God, both played in separate games. The Bidding would have helped there but I realize it's not that easy to just slip into the deck as it stands. The deck relied a bit heavily on Harmonize, but that is to be expected according to the type of deck it is and the style it forces you to play. Overall, I was surprised how fast and effective the Slivers were.

Player Profile: MaverickGTG

Quite possibly the most creative individual I've ever met, Joel is the engine of imagination in the group. Older brother to Shivan Bird, the gifted mind must run in the family because he's a genius as well, just in a different sense. I played Magic "on table" with Joel back in the old days. He had a deck for every day of the month and never played the same one twice in a row. Famed author of the "5 Minute Deck," every weekend that we got together to play, Joel showed up with a new deck and would disappear sometime during the night only to re-emerge a few minutes later with some new, off-the-wall creation. This was Joel's proposition.

Doran.dec

 20 Creatures

4 Birds of Paradise
1 Doran, the Siege Tower
2 Eternal Witness
2 Genesis
4 Kami of Old Stone
Ornithopter
4 Treefolk Harbinger

 16 Other Spells

Chainer's Edict
1 Crib Swap
3 Ensnaring Bridge
3 Glittering Wish
3 Harmonize
3 Living Wish

 24 Lands

14 Forest
4 Overgrown Tomb
1 Plains
1 Swamp
4 Temple Garden

 Sideboard

1 Death Grasp
1 Doran, the Siege Tower
1 Genesis
1 Guiltfeeder
2 Loxodon Hierarch
2 Mortify
1 Mystic Enforcer
1 Nath of the Gilt-Leaf
1 Pernicious Deed
Putrefy
1 Teneb, the Harvester
1 Vindicate

At first glance, Joel's deck appears to be a hybrid of my build and Shivan Bird's. Upon further inspection, we find this isn't the case at all. Joel has opted to run that 7/7 house in Kami of Old Stone. There's also the inclusion of Ornithopter, Doran's free 2/2 flyer. Harmonize is in at three and he's running three Chainer's Edict for creature removal. This might be an odd choice, but I think running Edict main deck is a good idea with Mortify and Putrefy in the sideboard. Crib Swap is another odd choice, especially only one of in the main deck. Chances are, when Joel was building this deck, he noticed the one Crib Swap in our collection, liked it and added it to the deck, not bothering to take time to find more or order more from Traders.

The inclusion of Living Wish and Glittering Wish allows him access to a loaded sideboard, but one that looks quite different from Shivan Bird's or Basic Land's. Pernicious Deed is accompanied by Death Grasp and Vindicate for any situation. Loxodon Hierarch adds life to the total and Mystic Enforcer is simply astonishing in certain situations. There's an additional copy of Genesis for easy access and one Guiltfeeder for the abusiveness that he provides. I love the inclusion of Teneb, the Harvester; he's fun to play with and can even bring back a dead Doran if he needs to.

The rest of the deck seems pretty standard. I'm a bit surprised that Joel didn't run any Onslaught sac-search lands, like Windswept Heath but in his favor that Harbinger can be used to fetch a Swamp thanks to Overgrown Tomb. The most notable difference in Joel's deck, the thing that sets it apart from all the rest, is the Ensnaring Bridge. Yep, that's right: no creatures get to attack when his hand is empty. And by "no creatures" he means Doran, Guiltfeeder, Ornithopter and Treefolk Harbinger. I thought this was a pretty funny move on his part. He can essentially lock the board down with the Bridge and proceed to attack at his leisure.

Ensnaring Bridge

How It Fared

This deck played really well, in my opinion. Because the deck runs only two cards with mana cost five, the rest being four and under, it's super easy to drop your hand and slip out an Ensnaring Bridge. The Bridge was great defense and in those games where I pulled out an early Doran only to have him destroyed, the Bridge gave me ample time to get things under control and get Doran's fat tail back into play. The deck really played like it was not meant to lose, which is not surprising given the fact that Joel often watches TV while he plays MTGO and is required by habit to build decks that can compensate for the mistakes he makes from not paying attention. The deck is surprisingly fast, as well. The following was not uncommon: Turn three, play Doran, Ornithopter attack for two. Turn four, play Kami of Old Stone, attack for seven. Turn five, play Genesis for back up, attack for fourteen.

"Nice deck."

Thank you so much for sticking through to the end of this article. I truly hope you've enjoyed reading about our play styles and habits, hopefully it hasn't been too boring or irrelevant. I think these decks really showcase what Doran is capable of. If anyone gets a chance to put one of these decks together and play a few games, please let me know how it turns out.

Until next time, may all your creatures deal combat damage with their toughness instead of their power.

0 Comments

Closer to budget build by BohemianRhapper at Sat, 01/12/2008 - 22:22
BohemianRhapper's picture

This is my Doran build which is much more budget than the above mentioned decks, but still not quite cheap.

 When I first started building it, I tried out most of the high toughness crits mentioned above, just to find out from playtesting that other treefolk tended to do the best job.

Creatures                     Other Spells                     Land
4 Doran                        4 Akromas Vengence        4 Overgrown Tomb
4 Treefolk Harbinger                                            4 Temple Garden
4 Timber Protector                                               1 Godless Shrine
4 Dauntless Defender                                          4 Krosan Verge
4 Heartwood Stroyteller                                        4 Forbidding Watchtower
4 Sakura Tribe Elder                                            1 Swamp
4 Deadwood Treefolk                                           5 Forest
4 Shriekmaw                                                       1 Plains

I haven't kept track of this decks win Average, but I'd say its 80-90%, both in 1v1 and 2hg.  The elder's, harbinger's and shriekmaws keep you well defended in the early game.  The story teller basically nullifies any blue control decks, and swings for three with doran on the board.  Timber Protectors, Dauntless defenders, and deadwood treefolk gives the deck all the late game it needs, and Doran owns the mid game.  If I have Akromas vengence in my starting hand, I usually ramp up to 6 mana and wipe the board before playing any creatures, if not, I try to wait until I have a protector in play, but between that and the shriekmaw, I have all the control I need.  And the watchtower is an amazing card with doran in play, it's not uncommon to swing with a harbinger, doran and a watchtower for 13 on turn 4 or 5. 

So thats my 2 cents, but I am considering adding glittering wishes to the mix, probably in place of the storytellers, they make an already deep deck able to handle virtually anything.

RE: Why Chord of Calling by Necropotent at Thu, 11/29/2007 - 17:54
Necropotent's picture

Congregation at Dawn is a pretty good idea. Chord of Calling is a bit different in that it puts the creature directly into play. This works really well if it has a small but difficult casting cost or if you are looking to surprise your opponent. But I think you're right, it would do a similar job and cost far less.

Just to note, Scalpelexis would be a 5/5 flying uber-millstone with Doran in play. 

by Necropotent at Thu, 11/29/2007 - 18:00
Necropotent's picture

We all have separate accounts but we do share a lot of cards. Yes, that's why our sideboards were so similar. Sorry for the confusion there.

My apologies about the high price tags for these deck lists. I've had several requests for some more "budget" deck lists and I've been meaning to add that element to my article. In the next article there will be at least one low-cost deck list.

by The Pink Floyd (Unregistered) 77.98.189.71 (not verified) at Fri, 11/30/2007 - 13:05
The Pink Floyd (Unregistered) 77.98.189.71's picture

Yeah realised my mistake on Scalpelexis, but no edit feature so I could not hastily hide my stupidity DUH

 

 

by urzishra14 at Thu, 11/29/2007 - 15:49
urzishra14's picture

i liked the decks.. but man.. how do all four of you afford decks? (or do you share accounts.. i was kind of confused by that aspect of it) .. I only mention that because the last three decks had similar "tool box" sideboard types with the same wishes.. but anyways.. it was a good read.. although the price tag of those may put them out of reach for me for a while.. anyways do another.

Why Chord Of Calling ??? by The Pink Floyd (Unregistered) 82.33.145.36 (not verified) at Thu, 11/29/2007 - 16:13
The Pink Floyd (Unregistered) 82.33.145.36's picture

Would Congregation At Dawn not do a similar juob, and cost far less to cast ???

 

Also, I run Scalpelexis in my build, a 5/1 Flying millstone is just far too good not to use.

 

Enjoyed the article btw, as I really like Doran, just a cool fun card to play with and around.