Shivan Bird's picture
By: Shivan Bird, Brian Hare
Nov 24 2007 11:57am
Login or register to post comments

Magic has had mass destruction cards for a long time. From the nonland-destroying Nevinyrral's Disk and Akroma's Vengeance to the further-reaching Jokulhaups and Decree of Annihilation, there have always been ways to wipe the board. Despite red's seeming monopoly in the Obliterateing market, there's a blue permanent-killer that's gotten my attention, Magic's little reset button, Sway of the Stars. All cards in play, hands, and graveyards are shuffled into their owner's library. Everyone gets a new hand and goes to seven life. You were about to attack with ten creatures? Don't care. I'm at one and you're at one hundred sixty? Don't care!  Shroud? Indestructible? Platinum Angel? Don't care!  If you can't kill me and you can't counter, it goes off and nothing mattered. Fresh starts all around.

Well, except that I may have certain advantages. For example, if I haven't played a land yet, good time to get a leg up with that. If I have floating mana, I can already play something in my new hand. Suspended cards will come in at their normal pace. If I sent a Rockshard Elemental on an Otherworldly Journey during my opponent's end of turn step, I'll be getting it back at the end of my turn. If I played Sway through Spellweaver Helix in response to a Roar of the Wurm, I'll be sitting with a 6/6 token. Meanwhile, the other guy won't have anything but his hand. (That's what she said!) Anyway, my most favorite way to move my cards beyond the stars? Mind's Desire. Work up a storm, play a Sway from outside the game, play something else from outside the game, profit.

The "something else" can be lots of things. Optimally, it should 1) Be capable of dealing seven or more damage and 2) be useful even if I can't play a Desire and Sway. Let's say Thorn Elemental. It's a nice creature by itself and if played after a Sway, the opponent will probably have one turn to live. While good, I'd like to do one turn better. The only options for an instant kill are direct damage and haste creatures. Searing Flesh could work, but it's terrible if I don't get it in optimal conditions. Turns out, there are exactly two creatures in the game with haste and a power greater than six. One fit perfectly. Blistering Firecat: 7/1 haste, trample. Instant win after the Mind Star combo, good for a block and storm feeder elsewhere.

Sway of the Stars
Blistering Firecat

The first  version I made of this deck was blue and green. Blue is obvious, green because of the mana acceleration. I initially ran Heartbeat of Spring and Wayfarer's Bauble but replaced them with Early Harvest and Diligent Farmhand. The Harvest is better because it can't help the opponent and if I want to play either on the same turn as the Mind's Desire, the Harvest lets me have three more mana than the Heartbeat. The Farmhand was an improvement because it can attack and block.

Mind Star Green

12x Forest
12x Island

Diligent Farmhand
4x Sakura-Tribe Elder
4x Solemn Simulacrum
2x Blistering Firecat
1x Silvos, Rogue Elemental
1x Thorn Elemental
1x Darksteel Colossus

Other Spells:
Early Harvest
4x Deep Analysis
4x Mind's Desire
4x Sway of the Stars
3x Read the Runes

Early Harvest

With twenty four lands, tweleve land grabbers, four land untappers, and seven draw spells, there's rarely a lack of mana. The deck has a balanced amount of mana acceleration, blockers, big creatures, and of course, the ability to Sway if the opponent is about to win. What I really like about this deck is how everything can serve several purposes. The Farmhands, Elders, and Solemns can block, get land, and/or feed the storm. If I don't get a big creature after a Sway, they can attack en masse for most of seven damage. The Read the Runes can find a Mind's Desire while ditching Deep Analysis to the graveyard to flashback and ditching a Colossus back to the library to be Desired. Speaking of the Runes, when used with a Solemn Simulacrum in play, they can do the work of five cards. There's 1) the land when Solemn comes into play, 2) a block, 3) the card drawn for the Runes, 4) the card drawn for Solemn leaving play when sacrificed, and 5) not having to discard/sacrfice something else.

Let's try five games in the casual room:

Game 1: WG Weenies with Equipment
Had 2 Solemns out. He attacked with a 4/1 flying double striker and took me down to six. End of his turn, Read the Runes for four cards, sac'd the Solemns for two more. My turn, played a small critter or two, played a Desire, got nothing, played another Desire from Hand. Got a Sway. Played it and then a Solemn and three Farmhands. Overran him.


Game 2: UGR Tooth and Nail
He did his own Early Harvest and Toothed for Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and Phantom Nishoba. I held them off for two turns and tried to Desire for two but got nothing. Might've had a better chance if I didn't waste spells and play the wrong land the turn before.


Game 3: G Equipments?
He got a bunch of equipments and lands, never any creatures. I just kept attacking with some small creatures.


Game 4: WRBG? Bad
He never got more than two Plains and dinky creatures. I could've taken all day. I Desired for five, got all lands. A few turns later, Harvested for twenty floating mana, Swayed from hand. I played two Farmhands and a Desire from the new hand. Got a Firecat for game over.


Game 5: B Various things
Faced small black creatures. I got out Thorn Elemental and just attacked with that. He couldn't stop the damage or hurt me faster.


Aw, I never had to Sway multiple times. I've been in situations before where it's turn twenty three and I've just reset the game for the third time. Pretty funny. The other version of the deck is blue and red. Consider this: With only six lands, I can 1) Seething Song 2) Rite of Flame 3) Lava Dart 4) Lava Dart flashback 5) Burning Wish 6) Mind's Desire. I'm bound to get something.

Mind Star Red

13x  Island
12x  Mountain

Blistering Firecat
4x Solemn Simulacrum

Lava Dart
4x Wayfarer's Bauble
4x Rite of Flame
4x Seething Song
4x Burning Wish
3x Mind's Desire
4x Sway of the Stars

1x Overmaster
1x Shattering Spree
1x Eye of Nowhere
1x Mana Seism
1x Pyroclasm
1x Recoup
1x Grapeshot
1x Exhaustion
1x Deep Analysis
1x Flashfires
1x Shatterstorm
1x Mind's Desire
1x Earthquake
1x Demonfire

Burning Wish

Not exactly a Dragonstorm deck? Maybe, but at least the Desire costs six instead of nine. It's also nice to be able to Wish for cards and the Sway takes care of thirteen of the twenty of the damage I have to do. Let's try five games again:

Game 1: RG Unknown
Opponent was manascrewed early. It didn't help that I
Lava Darted two Birds. He finally got a few critters out.  I Desired and got a Sway and another Desire. I played the Sway. He scooped.


Game 2: U Artifacts/modular/affinity
He got a lot of draw and finally some big creatures. Between Solemns and Firecats, I attacked him down to two. I Lava Darted him twice but he countered the flashback. That was all I could do and he could've attacked and won. Instead he quit for some reason. Uh... I'll call it a tie.


Game 3: 5-color Sunburst
He got a 3/3 and 4/4 Sunburst creatures. I played the mana cards. He
Quashed a Seething Song but I played two more in response. Dart and flashback. Desired for many. Swayed. Firecat ftw.


Game 4: WG Unknown
He didn't do much besides play an
Eternal Witness and disenchant a Solemn. He probably wasn't happy that I wished for a Flashfires and killed three Temple Gardens. He quit when I played Mind's Desire for the tenth spell of the turn.


Game 5: WU Unknown
He just played
Riftwing Cloudskate to bounce a mountain and Cloned my Solemn. Then I Desired for nine. Sway. Firecat.


Not bad I'd say. As I said before, as long as I'm not dead, the Sway takes care of everything. Then I'm at least as well off as I was when the game started.

So these are my two favorite decks with Sway of the Stars. I do have others, actually using Otherworldly Journey and Spellweaver Helix as I mentioned earlier. Then there's Mind Star Classic, using Shrieking Drake to fuel the Mind's Desire. I originally tinkered with a Mind Star mono-blue, but I assure you that Extraplanar Lens beats neither Heartbeat of Spring or Early Harvest for mana acceleration. But at least it was better than the ill-fated "Instant Mind Star" deck. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but it turns out that playing a Sway followed by a Darksteel Colossus at the end of your opponent's turn isn't really an option once you've shuffled your Vedalken Orrery back into your library. Whoops. It's okay though. We all know that creating a Magic deck is not an event but a journey, complete with failures and improvements. I enjoyed my many journeys with the underappreciated Sway of the Stars and it'll always be a special card to me. Stay tuned for next time when I put my Statistics degree to good use by showing you the probabilities of Magic. Thanks for reading. See you in extended casual.



Fun interaction by Basic Land at Sun, 11/25/2007 - 18:24
Basic Land's picture

Thanks for the article, that was a fun read. It's amazing what a little bit of synergy can do as a win condition.

Looking forward to the next article in the series 

Cool Deck Idea by DarkDragon at Sat, 11/24/2007 - 14:13
DarkDragon's picture

That's a neat concept you came up with for Sway of the Stars. I'm one of tose guys who tries to win with "underpowered" cards, so I enjoyed the article. I might just try it out for myself =)

 Good job; I look forward to future articles from you.