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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Feb 15 2008 12:43am
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Creature Type nOOb in LBC, Part II
I’m trying to crack into the Lorwyn Block Constructed on my own, without assistance and without reading the accumulated wisdom out there on the net. Last time I took a Kithkin aggro deck into the tournament practice room to learn what I had to face. After a lot of battles – and a fair number of wins – I think I know enough to try a control deck.
I still have the same restrictions on the build: I want to do this myself, and I am going to use the cards I own. I will only buy new cards if they are either cheap or if I know I will use them for other purposes.  I am also not going to buy the fourth copy of any Lorwyn cards, since I have five Lorwyn tournament packs saved up for the Morningtide release events. 
To start with, I don’t see much point in building a mono-colored deck. Lorwyn is not all that deep of a card pool. It might be possible with blue, but I own almost no blue rares. Specifically, I have never opened a Mistbind Clique nor a Scion of Oona. That means that a mono-blue deck will lack finishers. I also looked at a mono-black deck, but I just don’t see that working. 

More importantly, the format has lands and mana fixing that can make multicolored builds possible. I decided to try for a base UB build to abuse Makeshift Mannequin. I do have a playset of Makeshift Mannequins. 

Makeshift Mannequin works best with creates with good comes into play abilities. Mulldrifter and AEthersnipe leap to mind immediately, as does Shriekmaw. After that the quality drops a bit. Mournwhelk and Pestermite provide some utility, but they seem more marginally useful.

Makeshift Mannequin
That seemed like a useful creature mix, but I also wanted a finisher. Winning with 3/3 beatdown does not seem all that likely – not if an opponent is running Treefolk or other fat-reared creatures. I settled on Nath of the Gilt-Leaf because he is harder to kill than Guile, and I had three.
Basically, I wanted a finisher that I could tap out to cast, and that would then be able to end the game in short order. A primary concern is that the finisher not be too easy to kill. As jimBov noted in comments on my last article, the primary removal spells in the format are Shriekmaw, Nameless Inversion and Eyeblight’s Ending.  Guile dies to Shriekie and Ending, and to a pair of Inversions. Dread is immune to Shriekie, but not the other two. Cloudthresher  is fat enough to require three Inversions, but he’s not pro-black. Nath is an elf (making him immune to Ending) and black (keeping him safe from Skriekmaw.) 
Using Nath meant I was playing three colors. Here’s the mana base I started with
Vivid Marsh
Vivid Creek
Vivid Grove
Secluded Glen
Gilt-Leaf Palace
Fertile Ground   
I would have played four Vivid Groves, but I only had three. Likewise, I only had one Secluded Glen, and three Palaces. The Fertile Grounds were my attempt to accelerate speed and ensure that I had access to all three colors. 
With this mana base, I had 22 Vivid counters, in addition to the permanent mana abilities. The mana bases provided the following sources of color – over and above Vivid land counters.
Blue: 13 + (7 Vivid lands)
Black: 12 + (7 Vivid lands)
Green: 13 + (8 Vivid lands)
The Vivid counters also ensured that I could get any color early, while waiting to draw into permanent sources of each color.
On the down side, this mana base is incredibly slow. It has 11 lands that always come into play tapped, and another four that often do. Fertile Ground is acceleration, but a dead draw late. Finally, 23 lands is too many – and some playtesting showed that I could cut that down, given enough card drawing. 
I definitely wanted card drawing. Mulldrifter was a given, but I also wanted a turn one play, and Ponder is perfect.  It is almost as good as Brainstorm, which has been ridiculously good since the last millennium. I also considered cards like Fathom Trawl – I only own one – and Fallowsage – which dies to most blockers. Those two are not very exciting. Beyond that, I was primarily looking at cantrips, and cantrips are only good when the base card is good. For example, Cryptic Command is a fine cantrip. Lammastide Weave is not. Ponder.jpg
I also wanted to play a few counterspells. I had a playset of Broken Ambitions, and three copies of Faerie Trickery. I am also the proud owner of three Cryptic Commands. I was unsure of my mana supply – specifically how often and reliably I could get double blue early – so I left the Faerie Trickeries in the sideboard.  
My removal suite was four Shriekmaws, four Nameless Inversions and two Eyeblight’s Endings. I also ran the two Profane Commands that I own. 
The first few games showed me a couple problems. The first one was that I lacked speed.  Fertile Ground will never be confused with Chrome Mox. The second was that I really needed additional threats. I could often take control and hold the board for a bit, but I had trouble finishing the game quickly enough. Tapping out for Nath was dangerous, and even when I did it took a while for him to be big enough to fight through opposition. 
The first change I made was to replace the Fertile Grounds with Elvish Harbingers. They not only provided the same sort of mana boost (until they died), but also tutored for  both Nath and Nameless Inversion.
Here’s the build I played around with for a while. 
Since I was playing in the tournament practice room, I needed a sideboard. I had stuck the Faerie Trickeries into the sideboard. I also knew that I wanted Final Revels, because that card destroys white weenie and the like. 
The rest was a bit harder. 
I wanted some faster action, in case I went up against a dedicated control deck that was as slow – or slower – than I was. I do own two Oona’s Prowlers, which seemed like the best option around. I wanted to play (Thoughtsieze), as well, but I didn’t own any. (I have since opened one.) Mournwhelk seemed like the next best discard option. I also wanted to try Sower of Temptation, although my experiences in the format were telling me that creatures died, a lot, unless you ran enough to exhaust the opponent’s resources. Finally, I wanted to try playing an evasive creature that could, to some extent, dodge removal. That would be Wydwen, the Biting Gale.  I also considered putting some enchantment and/or artifact kill in the sideboard, but I had seen almost nothing in the format I feared, and no really useful Disenchants in the card pool. So, in what may be a first for me, I did not play anything like that. (Besides, Cryptic Command can bounce anything like that, if necessary.)
Here’s the sideboard I initially played.
3 Faerie Trickery 
3 Final Revels 
2 Mournwhelk 
2 Oona's Prowler 
3 Sower of Temptation 
2 Wydwen, the Biting Gale 

After some tuning and playtesting, I streamlined the deck a bit. I cut a Vivid Marsh for a basic Swamp – albeit a nice, shiny 8E foil one with a good picture. I added my one copy of Dread. I moved Eyeblight’s Ending and one copy of  Nameless Inversion to the sideboard, and added the Faerie Trickeries to the deck. 
I won some matches, but I never felt like I had a potent deck. The deck feels a bit like old style Rock decks, with a mix of threats and control, but it really misses the board sweepers that made Rock good. My build really wants Pernicious Deed or Engineered Explosives, or the like. Without it, the deck just cannot both lay it’s expensive threats and control the board.
The best version of this particular deck looks to be a heavier blue mix, with Faerie Trickery, other counters, cards drawing, etc. The anti-creature package seems to belong in the sideboard. I just got my first Jace Beleren yesterday. I can see how adding a couple to the maindeck could really help the blue-heavy build of this deck. 
I could discuss matchups and game summaries, but they are not terribly exciting. Instead, I will talk about how this deck might be evolved.  The first question is whether it is necessary to keep all three colors. I don’t think so – but I would need a bunch of rares before I could playtest all the variations. 
UB Control:
Right now, the deck runs green for Elvish Harbinger and Nath of Gilt-Leaf. The Harbinger fetches Nameless Inversion and Nath. That’s about it. Nath is okay, as far as he goes, but he is too slow in this build. 
My ideal version of a UB build would be something like this.
Blue Black Control
as suggested by one million words
4 Mulldrifter
4 Shriekmaw
2 Sower of Temptation
2 Aethersnipe
2 Mournwhelk

Other Spells
4 Ponder
4 Faerie Trickery
4 Broken Ambitions
4 Makeshift Mannequin
3 Cryptic Command
2 Profane Command
3 Jace Beleren
2 Liliana Vess
4 Vivid Marsh
4 Vivid Creek
4 Secluded Glen
Islands & Swamps
Again, that is just a draft. I am short a half-dozen or more cards necessary for this build, so I cannot test it. It also seems slow and ponderous – and I’m not completely sure about the Commands. 
The anti-creature package will be in the sideboard.
The one counterspell I’m not sure about is Familiar’s Ruse. It is a hard counter, for the traditional cost of UU. However, every creature I have costs five or more mana to put into play. I’m not sure how often I could drop a creature and have mana up to play this card. 
Actually, you can build a very good deck around this card. Faeries. It has lots of fast beats, and has the ability to play many of its critical cards EoT, like a good control deck should. If I had the cards, this is what I would start testing.
Blue Black Fae
as suggested by one million words
4 Faerie Harbinger
4 Spellstutter Sprite
4 Scion of Oona
2-4 Oona's Prowler
2-4 Mulldrifter
2-4 Mistbind Clique
2-3 Wydwen, the Biting Gale

Other Spells
4 Broken Ambitions
4 Faerie Trickery
2-3 Cryptic Command
3 Familiar's Ruse
3 Nameless Inversion
Some amount of lands
Scion of Oona
Anti-creature package in the sideboard.
In such a build, the early creatures can be popped out EoT, meaning that you always have mana up to at least bluff a counter. Mistbind Clique is such a house – a 4/4 flier is a nice finisher, but the Mana Short ability is just brutal. Scion of Oona is basically a one shot counter that makes everything else a real pain to kill. I am very certain that this deck can be good (it kicked my head in repeatedly), but I would have to playtest to get the numbers right. I don’t even know if Mulldrifter or Ponder belongs in this deck – I could see arguments for both, either or neither. Ditto Shriekmaw and Nameless Inversion – but since the Harbinger can fetch Inversion, it gets the nod. 
A Marsh Flitter or three might also be worth considering.  Three for one creatures seems good – although not when costed like Benthicore.
I’ll probably pick up some of these cards shortly, over at At the very least some more Prowlers. I have been playing a Classic beatdown deck with a couple – and it is undefeated in the last 8-10 matches.
GB Control
The other option is to cut down on the blue component, and play a more aggressive GB deck. Cutting down on blue means that we need to cut Jace and all the counterspells with double blue in the casting cost. (Triple blue, too: a deck cannot splash blue and run Cryptic Command.) Broken Ambitions could still remain, but it may not be the most useful of cards. Likewise, if we are going to minimize blue, then Ponder probably disappears, since you really want to cast Ponder on turn one or two.
Actually, this leaves basically two blue cards: Mulldrifter and Broken Ambitions. At that point, it may make more sense to eliminate blue entirely and keep a clean mana base.
GB control is not a completely reasonable option. Lorwyn block has no Damnation or other sweeper, and discard alone is not sufficient to stop everything. Instead, the color combo needs to mix aggression with some control elements.
One the plus side, we have mana acceleration back. Fertile Ground is quite good in GB – and it is even better with Garruk Wildspeaker. Once again, we are going into untested waters, here. I have been investing in Extended cards, not Lorwyn block, so I just have one Garruk.  He seems great when I draw him, but...
Anyway, a GB aggro control deck could go one of several ways.
The first would be to splash white for (Doran, the Seige Tower), Oblivion Ring and build around Treefolk. As always, the Harbringers would play a big role. Harbingers, whenever black is involved, generally end up fetching Nameless Inversion, so add those to the deck.   
One option would be a GB good stuff build, somewhat along these lines.
Green Black Good Stuff
as suggested by one million words
4 Elvish Harbinger
1 Masked Admirers
4 Shriekmaw
3 Nath of the Gilt-Leaf
2 Cloudthresher
1 Dread
2 Mournwhelk
1 Marsh Flitter
1 Cairn Wanderer

Other Spells
2-4 Thoughtseize
3 Makeshift Mannequin
2-3 Profane Command
3 Nameless Inversion
3-4 Garruk Wildspeaker
2-3 Liliana Vess
4 Fertile Ground
Some amount of lands
Fertile Ground
The concept would be to accelerate mana, smash opposition with discard and removal, then drop a fattie. Lilliana Vess allows you to tutor for any of the one and two of creatures: a toolbox approach. I’m not sure how useful some of the “tools” are, however. Testing would tell – and I would do it if I owned the cards. 
However, there is one solid GB archetype that I know works. I lost to it often enough. That is a GB deck built around fast, aggressive creatures. Specifically, it is built around Elves.


Once again, I am short ten or so cards for this deck, so I have no online playtest data. However, I have played against aggressive Elf decks that have run these cards. I included ones and twos because either Harbingers or Primal Command can tutor for any of them. All have uses. I could also see playing Liliana Vess in the deck, but I have not had an opponent playing this archetype drop one yet, so maybe not.
I had hoped to end this with a tournament report after playing this in a PE, but I have been travelling & working for the last couple weeks, and have not had a chance to participate. Maybe next time.
In the meantime, I’m still playing in MED leagues – and I’ll keep doing so until V3.0 arrives or I run out of MED packs (and since I keep winning more, this could go on for a while.) Right now, my opponent has decided to keep, so I’m outta here.
“one million words” on MTGO


I don't get it by eotinb at Fri, 02/15/2008 - 09:47
eotinb's picture

Pete, I am a big fan of your writing, but I don't get the point of this series. If I wanted Lorwyn Block ideas and decklists, I'd much rather read all the articles you specifically ignored and get the actual decklists of successful decks not just your guesses. If I wanted to see the evolution of an idea, it'd be much more useful to get more detail about your games and the process by which you tweaked one deck to make it better. Seems to me that the big potential for a fresh take on a format from an outsider is the potential to come up with an interesting rogue deck, but you've given us kithkin and Mannequin control so far. I guess this seems more like something I'd read in the blogs over at TCGPlayer than a front-page article here. Maybe I'm missing something...