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Dreamborn Muse & Decking
By Andrew Emmott
There is a card to be printed in the upcoming Legions set that I have a sentimental attachment to: Dreamborn Muse. For those of you who don’t rush around devouring all the spoilers you can, the card reads as such.

Dreamborn Muse – 2UU
Creature – 2/2 Spirit
During each player’s upkeep, that player puts the top X cards into his or her graveyard where X is equal to the number of cards in his or her hand.

While casual players are probably already keen on a fun card like this, you might be wondering why I have a sentimental attachment to it. Well, it’s just a matter of good fortune; as many of us probably do, I write down my ideas for “dream cards” and sometimes even try to organize them into sets. It just so happens that one of my dream cards, and one that I was really attached to, happens to be very similar to Dreamborn Muse. Some players have to win world championships in order to get the privilege of designing a card; me, I just have to be lucky.

No, I’m not bragging, I’m just validating my allure to this card. For those of you who are curious, my dream card was also a four casting cost creature, and it’s text was the same. The differences? My card was black, a legend, and a 4/3; which brings me to my first topic…

THE POLITICS OF DREAMBORN MUSE

I’m no idiot, I know most of you could care less about my dream card, or my giddy satisfaction in having it pseudo-printed, but put that disdain aside for a moment and ask yourself why might somebody think to make a card like Dreamborn Muse black instead of blue.

Well, if I may indulge myself a little bit further, my logic behind the card was that it created an interesting effect, but one that could get abusive in multiple, so I figured it should be legendary. This notion of legendaryness coupled with the whim that it would simply be more interesting if the mass-decking effect came from a creature instead of an artifact or enchantment convinced me of the card’s type. But why not blue?

Well, before I go further, we should probably answer the question, “why blue?” The simple answer is that, over time, most decking effects have come to be associated with blue, much like trample and mana speed are associated with green, and haste and direct damage are associated with red. To push the issue further, Dreamborn Muse is one of the Muse cards, a series of cards in Legions – one for each color – that each perform some massive function somewhat typical of their color. In other words, a Muse card was not the time nor the place to break convention and give a mass-decking ability to a non-blue color.

But back to original question, (And my shameless self-indulgence): “Why not blue?” Well, aside from the sheer novelty of breaking convention, I figured the mass-decking effect that is now present on Dreamborn Muse had one major strike against blue, and one major point for black.

Strike against blue: Blue is the color which typically finds the most card advantage and consequently has the most cards in hand, so under standard conventions, Dreamborn Muse hurts a blue deck more than any other.

Point for black: The mass-decking effect fills up graveyards. All of them. And it does it quickly. Getting back to my dream card concept, though I had unnamed it, the legend was going to be a necromancer of some sort. Why not? What better way to get your opponent’s creatures in their graveyard without that messy business of killing them first? Reanimator here we come! Further, the effect can boost Mortivores easily, or make an Avatar of Woe real cheap real quick. Creative players could probably work out even more creative things. Quick, massive graveyards just scream for black to abuse them.

Stepping back to the anti-blue sentiment, I also wondered if this mass-decking effect could be good in red. Red can lay down a cheap, disposable fatty while punishing blue for it’s card advantage at the same time. Word.

SO WHAT?

Well, we have Dreamborn Muse, and it’s blue, so we’ll just have to deal with it. So what good is the card anyway? Well, the most obvious use for Dreamborn Muse is to make it the cornerstone of a decking deck.

Real quick, let’s examine some of the mechanics of a decking strategy versus the typical damage strategy. By damage, you are typically aiming to eventually do 20 damage, where as by decking, you are typically looking to eliminate 60 cards. Initially this may look like a distinct advantage for damage strategies, but there are some things not considered:

Players start with a hand of seven: This is essentially 7 free “card damage” right off the bat. A simpler view would just be to assume that the goal is really 53 cards, not 60.
Under normal circumstances, players draw a card each turn: This means one free, nigh uncounterable point of “card damage” each turn. Sure, if the 60 cards are compared to the 20 damage, then that means it takes 3 cards to equate one point of damage. So you are really only getting one damage every 3 turns, but considering that its free and almost unavoidable by your opponent, that’s more than damage can say.
Life gaining is easier, and potentially unlimited: A deck will never be bigger than its starting size, but a life total can go up forever. Of course, infinite deck recursion is fairly simple, but it’s also very uncommon.
Mass damage prevention: You can’t prevent decking, at least not in the way you can prevent decking; there is no Circle of Protection: Decking.
More bang for your buck: Consider some cards like Traumatize. For five mana you nail half their deck. There is no card that makes your opponent lose half their life for five mana. Despite the 3:1 ratio, some decking strategies can be more efficient than damage ever could be.

Of course, the Traumatize argument works in reverse: If you consider Reminisce, you should be reminded that there is no 3 casting cost card that returns your life total back to 20 either. This is the downfall of a decking strategy. If you know it’s coming, it’s easy to prepare for, especially in a tournament format where you can just sideboard your hate. Thusly, decking strategies are only good for casual play, or the occasional surprise attack on a tourney scene.

What am I saying, “ONLY good for casual play.” Yeesh, have I turned capitalist nazi? There’s nothing wrong with casual play!

Hurrah for decking! Champion of the proletariat!


Sorry for the outburst. Back to the topic: How to use Dreamborn Muse…

Well to gain the advantage over your opponent with a Dreamborn Muse, you need to keep your hand size smaller than theirs. Furthermore, since you are trying to deck them, not damage them, standard offenses won’t be as prominent in your deck, which consequently means that you won’t be as prepared to put up a direct fight against their creatures.

So let’s see… low hand size … defense against creatures … low hand size … defense against creatures.

Duh: Ensnaring Bridge

What else might work in such a deck? Cephalid Brokers become about as versatile as Swiss army knives here. You get to see more cards without making your hand size bigger and once you’re established, you can target your opponent, essentially Millstoning them, (Speaking of which, don’t forget the Millstones).

The faithful will be sure to keep their opponent’s hand size big with those Wheel and Deals they tucked away in their rare binder.

Alas, the potential seems amazing. Throw in some more decking abilities, plus some alternative offensive contingencies, and you got yourself a quality rogue deck.

Well, until next time. Thanks for reading!

Read More Articles by Andrew Emmott!

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