Welcome ladies and gentlemen, to the first exciting episode of Making It Work! Arjan and Douwe (known as Jorael and Limited on the forum) have decided to combine their casual-deckbuilding powers and share their concoctions with the only casual website worth a damn: casualplayers.org.
Our format is simple; one of us issues a challenge. He names a card, a block or a theme and the other has to (say it with me) Make It Work! On a budget, of course.
Will we succeed? You be the judge of that!
Jorael issues the first challenge:
As subject of this challenge I would like to propose Dreamborn Muse. The creature has an ability that looks like it might be useful, or at least
fun when utilized properly. The question is how...
Limited, good luck with answering that!
Dreamborn Muse 2UU
Creature - Spirit
At the beginning of each player's upkeep, that player puts the top X cards from his or her library into his or her graveyard, where X is the number of cards in his or her hand.
I agree with Jorael when he says that the Dreamborn Muse inspires the creative mind, which in all fairness is what a muse is supposed to do. But before focusing on the challenge at hand, first I would like to take a look at the other muses...
This card just screams abuse. It has abuse written all over it, and I doubt it'll take anyone longer than a few seconds to come with the card to combine it with.. (here we go.. 3.. 2.. 1.. Words of Worship).
An underrated creature. A 3/3 for four mana isn't something to sneer at and its ability will certainly have some impact on the game, especially against agressive decks. Its musing is quit simple: "empty your opponents’ hands". And it affects all opponents, which makes it a great multiplayer card.
The superior muse. Highly abusable and a great addition to any green multiplayer deck. Therefore, I hate it.
Without a doubt the most boring muse around. The only thoughts it inspires are "don't attack me" and even though it certainly is a good card, I deem it not-fun.
Which brings us to the Dreamborn Muse and back to the Challenge.
Its ability certainly gives us a hint on what road to victory should be taken: decking your opponent. The next problem is be how to ensure that your opponents’ handsizes remains formidable and last but certainly not least, we will have to find a way to either have the muse’s ability work in our favour, or just not be hindered by it.
Decking your opponents
There are several cards an opponent’s deck could contain which totally upset this strategy, of which the first and foremost is Gaea's Blessing. Though very rarely seen at our casual games, when you start running rampant with a milling-deck you can count on your opponents acquiring this card. Permission is not going to do the trick, but otherwise a Quash would have been really nice. I can hear you shouting "CRANIAL EXTRACTION!" at your screen right now, but i'll have to go for its little brother: Extract.
Extract only removes one, but lets you know what you can expect of your opponents deck as soon as turn one. Next to that, it has a low manacost and doesn't add a second color to the deck. It also allows you to find other cards which will disrupt your strategy, like feldon's cane or haunted crossroads. Just in case you can't remove the cards before they are in your opponents’ hands, we'd better add some Tormod's Crypts, just to be on the safe side.
To reduce the number of cards in your opponents’ libraries to zero, perhaps the Dreamborn Muse isn't enough. Seeing as she is a spirit, one could make an Arcane/Spirit deck featuring Dampen Thought and the like. Though they would complement each other, I don't think it'll hold a candle to a all instant Slicing Thought deck (yes, I mean your deck Jorael). Millstone, Whetstone and Grindstone could be considered, but they all have a fundamental flaw: they are artifacts. Too much artifact hate is going around lately, thanks to Mirrodin block.
Maybe the Muse is sufficient, if the rest of the deck is dedicated to setting up a lock. If a stasis/kismet/chronatog lock is in play, a Dreamborn Muse might not be necessary but it sure is funny.
How to give your opponent a hand?
Land destruction is one way, though blue might not pull it off. Combining blue with red would give us access to all the land destruction we need. Anvil of Bogardan could leave your opponent without a maximum handsize and a stray Blood Oath could be a surprise finisher. Unfortunately I foresee a big problem in multiplayer: destroying the lands of four other players while giving them cards seems not only improbable but impossible. One on one it could work, but the deck would probably only have room for two Dreamborn Muses because a large part of the deck will have to be dedicated to land destruction.
There is a way that blue can give people cards; I am of course talking about bouncing. What we need is reusable way of returning permanents to their owner’s hand. Though Capsize does the trick, it is quite mana-intensive and will rarely hold off more than one creature a turn. Flipping through my binder I found Flooded Shoreline. This blue enchantment allows you to pay UU and return two islands to your hand to return a creature to owner's hand. Only two mana to bounce a creature is doable, but we need a way to constantly replay all our lands. Fastbond is not an option of course, and exploration is also right out, but their nephew Manabond will do nicely. Since bouncing creatures is going to be so easy, a couple of Raven Familiars to draw some much needed cards will do nicely. Perhaps a Nantuko Cultivator will help us get a replacement Manabond when needed, or just get rid of excess land.
So a kind of soft lock is set: Flooded Shoreline and Manabond allows us to bounce a large number of threats every turn. But eventually your opponent will have the mana to destroy the lock or do other nasty stuff, so let’s add Nature's Revolt. Once this is out, we can start returning lands to your opponents hands and stop their mana development. A couple of Temporal Springs will do to remove any enchantments, and hopefully rebuild will hold affinity at bay (at least for some time).
What about our library?
What should we use to make sure we don't deck ourselves? The first thing that comes to mind is using the dreaded Gaea's Blessing ourself. This would be the easy way to go, so we are going to use Reminisce and Krosan Reclamation instead. Now for trying to use the milling ability to our advantage. Flashback comes to mind, but if I play my Roar of the Wurm and thereby remove it from the game, it won't be shuffled back into my library. Ever. After a reminisce, our deck will hold relatively less land and more useful cards, which means fewer dead draws. We'll just have to resort to playing multiple copies of every card, to ensure that the milling won't cripple the deck, and because it’s good practice to build consistent decks anyway. In worst case scenario's, you can always flashback the Krosan Reclamation. An another option you have with the deck, is to use a Tormod's Crypt on yourself when your graveyard is full of cards you don't need, thus improving your topdecking after your next Reminisce.
So, the Decklist
4x Dreamborn Muse
2x Nantuko Cultivator
3x Raven Familiar
2x Krosan Reclamation
2x Temporal Spring
4x Flooded Shoreline
2x Nature's Revolt
2x Tormod's Crypt
3x Tropical Island
After some minor playtesting, I find that the Extracts are a must. Knowing what kind of enchantment removal an opponent has in his or her deck really makes all the difference. I haven't had the opportunity to play the Nature's Revolt so perhaps only one is needed, but seeing as it also an alternative win condition (in case the Muses are eradicated) I'll leave the decklist as is.
Till next time,