Eating Cards for Fun and Profit

Discussion in 'Casual Decks/Variants/Etc' started by Oversoul, Mar 26, 2016.

  1. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    While recreating my old bounce-based deck has been kind of fun, I'm not thrilled with the results, perhaps because I held back too much. I tested the deck primarily against the first deck I could find at hand, which was the BFZ "Ultimate Sacrifice" event deck. Besides being a mediocre to bad matchup for my deck, it also showed that the current version of my "Born to Bounce" concept is a bit too straightforward and dull. I'm not opposed to simple decks, but in this case, the particular flavor of simplicity isn't to my liking. Some day, I'll revisit it again. But for now, I want to move on. I already have the basic idea in mind for my next deck, but it's still a very rough concept and I haven't been able to make up my mind on the specifics. So I'm consulting the hive mind, which is anyone willing to bother to read this post, really...

    I'm tentatively calling this concept "Eating Cards for Fun and Profit." It works, or is intended to hopefully work, like this...

    1. Use cards like Elemental Augury to control the top few cards of my opponent's library.
    2. Use the "ingest" mechanic to eat those cards.
    3. ???
    4. Profit!

    I've done exactly zero testing so far, and while I do anticipate some complications, I think this concept could actually work pretty well. At a glance, this doesn't seem like it could be fast enough. In fact, it seems atrociously slow. But that's, like, the only disadvantage I can think of. Once it gets going, this is an extremely powerful prison, almost as oppressive as Zur's Weirding engines. If I can reliably get even one ingest creature around blockers, I can Augury my opponent, stack the card I want to get rid of on top, the card I care least about below it, and put whatever is left third. Elemental Augury has turned up in some cool casual decks in the past, but historically it's rather obscure. I put this down to partially to slowness (it requires three different colors of mana to cast, and actually using it eats a lot of mana) and partially to a lack of interaction with most other strong effects; spending all of my mana to hide my opponent's good draws under some lands slows my opponent down without advancing my own position and ultimately collapses when I run out of lackluster draws to feed my opponent. Well, I still haven't figured out how to lick the speed problem (or even if I'm going to, since this could be a slow, defensive deck). The "ingest" mechanic is a game-changer for the other problem. All of the "ingest" creatures are in Grixis colors anyway (I mean, technically they're "devoid" of color, but shut up, they're basically blue, black, and red).

    Some cards I might try...

    Solider of Fortune (shuffles opponent's deck in a pinch, if I think I need that)
    Memory Lapse (counter a spell, then eat it)
    Lantern of Insight (better early game than Elemental Augury, which would eventually surpass its utility)
    Codex Shredder (ultimately the plan is to eat cards, but if opponents stop that from happening, this can help Elemental Augury slow them down for some eventual eating)
    Surgical Extraction (of particular interest if I do use any of the processor creatures, since I could place a key card into my opponent's graveyard, then make all copies of it disappear)
    Extirpate (along the same lines as Surgical Extraction, but I'd prefer Surgical Extraction)
    Circu, Dimir Lobotomist (this would do nothing to speed things up, but would be hilarious)
    Cranial Extraction (along the same lines as Surgical Extraction, but slower and more thorough)
    Dimir Machinations (faster than Elemental Augury, but not reusable)
    Lobotomy (probably better to just use Cranial Extraction)
    Nightveil Specter (your cards are mine!)
    Oona, Queen of the Fae (too expensive, I think)
    Scrib Nibblers (tap to eat cards)
    Thought Hemorrhage (an alternative to Cranial Extraction)
    Misinformation (depending on how easily I'm getting cards into my opponent's graveyard, this could be a fast way to clutter up the next few draw steps while I set up)

    But yeah, I still haven't put together an actual deck. Any ideas?
  2. Terentius The Instigator

    Will you be able to control their initial hand that you couldn't eat? What if even after eating/shuffling the cards you rearranged on top of their library, they still draw something good?
  3. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    On the one hand, this seems tantamount to asking what if my opponent has the cards in his or her opening hand sufficient to kill me, and of course, the answer to that is that my opponent's deck is probably pretty good! But on the other hand, this does get at an important point in what I'm trying to do. Realistically, my opponent isn't confined merely to a starting hand. This engine is very slow because it is mana-intensive and requires interaction between multiple cards. Just for getting a partial lockdown, the earliest I could do so without mana acceleration is around turn four. It would go something like this...

    First turn: Land.
    Second turn: Land, Mist Intruder.
    Third turn: Land, Elemental Augury.
    Fourth turn: Soft lock, dependent on opponent not being able to stop flying attacker.

    By this point, the set of decks that could reasonably either kill me or thwart my attempts at imprisoning them through controlling their topdecks consists, more or less, of all decent Magic decks in existence. Any deck so slow that it couldn't stop this combo wouldn't be viable in duels, even extremely casual settings. Just dropping normal lands and the cards needed to achieve this type of interaction simply isn't fast enough to win on its own. To have a chance, I need to either accelerate the combo or play this in a controlling deck. Since the combo requires three different colors of mana, and in a particularly lackluster color combination to be trying to rapidly accelerate things, the former seems dubious at best. And since the cards involved get better and better the more of them I'm able to bring to bear, the prison nature of the interaction is reminiscent of classic prison decks, which I consider to be control-combo decks. I contend that control-combo, with heavy emphasis on control, is the natural home for a card-eating concept.

    In other words, the plan as I see it is not to rapidly tie my opponent down by controlling topdecks, but to play a Grixis control deck that sabotages the capacity of my opponent to fight back by manipulating the top of my opponent's deck, eating away the cards I don't want drawn and letting me opponent have more benign cards in their stead.

    This is not completely avoidable, but Elemental Augury does go three cards deep, and there's usually going to be a best and worst card out of that batch. I eat the best card and let my opponent draw the worst card. At first, the prison is very soft. Anything my opponent already has on-board or in hand can be used to fight back. And even if they don't have much, I might Augury into a situation I cannot really exploit, like one card-drawing spell, one kill spell that would stop my ingest creature, and one creature that can block my ingest creature. There are a lot of ways to break out of this prison. But that's at first. If I can use the elements of this combo in conjunction with other spells to control things, as I get more cards out, I potentially gain much more control. I start having enough mana to activate Augury multiple times, to shuffle my opponent's library, and to eat specific, targeted threats. The full, presumably game-winning lockdown achieved by clearing away blockers, having multiple ingest creatures, multiple Augury activations per turn, library shufflers, and disruptive spells requires a lot of control to pull off, but even a weak, incomplete version of the prison, say with one Augury activation and one unblocked ingest creature, is actually pretty strong. Not foolproof, but it gives me a chance to slow my opponent down, and if the slowdown is strong enough, my influence on my opponent's topdecks gets more and more powerful.
  4. Terentius The Instigator

    I see. Concept seems similar to where I took my Meddling Mage deck: "You'll play what I allow you to play". I guess for yours, replace "play" with "draw".

    However, I do think a good amount of my more aggro decks actually will be able to form a decent base with just the cards initially drawn. Maybe your deck punishes combo-oriented decks more.

    As far as actual ideas, the new Eldrazi block had a lot of cards with the action [return a card from opponent's exile to their graveyard, and do some action]. Maybe look at the strongest/cheesiest/most cost effective of those?
  5. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    Yes, I think that's a good comparison. I'll have to actually put the deck together to see how it plays first, but I have been thoroughly swamped with work, so I've got nothing. In my head though, yeah, it would develop a prison approach similar to what your Meddling Mage deck does, denying opponents the capacity to do the things they want to do.

    Perhaps. Even higher tempo, more broken Grixis control decks can be overwhelmed by the the right aggro decks, and I'm trading some of that cut-throat power for a slow (but very powerful) lockdown. Aggro, especially very consistent aggro, might wind up being a bad matchup. Some combo decks are extremely fast, and others could have outs like using tutors to get missing combo components no matter what cards I let them have. I can think of lots of ways for this concept to lose, but I'm hoping to put together a deck resilient enough that it's at least respectable for a casual deck.

    Yeah, they're "processors." It's in their creature type line. None of them jump out at me as so good that I simply must include them. I haven't ruled them all out, but I doubt I can work them in. Wasteland Strangler is the most likely candidate of the bunch.
  6. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    Haven't had time to make much progress on this. Here's a tentative list of cards that I'm considering, sans manabase...

    Nightveil Specter
    Memory Lapse
    Codex Shredder
    Elemental Augury
    Dimir Machinations
    Scrib Nibblers
    Thought Hemorrhage
    Surgical Extraction
    Diabolic Edict
    Lim-Dul's Vault
    Lightning Bolt
    Capsize
    Vanishment
    Benthic Infiltrator
    Fathom Feeder
    Mist Intruder
    Vile Aggregate
    Thoughtseize
    Force of Will
  7. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    Haha, remember this thread? I do. I still haven't made any progress here. Disappointed that I set out to build some casual deck and only managed to get through a scrubby creature-bouncing thing...

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