Magic Memories: Soldevi Digger

Discussion in 'Single Card Strategies' started by Oversoul, Feb 16, 2017.

  1. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    I used to use Soldevi Digger all the time. It's one of my old favorites, but people always seemed to underestimate it. I suppose it's the whole "bottom of your library" thing. Unless you shuffle your library, for most decks, putting a card on the bottom means that you'll never see it again for the rest of the game. For some control decks and combo decks, it actually matters. While I'm not currently using Soldevi Digger in any decks, I'd do so if I found an appropriate situation. It's way cooler than Elixir of Immortality and such because you can choose to leave most of your graveyard where it is and only put the top card back into your library when it's a card you actually want.
  2. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    Because I was once am a jerk, I used to try to win casual multiplayer games with infinite combos. Most of these were not engineered to be lightning fast, but spent early turns on defenses and then attempted to execute a combo kill. I distinctly remember that at least two of these relied on Soldevi Digger. They were similar monoblue infinite combo decks. One used Tolarian Academy with a bunch of cheap artifacts (Ornithopter, Phyrexian Walker, Shield Sphere, Sol Ring, and Mana Vault) and Mind Over matter for mana production off discarded cards, Braingeyser and Stroke of Genius to draw cards using the flood of mana, and Soldevi Digger to make the cycle go infinite. The other deck used High Tide with Cloud of Faeries, Snap, Frantic Search, Turnabout, Peregrine Drake, Time Spiral, and Palinchron to generate mana, then used the mana to fuel Braingeyser and Stroke of Genius, and again used Soldevi Digger to put the cards back into its library for an infinite loop (Palinchron could generate infinite mana by itself after High Tide had been cast twice, but getting back Braingeyser and Stroke of Genius for multiple casts was necessary in order to kill everyone at a big table, which was, of course, my intention).
  3. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    There was actually a third infinite combo deck with Soldevi Digger that I had built conceptually but never, to my recollection, piloted against a real human being. Like the others, it was monoblue. This time it was Grim Monolith and Power Artifact to make mana and, as usual, Stroke of Genius and Braingeyser for drawing the cards. Obviously that goes infinite on its own with no need to use Soldevi Digger to kill one opponent, but still, if I'm going to kill a whole room full of people, it wouldn't do to run out of copies of Braingeyser/Stroke. Man, I wonder why all of my friends quit Magic and I no longer have anyone left to play with...
  4. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    Somewhere, I read that Browse + Soldevi Digger was a good combo. I didn't understand how at the time, but eventually I grasped the concept. A control deck with enough answers can stall for a while, use Browse to filter through unneeded cards and play the cards that actually keep them in control. With Browse, one gets to an empty or near-empty library pretty quickly, and then Soldevi Digger allows for recursion of useful cards. Such a deck can even get enough mana to Dig a card back onto the bottom of an empty library, Browse it into one's hand, and then repeat the process, providing an endless supply of recasts of valuable spells. I tried it out myself and it was fun. I can't remember what my deck looked like, but here's John Finkel's CounterPost list from 1997, which employed the Browse + Soldevi Digger engine...

    1 Gerrard's Wisdom
    1 Political Trickery
    4 Wrath of God
    4 Abeyance
    4 Brainstorm
    4 Counterspell
    3 Disenchant
    2 Dissipate
    2 Force of Will
    4 Impulse
    4 Swords to Plowshares
    1 Soldevi Digger
    3 Browse
    1 Circle of Protection: Black
    4 Adarkar Wastes
    8 Island
    2 Kjeldoran Outpost
    4 Plains
    4 Thawing Glaciers

    Sideboard:
    1 Circle of Protection: Black
    1 Disenchant
    1 Gerrard's Wisdom
    2 Political Trickery
    2 Disrupting Scepter
    2 Dust to Dust
    2 Karma
    2 Serrated Arrows
  5. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    That CounterPost concept is what I'd call a semi-hard lock. It starts out being straightforward blue/white control, but as the deck accumulates more lands and can employ the Browse + Soldevi Digger engine, it can answer more threats than most opponents can possibly provide. Transitioning from simply "I have answers to your cards" to a true lock requires a lot of setup and in the meantime it is much easier to break than the typical hard locks, such as Ertai, Wizard Adept + Arcane Laboratory. but breakthrough becomes an increasingly dubious proposition as more time passes and the deck draws closer to being able to recur powerful control with Soldevi Digger. Soldevi Digger represents a kind of inflection point in the deck's transition from disruption and stalling to complete domination of the board. The looming inevitability of "the longer this lasts without you killing me, the more powerful I become" has appeal to a lot of people, and it illustrates perfectly why I was once such an enthusiastic control player. I liked being in the position of having the best late game. Soldevi Digger was part of that, meant for decks that run the game so long that they go all the way through a library. And you'd better come out guns blazing, rushing with everything you've got to kill the control player before it's too late. Because with Soldevi Digger, a Counterspell stops being just a Counterspell and starts being the Fountain of Eternal Counterspell. Your deck wasn't built to win in a situation where my spells keep coming back again and again and again.

    For the case when one can actually get an empty library, it's much easier to use Soldevi Digger to loop Time Warp for the win, but that's a very different playstyle.

    There was (probably still is, but it's less prevalent) a balance to be struck with slow control decks. Against aggro, you need to start having answers early enough to survive, to weather the storm so you don't get killed right away. But against other control decks, you aren't worried about speed and want to stop them from disrupting you. Getting to the point of resolving and protecting Soldevi Digger can be key in games against other control decks.

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