Thran Utopia #34: Intihuatana
As if the title isn’t vague enough, how about this one:
what do crabs and cobra’s have in common with cats and clocks?Before I tell you what the answer to that question is, let me take you back to the deck I showed two weeks ago. It was The Walking Dead Flare, and sadly, the deck is a bit like the second season so far. You’d think it’ll be exciting and good, yet here you are with something that is not at all similar to your expectations. Unlike The Walking Dead, I’ve already given up on the deck. Maybe Zombies aren’t meant for me to build a deck with (the first time I did wasn’t noteworthy either). Or it could be that my pull towards slow decks got the better of me. It’s probably that, but the Zombie-deck is once again buried. Maybe Undead Alchemist can unearth it some day. Maybe even Sewer Nemesis – who knows.
Anyway, back to my introductory teaser and weird-looking title. First, let me answer my question. It isn’t just a question. If you thought of my article Fish and Crabs, you probably knew that my question had something to do with that deck. It was a while back that I wrote it, but not as long as I have had the idea to make a landfall mill deck. The idea was there a long time, but the options where so overwhelming I actually feared building the deck. Luckily, using three seperate articles as a way to keep track during my deckbuilding (Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3), I eventually succeeded.
The long preface the eventual deck went through reminded me a fair bit of the deck I’m still trying to build, but have no idea where to start. Where my mill deck had to deal with crabs and cobra’s, this time it’s cats and clocks. Folks, meet…
Well, this title really doesn’t give a whole lot away. The equation I’ve been trying to solve for a long time is that of Sundial of the Infinite. Back when I first write about M12, I already had a few things to say about the ‘dial:
And now comes the single most frustrating yet most enticing card in the whole set of M12: Sundial of the Infinite. I started brainstorming like no man’s business, only to find out each time it didn’t work. The first blow to the head I got was that Sundial does not stop effects that last until the end of your turn. Goodbye Angel’s Grace (which would’ve been insane), landfall, pump spells, manlands, bushido, among others.
I learned that the best thing to look for where effects that triggered on end steps. This led to the second hit: cool things like Pyromancer’s Swath and Form of the Dragon trigger on each end step, meaning you only get to delay the inevitable for another turn, not forever. At the end of your opponent’s end step, it’s all over anyhow.
Luckily, Nacatl War-Pride does work. You attack, and with the end step-trigger on the stack, you end the turn. Next turn, things start exploding. If your opponent doesn’t have any creatures, just give him some with Forbidden Orchard or Hunted creatures. And if you draw a Hunted without War-Pride, just end the turn with the ETB-trigger on the stack – voilá, a big guy without a drawback!
But what about that title? Well, the name Nacatl reminded me of the ancient Incan civilization. So started looking for a way to refer to Sundial of the Infinite in a way that makes sense in the Inca Empire. This is how I found Intihuatana, an ancient stone device located on Macchu Picchu used to denote the time. Now how’s that for a deck name?
Intihuatana in a few words
After a long process of looking for cards, I finally settled on that one interaction between Nacatl War-Pride and Sundial of the Infinite. War-Pride makes a number of copies of itself equal to the number of creatures the defending player controls. Each Nacatl can only be blocked by exactly one creature. At the end of turn, your copies vanish. Or don’t they?
Nacatl War-Pride says “Exile the tokens at the beginning of the next end step”. This is known as a delayed triggered ability, meaning it triggers only once. Ending the turn before this trigger resolves means you’ll lose the tokens at the end of the next turn. However, activating Sundial with this trigger on the stack means it doesn’t resolve, yet it won’t trigger again. The result is a lot of Nacatl War-Prides who all make tokens the next turn. Talk about explosive!
I chose a few subthemes to go with this, thrown together in a white, green and blue shell. I’m sorry – no decklist today. I do, however, have a lot of options to go through in my quest for another deck that will work (in contrast to my recent zombie disaster). Let’s start with, of course…
While the Sundial is unmistakably the single most important card of the deck, the support it gets from Nacatl War-Pride is the engine that should get this deck going. The engine is pretty straightforward, so instead of wasting words on that, I’ll show you the rest of the deck and how the varying parts are supposed to support the Nacatl Sundial-engine. Something of note, though, is the fact that Sundial doubles as an anti-EOT-player measure. Better cast those Fact or Fictions on your own turn, pal!
These are cards that have a function similar to War-Pride but are less explosive. In a way, they are also less dangerous. Both Hunted creatures are cheaper, which means a removal spell hurts less (more on this later, though). Cloudthresher, meanwhile, is a big creature with an immediate effect that can be cheated out with Sundial. When you evoke it, activate Sundial with the sacrifice-trigger on the stack. The Hunted creatures work similar – when they enter the battlefield they trigger, and that is when you activate Sundial. Cheap creatures on a discount!
These are two cards that are cheap ways to take control of opposing creatures. They have a negative end step-trigger (sometimes) that can be circumvented by activating the gool ol’ Sundial.
Captivating Glance and Domestication where two cards that focus just on opposing creatures. These exilers above can also exile one of your own creatures in order to reap benefits from an enter the battlefield-trigger. But the prime use of them is to exile an opponent’s creature and end your turn when the trigger to return them to the battlefield (again, a delayed triggered ability, just like War-Pride’s). It’s too bad Momentary Blink can only touch my guys! Mistmeadow Witch is expensive to use but repeatable. Mimic Vat is a nice way to profit from a creature that died, making tokens that Sundial can keep around forever. My biggest concern is, will there be enough creatures dying?
This card was a bit hard to classify. It’s a nice answer to any kind of permanent, has synergy with Sundial, and with Mimic Vat. Should I run enough creatures with evoke, Mimic Vat might merit its inclusion.
Again, two (draw) spells that go up in value thanks to Sundial. Of these two, Mulldrifter is clearly the best and has no risk in casting it. Mulldrifter has evoke, so you know how that works by now. Grafted Skullcap is another card that benefits from ending your turn at the beginning of your end step (or sooner), but with a high drawback. Although now that I think of it, if you cast Grafted Skullcap while being able to activate Sundial, you’re safe. Say your opponent bounces your Sundial in response to you casting Skullcap – just activate Sundial, and you’ve traded the Skullcap (spells on the stack when the turn ends are exiled) for a bounce spell. Not great, but not horrible either.
I was planning on running a lot of, or at least some, mana acceleration. The decks looks like one mana-hungry beast. Besides three ETB-mana dudes, we also have a Llanowar Elves and a Cultivate on here. The ETB-guys have the most allure because of both my exilers and Mimic Vat. I would love casting Mimic Vat and then stuffing a chump-blocking Farhaven Elf under it. Lastly, you might wonder why I have Llanowar Elves over Birds of Paradise. It’s simple – Birds dies to Cloudthresher.
Remember how I said it sucks to lose your War-Pride to a removal spell? See how you have to wait a turn to attack with it? Enter Lightning Greaves. It does both things: it grants protection and haste. In a deck relying on attacking with a few key creatures, that’s hardly a problem. In fact, I think Lightning Greaves is vital to the deck.
This is me, signing off
Well, that about sums it up for this week. I’m glad I found inspiration again to write, since hopefully I can bring you a decklist next week, and for the week after I already have another vague idea. It’s good to have some luxury like this again. See you next week!