Thran Utopia #38: Third time comes the harm

Hi all, and welcome back here after a while. The last time I talked to you (and some time before that), I was writing about my Nacatl Sundial deck, better known as Intihuatana. After writing that, the deck went through a lot of changes and I’m still not where I want to be. I changed the deck around so much that I can’t even call it Intihuatana!

I won’t bother you with the durdle versions of the deck. I’ve had a lot of games where I just attacked a bit and never could do something cool with Sundial. Sundial wasn’t even that scary threat I envisioned it to be a lot of the times. Casting it should be awe-inspiring and something I could take advantage of, but that was far from always the case.

The breakthrough (or so I thought) came when I weighed greens pros and cons against one another and concluded I should try the deck with UW. I moved my focus to a Blink-deck, looking to bend the laws of time and matter to its own advantages.

Green’s primary task in Intihuatana was the mana acceleration. Actual games showed me that I had way too much mana and too little action and defense. By cutting the mana, I thought, I could add more proactive cards to put a little pressure on my opponent.

Another aspect of green was, not surprisingly, in the fatty department. In this deck, though, the fatties weren’t really fat: Hunted Troll and Nacatl War-Pride. Hunted Troll had left the deck before I cut green altogether. As you might have thought, putting all your eggs in a six-mana-without-haste basket was a risky proposition. I ran three, which was too little, but running one more would raise the chance of ungodly opening hands. Here’s the Bant-colored list I settled on (note: not recommended). (Check my article here to see the motivation behind the cards.)

Intihuana v3.0
Lands (24)
3 Forbidden Orchard
4 Forest
6 Island
4 Plains
4 Seaside Citadel
3 Terramorphic Expanse

Creatures (26)
3 Avacyn’s Pilgrim
2 Borderland Ranger
2 Farhaven Elf
2 Fiend Hunter
4 Flickerwisp
1 Fog Bank
1 Llanowar Elves
4 Mistmeadow Witch
3 Mulldrifter
3 Nacatl War-Pride
3 Sea Gate Oracle

Other spells (10)
2 Lightning Greaves
4 Muddle the Mixture
4 Sundial of the Infinite

What didn’t work

Like I said, the deck was too slow and had way too much mana. I had too few action cards in the deck, which meant that draw spells and library manipulation effects just led to more draw and more mana. If you look at the above list, you’ll see that except for the Intihuatana-core, the deck consists of just three types of cards: defense, mana, and draw. How was I ever gonna win with this deck? Put all my money on War-Pride? Fly over for the win with Flickerwisp‘s o-so-sturdy 1-toughness body? I also had this nice tutor-engine based on Muddle the Mixture, but I found myself having to hold the Mixtures in order to not get utterly destroyed by random spells.

The deck is based on hurting the opponent through blinking and Sundial, but the blinking took over. You now what’s bad? Making a deck about card X (Sundial of the Infinite), when the supporting theme Y (blinking) slowly takes over the whole deck. It’s okay if you can let go of X, but I couldn’t – and wouldn’t. The deck wasn’t Sundial-dependant, but sort-of Sundial-saturated. I didn’t really need it. There where times where I would use it to good effect, but usually I was too busy durdling – blinking dudes and drawing some cards, ramping my mana. Y’know, playing Magic just for the sake of playing Magic.

Why green was just too… too

Mana – I thought it would be invaluable, but yet it wasn’t. In reality, the mana was mostly there to power out Nacatl War-Pride as soon as possible. In other words, the green was in the deck to sustain green cards. I was playing green cards to help me play green cards!

Besides, the green cards weren’t part of the Blink-part of the deck, and I thought I could salvage the deck towards a more streamlined Blink-deck by removing the green altogether. This would lower my curve and remove my need for mana acceleration, generating quite a few vacant slots.

Although I removed the only fatty from the deck, I replaced it with another one. This, however, wasn’t a fatty that works well with Sundial, as War-Pride did, but a fatty that works well with Blinking: Quicksilver Dragon. At the time it seemed like a good idea, as did the removal of green, but you can probably guess that enforcing the Blink-aspect even more wasn’t healthy for the part of the deck that wanted to be about Sundial (which, before I started building the deck, was the entire deck).

Let’s not get ahead of myself

Anyway, I think it’s time to show you my list first, and discuss why I changed what I changed.

TrUW Sundial
Lands (24)
1 Glacial Fortress
3 Halimar Depths
5 Island
1 Kabira Crossroads
2 Moorland Haunt
1 Mystic Gate
6 Plains
1 Sejiri Refuge
4 Terramorphic Expanse

Creatures (18)
2 Drift of Phantasms
4 Flickerwisp
1 Fog Bank
1 Inquisitor Exarch
3 Mistmeadow Witch
3 Mulldrifter
2 Quicksilver Dragon
3 Sea Gate Oracle

Other spells (18)
1 Lightning Greaves
4 Momentary Blink
4 Muddle the Mixture
2 Oblivion Ring
4 Sundial of the Infinite
3 Venser, the Sojourner

As you can see with the manabase, playing just two colors allowed me to play more gimmicky lands like Moorland Haunt, and a few ETB-lands like Halimar Depths and the singleton Kabira Crossroads. Having four Terramorphics allows me to shuffle cards away after peaking into the Depths, which seemed reasonable. That ‘engine’, if you will, is also one of the reasons I chose to run so many non-four-ofs. That, and a whole bunch of carddraw, card selection, and transmuting.

You’ll see another transmute-engine in the deck, that of three mana. Drift of Phantasms is similar to Muddle the Mixture: it has a reasonable spell-side, as well as the relevant transmute-ability. When I was testing with Jeroen, I noticed that a lot of the spells I really wanted where three mana: you can go for blinking with Flickerwisp, semi-permanent removal with Oblivion Ring, and you can grab Sea Gate Oracle in a pinch to dig for more cards.

I also added more targets for Muddle, since I already ran multiple copies of the important cards like Sundial and Witch, and I figured I might as well add some silver bullets. Fog Bank is a decent blocker, and Exarch can help defend but also start Blinking away the opponent’s life total. I was also considering adding Swiftfoot Boots for Lightning Greaves, but I pulled the plug before I could change that.

Lastly I need to discuss the tag-team of Venser and O-Ring. These two really stretch the laws of time, not to mention what happens when you add Sundial into the mix. Venser blinks your permanents. This is great for cards like Kabira Crossroads or Mulldrifter. You wouldn’t really think it would work all that great with, say, Oblivion Ring. But it does. First, you cast it and exile a permanent. Then, you exile O-Ring itself with Venser, and when the leaves-the-battlefield trigger hits the stack, you end your turn. The result: one permanently exiled permanent, and you get to exile another permanent during the next end step, when O-Ring returns, which is in your opponent’s turn. During your turn, you can do it all over again.

Sadly, all this didn’t really matter. At the moment I didn’t understand why it didn’t work. I just assumed it was too slow, which is a fair assumption for about half of my decks. Writing this article, though, I discovered that this was a Blink-deck masquerading as a Sundial-deck. Usually such a masquerade is a good thing, but here it was actually so that the mask was supposed to be the central part, and the Blink-part should have been the mask.

Jeroen’s Words of Wisdom

I was planning on entirely dropping the deck, since I grew so frustrated with the games where there wasn’t a way out of losing. But then, Jeroen bestowed a piece of wisdom upon me that I had missed since I was so engulfed in the deck. “You should focus more on positive effects for your deck, instead of trying to hurt the opponent.” I hadn’t seen this, trying to make Blinking work. What I was gonna need to do was look for cards that could benefit me if I had a Sundial out.

Seeing how far this article is already, you won’t be surprised to not find a decklist at the end. For starters, I don’t have a deck yet. Theres just too many options, and I would like to keep it to two colors if I can help it. Second, I don’t have a lot of the cards I want to play. And third, that lingering feeling of saturation. I’m still tired of the deck, and as a result I’ve put all my ideas towards revamping it on a mental shelf for future use.

So next week, you won’t have a clue as to what I’m gonna write about next week. (Actually, you do. There’s a new set coming out, so…) See you then!

Posted on January 23, 2012, in Articles, Thran Utopia and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Sudden Disappearance?

    When is rsw getting it’s revamp?

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