"Jack-of-all-trades, master of none"
Well... here we are at the end of the year. Since this is the last post of 2016 I wanted to do something fun and something that felt quirky like the articles I've published throughout the year on Nomad Gamer. This one definitely fits the bill. This weekend I was getting ready to fly East to my Mom's for the holidays - and on one of those evenings my old Magic group is coming over to play a bit. (Shhh. I got them all a Magic gift....) While I was packing, I kept coming back to my decks trying to figure out which ones to take. Flying with a bunch of heavy cards is a pain, so I wanted to cut it to one or two. Then I thought, "wouldn't it be great if I had one deck that I could play in multiple formats?" The more I thought about the idea, the more I liked it, so I began brewing a deck that like a Transformer, could change at a moments notice. Plus... there was a story in there somewhere.
If there is such a thing as "casual tech" this is it. This deck design is so far out of the box that I don't even know if anyone else is even out there (probably... but not me). It reminds me a lot of the teaching toolbox I wrote about earlier in the year and the deck design was very similar. How did this Frankenstein's Monster turn out? Let's take a look!
My goal was a deck that was playable in Commander, Pauper and Casual (kitchen table) Constructed. That was a tall order, so before I started pulling cards from boxes I spent a few minutes jotting down some notes to frame the deck's function and construction. Here's what I came up with:
- Needs to be 100 cards.
- Must be a "Highlander" (singleton) deck.
- Must include 38 common rarity cards weighted properly across card types.
- It would be nice if both 60 cards decks shared a basic land count for the sake of simplicity.
- Must share a archetype across all three decks.
With all those constraints I knew that a multi-color deck would be a nightmare (at least for a first attempt) so I looked to a mono-color build. I also knew that the archetype of the deck needed to be chosen from those that Magic has supported the most over its entire history, because I needed the largest card pool possible to choose from. That's what led me to "White Weenie" - a deck as old as the game itself. More specifically, White soldiers. Apart from the theme liked White for the build because it can create a substantial board presence as well as having some pretty good tools at its disposal for control. I also skewed the build toward soldiers that do things with +1/+1 counters instead of becoming a token making machine. The fewer cards I had to carry, the better.
So if this was a "normal deck" I'd break the entire thing down for you highlighting how it plays and what the strategies are. This is three decks though - even though they are very simple - so that is tough to break down without writing a novel. Here's what I will say. This is a good deck but far from competitive in any of the formats it can play in. That is OK though - this is a beer and pretzels deck. A deck you throw out on the table as an excuse to hang out with your friends. There are some splashy cards... and yes - if you get a lucky draw you might even be in the race to win a round.
The biggest issue is Highlander. The singleton format (to stay legal in EDH) is tough on the Pauper and Constructed versions. It is hard to get consistency with all one-offs in the deck. That is why you need to pick a deep archetype if you do this... because you can fake the consistency by being able to pick four very similar cards to fill a role. It works well enough, and I suspect as you get used to playing the deck you will become more familiar with how to pilot it and what each card is there for.
On the flip side, the EDH deck feels a bit hamstrung by all the commons, but its less noticeable and the deck plays more like a budget EDH build. A lot of commons have strong abilities that will support a build but are traditionally over-costed. That matters a lot less in EDH with 40 life and historically long games and lots of available mana - so I relied on those cards in design. The deck is capable, it just takes a bit longer for it to get going. In the early game just "fly casual" as the scoundrels say.
Good question. Well, it was a lot of fun to build and plays like the quirky decks of 1993 where sub-optimal cards were a fact of life due to the small card pool. So I guess I like the deck for its nostalgic play feel. I also love that its a lot of Magic in a very small box. Without sleeves it has an extremely small footprint making it perfect for gaming on-the-go. I think I could balance a two color deck effectively, I just need to find the time and the right archetype - but this is good for now and meets all my needs as I pack for the holidays.
The best news is this is the epitome of casual Magic - a deck built out of my collection. It cost me zero dollars - straight up. That is the best feeling when you play it. You know you created it out of whole cloth and didn't rely on anything. or anyone's ideas. Anyway, The full list is on TappedOut and is sorted by format so you can see the build for each version. Its a pretty neat way to view it. Check it out and let me know what you think in the comments below.
So that brings us full circle. Nomad Gamer will have all new content hitting the site starting on January 11th. I have already started writing it. Thank you to everyone who has read the site this year, and feel free to dig into the old stuff and leave a comment or two. It keeps me going.
Until next year, Happy Holidays.... and stay away from the fruitcake!