Overall: Wait for more spoilers. As it stands, it's a niche anti-control deck. Some good 1 drops and support spells could push it over the top though (and by that I mean, into notable Johnny territory).
Serious decks to watch: B/W Tokens, something I'll take a crack at as the spoilers roll in. So much CA!
Affinity: a History Lesson
For those of you who aren't familiar with Magic History, let me introduce you to Affinity- widely considered one of the most degenerate decks in the history of standard. The deck was so powerful, it justified the first bans in the history of standard, and boy did it justify a lot of them. Seat of the Synod, Vault of Whispers, Tree of Tales, Great Furnace, Ancient Den, Darksteel Citadel, and ArcboundRavager were all banned. Coincidentally, those cards sum up the strategy of Affinity; drop a ton of cheap or free artifacts, which snowball using cards with the (now infamous) Affinity For Artifacts ability (such as Frogmite and Myr Enforcer). The deck exploited extremely powerful starts that could drop a lot of very big creatures quickly, then further abused broken synergies to generate gas- such as making removal less useful thanks to Arcbound Ravager and occasionally Disciple of the Vault, or by using the cheap card draw of thoughtcast.
Pauper Affinity: Then as Now
You may have noticed that a lot of those "broken," cards happen to be commons; making them pauper legal. In pauper, we get to keep all of the artifact lands, Disciple of the Vaults, Thoughtcast, Myr Enforcer, and Frogmite. That's a start. That gives us most of the original Affinity, with the exception of a few important rares. And while we may not have Arcbound Ravager, we have the next best thing: Atog. If that's not a deck, I don't know what is.
Affinity Enablers: Lands and Mana
Before we can start doing broken things, we have to "Snowball," a bit- which means starting small and building our way up. We use the following cards as a foundation for our strategy:
Darksteel Citadel Shows up as an occasional 1-2 of if you don't run Ancient Den. It's immune to artifact removal, which isn't usually relevant, but it does boost your artifact count.
Springleaf Drum One of the enablers for your big dudes. Boosts your artifact count, fixes your mana, and has the almost inconsequential "drawback," of tapping a creature you control.
Affinity Creatures: Snowballing
Big effects for little mana. It's a combination that broke standard; so let's look at its Pauper iteration, shall we?
Frogmite very frequently a 2/2 Artifact for zero or one mana, a staple of the deck, and consistently drops early and hard. Can easily overwhelm an unprepared opponent.
Myr Enforcer This is Frogmite's BIG brother. Easily drops for around 2 mana, and can come down for free on turns two or three with a blazingly fast hand. Usually shows up as a 4 of, in spite of its cost, because it provides a major threat, and contributes to your explosive power.
Thoughtcast So, you've just dumped your entire hand onto the field in the first three or four turns, and you still need more plays to win. The solution? Drawing 2 cards for U, or 1U. A very powerful effect that can keep you from running out of gas, even against removal heavy decks.
Somber Hoverguard A big, evasive dude for roughly the same cost as thoughtcast. A very common 2-3 of, since it gives you a lot of (evasive) reach.
Cantrip Artifacts: Fuel for the Snowball
The 1 CMC cantrip artifacts (artifacts that cost 1, and sacrifice for colored mana and a card draw) are beautiful things in Affinity. They very cheaply amp up your affinity count, they fix mana, they can refill cards, serve as cheap fuel for Atog, and provide a nice alleyway for proccing Disciple of the Vault.
Chromatic Star The most prolific of all the "Cantrip Artifacts because it still draws a card if you sacrifice it to Atog. Auto 4-of in most cases.
I'm trying to understand that power level of Illusions, so I'm gathering pilots to try and gather nearly a thousand games of info. If it's successful, then I can hopefully spread this info across MTGS and other websites, which would hopefully result in an increase in representation.
So, DC just rebooted it's franchises about two months ago. Y'know, in case you hadn't heard. Some of you know I'm a comics fanatic, and while I normally read Marvel, Image, and Independant stuff, I'm not completely distant from DC (Wildstorm and Vertigo are near to my heart); so I did what all good comic nerds do: somehow acquired 52 #1s through variously legal means (most of which involve Bittorrent). So here we go
#1: Justice League #1 5/10
The big leagues, the superhero team. There's something like a hundred Avengers. Justice League (well, the JLA), on the other hand, has something like seven. Here are my thoughts on the headliner comic of the year:
It's disappointing. The 'verse is completely in the dark. We know that Batman is being chased by the Police, the Green Lantern is a dick, and Superman is an even bigger dick. Also, there's some allusion to Darkseid, so there's hope yet. Art isn't bad, but the whole thing feels like it wishes Wildstorm hadn't closed down in '08 (you'll be hearing that a lot).
#2: Action Comics #1 7/10
Unfortunately, one of the best #1s. We meet Superman, a reporter who is now more reminiscent of Spiderman and less Clark Kent. At the very least they decide to make Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane even bigger pricks than Supes. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention; new Superman is bat**** insane, and acts like Rorschach if Rorschach didn't kill, and had superpowers. We also met Lex Luthor, which was pleasant, since he actually achieved something. And by that I mean he hit Superman with a train (they lowered Superman to power levels slightly below God! Incredible). The writing is actually of decent quality, and it has potential, mostly because Grant Morrison (of All-Star Superman fame) is writing.
#3: Animal Man #1 9/10
I was amazed when I saw this was having a new run. I was disappointed when Grant Morrison wasn't writing it. I was, however, not disappointed by the book. It reads like an indie comic; retired super hero with a wife and kids throws on the costume for a night on the spin. Then it goes wrong. The story is solid, especially for a serial, the art is good, and the formatting is by far the best of all the New 52. I was annoyed by the text, since it was hard to read. A thoroughly enjoyable read, even for people who usually avoid DC.
#4 Batgirl #1 7/10
So, Barbara Gordon is on her feet again. The reboot is thoroughly baffling, since the comic references "The Killing Joke," which didn't actually happen. Continuity errors, weak action scenes, and a rather irksome main character bog the comic down. It is redeemed by strong Villain design, and solid bits of plot.
#5 Batwing #1: 8.5/10
Batman's African counterpart. As in, he is literally, Batman, in Africa, but black. Art is okay, characters are all generally weak. They have nice costume design, and an actually solid story make for a worthwhile read. DC was as unsure of the comic as I was, giving it only 20 pages (not counting ads). Still, I have faith in it, as they have some good ideas, and brilliant fight scenes.
#6: Detective Comics #1: 8.5/10
A refreshing comic, truly. It's good to see Batman on edge, the Joker at his unchained finest, and excellent scriptwork. Art was kinda weak, and there was a bit too much text worth skipping, but it's an enjoyable comic.
#7: Green Arrow #1: 4/10
Disappointing. Strong art and character design fall apart with weak fight scenes, a lazy story, and an inability to separate Green Arrow from being a worse version of Batman.
#8: Hawk and Dove #1: 2/10
A Robert Liefield Comic for people who actually like Rob Liefield comics. Unfortunately, that's next to no one. Hawk is abrasive, racist, and the most senselessly violent character in the entire new 52 (and not in a pleasant, artistic, or entertaining way). I'll give Liefield credit, he gave us Deadpool. Unfortunately, a violent racist and a boring prop do not a comic make. Not to mention Rob Lifield did the pencilwork, which is, naturally, terrible. None of this is assisted by a weak opening plot, and generic fight scenes,
#9: Justice League International #1 1/10
To an extent, this is the measure of 52. This is the lineup of iconic heroes. Except that the lineup is garbage, consisting largely of characters who lack individual runs, or even show up outside of JLI. Seriously though, it's all second stringers (except for Batman). They brought in Booster Gold, which is a nice touch. Except that There is no superman in the public eye for him to try to gain a reputation separate of. Actually, the whole issue is a mishmash of continuity errors, weak casting decisions, a bit of racism, and disappointing everything.
#10 Men of War #1: 9/10
Not my thing, but definitely a strong book. It's about soldiers in a super hero verse'. What else is there to say? Oh right, there's top notch writing, surprisingly memorable characters, and a vivid portrait of what it's like to fight against a superhuman. Art isn't mind blowing, but it fits. Comics like these, with a more realistic, more human, more "Wildstorm," esque comics are by far the best out of The New 52.
#11 OMAC #1: 1/10
A generic character (Hulk with a computer brain), in a generic comic, with generic characters, generic villains, and a generic plot. I know what it's like to write for any sort of serialized publication; and I know something you wrote out of necessity when I see it.
#12 Static Shock: 3/10
I loved the cartoon. I'll be honest. But I did not love the comic. I hope it was aimed at children, because it's an uninspired rag with weak writing, no characters, and hilariously unoriginal villains.
Not a good set I guess. Hopefully the next batch will be better (I've only read some of the next 12, so your guess is as good as mine).
Next (whenever I review the next 12), I review a few less-than-blockbuster comics, including:
Stormwatch (holy ****, stormwatch?!)
Swamp Thing (holy ****, Swamp Thing?!)
Demon Knights, Resurrection Man, Frankenstein, and more!
I'm excited for the next block, I really am. It includes a lot of titles being moved from Vertigo or Wildstorm to DC, including a couple of Sci-Fi or Fantasy comics, and adventurous new ideas in the realm of comic books.
When you ask someone about their favorite MTGS member, almost all of them will be apathetic. The ones who have a favorite, will probably name off a cool mod, or a regular with 4,000+ posts. Me? Jiggernuts.
First off, his first post was in the "Club Flamingo," thread in Custom Card Creation. Who the hell looks at a thread that opens with a picture of William Shatner in a flamingo costume, and says, "Gee: I really need to be a part of this!"
Secondly, he's like a two legged puppy. He's hopelessly lost, and English isn't his first language (though his Korean is excellent, or so I'm told). It's almost comical how poorly he understands most of what's going on.
Third, he actually makes some decent cards. He won the most recent "Winner is Judge," game with: Ancient School
Land 1W, T: Put a 1/1 White Human Monk creature token with "T: add W to your mana pool." into play.
The challenge? Make something "Old School," based off of old mechanics, or older versions of mechanics. Jiggernuts, not speaking english very well, thought he was supposed to make a School, that was well aged. And he succeeded in both marks.
For those of you who are MTGO savvy, cheapskates, or just like weird formats, you may know that the Pauper forums here have been very lacking. There are no primers, much less threads, for [I]any[/I] of the competitive decks. I know MBC/Mono Black Discard/Mono Black Rats, or what have you, is merely tier 2, 1.5 at best, but it's a cheap deck (I can build about 5 variants of it with the $25 I put in), and it's a good way for players to get acquainted with the format.
[SIZE="4"][B]Introduction to Mono Black Control[/B][/SIZE]
MBC aims to control the game by using creatures that generate card advantage, so that they can 2-for-1 the opponent in a war of attrition. To help that, there are often heavy removal and hand disruption elements. The deck's success on a competitive level relies on an understanding of your opponent, and the meta, which is [I]exactly why[/I] I advise new players look into MBC for Pauper. It's fairly easy to learn, but mastering it is all about improving your understanding of rival decks- which makes you better at designing decks of ANY archetype in this format/
While any given deck has lots of room for individual tuning, any competitive deck has a handful of cards that make it what it is. Without most or all of these cards, your list will find itself being sub-par, and incapable of generating sufficient board, and card advantage.
[spoiler=Core Cards of MBC]
[list]4 Ravenous Rats Your bread and butter 2-for-1. Two mana 1/1 that forces them to discard a card. It's nothing spectacular, but it's cheap, and it gets the job done.[/list]
[list]3-4 Phyrexian Rager Another great 2-for-1, except this one gives direct Card Advantage (draw) instead of indirect (discard).[/list]
[list]4 Chittering Rats Arguably one of the best cards in the deck. It may not seem like much, but it can both help you put an opponent behind, and keep them behind.[/list]
[list] 3-4 Corrupt Depending on the game, it can be removal, life gain, or a win condition. Very versatile card, and the high CMC is negligible when you consider that it's your main win-con. Becomes [I]slightly[/I] worse with Barren Moor, but that is usually negligible.[/list]
[list] 2 Okiba-Gang Shinobi Very powerful discard effect, but it practically requires ninjutsu, and is high on the curve. 2 is the perfect number for most lists.[/list]
[list] 2-3 Crypt Rats The closest we're gonna get to a sweeper. While it used to dominate Pauper, that was years ago. At the moment, it's best as a 2 of, with a 3rd in the sideboard for matchups that involve lots of dudes (Faeries, Goblins). Note that this is gonna be one of your pricier cards, though not by much. A playset will run you roughly $5, depending on your vender.[/list]
[list] 3-4 Tendrils of Corruption Lifegain and Removal, can be pivotal against some aggro decks. Depending on how you structure your list, 4 is great.[/list]
[list] 0-3 Liliana's Specter There's no verdict on it really. It's evasive, and it plays the 2-for-1 game, but it's the most expensive discard, and it's less useful than Chittering Rats in the late game. It is, however, useful in some matchups. If you do run it, use it as a 2 of, with a third in the Sideboard.[/list][/spoiler]
[B][SIZE="4"]Utility, Removal, and Card Advantage that's not on a stick[/SIZE][/B]
[list]3 Barren Moor It may not seem great, but it can be crucial to have. Depending on whether or not you run the Moor, your list should either have 22 swamps, or 20 swamps and 3 Barren Moo.[/list]
[list]4 Sign in Blood At least 3 will go a long way to increasing your staying power and consistency, especially since we run very few lands.[/list][/spoiler]
[B][SIZE="3"]The Difference between Removal and Kill-Spells.[/SIZE][/B]
Before going into this section, I'll go ahead and mention the difference between Removal and a Kill-Spell. While both mean the same thing in general Magic terminology, I'll be using the term "Kill-Spell" for anything that causes a creature to be Destroyed, Sacrificed, or Exiled, and the term Removal for anything that gives a creature -x/-x, or deals damage based on some other factor. I recommend you run around 6 Kill Spells and 3-4 Removal spells.
[list]Geth's Verdict Tied for being the best kill-spell. It's 2 cmc, instant, deals marginal damage, and bypasses hexproof/shroud, and Guardian of the Guildpact.[/list]
[list]Victim of Night The other card tied for the best kill spell. Doesn't hit hexproof/shroud/Protection, but it does hit almost everything. I don't mention Doom Blade, because blade isn't as good as Victim.[/list]
[list]Innocent Blood Another popular spell. It's cheap removal, usually sideboarded against decks that you might struggle to keep creatures on the board against anyway. Infect Stompy and Goblins come to mind.[/list]
[list]Echoing Decay Mandatory to have 4 of them between your mainboard and sideboard. Period. Keeping 3 or 4 in the Maindeck gives you a lot of room to diversify your sideboard. For a quick idea of this thing's usefulness, it can snap Faeries like a twig, can be relevant against Goblins, and makes TEPS (The Epic Pauper Storm) an even easier matchup.[/list]
[list]Disfigure I'm sure there's a reason to run it, as a lot of decks that place in dailies have some. It's the least diverse of all kill spells, and is only relevant if you're expecting [I]tons[/I] of Infect Stompy.[/list]
[list]Grasp of Darkness Generally very good to have. It hits anything (an advantage over most Kill-Spells), and is the most effective of all Removal spells. Not mandatory, but worth using.[/list]
[list]Dead Weight A pretty decent sideboard card. It's very good if you're worried about decks just pumping past your removal. Atog is the most notorious offender.[/list]
[list]Wring Flesh A worthy addition to some sideboards, but I don't suggest it. You're usually better off running Disfigure.[/list]
[list]Shrivel The other Echoing Decay, and good in the same matchups. It comes down to personal preference I guess. Decay is more versatile, but Shrivel is better at generating CA against decks like Goblins and Faeries. Shrivel is worth a thought in your SB at least.[/spoiler]
[list]Death Denied Depending on your deck, this thing can be a house as a 1 of (with a second in the board), or a 2 of. It's absolutely amazing against control and midrange, if not quite as good against aggro and combo.[/list]
[list]Befoul Mediocre, but not unplayable in the sideboard.[/list]
[list]Unearth Amazing card in a lot of decks, to the point where I would almost add it to the Core (except it only shows up in about half of placing lists). It lets you bring back your cards for further gain, and is definitely a great top-deck.[/list][/spoiler]
[SIZE="4"][B]Disruption, further Sideboard ideas, and other ways of "trolling," your opponent.[/B][/SIZE]
[list]Duress A mainstay of many lists. Generally shows up in either your main board or side board. I wouldn't call it mandatory, but it's definitely a very good card to have 3 of in your 75.[/list]
[list]Wrench Mind Against most of the format, it can completely wreck hands. Against Affinity, not so much, but most of your hand disruption is SBed out against Affinity anyway.[/list][/spoiler]
[list]Choking Sands Because seriously, no one likes playing against 8 post.[/list]
[list]Shrivel I wouldn't say it's worse than Echoing Decay, just a lot less versatile. A decent backup if you're expecting TEPS or Fae. Also useful against Goblins, since they run a lot of little dudes with an annoying way of dodging removal.[/list]
[list]Dead Weight At a glance, it's just a worse Disfigure. But look a bit deeper, and you see the word "Aura." If you've ever been pissed off by an Atog or Goblin that [I]just won't die,[/I] you may want this as a 2 of in the sideboard.[/list][/spoiler]
[b][SIZE="4"]Keeping It Surreal[/SIZE][/b]
Blue. The color of counterspells, card draw, broken planeswalkers, bounce, and fishies. Standard has all those right now! Well, except for the fishy. Whattaya gonna do, right? Well, it seems the Wizards design team went a little loopy, because they decided they would present us with the greatest tribe in Magic's history:
...okay, so maybe that list isn't promising. What would you do, if I showed you a card that pushed Illusions into the realm of viability? [URL="http://magiccards.info/query?q=lord+of+the+unreal&v=card&s=cname"]Bam.[/URL]
So, now that [URL="http://www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.aspx?x=mtg/daily/boab/154"]we've gotten Illusions recognized as a legitimate tribe[/URL], let's go over the 10 odd pages of discussion from standard.[/COLOR]
There are the cards that you MUST include to have a successful build. Period.
[LIST]Lord of the Unreal 4 of, auto include. It's the only reason we're trying to run illusions, actually.[/list]
[list]Phantasmal Bear Regardless of the build, 4 of. It's above curve, and mitigates it's weakness. A fast, high priority threat, that requires them to waste resources? Yes please.[/list]
[list]Mana Leak Might not seem important in aggro, but we need a way to protect ourselves. Be it from Doom Blade, Primeval Titan, or Day of Judgment, this thing exists to save you.[/list]
[list]Phantasmal Image Total power house, and a 3-4 of in every list (usually 4). Great combo with Lord of the Unreal, and incredible synergy with Sun Titan. Great way to punish your opponent for playing bombs.[/list]
There are a NUMBER of cards that are crucial to the build, yes, but none of those are as important to include as the 4 I listed above. They provide our best Beater, Lord, Protection, and Utility.[/color]
[spoiler=Support and Stability]
[list]Adaptive Automaton This thing provides for a very resilient illusion, a nice lord, and stylish synergy with Grand Architect. Certainly not mandatory, but it's a nice touch in a lot of decks.[/list]
[list]Grand Architect Another great lord, that shows up in many lists. It pumps most of your cards, lets you ramp a little bit, and can provide some EXCELLENT alternative win-con access. I'll list some support later in the Primer.[/list]
[list]Ponder Digging and lining up plays can be crucial in this deck.[/list]
[list]Gitaxian Probe Information, filter, and it's for free. Thing is amazing for maximizing the use you get out of dig.[/list]
[list]Forbidden Alchemy Valuable among dig spells for the Instant Speed, and the depth it digs to. Has proven to be a staple among U/w lists due to the synergy with Sun Titan, or even Skaab Ruinator if you choose to run it.[/list]
[list]Think Twice It generates Card Advantage, and at instant speed, but the cost is awkward, and the dig is shallow compared to other dig effects. None of our lists are "true," control, so we prefer the stability granted by deeper dig, generally speaking.[/list][/spoiler]
Our deck is starting to come together, so like any good salesman, I'm gonna tell you about the very flashy, very "hip," options.[/color]
Alright, this is an entire section dedicated to the removal discussion. Let me go over the options first:
[list]Disperse The most versatile removal we have handy. Hits ANY (non-land) permanent, which is nice for keeping tempo and clearing the field.[/list]
[list]Vapor Snag A more aggressive option. It's cheap, it removes blockers, and it pings. The main advantage is that you can usually keep making plays after casting this. (For example; counter mana).[/list]
[list]Dismember A popular choice in a number of decks. It's cheap, it's only kill-spell we have, it's instant, only problem is the life loss. It can be dangerous to cast this thing twice, much less 3 or 4 times. Great 2-3 of.[/list]
[list]Oblivion Ring If you're running White, you're running O-Ring. It's hard to argue with.[/list][/spoiler]
I know there's an entire SECTION of the primer dedicated to the decks built around these, but I feel like it would be most fitting to describe them individually.
[list]Phantasmal Dragon Clocks out the opponent on turn 9, not counting any other beats inflicted. Giant, evasive, and synergistic with the rest of the deck. However, it's not very good outside of Fish builds.
[list]Sun Titan The centerpiece of a U/w variant. It's simply amazing. Card advantage, big beats, and it brings back 90% of your deck (Including the infamous Sun Titan->Phantasmal Image on Sun Titan, repeat).[/list]
[list]Wurmcoil Engine Alongside Grand Architect, it can be surprisingly easy to get out. This thing terrifies many players, as it swings life totals, and is STUPIDLY resistant to removal. That, and it's really fun at times, seeing two players with 40+ life totals.[/list][/spoiler]
[color="blue"][b][SIZE="4"]The Final Countdown[/SIZE][/b]Your deck is coming together nicely now, so I think it's due time we supplement your Core with another; synergistic strategy, shall we?[/color]
[spoiler= Supplement Strategy: Grand Architect]
Alright, so you're running Grand Architect, probably as a 4 of. You're sitting there thinking, "Gee, I sure wish [I]I[/I] could cast some beefy artifact with my sexy, sexy Vedalken engineering major!" Or maybe you aren't. Regardless, let me cover ways to supplement the little Blue man.
[list]Wurmcoil Engine My favorite choice. A beefy, threatening, CA generating threat that can come down hard and fast (turn 3 on the nut-draw). Not a bad idea to toss in as a 2-of.[/list]
[list]Mindslaver Quick! List things that help an aggro deck! What's that? Someone not sweeping? Someone tapping out at random, then not casting anything? Done. You can drop this pretty early. It's not a bad thought as a 1-2 of in a Permission heavy meta.[/list]
[list]Solemn Simulacrum Raw card advantage right there. Comes down on turn 3, alongside the Architect (potentially), it's a nice beater, ramps, draws cards when it dies, overall fantastic, though it isn't as powerful as other targets, and lacks general synergy. If you're running Sun Titan and GA in the same deck, consider this, so that you can get Titan out more consistently.[/list]
[list]Steel Hellkite Swing for five, and eliminate relevant threats. Seriously, it's CA on a stick. Probably the only valid competitor with Wurmcoil Engine, and your choice should largely be a meta-call.[/list]
[list]Phyrexian Metamorph Another clone, and one that synergizes very well. Great as a 2-3 of MB/SB, even without Grand Architect.[/list]
[list][B]Summary[/B] There's nothing wrong with wanting to support a GREAT card with other great cards. The deck works smoothly, and allows an array of new options to be included.[/list][/spoiler]
[spoiler=Supplement Strategy: U/w Sun Titan] Alright, so you feel a little constrained by Blue. You want some more diverse answers, and some tools to get reach. The clear approach, is to splash. Looking around, a few synergies become immediately obvious, notably Phantasmal Image copying Sun Titan, so you decide to build a U/w control deck, with an Illusions package.
[list]Oblivion Ring If you're splashing white, this is in there. It zaps Planeswalkers, Enchants, Artifacts, Creatures, whatever you need dealt with. No brainer.[/list]
[list]Sun Titan So, you want reach. You want blunt win-cons. You want Card Advantage. You're splashing white. Look at this thing, then look at Oblivion Ring, Journey To Nowhere, Phantasmal Bear, Phantasmal Image, Lord of the Unreal, Grand Architect, and almost any other permanent you're running. By far the best reason to splash, and its Phantasmal Image synergy is borderline auto-win.[/list]
[list]Gideon Jura is a power house, as always. Generates crushing field advantage against any creature based deck (spoilers: 90% of them), and can win the game by himself against decks that aren't loaded to the brim with removal.[/list]
[list]Day of Judgement It's a sweep. We can fairly often be overwhelmed by more "dedicated," aggro lists. The solution? Sweep the board. Always good to have 3 or 4 between the MB and Sideboard.
[list][b]Summary[/b] Splashing White is a fabulous way to deal with the shortcomings of Mono-Blue. Gives you diverse removal, and excellent win-con access, noticeably Sun Titan. Who doesn't like burying the opponent in CA?[/list]
The only oddity about Illusions regular [I]thisisnotmyname's[/I] deck is the high land count, which he does so that he only ever needs to use a dig effect to find answers or threats- never lands.
[spoiler=Supplement Strategy: Big Blue]
You like big dudes, and not in a mildly homoerotic way. You like 5/5 flyers for 4, you like 5/6 flyers for 3, and you like swinging for huge totals. You have your timmy moments, to be sure. But what if I told you that there was a way to Spike-out your fatties.dec? Big Blue aims to drop some of the most efficient threats in the format, and KEEP GOING. It's a midrange deck, aiming to start doing the real play from turns 3-6, with 1 and 2 being mostly setup.
[list]Skaab Ruinator Just...wow. 5/6 flyer for 3. And what does it do? It REWARDS you for vomiting threats onto the field! It may not be an illusion, but it's a Colorshifted Tarmogoyf more or less.[/list]
[list]Phantasmal Dragon This thing sees minimal play in other variants. It's not so bad, having a Phantasmal Bear die to Shock. You invested one mana and one card, he invested one mana and one card. Fair trade. But when you invest FOUR mana? Fear not though, in a deck loaded down with beefy **** like this, they can and will run out of answers. Oh, and there's this new card...[/list]
[list]Jace's Archivist This guy has uses all over the map. Shows up in Fish style builds to make Disperse a colorshifted Doom Blade, helps Big Blue lists power out Skaab Ruinator, and so forth.[/list]
[list][b]Summary[/b] Big Blue may not be as competitive as other Illusions variants, but it's fun as hell to run, with tons of gigantic dudes in Mono Blue.[/spoiler]
[spoiler=Mono Blue Fish]
Name a format defining Tempo-Aggro deck in Legacy, that happens to be Mono Blue. That's right, Merfolk, or Fish. They use efficient beaters with tons of lords, protected by Counterspells and other methods of protecting tempo.
[list]Aether Adept Believe it or not, this thing is hugely relevant as a 2-3 of in Fish lists. It can act as Time Walk on a stick at times.[/list]
[list]Jace's Archivist Okay, so most of your removal is just bounce. That may be great for tempo, but it's **** for CA, and it's not the best answer to titans. That's where the archivist comes in: it turns that Disperse into a Doom Blade, by bouncing it to their hand, having them discard their hand, then letting you draw one or two more cards.[/list]
[list]Phantasmal Dragon Actually sees play in Fish! It's good to connect with, since it's an evasive win-con with a short clock.[/list]
[list]Snapcaster Mage say hello to standard's new 2 CMC card of choice. If you don't understand why it's so strong, let me help you: Snapcaster, flashing back a Dismember, or Mana Leak, can swing tempo so hard that it may win games outright.[/list]
[list][b]Summary[/b]: Fish is the most competitive way to play Illusions right now, period. Mono Blue fish might not have the options open to U/w Fish, it still has the deepest, most nuanced play of any Illusions deck, and is certainly one of the most challenging, and rewarding, deck in Standard.[/list][/spoiler]
Mono Blue Fish is a tempo-aggro deck. U/w Fish is a tempo-aggro deck with much better tools for being aggro, and for shifting gears into control, as need be. It gives access to sideboard cards, removal, and one or two new ways to smash face.
[list]Snapcaster Mage is one of the most important cards in U/w Fish, period. It may not be an illusion, but it generates Card and Tempo advantage. It also has unexpected synergy with Adaptive Automaton, since Lord of the Unreal and Snapcaster Mage (or SCM for short) are both Wizards.[/list]
[list]Moorland Haunt 90% of why you're splashing White. It puts out flying beaters, that can grow with an Adaptive Automaton.[/list]
[list]Geist of Saint Traft Not mandatory by any means, but it can make a nice addition to U/w Illusions in the slot that Phantasmal Dragon would occupy. It's a question of Power versus Synergy, and one with no clear answer.[/list][/spoiler]
You would have to be insane to think we can possibly have a positive win percentage against the entire field. Some decks just won't play nice. That's where Game 2, and the Sideboard, come in.[/color]
This is a tough matchup, so you'll want to set aside 3-4 cards to help out, alongside some broad permanent removal like Oblivion Ring or Disperse.
[list]Steel Sabotage It's a cheap answer to Pod, yes. It is not, however, a BROAD answer to pod. I would advise this only as a solution to metas with at least 2 of the following in decent numbers: Puresteel, Tempered Steel, Tezzeret, Swords Based decks, or Birthing Pod.[/list]
[list]Torpor Orb By miles the best answer to Pod. It doesn't shut them down completely, but it slows them, and hurts their overall power. Has benefits of splash-hating Humans.[/list]
[list]Revoke Existence In U/w, you probably want this AND Torpor Orb.[/list]
A stable deck with tons of bombs, great synergies, and more, it can be tough to deal with. Tailor your playstyle; a hand with one creature, three lands, Dismember and [card]Mana Leak[card], and pretty much anything else can be considered keepable. Removal is useful, play control, remove their threats when possible, swing when safe. Tough matchup if you don't know what you're doing, but a skilled player can easily overcome the deck.
[list]Ratchet Bomb W/(g) humans decks rely HEAVILY on the 1 drop slot. Champion of the Parish, Avacyn's Pilgrim, and so many more.[/list]
[list]Treasure Mage:Wurmcoil Engine and Steel Hellkite are your bullets of choice. The former because they [I]are[/I] aggro, and the latter for the same reasons as Ratchet Bomb.
[list]Mental Misstep Not mandatory, and not a perfect choice, but it can throw them off their opening plays. Don't worry about the Lifeloss, just focus on Board State.[/list]
[list]Gut Shot A great all round sideboard choice, especially against Humans.
The deck was predicted to dominate the meta, and achieved varying levels of success. Don't over extend, play aggro, be prepared. Tough Matchup pre-board, but the deck is vulnerable to hate.
[list]Purify the Grave is useful if you're in U/w, since you can use it in response to Unburial Rights, causing the spell to fizzle. It's a massive tempo boost, to say the least.[/list]
[list][card]Surgical Extraction[card] Similar to Purify the Grave. It may not have flashback, but it's "free," doesn't require a splash, and gives you information.[/list]
[list]Nihil Spellbomb For those of you who want to wipe the slate clean.[/list]
The aggro deck of choice in the new meta, capable of playing efficient beaters and generating huge card advantage.
[list]Ratchet Bomb is a sideboard card of choice, as it lets you sweep the field. It's not going to auto-win the matchup, but it helps Mono U lists.[/list]
[list]Revoke Existence Getting rid of Intangible Virtue can be very important.[/list]
[list]Day of Judgement For obvious reasons.[/list]
[size=4]Wolf Run Ramp[/size]
More to Come
[size=4]Red Deck Wins[/size]
More to Come
[color="blue"][b][SIZE="4"]Cold, Cold Denial...[/SIZE][/b]
Your deck is coming together, but I've been pretty vague about your counters. Lets go into details. Unless you don't care and just want the examples.[/color]
Alright. Counterspells; this is a [i]pretty damn important[/i] part of the deck. You need some way to keep the enemy Titan, Planeswalker, or Sweeper from hitting the board. We are in Blue, so we get to take D.A.R.E.'s advice; just say no.
[list]Mana Leak What can I say? A simple, cheap, versatile counter. Run in most every list.[/list]
[list]Mental Misstep I know it's mentioned in a line or two, but I have to highlight this thing. It is pretty much automatic 4-of in the sideboard, hurting a number of decks, notably aggro (an infamously bad matchup), and can help keep Pod decks off their early creatures; slowing them down.[/list]
[list]Steel Sabotage Is a good answer to swords in a Mono U build.[/list]
[list]Flashfreeze Early in the season, useless. Now, with Wolf Run Ramp all over the place? Pack it.[/list]
[list]Dissipate With all the GY shenanigans in Innistrad, probably worth a go, especially as a 2-3 of.[/list][/spoiler]
[color="blue"][SIZE="4"][B]Land Joke and/or Pop Culture Reference[/B][/SIZE]
You have most of your deck. Creatures, counters, support, utility, removal, it's damn near a deck. All that's left to cover? Lands.[/color]
Okay, so, with the loss of Zendikar, this isn't a huge section.
[list]Island The typical list wants 21-24 lands, most of which will be Islands.[/list]
[list]Seachrome Coast+Glacial Fortress Great for a U/w base as 4-ofs.[/list]
[list]Buried Ruin I can't imagine it would be useless in GA builds.[/list]
[list]Ghost Quarter Don't go shoe-horning it into an unstable deck, but it can win games againt WRR and Solar Flare.[/list]
[list]Drowned Catacomb If you're running Mono Blue, there's no reason you shouldn't, as it mitigates lifeloss to Dismember.[/list][/spoiler]
Illusions rule, and this was the best primer ever. No really. In all seriousness, Illusions have made for a very interesting design process. It's been taken in so many directions, I genuinely struggled to include all of the ones I noticed (there were some U/G versions, but they were just plain weird, and not very good). Dedicated a good couple hours to this, though probably not enough to do this marvelous idea justice. Hopefully, you take my tips, put them to use, realize I'm just some guy who has too much time on his hands, build a deck for yourself, post it, and call me an A-Hole.
EDIT: Recent events really make me proud to have written this primer. The deck went from small Johnny project, to a varied and powerful deck that sees plays by new players looking for something fun, new, cheap and different, to Professionals, and the Excellent MTGS players in between. I thank you all for your hard work, and this is the least I can do. (That, and this thing gets plugged well outside the bounds of Standard).
SPECIAL THANKS: To everyone who's posted in any iteration of this thread. Seriously, you rock. There's too many to list, but I have to give a HUGE shout out to Thisisnotmyname, who has probably invested more time into this primer than I invest in eating, and thanks to tHe N4MEz YOSHi, for all his help with gathering lists, brainstorming, [URL="http://forums.mtgsalvation.com/showpost.php?p=7368306&postcount=172"]and for writing a mini-primer of his own.[/URL]
(Old banner by:[URL="http://forums.mtgsalvation.com/showthread.php?t=321644"]RCarlysle[/URL][/COLOR])
For anyone who's been following Standard, you've probably heard about Illusions. Great showings at FNMs, and a few near miss top 8s. For anyone who knows me, you're probably aware that I have a profound love for a few decks, such as Shamans in Modern, Dredge in Legacy, Heartless Hidetsugu in EDH, and Illusions in Standard. For perspective, here's the primer I wrote for it. Quite a site. In all honesty, I don't think I've ever been more proud of something, period.
My love affair with Illusions started a few months ago, with, you guessed it, m12. First I saw Phantasmal Bear and thought to myself, "Holy ****! The white version of that is a staple of every White aggro deck ever! Except Zoo, because ****ing Wild Nacatl!" (Maybe not in those exact words). Then I saw Phantasmal Dragon and was not impressed. Lord of the Unreal made the whole thing look nuts, Adaptive Automaton made me think about Merfolk. Then we got one of the best cards from m12: Phantasmal Image. I got to work.
As soon as m12 hit, I was active in the discussion of Illusions. As in, first reply to the first thread about them. About 10 pages later, we had people discussing Grand Architect, a sort of Fish style, U/w, even U/b Illusions. When that much is going on in a thread, enough is enough, and it's time for a primer.
One hotel room in Houston, a 24 pack of Dr. Pepper, a marathon of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," and four hours later, it was done. Or, the first draft was done. I would ultimately edit it dozens, if not almost a hundred times, fixing code, adding or removing relevant/irrelevant information, adding new sections, so on and so forth. It was long, it was tough to write, and it was worth it.
Fast forward to now. Illusions top 8s a SCG event (though the deck was heavily geared for the meta). We're the real ****ing deal now. Primer gets locked, thread in Developing competitive. And that's that for me I guess.
I'll miss working on the Primer. I'm waiting on the coding from a mod, I'll post it to my blog once it's in, probably add a link to my sig. Thank you, I've had an UNREAL time brewing Illusions.
For those reading this from the Blog page, you may notice that the entire page is consumed by one guy posting decklists.
This is INFURIATING, and way too frequent! Is it so hard to make it so that, if you're JUST posting decklists, that you have to put them all in one post? I don't mind if you're sharing your insights on each individual list, but at this point, it's spam on almost any forum here.