Thursday, 20 September 2012

Mixing the Fixing, part II

At the end of my last post, I presented the following deck list without much discussion.

Jund on a Budget

4 Terramorphic Expanse
4 Savage Lands
4 Mountain
5 Forest
5 Swamp

4 Putrid Leech
4 Sprouting Thrinax
3 Borderland Ranger
4 Bloodbraid Elf
3 Broodmate Dragon

Other Spells
2 Veinfire Borderpost
2 Firewild Borderpost
3 Bituminous Blast
4 Blightning
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Terminate
2 Resounding Thunder
1 Garruk Wildspeaker

At first glance, the deck list may appear not to show much restraint - to be fair, the deck is trying very hard to exploit a number of the gold cards that were available at the time (the deck was built when Shards of Alara block was Standard legal). In particular, the deck is interested in playing Bloodbraid Elf, Blightning, Putrid Leech and Sprouting Thrinax. The first three cards combined put us firmly in all three colours and the fourth does that all by itself.

On closer inspection there are a couple of things to notice. The first is that there are no one-drops. While Lightning Bolt has a casting cost of one, it is not often that you'll need or even want to actually cast it on turn one. A card like that has a lot more value a little later in the game and can usually trade for something better than whatever the opponent can produce on the first turn. Instead, the deck assumes that it will be fixing its mana on the first turn. Savage Lands provides all three colours which is a great boost for the deck. Terramorphic Expanse can find the basic land that you need to supplement and support your opening hand. And the borderposts can provide fixing on turn one as well.

On turn two there are a couple of options. With the right mana and a Putrid Leech the deck can attempt to get agressive on the second turn. If the opponent has played something strong then Lightning Bolt or Terminate may be required to stem the bleeding. Alternatively, the deck can simply continue to setup with more mana fixing. Against some decks, this may be a bit slow, which is why there are some safety valves, but the deck hopes to catch up with a powerful mid-game.

The goal is to get into a position to cast all of your spells from turn three. Sprouting Thrinax requires all three colours but can stall the opponent's attacks for a bit or gain you a bit of card advantage. Borderland Ranger is a body that helps you fix your mana once again and should be able to block or even get in for some damage. After that, you're hoping to start to take over the game with cards like Bloodbraid Elf, Blightning or Garruk Wildspeaker. There is removal to help mop up and even the infamous Double Dragon to bring it home to victory.

While the deck starts out slow it hopes to dominate in the mid and late game, making up for being behind on the board early with powerful cards and a stream of card advantage.

So what can go wrong? Well, an openning hand that contains Terramorphic Expanse, Savage Lands and Veinfire Borderpost as the only mana source is going to be terribly slow. In this case, hands like that are the cost reaching for power in three colours. More restraint - perhaps choosing a different three-drop creature and leaving Sprouting Thrinax on the sideline - would help to reduce the burden on the mana. Either way, understanding how the deck will play out and how the mana needs to be designed to support that is the key.

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