Monday, January 18, 2016

Multiplayer Monday: Grixis Coin Flips

This deck idea has been on my dry erase board for months but probably longer.

I've been wanting to design a Planechase deck for some time and following the end of the Return to Ravnica Block, I found a couple cards that would make an interesting deck.

Ral Zarek  Tavern Swindler  Krark's Thumb

Originally I was thinking Modern, but it's not fast enough or powerful enough to be Modern competitive. Then I looked through the various Plane cards and I found where this deck could fit: Planechase


The idea to turn to Planechase came after I was working on collecting oversized promos, one of which is Mirrored Depths.

Plane - Planechase - Mirrored Depths

A Krark's Thumb is perfect to keep from losing the flip and being able to play the top card of your library for free serves a useful purpose in finding cards and arriving at a win condition.

Academy at Tolaria West

Academy at Tolaria West allows for free card advantage which this deck needs plenty of card advantage to win.

Bloodhill Bastion

Because one creature in particular is our primary win condition, double strike and haste is important. We'll talk more about this later, but for now, double strike and haste is awesome in any deck playing red creatures, especially large ones.

Izzet Steam Maze

We have several of instants and sorceries, one of which creates tokens and another boosts creatures and draws cards. Copying either provides a great advantage.

Stronghold Furnace

Stronghold Furnace is the last card out of the planar deck I'm going to look for this article, but links to Gatherer for each one can be found in the deck list below. Now, Stronghold Furnace basically creates double strike for creatures. And spells. It's much more global, however it serves the purposes of your creatures.

A quick note before we take a look at the deck list... When designing, I wanted to set a boundary and focus on the coin flip mechanic for the deck as a theme and I limited it to Legacy legal cards only. Modern had very few and Legacy had several heavy hitters, so it's basically Planechase in a Legacy-legal deck. Please note, since this is a deck for a casual format, I would not recommend taking this to a Legacy tournament. If you do, I recommend gutting it, taking out everything involving coin flips, adding in Delver, Force of Will, Daze, some Volcanic Islands, and about 12 fetch lands, especially Scalding Tarn.

Heads of Tails?

Planar DeckDeck

Planes

Academy at Tolaria West
Bloodhill Bastion
Grixis
Izzet Steam Maze
Kilnspire District
Mirrored Depths
Quicksilver Sea
Stronghold Furnace

Phenomena

Chaotic Aether
Mutual Epiphany

Creatures

x2 Crazed Firecat
x2 Scoria Wurm
x4 Tavern Swindler
x2 Volatile Rig

Land

x4 Bloodstained Mire
x1 Smoldering Marsh
x2 Steam Vents
x2 Sulfur Falls
x1 Sunken Hollow
x2 Wandering Fumarole
x3 Island
x1 Swamp
x3 Mountain

Artifacts

x2 Bottle of Suleiman
x1 Crooked Scales
x2 Fractured Powerstone
x4 Krark's Thumb
x2 Wirefly Hive

Planeswalkers

x2 Ral Zarek

Other Spells

x2 Chance Encounter
x4 Chaotic Strike
x2 Fiery Gambit
x2 Molten Birth
x4 Odds//Ends
x2 Planar Chaos
x2 Stitch in Time

To start, I'm going to go ahead and explain the mana base. I'm working off what I have or could easily obtain. Steam Vents and Sulfur Falls are two important lands for any U/R deck and they fit the bill here. Wandering Fumarole is new with Oath of the Gatewatch coming out this week and while mostly untested, it could help finish the game or provide a quick blocker. Smoldering Marsh and Sunken Hollow are here solely to provide sources of black along with the single Swamp. Only one card needs black mana, so three sources and four fetchlands seems good. Bloodstained Mire is here since it finds the primary color of the deck (red) and the three sources of black, so why not? If you want to make this a very budget deck, I'd drop in four Grixis Panorama instead of Bloodstained Mire, and then replace the dual lands with the KTK/FRF lifelands and basic lands. I'd still keep the Wandering Fumarole though, just in case.

A quick look at the creature package now...

Crazed Firecat  Scoria Wurm  Tavern Swindler

Crazed Firecat is a 4/4 from the start and can continue to grow. With Krark's Thumb, you can basically redo any losing flip to give you a better chance of winning a flip. If you win six times and pair it with double strike and haste from Bloodhill Bastion, that's 20 damage the turn it comes in. It's unreasonable to expect to win six flips, but it's possible and by the time you can even play Crazed Firecat, you've probably already inflicted some damage.

Scoria Wurm is a 7/7 for five mana. Sure you have to flip a coin at every upkeep, but if you win, it can attack. Or on turn five have haste and double strike. Either way, seems good.

Tavern Swindler is how you gain life if you need it. Every turn, you boost your life total (with any luck) and escape those last life wins likely possible when playing this deck.

Volatile Rig

With Volatile Rig, neither you nor your opponent likely want it damaged. You want the creatures you have and so do they. They probably don't want to take four damage either, but if you need a board wipe, here it is.

Bottle of Suleiman  Crooked Scales  Wirefly Hive

Bottle of Suleiman either deals five damage to you (life is important, just in case) or gives you a 5/5 flying Djinn. That's pretty good and adheres to the theme. I should tell you now, I suck at coin flipping, so I expect to basically get wrecked by my own deck, but it's a fun deck.

Croked Scales destroys a creature, either yours or an opponent's and we hope for the latter. It's not too important which is why there is only one, but just in case we need removal, here it is.

Wirefly Hive gives more flying creatures and doesn't disappear after making a single 5/5. It's also pretty dangerous to itself, but again, Krark's Thumb! Seriously though, don't press your luck too much. Gambling is a serious problem so make two or three tokens and be happy.

Fractured Powerstone

Fractured Powerstone should be in every Planechase deck. It's not useful anywhere else, so you might as well stick two in here. Besides, what's so fun about flipping coins if you can't roll dice at the same time?

Ral Zarek  Stitch in Time

Extra turns are great, especially for setting up for a massive attack with one of the heavy hitters like Crazed Firecat. Ral Zarek is removal, he's control, and he helps set up at maximum five turns of attacks.

To a similar extent, Stitch in Time gives you a free extra turn. During extra turns, opponents can't untap and block again, counter spells, or do anything which means they can block with each creature once so they need to make wise choices. Fire off Stitch in Time during your second main phase as a surprise.

Chance Encounter  Chaotic Strike  Fiery Gambit

Chance Encounter is a backup win condition and likely easy to achieve, so why not? Especially with a Ral Zarek, multiple uses of a Wirefly Hive, or even multiple life gains with Tavern Swindler. Either way, it's a cool backup win condition.

Chaotic Strike boosts creatures and draws cards. Pair it with Izzet Steam Maze and you get two cards and boost up to two creatures.

Fiery Gambit let's you deal damage to a creature, multiple opponents, or draw cards and untap lands. That's great for this deck, especially if you copy it.

Molten Birth  Planar Chaos  Odds // Ends

Molten Birth is the most recent card to have coin flips on it and two 1/1 creatures is nice. Then you have the chance to return it to your hand. With Krark's Thumb and Izzet Steam Maze, you could effectively create four tokens and cast it again over and over.

Planar Chaos is your opportunity for control in this deck. Let your opponent lose 50% of all spells they cast while you sit back and push through. Seriously, if I haven't said it enough, Krark's Thumb. It's the main point of this deck, other than throwing a thematic, custom Planechase deck out there...

We only care about Odds. Sure, you could put a Sacred Foundry in the mana base just to cast Ends, but Odds is what we care about. Countering spells. Of course, if you respond to a counter spell, you can either counter the counter spell of copy their counter spell and counter it. Pretty sure that's how it works. Two mana to stop burn, control, exiling spells, or anything that boosts or helps your opponent.


So there we go: A Planechase deck dedicated to a single theme. I can finally take it off my dry erase board.

I'm ramping up on my article writing with the goal of one each week. Multiplayer Monday was the new article series replacing Commander Monday, and for January, I wanted to get to Planechase first and coincidentally took an idea away from Wacky Wednesdays, but I'm starting back slow. One article a week and I'll try to stick to it. So far so good... See you next week!

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