MTGO: Deck Building: You're Doing It Wrong!


So after my poor showing in the Daily Standard Constructed, I decided to review my deck and the 'combo' at its core: Liquimetal Coating + Mimic Vat. I knew I wanted to keep this in the new deck, but I was hoping to now make it just one of the multiple viable strategies within the deck. Unfortunately, my brain seems to gravitate towards a 'free association' approach to deck building. If that doesn't make sense, please continue reading and follow along on what unfortunately is not an uncommon process when I am trying to build a deck. Now, as I write this I of course see a ton of new options and ways I could and should have gone while I was building this new version, but I want to show how my mind happened to work in this instance.

I start with Liquimetal Coating and Mimic Vat.

Then, I add Acidic Slime, a card that continually wrecked me in games 2 and 3. Not only can it kill artifacts and lands but also supports enchantment removal, all on a 2/2 body with deathtouch! Why didn't I think of this one before?

Then, I need some way to kill it (and opponent's creatures). My red burn was fine against the white and green decks I playtested against, but it just can't get the job done against Frost Titan. So, I turn to black and opt for simple effective Doom Blade.

Now, I said that Liquimetal Coating could help with Metalcraft, so let's see what's good with Metalcraft in black and green. Unfortunately, nothing really jumps out at me in either of these colors for metalcraft. This, I would later realize, is because I was searching only against the cards in my collection rather than all legal cards in the set. I'll discuss that in my next article.

So without good metalcraft, I decide to see what would benefit just from artifacts in general. I notice that Phylactery Lich would be pretty nice, but unfortunately don't see much else that meshes well. At this point, I think these colors won't work for this deck. I still like the Acidic Slime path, so I decide to re-evaluate black. Since I went into black as an answer to Frost Titan, I could either go into white and aim to stop it once it's in play, or go into blue and aim to either prevent it from coming into play via counters, or stealing it for myself.

As a general statement, I LOVE blue and will often play blue to a fault. In this case though, I think it would help solve one of the other problems I had with the first deck in that I now have access to card draw which should help me get to the Coating and Vat more reliably. Doing a quick search in my collection for Blue cards with artifact in their text shows me a whole slew of cards that get me giddy at the visions of amazing synergy now possible in the deck.

Vedalken Certarch is an auto-include. With the ability to lock down my opponents lands, creatures, and artifacts once I hit metalcraft, I start looking at this guy as if he's the next best thing since Liquimetal Coating! Stoic Rebuttal is also a great counter if I can reliably hit metalcraft. While not a 4x include, definitely want 2 or 3 in the deck, complemented with the real 'auto-include' Mana Leak. I also can't help but notice Grand Architect which I've wanted to use for awhile any way I could. Not only can I use him to get my artifacts out earlier but he can also pump up my blue creatures. Only one problem though...I don't have any blue creatures other than the Certarch!


On top of that, my only green is the slime and I think I'm only going to reduce the effectiveness of my deck if I include the green just for that card, especially since it's not a game winner on its own.

So I decide to switch gears and look at going at maybe a mono-blue deck that is just built around artifacts. At this point, I've essentially lost the focus of the deck although I don't realize it. I just keep following one connection to the next. Blue + Artifacts means I start adding Riddlesmith, Trinket Mage, and Argent Sphinx. I even go back to a 'combo' I tried to make work during Zendikar block with Dormant Gomazoa except now I figure I can make it an artifact and then untap with Voltaic Key! I think my lowest point was when I actually thought "Hey, Scrapdiver Serpent would actually be bomb with the Coating!".

Please don't judge me

I think this is the point when I realized I had completely lost the focus of the deck and I just wanted to call it quits. I decided Liquimetal Coating was nothing more than a red herring, included simply to distract and confound mediocre deck builders like me. Not really, of course. But I decided I needed to take a break from Liquimetal Coating and just try a completely new deck idea. Not that I am really giving up on the Coating, just that I think letting my mind rest before coming back to it will hopefully open my eyes to other potential synergies.

On a side note, this is actually one of the benefits of MTGO that I hadn't actively appreciated until now. In paper magic, when I make a deck, I have to pull out the cards from my collection and sleeve them. At that point, those cards can't be used in another deck. I would have to get additional copies, or constantly pull cards out from one deck to another, etc. Not to mention that if I wanted to have any chance at reconstructing my previous decks I'd need to maintain a separate file with each decklist. Maybe people actually do that for paper magic, but I've always been a '1 deck' kind of player (as far as paper goes).

With Magic Online though, it actually frees people up to go crazy and try out wacky deck ideas (I heard about this awesome combo...) without a large process overhead or product investment. If I don't like a deck, I just hit New in Deckbuilder and it's like my collection is magically sorted and available. I think it's something most MTGO players take for granted, myself included. Of course the downside for most people is they started with paper and the thought of trying to 'recreate' their collection in MTGO is a huge barrier to entry unless they're willing to sell their paper collection. But hopefully Magic will come up with a solution, maybe some sort of 'dual-booster' that has some increased cost over a regular booster, but each pack has a code that lets you redeem online to get 'both' versions. Kind of how DVDs now offer a 'special' digital download license in addition to the physical DVD. I don't know the financials around that or thought through the impacts to both play environments, but as a player I love the concept.

Anyways, enough rambling! To wrap up this article, let me give you a hint of what I'm CONVINCED is the key to my next deck idea...

2 Response to "MTGO: Deck Building: You're Doing It Wrong!"

  1. Loquacious November 21, 2010 at 4:08 PM
    I can't play blue, no matter what I do. I'm just not able to come up with the combos I need to be effective.

    I do a lot of "glut" building- I have a tone of cards that look good to me and I throw them all in a pile without thinking about what they do or why I like them.

    I'm getting better, but it's a process.
  2. Jensyth November 23, 2010 at 10:50 AM
    Haha, that is EXACTLY the same process I use, and with Blue, it's worse because EVERY deck needs card draw and counters. So I usually end up with a collection of about 50-60 cards that I've done a first pass of wanting to include, and need to somehow cut down to ~35.

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