10 Decks in 10 Weeks! Each week, I evolve a 2-Color Standard-legal deck that costs 30 tickets or less. At the beginning of the next week, I keep all of the cards of one of the two colors, and then switch to a different color combination!
Week 1: G/W - The Two Ladies
Week 2: G/R - A Wild Pair
Week 3: R/U - The Chronicler
Week 4: U/B - Grim Outlook
Week 5: B/W - Rescue Me
Week 6: W/U - A Blink In Time
Week 7: W/R - ???
Week 8: R/B - ???
Week 9: B/G - ???
Week 10: G/U - ???
elcome back to 10 Decks in 10 Weeks! For those who haven’t been with us the last couple of weeks, this is a bold experiment in which I take a two-color deck, fully evolve it, and then use the cards in one of the colors of that deck as the starting point for the deck in the following week!
Last week’s deck was a green-red Wild Pair deck. This week’s deck is a red-blue Aeon Chronicler deck. Here’s the red cards that we left off with from last week’s build:
That’s 32 of 60 cards, so let’s fill in the other 28 cards of this blue-red Aeon Chronicler deck, shall we?
The card I’m building around this week is Aeon Chronicler. The Chronicler has three abilities, two of which are tied together. Let’s take a look at the card, and see which cards would be best used in conjunction with this rare.
Type: Creature – Avatar
Ability #1:Aeon Chronicler’s power and toughness are equal to the number of cards in your hand.
Building Goal #1: Does this ability look familiar? Word for word (excepting the name of the creature, for you nitpickers out there), this is the same ability as Maro’s. If Aeon Chronicler had no other text, it would be a Maro in a different color, at one more mana. What does Maro need to work? Cards. Lots of cards in hand!
The first goal of building an Aeon Chronicler deck, therefore, is to find a way to keep your hand stocked with cards. This can be accomplished through many ways.
You can play a lot of cantrips – cards which allow you to draw a card when cast – such as Electrolyze and Repeal. This way, you can both affect the board, and keep your hand size up at the same time.
You can play spells specifically designed to draw cards, such as Tidings or Dimir Guildmage. These cards will keep your hand replenished, and allow your Aeon Chronicler to be huge.
You can play spells which can be returned to your hand after being cast. This includes buyback spells such as Whispers of the Muse, or cards which return from the graveyard, such as Shard Phoenix (which, happily, is already a carry-over from last week!)
You can play spells which affect multiple targets at once, to minimize the number of spells you need to play before Aeon Chronicler hits the board. This includes playing cards like Pyroclasm instead of Volcanic Hammer, or Boom // Bust (for Bust) instead of Stone Rain.
Ability #2: Suspend X – . X can’t be 0. Whenever a time counter is removed from Aeon Chronicler while it’s removed from the game, draw a card.
Building Goal #2: The minimum suspend cost of Aeon Chronicler is therefore five mana – one blue, three generic, and an “X” value greater than zero. This allows you to use Aeon Chronicler in one of two ways – you can play him as a Nantuko Shaman, or as an uncounterable Phyrexian Arena that eventually comes into play as a large creature.
If you’re playing Aeon Chronicler as a Nantuko Shaman, you can consider the following: Maro costs to cast. If you suspend Aeon Chronicler at five mana, you get a cantrip Maro with haste (when creatures unsuspend, they enter play with haste). The two abilities – drawing a card when a time counter is removed, and having power and toughness equal to the number of cards in your hand – are synergistic.
If you’re playing Aeon Chronicler as a Phyrexian Arena, then you want a ton of mana. The longer Aeon Chronicler stays out of play, the more turns you’ll draw an extra card each upkeep. In order to power this strategy, you’re going to need to play a lot of lands, mana acceleration, and be able to drag the game out past the first few turns. The advantage you have here, over playing Phyrexian Arena, is that you cannot counter the suspend ability itself. Suspending a card is an uncounterable ability. You can counter the creature once it unsuspends – that is when it becomes a spell that can be countered. You can even counter the counter-removing or card-drawing triggers with something like Trickbind. However, paying a blue and four colorless to remove Aeon Chronicler from the game with one time counter cannot be stopped with a Counterspell. Unlike Phyrexian Arena, a suspended Aeon Chronicler can’t be killed by Krosan Grip or Disenchant, can’t be bounced by Boomerang, and doesn’t ping you for a point of life each upkeep.
For the first build of the deck, I wanted to focus on the former – using Aeon Chronicler
as a hasty, cantrip Maro
. This means that I could concentrate more on card drawing, and less on mana acceleration. To this effect, here’s what I put into the deck:
Add: 4 Aeon Chronicler
A no-brainer, considering this is the guy we’re building the deck around!
Add: 4 Electrolyze
This fits under the cantrip category, and it can kill two one-toughness creatures, or one two-toughness creature.
Add: 4 Compulsive Research
This is the best pure card-drawing spell available to blue in Standard right now, and competes with Harmonize for the title of best one-shot card drawing spell in Standard, amongst all colors. In a deck that wants to have cards in hand, this is a shoo-in.
Add: 3 Wheel of Fate and 4 Timecrafting
These were the last additions to the deck. Wheel of Fate allows me to draw seven cards at once, but on a four-turn clock. If I don’t have a lot of cards in hand, this is a quick way to get Aeon Chronicler into full form using only one spell. To better facilitate quick Wheel of Fates, I decided to try out Timecrafting. Timecrafting servers a dual purpose – I can speed up a Wheel of Fate at the end of an opponent’s turn, so I can untap with a full hand, or I can speed Aeon Chronicler into play, and draw a lot of cards in the process. For instance, if Aeon Chronicler is suspended with three counters, and I hit it with Timecrafting for three (removing the counters), I draw three cards. Drawing cards from counters being removed from Aeon Chronicler is not contingent on having them be removed via your upkeep – if you remove them in any way, you draw cards from the Chronicler.
Add: 9 Islands
To be honest, this deck is still more red-heavy than blue-heavy, and this is a deck that wants to run Ravnica bouncelands (Izzet Boilerworks in particular) instead of Terramorphic Expanse – returning a land to your hand to fuel Aeon Chronicler while advancing your mana count is better than searching a land out of your deck for this build. This change will be made after the first update for the deck, unless Terramorphic Expanse proves to be an all-star.
Game 1: Maddprof (Mono-Green Aggro)
He gets turn-one Search for Tommorrow, turn-two Silhana Ledgewalker, and turn-three Blanchwood Armor, giving him a 5/5 untargetable creature. My hand has one Shard Phoenix, but I get stuck at three lands, and die very, very quickly.
Game 2: Wjjames (G/W/B Saffi Eriksdotter/Adakar Valkyrie)
I get Wheel of Fate plus Timecrafting, drop Cloudstone Curio, and start using Stingscourger plus Shard Phoenix to bounce his threats off of the board. He drops Akroma, Angel of Wrath and Necrotic Sliver, but I get double Aeon Chronicler, make them 8/8 thanks to their triggers and my bounce, and punch past his defense to win the match.
Game 3: PenDraco_Maug (G/R/B Primal Forcemage)
I mulligan into double Island and never draw another land before dying to his army of guys, which include Rakdos Guildmage, Llanowar Elves, and Primal Forcemage. My hand includes double Electrolyze.
Well, if there’s one thing for sure, it’s that my initial premonitions about the mana in this deck were correct – in order to keep playing spells while ramping up to enough mana to suspend Aeon Chronicler, I want to have a lot of mana-producing lands in the deck. Out comes Terramorphic Expanse, and in goes Izzet Boilerworks.
In addition, I’m really worried about dying to a quick weenie rush – the first and third games were really no contest, and I don’t want to get blown out like that again. I add in Rough/Tumble – most opposing weenies are non-flyers, allowing my Shard Phoenix to survive a sweep late-game, or giving me the option to kill things like Adarkar Valkyrie later in the game using the Tumble half of Rough // Tumble.
I also add in another Mountain to help my land count. To make room for the Mountain and the three Rough // Tumble, I take out the four Gruul Guildmage – their better ability is the green ability, so they are pretty sub-optimal in this deck.
Out: 4 Gruul Guildmage, 4 Terramorphic Expanse
In: 4 Izzet Boilerworks, 3 Rough // Tumble, 1 Mountain
Game 4: Doubledown42 (Mono-Blue Control)
I draw a ton of lands, suspend Wheel of Fate, and draw into triple Cloudstone Curio. He plays a couple of smaller guys (like Looter il-Vec), Pongifies them both, and then drops an Aeon Chronicler of his own. I never draw a creature, and get smashed in short order. Record: 1-3
Rules Primer #1:
Does Wheel of Fate
kill Aeon Chronicler
? The answer is no! Wheel of Fate
reads: “Each player discards his or her hand, then draws seven cards.” Although there is a time during the resolution of Wheel of Fate
at which you have no cards in hand, state-based effects (the rules which check to see if zero-toughness creatures die) are not checked during the resolution of a spell or effect. Therefore, since discarding your hand and drawing seven cards are all part of the same spell, there is no time at which the rules will see that you have zero cards in hand for your Chronicler, making him safe from death by Wheel!
Game 5: Cloud_821 (W/R/B Slivers)
He gets Sedge Sliver, Necrotic Sliver and Sinew Sliver. I can’t actually kill any of his guys, since they regenerate, and I get crushed rather quickly here too.
Memo to myself – this deck needs bounce. I need to be able to remove threats from the board to buy time to set up my game. Repeal is a natural add in this deck, as it’s a cantrip. The other bounce spell I decide to run is Riftwing Cloudskate – it works well with Timecrafting and Rough // Tumble, and it gives me another offensive threat for the deck.
To make room for these cards, I gank out Avalanche Riders (easily worth as much, monetarily, as the rest of the deck put together!) and Cloudstone Curio. I mainly kill the Riders not out of budgetary concerns (the deck is well under 30 tickets), but because players really don’t want to play against land destruction. Last week, there was some concern about my ability to destroy four to six lands a turn. While I personally have no problem with a splash of land destruction in a deck (after all, how else do you deal with threats like Academy Ruins, Urborg, or Tomb of Urami?), I will try to do my best to avoid it unless it’s an integral part of the deck. Last week, Avalanche Riders worked well with Cloudstone Curio and Wild Pair. This week, it’s out of theme, and therefore gone – along with Cloudstone Curio itself.
Out: 4 Cloudstone Curio, 4 Avalanche Riders
In: 4 Repeal, 4 Riftwing Cloudskate
Game 6: BurgerBaldwin (Mono-Green Aggro)
Once again, I get run over by Silhana Ledgewalker and friends. I do have Shard Phoenix and Rough // Tumble in the deck, but I keep losing to quick creature hordes. It might be time to add in even more early defense, especially spells which can kill untargetable creatures!
Game 7: Hidster (U/G Reality Acid)
Hidster is running a lot of bounce spells, but I get early Riftwing Cloudskates, set back his mana development several turns by hitting Simic Growth Chambers, and begin beating him down. He needs to bounce and Evacuate my flyers to stay alive, letting me bounce his lands seven times in one game! By the end of the game, he’s drawn his first Reality Acid, but I have twelve lands on the board to his four, and have no trouble overpowering him with my flyers.
Time for more changes. I realize that I’ve had no problem winning games against slower, control-oriented decks, as I can outdraw them – and in the control on control match, he who draws more cards (which translate into options) wins. My weakness is against weenie decks. To shore up these deficits in my deck, I change up some cards.
First, I add in 3 Pyroclasm. This gives me a total of 6 spells that can wipe out 1 and 2 toughness creatures. Plus, the more Rough // Tumble/Pyroclasm I have, the more of a chance I’ll draw two in a game and be able to take out larger creatures en-masse.
In addition, I want some mana acceleration in the deck. I’ve had several games where I’m stuck playing one spell a turn, with several options in hand – or stuck with a Shard Phoenix in hand and one mana short of wiping out my opponent’s board. Good ol’ standby Izzet Signet fits the bill here.
To make room for these spells, I remove one Mountain (which four Izzet Signets should more-than-compensate for), the Stingscourger and Blood Knight, and the four Electrolyze. Electrolyze seemed good in theory, but it never really killed any creatures worth noting. It can’t kill Silhana Ledgewalker, and it’s slow against other guys. I’d rather take out Birds of Paradise and Silhana Ledgewalker with Pyroclasm on turn two than kill only Birds on turn three.
Out: 1 Stingscourger, 1 Blood Knight, 4 Electrolyze, 1 Mountain
In: 4 Izzet Signet, 3 Pyroclasm
Game 8: dktaf (Gruul Aggro)
In previous games, I got run over by Green-based agro decks. This time, I repeal an early Kird Ape, Rough/Tumble Silhana Ledgewalker and Llanowar Elves off the board, drop Aeon Chronicler as a 6/6 on turn five, and clear the board with bounce to kill him in three swings with my huge avatar.
Game 9: jorcook (B/G/W Control)
I frequently complain about people who play tournament-level decks (as in Pro Tour and States-winning tournament-level) in the casual room. This week, eleven of my twenty games in the Casual room were against these sorts of decks – in other words, the majority! At this point, I’ve given up complaining about these decks – until Magic Online version 3.0 or a better definition from the powers-that-be about what is or isn’t appropriate to play in any given room, I’m just viewing these decks as baptism by fire. In this case, my deck isn’t yet up to the task of battling against a deck full of Mortify, Putrefy, Loxodon Hierarchs, and multiple Wrath of Gods.
Game 10: Amaziah (Mono-Blue Flyers)
He gets control early, but I Pyroclasm
and Rough // Tumble
and Shard Phoenix
away his team. I then get Wheel of Fate
into triple Aeon Chronicler
. The first two get bounced off the board by Boomerang
, but the third one comes down as a 13/13 thanks to Timecrafting
, and hits him for most of his life total. He’s expended his hand keeping the first two Aeon Chronicler
s off of the board, and the rest is elementary.
The games I’ve won have generally either been on the back of Riftwing Cloudskate clearing the way for Aeon Chronicler, or of a huge (6/6 to 13/13) Aeon Chronicler finishing the game in two to three hits. Since this is the strategy that seems to work best (clear the way for a couple of game-ending hits, and not a gradual wear-down of life total), let’s capitalize on it.
I’ve faced a few Conflagrate/Fathom Seer decks in the casual rooms over the past few weeks – these decks get an early Conflagrate into the graveyard, get through about 8-9 early damage, and then have one big turn where they flip over Fathom Seer (draw two, plus return two Islands to your hand), and then discard 10-12 cards to Conflagrate to kill in one turn. This seems like it could go hand-in-hand with my Aeon Chronicler strategy – hit once with a 10/10 Aeon Chronicler, and then spend [manacost: RR] to discard all ten cards and finish my opponent off with Conflagrate.
In addition, I have so many card-drawing spells and effects in this deck that losing a lot of cards to flashback Conflagrate isn’t back-breaking for the deck. To incorporate the Conflagrate/Fathom Seer engine, I take out one to two copies of a lot of the four-ofs in the deck. Out goes a Riftwing Cloudskate, two Shard Phoenix, a Repeal, a Compulsive Research, and a Timecrafting. In addition, Conflagrate gives me another way to kill creatures, so Rough // Tumble is less necessary. I take them out, and add in a fourth Pyroclasm, which can kill Birds of Paradise (which I seem to be facing a lot) more easily.
Out: 3 Rough // Tumble, 1 Riftwing Cloudskate, 2 Shard Phoenix, 1 Repeal, 1 Compulsive Research, 1 Timecrafting
In: 4 Conflagrate, 1 Pyroclasm, 4 Fathom Seer
Game 11: keeper of the melon (B/W Control)
This game is off the hook. He gets Twisted Abomination, Shrieking Grotesque, and double Avatar of Woe. I use Conflagrate to kill his Shrieking Grotesque, and then flash it back to kill his Abomination. I then play Pyroclasm plus Conflagrate for three to kill his first Avatar of Woe, but choose to suspend back-to-back Aeon Chroniclers rather than immediately kill his second Avatar of Woe. He swings me down to 4 life and then plays Debtors’ Knell. My first Aeon Chronicler unsuspends, and I drop Fathom Seer, morph it, play Timecrafting to unsuspend my second Aeon Chronicler, and swing in for twenty damage with my two 10/10s, with the Conflagrate still in my graveyard for another ten damage if he had been able to stop either of my huge guys.
Game 12: ThirdDegreeMasterMason (Dragonstorm)
I try to make a game of it, but he plays double Seething Song into triple Bogardan Hellkite, to which I have no answer.
It’s become clear to me that I really need countermagic in this deck. One of the advantages of running Aeon Chronicler is that when it comes into play after being suspended, I have access to all of my mana that upkeep. That means that if my opponent tries to kill the Chronicler, I would have a minimum of five mana available with which to protect my flagship creature. In addition, I need to be able to stop early threats, or larger, game-altering spells (for instance, countering even one of those Seething Songs would have allowed me to control the game against my last opponent).
I add in a playset of Mana Leak and Cancel, and take out the Wheel of Fate and Timecrafting engines. While they were good in theory, this is the wrong deck for those cards – I already hover around 6-7 cards at all times thanks to all my card drawing, so Wheel of Fate is extraneous. Without Wheel of Fate, there isn’t much of a reason to run Timecrafting.
Bonus Idea #1: One thought is to run a blue-red Wheel of Fate/Timecrafting deck that runs a critical mass of burn spells – Volcanic Hammer, Shock, Seal of Fire, Rift Bolt and the such. Once you get low in hand, use Wheel of Fate and Timecrafting to immediately fill your hand and throw another salvo at your opponent!
Out: 2 Riftwing Cloudskate, 3 Wheel of Fate, 3 Timecrafting
In: 4 Mana Leak, 4 Cancel
Game 13: wackywizard69 (W/G Weenie)
He plays a couple of weenies, but I kill them with Pyroclasm. I then land Aeon Chronicler, and Mana Leak his Faith’s Fetters, hitting him for 6, 7, and then finishing the game with Conflagrate for my hand and his remaining life total.
Game 14: mwhitmoe (U/W/R Angels)
He gets double Court Hussar and Lightning Angel. He Remands my Aeon Chronicler twice, and then my Fathom Seer. I get Aeon Chronicler to stick to the board a third time, and hit him for 7. He plays Wrath of God, and I suspend a second Aeon Chronicler. He then Demonfires me down to 4, but I hit him for another 7, and finish him off with Conflagrate – hardcast for 1, and then flashed back for 5.
Game 15: Colorblind79 (W/G Glare)
I suspend Aeon Chronicler, and it gets kept out of the game permanently by Voidstone Gargoyle. He gets Loxodon Hierarch, and I get Jaya Ballard, Task Mage. Jaya tries killing the Gargoyle, but Colorblind79 saves his Gargoyle with Stonecloaker, which removes the Conflagrate I discarded with Jaya from the game. I then try killing Stonecloaker, but he saves it with Whitelane Lion! On my next turn I kill the Lion by using Cancel to counter his Stonecloaker, but he replays his Voidstone Gargoyle, naming Jaya Ballard. I don’t have an answer to that, and die.
Game 16: Lord_Guanmel (Mono-Green Aggro)
He gets all four copies of Silhana Ledgewalker this game, but I Pyroclasm one, Mana Leak the second, Shard Phoenix the third, and Cancel the fourth. I also Mana Leak a Giant Solifuge, use Conflagrate on the front end to kill double Birds of Paradise and on the back end to kill a third Birds of Paradise, Dryad Sophisticate, and Llanowar Elves, and drop Aeon Chronicler off of a suspend for a three-turn swing-and-win.
Considering I started out 1-5 with this deck, the changes have definitely been making a difference – since then, I’ve been 7-3, and I’ve been beating increasingly harder and harder competition. To make the deck even more competitive, I decide to add Urza’s lands. These have fantastic synergy with both Aeon Chronicler
(to suspend it for an obscene amount) and with Conflagrate
(allowing for a huge front-ended Conflagrate
to match the obscene back-ended flashback).
I need to make some concessions to the deck in order to run Urza Lands – in order to effectively run them, you need to run all twelve – and this definitely cuts down on the number of colored-mana sources that can be in a deck. For instance, it’s harder to get double-blue or double-red mana when twelve of your lands produce colorless mana! Thankfully, I already have eight cards to combat this problem (Izzet Signets and Izzet Boilerworks), so I have a minimal amount of color-shifting to do with my mana base. However, some cards need to go. In particular Fathom Seer needs Islands in specific (and not just random blue mana) to work, so it has to go. In addition, Cancel is harder to play early with fewer Islands, so I want to try out a different piece of countermagic – something like Remand or Rune Snag is a better choice. I opt to go with Rune Snag, because this isn’t a tempo deck that can outrace a one-turn delayed threat – I just want a spell gone for good.
In addition to the changes to the land and counterspell base, I add back in a Repeal and a Compulsive Research (Repeal, of course, works great with the Urzatron as well!), and put in one Invoke the Firemind – it can make Aeon Chronicler “go large,” draw me a lot of cards if I have an empty hand, or just aim for the dome for the win.
Out: 5 Island, 6 Mountain, 4 Fathom Seer, 4 Cancel
In: 4 Rune Snag, 4 Urza’s Mine, 4 Urza’s Power Plant, 4 Urza’s Tower, 1 Repeal, 1 Compulsive Research, 1 Invoke the Firemind
Game 17: Matthenearly (U/G Reality Acid)
He gets Dream Stalker and attempts to play Cloudstone Curio, but I counter the Curio, and Rune Snag/Mana Leak a Moldervine Cloak twice. He eventually gets the Moldervine Cloak to stick, and then hits me for eight with his Dream Stalker thanks to Crookclaw Transmuter. I drop double Aeon Chronicler and go on the offense. He kills one with Reality Acid and a second Dream Stalker, but I get the Urzatron, hit him with my other Aeon Chronicler, and then finish him off with Invoke the Firemind.
Game 18: Mcaillou (U/B Dimir Doppelganger)
I Pyroclasm his early Looter, and drop turn-three Jaya Ballard, which has stayed in the deck since the beginning – with lots of extra cards in hand, I can always have fuel for Jaya’s abilities. Randomly, against base-blue decks such as this, Jaya can keep literally every creature off of the board. This is the case here, as Jaya kills Dimir Guildmage and Dimir Doppelganger. I suspend Aeon Chronicler, and even his Nightmare Void can’t stop me from killing him with Jaya plus the Chronicler.
Game 19: DragonRyderX (U/B Megrim
I counter Wistful Thinking
, bounce Megrim
twice with Repeal
, drop Aeon Chronicler
, get Urzatron, and win with two hits from the Chronicler plus a huge Conflagrate
Game 20: 203 (5-Color Witch-Maw Nephilim) I kill and bounce double Dark Confidant, but he gets Mystic Enforcer and puts Shielding Plax on it. I get knocked down to four life before I can repeal both the Plax and the Enforcer in one turn. He playss Witch-Maw Nephilim and puts the Plax on it, and I draw Repeals numbers three and four. Unfortunately, he drops the Nephilim back down with the Plax, and makes it 7/7 in one turn. I don’t have enough cards in hand to kill him with Conflagrate, and lose to his huge Nephilim.
Overall, this deck ended up being a good build. Although I started with a rough beginning, I reacted to the cards I was losing to, and made changes that would help the deck win. By the end of the build, I felt like I would be able to beat several of the decks I was weak against in the beginning, and had game against anything I could face. The cost of the deck is under 15 tickets – with the non-Urzatron version clocking in under 10 – and the centerpiece of the deck (start to finish) remained Aeon Chronicler.
Next week: Out with the Red, in with the Megrim!
Before we go, a couple of poll questions I’ve very curious about getting results to. These refer to the length of the column in general. See y’all next week!
Question: This week’s Building on a Budget:
Question: In general, Building on a Budget is: