elcome back to the second part of my latest Deck Doctor session! For those who missed part one of the article, or who want a quick refresher, click here. A brief recap: Magic Online player and forum reader Major Domo submitted the following Sasaya deck for my consideration:
After much tinkering, we left off with this version (with the slight change of four Quicksands for four Forests – Quicksands work quite well with Life from the Loam!)
In this week's article, I'm going to take the core of the deck, and rebuild around it based on reader suggestions. For instance, several players wrote in and suggested that I use Elder Pine of Jukai
as the land-draw engine for the Sasaya deck. The thought is that a mix of arcane spells and spirits could buoy your hand to seven lands, allowing for Sasaya-flippin' good times. Fair enough – but for something to go into a deck, something else has to come out.
If the land-draw engine is going to be retooled to work around Elder Pine of Jukai and spirits, we can safely remove the old land-draw engine. This includes Journeyer's Kite, Civic Wayfinder, and Seek the Horizon. In their place, we have Elder Pine of Jukai and Kodama's Reach (both Arcane and land searching).
In order to get Elder Pine of Jukai working, we need to have a concentration of arcane spells and spirits. The deck already has Carven Caryatid, but just four Spirits aren't enough to make the engine work. I went over the list of available spirits in Standard, and decided that Hana Kami would be the best addition for the deck. Hana Kami allows you to recur your arcane spells (so far just Kodama's Reach – but just wait for more in a second), plus it costs only a Green to cast.
As far as Arcane spells go, the original version of Sasaya was having some difficulties with weenie rushes. Glacial Ray is a pretty efficient splice/burn spell – it combos with Hana Kami, Kodama's Reach, and Elder Pine, so I can definitely find room for it in the deck. Plus, Glacial Ray can act as direct damage – if you draw two, you get six points of damage (two from the first Ray, two from splicing the second Ray onto the first, and two from casting the second Ray). This is not an insignificant amount of damage, and Hana Kami can help insure that you end up with two Glacial Rays in your hand in the late game.
I also added three Soulless Revival to the deck, along with a pair of Swamps. Soulless Revival can go infinite with Hana Kami, allows me to get back the extremely fragile, one-toughness Elder Pine of Jukai, and brings Sasaya back from the dead after she takes one for the team. In addition, Soulless Revival has a cheap splice cost, so it plays well with Glacial Ray.
Lastly, I felt bad about having Time of Needs in the deck, but only one card (Sasaya) to tutor for. Patron of Orochi seemed like a good addition to the deck. It's a big fatty, it adds a lot of mana to your mana pool via its untap ability (letting it substitute for a flipped Sasaya in the late game), and it can Snake Offering off of Sasaya herself in a pinch.
Aside from the Kites, Wayfinders, and Seek the Horizons, I mainly took out a lot of one-ofs of all the cards that had only one or four copies in the deck. A complete list of the changes are below, but the only card removed entirely from the deck was Sensei's Divining Top. There were quite a few less shuffle effects left in the deck in the Spiritcraft build, so while the Top would still be useful, it wouldn't have maximum utility.
Here's how the deck looked after being rebuilt as a Spirit/Sasaya deck:
In: 4 Elder Pine of Jukai, 4 Glacial Ray, 4 Hana Kami, 4 Kodama's Reach, 3 Mountain, 1 Patron of the Orochi, 3 Soulless Revival, 2 Swamp
Out: 1 Blaze, 1 Carven Caryatid, 3 Civic Wayfinder, 4 Forest, 3 Journeyer's Kite, 1 Life from the Loam, 1 Quicksand, 1 Sasaya, Orochi Ascendant, 4 Seek the Horizon, 1 Selesnya Guildmage, 3 Sensei's Divining Top, 1 Stream of Life, 1 Time of Need
Game 1:Mirror Lich (Magnivore)
Mirror Lich is on the play, and he Stone Rains my second land. I have three more in hand, but hold back playing a Forest until I can get to a third mana for Kodama's Reach. Luckily, he only Demolishes one other land, and I chain double Kodama's Reach into Sasaya. He drops a Magnivore and swings, but I Snake Offering Sasaya to drop Patron of the Orochi as a surprise blocker, killing the Vore. My Patron swings twice, and I end the game with a large Blaze
Game 2: Anonymous (Muse Vessel)
The person I played here asked to be kept anonymous, but he was playing a version of my Muse Vessel deck. Unfortunately, he had a slightly sub-par draw, and gave up halfway through the match. Granted, I don't think he could have pulled it out given that he kept drawing lands and Fellwar Stones, but he also declined to use Quicksands to stop my Elder Pine of Jukai from dealing eight damage to him over the course of four turns.
Game 3: MadDocPants (Rakdos)
It's only fitting that I face a Rakdos deck, given that I'll be playing one next week! MadDocPants puts on some really fast beatdown with Jagged Poppet
and Gobhobbler Rats
, and I barely stabilize the board at seven life, thanks to Savage Twister
(which takes out both his board and his entire hand, thanks to the Poppet!). My last card in hand is Patron of the Orochi
, and his only non-land permanent is Seal of Fire
. I have seven lands on the board. He draws Jagged Poppet
, I draw Glacial Ray
, he draws a second Seal of Fire
, plays it, and kills me.
I could have cast Glacial Ray on his Jagged Poppet during his draw phase, after he drew his card, since he would likely have been able to cast whatever he drew with the Poppet. At least that way I would lost only the Patron to his Poppet, instead of my entire hand. In fact, the right play there would have been to have him discard his drawn card to the Poppet via my Ray, and hoped to top-deck an answer the following turn.
Game 4: Vivi2020 (B/G Tokens)
Vivi2020 drops a ton of token creatures via multiple Selesnya Guildmages, which I kill one after another with burn. I drop Patron of the Orochi and Hana Kami, and use Hana Kami plus Soulless Revival to repeatedly recur Kodama's Reach. Kodama's Reach spliced with Soulless Revival plus Hana Kami equals two Forests a turn. Before long, I have enough Forests in play to use the Patron to fuel a Blaze for twenty.
I realize that Life from the Loam has been pretty suboptimal, because I never have enough cards in my hand to discard lands. In addition, Patron of the Orochi has been a huge help – it's both a quick clock (7/7 creatures tend to be clocks) and an enabler for game-ending Blazes.
In addition, I'm still having problems keeping small creatures down. I decide that I'd rather have Pyroclasm than Savage Twister. Although Savage Twister offers more flexibility in the late game, it can't kill 2/2 creatures until turn 4. Pyroclasm sweeps the board of weenies a lot earlier than that. Also, since I'm running Glacial Ray, I can combine the two to kill larger creatures if need be.
Out: 1 Life from the Loam, 3 Savage Twister
In: 1 Patron of the Orochi, 3 Pyroclasm
Game 5: Tenaciousdon (5 Color Gold)
He has a ton of mana fixers, and a lot of win-big spells. Over the course of the game, I see multiple Supply // Demand
s (his tokens are Pyroclasm
ed away), a Brightflame
for eight, Savage Twister
, and Overrule
. I ramp up quite a few lands with Elder Pine of Jukai
and Kodama's Reach
. I drop Sasaya, and in response to his Faith's Fetters
, I snake offering Patron of Orochi into play. The Patron gets a hit in, and then dies to Tenacioudon's Blaze
I Blaze him back for his life total, but he casts Overrule for two to stay alive at two life (I have the mana to pay for the Overrule). I drop Hana Kami, draw Soulless Revival, and start swinging the 1/1 spirit into his newly-minted Saproling tokens, hoping to whittle away his last two life. After a couple of turns of this, I draw Glacial Ray and just burn him out for the win.
Game 6: Bluffhappy (R/W Boros)
I drop Hana Kami, and he Riot Spikes it. He drops Boros Swiftblade and Skyknight Legionnaire. I Quicksand the Swiftblade and Glacial Ray the flier. We build up for a while - I get Sasaya and Kodama's Reach, he gets down Boros Recruit. I swing a couple of times, he swings a couple of times, and then he finally goes for it: Bluffhappy casts Skyknight Legionnaire, puts Taste for Mayhem on it, and then tries enchant his Boros Recruit with Blessing of the Nephilim.
Rule #5: Enchant Creature Card are Not your Friends!
I cast Glacial Ray in response, splicing a second Glacial Ray. In the end, he loses four cards (Skyknight Legionnaire, Boros Recruit, Taste for Mayhem and Blessing of the Nephilim) to my one card (Glacial Ray).
He drops Faith's Fetters on my Sasaya, but I Snake Offering it to the Patron, Blaze him for thirteen (Tip: You can tap Patron before the attack to untap your Forests, since he untaps himself!), and swing for his last seven life points. He casts Lightning Helix just to stay alive, and drops Firemane Angel. The Angel chump blocks my Patron, but it buys him a turn – and in that turn, he draws another Faith's Fetters.
I drop a second Sasaya, and start swinging for his last couple of life points. Unfortunately for me, the Firemane Angel in his graveyard is gaining him a life a turn, so I'm slowly denting his remaining life. He casts Mourning Thrull, and then casts Boros Guildmage and Taste for Mayhem (on the flyer), uses the Guildmage's haste ability, and swings for seven. I use Quicksand to kill his Guildmage, and cast Glacial Ray to kill his spirit-linked Thrull. A turn later, I draw Soulless Revival, get Hana Kami, and burn him out for his last life points.
At this point, I haven't even come close to flipping Sasaya with this new version of the deck. In fact, I've used Sasaya for two purposes in the Spiritcraft version of the Sasaya deck – attacking for two, and getting out Patron of the Orochi early. In light of these facts, I decide to just remove the entire Sasaya part of the deck, since the deck is working great as a Patron of the Orochi/Blaze deck. I have more threats to attack with, more direct damage, and a much more potent game against both weenie and control decks than the combo-version of the deck had.
I lose the Sasayas, Times of Need (since I no longer need to tutor for Sasaya), and the last Life from the Loam. I add in a third Patron of the Orochi, three Sakura-Tribe Elders (snakes plus mana-fixing) and three Sosuke, Son of Seshiro (a solid beater, plus good for Snake-offerings).
In: 1 Patron of the Orochi, 3 Sakura-Tribe Elder, 3 Sosuke, Son of Seshiro
Out: 1 Life from the Loam, 3 Sasaya, 1 Elder Pine of Jukai, 2 Time of Need
Game 7: Joe718 (Battle of Wits)
He gets stuck at one mana, and I cast turn 1 Hana Kami, turn 3 Kodama's Reach, turn 4 Kodama's Reach plus Glacial Ray at him. He draws a second land and casts Dimir Guildmage, but I splice Ray onto Ray to hit him and his Guildmage for two each, and then cast a sixth turn Patron of the Orochi. He drops Thieving Magpie, and I use my Hana Kami to get back my first Glacial Ray, allowing me to double-Ray his Magpie and swing for seven. He doesn't have an answer to the 7/7 Legend, and I swing in for the win.
Game 8: Kushlord (U/R Burn)
He gets an early Siege of Towers plus Shimmering Glasskite, and hits me with Lava Spike and Yamabushi's Flame once I'm low on life for the win. Shimmering Glasskite is extremely difficult for me to kill, and I waited a turn too long to kill his Mountain. In fact, I killed his Mountain with Blaze, while holding a Pyroclasm. My thought was that the only way I could deal with the Glasskite is to draw two Pyroclasms. However, I ended up dropping Patron of the Orochi and getting burned out to exactly zero the turn I dropped it. If I had killed the Mountain with Pyroclasm a turn earlier, I would have been able to Blaze him out with the Patron for the win!
Game 9: Domepiece (B/W Teysa)
For the second straight game, I end up losing due to a judgment call. This is why you playtest your decks – the results you get may not be indicative of the deck's possible performance, while you are learning the ins and outs of playing it.
Basically, Domepiece cast a turn 2 Ravenous Rats, and I discarded Pyroclasm instead of Glacial Ray. He proceeds to drop three Dark Confidants, two Orzhov Pontiffs, Teysa, and a Plagued Rusalka. If I had kept the Clasm, I could have wiped the majority of his board clear, allowing me all the time I needed to set up my game. Instead, I fought an uphill battle all game, killing his guys off one-by-one, and allowing him to make 1/1 flyers with his Teysa. I finally lose to four flyers that are insanely huge thanks to Orzhov Pontiffs.
Game 10: Pecafre (My Azorius Deck)
Pecafre is playing a U/W control deck that is a hybrid of my Azorius Ascendant theme deck evolution and my Muse Vessel budget build. I get destroyed by the U/W deck – I can't handle Icy Manipulator, he casts Annex to keep me from getting enough lands to splice effectively, and Remand stops my burn spells from taking down his larger creatures. He casts Confiscate to take my Sosuke, and then drops Tidespout Tyrant to seal the deal.
Well, I didn't expect to end up with a spiritcraft/snakes hybrid deck when I added a spiritcraft component to the Sasaya deck, but I think that it showed a lot of potential. My results post-Sasaya could have easily have been 8-2 if I had more playtesting time, but that's why you playtest – to learn how to play your deck before you have any prizes/tournaments on the line, or to see what spells you should play in which situations.
Most importantly, it was a lot more fun to beat down with 7/7 snakes and to recur burn spells than to draw seven lands and Blaze for fifty. Sure, the second one is a lot more nifty of a finish, but the first one lets you charge into the red zone with Giant snakes – and I'd rather attack with my creatures for the win then sit back hoarding lands for a long game.
Ben! I've been long dreaming of the day you build and Aggressive Rakdos Deck! I want you to build the following:
|Rakdos Hellbent! It's the mechanic – use it and/or lose it!
|Rakdos Weenie Rush! Goblins and Zombies and Beasts, oh my!
|Rakdos Burn! I love the smell of Bacon on a Monday Morning!
See you next week when I debut the revamped Rakdos Bloodsport theme deck, Ben style!