May 20, 2016

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Bad Brews: Gideon's Phalanx 2.0

Hello and welcome back to Bad Brews!

That's right its time for another installment of the game we play where we crack open a pack of something from standard and see what terrible deck we can build from its contents. This week we are going to use a pack of Magic Origins to see if we can crack something other than a Jace... but maybe a Jace.

So without further adieu let's crack that pack. Inside we find:

And finally for the rare, we have:

Oh, that’s embarrassing. I swear this has never happened to me before. For those of you who have been following the series since we started, you will see the problem right away. That’s right, I have already brewed up a deck using Gideon’s Phalanx. Well, I guess we are looking at a new meta game, since the last time I brewed up this card we still had access to Khans of Tarkir and Fate Reforged. Now that we are working with Shadows Over Innistrad we may see a completely different deck from this brew. Let's find out!

So, just like the last time I brewed up Gideon’s Phalanx, there are some downsides to this cards. Getting four 2/2’s is not a bad ability especially at instant speed. Flash them in on your opponent's turn to change the tide on a game, would be a good idea, if not for the fact that this card costs a whopping seven mana to cast. Keeping that much mana open is a clear signal to your opponent that you have something bomb-y in your hand, or worse yet that you are holding only land. That late in the game you should be able to give all your creatures indestructible thanks to spell mastery, which actually might work in your favour in the new Archangel Avacyn dominated format. So maybe the downsides might not be as bad this time round.

Last time we brewed up Gideon’s Phalanx we went Green-White, which worked pretty well. This week, thanks to the inclusion of Iroas’s Champion in our booster pack we are going to go Red-White. Iroas’s Champion is a fun little card which has double strike. For three mana its not a bad inclusion in our deck. While it’s not all that powerful on its own we will be able to beef it up with some nice combat tricks included in this pack.

Starting with Titan’s Strength and Mighty Leap, we see where this deck is going pretty quickly. Both function at instant speed, which will keep us on the board no matter whose turn we are on, and when combined with Iroas’s Champion we will see some serious damage when our creatures go unblocked. Each one does something a little different so we might cast them under different circumstances. Titan’s Strength will get used when blocking a big creature we need to take down, whereas Mighty Leap will get used when we need to get around our opponents defences for the kill.

Mage-Ring Bully will see play in this deck as a great way to deal with large creatures. On the downside, it needs to attack each turn, but will get pumped every time we cast a non-creature spell. Obviously if we reserve those instants we mentioned above (including Gideon’s Phalanx) for when Mage-Ring Bully gets blocked, we will start dealing some serious damage to our opponents board.

Enlightened Ascetic is a 1/1 for two mana, not the best creature in our deck. That being said it works for us as some enchantment removal when needed. While not many competitive decks are running that many enchantments, it's something to consider.

Ghirapur Gearcrafter is a 2/1 for three mana. Even worse on the whole than Enlightened Ascetic. Then again it gives us a second creature in the form of a 1/1 Thopter Token. The Thopter Tokens natural evasion will give us some free damage against a deck that is weak to flyers.

Last from the booster pack we have the Runed Servitor. A 2/2 for two mana is decent on its own, but when it dies we get to draw a card. Admittedly so do our opponents, but that downside is worth it to give ourselves some extra gas.

Now that we have the bare bones of our deck let's start filling it out with some cards from Standard.

Secure the Wastes will add some redundancy to our deck in terms of a token strategy. While the tokens it produces will be no match for the 2/2 tokens that Gideon’s Phalanx produces, the getting as many 1/1’s as we have mana for definitely makes for some added value in our deck. Add to that the fact that it is just one more card to give us spell mastery later on, which we really want when casting Gideon’s Phalanx, we are laughing.

Getting creatures out isn’t all that great if they aren’t strong enough to deal with our enemies creatures, and creature buffs will only get us so far on their own. That's where this next card comes in. Zada, Hedron Grinder is a card that copies a single target instant or sorcery and repeats it for each creature we control on the battlefield. Comboing Zada, Hedron Grinder with either of our pump spells will spell disaster for our enemy no matter which way we slice it.

Being able to blink our creatures out of the battlefield will be an interesting strategy in this deck, while we shouldn’t blink our tokens - as they won’t come back - being able to blink everything else might just help. Eerie Interlude does just that. Combined with the enter the battlefield effects of Enlightened Ascetic and Ghirapur Gearcrafter we get some good value out of the card, also if need be we can use Eerie Interlude to stop Mage-Ring Bully from attacking in a less than advantageous situation.

Our deck is in desperate need of a one drop creature, so in that place we will throw in Lightning Berserker. Turn one we can dash it in for maximum results, and keep it swinging on turn two if we don’t have a better card to play. Turn three or four when we have extra mana up we can make it stick, and then pump its attack up.

Outnumber in a token deck is kind of a no brainer. We get to deal damage to a creature based on the number of creatures we control. In a token based strategy this can deal with our opponent’s biggest threat, leaving us room to maneuver. For maximum effectiveness we, of course, have to wait till we Secure the Wastes or Gideon’s Phalanx then swing in for the win.

Stone Quarry in a red white deck? Who'd have thunk it! But seriously, while it takes an extra turn to get the mana, being able to choose between the two is nice. Feel free to substitute with a Battlefield Forge if you feel like the deck is running a little slow, but otherwise, enjoy!

So now that we have picked out the cards we are using for the deck, let's take a look at how they all break down.

In terms of strategy, there are a few things to note about this deck. While it's tempting to play out all your creatures as quickly as possible, be sure you learn your match up before getting too gutsy. Lightning Berserker is a solid first play, but be sure to cast it for its Dash cost on turn one if you have a viable turn two play. Also, never cast Eerie Interlude on Zada if you have tokens on the battlefield. While it might be tempting to blink Zada, Hedron Grinder to save it from a burn spell, or to keep it from dying as a chump blocker, it ability will trigger as it is not a may ability and it will wipe your board.

As for sideboard tech, any single target spell in red or white is a viable option for this deck. If it acts as fodder for spell mastery, and will also trigger Zada, Hedron Grinder, it is something you might run. Also, consider cards with enter the battlefield triggers on them, while the Zendikar Allys are good for that, they might be better left in the sideboard as we have very few Ally cards in the main.

Thanks again for checking out Bad Brews, if you liked this week’s brew be sure to let me know in the comments below. If you think I missed out on something great, don’t hesitate to mention it. Of course as always, I will see you next week, and hope that your brews are as bad as mine.