March 4, 2016

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Bad Brews: Gideon’s Phalanx

Hello and welcome back to Bad Brews!

It's the game I play each week with a new booster pack of Magic: the Gathering. Picking out the rare and building a terrible deck from the terrible rare inside the pack. This week I picked a pack of Magic Origins. Home to amazing cards like the Abbot of Keral Keep, Hangarback Walker and of course Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. In a stroke of luck we didn’t pick any of these cards, and instead got one of the most terrible rares from the set. However, I am getting ahead of myself.

Before we check out the rare from this pack, we must first take a quick look at the commons and uncommons that came in this week's pack. For as bad as the rare is, and again I am getting ahead of myself, this pack made up for it with totally playable commons and uncommons.

And finally it's time for the rare so bad that I couldn’t keep from talking about it earlier...

For seven mana you get four 2/2 creatures with Vigilance. Not a bad deal if played on your opponent's turn, however having seven mana open on your opponent's turn is tricky especially in a white deck. As far as late game combat tricks go this one is pretty bad all around. Even the inclusion of indestructibility if you meet the Spell Mastery requirement makes this card a tough sell in any deck. Set up a bunch of chump blockers that can’t die this turn, but won’t hold muster any other turn. Had this card’s Spell Mastery trigger given the creatures Haste instead this might have been a good use of mana, flashing in creatures before the attack phase and blowing up the board with a massive attack would have been nice. But alas, no such luck.

So, knowing that Gideon’s Phalanx is going into the deck, what other cards from the pack will we be using today?

Kytheon’s Tactics gets an auto include for being on colour with his older selves Phalanx. Giving creatures a hefty +2/+1 bonus will keep your creatures fighting another day, as well as making them a worthy attack force all on their own. As a downside, it only works at sorcery speed, which means your opponent has ample time to block anything you are throwing at them. The Spell Mastery trigger on this card is a little more useful early game before you play your Knight tokens, as multiple instances of Vigilance don’t give your creatures double Vigilance.

Enshrouding Mist also gets an auto include for being on colour. This card is a little less broad than Kytheon’s Tactics, targeting a single creature. However, it does give us the ability to keep our creatures in the game by preventing combat damage dealt to them. Also at instant speed, it takes a chump blocker and makes it a force to be reckoned with. Also, if your creature has Renown you get to untap it, which means that you can surprise your opponent with a great blocker that you attacked with last turn.

As for what other colour to play this time, it's an even split between green or red this time. While we have playable cards in both colours, and synergies for both types in the form of Renowned triggers. If I wanted to run fetchlands - which I don’t because they can cost an arm and a leg - I could run both colours. That being said, I want to keep this deck simple and cheap. I think this time I will pick green to partner up with this week's colour

Speaking of Renowned synergy, let's throw in our Rhox Maulers into this deck. The Maulers are obviously a late game beast. Firmly out of most burn range - Roast notwithstanding - we have a beefy creature that doesn’t quite pass the vanilla test on its own. That being said, with Trample and Renowned on it we do have an interesting play. If it’s blocked by a creature with toughness of three or fewer, we will get the Renowned trigger, as Trample damage is still damage to a player. Thus making Rhox Maulers a 6/6 beastie. Not bad if only a little delayed.

Yeva’s Forcemage gives a creature we control +2/+2 until end of turn, which helps if we have creatures on the field at the time. If not, it boosts Yeva’s Forcemage itself, which doesn’t do much unless you have a way of granting Haste to the Forcemage at the the same time... which we do not.

Joraga Invocation beefs up our entire board and makes it so they must be blocked if the opponent is able to. Not a bad deal to take out a few creatures on your opponent’s side of the board while attacking. A little high on the mana curve, this card like many others in this deck so far will require some serious ramp to get us there at a reasonable speed.

I almost forgot, in this deck we will need land. Obviously as the only land in our pack, we will be adding Foundry of the Consuls to the deck. Good for colourless mana, we also get the added ability late game to sacrifice it and put two flyers onto the battlefield. While not the best, especially at five mana, we might get some utility from it giving us some pumpable chump blockers against a flying menace, or as a basically unblockable threat to our opponent’s life total.

So when looking at other cards to add to the deck we will be looking for two things: cheap creatures that we can buff with our many anthem effects and ways to get more mana out on to the board so we can play our cards more effectively.

Swell of Growth pulls double duty in this deck. Allowing us to put land on the battlefield at instant speed, and giving a creature a nice +2/+2 buff until end of turn. Use this defensively and we can start dealing with threats up to 4/4 fairly early on in the game to little detriment to ourselves.

Leaf Gilder gets an auto include in this deck because it adds mana to your mana pool fairly effectively for two mana. It is also a little beefier than its older cousin the Elvish Mystic, who is no longer in Standard any way.

Secure the Wastes will help us get a few pumpable creatures on to the field very early game. With Leaf Gilder on the field, we can put out three 1/1 warriors on turn three. Pumping them next turn with Kytheon’s Tactics will make them a force to be reckoned with, and worst case we can turn use them to chump block your opponent’s threats until we can get some beefier creatures out later in the game.

Murder Investigation is an underrated card if I ever saw one. Getting a bunch of 1/1 soldier tokens when a creature dies is a great ability when attached to the right creature. Early game, you attach it to Leaf Gilder, giving you at least two tokens. Late game, it obviously hits your Rhox Maulers for four to six tokens. Yes, it does require you to lose a creature for it to work, but that is the nature of the game. Creatures die, especially if they must be blocked thanks to Joraga Invocation.

Bad Brews: Gideon's Phalanx

So what is this week's game plan?

Well this week we are aiming for the sky. Try to pump out as much mana as we can early game, then pump up our creatures with spells and abilities. A good opening hand needs to have at least one Leaf Gilder or a Secure the Wastes, ideally both. When playing this deck, knowing which creatures to keep and which to chump block with will be the key. Basically we want an army, so early game we don’t want to be attacking or blocking unless we know for a fact that we won’t lose any members of our attack force. Late game, once we see our Rhox Mauler in play we can really let loose and hope that next turn we have the mana to play our copy of Gideon’s Phalanx, giving us an even bigger army.

Well that is it for this week’s Bad Brews. I hope you enjoyed my take on white-green tokens! Did I miss something key for this deck? Would you have gone white-red instead? Let me know in the comments below and until next time, here is hoping your decks are as bad as mine.