There are two ways to understand why you failed in a game of magic. One is to blame luck. This may seem like a cop-out, but sometimes it is true: you do get unlucky in magic. Last 20 cards only have 5 lands and you peel off each in a row for the loss? Pretty unlucky. Have 3 lands in your opener and never draw another? Pretty unlucky. The other way is to blame yourself, which is almost always the correct choice, even if there was luck involved in your loss. So you peeled 5 lands in a row—how did you get into a position to lose like that? They had the perfect answer for everything—why didn’t you? Losing a game of magic is infinitely easier than winning one. By that I don’t mean no one wins or that your opponent isn’t doing anything to help themselves, but you allow them to get their wins easier by poor plays or deck inclusions.
Where my last deck I talked about was a RW Aggro deck, in the next draft with my brother’s cube I decided to go for a BWr/Kaalia aggro build. The biggest issue with the deck, as I discussed with my brother Pete, was that there was no actual disruption. Strip mine, wasteland, vindicate, stupor…all absent. I had a chance at a Hymn to Tourach at one point, but I took an important piece of fixing to insure that the deck had some reach, as aggro BW decks have a problem stomping the boot at the end. Instead, I ended up with a pile of creatures, some removal spells, a couple rounds losses, and a win.
1x Chain Lightning
1x Savannah Lions
1x Student of Warfare
1x Mother of Runes
1x Steppe Lynx
1x Vampire Lacerator
1x Lightning Bolt
1x Elite Vanguard
1x Accorder Paladin
1x Doom Blade
1x Dark Confidant
1x Journey to Nowhere
1x Stoneforge Mystic
1x Soltari Trooper
1x Pack Rat
1x Silverblade Paladin
1x Grafted Wargear (not pictured)
1x Elspeth, Knight-Errant
1x Marsh Flats
1x Godless Shrine
1x Bloodstained Mire
1x Sacred Foundry
1x City of Brass
1x Cave of Kolios
Sinkhole: This was my only real disruption, but I didn’t end up playing it. While my fixing was pretty amazing and never a problem, I also only had two cards with multiple color symbols, and each of those were CMC 3 & 4. While the Vampire Hexmage came out of the sideboard against a deck with a lot of planeswalkers and was never draw, I was nervous about hitting double black consistently on turn 2 and 3.
The first match I played in was over quick while the other two guys took an hour+ to finish theirs, so after winning the ‘official’ match, I kept a note in my head how consistently I was hitting double black as I knew I would want something like sinkhole against their slower, not-as-rampy decks. Unfortunately, there were too many hands where I would need to play a plains first to drop a white one drop, or I would have to go and fetch one of my RW duals with either the Mire or the Flats and then I’d be waiting to hit the second black source. Ultimately I decided that I didn’t want any dead cards at any point in my hand and kept the Sinkhole on the side. If anyone has any input, it would be much appreciated.
Dark Confidant: This deck is one of the better Confidant decks, in that I would never be taking too much of a hit off a reveal. With only 5 cards costing 3 or more, I was looking at a shock at worst every time. Dark Confidant is the real deal in these style of decks; while revealing the card is rough, most the time you’re immediately playing it anyways as dropping threats onto the board and bringing them into the red zone is the most important thing you want to be doing with this deck. And even if Confidant is clocking you for heavy damage, the only time you really need to worry about it is in the aggro mirror or if you’re racing your opponent.
Confidant is one of the worst top decks late in games, though. If a game goes late, or later than it should, it’s often that you’re racing and you can’t afford to be paying life, and pulling off an Elspeth or Armageddon could be for the kill. I wouldn’t run Dark Confidant in a deck that had, say, an Emrakul, but he is pretty nuts in the suicide BW decks.
Mother of Runes: Mom is a bomb. Not literally a bomb, as she can’t win games on her own (unless you can attack 18-20 turns in a row with her), but pretty much countering the first piece of removal or turning your creatures into unblockable beasts. When you can untap with Mother of Runes, you end up making your opponent play an entirely different game. There are very few decks I don’t want a mother in, and while she can be an awful top deck at times, once she gets going she is at least going to eat some removal, which for W is pretty nice.
Chain Lightning/Lightning Bolt: As I mentioned earlier, BW builds have an awful time finishing opponents. While all the removal is nice, if a defense is mounted and the creatures can’t profitably attack, the game starts turning around. In the first pack I knew I was going for a BW aggressive build and grabbed a Lightning Bolt late. From there I prioritized fixing over pretty much everything, as most of the 1 drops kept on coming around the mountain time and time again.
This deck would have been a lot worse if I didn’t have the burn in my repertoire. There were enough times that I could’ve used an extra piece of burn, and I considered putting the Searing Spear in, but that may have been cutting it close. Overall, I’m glad I included the burn.
Pack Rat: This was the card I was the most questionable about including. While it is awesome to be able to pitch my extra late lands, it’s pretty awful to have him sitting out there as a 1/1, and to pay 2B to make him a 2/2 and another guy is something this deck really can’t afford to do. Sure, it is technically spending mana, but for 3 mana that initial investment is pretty weak; if the initial rat ends up trading, then I’m left with a 1/1 for 2B.
The only reason I kept them in is because this deck, even with the two pieces of red burn, is still lacking the reach necessary to close out a lot of games. Drawing lands in the late game typically means death, so having an outlet to make those lands at least a creature is something I’m interested in. I would’ve preferred to have another red drop, or perhaps I should’ve played the Spear over it; I’d like some more experience with the Pack Rats in an aggressive deck before I know if I like it there.
Stoneforge Mystic: Stoneforge for only a Grafted Wargear seems pretty bunk. The thing is, Wargear was pretty incredible in this deck. Between all my 1 drops and tokens from blossom/Elspeth/pack rats, there was some creature that could use the +3+2. Having the equipment bounced off your guy can hurt, but that’s a sacrifice you have to be willing to take. The reason the Wargear is so awesome is because it only costs 0 to equip. This deck might not be able to afford to play a sword and pay the 2 to equip it, so having a sizable boost you can use to make your fliers and out-classed one drops into threats is something I’m always interested in. While I not play the swords in every aggro deck I build, Grafted Wargear is typically an easy inclusion.
To end the article, I’d like to take a moment to oogle at some of the altered cards in my brother’s cube. I think alters are pretty sweet, and he has some sweet ones. (Sorry for the poor picture quality–trust me, the look better in person.)