Courtesy Wizards of the Coast
Art by Slawomir Maniak

To be blunt, I wouldn’t have this deck idea without Magic the Gathering Online.

There was a time when I scoffed at the idea of playing Magic on the Internet through a sanctioned client. I’m not talking about Duels of the Planeswalkers, the 2013 version of which I’ll review once I play a Planechase game or two. No, I’m talking about the actual, Wizards-approved, “Here is the Magic experience as close as we can make it without making your computer print cards” client. Meaning one must use actual money to pay for virtual booster packs.

As much as one might discount this idea as a money grab, the idea that one can practice drafting at any time rather than waiting for a weekend or a get-together with friends is an overwhelming one. Limited format Magic is a different kettle of chips from Constructed. It takes practice, a slightly different mindset from Constructed play, and a willingness to think outside of established parameters. As much as you might like a certain color combination, say black and green, if you get nothing but blue rares and no good cards outside of red, being stuck in the black/green mindset will mean you’ve lost long before your first game begins.

I will discuss Limited play another time, but suffice it to say I drafted an interesting deck the last time I played. Its core card was [mtg_card]Sphere of Safety[/mtg_card]. My first copy was an early pick out of a pretty lackluster pack, and after seeing what it does I started picking up as many useful enchantments as possible: [mtg_card]Chronic Flooding[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Arrest[/mtg_card], and so on. While I only won one match during the event, I still had a blast playing the deck, and a couple of my opponents complimented me on my esoteric but powerful choice.

So I returned to my beloved Standard with my Izzet Controlled Burn deck in hand, and checked out the scene at the King of Prussia mall. Alas, my first choice, Cyborg One in Doylestown, is now a bit of a hike to get to. The new place had a decent turn-out, and I did all right but fell in the first round to an aggressive Golgari deck that ended up winning the entire event. Aggression can be hard for control decks to deal with, and as disappointed as I was in a few mis-plays on my part, my mind kept coming back to the [mtg_card]Sphere of Safety[/mtg_card] idea.

At first the thought was to cram as many enchantments as possible into the deck so that attacking me or my planeswalkers becomes ridiculously expensive as quickly as possible. However, relying on the appearance of [mtg_card]Azor’s Elocutors[/mtg_card] or [mtg_card]Jace, Memory Adept[/mtg_card] could make for very long games. I love good old-fashioned mill decks as much as the last Revised veteran, and the idea of talking an opponent into submission is hilarious to me, but at least in the initial encounter, the potential to deal game-winning damage is never a bad option to have.

[mtg_deck title=”Standard Safety Dance”]
// Creatures
4 Invisible Stalker
4 Geist of Saint Traft
1 Bruna, Light of Alabaster

// Enchantments
4 Bonds of Faith
4 Detention Sphere
4 Sphere of Safety
3 Oblivion Ring
2 Curiosity
2 Martial Law

// Instants
4 Azorius Charm
4 Dissipate

// Planeswalkers
2 Jace, Memory Adept

// Land
8 Island
10 Plains
4 Hallowed Fountain

// Sideboard
4 Chronic Flooding
4 Soul Tithe
3 Negate
2 Azor’s Elocutors
2 Knight of Glory

You’ll notice that all of the creatures, save for [mtg_card]Bruna, Light of Alabaster[/mtg_card], have Hexproof. This means that, for the most part, an opponent’s creature removal is useless. Provided this deck can win the first game of a match, it’s likely they will sideboard out some of that removal for any enchantment hate they have. I, on the other hand, am free to board in [mtg_card]Negate[/mtg_card] which will deal with both those spells and any remaining removal, and [mtg_card]Azor’s Elocutors[/mtg_card] for a filibustery second game. It’s certainly not your normal Standard deck, but I think it’ll be just as much fun for my opponents to discover what I’m playing and how I’d win as it will be for me to plan ahead, execute gambits, and come at victory from outside the box.

How does the deck look to you? What suggestions would you make? Is there a particular deck or card you’d like me to discuss? I plan on laying out my thoughts on Limited next time – specifically, I’m going to tell you what it means to ‘brew’ up a good draft or sealed deck.