ThatPinguino's Magic Lessons: Tweaking an Existing Deck

Hey everybody I’m back with another Magic lesson and this time I want to talk about tweaking an existing deck. I’m going to take the deck I made last week and make some changes to it based on my experiences during playtesting. Like before, I’ll be commenting on each of the changes along the way.

Sneaky Temur 2.0:

Whisperwood Elemental x 4

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Icefeather Aven x 4

Rattleclaw Mystic x 4

Ashcloud Phoenix x 4

Hooded Hydra x 3

Kheru Spellsnatcher x 2

Sagu Mauler x 3

Prophet of Kruphix x 2

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Wildcall x 4

Sylvan Caryatid x 4

Temur Charm x 4

Stubborn Denial x 4

Secret Plans x 3

Trail of Mystery x 3

Ghostfire Blade x 2

Reality Shift x 3

Island x 4

Forest x 4

Mountain x 3

Frontier Bivouac x 4

Yavimaya Coast x 4 x 3

Shivan Reef x 4 x 3

Rugged Highlands x 1

Thornwood Falls x 1

Ok so the main skeleton here is the same: Whisperwood Elemental and a bunch of morph creatures designed to help sew confusion and help Whisperwood take the game over. However, I found that I need to mess around with some of the individual cards a bit to combat some of the deck’s weaknesses.

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Hooded Hydra is out! I knew that Hooded Hydra might be a little too cute to play considering it is amazing when Manifested, but mediocre when played face-up or face down from your hand. I found that Hooded Hydra is a win-more card in most of my matchups. That means that when I was ahead it put me even more ahead, but when I was behind or catching up it wasn’t helpful. Hooded Hydra was the last card my opponents cared about when Whisperwood Elemental started going nuts, it didn’t protect my more important cards, and it didn’t enable my other cards to do anything extra special. So it had to go. It is still in my sideboard for specialty duty against decks with a lot of board wipes and non-exiling removal, but it had to leave the main board for more impactful options.

In the place of my Hydras I added two Kheru Spellsnatchers (and one of my three copies of Reality Shift). Kheru Spellsnatcher is a back breaker against decks that play for the long game. Being able to snatch a late game bomb or a critical piece of removal is very powerful and well worth 6 mana. However, Manifesting this thing and then flipping it for four mana is huge in a deck that can find itself with too many things to do and not enough mana to do them. Spellsnatcher’s power and toughness isn’t great, but it can steal unwinnable games so that’s a fair tradeoff. At any rate, Spellsnatcher is a bigger game changer than Hooded Hydra, even if it is less mana efficient.

I replaced Wildcall with Sylvan Caryatid because I needed help surviving to the point where I could cast Whisperwood Elemental. Caryatid both protects me until I get the mana to cast my game changers and it accelerates me to them as well. Wildcall was too cute in this deck since I lack the Scrying or deck manipulation that would help me stack Manifest in my favor. Wildcall was often a 2/2 for two mana or a 3/3 for three mana and those rates just aren’t good enough for a vanilla creature in my deck.

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Temur Charm was replaced with Stubborn Denial because countering a removal spell for one mana is more essential in this deck than all of the options that Temur Charm presented. I can find an extra blue mana to cast Stubborn Denial most of the time, but keeping three mana up for Temur Charm was just untenable. Furthermore, almost all of the creatures I want to protect trigger Ferocious by themselves so Stubborn Denial is even better. I found that keeping a Whisperwood Elemental or a Prophet of Kruphix around for a turn or two was usually enough to bury my opponent in creatures so Stubborn Denial was the way to go.

Secret Plans was replaced by its rare partner in crime, Trail of Mystery, because keeping the lands flowing was more important than drawing cards in this deck. With Secret Plans I found myself drawing more cards than I could reasonably cast once the game was well in hand, but the card itself did not put me in a better position to win. The extra toughness that Secret Plans provides seemed useful in theory, but it turns out that most of the popular removal in this format deals three damage, it turns out that the extra protection was not very protective. On the other hand, Trail of Mystery goes straight nuts in this deck. I could easily remove all of the basic lands from my deck in a few turns with the number of face-down creatures this deck can generate. That is some powerful deck thinning right there. On top of that, the bonus +2/+2 to all flipped creatures is enough to turn a whole lot of blocks from trades or losses into wins. Flipping an Icefeather Aven to bounce a Wingmate Roc token and kill the Roc itself feels so good.

Ghostfire Blade was replaced with Reality shift because this deck needs some way, besides a terrible block, to kill problematic creatures. Cards like Doomwake Giant, Siege Rhino, and Butcher of the Hoard are just too impactful allow them to live. While this deck will eventually overrun other midrange decks it can get beaten to the punch by aggressive decks or short circuited by cards like Doomwake Giant. Reality Shift allows me to bust my opponent’s strongest creature down to a manageable morph size and my morphed creatures tend to win morph-on-morph fights.

My mana base is relatively unchanged save for trading some pain-lands for a couple of gain-lands. I made that exchange to help offset some of the early damage and self-inflicted land damage this deck tends to suffer. I could see playing Temples over the life-gain lands, but I want to try the cheaper option first. I gained an appreciation for the gain-lands in my Limited games and I want to see how they do in Standard.

The tweaks I’ve made were all made with the goal of increasing this deck’s resilience to disruption, removal, and aggression. Though I like to think that the changes I’ve made are for the better; I’m sure that further testing will lead to further tweaks. Deck building is a lot like writing for me. My decks usually starts with the germ of an idea followed by an explosion of composition, but like all works of art and expression, a well made deck needs constant rewrites and cuts. Hopefully this draft is a little better than the last.

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