Posted by Brian (@ChaosMTG).

ohlookapicture Lately I’ve actively been avoiding playing my own decks. Partially because I’ve been lazy and haven’t felt like carrying around my briefcase full of cards… But mostly because I’ve realized just how much you can teach someone about their own decks by using them against them.

It started when my friend Jake decided to build a Damia deck. He began with the intent to fill it with ridiculously expensive combos that made him unlikely to ever win unless he went the entire game without being disrupted. And, for the most part, he succeeded… Until I decided to try using it. Apparently he didn’t realize the interaction between Amulet of Vigor and the Ravnica bounce lands until I decided to drop a turn 2 Azusa, turn 3 Damia, and then proceeded to Capsize everything.

I never realized just how much people hated this card until I did that… Which only makes me want to run it in more of my decks.

 

I’ve learned quite a few things about my own decks from having others play them too, mostly Child of Alara (I’ll put a list on page 2 a bit later.)  – Because when I offer people a choice, they always seem to go for it over anything else. As I made it, it’s intended to be a chaotic cascade heavy deck that uses things like Eye of the Storm and Possibility Storm for exponential value and ridiculous win conditions. (Everyone scooping due to a ridiculously complex board state/indeterminately long turn happens to be a valid alternate win condition.)

There have been two notable experiences where this deck turned into something completely different, and both are fairly recent. One is from a game in my local playgroup and the other was against Gerry Thompson.

It might come as a surprise to some of you, but I only use Child of Alara for the colors. Sure, I could use any other five color legend, but Child of Alara has awesome Steve Argyle art… And mine is shiny, so I’m obligated to use it. As it turns out, though, some people like my friend Max think that Child of Alara is actually meant to be cast; and I just happen to run enough recursion that, with a sac outlet, this deck can be played in a more traditional “kick the baby” style.

 

Also, the only sac outlet in the deck happens to be a land… Convenient.

 

There’s one kind of deck I almost never play, even moreso than agro – interestingly enough, that’s exactly how this deck played out when Gerry Thompson decided to use it a few weeks back. What kind of deck might that be?

Midrange.

Apparently I had played this deck with its intent in mind for so long that I forgot that its removal spells can actually be used as removal instead of just as alternate recursion and that its creatures can actually do more than be spells on sticks. (Did you know that creatures can do this thing called “attacking” and when they do they deal something known as “combat damage”? I certainly didn’t…) This game even saw an Ulamog cast but, shockingly, that isn’t what won it. Any guesses as to what did?

 

Token - Mirrodin Besieged - Horror */*Phyrexian MetamorphCackling Counterpart

If you said a 6/6 Phyrexian Rebirth token and two clones of it, you’re a liar.

Experiences like these have actually lead me to a new way of testing my decks. Once I build it, before playing it even once, I hand it over to someone else, with, at most a three word summary (“Derevi Legend Tribal”, “All the wheels!”, “Teysa kills stuff”, “Um… It’s Uril?”) , and let them see what they can do with it – it definitely helps get beyond any mental blocks and linearity that might have become ingrained while building the deck to a specific vision.

Well, that’s all for this week, but before I go, here are a few fun facts about some C13 cards I learned while playing against Gerry:
Unexpectedly Absent, True-Name Nemesis, and Restore were all seen as too powerful and two out of the three had to be changed.
Unexpectedly Absent originally cost XW.
Restore originally cost G. (Mmm… Mox-elicious…)
And True-Name… Well, he’s the same.