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Attention to Detail #14
The Best Laid Plans
by Jordan Kronick
March 31, 2006

Of late here on Attention to Detail, I've been talking a lot about drafting and other sanctioned events, with an eye on skills useful for tournament play. I had intended to continue that trend with a whole lot of information on proper sideboarding in limited environments, this week. However, that's going to have to wait for another week. I'm sure there's a huge outcry against that, since I know how much everyone loves a dry subject like sideboarding.

Instead, I've got to talk about my new pet project. It's a casual deck. As one person observed earlier tonight, I'm not often seen playing casual. I definitely tend to stick to the more “serious” side of the game. I'd like to say it's just because I have an aptitude for tournament play, but the prizes are a huge part of it too. Lately I've been doing very well in the drafting tables of Magic Online, so I thought I'd take some time off and try to not push my luck too much. The first thing I did was to put together a silly little block constructed deck. Not to abandon my roots entirely, it was definitely a tournament deck. Though not one that can really compete, as extensive testing shows. Here's the deck, for reference.

4x Copy Enchantment

4x Hatching Plans
4x Leyline of Singularity
4x Hunted Horror
4x Hunted Phantasm
2x Mimeofacture
2x Remand
4x Telling Time
4x Clutch of the Undercity
4x Last Gasp
2x Dimir Aqueduct
4x Watery Grave
8x Swamp
8x Island

Sideboard

4x Caustic Rain
4x Leyline of the Void
2x Darkblast
2x Remand
3x Frazzle

The sideboard is a bit of a mess, I know. Don't worry about that, because the real problem with the deck lays elsewhere. Aside from being a clearinghouse of otherwise worthless rares and oddities, it's a lot of fun. The idea being that if you can get a Leyline of Singularity out at the start of the game, you can play the Hunted creatures with no drawback. You can also play Mimeofacture to destroy any nonland permanent, and play multiple Hatching Plans (or Copy Enchantments) to draw tons of cards. It all seems pretty fun, but unfortunately it relies so heavily on one card (the Leyline) that it's just not workable. The current block constructed format has far too many Mortifies and Angels of Despair to really make the deck feasible.

So, with that idea abandoned, I was left with a bunch of Hatching Plans and Copy Enchantments. I've never been so determined to find a fun way to use a card as I was with the Plans. That's my somewhat dormant Johnny-ness taking over while my Spike-ness goes into remission, I suppose. So the real story here is the process of figuring out what to do with a weird little card. The first thing to notice about Hatching Plans is that it doesn't have any way to sacrifice itself. So you need to provide that yourself. Fortunately, Odyssey gave us a perfect outlet for this. The rarely seen kid brother of one of the best creatures ever printed – Phantatog. It sacrifices enchantments and it discards cards. Well heck, Hatching Plans is an enchantment that gives you cards when you discard it. Seems like synergy to me. But an Atog and a Monstrous Growth do not a deck make. If all I wanted was to draw cards and make a big Atog, I might as well just get myself some Psychatogs and Fact or Fictions. So what I need is some way to recycle my Hatching Plans. Some way to pull them back to be sacrificed again. There's not many reasonable ways to bring back enchantments. The two best (while staying in my colors of White and Blue) are Hanna, Ship's Naviagator and Auramancer. Hanna has the advantage of being able to pull things back over and over, while the Auramancer is a lot faster, cheaper, easier to cast and even has an extra point of power when you need it. In addition to this, Auramancers can be obtained 4 for a single event ticket, while Hanna runs 9 tix each. I decided to pick up one Hanna anyway, just to add some style points to the deck.

The real break that turned this from just a silly slow deck into a powerhouse of the casual rooms was Cleansing Meditation. Most people don't remember this card, as it never really saw any play anywhere. Even in casual rooms. It's outclassed by a ton of other cards, but here it shines. Here's the card text:

Cleansing Meditation – 1WW

Sorcery
Destroy all enchantments.
Threshold – Instead, destroy all enchantments, then return to play all cards in your graveyard destroyed this way.

In case it wasn't obvious, the combo potential here is huge. Casting this with Threshold while there is a Hatching Plans in play draws you three cards without (permanently) destroying your Plans. So that got me to thinking. Hatching Plans has a cool effect when it goes to the graveyard, but Ravnica gave us a bunch of enchantments that have cool effects when they come into play. That works great with Cleansing Meditation, too. Faith's Fetters, already a staple of many tournament and casual decks alike, is a perfect cantidate here. It provides some early protection and life while I set up the combo, and when I cast the Meditation, I gain 4 more life and get to move it to a new target if I want. In addition, Flight of Fancy isn't bad. It gives my Phantatogs a bit of evasion while drawing some more cards. And, of course, even more cards if I cast Meditation while it's in play.

In addition to the fun comes into play effects, I knew I'd need some more protective measures. Confiscate is a great choice, and a favorite of just about every deck that tries to play with lots of enchantments. Dream Leash has seen some play lately, and it works much the same, albeit with a more limited range of targets. I also decided to throw in a couple copies of Privileged Position. Have a huge Phantatog is great, but it can still get hit with a Terror or Rend Flesh, and we can't have that happening, can we? As a last defensive measure, I thought I'd put in a couple copies of Teferi's Care. Most people forgot about this card about a minute after they first read it. Here's the text so you don't have to look it up:

Teferi's Care – 2W
Enchantment
W, sacrifice an enchantment: Destroy target enchantment.
3UU: Counter target enchantment spell.

The second ability is pretty lame. Come to think of it, so is the first. However, it does provide me with another way of sacrificing Hatching Plans if my Phantatogs and Cleansing Meditations are absent. I started with two copies of this but went down to one in the end. I'm unwilling to get rid of it quite yet, though it probably won't make the cut for long.

To round things out, I put in a couple copies of Compulsion – since Hatching Plans can't be the only card draw in the deck. Also, I need to make sure I can get to Threshold for using the Cleansing Meditations. I put in a couple of Talismans of Progress to held flesh out the mana. I'll gladly make these Azorious Signets once those are available. In fact, I'm sure that the release of Dissension will do a lot of cool things for this deck, the mana being not the least of it. Last but not least, I realized that this deck needed another threat. To that end, I put in one of my least favorite creatures of all time – Cantivore! It's perfect in this deck. And I realized that in a big multiplayer game it can grow to pretty huge proportions.

So here's the deck as it stands now:

2x Auramancer
2x Cantivore
4x Cleansing Meditation

4x Faith's Fetters

1x Teferi's Care
2x Compulsion
2x Confiscate
1x Dream Leash
4x Copy Enchantment
2x Flight of Fancy
4x Hatching Plans
1x Hanna, Ship's Naviagator
4x Phantatog
2x Privileged Position
2x Talisman of Progress
2x Coastal Tower
1x Minamo, School at Water's Edge
2x Lonely Sandbar
2x Secluded Steppe
8x Plains
8x Island

It's a bit choppy in the middle, and there's a few more one-ofs and two-ofs than I would like normally. Oftentimes the presence of Copy Enchantment makes up for this, however. I've had a lot of luck with it so far, playing in Two Headed Giant Extended. The deck has a lot of defensive resiliency, and also appears to be weird and weak enough early on as to not become a huge target. It has an explosive ability that can't be denied, however. Casting a couple Cleansing Meditations while you have two (or even three) Hatching Plans in play can make for a huge Phantatog and huge Cantivores, too.

So that's my deckbuilding process. I really wanted to share it with you. Before I go, however, I wanted to describe one of the coolest plays I've ever made. It happened with this deck no more than an hour ago.

I had a Phantatog, two Hatching Plans, a Compulsion and a bunch of land in play. In my hand, I had a Cleansing Meditation and a Dream Leash. I'd used a couple of Faith's Fetters earlier, so they were in play as well. On my opponent's turn, he cast a Niv-Mizzet. Ordinarily that's a cause for alarm. Instead, I was exuberant. When my turn came around, I cast Dream Leash on one of his lands. Then I cast Cleansing Meditation. It destroyed and brought back my Leash, two Fetters, two Hatching Plans and Compulsion. Now the cool thing here is that Dream Leash only cares if the thing is tapped if you cast it. If it's brought into play by other means, it doesn't matter. The same is true for untargetability. So I was able to Leash the Niv-Mizzet and Fetters an offending Troll Ascetic (controlled by a different opponent) and a Lightning Greaves that was annoying me. The two Hatching Plans triggered to draw me 6 cards, and by the time they did I suddenly had a Niv-Mizzet under my control, and got to shoot the opponent for 6. The fun doesn't stop there, of course. I sacrificed the two Hatching Plans to my Phantatog, drawing 6 more cards (and doing 6 more damage). Then I swung in with the Phantatog for 16. All total, 28 damage dealt. And all because of something my opponent played. Without that, I might have been in trouble. So I guess I should make that the lesson for today – you never know when your opponent is going to win the game for you.


 

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