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Machines and Dragons

Hello again, and welcome to the Pond!

First up, I'm sorry for the mini-hiatus. The University computers were as broken as Spiritmonger last week, so I had to type the same article several times without it saving once. Things are back to normal, and I hope you enjoyed the Breaking Stupid Rares piece I posted in between.

Secondly, my apologies again as I have a couple of small announcements to make.

1) For the time being I am only going to fix Type II decks. Type II is the format I am best at, so it makes sense to give out advice to decks which I can help the most efficiently. Type II includes only cards from 7th Edition, Invasion, Planeshift, Apocalypse and Odyssey. (Plus Torment from 1st March)

2) I'm going to try and limit my advice to cards from the current expansions. It's great fun to speculate, and some Torment cards certainly look like sure-fire winners, but I'd prefer to give help that has been tested. Far too many cards have turned out to be Fool's Gold, so I'll add a few cards but not give decks a Torment makeover.

OK? That wasn't so bad, was it? As a reward, (and to make up for The Lost Week) I'm going to do 2 mini deck fixes here. The decks were pretty good to begin with, so I didn't have a lot of work to do!

First up, an efficient looking Black & Red deck from Mike Smith. He tells me he's been having problems in the current environment, which isn't friendly to the Machinehead player. *

Here's the original deck list.

4 Blazing Specter
4 Pyre Zombie
4 Braids, Cabal Minion
4 Ravenous Rats

4 Cabal Ritual
4 Chainer's Edict
4 Soul Burn
4 Void
4 Duress

1 Barbarian Ring
2 Shadowblood Ridge
4 Urborg Volcano
9 Swamp
8 Mountain

The first thing I notice is the large number of 4s. This is almost always good, as it encourages consistent play, and experience with the deck. However, some cards don't deserve to be here. Braids caught my eye, as normally she is built into specialised destruction decks. I can see her ability being as much help to your opponent as to you. Instead, how about some straightforward murderous intent, also known as Flametongue Kavu. This card has become so much of a staple in mainstream decks, and easily has the right to be here. Ravenous Rats are going to be sub-par when Torment arrives. Discard is cheaper and less useful. Instead, I recommend Nantuko Shade. It comes out for little cost, and uses up all your leftover mana in a most productive manner. Finally, Pyre Zombie. I've never been a fan of this card's costs. If it works for you, keep it, but I'd play the Mesmeric Fiend that Mike was considering.

As for the spells, overall they're good. Cabal Ritual has player opinion split right down the middle; you either love it or hate it. This card really could go either way, so if it flops badly replace it with a couple of lands and maybe 2 Blazing Salvo. They work wonders. Urza's Rage should have a home in this deck, so drop the Chainer's Edict. Soul Burn is overpriced. In this deck you want to win via creature advantage, so trade them out for Terminates. Finally, a bit more speed is required. Play 2 Phyrexian Arena to give yourself the edge. 4 Void is overdoing it, so relegate 2 of them.

Here's the updated version:

4 Flametongue Kavu
4 Blazing Specter
4 Mesmeric Fiend
4 Nantuko Shade

4 Duress
4 Cabal Ritual
4 Urza's Rage
4 Terminate
2 Void
2 Phyrexian Arena

4 Shadowblood Ridge
4 Urborg Volcano
2 Barbarian Ring
5 Mountain
9 Swamp

There we are. As much creature removal as you could hope to use, and some hefty warriors to attack with.

The other deck I'll be looking at today is a White, Blue and Black deck, sent to me by Omega Angel. This is one of the more complete decks these days, but it lacks a lot of recognition. Here's the version I was sent.

4 Dromar, the Banisher
4 Meddling Mage
4 Shadowmage Infiltrator

4 Duress
4 Washout
4 Counterspell
4 Undermine
4 Absorb
4 Syncopate

4 Adarkar Wastes
4 Caves of Kolios
4 Underground River
2 Plains
7 Island
3 Swamp

As ever, creatures first. 4 Dromar is too many, and there aren't really enough creatures overall. Try the standard model for these decks, 2 Dromar and 4 Spectral Lynx as well as the Invitational mages. ** Some card drawing is essential, especially Fact or Fiction. Washout is better suited to a deck built around it, so remove that in exchange. Drop 2 Syncopate for the extra 2 creatures, and then drop the other 2 for Standstill. This should help with the higher mana costs this deck faces by slowing the game right down. Lastly, Duress for Recoil was more of a personal choice. It should help with creatures and enchantments that slip under the gun though.

2 Dromar, the Banisher
4 Spectral Lynx
4 Shadowmage Infiltrator
4 Meddling Mage

4 Fact or Fiction
4 Counterspell
4 Undermine
4 Absorb
4 Recoil
2 Standstill

4 Adarkar Wastes
4 Caves of Kolios
4 Underground River
3 Plains
6 Island
3 Swamp

OK, that's all for this week. I hope that Mike and Omega enjoy some success with their decks!

Don't hesitate to mail me about anything Magic related. The address is back one page.

* Machinehead was a leading R/B archetype before the Odyssey Block came in. It relied on large creatures and ruthless destruction.

** Shadowmage Infiltrator and Meddling Mage, both designed by Magic Invitational winners.





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